Bethany's BlogWords of Encouragement

A Billion Thoughts and More

Your thoughts--how rare, how beautiful! God, I'll never comprehend them! I couldn't even begin to count them--any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in  the morning and live always with you!

Psalms 139:17-18

Did you know that there are over a quintillion grains of sand? It looks like this: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000; that's a lot of zero's!

If each person on earth had a giant bucket for the amount of sand that represented God's good thoughts towards them, they would have over a billion grains of sand in their bucket. Yes, over a billion! 

When I think of this, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love for my loving Father. Truely, it's hard to grasp that He has over a billion thoughts for each of us, and the thoughts He has are all good thoughts, amazing, loving, kind thoughts. God is always on the watch for each of us, always speaking life over us, always loving us.

When I think of having over a billion good thoughts towards someone, it feels impossible. And, trusting that God's thoughts are all good, it is a tough one to comprehend. 

I have often prayed that God would open my ears to His thoughts towards me, and then enable me to voice those loving thoughts towards others. When I believe and trust that His thoughts are true, and that He is the One that teaches me to see others as He does. It is a beautiful process.

What are the thoughts He has towards you? Do you see that they are endlessly good? They are thoughts that give you life, hope, courage, boldness, and strength. They bring peace and love. His thoughts draw you towards Him, and your bucket overflows!

Authentic Faith

 

 

 

Let my prayer come before You and enter into Your presence; Incline Your ear to my cry! For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit. I am like a man who has no strength, cast away and abandoned among the dead, like the slain who lie in a grave, whom You no longer remember, and they are cut off from Your hand.

Psalms 88:2-5

One thing I admire most about the Psalms is how real it is. In Psalms 88-89, Heman the Ezrahite and Ethan the Ezrahite  pour out their hearts to God in song. Heman was a gifted wise man, first identified in 1Kings 4:31 and in 1Chronicles 15:16-19. He was a Levite, and he was musically gifted. His ministry was worship during the time of David. I love how Heman, even when he is feeling great despair confesses his faith in God. He is trusting that God will stand beside him no matter the circumstances. He also is not afraid to voice his pain before God, he is not pretending that everything is okay. It's not okay, and expressing that to God strengthens him.

How long, O Lord? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire? Remember how fleeting my lifetime is: for what vanity, You have created all the sons of men! What man can live and not see death? Can he rescue his soul from the hand of Sheol? O Lord, where are Your former lovingkindnesses, which You swore to David in Your faithfullness?

Psalms 89:46-49

Ethan the Ezrahite does not hesitate to bring God into question. He believes that God has given promises, yet none of those promises have come to fruition. He reminds God that He has not been keeping the promises given to David, consequently, His people are living through harsh abuse from their enemies. Everyone is in distress--the psalmist, the people, and the king! Still, through it all, he is praising God! How can this be?

When your life is full of dashed promises, how can we still praise the name of God?

TRUST

In my life there have been many days of distress and broken promises. Days that I have felt like Heman and Ethan, only able to see the unfulfilled portions of my life and spewing out distress. God hears it all, yet still brings me back to a place of needing to trust that He has it all under control. Even through the pain, He has a plan. He has proven to me that though I cannot see a way out, trusting Him is the answer to the way. Pressing into a life of daily trust will open doors that my distress does not see. 

Where does your trust abide? Is God asking you to move your perspective of what He is not doing to trusting Him through the not?

Trusting God's people has always been a struggle for me. Yet, I have found that when my trust is founded in my Jesus, I can trust that He will lead me to trusting His people as well, because He brings trustworthy people into my life. He chooses them, not me. And, if I feel reason to distrust, He will walk through that with me.

This, is authentic faith in the God that is not afraid or insulted to hear my heart. All of it, I have to trust that!

To Be a Friend

 

 

  

Lately I've been praying for God to be my brain. It seems like a good prayer, some re-programming, as my husband would say. It wouldn't be the first time that God has had to go into my brain and move things around a little, or a lot. Shake things up, or settle things down. Whatever the case, I'm thinking that having His brain, with His thoughts and His words is at the top of my list. So, with this prayer,  I want Him to use me more. I prayed that He would show me how to be a good friend. We did talk about it for awhile, and I did some writing on it in my journal. After thinking on all of this for a bit, God sent me to Colossians 4. I've read this chapter many times, and have never seen the good friend part, but today He showed me and it was pretty exciting to me.
In verse 5, the writer starts with saying this: "Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out." And so, there it is, "the most of every opportunity" hmm, I can take some time to think on that and pray for grace on that, because I know this is something I do not always do. And, to be gracious in my speech? Or, bring out the best in others in conversation? All of this is what a good friend would do, and this is how I want to be all the time. Jesus, program me like this.
In verse 7, he talks of his good friend Tychicus, a trusted minister and companion.  This is a friend that encourages in the faith. And, then he speaks of Onesimus, another trusted and dear brother, that brings information to Christians. Both of these friends are ones that he trusts! They are faithful companions. A good friend is trustworthy at all times! And, a good friend is faithful.
Verse 11, speaks of Justus, his friend that stuck with him in working for God's Kingdom.  And, Epaphras, a man that was tireless in his prayers. Praying that the people stand firm , mature, and confident in everything God wants them to do.
He goes on to mention more Good Friends, and encourages them to do their best in the job each one has received from the Master!
I want to do my best as a Good Friend in Jesus! To be a trusted minister of who He is, and to encourage others in the faith. A faithful companion, and a sticky friend for His Kingdom. I want to be the one that prays for His people and with His people. Jesus, program me to be all of this and more. To do life Your way! To be the kind of friend that You are, a good friend.
 Jesus, You are a Good Friend , my Friend, and I know that you live IN me. Your character resides and shines through me and your people, thank you for your transforming power.

Reposted from 2010

Does Curiosity really kill the cat?

"Come now, and let us reason together" says the Lord, "Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool."

Isaiah 1:18

Are you curious about God? Do you ever go before Him and ask questions because you want to know who He is? Maybe, if you grew up like me, questions about God were considered a no-no. Just accept what you're told and deal with! But, I've never been one to do that, I want to know what He's up to. I want to be in such a deep intimate relationship with Him that we can reason together.  "Come now, and let us reason together." He says.

Have you ever asked Him why the Israelites exterminated an entire population?  Or, why He allows Himself to be protrayed as such a violent God in the Old Testament? Or, here's one, Why does His Word say that women should be silent in church? Is he talking about women today? What's up with that, anyway? Do you spend long hours just asking Him what He's thinking? How he feels? What's next in this life?

What about all those Old Testament laws, how did they keep up? As Christians we think of some of them as timeless, others not so much---Why?  Let's factor in the men that wrote holy scripture, was their mind-set timeless? Or, were they writing from an ancient mind-set? Did they embellish their stories, or is it all factual? Were they limited by their own time and place? 

The Bible is active and living; it transforms a person when they read it. It speaks of past and future. It's full of amazing stories. When we read it, we interpret it. It is presented to us by several perspectives, just look at the four Gospels. Wonderful stories, a lot of dialogue, many important details, different perspectives.

I'm very curious about God. As I look at Jesus, who reveals the true identity of God, I am able to get an outline of who God is, but there are a lot of conflicting stories on that too. So, for me, I come to Him and reason with Him. I want to know Him personnally, to have a transformed mind-set everyday that feels safe and bold to reason with Him about all things. I want to be so curious about Him that I die to myself and thrive in Him. 

In the end, curiousity surely will kill me, and shine light on Him!

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