Christian Living

Why Homemaking Matters to God + GIVEAWAY

Something caught my attention lately, as I was reading Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth’s book Adorned about Titus 2.

She makes the point that God is a homemaker.

It blew my mind a little bit. Why hadn’t I ever realized this before?!

Throughout Scripture it is said that the Lord makes homes and is our home. In seeing this, my “theology” of homemaking changed dramatically.

Some examples:

Jesus promised: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2

“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
    is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
    he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
    but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.” Psalm 68:5-6

“He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 113:9

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.” Psalm 90:1

God calls us to homemaking because it’s no small matter – it’s part of who He is. It is about building places where His Kingdom can grow and flourish.

Homemaking for Dummies

Growing up, being a “housewife” or “homemaker” was a joke, a 1950’s ideal that didn’t make sense in our advancing culture.

In my endless interests and love for academia I had many dreams – varying from becoming a surgeon to a travel journalist – and raising a family would be squeezed in their somewhere, eventually.

I was book-smart, and prided myself in it, content with studying and working.

Then I became a Christian, and a few years later was married… and reality it. My grade in domestic tasks was close to flunking.

I remember timidly asking my husband how to clean the bathroom, or the way he washed dishes. Dinners were a laughable attempt at Pinterest recipes. I went from acing exams at a top-tier university to wondering how to cook a piece of chicken and do a load of delicates.

Talk about humbling.

By that point I knew managing the home was my responsibility as a wife, because the Bible said so (Titus 2:5). I didn’t question it, but I was clueless and discouraged.

If you’re feeling this way, there’s hope!

Gradually, with advice from other ladies and Google, my understanding of cleaning and nurturing our abode grew.

I started embracing the amazing reason why God wants women to keep the home: to give a taste of heaven. 

That phrase also came from the Adorned book, and it truly captures the calling we have.

A Temporary Place with Eternal Impact

For the most part, we as women naturally love making things beautiful. Even if we can’t do it ourselves, we can create a vision for it or appreciate it when it’s there.

Why?

Because God is beautiful, and is the Author of beauty. We were made to worship Him.

If our heart is renewed in Christ, we can direct our creative and organizational skills to reflect His beauty to our families and the world.

This happens in basic, but critical ways – like creating a healthy, welcoming home.

And while we can enjoy decorating our homes for the seasons, or whipping up a gourmet meal, this call God gives us doesn’t need to be overcomplicated.

Homemaking isn’t being the next DIY star or splurging to make an HGTV status design, but creating an environment that allows for beauty to arise in hearts. 

An environment of peace, of order, of kindness, of meaning, of gathering.

It is a place where life can be joyfully shared, a place of refuge, a place of fellowship.

We can bring to life the example of the early church.

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts…” Acts 2:46

As Nancy Wolgemuth puts it: “[A] home is not an idol or an end to itself. It is a tool, a means of putting the gospel and the grace of God on display.”

Through the wisdom of His Word and others, we can take steps to caring for our homes and those within it, not matter what our job status is.

Homemaking is not the number one priority, but it is a priority that helps us meet all those above it.

It helps us to fulfill the call to help our husband, to disciple our children, and to witness to the world. To do it, we must be diligent, willing to learn, and willing to serve.

God’s Special Ministry For Us

“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” Proverbs 14:1 

Who wants to destroy their home? Not me, and I’m guessing not you!

Humor aside, this is striking, because it shows our character is connected to our homemaking.

What we do within the walls of our home shows what's within the walls of our heart. Click To Tweet

At home we have privacy and we have independence. This can tempt us into letting it fall into neglect. We can exert our energies elsewhere, and forget our home impacts those closest to us. But God still sees, and deserves our devotion to Him there.

The opposite can happen too. In our ambitious attempts to meal plan or create cleaning schedules, let’s not become so caught up in the results that we forget to love in the process.

We can take joy and find balance in our housekeeping tasks if we remember that they are expressions of Christlike service, opportunities to exercise our talents, and a way to bring joy to others.

We can rest in Christ even if not every room is squeaky clean, because we have an understanding that outward perfection is not what matters, but inward worship.

There’s a reason God placed the Proverbs 31 woman in the Bible – not to burden us with a impossible to-do list but to inspire us to fill our days with purposeful good works.

“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27

The Lord has entrusted you and me with the care of eternal souls, whether it be a husband, kids, or friends, and we can do our part by fostering a place where His glory shines for them.

God calls us to homemaking so we can build places where His Kingdom can grow and flourish. Click To Tweet

To give you a visible reminder of this incredible mission He’s given us, I’m giving away this sweet wooden plank art from DaySpring to hang in your home! Enter until March 1st below!

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Christian Living, Motherhood

5 Ways We Can Disciple Our Children

As I tread deeper and deeper into the rushing waters of motherhood, I keep finding solace in this truth: God’s Word is not silent on parenting.

Across the Old Testament all the way into the New, the Lord highlights the critical relationship between mothers, fathers, and their children, using real-life testimonies and His own direct commands to bring clarity.

In a world packed with parenting books, psychological theories, and cultural ideals, the Bible’s instructions for us stand beautifully simple: tell them about the Lord, about His ways, about His Gospel. 

As parents and grandparents our first priority is to disciple our little ones, to lead them in the truth in a world crowded with lies.

Yet what does that look like? How do we foster faith in our family?

Discipleship is teaching, correcting, and modeling with God’s Word. It’s active and constant, and driven out of Christlike love.

Here are a few practical steps from Scripture for building godly homes and ministering to our children well.

1. Hold the Bible as the Highest Authority

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

From transgenderism to feminism and evolutionary theories, our society is becoming more and more confused.

Our children need to know that truth is unchanging, secure, and pure. Where does that truth come from? Not from Facebook, popular opinion, or even past family tradition, but from the Word of God.

As we share about Jesus and form principles in our family, all our beliefs, ethics, and rules must stem from Scripture. Our methods of discipline, our stances on cultural controversies, our view of humanity can be centered around God’s redemptive story.

By referring our children to the Bible in everything we do, esteeming it and applying it, we show that it is sufficient to answer the deepest questions of life.

This especially includes upholding God’s design for marriage and gender as outlined in Genesis. We cannot compromise His truth, but must preserve it in order to establish order in our homes.

ACTION STEP: Create a list of family rules based off specific verses in Scripture. 

2. Speak About God All Day, Everyday

I’ve always loved this passage in Deuteronomy:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

What inspiring imagery!

In telling Israel to love and obey the Lord, it’s amazing that Moses immediately follows this with a command to saturate their children with the same teaching.

The Word of God and its Gospel should be so dear and near to our heart that we can’t help but pour it into the next generation.

Establishing a godly heritage ought to be at the forefront of our minds. Throughout Deuteronomy, Joshua, and other books, God repeatedly tells Israel the importance of remembering God’s work, reflecting upon His Law consistently, and passing it on.

We can intentionally take moments throughout the day to do this, especially during:

-family meals

-car rides or walks

-before bed

-before we start the day

From this passage and others God shows that repetition and visual reminders are necessary – both for us and for our children. We will forget otherwise.

We cannot afford to become comfortable, and only speak of God on Sundays. He should permeate our lives throughout the whole week.

Sharing God with our children should be a way of life. Click To Tweet

ACTION STEP: Be alert to opportunities to bring God into conversations, and fill your home with reminders of God’s faithfulness. 

3. Emphasize the Importance of Wisdom

“Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
    and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
for I give you good precepts;
    do not forsake my teaching… 

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
    and whatever you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
    she will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a graceful garland;
    she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.” Proverbs 4:1-2, 7-9

The Book of Proverbs is a tremendous gift from God to parents! Solomon wrote it to prepare his sons for kingship, and we can use it in a like manner.

Proverbs tells us three core things about wisdom – it is of infinite value, it comes from fearing God, and it helps us distinguish good from evil. It addresses subjects like choosing friends, purity, marriage, finances, justice, and more.

One of our primary responsibilities as parents is to show our children the contrast between the way of wisdom and the way of foolishness, and to see the beauty of rebuke and righteousness. 

When our children fail, we not only address their outward behavior, but graciously counsel their heart. We point them to the cross. We can tirelessly offer grace and truth, knowing that we may not see immediate impact but are sowing eternal seeds.

Sometimes as parents we focus too much on investing in material things for our kids – such as clothes, extracurriculars, and academics – rather than the precious, everlasting investment of wisdom. Let’s not make that mistake.

ACTION STEPS: Read a chapter of Proverbs a day as a family, using some verses to use when disciplining. Take time to share with your kids about your past choices, and how they affect you still today. 

4. Model God’s Character

“…be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2

We are God’s children, and so are to be like Him. As we imitate Him, our own children can imitate us! Kids are so quick to learn and follow. Often we underestimate what they see and understand.

Our parental teaching of God’s Word must be paired with us bringing it to life. Hypocrisy will repel our children from the Lord, but faithfulness will draw them to Him!

We should know God’s attributes by reading His Word, and commit to reflecting Christ to them.

[To learn more about God’s character, see my 30-day devotional Adoring His Attributes.]

The more we treasure our own personal walk with the Lord, the more our children will see the closeness that can be had with God. As they see us consistently study our Bibles, pray, sing, and exercise the fruit of Spirit, they can grasp that He is real and good.

ACTION STEP: Pick a fruit of the Spirit you are struggling with, and memorize a verse that can encourage you in that area. 

5. Model Joyful Service and Hospitality

Jesus said: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus 13:25

Branching off the above point, we can show the love of Christ by serving heartily in our churches and loving His people. Faith doesn’t grow well in isolation, but in community.

Remember, until God allows otherwise, our children are unbelievers. We demonstrate our devotion to the Lord when we partake in rich fellowship with others in the family of God.

As we engage in Christ-exalting conversations and worship with believers, our children see the blessedness of hearts transformed by faith. They see selflessness, generosity, and eternal thinking as we open our homes, pray for others, and do life alongside other Christians.

ACTION STEP: Invite one family or more in your church over for dinner. Don’t stress about having a perfect meal or agenda, just enjoy the company! Do an easy casserole, or do pot-luck style. 

In all this, don’t lose sight of the importance of prayer. We can persistently disciple our children, but ultimately the Spirit must be at work for them to receive it. Their salvation is in God’s wise, loving hands.

His grace saves, not our parenting, but we can be vessels of His truth and compassion that reinforce the Gospel. May we be faithful to that end!

In His Love,

Dani

Devotional

Turning to God When Our Heart is Weary

Exhaustion is all too real.

From my time as an athlete, sprinting from sideline to sideline all day long, to many dark wakings to my newborn’s cry, there have been seasons where I wondered if my body could make it, if I would be able to press on and function, let alone do it with joy.

Eventually this kind of weariness differs than tiredness, because it goes beyond the body to the heart. When physical hardship embitters our bones and muddles our mind, spiritual hardship tends to follow.

Our heart droops under the pressure. Our mind screams to give up. Our desire to do good dwindles. A weary heart is hard to shake.

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’ve been there or are there.

Yet, with Christ, hope can bud in the unlikeliest of places. With Him, strength is always in supply.

Over the years I’ve found that as my faith grows, tiredness is not as intimidating or debilitating. There’s a raw pleasure as I realize more and more that it is God, not myself, who sustains me.

As the wave of weariness crashes upon my heart, I must pause and breathe in this blessed truth: I need you, Lord. Joy in Your mightiness is my sustenance. Because Christ is in me, I can do this. 

Thinking upon His unfailing strength makes my weakness fade, and allows motivation to spring forth.

The reality is every moment we are completely at the mercy of His will and power. He has led us to where we are now, and we only move forward in this wild world by His Spirit, just as His presence led the Israelites through the wilderness.

Each day we must discover a childlike dependence upon God – a fine, Spirit-led balance of toil and trust.

When we know God can run the world without us, we can allow ourselves to rest. When we know God has a purpose for us, we can also refuse to quit.

Strength Comes in Waiting

The idea of relying on the Lord sometimes seems so far, so intangible. In our pride or desperation we resort back to living off our own quickly burnt human fuel, feeling more spent than ever.

Yet the more we see of God in His Word, His glorious ways and relational nature, the more we can let His might shine in our weakness.

In Isaiah 40 we find a passage that is perhaps an old friend to your weary heart:

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

What a promise to read—that those who look to the Lord, waiting upon Him, will be renewed! We will soar like eagles, creatures known for their majestic speed and strength.

But what does it mean to “wait”?

“Wait” is translated from the Hebrew word qavah, which at its root means “to bind together,” specifically in a twisting manner. It’s a process of collecting—like bundling wildflowers into a beautiful bouquet—and is used to convey the idea of expecting, of hoping. How interesting that these two concepts are linked!

It’s as if when we wait upon God in our helplessness, we are bound to Him more tightly. When we seek Him and not ourselves in our exhaustion, we collect from His divine strength.

He is everlasting. He gives to those who are faint. Strength comes from acknowledging who He is, who we are serving.

We only can “fly” and and run off weariness when we are connected to the One who never is weary: the great I AM.

Another Picture of Grace

But Sister, God’s Word doesn’t end there. We fly when we trust His wings, not our own. Let’s look at one more passage in Deuteronomy 32 that also speaks of eagles.

At this end of what we know as the Pentateuch, or the foundational first five books of the Old Testament, Moses sings. He will soon die, but God gives him a song to share with Israel before they enter the Promised Land.

In it Moses recalls how God ministered to His precious nation, the “him” in this passage:

Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
    that flutters over its young,
spreading out its wings, catching them,
    bearing them on its pinions,
12 the Lord alone guided him,
    no foreign god was with him.
13 He made him ride on the high places of the land,
    and he ate the produce of the field,
and he suckled him with honey out of the rock,
    and oil out of the flinty rock. Deuteronomy 32:11-13

This speaks of God’s sustaining love to the Jewish people, but the imagery teaches our own soul, our own generation as those redeemed by Christ.

A commentary by Pastor John MacArthur explains it this way:

“The Lord exercised His loving care for Israel like an eagle caring for its young, especially as they were taught to fly. As they began to fly and had little strength, they would start to fall. At that point, an eagle would stop their fall by spreading its wings so they could land on them; so the Lord has carried Israel and not let the nation fall. He had been training Israel to fly on his wings of love and omnipotence.”

What a picture of grace! When you fall, the Lord is there to catch you.

When your strength gives way, He is there to uphold you.

This is our God, the One who glorifies Himself by carrying the weak and bearing our burdens, by lifting us in our frailty.

We Only Fly With Him

The young eagle would eventually learn to fly on their own, yet for us who know Christ, we must always depend on our infallible God. We remain His child, and He remains the Father.

Deuteronomy 32:12-13 also shares that God alone provided for Israel, and He did so out of unexpected places, granting the richest of commodities—honey and oil—out of barren rocks.

Israel’s God, your God, delights in nourishing us in hard places. It is there, in the heartache and hurt, that we see just how unstoppable and wonderful He is.

Let’s not turn to any other idol. Don’t succumb to the false idea that we need to prove ourselves, or give ourselves to something less than God, for reprieve in this broken culture.

Lean into the One with everlasting arms, seeing His love for you, His readiness to rise you up on wings like eagles. Listen as Israel did so long ago, to the Word of our God.

“There is none like God, O Jeshurun,
    who rides through the heavens to your help,
    through the skies in his majesty.
27 The eternal God is your dwelling place,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms… Deuteronomy 33:26-27

Christian Living

How You Can Glorify God in the Mundane

Each morning, after waking from the sleepy fog and forcing my mind away from the phone, I zero in on two desires for the day—to be closer to God and to glorify Him in it.

As noble as these thoughts are, the swarm of homemaking tasks, mothering challenges, and work responsibilities swiftly carry them away. If I’m not prayerful, the day spirals into a pit of stress, grumbling and frustration.

My ordinary, seemingly mundane to-do list seems far from doing mighty things for the Kingdom, and I lose heart.

Yet the book of Leviticus—yes, Leviticus—recently rocked my world.

Here’s a snippet:
“For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:44-45

In its many pages of commands, its detail by detail instructions, its directions to avoid this and avoid that, to bring this sacrifice and that offering, to cleanse oneself to meet with the Lord, there is one sole purpose—to set the people of Israel apart from all the nations around them, to declare to the people that a relationship with God touches every single aspect of life.

With God, the mundane becomes meaningful, as outward obedience reveals our faith-filled heart within.

When we’re faithful with the little, we reflect the flawless life of our Savior, who obeyed God to the smallest task and briefest thought.

This brings us to one foundational fact, one that should never leave my radar or yours: God is holy, and thus we should be holy. To be holy is to be set apart from the world.

No matter what position we hold, what duties fill our days, in everything we can mirror the character of God. 

That, my sister, is a means to an end! It is one of the purest ways you and I can draw closer to our Lord and exalt Him everyday.

When we seek holiness, we seek Him, and it has the beautiful side effect of sharing His love, grace, compassion, and truth with those around us.

To be like Christ can be the sole motivation for our obedience and our day. Click To Tweet

Pursuing Holiness By Grace

The Apostle Peter wrote:

 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16

Usually when I hear that statement about holiness, and maybe its the case for you, I immediately feel convicted. It’s as if all my wrongs and incapacities pile up in my mind, and I think: I wish.

The thing is, with Jesus, it doesn’t have to be a wish. When read in faith, what this statement can do is wonderful—it instills a proper fear of the Lord, an attitude of awe and devotion…and a realization that the Spirit is in us for this very command, to make us holy. We are not fending for ourselves in this effort, but growing day by day in grace!

We open ourselves to the Spirit when we surrender pride and our way of thinking, and replace it with adoration for Christ and His Word. Too often we lean on our understanding of events, listening to Satan’s lies, instead of rejoicing in the truth of the Gospel and letting it spur us to obedience.

Even in Leviticus, holiness isn’t a legalistic checklist, it’s a way for Israel to show their love for God, to treasure and respect His presence, to outwardly affirm an inward loyalty to His cause and His Name. 

We seek holiness and reject worldliness to powerfully display who we belong to, and who is our greatest love - Jesus. Click To Tweet

So with this challenge to be as He is, we have to remember two truths:

-Our holiness is a process of sanctification, not salvation. We don’t do good works to earn our way to heaven. We must always rest in Christ, whose life was the epitome of holiness and who graciously and mercifully paved our path to eternity.

We do good because we want to worship – not to somehow survive in a brutal system of gaining reward and avoiding judgment.

-Obedience is the pathway to joy. This is one thing I’m seeking to teach my daughter, and am still learning myself.

While we shouldn’t strive to hit all the moral checkboxes to win favor from God, when we obey we experience the freedom we have in Christ, the favor we received through His sacrifice!

Before we were slaves to sin, but now, because Christ saved us, we are free to live for God, to live as He lovingly designed back in the Garden as His image-bearers! (Genesis 1:27)

Obeying Him, pursuing holiness, gives us a peace and satisfaction in God that relieves our souls of the strife caused by sin.

So every time I chose a gentle voice over an angry one, I chose to sing praise instead of pour out complaints, I kiss and dance with my daughter instead of see her as difficult, I wash the dishes instead of neglecting my home…I feel that the Lord is near, I feel joy, I feel holy—set apart as His beloved daughter in Christ.

Join me?

In His Love,
Dani

 

Christian Living

The Quiet Sin That Can Steal Your Joy in God

It all started with a novel. I’m a bookworm – Christian historical romance admittedly being one of my favorite genres – and I was excited to dive into this new story set in the wild west.

The thing is (and maybe it’s the case for most of us), when I read fiction I am easily sucked into the world and zip through the book in a matter of days. My mind tends to drift, all too eager to escape into the plot and alternate reality.

I’m learning to exercise self-control with this, because it’s usually not the author or the content that’s bad – most of these novels are filled with Christian themes and biblical encouragement.

It’s my own heart, my desperately sick heart, that can twist a good, sweet storyline into a floodgate of earthly – instead of heavenly – thoughts.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

This particular book, while beautiful and well-intentioned, hit the soft spots of my flesh. I’m a lover of nature, of frontier, rustic living, and Hallmark-style romances. So when it highlighted all those ideals, my joy in God suddenly faded into a whirlwind of disappointment.

Why?

Feelings of envy, of desiring this fictional world, opened the door to discontentment, which ultimately morphed into idolatry.

That’s a dangerous combination, friend.

The Problem Within

The quiet sin we so often nurture without knowing is covetousness, born out of our heart’s weakness toward what we see and feel. A desire that overpowers our desire for God, and painfully dishonors Him.

Merriam Webster’s definition for covetous is as follows: “1. marked by inordinate desire for wealth or possessions or for another’s possessions. 2. having a craving for possession.”

That was me.

There’s a reason covetousness is in the 10 commandments – it’s serious. It pulls our eyes and hearts away from One most deserving. It says He is not enough, when He is in every way.

When I saw my home and life didn’t match what I was reading, my heart for devotion began shutting down. For a few pitiful days I lost focus on the love of Christ, on His generous blessings, on the joy to be had in ministry to my family. I became short-tempered, irritable, and impatient with those around me.  

Worldly yearnings I had previously overcome by the Spirit for a few days suddenly came back. I forgot the beauty of my Creator, getting lost in what’s created. My eyes kept wandering from heaven down to the fleeting beauties of earth.

I had put my guard down, not fixing my gaze toward what’s of far more beauty – Jesus.

If we’re not actively resisting the devil (1 Peter 5:8-9), putting on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), and walking by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), the snowball effect of sin can become an avalanche before we know it.

Sin can snowball into an avalanche, so stand firm in the faith by delighting in Christ and not the world. Click To Tweet

A Common Temptation

Maybe it’s not a book for you – maybe it’s a TV show, a movie, or an ideal you’ve been clinging to since childhood. Some dream world or idyllic life that briefly brings pleasure to your soul, but in the end brings bitterness.

Why do these kind of dreams trouble us?

Covetousness and discontentment arise when we’re not rightfully satisfied in God, the Most High, the Eternal One, the Savior of our souls.

But how infinitely worthy He is of our adoration! NOTHING compares to Him. Compared to Him, everything else is NOTHING. We must believe that, and it hits us head on when we remember His compassion at the cross, His glorious, perfect love poured out for lowly sinners. 

As I share in my upcoming anxiety Bible study, what we fill our minds with – whether darkness or light, earthly or heavenly – can determine the battle in this area, and whether we see His victory (Matthew 6:22-23).

Remember this warning from the Word:

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

It’s imperative that we discern and recognize our temptations. If I know this kind of book – as innocent as it appears – leads me into love for the world and distracts me from Christ, I have to cut it off, plain and simple (Matthew 5:29-30).

Rather than pining over what's temporary, I want to participate in the eternal will of God. Click To Tweet

The Hope of Christ

To do away with coveting, we also have to consistently be in the Word and in fellowship with other believers at church, because both direct our thinking and our theology to Christ – giving us a renewed mind (Romans 12:2). Both point us upward.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4

That, my sisters, is the hope that’s ahead – seeing Christ in His glory, and being with Him. That is the forever promise that awaits us, and far surpasses the pleasures of anything on this earth. Christ is our life.

I share all this vulnerably and openly, because the blessed truth is I have been set free from sin in my Lord Jesus.

Before Him, I would have continued to be lost in this unreal world, this fantasy, and let it drive my actions and relationship with God. Yet now, by the grace of my Savior and gift of the Holy Spirit, this sin does not have to linger or destroy.

That's one wonder of the Gospel, that sin grips us no longer because Christ paid it all. Click To Tweet

We fall into sin, but through proper confession and repentance, Jesus restores us by His mercy. He continues to cover us in the sight of the Father with His righteousness. As His people we may falter, but no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28-30).

Shame can give way to obedience, and I can walk away wiser than before, sanctified in His sight.

Are you there, my friend? Have you turned to God in your discontentment? If you have trusted in Christ, you do not have to dwell in disappointment or unfulfilled longings. Humbly turn to Him and seek forgiveness.

In His infinite grace, Jesus offers abundant, full joy to those who love Him, as we treasure His salvation and glory more and more each day.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:10-11

In His Love,

Dani

Christian Living

Truth to Cling to on Downcast Days

Recently a heaviness was on my spirit—a slight sorrow that I couldn’t quite shake—and it kept bringing me to my knees.

As my toddler ran around giggling and joyful, I eventually sunk to the ground, crying out on the inside for God to deliver me from this subtle but stifling melancholy. I woke up like this and couldn’t escape the feeling.

Is it just emotions? Hormones? An attack from the enemy? I fought whatever it was, searching for joy in the Lord, knowing that my heart must be revived by His Spirit.

I went outside, ad beheld the trees and birds reaching into the sky, and I remembered, “the Lord made them, He cares for them and cares for us.” (Matthew 6:26).

And then I realized with this blessed affirmation of God that my self-centeredness, self-sufficiency was weighing me down.

I thought – oh how easy it is to become self-absorbed in our pain, as abstract as it may seem!

It’s in subtle ways, like when I place my worth in my to-do list, that I make myself a god, and when I do it never ends well.

As David says, “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply…” Psalm 16:4

I was wrestling with worries and unrealistic expectations by my own self, instead of just resting and believing, “The Lord is my portion.” (Psalm 16:5).

Feeling trapped inside my little apartment, I needed to cling to Scripture and say with it, “the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places” and “my heritage [in Christ] is beautiful.” (Psalm 16:6)

From Woes to Worship

Selfish inklings toward self-pity often blind us from beholding God’s glory.

Have you been there – moping about you don’t even know what?

When we’re downcast often we’ve lost focus on eternity. We may be hiding sin or holding doubt that keeps us zeroed in on our kingdom instead of His.

But His grace is everywhere, if we’re faithful to look for it. When we do – when we lose ourselves in His love – that’s actually where healing begins. We can repent in the light of His majesty, and take pleasure in His nearness.

We can say: You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

and

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11

When handled rightly, our inadequacies point us to Christ’s sufficiency, and then worship softens the sorrow.

We have to cling to Christ and His Word, or else we will become lost to the woes of the world. Click To Tweet

A Call to Remember

So how do we escape Satan’s lies and our flesh that so easily drags us down?

Jesus. He is the anchor of our soul. On downcast days he holds us fast, keeping us above water. (Hebrews 6:19-20)

We can abide in Him by being in the company of other Christians, listening to passionate, Christ-exalting messages, praising Him in song, seeing His intrinsic work in nature… and as always, we can treasure His Word, where the Spirit teaches us and comforts us.

There, in His Word:

We remember His love at cross.
We remember His sufficiency to pay for our, and everyone’s, sins.
We remember His victory over death.
We remember His mission to redeem—that’s now ours too, and there’s no time to waste.

Sometimes we must mourn, but when unexpected sorrow interrupts our everyday service unto God the Spirit invites us to once again sit at Christ’s feet…and remember.

When unexpected sorrow interrupts our day, the Spirit invites us to sit at Christ's feet and find joy in worship. Click To Tweet

Here are 5 passages to meditate on in downcast moments, to savor who Jesus is. Some are long, but worth reading for priceless hope!

1. Psalm 16:2, 8-10 – He is My Lord

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” 

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. Psalm 16:8-10

2. 1 Peter 1:3-9 – He is My Inheritance

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

3. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – He is Forever

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

4. Psalm 73:23-26 – He is My Strength

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

5. Matthew 28:18-20 – He is My Mission

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

I hope these bring encouragement, worship, and joy to your downcast heart!

In His Love,

Dani

This post was shared at the Salt and Light Facebook Link-up.

Christian Living

Using Highlighting and Color-Coding to Enhance Your Bible Study

This post contains affiliate links, which means a portion of any purchase will support Free Indeed, at no added cost to you. I only suggest products that will help you abide in Christ.

Right now I’m reading the Bible in 180 days, with hopes of gaining a grand overview of God’s redemptive story so it can inform my closer study for the rest of the year.

With this fast-paced plan it can be hard to soak truth in, but I’ve been utilizing a highlighting system to keep track of key verses in the Old Testament. In this way I’m creating a quick reference index across my Bible, and it allows me to go back and spot sections of particular insight and importance.

I also just love how highlighting makes words pop on the page, and helps stick them in my memory.

My Method

I use a highlighter set from Daily Grace Co., and each color codes for a main theme. As I’m reading I use the colors to keep track of who God is, what man does, and other significant pieces like prophecies, commands, and prayer.

These colors give me different lenses for observing the passage, as I use other resources and am led by the Spirit. I’ll highlight as I read, or after the fact once I have a clear understanding of the passage.

There’s no particular reason why I put one color with one theme, so you can adjust this according to your preference. I will say, however, that consider picking the brightest colors for what’s most important to you, (i.e. I chose pink for God.)

This is my current system for the Old Testament:

Pink: Attributes of God, When God Speaks

This is by far my most used highlighter! By tracing where God is mentioned, I am able to draw conclusions about His character and His promises. Often His attributes are not obviously stated (i.e. God is faithful) but they come alive between the lines as God declares His loyalty to His chosen people and guides them along their respective journeys.

Example highlighted verse: Now the Lord said  to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Genesis 12:1-2

Whether highlighting or not, seeing and worshiping God’s attributes is my main mission when I study the Old Testament.

[To learn more about what they are, consider going through my 30-Day printable devotional, Adoring His Attributes.]

Green: Prophecies About Christ, Gospel Symbolism

In the next verse after the passage above God says: “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3

As the Apostle Paul later explains in Romans and elsewhere, this particular promise signifies that Jesus will descend from Abraham’s family, but provide salvation to the whole world. This is a prophecy.

I also highlighted these verses green: “He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you…

He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” Genesis 22:2, 12

Through this test of faith for Abraham, God foreshadowed what He would someday do – willingly offer up His own beloved Son to save the world. 

Orange: Depravity of Man, Sin

I use orange to highlight moments where man’s sinfulness is on display. This reminds me of our need for our Savior Jesus, and also allows me to recognize sins I may need confess.

Example:

“But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:26 

This verse shows the consequences of ignoring God’s command (Genesis 19:17), and perhaps the cost of treasuring worldly things rather than keeping your eyes on the Lord’s path.

Yellow: Good Faith

Oppositely, I use yellow to pull out examples of faith, when men and women perform noble acts, make obedient decisions, showcase Christlike character, or give praises to God that I wish to emulate.

You may identify clear illustrations of faith, like when Abraham follows God’s call, but don’t forget to search for more subtle gems, like seeing Rebekah’s hard-working, hospitable spirit:

She said, “Drink, my lord.” And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels.” Genesis 24:18-20

Purple: Templates for Prayer

One of the best way to inspire your prayer life is to see what other faithful saints have said before you. I’m using highlighting to track passages with lines I too would love to adapt and pray to God!

Example:

“The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord and said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.’” Genesis 24:26-27

Blue: God’s Commands

Last but for sure not least, I note what God directs His people and how. This will be very helpful for the New Testament, but also comes up regularly as God addresses the Israelites across their history. In places like Leviticus, you may just want to highlight ones that challenge your thinking or bring Christ to mind.

Example: God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.” Genesis 35:1-2

Want to get started?

You can buy highlighters anywhere, but I HIGHLY recommend these wax-based highlighters from Daily Grace Co. because they are specifically designed to not bleed through thin Bible pages. They also have sweet inscriptions on the side that remind you of God’s love.

Also complement your highlighting with my Old Testament Bible Study Worksheet, available in my subscriber FREEBIE Library.

It helps you answer the main questions about a passage in order to grasp its full meaning and application.

Christian Living

How the Holy Spirit Works in Your Quiet Time

When I sit down with a cup of cold water (my version of coffee! 😉 ) and open the pages of the Bible, I usually equip myself with a few tools. Highlighters, pens, commentaries, notebooks, and more litter my study desk, ready and waiting to dissect the wonders of Scripture.

With all these resources, one Person is still needed to make this “quiet time” with God effective—the Holy Spirit. 

Since the moment we trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit makes His home in us, with the mission of sanctifying us as we walk closer and closer to eternity.

My pastor, John MacArthur, has been preaching the last several weeks about the significance of the lofty theological word we know as “sanctification.”

So often we focus on the ideas of “justification,” that God has made us righteous by faith in Christ, and “glorification,” that we will someday be united with our beloved Savior in heaven.

Yet, between those two points—belief and bliss—there is a journey to become more like Christ in all we do. To bear witness about His grace and reflect His love in a broken world. 

How does this growth happen? How do we live as new, redeemed creations and follow in the footsteps of our Savior?

In addition to prayer (see Romans 8:26-27), one primary way the Holy Spirit accomplishes His sanctifying work is through our study of the Word.

Every time we prayerfully and humbly open the Scriptures, He moves to open our eyes, transform our mind, and stir our heart to obey God’s truth.

Just think – anyone can read the Bible, but not all can understand it. Why? It is the Holy Spirit that brings the words to life in our heart, because they are the words of God, and we cannot grasp them without God Himself.

We can only understand the Word of God by the gracious work of the Spirit of God.Click To Tweet

The Holy Spirit works in us to set us apart as God’s people, or increase our holiness for Christ and to be like Christ. Consider this imagery:

“For to this day, at the reading of the old covenant, the same veil remains; it is not lifted, because it is set aside only in Christ. 15 Even to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:14-18

With this in mind, here are 3 ways the Holy Spirit uses our Bible study:

The Holy Spirit…

1. Illuminates the Word

For the believer, the Holy Spirit turns what many consider a scholarly, ancient text into a living, breathing letter from God (Hebrews 4:12). He provides a greater depth of understanding we previously lacked before faith, giving purpose to every passage.

As Jesus said: “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.” John 16:13 

Each time we consider God’s revelation in the Bible, especially the message of the Gospel within it, the Holy Spirit brings insight. That’s true even for something as complicated as Leviticus!

With that said, don’t be discouraged if you don’t understand a book or verse right away. Piece by piece the Spirit allows for comprehension over time, as we diligently pray for it, learn the whole redemptive story of the Word, and listen to faithful teachers and preachers gifted by the Spirit.

[Also see my 5 Simple Tips for Reading the Old Testament.]

2. Applies the Word in our Heart

Once we see intent behind a portion of Scripture, the Holy Spirit then convicts our heart. He may show us outright sin that lies there—whether it be our failure to do what God has asked (sins of omission, i.e. failing to witness to others), or do what He forbids (sins of commission, i.e. lying).

He also may call us to worship Christ more deeply, more purely, more specifically, by highlighting the attributes of God.

When we resist these convictions and calls, we are walking in the flesh. Being faithful to be in the Word, to spend “quiet time” with God, softens our heart to His will and gives us greater opportunity to walk with the Spirit. 

“I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Galatians 5:16-18 

3. Magnifies the Grace of Christ

Lastly, as we behold God’s truth, acknowledging our unworthiness and sin, the Holy Spirit lovingly points us to Jesus. We see Christ’s mercy at the cross and stunning resurrection, once again showing us their infinite worth and promising us hope.

Even in the darkest of passages, the Holy Spirit finds a way to exalt Christ, and reminds us how He redefines our entire life. 

“[The Holy Spirit] will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:14

So next time you go to read the Word, remember you are not alone—the Holy Spirit is in you. The Spirit seeks to fulfill your name Christian, which means “little Christ,” and this should be the strongest desire and greatest goal of our lives.

Remember, Jesus gave us this blessed challenge:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” 

Then, He gives us the Great Comforter to see us through:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:15-17 (ESV)

For more Scriptures on the Holy Spirit: consider 1 Corinthians 2:8-16, Romans 8:5-6, Romans 8:13, Galatians 5:22-23.

Resources I used to write this:

How the Spirit Sanctifies by Desiring God

How the Holy Spirit Helps You Read the Word of God by Bible Study Tools

To Be Gospel-Centered, You Need the Holy Spirit by Tim Brister

Book Reviews

Book Review: Becoming MomStrong

RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

Becoming MomStrong is a breath of fresh air to a young, new mom like myself. It was the biblical pep talk I needed to keep pressing on to serve my daughter and point her to the Lord.

St. John speaks to the reader as if she’s sitting with you over a cup of coffee – a one-one-one, Titus 2 style discipleship session. A seasoned mom of 7 kids, I appreciated her funny and raw personal stories of growth from diaper days to grandparenting, with Christ-centered encouragement every step of the way.

She was honest, loving in tone, cheering us on to pursue Christlikeness as moms in this world of much darkness. There’s an overall tone of I get you and stand firm in your faith. 

Although there wasn’t much in-depth Bible study in this book, Heidi’s mission appeared to come alongside you and remind you through pointed bits of Scripture that Jesus strengthens us, not ourselves. We cannot walk this motherhood journey alone; but must do so with Him and with other sisters in the trenches.

This is not meant to be a “how to be a parent” book, but more about resting in Christ sufficiency and practical steps to managing this major responsibility of raising the next generation of believers.

You can order the book on Amazon here. 

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers and the opinions expressed are my own. 

 

 

Book Reviews

Book Review: Isaiah’s Daughter

RATING: 5/5 STARS

You know a Christian historical fiction book is great when it spurs you to study the original account in God’s Word. Isaiah’s Daughter is the first book I’ve read by Mesu Andrews, and she tactfully weaved a tender love story into striking events of Scripture, pushing me to soak up the accounts of 2 Chronicles 28-33 and more.

With this book Andrews spins a fictional backstory about King Hezekiah’s sole wife, named Hephzibah (2 Kings 21:1). Starting as a young girl named Ishma, she is orphaned and captured by the northern kingdom of Israel, traumatized by the horrors of war.

God’s faithfulness brings her to the doorstep of Isaiah, the prophet, who mercifully takes her in. From this point she develops a sweet friendship with the king-to-be, a young Hezekiah, that buds into a heart-melting, faith-strengthening courtship. Eventually she is adopted by Isaiah and renamed Hephzibah, which means “God delights in her” and is a complete contrast from Ishma, which means “desolation.” It presents a wonderful picture of God’s transformative love.

The young couple go on to endure the wicked reign of King Ahaz, as he brutally presses the nation of Judah into dark pagan-worship, and then take on the heavy responsibilities of ruling under the constant threat of Assyria.

Along the way, many side characters shine, nurturing their own trust in Yahweh and supporting the royal pair. Among those is the prophet Isaiah himself. I was immediately drawn to this title because the book of Isaiah contains some of the most beautiful prophecies in the Bible, and I was pleased to see Andrews thoroughly incorporate them into the story.

Far from being a typical romance, this treasure of a novel emphasizes God’s personal pleasure in His people and grander plan for the world. Andrews presents a fresh perspective to the events of Chronicles, Kings, and Isaiah, placing us in a time where uncertainty runs rampant and hope for a Messiah ever lingers.

We see Hephzibah’s and others’ confusion, tension, and anticipation over Yahweh’s prophecies, as Andrews utilizes the plot to reveal how God’s Word both speaks to our individual stories and to the whole of His redemptive plan.

Such reminders of God’s powerful, compassionate, and holy sovereignty were a blessing, bringing me to praise God in my heart at multiple points. I look forward to reading more of Andrews’s work!

This book officially releases January 16th, and you can preorder it on Amazon. 

If you’re interested, here are resources to learn more:

More Info

Read Chapter One

Author Bio

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, the opinions expressed are my own.