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


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

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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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Dealing with Despair

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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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“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
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Ever found yourself up against a Red Sea—hemmed in, with nowhere to turn?

Ever faced a wall too high and too strong, with no way over or through?

Have your circumstances caused you to long for previous, even loathsome days—like the Israelites who said it would have been better to be back in Egypt, serving the Egyptians?

“It would have been better to still be ‘back there’ than swallowed up with THESE circumstances.”

It’s at times like these when the Lord says:

Stand still . . .See. . . ” (Exodus 14:13)
Watch what I will do.
You have nothing to do but be silent.

Oswald Chambers once said:“Dare I really let God be to me all that He says He will be?” “My Utmost for His Highest,

When the Israelites had nowhere to turn and God said He would act, they dared to let Him be for them all He said He would be.

They stopped, stood still—marched silently around an impossible wall—and watched God work.

Because He said He would.

The sea split open.
The walls fell down.

They crossed through their frightening circumstances.
They marched around their greatest fear.

Because God said He would work.

They had nothing to do but be silent.

Someone has defined “rest” as to “cease striving.”

When the children of Israel let their faith rest, they watched God work.

God stepped in, because He was capable of doing what they couldn’t.

They rested in who their God is. They watched silently.

They passed through (Hebrews 11:29); they took the city (Joshua 6)—only after God had worked.

They did what God said, because He said He would do it.

Have you ever found yourself against a Red Sea, a wall like Jericho’s, a circumstance, a need, a dream, an ache that only God could conquer?

He is able.

Rest.

Dare to let God be for you all He has said He will be.

Faith that rests will watch God work.

Every time.

Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. . .
Rest in the Lord.Psalm 37:5,7

By Bethany Hayes
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Lately, I’ve found myself complaining about the very things God gave me in answer to my prayers. Too often, I focus on the uncomfortable, zoom in on the uneasy, and plead for something better.

And thanksgiving forgets to rest on my lips.

Without thanksgiving, our God becomes small.

Forgetting to be thankful, we complain. We wallow in the uncomfortable. We forget to focus on God’s goodness.

We wonder why God is no longer the invincible, all-powerful, loving God we’ve seen Him to be so many times before.

When God seems small, we need to remember the exhortation found many times in the Psalms to magnify the Lord.

To “magnify” means to “to increase in significance; to cause to be held in greater esteem; to enlarge.” (Webster’s dictionary)

Our God never changes.

But the greatness of who He is resonates in our hearts and minds the most when we enlarge our thoughts of Him and esteem Him as greater in significance than our petty inconveniences.

The best way to magnify the Lord is to give Him thanks.

Thanking Him turns our minds from the difficult and enlarges our thoughts of the Giver of all good things.

He has done so much for us. When we neglect to give Him thanks, we leave His blessings unnoticed and minimize His greatness.

When God seems small, “magnify Him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:30)

By Bethany Hayes
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When we would have any great things to be accomplished, the best policy is to work by an engine which the world sees nothing of. – John Preston

When we can’t reach something, where do we usually turn?

To someone who’s taller. Or closer.

To someone whose arm is not too short.

Prayer is asking God to reach for something outside our grasp.

To move where we can’t.

To touch where we are incapable.

To act where all we can do is watch.

Prayer is coming to the One whose arm is never too short.

The God we approach in prayer is a God sitting on a throne—high and lifted up (Isaiah 6:1). Yet our Father who sees in secret and hears in secret and is present with us in secret (Matthew 6).

Prayer is seeking the hand of a God who can move in men’s hearts. Heal the bruised. Touch where we can’t. And protect where we would only crumble.

•         We pray to a God who is mighty in our midst (Zephaniah 3:17).
•         To a God who shows Himself strong on our behalf (2 Chronicles 16:9).
•         To the One who is our only hope and our only trust (Psalm 71:5).

We pray to a God who has a mighty, outstretched arm.

It is nothing for our God to work, to reach, to move (2 Chronicles 14:11)

It is nothing for Him to answer our prayers.

His arm is never too short, and His hand can reach even the tiniest trouble.

Pray. And watch God reach His mighty hand long and strong where we never could.

Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save;
Nor his ear heavy, that it cannot hear.” Isaiah 59:1

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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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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