Not “Why?” but “What Now?”

When I was single, I remember always struggling financially to provide for myself. I had some great jobs but it just seemed like I was just barely getting by each month paying for rent, food and my bills. Now don’t get me wrong…I was extremely thankful that each month everything got paid…even if it was barely getting by with really no money left over. But I remember hoping and praying that one day I would be married and that my husband and I would be more secure financially.

When I met my husband Billy, he did well financially with 2 businesses. I remember thinking… “Thank you Jesus for answering my prayers! Now I won’t have to struggle financially and live paycheck to paycheck each month!”

When Billy and I were first married, we lived in a beautiful house, drove nice cars, had great jobs, and had a great marriage. But my hopes and expectations of a financially secure future were short-lived when the economy declined ending my “dream life” expectations.

To make a long story short… we lost our home, my car, and faced major pay cuts with both our jobs. And to top it off, we had our first child! (Yes truly a blessing from God…but how many of you know babies will cost you some money!) I was so disappointed…this was not my idea of how I would have liked to celebrate our first years of marriage! My expectations were no longer being met and this led to great disappointment.

Have you been disappointed lately?

Webster’s dictionary defines the word disappointment as “failure to satisfy the hope, desire or expectation of.”

Life can be full of disappointments. People will disappoint us….our circumstances will disappoint us. We experience disappointments when our expectations are not met. Many times our immediate cry to God is “Why, Lord?”… “Why God is this happening to me?”

Satan’s goal is to bring us down with our disappointments. He will try to push us down a road…a gradual road…until we are defeated. I saw a great illustration that describes this gradual “wedge” that can invade our spirits.

Disappointment Triangle

If we make the decision to let disappointment fester, the wedge is driven a little farther and we experience discouragement. If unchecked, discouragement becomes disillusionment. The wedge is driven deeper when it proceeds to depression…and ultimately we end in defeat.

How can we prevent the penetration of this deadly “wedge” into our spirits? As Christians, how should we respond to life’s disappointments?

The Bible is full of men and women that experienced disappointments. A young woman named Leah is a great biblical example of someone who faced life’s disappointments…So how did she handle these disappointments?

Leah’s story is found in Genesis 29-30. If you aren’t familiar with these chapters, check them out  to better understand the example Leah is for us today.

These chapters exemplify that Leah certainly had her share of disappointments….even in the brevity of her story with her name only appearing 28 times in the bible!

If we take a look at these chapters more closely, we can see the disappointments that Leah faced.

1)      In Genesis 29:17…Leah is referred to as having “weak eyes” whereas her younger sister Rachel “was lovely in form and beautiful.”  Hmmm…I would venture to guess that Leah had some disappointments growing up alongside beautiful Rachel and not being considered as pretty as her.

2)      Leah’s father Laban uses her to coax more years of work out of Jacob by giving her away to marry Jacob and not Rachel, the woman Jacob truly loved. If I were Leah, I too would certainly be disappointed in seeing this behavior and deception from my own father!

3)      Leah’s week long wedding reception with Jacob is not much of a celebration…knowing that afterwards, she will suffer through another 7 days when her “pretty sister” Rachel is the center of attention for marrying her husband Jacob too. So now her husband gets to also marry the woman he has always loved! Talk about another disappointment!

Leah has to bear the burden of living with the knowledge that she is not desired or loved by Jacob…living with the disappointment of being married to a man who never chose to marry her and consequently feeling unloved by him.

4)      And finally, Leah bears a son to Jacob when Rachel remains barren. She hopes that this son will give Jacob a reason to finally love her…but her hopes again lead to disappointment.

Leah certainly had a lot to be disappointed about…don’t you think? But how did she handle her disappointments? What decision did she make?

Although Leah was rejected and not loved by Jacob, she remained loyal and devoted. Not only did she love Jacob but she also loved God with all her heart.

Leah bore six sons and one daughter from Jacob but there is something very interesting to see through the names that Leah gives her first 4 children. We see not only Leah’s devotion to God but also the progression from her disappointment and desperate cry for Jacob’s love… to her praising God. Praising and thanking her God!

1st son Reuben meaning “behold a son”

2nd son Simeon meaning “hearing” or “God has heard me.”

3rd son Levi which means “joined” or “to adhere to”

4th son Judah which means “praise”

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah… Genesis 29:35 NIV

Even though bearing children for Jacob didn’t change his feelings towards her, the children were a blessing that would capture her heart. Through these children, “unloved” Leah was much loved.

Leah praised God…even through her disappointments…disappointments by Jacob, disappointments by her own father, and disappointments by her circumstances….she praised God. She found something…in this case…her children to be thankful for!

When we are faced with life’s disappointments, we have a decision to make. We can choose to focus on our disappointment or focus on our God.

We can choose to be thankful…for something…anything! Being thankful turns our attention away from our disappointment and on to God. No matter what we are going through, we can find something to be thankful for. A heart of gratitude will change our attitude!

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1Thessalonians 5:18 NLT

Being thankful furthermore leads us to ask “What now, Lord?” versus “Why, Lord?” We have a tendency to ask God “why” when we are going through disappointments in our life. And focusing on the “Why, Lord?” prevents us from moving forward.

”Why, Lord?” focuses on our disappointment…. “What now, Lord?” pushes us past our disappointment.

“Why, Lord?” keeps you in the past…. “What now, Lord?” uses the “now” to push you on to the future.

God doesn’t want us to focus on the “Why?” but the “What now?”

Leah praised God for Judah and the “What now” …her praises… which resulted in Judah being the very generational family line that our Savior Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, would come!

When my husband and I faced our disappointing financial circumstances, I can honestly say I went through a “Why, Lord?” period… But thankfully I didn’t stay focused on the “Why, Lord?” As a result, the “What now, Lord?” pushed my husband and I to eventually being blessed by amazing new jobs and being better stewards of our finances.

Pushing through and past our disappointments are not easy and certainly doesn’t minimize our pain or struggle, but God will honor our gratitude and our willingness to move forward.

Don’t ask “Why, Lord?”…Ask “What now, Lord?”

Reflection Points:

1)      Have you been disappointed lately? Are you having a difficult time handling life’s disappointments?

2)      Do you find yourself focusing on your disappointments pushing you down a gradual road to final defeat?

3)      Do you find yourself asking God, “Why, Lord?” when facing disappointments?

Action Points:

1)      Begin thanking the Lord in the midst of your disappointments. We all have something to be thankful for. You will begin to see your attention moving from your disappointment to God.

2)      Stop asking “Why, Lord?” and begin asking “What now, Lord?” This will help you use your present to push you to the future instead of staying in your present disappointment.

3)      Pray that God will show you what your “What now, Lord?” is. He loves you and wants to see you move past your disappointments!

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You’re My Friend…Can You Just Talk to Me?

I just recently ran into an acquaintance. We shared a few words like “How are you?”… “How is the family?”… “What have you been up to lately?” ….and after a short …somewhat “superficial” conversation, we went on our way. Now, I really didn’t expect much more than that…I mean we were only acquaintances. We didn’t have a closer relationship …we didn’t have what I would call a true friendship.

On the other hand, I do have friends that I may speak to sometimes even on a day to day basis where we may communicate not only the “superficial” things going on in our lives but also the deeper things. We may discuss our feelings and emotions about various events as well as give advice or encourage one another with biblical scriptures. We share our frustrations, our excitements, our challenges. Our communication goes much deeper than just an acquaintance…we have a stronger relationship…a true friendship.

As with any strong true friendship, communication is very important. We can’t expect to just share the “superficial” things and have an intimate relationship with someone…whether it is our husbands or our girlfriends. Friendships require time and effort…they require love, honesty, trust, patience, sometimes correction, and a good ear…they require sharing the good and the bad and sometimes the ugly.

Communication is the key and it can determine the depth of your friendship. The more you communicate and share with one another, the greater the intimacy.

Just as communication is important in our relationships in life, so it is also with our relationship with God. How is your relationship with God? Is it a friendship or an acquaintance? Do you communicate to God through prayer? Is it just “superficial” talk or does it go deeper?

Prayer is one way we communicate with God. In my experience in ministry, I see many Christians who have a difficult time praying to God. When I first accepted Christ…I was that Christian…having a hard time praying…especially out loud or in front of others. Why is it that we have such a hard time praying to Him?

Well, there are many reasons why we may have a hard time praying to our God…and one reason may be because we don’t view God as our friend although He considers us His friends!

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15 NIV

Seriously? That God our creator with all his power and glory and majesty would consider you and me His friends?

If God says that we are His friends, then we can begin viewing and communicating to Him as our friend. Isn’t it easier to talk to a friend than to someone in a high position of authority and power? …And not just any high position, the highest position ever…as God? I know it can be intimidating for sure! Note: Considering God as our friend does not minimize by any means His grandeur and sovereignty which we should all have reverence for.

Do you consider God your friend? Do you have a friendship with Him?

Just as in any friendship, we can talk to God with honesty and share with Him our feelings. It’s as if God is saying, “You are my friend…Can you just talk to me?”

Praying is simply talking to God. Talk to him as you would a friend.

We don’t need to talk to him with eloquent verbiage or some grand thoughts or ideas. You don’t need to sound “good”…whatever that means. Praying is just talking to God. Just talk! Just share, express, cry, call out to Him!

You don’t need to hold back or even hide anything… because honestly He already knows it all!

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God…Hebrews 4:13 NIV

There is nothing you need to hide…your hurts, frustrations, pains or disappointments…your fears, difficulties, doubts, and challenges…your love, praise, gratitude, and adoration! Talk to him…He wants you to!

The Bible makes it clear that God wants us to talk to him…pray to him. He continually declares His desire for fellowship with us…His desire for intimacy with us. He actually invites us to be intimate with Him.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12-13 NIV

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 NASB

Our sovereign and majestic God wants to have intimacy with us! He wants us to call, to cry, to pray to Him. And He longs to love, refresh, and encourage us.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3 NIV

Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come. Jeremiah 33:3 NLT

This is one of my favorite scriptures! I absolutely love it! That the God of this universe would first want to be our friend and then want to commune with us is remarkable to me! That he tells us great and unsearchable things…remarkable secrets! This really blows my mind! What an honor…what a privilege!

How intimate is your relationship with God?

The one person in the bible I think of when it comes to praying to God….crying out to God…calling to God…talking to God…expressing his fears, his doubts, his frustrations, his failures, his disappointments, his anger, his struggles, his sin to God…expressing his humbleness, needs, brokenness, praise and love for God…his hunger, desire, and intimacy with God…going all out, stepping all in and not holding anything back… is King David.

David wrote 73 of the Psalms and you can see the deep and genuine relationship he had with God. The book of Psalms is a very unique book of the bible…it is a great collection of songs and prayers expressing the heart and soul of humanity.

David had his failures…boy did he have some failures! But it didn’t stop him from communicating and praying and expressing his feelings to God.

David is a great example of a man who…failed, disappointed, sinned…a man who cried out to his God and wasn’t afraid to be honest with Him. He confessed his sins, expressed his doubts and fears, asked God for help in times of trouble, and praised and worshipped him.

No prayer “sounds” funny, isn’t significant, or bothers God. Our prayers are pleasing to Him!

Begin talking to God today! Don’t wait. Always go to Him first. Share your thoughts and feelings and concerns. Share your love and joy and gratitude for Him.

We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all. Oswald Chambers

Reflection Points:

1)      How is your relationship with God? Is it a friendship or an acquaintance?

2)      Do you feel uncomfortable praying to God? If so, why?

3)      Do you view your relationship with God as a friendship?

4)      Is it easier to pray…”just talk” to God knowing He considers you His friend?

5)      Can you express everything to him or do you keep some things hidden?

Action Points:

1)      Knowing God views us as His friend, we must begin viewing our relationship with Him as a friendship…though still honoring and revering His high position as God.

2)      Talk to God…the more you just “talk” to Him the more comfortable you will be.

3)      Begin praying and “talking” to Him out loud so you can hear yourself. You can do this when no one is around like in your car, room, etc. By praying out loud and hearing yourself, you will become more comfortable praying for others out loud.

4)      Take short steps and begin with short simple prayers…No one said your prayers need to be long and elaborate!

 

A “Not So Good Passenger?”

I didn’t get married until I was 35 years old. Because I was single and independent for so long, I needed to make some adjustments in my life once I got married.  For instance, when my husband Billy and I were speaking, I would always refer to “my” bedroom versus “our” bedroom. For all my life, it was “my” bedroom…so now I needed to make a change when referencing our bedroom.

Another adjustment for me was Billy taking over the finances. I had managed my finances for many years and now I needed to surrender control to him. I have since taken over the finances again but only because of my husband’s busy schedule working 2 jobs!

Sometimes letting go of control is not a trust issue but just a getting used to someone else in charge issue… like Billy taking over our finances. I just needed to get used to him taking them over.

But sometimes…well many times… letting go of control is a trust issue. For example, an area of trust I struggle with has been when my husband and I are out and he is driving.

You see, Billy isn’t a bad driver…it’s just that I am a “not so good passenger!” I have driven a car on my own for over 25 years, so letting Billy drive has been a challenge. From my perspective as the passenger, he doesn’t apply the brakes soon enough…I mean I see a lot of red tail lights ahead, so if I were driving I would begin to apply the brakes. Billy waits…not to the point of putting us in danger…but to the point that makes me nervous. It puts me so on edge when he is driving! Believe it or not, I still have issues with this.  He isn’t a bad a driver…I am just a “not so good passenger!” Being a “not so good passenger,” I want to be in control and I lack trust in my driver! As you can see I am a mess! You can be praying for me!

Maybe you have experienced this and are a “not so good passenger” too…Maybe as the passenger you don’t feel your driver applies the brakes at what you consider the right time or maybe as the passenger you have wanted to grab the steering wheel and just take control!

Maybe you are a “not so good passenger” when it comes to driving your car…but what about when it comes to driving your life???

First and foremost, is God in the driver’s seat of your life? …Which as Christians is one of the first steps after accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

Lord means “master”…the one who calls the shots …the one in control…the one in charge. Many people accept Jesus as their Savior (kind of like fire insurance) but not as the Lord of their life. Romans10:9 says “Jesus is Lord” meaning right now…present tense. Not “I think I will put him control when I am ready or I think I will put him in control over some things in my life, but not everything.” If He isn’t Lord over all…He isn’t Lord at all!

Jesus is referred to as “Savior” 24 times and as “Lord” 747 times in the New Testament! It is very clear that the biblical emphasis is …Jesus as our Lord! …Not just our Savior.

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life… 1 Peter 3:15NLT

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him… Colossians 2:6 NIV

Now don’t get me wrong…I am not saying surrendering all control over to Jesus is easy…frankly it’s hard! But as you grow in your relationship with Jesus, your trust should grow and consequently it should be easier to surrender all to Him.

So, let’s say Jesus is in your driver’s seat…are you letting him drive…His Way??? You see he doesn’t need you pulling out your I-phone and giving him directions…He doesn’t need your AAA road map (do people still use those? Seriously, I really don’t know) to help Him take you where He wants to take you…He doesn’t need you punching in the address of your desired destination in your car’s navigational system. He doesn’t need you! If anything we get in the way of His map for our lives…His destiny for our lives…His purpose for our lives…when we decide to take control.

What is it for you? Is it a just getting used to someone else in charge issue or is it a trust issue? Or is it both?

Letting go is sometimes a getting used to someone else in charge issue. As a new or young believer in Christ, this may be you. It may take a little time for you to put Jesus in your driver’s seat because for all your life you were in control. As you grow in your relationship with him, your trust in Him will grow. It is just like in any relationship you have with someone …when you get to know the other person better you begin to trust them more. And so this is the same with your relationship with Jesus…as you read God’s word, as you learn more about his nature and who He is, as you surround yourself with other Christians, you will trust him more…and thus let him have control.

Letting go, however, is many times a trust issue. As a Christian who has had a relationship with Jesus for awhile, this may be you. You have placed God in your driver’s seat but you are that “not so good passenger.” You still want control over your life…you want control over the steering wheel and the brakes of your life…You are the one sitting in the passenger seat holding a map giving Him instructions for your life.

Is Jesus in control…driving and steering your life today? Or are you a “not so good passenger?”

Have you surrendered control to him…but not in every area of your life? Are there certain areas that you still want to control?

Do you trust him completely to take you through the roads of life? Do you want to grab the steering wheel sometimes or just slam on the brakes because you are just not sure where He is taking you? Or maybe you want to head down a different road than the one He is taking you down?

When Jesus is in the driver’s seat and controlling the steering wheel, the ride is much smoother! He doesn’t need an I-phone, AAA street map, or a navigational system…He is the navigational system!!!

He knows exactly where He is going, where He is taking you, why He is taking you there and how He is going to do it. He knows the exact speed to hit all the green lights and the exact red light stops to make. He knows when to slow down and when to speed up…He knows every turn to make and every road to take…. He knows which speed bumps he will carry you over, every bridge you will cross with Him, and every dark tunnel He will take you through… to take you from point A to point B…to take you to the purpose and destiny he has for you!

If Jesus isn’t in your driver’s seat today, it’s not too late for Him to take the wheel. If you are a “not so good passenger” always trying to take control, it’s not too late to trade in your map for his map for your life.

After all, don’t you think he can handle you and you life better than you can?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11NIV

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Reflection Points:

1)      Is God in your driver’s seat? Is he driving and steering your life?

2)      If he is in your driver’s seat, are you a good passenger or a “not so good passenger?”

3)      Are you trying to grab the steering wheel or brakes of your life?

4)      As the passenger, are you giving him directions for your life?

5)      What keeps you from giving him your driver’s seat or from having complete control over your life? What keeps you from making him the Lord of your life?

6)      What areas in your life do you need to surrender to Him today?

Action Points:

1)      Begin today putting Jesus in your driver’s seat. It is our choice whether we want to drive or we want Him to drive. Accept Him not just as your Savior but also your Lord…You can’t have Him as just your Savior! See Romans 10:9

2)      If you struggle with surrendering completely to Him, pray that He would help you release control over to Him.

3)      Read God’s word daily to get your priorities straight by putting Him first. Matt 6:33

4)      Read God’s word and get to know Him better so your trust and faith will grow.

A Mommy of Courageous Faith

Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Ecclesiastes 11:1 ESV

One of the most rewarding and challenging times of my life is right now… being a mother of 2 little boys! I certainly have a much greater appreciation for my own mother as well as all the mommies out there! And if you are a single mom, oh my goodness! Seriously, you are truly my heroes!

Each day I pray and hope that I am raising my children with Godly principles. I am certainly not perfect and have made my share of mistakes in just my 4 years of being a mommy. I will be the first to admit that I don’t always know what to do or how to handle certain situations. I try my best to use Godly principles but the hardest part with having such young boys is not knowing if they are really getting it!

I can tell them something over and over and over again…I can discipline them for their disobedience…I can share principles with them about lying, listening to authority, being respectful, sharing, being generous and loving, praying for one another….and the list goes on!

I can read them Bible stories, have them watch children’s Christian videos, and take them to church …but only time will tell if they truly understand these Godly principles that my husband and I are instilling in them. Only time will tell if they will be followers of Christ! Most child- rearing books will explain the importance of consistency. So I try my best to stay consistent…but the reality? …I still have moments of failure.

Have you ever felt this way?

Being a mother is not easy…and one thing it takes a lot of…is faith! And how many of you know…faith takes courage…a lot of courage! It’s not in our human nature to believe in things we can’t see.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV

This courageous faith is the faith that keeps you going when you aren’t quite sure if everything you are doing is right. This courageous faith keeps you going when you raise your children with Godly principles and even though you don’t necessarily see the results right away…you trust God. This courageous faith encourages you when your children grow up and you can’t have them live in your home forever. This courageous faith is in a God who knows what’s on the other side of your faith…a God who will reward and bless you for trusting in Him when you just can’t see the other side.

One scripture that has recently encouraged me to have courageous faith and keep doing what I am doing even though I don’t necessarily see results right away is…

Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Ecclesiastes 11:1 ESV

Now, this is a principle that alludes to the agricultural practice of throwing seed upon water or soggy ground and then waiting for it to produce a harvest. Some interpreters understand that “bread” is the seed from the produce of which bread is made. (Barnes Notes)

We may cast a lot of bread into the mouths and lives of our children…which may seem like a bottomless pit sometimes! The bread we cast may be in the form of giving food, time, money and love. And according this scripture…when we give this kind of bread there will be a return and reward!

When I think of a mommy of remarkable and courageous faith, I think of Jochebed. This is one woman who can easily be overlooked in the Bible… and if you blink you just might miss how remarkable she truly is!

Jochebed was Moses’ mother. We first hear about this amazing woman in Exodus 2:1 as an Israelite and member of the tribe of Levi. Members of this tribe included the priests and those who would carry out the duties of the Tabernacle and later of the Temple. As members of the tribe of Levi, Jochebed and her husband Amram were evidently very dedicated people of God.

At the end of Exodus 1 in verse 22, we see that the Pharoah of Egypt has ordered that every son that is born of the Jews must be thrown into the Nile River and drowned. As the mother of a newborn baby boy, Jochebed was faced with a difficult and frightening circumstance. How could she let her little baby die? How could she send her precious baby Moses down the Nile? I mean can you even imagine being faced with this dilemma?

What dilemma in your life are you facing right now?

Jochebed, motivated by her love for her son and her remarkable faith in God, hid her son for 3 months. Talk about 3 months of trusting God and believing that her baby Moses would not be found! She was clearly forced to put her faith into action.

Soon after Jochebed put her faith into action by hiding Moses, she had to take another risk of faith.  Do you ever feel this way? Just when you finally bolster up the courage to take a step of faith you find yourself having to take another step faith!

Jochebed was forced to take another very challenging risk with her seed…her seed baby Moses. Because Jochebed could no longer hide a growing baby, she made a basket, laid him in it, and placed it along the bank of the Nile.

But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. Exodus 2:3 NIV

Jochebed was casting her bread…her beloved seed…her precious son Moses….upon the waters! Talk about courageous faith!!!

Now the story gets real exciting! Pharoah’s own daughter finds the basket on the riverbank and has compassion for the baby. Needing a nursemaid for the baby, she then finds Jochebed! Of all people! …Jochebed is reunited with her baby and has been asked to nurse him. If that isn’t God’s sovereign providence, I don’t what is!

She had placed her baby in the hands of God when she placed him in the river. She took a courageous step of faith and trusted God. Jochebed literally cast her seed upon the waters…and it came back to her! Her courageous faith was rewarded.

At times, we too must step out with courageous faith before we can receive God’s blessing…just like Jochebed.

What challenge in your life requires a courageous risk of faith from you? What is holding you back from taking this step of courageous faith?

For the mommy’s out there…Are you sending your child off to school or college, off to a job in another city or state, off to married life, off to serve God in the mission field or in the military? Do you feel like you are losing him or her?

How about a mommy of school aged children? Do you feel that you are losing some of the time you used to spend with them because they are now growing up and wanting to hang out with their friends more?

Maybe you aren’t a mommy but you are facing a challenging situation in your life…Do you need courage to take a step of faith?

Whether you are a mother or not, we all face challenges in our lives that may frighten us and challenge us. We too must have faith like Jochebed…the courageous faith that casts our bread upon the water! And trust God that we will eventually reap benefits and blessings because of our courageous step of faith!

Trust God with your children…trust God with your challenging situation because he knows the other side of your courageous faith!

Reflection Points:

1)      Are you faced with a challenging situation in your life right now?

2)      Does it require you to take a courageous step of faith?

3)      What is holding you back from “casting your bread in the waters?”

4)      Do you trust God enough that he will reward your faith?

 Action Points:

1)      Pray that God would give you the courage to take a step of faith and face your challenging situation.

2)      Find some key faith scriptures in God’s word to encourage you and your faith.

3)      Share your challenging situation with other Christians so they can be supporting you and praying for you as you step out courageously.

4)      Remind yourself that faith pleases God and that he will reward you.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:4 NIV

El Roi

When my first son Connor was born, he slept in a bassinette right next to my bed where I could keep a good eye on him. As a new mommy, it took me awhile to actually have him sleep in the crib alone in his room. When I finally got the courage to have him sleep in his crib, I had the video baby monitor on right next to me. I just love the baby monitors we have these days! What did mommies do without them back in the day! (I could say that about a lot of things!)

Not only could I hear Connor through the monitor but I could also see him…I so loved my video monitor! Ok, present tense, I so love my video monitor! Yes…I still use the monitor…and yes my boys are no longer babies…My justification? …The boys’ room is on the other side of the house… and frankly it just makes me feel a whole lot better that I can see them!

I know at some point I will need to give up using my “baby” monitor but for now it gives not only me greater comfort when I sleep at night but also the boys. What comfort it brings them that mommy and daddy can see them and they have nothing to be afraid of!

As God’s children, we too are under the watch of our heavenly father’s eye…not through a confined screen of a video monitor…but by his omnipresence…his presence everywhere.

Are you afraid, worried, or troubled today? Do you believe that God sees you right now? …in whatever circumstance you face, whatever difficulty burdens you, whatever struggles you bear?

In Genesis, we find the story of a woman named Hagar.  A woman, who was not respected…not valued…tormented…mistreated…and alone. A woman we can all be encouraged by when we think God doesn’t see us…doesn’t see our suffering…doesn’t see our pain…doesn’t see our difficult circumstances…

Hagar was the maidservant to Sarah, Abraham’s wife. To give you a brief background summary beginning in Genesis 15…

Abraham and Sarah remained childless and in those days it was custom that if Abraham died without having a son, then his eldest servant would be the heir. But the Lord said to Abraham…

“This man [referring to Eliezer, Abraham’s trusted servant] will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:4-5 NIV

So God promises Abraham and Sarah descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky by having a son of their own who will carry on the family line.

However in Genesis 16, after 10 years of waiting and still childless, Sarah decides to give her maidservant Hagar as a substitute wife to Abraham. Sarah takes matters in her own hands thus showing her and Abraham’s lack of faith.

So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. Genesis 16:3-4 NIV

Notice here that Hagar is described as an Egyptian slave. So basically, she was an outsider…a piece of property…and not valued much.

When she [Hagar] knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.”

“Your servant is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. Genesis 16:4-6 NIV

Think about it…Hagar was just a servant. It was not her decision to sleep with Abraham and fall pregnant. It was not her idea…but now she was being blamed for it and mistreated because of it. Life wasn’t fair and she couldn’t take any more. So she fled and headed in the direction of Egypt…she wanted to go back home.

What are you facing today? What difficult circumstances do you face today that you wish you could run away from? Is life just not fair? Are you being disrespected, mistreated, not valued…like Hagar?

As we go on to read Genesis 16:7-14, we see that the angel of the Lord finds Hagar all alone…

The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.

Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:

“You are now pregnant
    and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,[a]
    for the Lord has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
    his hand will be against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
    toward[
b] all his brothers.”

13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen[c] the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi[d]; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. Genesis 16:7-14 NIV

Hagar didn’t have it easy at all, but in the midst of her suffering, God met her in an amazing way and revealed himself to her as El Roi…the God who sees!

 “El”… means “Mighty Strength” or “the Strong One”

 “Roi”… means “to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider.”

Therefore, El Roi can be translated as “The Strong One who sees”! Love this!

Hagar discovers that she really wasn’t alone…God had seen her predicament with perfect clarity. He knew about the abuse in her past…He pinpointed her exact position in the present…and he saw what the future held for her…descendants too numerous to count from her son named Ishmael which interestingly means “God Hears”.

No matter where you are in life – no matter what is happening in your little world – even if you think that you are totally isolated and think that no one knows what you are facing – you can be assured that God is concerned with what happens to you…you can be assured that you serve El Roi…the God who sees…what comfort that brings!

This is the God who watches over you today…El Roi…whether or not you recognize his presence. Being aware that you may sometimes find yourself in desolate places…He is always near…helping you find a path though your troubles…working out his plans for your future. He knows the beginning, the end, and everything in between! He will never leave you or forsake you!

He will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; Psalm 34:15

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, Psalm 33:18   

The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. Proverbs 15:3  

Reflection Points:

1)      Do you face difficult circumstances today? Do you face struggles so difficult to bear?

2)      Do you believe that God sees you exactly where you are at this present moment?

3)      Do you trust that God will never leave you or abandon you?

Action Points:

1)      Be encouraged today by Hagar’s story that God sees you.

2)      Pray for greater trust and assurance in knowing that our God is El Roi…the God who sees. Believe that God loves you and cares for you. Believe Jeremiah 29:11.

3)      Read God’s word to build your faith, encourage you and comfort you during your difficult circumstances. And be encouraged that God will see you through…He sees it all!