Eyes to See

God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.

Genesis 21:19

            There are times when our sight can be blinded by hopelessness or fear.  It’s easy to become consumed with our circumstances and unable to envision a solution. In the book of Genesis, we read the wilderness story of Hagar, a desperate woman who could not see any possibilities for her and her son. She thought they would simply die in the desert. Yet God not only heard her son’s prayers, but He opened her eyes to His provision for them. He removed whatever was blinding her and keeping her from seeing the water she so desperately needed.

            Interestingly, it doesn’t say that he made the well of water for her, rather it says he opened her eyes. The well of water may have been there all along, but she couldn’t see it. Do not assume because you cannot see any hope or possibilities, that none exist.  On the other hand, ask God to open your eyes to the provisions around you.  Ask Him to give you fresh eyes to see your situation from a new a broader viewpoint.

Photo by Jordan Wozniak on Unsplash

This devotional thought is an excerpt from Karol’s book, Pursuing God in the Quiet Places.

Look Up!

Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can.

Genesis 15:5

Guest Blogger Candace Gray

Do you ever feel weighed down by the daily grind of life? Have you suffered some disappointment in the last year that caused you to lose hope? Perhaps you’re in a long season of waiting and not seeing any change.  Going through a hard season can make you lose vision and shrink your view of what’s possible. As you start this year, stir up your hope by remembering there are tremendous possibilities with God. 

Abraham found himself in a discouraging place. He wanted much more than what he saw in his life at the time.  He wanted a child and he had none; he wanted a home and he’d been uprooted from his home and told to go to an unknown place. Furthermore, God had promised to bless him with not just one child, but with numerous descendants and God had promised not just a home but a nation that would have its own land. Yet there was a big gap between what Abraham was experiencing and what God had promised. So, God told Abraham to “look up at the stars and count them if you can.” It was an encouragement to look beyond what he could see around him and understand that God has as many ways as there are stars to fulfill His promises.  The same is true for you and me. Looking up represents seeing the vast power of God and His ability to bring about amazing things in your life.  As you approach the new year, fix your gaze on Him. He is I AM (Exodus 3:14), meaning He is able to do more than you can ask or imagine.   

Don’t stop believing in God’s good plans for you.  Life is better when you focus on the wide sky of possibilities rather than the narrow view created by your disappointments. When you play small, there is no energy, no vision and no confidence to make bold moves. When you think and look toward the sky, there are infinite possibilities and a great and powerful God working for your good.  Even through adversity and delays, He’s growing you and preparing you to be blessed and to be a blessing. Turn your gaze from your disappointments to the sky and remember I AM. 

Questions for Reflection:

  • What disappointments did you encounter last year?  Did they cause you to lose hope? 
  • Where is your focus now – on you and your circumstances or on God? 

My guest blogger this month is Candace Gray. She is a seasoned leader with a track record of living a life of purpose and helping others to do the same. Candace is a Senior Director for Buckner Children and Family Services and a longtime member of Concord Church in Dallas. 

If you’d like to follow her full 21-day devotional series, go to www.candacegray.com 

Photo by Klemen Vrankar on Unsplash

Take New Ground

Guest Blogger Candace Gray

Numbers 13:30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

Happy New Year!  Everyone is thinking about what the new year will bring.  Some people make resolutions and some people set goals and create detailed plans.  Some people just wing it, having been disappointed by previous failures in the past.  But if you are a person with a strong desire to live a purpose-driven life, you can’t afford to wing it.  You must set goals, make plans and try again, because it’s not just about you.  There are others who will be blessed because of what you do.  You desire to be a change-agent, problem-solver, healer, peace-maker, leader, creator, giver, do-gooder and anything else that glorifies God, helps others and makes the world a better place. 

In Numbers 13, God was preparing the Israelites to possess the land of Canaan.  Twelve people were sent to examine the lay of the land.  As they explored the land, they saw both the bountiful resources of the land and the potential obstacles to possessing the land.  When they returned from seeing the same set of facts, they came to two different conclusions:   Caleb and Joshua concluded, “We should go up and take the land, for we can certainly do it.”  The other ten concluded, “We can’t attack these people:  they are stronger than we are.(13:31)”  They observed, “we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.(13:33)”  One group focused on the power of God and the other group focused on their own limitations.          

This devotional series is written to encourage you to keep moving forward with making a difference.  You will face obstacles along the way, that tempt you to view yourself as a grasshopper.  But do not underestimate the significance of living a life of purpose.  The desire in your heart is there for a reason. The ideas you have are there for a reason. I encourage you to do the thing on your heart to do. I am praying for you and me to be focused, purposeful and bold in 2023.  Someone’s life is depending on it.  When we step out with the bold faith of Caleb, God is faithful to show up and help us. 

Questions for Reflection:

  • What ideas would you like to implement in 2023?
  • What’s holding you back from taking new ground in 2023?
  • Are you more focused on your own limited ability or God’s unlimited power? 

For the month of January, I have invited my friend Candace Gray to share a weekly devotional. Candace is a seasoned leader with a track record of living a life of purpose and helping others to do the same.  She is a Senior Director for Buckner Children and Family Services and a longtime member of Concord Church in Dallas. 

If you’d like to follow her full 21-day devotional series, go to www.candacegray.com 

Beautiful Gift of Grace

You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor,

so that you through His poverty might become rich.

II Corinthians 8:9

Grace. What a beautiful word – divine favor, underserved gift. Those who believe in Christ are the recipients of God’s redemptive mercy and grace. What greater joy can there be than to know we have received such a gift? We could not pay our own debt, but Christ became poor, leaving His heavenly place so that we might be made rich in grace.

We could not save ourselves, yet God in His loving-kindness made a way for us to be forgiven.  It is not what we have done, but what Christ did for us on the cross. Spurgeon said, “Thou hast need of nothing beyond what there is in Him. In Him thou art at this moment just, in Him entirely clean, in Him an object of divine approval and eternal love.”[i]

At this time of year, we rejoice in His divine grace toward us. Let us linger at the manger and ponder this unspeakable gift, this kindness God has shown us in sending His Son Jesus. In the hustle of the season, let us step aside and hear His voice calling our name to come abide, rest and be thankful for His rich mercy toward us.

[i] Charles H. Spurgeon, Complete in Christ and Love’s Logic, (Whitefish, MT:Kessinger Publishing, 2006) p. 27.

He Sees Us

“You are the God who sees me…I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

            When you feel as though no one knows the depth of pain, remember that there is One who sees.  You are not alone, for God sees you and knows your needs.  In the Old Testament we read how God’s angel met Hagar in the desert when she fled from the cruelty of Sarah. God meets us where we are and gently cares for our needs as well.  We can rest assured that our God sees our pain and challenges, and He understands. 

            We are not invisible to God.  Just as Hagar was comforted by God, so we can find our comfort in knowing that God sees all. It’s easy to think that when bad things happen, God doesn’t see our situation or care about our problems. Be patient. Wait on Him. Have faith in the God who sees and has a plan that is bigger and more eternal than we can imagine.