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God Notices You

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”

Genesis 16:13
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Invisible to the elite, Hagar was abused, and considered of little value. Who would even notice her absence if she left? Who would miss her if she was gone?

But God watched over Hagar. He knew what was happening in her life and noted the details of her circumstances. He came to help, guide, and provide for her and show this struggling woman that she, too, was a child of God, valued, accepted, and loved. In His provision, however, it required she return to her mistress and submit to her mistreatment (Genesis 16:9). In our life, we will often discover that God has provided for us, but yet he has not removed our difficult circumstances. During these times, it does not mean He doesn’t care; it means He has a plan we are currently unable to see.

At times in our own lives, we may feel we don’t matter. We can’t see that our lives are making any difference. Maybe our actions go unnoticed; our attempts to reach out are unseen. We feel alone and of little worth.

Just as God watched over Hagar, He guards us, too. Because He calls us his children, we know we are His loved ones whom He valued enough to redeem with the high price of His Son’s life. Not only has He saved us, but He has rescued us from invisibility. God sees you no matter who else you think does not. Embrace the One who creates your worth, defends your soul, and loves you without end. I encourage you today to consider, like Hagar did, an intimate name for God that describes how he has prospered your soul. Is He the lover of your soul? A Light shining in dark places? The irresistible Spring in a hot desert land? Or is He your heart’s desire? The One you long for? For me, He revealed himself as the taste of my most favorite food, the smell of my favorite flower, and the pure love of a child.

Behold his supreme worth. He loves you. You are so visible to Him that He sees the details of your life. Thank You, God, for teaching us what love is.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series

Your Advice Makes A Difference

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His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him…

Esther 5:14

Haman had significant worldly advantages going for him: money, position, and the king’s ear. When he could not get what he wanted, namely Mordecai bowing down before him, his frustration turned to bitter resentment, and the resulting hatred drove him crazy. Haman needed advice, so he shared his infuriating situation with his wife and friends. They fed his out-of-control pride and advised him to have Mordecai hung on a 75-foot gallows.

His wife and friends had the perfect opportunity to offer Haman sound advice. Did Zeresh think twice before suggesting Haman should hang Mordecai? Conceivably she got caught up in the suggestions of Haman’s friends and went along with what they advised. Perhaps she’d spent so much time around Haman that she picked up on his bad habit of rash speaking. Or maybe her heart had grown to love the same worldly advantages Mordecai loved; therefore, she served her pride. Whatever the reason, Zeresh gave her husband nefarious advice, which led to his death.

We do not want to be the type of person who gives advice based on what we think the other person wants to hear, instead of what he or she needs to hear. Just as importantly, we do not want to be the kind of person who will not receive helpful advice because our pride is in opposition. If Zeresh had pointed out the pluses in Haman’s life or advised him to think through what he was about to do, things might have turned out differently. Instead, Zeresh’s tragic counsel cost her the life of her husband and later, the life of her sons. We do not have to wait until the stakes are high to give biblically rooted advice. Our words make a difference in the ordinary daily affairs of our lives.

Lord, I desire to seek the good and speak for the welfare of all those in my sphere of influence (Esther 10:5). I ask for the guidance of Your wisdom and the courage to give advice even if it is counter-culture. I want to make a difference. Amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series

Straying From God

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The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”

Hosea 3:1

Unfaithful Gomer left her husband, Hosea, and turned to the temptations of the world with its evil desires. Eventually, she found herself in slavery, imprisoned by her sins. God instructed Hosea to find Gomer and bring her home. Hosea was also commanded to keep her safe and to provide for her. Most importantly, Hosea was to love her once again.

Gomer represents the children of Israel. God tells this story to illustrate His own willingness to find his people, to protect them, and to provide for His nation. He rescues them from their sins and brings them back to His heart, which is filled with unconditional love. Gomer symbolizes us, too, because we stray from God’s commands. If our heart is not committed to God, the lure of temptations will lead us to abandon him.

Be horrified at this, heavens; be shocked and utterly appalled. This is the Lord’s declaration. For My people have committed a double evil: They have abandoned Me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.

Jeremiah 2:12-13

God is showing us in this verse in Jeremiah, the essence of evil. To God, evil is to prefer something else. When we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8) and we abandon the Glory (Jeremiah 2:11) because we desire something else, it’s because we have preferred our own provision. We obtain it faster, we create the choices we prefer, and the quantity we desire. We cast aside the living water and prefer to dig for water elsewhere. Eve rejected God in a similar way when she spurned the wisdom he provided for her and desired for the tree to make her wise (Genesis 3:6).

God is always faithful. He finds us when we hide in the so-called shelters of lust and greed, and He brings us home to his heart. In His forgiving nature, God continually seeks to restore our relationship with him because he stands firm in his commitment to love unconditionally. God’s unfailing love heals our broken souls and serves as a model on how we are to treat others. Like Gomer, some of us have been unfaithful. But God’s faithfulness is forever, for he cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

Come, let us return to the Lord, and He will heal us. He will bind up our wounds. He will revive us and raise us up so we can live in His presence. Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land (Hosea 6:1-3). Let us repent before the Lord because He is faithful to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). From the overflow of your heart, let your mouth speak. Amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series

Loving the Unlovable

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The Lord has afflicted me: the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me. So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law.

Ruth 1:21-22

Naomi, her husband, and her two sons left Bethlehem because of a famine and moved to Moab, hoping to thrive. While there, Naomi’s husband and two sons died. Afterward, Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem and tried to persuade her two daughters-in-law to not follow her but to return to their own people. Perhaps you have heard Ruth’s plea to her mother-in-law, Naomi: Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. (Ruth 1:16)

Ruth and Naomi had grown close over the years, but the deaths of her husband and sons had turned Naomi into a bitter woman. When Ruth and Naomi returned to their home in Bethlehem, Naomi gave voice to her bitterness. By her own admission, she asked to be no longer called Naomi but Mara (meaning bitter). Her bitterness did not make her lovable.

Ruth had been at Naomi’s side through the same depressing turns their lives had taken. As Naomi repeated her stories to anyone who would listen, Ruth was forced to relive her own painful loss. No one would have faulted Ruth if she had fled Naomi’s company. Perhaps she would not have even been faulted if she had complained. Instead, Ruth loved Naomi, and it was shown by her actions. She traveled with Naomi, provided for their needs, listened to her, and heeded her advice. By the time Ruth handed her newborn son to Naomi, her mother-in-law had experienced a heart change.

If God’s providence puts us in close quarters with unpleasant people, may we love them by listening, respecting, and taking care of their needs. Leave it in God’s hands to heal their pain ~ through us. We are blessed to be a blessing.

Pray for your own heart. Ask God to soften your heart towards the difficult person, to put off anger and irritability, to put on meekness and kindness, to understand the person’s struggles and meet them with compassion (Colossians 3:12–14). Pray for them. Move toward them, not away from them.

If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.  “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never – I promise – regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.  “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

Luke 6:32-38

Lord, help me to honor the difficult people in my life so that Your love is made known. Amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series

A Wise Woman Builds

The wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands.

Proverbs 14:1

The wise woman builds, and the foolish woman tears down…with her own hands. Here we have before us a forewarning and an urging that the wise woman should take very seriously.

Friends, we have more influence over our households than we have possibly ever imagined. We must begin seeing, even mundane interactions, from a spiritual perspective and the eternal value they have and not just what our natural eyes reveal to us in the moment. More critical than decorating our home with furnishings, we will determine the tone with which our home is furnished. Are we building a home with a mood that is calm and peaceful? Are we constructing our house where the Word of God is taught? Are we establishing a home where people leave feeling encouraged after spending time there? We must be intentional if we desire specific results.

If the tone of our home is one of discord or if it has an atmosphere of agitation where our family feels uptight, and no one feels welcome, don’t lose heart – desire to change and begin asking the Lord for help. The change will always start with you, the builder, and it is never too late to remodel. The tone we set will either keep the walls sturdy or causes them to crack and eventually crash down around us. According to Solomon, we play an enormous role in whether our house stands or falls. Even though others have a part to play, we must be vigilant in the areas of our responsibility and stand firmly and confidently in the Lord.

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Make an honest examination of your home. Are you filling it with love, instruction, peace, forgiveness, compassion, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and friendliness? Are you determined not to allow anything in your home that isn’t beneficial to those living there? A godly home will not always be stress-free, but if it’s built upon the firm foundation of Christ, you can be assured it will stand.

Our building blueprint will not profit us if it is worldly. We are not building by the world’s standards of perfection. Our pattern must be what God has set as the standard, and in Christ, it is absolutely achievable. Let’s be the kind of woman who builds and not the kind that tears down – starting now. You can do it. Prepare your hands for work, your mouth for prayer, and your heart for love. Let’s build some godly homes. Amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series

Do You Believe This Martha?

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life…Do you believe this, Martha?”

John 11:25-26

Martha’s brother, Lazarus, lay dying, so she sent for Jesus. Martha’s heart counted on Jesus to heal the brother she loved, but Jesus arrived too late to help in the dire time of need ~ so it seemed. By the time Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Was Martha disappointed in Jesus when she thought if he had been there, her brother would not have died?

When Martha learned her awaited Jesus was finally within arms reach, she left her guests who had come to comfort her and went out to meet him. When her eyes beheld him, and she stood in his presence, He offered her the opportunity to confirm her faith. Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life…Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she responded, “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God” (John 11:27). Despite any sorrow, disappointment, and uncertainty that might have been lingering in her heart, Martha boldly declared her faith in Jesus. At times God will grant our fleshly eyes the astonishment to behold spiritual wonders. Martha was given such an opportunity when Jesus gave new life to her deceased brother, and he walked out of the tomb!

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Martha learned well from a previous lesson Jesus taught her regarding the important things (Luke 10:42). When she discovered Jesus was coming, she did not remain in the house with her visitors who had come from Jerusalem to comfort her, but quickly got up and ran out to greet Him. Her ability to learn and change from her natural inclination to turn inward and focus only on what is seen is an inspiration to us all. When we experience disappointment or suffering in our lives, how quickly do we leave our natural inclinations and run to ‘greet’ the Master in order to receive more than what our natural eyes can provide?

Her statement (John 11:24) revealed a courageous faith in the order of Abraham’s faith when he reckoned that God could raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). Martha’s answer to Jesus should be wowing to us to follow her example when disappointment and disbelief present themselves to us as viable options to cling to. Friend, the only sure and trustworthy thing we should instruct ourselves to clutch tightly to is the comfort found in Jesus Christ.

Lord, You are the resurrection and the life! I resolve to flee from clinging to my fears, disappointments, sufferings, and grief and ask You to minister to me through them. My trials are only a tool used to allow me to see your glory and not as weapons used against me. Your word says all things work together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28), so I, like Martha, speak my faith and say yes, Lord, I believe this!

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series

Mary Praises God

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

Gabriel was sent by God to inform Mary of His plans through her life. The first recorded words Gabriel spoke to Mary was, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” But her reaction was not one of rejoicing but of distraught feelings! Knowing this, Gabriel told Mary not to be afraid. Whenever the unknown tempts us to doubt and fear, God’s answer will always be, “Don’t be afraid. I am with you.” His plans for our life will always require bold confidence that steers clear of side-swiping fear.

Even though Mary knew her road ahead was unpaved, and uncertainty was guaranteed, she responded faithfully to God’s will with bold praise in what is known as the Magnificat.

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Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat

And Mary said,

My soul magnifies the Lord,
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
 as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever. (Luke 1:56-52)

Mary lived an unexpected and challenging life, and many seasons of our life are pitched at us with unforeseen curveballs. Praising God when our experiences are confusing and difficult will never be our natural inclination. But if we following Mary’s example of great faith in response to God’s will (even when it is unclear), it will enable us to respond to Him with a joyful, “Yes!” and to competently fulfill our role in God’s kingdom.

Never forget that you are unique and special and have a holy call upon your life. Act like it. Believe it in your heart, think it in your mind, and walk it out in your behavior and conversations. Like Mary, believe that you are blessed! Believe what has been spoken by the Lord concerning His promises for those who are in Christ will be fulfilled! Lord, I desire to praise you in the uncertainties and say, “Yes! May it be done to me according to your word.” May Mary’s song of praise be in your heart and on your lips this week because nothing is impossible with God.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series

Your Voice Matters

While they were battering the wall to bring it down, a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.”

2 Samuel 20:15-16
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Joab and his men were in pursuit of Sheba, the “wicked man” who had rebelled against David. Sheba hid in the city, and Joab began battering the walls in order to get him out. A wise woman who desired to end the destruction and save her people called out from the city and asked to speak with Joab. He agreed to talk to her, so she informed him that the people within the very town he was attempting to destroy had faith, and surely he did not desire to destroy the LORD’s people! The bold woman agreed to hand Sheba’s head over to Joab in order to save the city, and that is exactly what they did.

The woman’s courageous faith equipped her with the bravery required to stand on the front lines, to speak to Joab, to convince the city of Joab’s desire, and to ignore any possible naysayers. Often we believe our voice won’t make a difference, yet there are many Biblical accounts of how one person’s faith, spoken out loud, changed lives! Lord, grant us the confidence required to speak up when the situation requires it.

When your circumstances threaten to “batter” you until you collapse under the sheer stress and uncertainty of it all, use your voice and call out to the Lord for His help. Use your voice and pray with bold courage. Use your voice and speak confidently of the promises afforded you by being in covenant relationship with God.

God does amazing things through our faith. Lord, increase our faith and fan it into a flame of boldness for your purposes. Grant us the courage to speak up like the example of this wise woman, even if we are afraid and even if there appears to be no hope. What bold women of faith know is that where there is a voice of prayer, there is always hope.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series

Crazy? Hardly

Rhoda recognized Peter’s voice, and because of her joy, she did not open the gate but ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gateway. “Your crazy!” the other disciples told her. But she kept insisting that it was true.

Acts 12:14-15

King Herod had captured Peter, and the disciples expected him to be martyred just as James was. The church assembled at Mary’s home to earnestly pray for him. Perhaps fear overshadowed their thoughts, or maybe they did not expect God to answer their prayer in such a miraculous way, but based upon their reaction to Rhoda’s announcement, they certainly did not expect Peter to be at their door.

It was a dangerous time for the disciples. Mary’s household servant, Rhoda had been trusted to answer the door even though many lives were at stake. Her responsibility was to let other Believers enter and exit as need be. Certainly, they trusted her ability to discern whom to let in and out, or they would not have entrusted her with the job. When Rhoda learned Peter was at the door, she was so flabbergasted that she left him there and ran with excitement to inform the others. Instead of the disciples shouting with jubilee because it would have been an answer to prayer, they said she was crazy.

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Today, people may call us crazy when we exuberantly express what we have seen the Lord do in our own seemingly impossible situations. Perhaps we may even be called crazy because we believe a Book that can not be scientifically proven, but we build our lives on it anyway.

Lord, may you grant us a heart like Rhoda who delights in proclaiming Your good news in spite of a potentially disbelieving response or when faced with rejection. May we, like Rhoda, keep insisting with joy that the Good News is real because we have seen its transforming effects with our own eyes and ears.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series