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


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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Jesus was born.”

Matthew 2:1

We’ve approached a time of bustle.  Shopping, baking, holiday greetings, home for Christmas.  Why?  Why are we celebrating Christmas?

How would the average person answer that question?  Tradition?  Family?  Love for hearth and home?

Let’s go back to the first Christmas. A baby in a stall.  And the most incredible statement ever spoken:  “Jesus was born.”   The “image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” who is “before all things, and by him all things consist” (see Colossians 1:15-19).  HE was born.    GOD was “made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

He was made flesh.  All the blood of bulls and goats could not fully atone for man’s sin.  The blood of Christ was the only blood sufficient.  So a body was prepared for Him (Hebrews 10:5).  Suddenly, God could bleed.  And 33 years later, He bled on the cross, and God’s perfect justice was satisfied.

He dwelt among us. But why was He born?  Why didn’t He arrive as a full-grown man the hour of the crucifixion, pay for sins, and then leave?  So He could also dwell “among us.”  He associated Himself with us and was tempted “in all points. . .like as we are” (Hebrews 4:15).  He went through the things we go through.  He was touched by every grief, every disappointment, every painful trial, and every overwhelming temptation.   And yet, He never sinned.

He bled as a perfect sacrifice.  He lived a perfect life.

Horatius Bonar once said:

Upon a life I did not live,
Upon a death I did not die;
Another’s life, Another’s death,
I stake my whole eternity.

You and I can say that, too, because “Jesus was born.

THAT’s why we’re celebrating Christmas.

by Bethany Hayes
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Ever wonder why we can forget what we had for breakfast or what we wore yesterday, but offenses–someone else’s or our own–seem to lodge in our memories like planks in our eyes?

When it comes to sin, one fundamental difference between God and His people is this:

We remember.

God forgets.

I like how Max Lucado put it.

Just as it’s against your nature to eat trees and against mine to grow wings, it’s against God’s nature to remember forgiven sins.

It’s hard to think of God as the forgetting God. Forgetfulness seems more of a vice. Something to take pills for or the evidence of sleep deprivation.

God remembers His people. He will never forget His promises.

But when we confess and ask God to forgive sin, He forgets.

It’s gone from His memory.

In fact, it’s against His nature to remember.

This isn’t an imagined, hoped-for, made-up characteristic of God. He said it Himself in Isaiah 43:25,

“I even I, am He who blots our your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.

We tend to ask for His forgiveness over and over, because our guilt and memory burden us down. We want to forget, and we tend to think God hasn’t.

If we could only hear Him say to us in return,

I gave you forgiveness the first time you asked. I don’t remember it anymore.”

We often ask God for something He already gave: Forgiveness.

Forgiveness that forgets.
When the sins God already forgave haunt you, remember.
He forgot.

“I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins I will remember no more. Jeremiah 31:34

By Bethany Hayes
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Say to the righteous, that it shall be well with them.Isaiah 3:10 (NKJV)

Missing church on Sunday leaves a hole in my week that is difficult to patch up.  A chronic illness makes this absence unavoidable at times. But I can always count on this loving message and sincere promise when it occurs:  “Tell Bethany I’ll be praying for her.” Knowing the one who faithfully sends me this message, I’m always confident the promise has already been kept.

Recently, I discovered a similar message in God’s Word and a promise as sure as the One Who sent it:  “Say to the righteous, that it shall be well with them.”  (Isaiah 3:10)

This message was sent to a nation unsure of God’s ways. And the promise it contains is for those in the same situation.  Those full of questions yet righteous in Christ have this promise:  “. . . it shall be well with them.”  No matter the doubts, the frustrations, the “wish-things-were-different” thinking that takes our affection off things above, in Christ, we can be confident that it will be well with us.

Knowing the God who made this promise, we can be sure it is strong enough to lean on.

And it doesn’t take one ounce of strength to lean.

Father, Help us to lean our weakness and our questions on Your promises. We praise You for being as certain as the promises You’ve sent. Thank You for the assurance that because of Christ, it will be well with us. In His Name.  Amen.

by Bethany Hayes
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The story is told of a woman who was saved later in life. Wanting to make up for lost time, she committed entire portions of Scripture to memory. Books of the Bible. Epistles. Favorite passages.

She hid God’s Word deep in her heart.

As the years passed by and her mind and eyes grew dim, many of these scriptures slipped from her memory.

Finally, only one verse remained. A verse she recited to every person who came to visit.

I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.
(2 Timothy 1:12)

As her final years continued to wane, part of this passage slipped away as well.

All that remained in her mind and on her lips were the words: “He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.”

On her death bed, only one word remained. For the last time, it escaped her lips with her final breath.

“. . . Him.”

At the end of his life, John Newton said,

My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!”

Everything else will fail one day.

The only One who never will is “. . .Him.”

Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.Psalm 90:2

By Bethany Hayes
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Sometimes life throws curve balls, hands us difficult decisions, and asks us to deal with complicated relationships. We want to respond Biblically and choose wisely. We search the Scriptures. We pray.

But if you’re like me, sometimes you just want to pick up the phone and let God tell you what to do.

I’ve recently concluded that if I could pick up my phone and ask God for advice, He would always give me the same answer.

Whether it’s a major decision, a tough relationship, the need to respond properly to the various curve balls that come, His answer would always be the same.

I believe this, because so much of Scripture is centered around this answer.

Those who were under the law knew what God wanted of them. He spelled it out plainly in several books of the Old Testament.

Those of us who are no longer under the law are told how all those books of rules can be summarized (Romans 13:19):

  • Love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. This command summarizes the first five commandments.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself. This command summarizes the last five commandments.

Everything God expected of His people came down to these two commands.

If this is all God really asks of us, couldn’t we apply this desire of His to every area of our lives?

If I had a major decision to make and I called God on the phone, I think His answer would be:

  • Which decision would increase your love for Me and help you grow in your love for others?

If I had a relationship I was struggling with and I asked Him for advice, I think He would say:

  • How can you demonstrate that you love Me with everything in you and that you want to love that person to the max?

If a curve ball came my way and I wanted to respond properly, I think He would tell me:

  • What response would come from your deep love for Me and your desire to love others as yourself?

God lets us make decisions, handle difficult relationships, and respond to curve balls.

But if He were to tell us what to do in each of these cases, it would always be grounded on these two principles.

Love the Lord with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.

Love others as yourself.

I believe this is what He would say.

If God were to answer your phone call.

There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

By Bethany Hayes
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