Category: thoughts by Bethany Hayes

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Do you believe that God is smiling at you?

I often want to ask believers this question. I often ask myself.

Does His love feel like a sunshine of gladness overarching every hour and every decision? Or does heaven seem like a dark cloud ready to dump rain at any moment?

My circumstances are no indication of whether the smiling face of God is upon me,” A.W. Tozer writes.

I converse and fellowship and pray with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I wonder how many of us believe this statement.

Too often we look at our needs, our hurts, and our troubles, and we interpret them as frowning providences. They stir up questions in our hearts–doubts that God’s favor is toward us.

We wonder if He’s for us or against us.

Fear causes me to look around at my circumstances instead of up at the smiling face of God,” Tozer continues to write.

If we believe that every ounce of God’s love is behind every circumstance we encounter–seemingly good or bad–then we’ve grasped the message of the cross.

Paul, under the inspiration of the Spirit, wrote it best:

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

He reminded his readers that no believer resting fully in the finished work and righteousness of Christ is under any condemnation. God is for us. Though our sins grieve His Spirit, our Savior is interceding at the right hand of God for us. Continually.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.(Romans 8:1)

So why do we see storm clouds instead of His smile? Why do we interpret every wind of trouble as a frown?

Why can’t we relax beneath the smiling face of God?

Because deep down, we all know we deserve His frown, His back turned our direction, His smile turned toward somebody else.

We don’t deserve His smile, and we know it.

We haven’t earned His favor, and our neighbor knows it.

Our pastor knows. Our coworkers. Spouse. Children. Roommate.

We don’t deserve the smiling face of God.

The message of the Cross is this: “God is for us.” (Romans 8:31)

Relax beneath the smiling face of God.

“I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38,39)

Quotes taken from The Crucified Life, by A.W. Tozer

By Bethany Hayes
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Have you ever wished this world would ask to see lives that reflect the life of Christ?

Have you ever hoped your life would be that reflection?

Have you ever come to the end of yourself, realizing you can’t imitate Him as you had always hoped you could?

Have you ever noticed the Bible says, “Christ lives in you”?

Christ lives in us.  So the purpose of our lives is to be a capacity for others to see His life.
The reflection of Him the world doesn’t audibly ask for.

The reflection you’d always hoped you could somehow make yourself to be.
The imitation of Him that is not just an imitation, but Himself living through you.

As believers, our lives are His.
They don’t just belong to Him.  They are His.

If others are to see His life, we need to step out of the way and become a corner in this dark world where the life of Christ can be reflected.  Reflected so beautifully, our lives could truly be described as “hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)

A capacity for Christ to live in us.

By Bethany Hayes
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We’ve all been there. The battle raging in the mind. Should I? Shouldn’t I? What would it hurt? I’m not sure I can say “no.” How can I say “no”?

Peter did something he thought he would never do.

He denied the Lord.

In the heat of the temptation, he told others he never knew Christ. He never knew the Man who chose him, loved him, taught him, and performed miracles for him.

He knew now that his love was weak.

He knew now how capable he was of failing the Lord.

Here Jesus was, sitting at a meal with him. Risen from the dead.

Here Peter was, eating with the Man he denied. The Man who forgave him, still loved him, and wanted to use him, when Peter thought he’d be content fishing again.

Jesus asked him a question. Three times.

Do you love me?” (John 21:17)

Maybe that question sat behind the look in Jesus eyes the last time Peter denied Him. He denied the Lord three times, and Jesus turned and fixed his eyes on Peter.

Behind those eyes, was He asking Peter the question, “Do you love me”?

Jesus asked it now—now that Peter knew Jesus had power over death, over the powers of hell. He asked Peter about his love, now that he was forgiven and not forsaken.

If Peter had heard Jesus words, “Do you love me?” the moment he was tempted to deny the Lord, would temptation have lost its power?

You know that I love you,” Peter told Jesus.

But Peter let that love crumble into hiding when faced with temptation. When asked if he knew Jesus, he even lied to himself. His denial shouted a lie—the lie that he didn’t love Jesus.

Do we love Him?

Temptation will tell.

Temptations will lose their power when we keep ourselves in the love of Christ (Jude 21).

By Bethany Hayes
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Perhaps the deepest longing of every human heart is to find adequacy in everything that defines life for us.

We want an adequate car, an adequate house, an adequate paycheck.

And we want the people in our lives to be enough.

The word “adequate” means “sufficient for a specific requirement.”

The problem is. . . we often choose what that “requirement” is.
One we have laid out for ourselves.  What we think will be “just enough.”

When nothing seems to be sufficient, we often listen to the cries around us that say, “I am enough.  You don’t have to put up with less than sufficient.  Try me.”

So we try what these voices offer.

But they eventually come up short.  Less than require.
Never enough.

Why?  Why are we tempted to feel short-changed in life?
Do we have contentment issues?
Is it simply living in an imperfect world?

Or could it be we’re looking in the wrong places?

Are we looking at the wrong things to be our “Enough”?

If there was one person who had enough, it was King David.
Not because he was a king, won wars, and was given amazing promises.
He had enough, because of Who his Shepherd was.

He said, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)

He never suggested that his possessions or his accomplishments were enough.

His Shepherd was Enough.
His God was Adequate.

So nothing was missing in his life.

When we take a look at what we claim as ours and cry, “I want you to be enough!” let’s take a deeper look and say, “You are special enough to me, because I have all I need in my Adequate God.”

By Bethany Hayes
Used by Permission


Would you like to know God and allow him to be your Shepherd?  You can! It all starts with knowing Jesus and letting him transform you from the inside out. His love is amazing. You can start by praying this prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to You and ask You to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.


If you prayed this prayer we would love to hear from you . If you would like to know God deeper we can connect you with an email mentor and/or send you some great links.


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How would you respond if someone stopped you on the street and asked you to describe “true happiness“?

Ask twenty-five people this question, and you will hear twenty-five different answers.

Mankind will always crave true joy and happiness. He will look for it in a myriad of places, but rarely in the right place.

Our God is a God of joy, and He made us in His image. We want our lives to be full of joy, like His.

The truth is:  this God of joy gives joy beyond measure.

We look to people, circumstances, things, or activities to find true happiness.

God says it’s less tangible than that. Something inward.

Joy is filling us with Himself, satisfying us with His promises and everything He already gave.

Joy is the outburst of believing what we can’t see (Romans 15:13).

How would you describe “true happiness“?

True, lasting joy is something God promised to those who believe His truth and love it more than material gain.

Joy is a heartfelt response to everything God already gave.

It’s right at our fingertips.

Now the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing. (Romans 15:13)

By Bethany Hayes
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The Christian life is a battle,” our pastor reminded us.Don’t let anyone tell you differently.”

Some days that battle is fierce. Some days growing like wheat among tares is stifling. The world constantly tries to press us into its mold. To enjoy its pleasures. To take our eyes off the invisible God. To give in and stop running the race.

And I keep forgetting the important truths of Scripture—truths that should be ready in my hand like a sword in the midst of a raging battle.

1.       This world is not my home.

Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)

2.       The Maker of heaven and earth loved me before He made heaven and earth.

I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

3.       Christ died for me, so my slate is clean.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

4.       Christ rose again, assuring me eternal life.

Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19)

5.       I might see Him today.

Looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)

“Take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand. . .Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.” (Ephesians 6:14)

By Bethany Hayes
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Recently, I read an article listing six things to do when you feel like a failure.

Be honest about your struggle.

Remember you’re not alone.

Take a nap.

And three other ways to get over the failure-slump and conquer the world.

Thankfully, God’s Word tells us only one way, a more powerful way to conquer the giants of inadequacy that often wake up with us every morning.

We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Are you anxious over a wayward child or an unknown future? Haunted by a past that continually resurfaces? Struggle with a besetting sin? Battle against shattered hopes?

In other words. . .

It is things present?

Or things to come?

God’s Son hung on a cross and displayed in humility and agony a love we cannot comprehend.

That love erased our past, surrounds the present, and guards the future.

His love conquered.

Despite the past, present, or future, you and I are more than conquerors through Him who loved us like that.

We’re failures turned conquerors through Someone Else’s perfect love.

I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come . . . shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

By Bethany Hayes
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I was planning to read Psalm 18 before falling asleep last night. A busy day, a weighty decision, concern for a loved one, and questions about the future. Sometimes we just need to come up for air.

But as I read, I couldn’t get past verse 2.

It took multiple readings to let its nine-fold truth about God sink in—a concept that left Him looming larger than my tangled thoughts.

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2)

This verse begged to be read over and over again. God’s might is articulated in beautiful imagery and powerful repetition.

Then I noticed how many “my’s” are included in this array of God-attribute reminders.

My rock.
My fortress.
My deliverer.
My God.
My strength.
My shield.
The horn of my salvation.
My high tower.

It’s almost as if he doesn’t want us to miss the fact that this powerful God is OUR God.

Our tangled thoughts in weakness never overwhelm our strong God. He wants us to lean them all against His strength.

One “attribute” in this list is different. Worded differently, as if the tables turn for a brief moment, it sits up from its middle position and makes an announcement.

Our rock, fortress, deliverer, God, strength, shield, horn of salvation, and high tower is also the One “in whom I will trust.”

I finished reading Psalm 18 today. As the Psalm continues, David beautifully describes how God came to His rescue when David depended on Him.

How should every tangled thought respond to such a powerful God?

Trust.

He is a shield to all those who trust in him. (Psalm 18:30b)

By Bethany Hayes
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If you’re reading this letter, you’re concerned. About kidnapped girls. Missing planes. Wayward children. A diagnosis. You’re concerned about a loved one. A bend in the road. A misunderstanding. A hurting friend.

There’s much in this world to bring concern. Concerns can rightfully be called “troubles.
But I’m not writing this letter to stir up our troubles, but to share what Jesus said.
He said, “See that you are not troubled” (Matthew 24:6).  We’re concerned. And rightfully so. But Jesus said not to be troubled.

Because “in the world [we] will have tribulation.”  But “Be of good cheer,” He also said. “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

We are children of the God who reigns (Psalm 47:8).

This world will become the kingdom of our Lord (Revelations 11:15).

God is on our side (Psalm 124:1).

In this world, we will have tribulation. But, to all who are concerned, rest in the One who said, “I have overcome” it all. Rest in the One who knows why we have no cause to be troubled.

He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).

Nothing escapes the reach of His hand (Isaiah 59:1).

Our God reigns (Psalm 47:8).

To whom it may concern, rest in the One who is compassionately aware of concerns, reigning over them, long-suffering, on-time, able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

Our God is big enough, compassionate enough, powerful enough, and more present than our human hearts realize.

Do not be troubled.

See to it.

Sincerely, Concerned, yet seeking to not be troubled

By Bethany Hayes
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I recently read an article about a couple who just celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. People rarely live long enough or, sadly, love long enough to be able to have an article written about the length of their love.

This couple’s love story was highlighted and circulated and praised and admired.
Because seventy-five years is a long time to love the same person day after day.

But here’s a more striking truth: God has loved you for well over six thousand years.

Before you were born or even thought of by anybody other than Himself, He loved you.

Before He set stars in motion and before He established the mountains, His love designed a way to win your heart and draw you to Himself.

[His] goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”(Micah 5:2)

I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Your God has loved you longer than the mind can comprehend, deeper than anyone has ever loved you, and with more loyalty than the love you have for the person you love the most.

His love defies time.

It started more than six thousand years ago, proved itself on the Cross more than two thousand years ago, has continued to this very day, and will have only just begun the day we enter the eternity waiting for us.

If His love was anything less than tenacious and loyal, He would have tired of you and me long ago.

His love holds on, never stops, never tires, and never gives up.

His love will never let you go.

We love Him, because He first loved us.”(1 John 4:19)

By Bethany Hayes
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If a Christian carves for himself,
he’ll cut his own fingers.

a Puritan proverb

Our God has hands better than our own to trust.

Hands that are . . .

·         Holding us up.
Your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:7)

·         Powerful.
“. . . nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand.” (Psalm 44:3)

·         Open and Good.
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.” (Psalm 104:28)

·         Guiding and Protecting.
We are . . . the sheep of His hand.” (Psalm 95:7)

·         Victorious.
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.” (Psalm 98:1)

·         Trustworthy.
My times are in Your hand.” (Psalm 31:15)

·         Compassionate and Healing.
Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him . . . immediately the leprosy left him.”
(Mark 1:41)

·         Pierced for us.
They pierced My hands and My feet.” (Psalm 22:16)

·         and Sovereign.
The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.” (John 3:35)

These are the Hands that never make mistakes.

By Bethany Hayes
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Like a tree planted by a river, finding a constant source of life and nourishment.

Like a tree spreading out its roots to that source, reaching for that which will make it strong.

Like a tree that’s unafraid in heat, because its roots are drinking from that which satisfies.

Like a tree whose leaf is always green, because the tree never lacks.

Like a tree not anxious in drought, because the river will always supply enough.

Like a tree yielding fruit, because it has all it needs and extends to others from that supply.

Like a tree strong and trusting, reaching out its roots to the constant source of life and supply.

Lord, make me like that.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes: but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7,8

By Bethany Hayes
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GOD IS SATISFIED

We stand confused.
He is not.

Circumstances spin out of control.
He’s right on schedule.

Life aches.
He has a purpose.

We fret.
He is calm.

God is not pacing the floors, wondering what’s going on, biting His fingernails, or dissatisfied with our lives and the world in general.

He is often grieved, I’m sure. But He’s never surprised. Never caught off guard. Never strategizing to see how He’s going to smooth out what’s been made crooked now.

His perspective is different from ours.

His ways are higher.  God’s at peace.

And He’s satisfied.

One Puritan writer explained it this way.

Our lives seem like a jagged race—a fretful sprint from pillar to post. But at the end of the race, we will turn around and look back.

And all we’ll see is a straight line.

God is satisfied.

Rest in this peace-giving truth.

Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this” . . . ‘Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret.” (John 13:7; Psalm 37:7)

By Bethany Hayes
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FURTHER READING:

Why Worry Yourself Sick? – by Muriel Larson
Dealing with Inner Turmoil By Dr. Henry Brandt
Up from Depression
Struggling with Depression – Merri Ellen Giesbrecht tells her depression story and her story of hope


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Six days before His death, Jesus went to the village of those who loved Him most.
It was His last Sabbath; the first day of His last week on this earth.
And He chose to spend it with those He loved.

Simon, the Leper (whom Jesus healed) held a supper for Him in His honor.
Simon knew the threat that hung over Jesus’ head.
He knew the religious leaders’ instructions that if anyone knew where He was, they were to report it.
He knew the danger of numbering Himself with Jesus.

But he expressed his love for Jesus anyway.
By honoring Him publicly. . .and boldly.

True to form, Martha served.
The words “Martha served” were a fitting addition to the description of this entire scene.

She was serving the Lord for the two most important reasons:
Love for Christ.
And to Honor HIM.

Martha was loving Him with pure, selfless service.

Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him” — a living example of the power of God.

We have no word of anything Lazarus said.
But we don’t need one.
His life was testimony enough.

He loved Christ by simply BEING. . . a man “who had been dead, whom [Jesus] raised from the dead.” (John 12:1)

But Mary topped all the love in the room with a love that couldn’t be missed.
She anointed the Lord.
And the odour from the ointment filled the room.

Jesus called it a “good work.”

And, again, Mary had “chosen the good part.”

It didn’t matter that Jesus was anointed for His burial at this point in the week.
It didn’t add anything to the ‘work’ HE was about to do.

The Lord didn’t need this anointing.
And it had no meritorious nature in it for Mary.

But Jesus praised her work. . . because of the love that was behind it.

God, needing nothing, considers in our works ONLY the love that accompanies them.” – Brother Lawrence

Mary received the praise of Jesus because of the love that accompanied her ‘work.

And her sacrificial act of love was recorded as a memorial to her.
And it is still mentioned today.

Four people expressed their love for Jesus.
In their own unique way.
And without saying a word.

And what we’re to remember the most about these individuals is . . .
What they did to honor Him at that supper.
What they did to show their love and devotion to Him.

The same thing He wants others to remember about you and me.

by Bethany Hayes
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What is the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

When I was younger, it was anything Strawberry Shortcake. For a while, I was all about gift cards. This year, the Lord keeps reminding me of something He already gave.

Unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. (Isaiah 9:6)

Unto us.

These two words are repeated over and over in Handel’s song, “For unto us a Child is Born.” Two nights ago, I enjoyed listening to the St. Louis Symphony and choir perform his masterful piece, Messiah.  I had never noticed how much Handel emphasized those two little words in that song.

Unto us.

When God the Father sent His son, He sent a gift to us. Jesus wasn’t placed in a manger because He was itching to know what it was like to be a baby. He didn’t beg His Father to let Him come to earth to go fishing or to build things in a carpenter shop.

God gave His Son to us.

He was born. He was given. Isaiah said.

Unto us.

The best gifts are the ones that say, “I noticed you could use one of these.” Or, “I’ve taken the time to get to know you, and I knew you would love this.”

When God gave His Son, He was saying these very same things.

He knew we needed His Son to rescue us from ourselves and from our sin; to bridge the gap between a holy God and our unworthiness. God knew we needed a mediator, a man whose blood would be the only sacrifice sufficient to cover our sin and give us access to our God in heaven.

He knew we needed Jesus, so “Unto us a child is born.”

God loved His Son. He loved the world. And He so loved the world, He gave His Son (John 3:16). He knew that once we believed on Him, we would love Him, too.

God knows us so well, He wanted to give us the best gift He could think of, so “Unto us a son is given.”

While the world tells Santa what they want for Christmas, we can thank the Lord for what He already gave.

God gave His Son.

Unto us.

There is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior.
(Luke 2:11)

By Bethany Hayes
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