"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

November 13, 2013


I recently read a quote that said, "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out."

We have all had situations occur that were unexpected and that caught us off-guard. We can make plans and take care of ourselves or our family or our property, but that doesn't assure us that any of those things will always be protected and secure. Health may fail, houses may burn or be destroyed by a tornado, relationships may be severed, kids may rebel, etc. No matter how much we try to protect these things, we have no assurances or guarantees that all will always be well.

No one ever expects to be the one who will be diagnosed with a debilitating or life-threatening disease. No one sits around contemplating that they will be the one who will suffer a heart attack or stroke. No one ever thinks about being in an accident that leaves them paralyzed. No one thinks their home will be the one that will burn to the ground or be completely destroyed by a tornado. No one thinks they'll be the one who will be killed in a car accident. No one thinks their children will be the ones who will rebel or be involved in abusive relationships. No one thinks their flight will be the one that will crash. Or perhaps I should say almost no one; there are some that I'm sure spend their days worrying about such things on a regular basis.

The truth is, if we expected all or any of those things to happen to us and we're constantly worried about it, we would spend our life living in fear. We would be scared to walk outside our home and go anywhere. We would be terrified every time a storm alert was broadcast. We would be afraid to go anywhere, do anything, and life would be a drudgery.

God doesn't intend for us to spend our days dreaming up potential troublesome events. His plan isn't for us to live in fear. He tells us not to worry and to fear not numerous times throughout scripture. I believe that God's ultimate plan is for us to commit our lives and souls into His hands, and allow Him to direct our steps. When we do so, then we can have faith and assurance that whatever happens, God will never leave or forsake us. Even if dire circumstances should occur, it's going to be okay because God is with us.

One of the hardest scriptures for me to consistently obey is 1 Thessalonians 5:18. "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." The NLT says it like this: "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

It's hard for me to be thankful when things aren't going as planned, or a family member is facing critical health issues, or finances are tight and it doesn't look like they're going to be better anytime soon, or our car breaks down and it's going to cost a lot of money to repair, or someone does or says something that really hurts my feelings, or a prayer that I've prayed for months or years is seemingly going unanswered -- while I hear of others having similar prayers answered, etc.

There are many examples in the Bible of people who had life go in a different direction than what they had intended.

Naomi had her husband and both sons die. She decided to go back to her homeland to live and encouraged both daughters-in-law to return back to their families. Ruth chose to travel with Naomi and stay with her. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was excited by their arrival. "Is it really Naomi?" the women asked. Naomi responded, "Don't call me Naomi. Instead call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty." She went on to say that the Lord had caused her to suffer and caused tragedy to befall her.

Life had brought unexpected circumstances to Naomi, and she was filled with grief and emptiness. But even then, God didn't forget Naomi and Ruth and had a plan for them.

They arrived in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest. Ruth said to Naomi, "Let me go into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it." Naomi gave her permission, so Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters.

She found herself in the field of Boaz, a wealthy and influential man, who was a relative of Naomi's husband. Boaz took notice of Ruth. God led her to this particular field because He had a plan. Boaz went over and said to Ruth, "Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don't go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well." Boaz ordered his young men to pull out the heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her.

Ruth gathered grain in Boaz's fields until the end of barley season, then continued working with them through the wheat season in early summer.

The story has a happy ending. Ruth became the wife of Boaz and gave birth to a son. The response of Naomi's neighbor women was, "Now at last Naomi has a son again! Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!" Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast, and cared for him as if he were her own.

This baby boy became the grandfather of King David!

When Naomi lost her husband and both of her sons, I'm sure she felt as if God had forgotten her. Her description of her circumstances was that God had made life very bitter for her. Yet we see from scripture that God had not forgotten Naomi. Through her faithful daughter-in-law, Ruth, He worked in ways that were unexpected and better than anything Naomi could have imagined. God brought about restoration and healing to Naomi's spirit. Although the baby boy born to Ruth and Boaz was not blood-related to Naomi, she loved that child as a grandmother.

Many times we don't understand or see how God can possibly make something good out of a bad situation. We are aware that Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them." But sometimes our circumstances seem beyond any possible good coming from them.

That verse of scripture doesn't say that all things will work according to our desires or wishes; but that God causes everything to work together for our good or for our benefit. The Message version says, "That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."

Perhaps the good comes in the form of our increased faith. Perhaps it comes in us learning to trust God in a way that we've never had to before. Perhaps it comes in us gaining knowledge and having life experience that can benefit someone else going through a similar situation. Perhaps it will be us growing in our relationship with God and becoming more deeply rooted.

We may not ever have a full understanding of why something does or doesn't happen, but we can choose to trust God and put our total faith in Him.

Regarding the quote at the beginning of this devotional: the way we can make the best of the way things turn out is by keeping our focus on God. We can't lean on our own understanding, but we can keep following God and allow Him to direct our path.


Sometimes people are stuck into horrible situations to get them to move. Naomi was very comfortable with her husband, two sons, and daughters-in-law, even if she was living in a foreign land. But God had something more important in mind for Naomi and Ruth in Naomi's homeland. They didn't head back to Bethlehem until disaster struck. So, if disaster strikes, please be open to what God may be moving you toward.


Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups sweet potatoes, drained and mashed

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1/2 stick butter

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir all ingredients together and pour into a 9x13 pan.


1 stick butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans

Melt butter; add all ingredients of topping together. Add topping to top of casserole. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.


This is a story shared by my nephew regarding his 7 year old son:

"Yesterday Winston helped me unload some firewood. He was all excited about doing boy work and had his gloves on. He did a good job stacking the firewood. When we were finished, I handed him 50 cents and told him how good he had done. He just stared at me. I asked him, 'What?!' He said, 'Dad, you need to give me $1.50 more.' I asked why. Winston said, 'Because $2.00 is the best I can do for that much work!' I figured if he could negotiate his wages at age 7, that was worth the $1.50. I gave him $2.00 more. I love it when he does well to argue his point!"


Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now. - A.W. Tozer


We love you!

Loretta & Jon