Wednesday

Does God Play Hide and Seek with Us?

I was the master of Hide and Seek. Every time I played with my sisters, I’d win. If I didn’t want to be found, they wouldn’t catch a glimpse of me until I decided to show myself. It probably helped that I was super skinny and could tuck myself into the smallest spaces. Because I loved quiet pursuits like reading and writing, I’d even hide when we weren’t playing.

Have you ever wondered if God plays hide and seek with mankind? Or maybe just with you? Or, worse, that he’s simply hiding and not seeking? 

This begs the question: does God hide himself? If so, do we—feeble, frail, sinful humans—have any hope of finding him? 

Acts 17:26-27 reveals something amazing about the eternal game of Hide and Seek. “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” 

Did you catch that? From Adam he created us so we would seek him. God wants us to find him.

When I hid from my sisters, I didn’t want to be found, but God isn’t like that. Instead of tucking himself into the most obscure places where we’d never dream of looking, he hides in plain sight. 

Do you want to see the God who is near? God has given us clear directions for this search in his Word. 

Seek with All Your Heart 

Jeremiah 29:13 describes the first step. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” 

When my sisters and I played Hide and Seek, they’d hunt with varying levels of enthusiasm. Some days they’d scour the yard like a pig hunting truffles. Other days they’d search as though they were looking for the ugly Christmas sweater from Aunt Gertrude. Sorry, Mom, I looked everywhere. Guess I’ll have to wear something else. 

We approach our search for God in similar ways. Some people pursue him diligently. They frequent the places he frequents—Bible studies, churches, and faith communities. They read Bible-based books and listen to reputable teachers. They spend time in prayer, asking God to reveal himself. 

Others expend minimal effort in their search. Well, I went to church—once—but nothing happened, so God must not be real. Or I’m a spiritual person, but I’ve never seen much value in reading the Bible. Or Yes, I attend church, but I’m too busy to get involved in Sunday school or a Bible study. They dabble at the shoreline instead of diving into the depths. They search half-heartedly rather than whole-heartedly. 

Leave Our Sin at the Door 

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded,” James 4:8 says. 

The second direction God gives is to require us to be willing to leave our sin at the door. Notice I said be willing. I didn’t say get rid of all our sin, because we can’t do that on our own. Only God can. But until we’re willing to let God transform us, we seek with a serious handicap. Our sins act like a blindfold, preventing us from seeing God. 

When my sisters and I played Hide and Seek, we never blindfolded the searcher. That would have doomed her to fail. Similarly, we can’t search for God while wearing the blindfold of sin. When we surrender our sin and allow God to change us, he takes away our blindness and shines his light on our path. 

Respond in His Timing 

The final direction God gives is this: It all begins and ends in his timing. Isaiah 55:6 urges, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” 

God doesn’t promise us tomorrow, but he gives us today. Right now. The One who hears his teammates searching flings the door open and yells, “Here I am! Come find me.” 

If you’re looking for God today, I have good news for you. He’s scattered evidence of his presence everywhere. 

He reveals himself through nature (Romans 1:20). 

Through our conscience (Romans 2:14-15). 

Through the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16). 

And mostly through Jesus Christ his Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). 

If we fail to find God, it’s not because he doesn’t want to be found. It’s because we don’t want to find him. 

And what if you found God, but have wandered away? 

He puts his arm around your shoulders and invites you back into the game. “When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you,” 

Deuteronomy 4:30-31 tells us, “then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you. “ What a promise. 

God—the God of the universe—eagerly desires to reveal himself to us. In the life-changing, eternal search, God wants us to win. 

Peaches, apple, pumpkin pie, who’s not ready, holler I. 

The hunt is on. 

You’re It.



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Sunday

Paid to Smile -- Growing through Times of Lament


When my daughter was ten years old, my husband paid her to smile. 


It was family picture day at church, and she just wasn’t feeling it. Normally a cheerful kid, she wasn’t cheerful that day. She didn’t want to dress up. She didn’t want to have her picture taken. And she certainly didn’t want to smile. 

As our turn in front of the camera neared, my husband grew desperate. 

“Just smile once,” he said. “We haven’t had a family picture in a long time, and we want this to be a nice one.” No response. 

He appealed to her vanity. “You’re a pretty girl, and you’re even prettier when you smile.” Nothin. 

Then he tried peer pressure. “This picture’s going in the church directory. All your friends will see it.” She crossed her arms and frowned. 

As the family ahead of us posed for the camera, he knew time was running out. “I’ll pay you five dollars if you’ll smile.” Ahhhh. Now he had her attention. Money talks, and this girl was no fool. She knew a good deal when she heard one. 

“Smile!” the photographer said, and smile she did. For the picture and all the way home, clutching her five dollar bill and imagining how she would spend it. 


The result was the worst picture our family has ever taken. Every one of us looked strained, pained, and awkward. 

This experience taught me you can’t fake happiness. If you try, you fool no one. A smile that doesn’t reach a person’s eyes is a smile in name only. Real joy can’t be forced. 

I’m thankful God doesn’t require us to smile when we don’t feel like it. When we present ourselves before him in prayer, we don’t have to slap on a cheesy grin and pretend everything’s okay. We can come barefaced with our hurts, disappointments, and complaints knowing he understands. We’ve no need to dress up our circumstances or hide behind fake faith. We can bring him our saddest faces without fear of judgment. 

King David knew this. Although he penned dozens of psalms of praise and thanksgiving, he also wrote psalms of grief and pain. The Bible calls these psalms of lament. Frightened, broken-hearted, and gut-wrenching, these expressions of sorrow demonstrate the intimacy with which we can approach God during trying times. 

Psalm 86 is a classic example. 

First David comes to God in brokenness. 

“Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy” (v 1). 

He voices a legitimate and fear-filled complaint.

“Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me—they have no regard for you” (v 14). 

He begs God in the agony of his soul. “Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long.” (v 2-3). 

After laying his request before the Lord, he lifts his eyes to God’s throne. He remembers God’s character and love and raises his lamenting voice in praise. 

“Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. . . . For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God” (v 8-10). 

Praise leads him to acknowledge what he has known but temporarily forgotten—God’s kind heart. 

“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.” (v 5). 

David’s cries of pain become expressions of triumphant surrender. He invites God to grow his faith and reveal more of himself in the midst of the trial. 

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” 

What began as a cry of lament ends in a shout of triumph. David remembers the ultimate way God demonstrated his love toward him by saving him from an eternity in hell, and he lifts his voice in worship. 

“I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.” (v 12-13). 

From the beginning of his lament until the end, David’s circumstanced don’t change, but he does. He allows his pain to push him toward God, and there he finds comfort and help. His faith and his witness grow. 


And what about his smile? Did it ever return? I’m confident it did, because David asked God to restore it. 

“Bring joy to your servant, Lord,” he prayed, “for I put my trust in you” (v 4). 

I’m confident if that day had been family photo day, David would have taken his place among his loved ones and smiled. Not because someone paid him five dollars, but because he’d learned to trust God in the midst of his sorrow. 

And that filled his heart with joy. 

Now it's your turn. Do you feel comfortable coming to God is the midst of your pain, or do you feel as though you have to put on a brave, spiritual face? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. If you're reading by email, Click HERE to visit Hungry for God online and leave a comment.  



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Wednesday

Do We Come to God to Give or To Get?

Here’s a question for you: Do we come to God to give or to get? 


As believers, we all agree we come to God to get—the precious gift of salvation. But after our eternal home in glory is secured, then we come to God to give, right? 

Everyone knows it’s more blessed to give than receive. We know Scripture doesn’t support the prosperity gospel promoted by false teachers who tell us that if we give (usually to their ministry), God will give us a Mercedes, a clean bill of health, and a trouble-free life in return. We’re not fooled. 


Mature Christians know the Christian life is about sacrifice, giving, denying, and pouring out instead of lapping up. Why else would Jesus say, “Take up your cross and follow me?” 

But God also said, “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you” (Jeremiah 7:23). 

And Jesus said, “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:3-4). 

And what about Jesus’ resounding statement to His disciples as they wondered if there was any reward in following Him? “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life’” (Mark 10:29-30). 

Scripture clearly states there is indeed great reward in following Jesus. When we choose to practice patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control, we reap the fruit of righteousness. When we love, serve, and forgive, joy, peace, goodness, and mercy will flood our days. 

We Don’t Have to Wait 

Flowery beds of ease and heavenly choirs will be marvelous in the sweet by and by, but we live in the nasty now and now. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait to enjoy our rewards. 

Knowing they aren’t limited to eternity gives us strength to persevere. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” 

God rewards us when we seek Him and serve Him. He blesses us when we choose forgiveness over bitterness, prayer over worry, and sacrifice over selfishness. Unlike a reward we earn, these benefits naturally flow out of our obedience. 

Every day, every moment we face a choice, and that choice determines our rewards. Will we choose our way or God’s way? Believe God’s Word to the point of action or depend upon our limited knowledge and insight? Walk by faith or walk by sight? Serve ourselves or serve God? 

Pastor/Teacher John Piper, in his book, The Dangerous Duty of Delight, said, “Based on the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are far too easily pleased.” 

We can obey God’s Word confidently, knowing there is exceedingly great rewards for seeking Him with all our hearts. And we don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to receive them. God invites us to come to Him to get. 

Come to God poor, because He is rich. 

Come to God weak, because He is strong. 

Come to God needy, because He is all-sufficient. 

Come to God anxious, because He is our peace. 

Come to God vengeful, because He is our forgiveness. 

If we’re smart, we’ll come to God with open arms eager to receive every good and perfect gift that falls from His benevolent hands. He is the generous Father. We are the grateful recipients. 


The prosperity gospel preachers have it all wrong, but so do pious, short-sighted believers. God’s Word promises He’ll reward our obedient, sacrificial lives. In this life and in the life to come. And He’ll do it in ways too wonderful to imagine. 

The promised Mercedes that will one day break down will pale in comparison to the everlasting joy, satisfaction, and peace of walking with Jesus every day. Only God can fill our lives with good things and satisfy our deepest desires. 

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him,” 1 Corinthians 2:9 tells us, and it is so. 

Do we come to God to give or to get? 

Yes. Oh my, yes.



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Sunday

You Think YOU Love YOUR Kids?






On September 10, we added to our collection of grandchildren when Collin Gabriel was born. 

Now we have two girls (Lauren and Caroline) and two boys (Andrew and Collin). I'd like to tell you about them. Bear with me. I promise there will be a spiritual take away. 







Lauren 

The curly-headed firstborn who loves to laugh, this child is a deep thinker with an encyclopedic memory for whatever she’s interested in at the time. This month it’s animals. Like most first-borns, she loves to plan and organize. One more year, and she’ll be running the household. Not prone to outbursts or drama, she stays steady when everyone around her is wailing. 





Caroline 
Shakespeare wrote about Caroline centuries before her birth when he said, “She be little, but she be fierce.” The opposite of her even-keeled sister, Caroline has all the feels. She’s tiny, “no bigger than a squirrel,” as my husband says, but her heart fills a room. When she hugs you, she melts into your chest, and you never want to let her go. Her smile reaches all the way to her eyes. She loves UNI-corns and babies, especially her baby brother. While the other siblings hold him for a minute or two before they’re off to other pursuits, Caroline will hold Collin as long as her mama will let her, singing to him and petting him. 



Andrew 


When we found out that our family’s all-girl streak was ending with this third child, I prayed, “Lord, make him sweet.” God answered my prayer in such a beautiful way. Although he’s all boy, he has a tender heart. Especially toward his mama—and his Gigi. He loves cars, trucks, and anything he can throw (whether it’s designed to be thrown or not). He hasn’t realized toddlers are supposed to be picky eaters and will eat just about anything, even salad. And Play Doh. And dirt. 






Collin 


Since he’s only three weeks old, we don’t know much about him yet. He has dark blue eyes, silky soft cheeks (yes, I kiss them all the time), and maybe a dimple. He has a great sense of humor, and I often catch him chuckling to himself when no one’s looking. Collin is a night owl, and prefers his mama’s company over all others in the wee hours of the morning. 



The Point 

It’s probably pretty obvious that I love my grandchildren. I delight in their personalities and marvel at their individuality. My heart breaks when they’re sad, and rejoices when they’re happy. I’d fight a bear or wrestle a boa constrictor to protect them. More than anything else, I pray they will know God and follow Him all the days of their lives. 

As expansive as my love for my grandchildren is, it pales in comparison to the love God has for His children. He marvels at the intricacies of our ways because He created us. His heart breaks when we’re sad, and rejoices when we’re happy. He died to protect us. More than anything else, He wants us to know Him and follow Him all the days of our lives. 

You think I love my grandkids? 

Imagine how much God loves you. 





"As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him" (Psalm 103:13).



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Wednesday

A Peek Behind the Veil -- How God Uses Our Service

When was the last time you experienced a holy moment? A time when the veil between this world and the next stretched thin? When you could almost but not quite peek through? A moment when the spirit nudged aside the physical and you could see—really see—what God sees? 

I experienced a holy moment on the morning of September 29. Our church family had been preparing for weeks for its 60th anniversary, and the day was finally here. My husband and I have been part of New Testament Baptist Church for four years, and David serves as pastor. 


Four years is a blink in time compared to the years two of our founding members have invested in the church. The Easterlings are charter members who recently celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary and their 95th birthdays. 

One of several families God called to start the church, the Easterlings met with the others in homes, then in the band room of a local high school, then in an office building, and, finally, in the church building where we now meet. Did they ever imagine, during those early years, that they’d one day be celebrating the church’s 60th anniversary? 

And what about Mr. B., the man who taught the boys’ Sunday school class in the back of his Volkswagen van thirty years ago? When the church outgrew its Sunday school space, he took his class outside and taught them there. Did he dream of what God might do with his commitment to teach God’s Word to boys who were more interested in baseball than Bible verses? 

He probably never imagined that Brooks H. would one day testify how the seeds Mr. B. sowed into his wiggly soul would one day bear spiritual fruit. Brooks came to faith in Christ as a young adult and now serves God as a pastor in a neighboring church. 

Abby M, a former member who lives out of state, testified by video how she “heard the Word of God first at home, and then at NTBC.” Her mother led the children’s choir for years. Today Abby writes and speaks for God. Her first book releases in the spring. Do you think, when her mama was trying to coax joyful noises out of reluctant mouths, she glimpsed how God would use her dedication to pave the way for her daughter’s literary life song? 

The testimonies flowed as we laughed and reminisced. 


When the last guest had gone and the sanctuary was silent, I lingered for a moment, fingering the brass markers on the tops of each pew. Evidence of a long-ago fund raising campaign, the markers bore names of members who had sacrificially given to buy the pews I take for granted every Sunday. Until today, the names had been meaningless—whispers of a day gone by. Now they shone like gold, the calling cards of those who had given of their treasure to serve the Lord. 

If you’re like me, you serve God the best you know how. Flawed, frail, and feeble, we sing in the choir, feed the homeless, and comfort the grieving. We teach, and give, and pray. We look ahead to tomorrow, and maybe next week, or next month. Seldom do we lift our heads and look long—decades long—into a time when the spiritual seeds we’ve sown will bear fruit. When others take their places in the march of faith because we showed them how to put one foot in front of the other. 

During our church’s 60th anniversary celebration, God allowed me to peek behind the veil and see what He sees—churches that exist today because of those who came before us. 

Now it’s our turn.

In the whisper of the empty sanctuary and the hush of the moment, I heard the Spirit ask, What kind of future are you building for those who come behind you? 

Like Nell and Lairy, Mr. B., and Abby’s mom, may we be found faithful. 

“Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. (John 4:35-36).



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