God Sees You

A writing venture was soon to begin, as I pulled into a vacation lodge in Alabama. I was both intrigued and overwhelmed by all that awaited me. As I proceeded with the production, my mind became captivated with the mere thought of finishing strong while the energy to continue was fading. Time was running out and so was my joy. However, as I continued to work hard on the job at hand, God was working intensely on the heart within.

Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 NASB

After days of writing, I knew I needed to remove myself from the room and take a ride in my car. Yet what I thought would be a time to clear my mind, God knew would be an opportunity to calm my heart.

I was completely engrossed by a sermon on the radio as I pulled up beside a boat dock that over- looked a beautiful river. Tears began to stream down my face, as I sat there alone, listening and praying. God knew that submerged deep within me were issues that needed resolving regarding my life.  As I poured my heart out to Him, I was deeply touched by the mere fact that His eyes saw me. I was in the middle of nowhere, tears pouring, yet my Lord took notice, just as he did for Sarai in the Old Testament.

Sarai, unable to conceive a child, wanted desperately to have a family. While taking matters into her own hands, she resolved to give her Egyptian maid, Hagar, to her husband, Abram in hopes of obtaining children. Yet immediately after Hagar conceived, a great friction took place between the two women, and Hagar ran away.

While traveling through the desert, Hagar found herself sitting down by a well, broken, rejected, and afraid. No sooner had she arrived than an angel of the Lord met her there. As He began to encourage her heart, she was engulfed with joy by the mere fact that God took notice of where she was and of what she was going through. She later sighed, “You are a God who sees.”

Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees.” Genesis 16:13 NASB

Just like Hagar, I too was overtaken by the goodness and mercy of God. And even though my journey was producing discouragement, earnestly imploring me to quit, God met me where I was.

Discouragement and hopelessness will always beg for entrance to your life. Yet when you allow God to flip on His light switch to your heart, you will be amazed at what transpires. As He takes center stage of your spirit. Hopelessness will quickly bow out.

There is nothing which you and I will ever face that God will not notice. God met Hagar sitting by a well. He met me sitting by a river. And He will meet you wherever you are today.

About the Writer:
Shea is the mother of two and nana of four and enjoys both roles tremendously. She also loves the opportunity to serve through ministry and share through speaking and blogging. A member of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Shea serves with the church’s First Impressions ministry and teaches the Strong & Courageous Sunday School class for single moms. She also speaks to women’s groups, assists with biblical counseling when opportunities arise and is constantly working to develop women’s Bible studies. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and will begin her doctoral work at Southwestern in family ministries in the fall.

 

 

 

 

 

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Failing Under Pressure

I don’t like to fail…I still fail though. Years back I attended one of the top 10 universities of the world at the time. I was the only paying foreigner in my group of peers. Everyone else were elite students from all over Russia who had worked their whole lives to be among the bright-eyed geniuses who were awarded entrance into Moscow State University Lomonosov. I felt dreadfully out of place, but was determined to do my best. I love to study and love to learn, but my language skills couldn’t begin to compete or suffice. Remnyova Marina Leontyevna, the Dean of our program, said something that stuck with me, “Students, there is talent and there is hard work. Hard work will get you further.” I took that to heart and have since tried to do my absolute best to achieve the desired results in almost every area of my life.

 When it comes to my character though, I see time and time again that I do not have the power within me to be who I want to be—to be like Christ, the purest, most loving man to walk the earth. I can decide all kinds of things that I want to do or be that seem to resemble Him, but then not have the ability to carry them through long-term.

 Proverbs 24:10 says, “If you fail under pressure, your strength is not very great.”

 Agreed. I’m weak. Not to say I don’t try, but it’s still not enough. Like salvation. I can try my whole life to please God, but it wouldn’t be good enough (Eph. 2:8-9) for Him to receive me. Thank God for Christ, who allows me entrance into a relationship with God that I don’t deserve otherwise. Thank God for His Holy Spirit who is faithfully accomplishing in me what I can’t make happen by praying more, reading more, giving more. Thank God that it is His power in me that frees me from the high expectations I have for myself that I can’t fulfill. Thank God that sanctification (the process of becoming more Christ-like), just like salvation, has more to do with Him than me. It has more to do with HIM doing and me accepting what He decides makes me look more like Him. That’s a very peaceful message. In the words of a famous missionary to India, Amy Carmichael:

IN ACCEPTANCE LIES PEACE
He said, “I will forget the dying faces;
The empty places,
They shall be filed again.
O voices moaning deep within me, cease,”
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in forgetting lieth peace.

He said, “I will crowd action upon action,
The strife of faction shall stir me and sustain;
O tears that drown the fire of manhood, cease.”
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in endeavor lieth peace.

He said, “I will withdraw me and be quiet,
Why meddle in life’s riot?
Shut be my door to pain.”
Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease.
Not in aloofness lieth peace.

He said, “I will submit; I am defeated.
God hath depleted My life of its rich gain.
O futile murmurings, why will ye not cease?”
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in submission lieth peace.

He said, “I will accept the breaking sorrow
Which God tomorrow will to His Son explain.”
Then did the turmoil deep within him cease.
Not vain the word, not vain;
For in Acceptance lieth peace.

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

A Woman Who Fears the Lord

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Recently, I was part of a group of women “of a certain age” waiting to have our pictures taken for a brochure. The Texas sun was almost directly overhead as we gathered outside, searching for the most flattering angles and backgrounds. A couple of us opted to wear our sunglasses for the photos, a technique every woman knows can erase at least 5, if not 10 years. Much to our dismay, the sunglasses were nixed and we stood bare-eyed in all our middle-aged glory, squinting and smiling for posterity. The fact that the purpose for the photo shoot was a BIBLE study brochure didn’t lessen one bit our concern with how we would appear on those glossy 5 by 7 pages. After all, God reminds us that while He looks on the heart, men (and especially women getting their pictures taken) look on the outward appearance. (1 Samuel 16:7)

The Hebrew word “beauty” in Proverbs 31:30 literally means “a breath, or vapor”. Just as quickly as our makeup evaporated under the hot midday sun, so fades the “beauty” of what the world considers important. Those of us who have seen more than three decades know how literally we are outwardly “wasting away”. Yet, hopefully, we are inwardly being renewed day by day…IF we are fearing the Lord instead of fearing growing older. (2 Corinthians 4:16) For, truly, this is vanity: the preoccupation with our outward appearance, which is destined to be left behind once we step into the timelessness of eternity anyway.

The gods of this world: money, prestige, power, lots of social media followers, fame, physical beauty, and looking forever young are constantly vying for our worship and calling us to “fear” them, to be in awe of the created instead of in awe of the Creator. Psalm 1:1 tells us that we are blessed when we do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. It’s a good idea to check from where we are allowing our hearts to be most influenced. Elisabeth Elliot wrote in her devotional “Keep a Quiet Heart”: “Be cautious when the advice given makes you feel comfortable when you know you’re really wrong.” But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised”  . . .  and she “smiles at the future (v.25) . . . laugh lines and all!”

About the Writer:
Nan Haines is so grateful to belong to God’s people. She loves getting to know all kinds of people and enjoys discovering new places, which is a good thing since she’s moved twenty five times. She has been married to Jim, a pastor, for 34 years, and together they have four grown kids, a son in love, and three grand puppies.

 

Noble Wife

An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.  Proverbs 31:10

Have you ever wished that King Lemuel would’ve just run out of ink at verse 9? Me too. On the surface, the Proverbs 31 woman seems like this perfect specimen that we, mere mortal women, are supposed to aspire to be, a goal which seems impossible.  Here’s the thing about “impossible”: God LOVES it! God is just waiting for you to allow Him the opportunity to perform the impossible in you. Now, does that mean that your kids are going to get up in the morning calling you “blessed”? That’s the impossible in them, not in you!  Herein lies the REAL challenge: you are trying to become this Noble Woman whether or not your family is trying to become the Noble Family.  I don’t know about you, but I was NOT trying to be the Noble Daughter when I was growing up (my poor mother!) so why would I set that level of expectation on someone else? Now I am trying to be worthy of God’s blessing and live the purpose He has for me. Why? Because my mother was striving to be Noble! I think she succeeded! Perfect? No way! But always striving, she set the example for me, so now it’s my turn to do that for my family. While we are striving, and seem to be getting nowhere, God is there, working things out for good the whole time, and not for just our good, but of those who see our efforts as well. So even if you’ve never considered a field and bought it, and then planted a vineyard, that doesn’t mean you won’t someday. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever known a 23-year-old that I would consider Noble, (Proverbs 31:28-31) but I do know quite a few of 50-year- old women that I would put in that category. This is all process. God spoke all creation into existence but the Bible tells us that He formed man and then placed him in the garden. He fashioned the woman and then brought her to the man. I interpret that to mean that He took His time and used His hands, focusing on the details that make a human a scientific marvel. He brought it all about then as He does now: the impossible through God is just done! So don’t fret that you haven’t achieved nobility because there is a big, fat “yet” at the end of that sentence. Keep on striving, sisters!

About the Writer:
Cindy loves being an RN, wife, mom, and CiCi (that’s a grandmother but I’m way too young and hot for normal terminology) to one sweet little 5 year old girl. She loves the Lord with all her heart and wants to serve Him with gladness til her dying breath. Cindy plans on starting seminary very soon. She can hardly wait for Wednesday and Sunday to roll around so she can sing with the choir and experience just a sliver of the joy we’ll have when we all get to Heaven!