Category: <span>thoughts by Bethany Hayes</span>

  Those who are forgiven much will love much.


For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14

She wasn’t asked to come.

Her known past.  Her present identity.
Both were stamped on her like a scarlet “A”:  “Sinner . . .  from the city.”

But she wanted to see Jesus.
So she came.
Welcome by no one . . . but Him.

Sometime in the past, she’d been broken.  And she received His forgiveness.
Now, in His presence, she couldn’t hold back the tears, or continue to stand behind Him.

She fell at His feet and wept.   Enough tears to wash His feet.
But she didn’t just wash His feet.   She wiped them with her hair.
And, with overwhelming emotion, she began kissing His feet.  And didn’t stop.
Then, she brought out her alabaster box and anointed His feet with a costly ointment.

This is what it looks like to be forgiven.

But her actions weren’t welcome by the host – a Pharisee.
Known for distancing himself from sin.  Known as the religious elite.
He thought he was on equal footing with Christ.

But he didn’t love Christ.
He didn’t treat Him as a guest of honor in his own home. Or show the most common courtesies.
And he accused Him of ignorance.  Surely He didn’t know who was touching Him!

But Jesus knew all about the woman.  He knew all about Simon, the Pharisee.
And He spoke a parable Simon wouldn’t forget.

Two debtors owed two different amounts.

One was ten times the amount of the other.
But neither could pay their debt.

One debt was great and the other was small.
But neither had enough resources to pay.

So the creditor forgave them both.
They were both forgiven.
Freed from their debt.

Still having to be paid, their debt became His.

And he paid it all.

The main lesson of the parable came from Simon’s own lips.  He who has been forgiven the most will love the most.

Suddenly, Jesus looked at the woman.
Still speaking to Simon, He pointed to the love this forgiven sinner had been showing Him, in contrast to what Simon had failed to do.

Simon gave Him no water to wash His feet.  This woman had used her tears.
Simon gave Him no towel.  But she used her hair.
Simon hadn’t given Him a kiss out of common courtesy.  But she was still kissing His feet.
Simon hadn’t anointed His head with common oil.  But she had anointed His feet with a costly ointment.

This is what it looks like to be forgiven.

It frees.
It freed this woman from a debt that couldn’t be paid.
It could have freed Simon from hardness toward God and others.

And forgiveness gives freedom to love MUCH.

Simon had said it.  Those who are forgiven much will love much.

And all of us have enough need for forgiveness to make us individuals who can love Christ in a big way.

Do we love Him much. . . or just a little?

The measure of our love will be determined by the way we view our sin.

Whether our sin is great or small . . .
NONE of us have enough resources to pay the debt we owe.
ALL of us needed Someone Else to pay it for us.

And He did.

Our sins are just the huge, great reason to love Him in a big way.

by Bethany Hayes
Used by Permission


Would you like to know Jesus? Would you like to accept Jesus into your life today?  You can do so right now  by sincerely praying the following 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. Amen.


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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Further Reading

•  Feelings, Forgiveness and Peace | by Dr. Muriel Larson

• The Power of Forgiveness | by Dr. Henry Brandt

•  Salvation Explained


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God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” Psalm 46:1,2 (NKJV)

Living near one of the most majestic mountains of the Cascade range, I am constantly reminded of the might and presence of our Creator God.  Rounding a corner as I drove to work one day, I was met by another breathtaking view of Mount Hood.  As it towered directly in front of me, its beauty and steadfast presence brought these verses to mind: “We will not fear. . .though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”

My imagination began to run wild.  What if something as sure and steadfast as Mount Hood did uproot and was suddenly hurled into the Pacific Ocean? A mountain dropped in the sea would cause an alarm greater than its splash. Fear would be the most natural result.

If that were to happen, what would we do?  Scripture says, “We will not fear.”  If we will not fear, even if the most terrifying “natural disaster” were to occur, will we fear in financial uncertainty, political upheaval, an unknown future, or a scary diagnosis?

We will not fear” is not a mantra to be recited continuously until we convince ourselves to do what we say. It is the response of faith in the character of our steadfast God – a God more steadfast than the highest mountains and more present than our overwhelming troubles.  We will not fear, because “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

PrayerFather, Thank You for being our refuge and strength. Thank You for Your abiding presence. Grant us the faith to trust You with our uncertainties.  Grant us the faith that swallows fear, for Your Name’s sake. Amen.

by Bethany Hayes
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Further Reading

•   God Provides for His Own
•   God is Bigger than All My Problems
•  Salvation Explained

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A few months ago, I found myself pouring my heart out before the Lord in a way I hadn’t done in a very long time. A long list of trying circumstances and the question “Why?” characterized that prayer.

But as I prayed, I sensed God asking me the same thing.

Why?

Lord, I’ve been working so hard!”

His answer thundered in a quiet rebuke: Why? I clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven. Will I not much more clothe you?
(Matthew 6:29)

Lord, I’m exhausted.”

Again, Why? Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Lord, I want to fix him/her.”

Why? And like His words to Peter, “What is that to you? You follow me.” (John 21:22)

Lord, I can’t do this task You’ve given me.”

Why? Your help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)

That day I learned a valuable lesson about prayer and faith.

For every complaint we pour out before the Lord, His Word holds a promise, laced with God’s character that beckons us to trust.

When your prayers become filled with “me” and unbelief, let His answer be, “Why?”

And trust a promise.

Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:8)

By Bethany Hayes
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Further Reading

•  What the Lord Values
•  HE IS!  A great poem
•  Salvation Explained

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Sometimes life’s most valuable lessons begin with failure.  Recently, I embarked on one of these lessons by allowing thoughtless words to fly unchecked.  Too late to retrieve them, I found myself in an acute state of unrest and basically dysfunctional.  I was the only one to blame for those words, and I needed a stern reproof.  After asking God’s forgiveness, I knew what else had to be done.  A phone call to the offended individual.  And the request, “Will you forgive me?”  The response was unforgettable:  ‘Yes.  100%.’

Struck with the finality of my accepted apology, I considered the forgiveness I had asked from the Lord.  God’s Word says forgiveness through Christ is guaranteed.  But how forgiven does “forgiven” mean?  Do we need to ask 70 x 7 times for every offense?  Is faultless action required from now on in order for His forgiveness to take affect?

Opening my Bible to the book of Colossians, these words leaped from the pages of chapter 1: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” Colossians 1:21-22 (NKJV)

Our holy God Who is wronged numerous times by our actions and the state of our hearts knows we are often to blame and need reproof.  But Christ presents us to God with no stain on our record and no accusation against us.  We are far from being worthy of this standing, but it is ours through our union with Christ in His blameless life and perfect death in our place.

Is forgiveness through Christ final?

Yes. 100%!

Father, Thank You for this amazing truth.  May we never dishonor You by accepting our standing cheaply.  Cause our lives to grow into the likeness of our position in Your Son.  In His Name we ask. Amen.

By Bethany Hayes
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Further Reading

•  Did You Know that You are Someone Special?
•   What a Friend we Have in Jesus
•  Salvation Explained

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“Be still, and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10a

With summer here, the stormy winter and chilly evenings of recent months have quickly been forgotten.  One morning, however, my heart felt like a lingering storm.  Numerous needs “my own and others” were crashing in on me like an unexpected whirlwind.

Casting these burdens on the Lord, I was suddenly awakened to a scene quietly unfolding outside my window.  Like a fitting backdrop, tall fir trees lining our neighbor’s fence stood motionless, being what they were created to be.  Without a word, early summer flowers were telling of their Creator’s faithfulness and love for beauty.  Soon, a sparrow entered to complete the picture, not planting seeds or gathering food into a barn, but happily discovering and enjoying what our heavenly Father had provided for him. This hushed scene struck me with its peacefulness – a sharp contrast to my stormy heart.

Distracted by this stillness, my thoughts turned to a particular storm in the lives of the disciples – one in which their Maker slept on a pillow.  The disciples weren’t sleeping.  With an unexpected storm crashing in on them, their lives were in turmoil. But when they woke Jesus, He commanded the stormy winds and waves to be still.  And they obeyed.

Creation busies itself by resting in its Creator’s authority and by obeying the same command given to us: “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a)

He is God.  And that’s all we need to know to be still.

Father, Thank you for rest promised to those who remember that You are God. Knowing who You are, we seek Your strength to be still.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

by Bethany Hayes
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Further Reading

•  How did Jesus Pray?
•  Practicing the Presence of God
•  Salvation Explained

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“I am the LORD your God. . . Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10

Have you ever spent a day watching the activity of a mother bird following the arrival of her latest brood?  She has one purpose only – to bring good things to the open mouths of her hungry children.  Unable to care for themselves, her babies wait in expectation for her presence and her provisions.  And all day long, she feeds them, knowing they will grow and survive only as she supplies their needs.

The Lord made a promise in Psalm 81:10:  “I am the LORD your God. . . Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”   When we are convinced He is the Lord our God, we will open our lives wide to Him.  Like a baby bird in dependence on another, we will wait in expectation for what He chooses to bring our way.  When we are trusting Him, we will accept the abundance He brings and let Him fill us to the full.  A wide mouth in expectation of blessing requires this deep and open trust.

Imagine if a baby bird decided he would rather fend for himself.  How far would he make it from the nest?  How soon would he require the sustaining influence of his mother’s care again?  And I wonder – Is this how God views our doing, our working, our going, and our efforts?  In their place, these are right and good.  But does He see personal attempt alone with no expectation on Him?  Our efforts are useless apart from His blessing – the kind of blessing He promises to open, trusting mouths.

How wide is your mouth and mine?

Father, Thank You for promising to abundantly meet our needs as we trust in You.  Grant us the faith that opens our mouths wider to Your blessing today than they were yesterday.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

by Bethany Hayes
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•  Going Deeper with God
•  How to Pray
•  Salvation Explained

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I keep a running list of love notes.
God’s love notes.

Because unless He keeps telling me He loves me, my human heart stops believing it.
I stop believing it, because I can’t fully comprehend His love.

His love is greater than my mind can wrap itself around and deeper than I can grasp.
So I keep reading His love notes.
Over and over.

Unless I do, His love gets lost in the incomprehensible. And I fail to believe it.

I forget that no one loves me as He does. Not one ounce of hatred exists in His heart toward me. No warm, fuzzy feeling could ever properly express His love.

And my human heart wants it to be warm and fuzzy.
It wants to feel loved. It wants His love to be a feeling.
But it’s greater than that.

His love is a reality of tenderness that acts—that stoops down in His greatness and fills every corner of our existence with His familiarity and presence.

His love is actions on our behalf that we didn’t ask for. And action we don’t deserve.

His love toward us is actions and gifts we will never deserve.
Eternal life.
A place in His family.
Sins forgiven.
Penalty paid.

His love isn’t fleeting circumstances that feel like a warm, fuzzy feeling from Him.
His love will carry us into eternity and keep us there.
His is love we didn’t deserve. He loves us with a love we could never comprehend.

So I keep reading His love notes.
Again and again.

Because unless I do, I forget. Because I don’t understand it.
It’s too high and incomprehensible.
It’s that amazing.

Constant.
Undeserved.

It’s a love He doesn’t want us to forget.

Because unless we are loved by Him, what kind of love would ever be enough?

Unto him that loved us . . . to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5,6)

By Bethany Hayes
Used by Permission

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FURTHER READING

•  Father God’s Intimate Love Letter to You
•  God Demonstrates His Love

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I once heard of a little boy who refused to say his evening prayers one night; not out of defiance, but simply because he couldn’t think of anything he wanted.

He didn’t see much point in praying when there wasn’t anything to ask for.
When his mother heard his dilemma, she suggested he give thanks for all the things he had instead.

So the little boy got on his knees and thanked the Lord for everything he could think of – from his favorite toy to the fact he wasn’t blind like the boy down the street.
His evening prayers were longer that night, because he was thankful for more than he wanted.

We often have the opposite dilemma.

We find it hard to pray; not because we don’t have anything to ask for, but because we’re too disheartened to pray.

Our prayers seem to hit a stone ceiling; our prayers go unanswered for years; or we simply don’t receive the peace we used to enjoy in times of prayer.

But maybe we can’t pray, because we’ve forgotten to be thankful.

Like this little boy, what if we took some time and turned our prayers into words of only thanks?

When you pray today, don’t ask for one single thing.
JUST give thanks.

While you drive to work, list one thing after another you’re grateful for.
And thank the Lord ONLY.

When you have a few quiet moments, think of things you know are gifts.
And ONLY thank the Lord.

When you can’t pray . . . give thanks.
Your prayers might be longer than usual, because you find yourself thankful for more than you want.

With thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7

By Bethany Hayes
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FURTHER READING

•  How did Jesus Pray?
•  Continuous Partial Attention Is your prayer time undistracted?
•  What Should Be Included in Prayer?

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Remember when Jesus said, “Consider the lilies, how they grow?” (Matthew 6:28)

He was teaching His disciples a lesson on trust and anxiety and leaving worrisome things in the hands of their Creator.

But how do lilies grow?
In a hidden place.

Right now, winter is passing into color, and a brighter world is springing up out of nowhere.

But where did this color and beauty come from?
From the dark.
In the hidden place.

This beauty and color and life out of dormancy is springing up from the dark.
From a hidden place.

Oswald Chambers once said,

We imagine we are to be always above ground, shedding perfume and looking beautiful; or being continually cut and put into God’s show room to be admired, forgetting altogether that we cannot grow and be cut at the same time. We cannot be lilies unless we have spent time in the dark.”  (Still Higher for His Highest, p. 46)

We could never hope to be a source of joy and life and blessing until we’ve spent time in the dark.
Unless we’ve been in the hidden place.

I was there when these tulip bulbs were planted—small, round balls of hope buried deep in the dark for a brighter day. Buried deep in a hidden place, bearing up under the snow and cold of a different season, yet sharing life today.

Life buried deep in a hidden place will always shed joy and life and hope for others.

Because the hidden place of life in Christ is a place of peace and growth we could never experience any other way.

Consider your hidden life with God,” Oswald Chambers also said.

That hidden life will bear up in the darkest seasons. That hidden place will always grow life that can’t be ignored.
Your hidden life in Him will bless others.

He will bless through you as you lie dormant in His embrace continually and contentedly.
Living for Him. Loving Him. Seeking His face. Resting in Him.
In the hidden place.

Your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)

by Bethany Hayes
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FURTHER READING

•  Keeping Yourself in God’s Love – even during painful times in your life
•  He Put a Song in My Heart

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“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:24 (KJV)

I often wonder what it was like to cross through the Red Sea on dry ground, to watch Jericho’s walls collapse, or to walk with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. But imagine being present at the most astonishing event of world history, “the scourging of Christ, the Promised Savior”.

Someone should have protested.  Instead, the loudest voices were those in favor of the scourging.  Jesus Himself did not even raise a voice in His own defense.  In fact, Peter described the scene this way.

When He was reviled, [He] did not revile in return. When He suffered, He did not threaten.1 Peter 2:23a (NKJV).

While being scourged for our sins, the Maker of heaven and earth ‘and of those who accused Him’ said nothing.

Yet, after He was placed on a cross, Jesus spoke these words. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

He had committed Himself and the result was available forgiveness.

Equal in significance to the words, “Father, forgive them,” were another three words “it is finished.”  Complete and final forgiveness is ours only through our Lord Jesus Christ. “For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
(Acts 4:12).

Father, Thank You for providing the only Savior qualified to save us from our sin, for looking on His finished work and forgiving us completely.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

by Bethany Hayes
Used by Permission


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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FURTHER READING

• The Easter Story – the story of Christ’s death and resurrection
•  A Trampled Rose
•  Easter Category

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Ever wonder why God calls us “sheep” so much?

We can be just as foolish and helpless. We easily stray. We can’t be left to ourselves. All of these are obvious reasons.
But I think there’s more to it.

I think He calls us “sheep” because that’s the way we were made.
He made us to need Him that much.

Here are five reasons (of many) why God calls His people “sheep.

Sheep weren’t made to carry burdens.
You will never see a sheep carrying a pack on its back. Other animals are good for carrying things. But not sheep.

Sheep can’t handle burdens.
Cast your burdens on the Lord, and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).
Sheep can’t defend themselves.
When a sheep is frightened, the only thing it knows to do is run. Other animals were made with defense mechanisms. But not sheep.

Sheep aren’t able to defend themselves.
The LORD is my defense; and my God is the rock of my refuge” (Psalm 94:22).

Sheep can’t find their own way.
When sheep are lost, they are unable to find their way home again. Other animals were made with instincts that can. But not sheep.

Sheep have trouble finding the right way.
Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face” (Psalm 5:8).

Sheep are content with whatever satisfies.
When sheep are thirsty, they will stop at a puddle, even when clean, still waters are nearby. Sheep are content with filth, so long as it satisfies. A good shepherd always knows what’s better and best. But not sheep.

Sheep will take whatever they can get.
“[He is] able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)

Sheep need a shepherd.
Sheep need a constant overseer. Other animals can fend for themselves. But not sheep. Sheep need a shepherd whose life work is to care for his sheep. They need someone to protect, defend, lead, guide, and provide for them at all times.
We have that in our God, whose name is “The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1).
He calls His people “sheep” because we need a Shepherd.
We need Him that much.

by Bethany Hayes
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She told me what God’s been doing.
How He’s picking up the broken pieces and making something new.
How He’s taken these past three years and molded her and prepared her for the beauty that’s emerging from the ashes.

I think I like pain,” she’s concluded.

Which tells me she’s seeing the value in it.

It’s not the pain itself she likes, but the beautiful purposes of God that would have never emerged apart from that pain.

The most valuable things in life are those that are ours at great cost.

She’s experienced that cost.
But today, she’s able to thank God for breaking her heart.

If through a broken heart God can bring His purposes to pass in the world, then thank Him for breaking your heart.” – Oswald Chambers

We all remember pains from the past.
But our pain is valuable to Him.

So valuable, He uses the pain to frame the beautiful things He’s making out of the pain.

He frames the beauty He’s making out of the ashes. The pain lines the glory of it, and makes the beauty shine brighter.

He’s the Maker of all things.
He even makes beauty out of ashes.

If He’s bringing about His purposes in this world through our pain, we can thank Him for breaking our heart.

I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.”  Jeremiah 33:6

By Bethany Hayes
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FURTHER READING

Dealing with Despair

When Your Husband has an Affair – what should you do?

Hope for the Hopeless


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I watched the sunset tonight.

You know what thought never crossed my mind?

That it wouldn’t rise again in the morning.

I’m not going to wake up tomorrow, and find the sky as black as it is now.

The sun will rise again.

It always does.

The Psalmist once said: “My soul waits for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning—yes, more than they that watch for the morning.” (Psalm 130:6)

His soul waited on his God more than those who were sure that the morning would come.

We have no doubt the sun will rise tomorrow.

We can wait in expectation on the Lord even more than that.
We can be even more assured that our God will come through for us.
We can hope in Him that much.

The sun will rise again tomorrow.

I can say that with full assurance. Because it always does.

Our God will come through for us.

I can say that with even more assurance.

Because our God is more faithful than even the times and the seasons coming and going.

His ways are not as predictable as the sun rising and setting.

But His faithfulness is.

His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning.
Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22,23)

By Bethany Hayes
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There is much in the world that tempts us to fear.

Fear is typical in a world like ours.

Fear is a response that comes naturally.

But we’re told 365 times in Scripture to “Fear Not!”

Why are we told not to fear?

Because of who our God is.

  • Jesus told us we’d have tribulation in this world. But we’re to be of good cheer. He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
  • Nations are like a drop in a bucket and dust on a scale (Isaiah 40:15). He is mightier than all the world’s nations combined.
  • He spoke and everything was created. Everything. All He did was speak a word. Is there anything too hard for Him? (Jeremiah 32:17)
  • The “kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). We are on the winning side.
  • The Lord our God in the midst of us is mighty (Zephaniah 3:17).  In our midst. Not sitting on the sidelines, cheering us on or hoping we’ll make it. His might works in our midst.
  • He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). The most repeated promise in Scripture. We have never been abandoned by our God and never will.

We serve a God who has a mighty hand on an outstretched arm that is not too short that it cannot. . .

No wonder He tells us 365 times to “Fear not!”

By Bethany Hayes
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“The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.” Psalm 33:11 (NKJV)

Have you ever used this reply when asked about your future plans, “Well, nothing’s set in stone.”  This is the equivalent of saying, “Not yet. But I have some ideas.”  Or “I’ve started to make arrangements, but there’s still a lot to do.”  This statement could even mean, “I’ve made some plans, but we’ll see what happens.” We can formulate our intentions and have a strategy, but to “set them in stone” is another story.

Often, plans being formulated by those in authority are troublesome. Some proposals aren’t set in stone. But they are being devised, and it seems they are headed for stone.  Our thoughts can be overwhelmed by the upsetting news reports.  But turned to the rightful Ruler of the universe, we can find this comfort: “The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.” (Psalm 33:10)

For centuries, man has laid down counsels. He has mapped out intentions.  Some propositions he would have called, “set in stone.” But history confirms that, though plans are devised and carried out, eventually they are brought to nothing. New counsels form. But they also come and go, are worked out and defeated. In fact, every nation that has ever existed has been involved in this same cycle: plans devised, carried out, eventually foiled.

If the Lord thwarts the plans of nations, defeats counsels, sets up new governments, and puts down others, what about His own intentions? “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.” (Psalm 33:11)  When God made His plans, He set them in stone. And that is where they have been for centuries.

Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “See that you are not troubled.” (Matthew 24:6)

by Bethany Hayes
Used by Permission

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