Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Tuesday

3

November 2020

Are you listening?

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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Listening is important

We all have a desire to be heard, the problem is not many of us listen. From birth, even without words, babies try to communicate with others – because they long to be heard. Mothers typically recognize the cry of their child because they’ve spent so much time listening.

We also see this with animals. Dickens has an interesting way of communicating, using his front paws to reach out and touch us when he wants something. He also barks incessantly at any threat outside our home. We’ve become so attuned listening to his bark that we understand when he sees a squirrel, cat, or a human.

Listening requires action

Listening requires action on our part, which we tend to forget. We get caught up thinking that action comes when we speak, which is why many of us have a habit of interrupting. Rather than listening to what others have to say, we start planning a smart response, readying our reaction rather than hearing what others are saying.

One benefit to listening is that we become more receptive. After a conversation with Nathan, King David had a responsive heart to hear the Lord. In 2 Samuel 7, we understand the blessing that comes with listening, as when we truly listen, we grow closer to God. “Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God:” David proclaimed, “for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” (v. 22). Listening – not just laying out our prayer lists – is one of the most important aspects of our relationship with God.

Another blessing of listening is that it helps us to learn. When Paul and Silas preached the Gospel to the Berean Jews, we read in Acts 17:11, “that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Mark Twain once said that, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would rather have talked.” We cannot learn unless we listen.

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would rather have talked.”

Mark Twaint

Listening also helps us to deal with hard truths and become discerning

We are all guilty of avoiding topics that make us uncomfortable. Perhaps we feel less informed than the person we’re speaking with, but more often than not, we have a hard time accepting the truth – especially when it’s not convenient. A great example of this is found in John 6. After feeding the five thousand, Jesus was preaching in Capernaum, and He went against the grain of the popular teachers of the day by sharing the truth: That salvation is found in Him alone – not in how much money we give away, or how frequently we go to church, or which family we belong to. This made a lot of people uncomfortable – it still does today – to the point that some of His followers left Him. “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (v. 60). Until we start listening, we will struggle to deal with the truth.

God speaks to those who listen.

Originally published as “Are you listening?” Independent Plus. June 11, 2020: 5. Print. Web.

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Thursday

29

October 2020

Stirring the pot

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"And let

My Mum makes the best gravy. Any time someone “helps” her finish making it, she provides the same instructions: Once you’ve brought it to a boil, really stir it up so it doesn’t get lumpy. It always works with her gravy, not so much with mine.

Stirring the pot takes work

The Bible has many references to stirring things up, from both sides of the spectrum. Whether for good or bad, stirring the pot takes work. Where will we focus our efforts?

Proverbs 10:12 says that “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” Just one look at the news, and we can see the stirring up of strife in so many situations, because of hate. As God’s children, we should be looking for ways to show His love in how we live and treat those around us. It starts in our hearts and homes.

“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grevious words stir up anger.”

Proverbs 15:1

We all know that person who makes comments or says things just to get a rise out of others. Proverbs 15:1 says that, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grevious words stir up anger.” When we open our mouths, is it to share a soft answer, or to gush grievous words? “The tongue is a little member and it boasts great things”, James wrote in James 3:5. “Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” We all know the power of our words, because we have all said things that we regret – probably even as recently as today.

Stirring up strife, or appeasing it?

Proverbs 15:18 says that “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.” Are we predisposed to stirring up strife, or appeasing it? There are times when we react in the heat of the moment, but rather than be quick to anger, the Bible tells us that as Christians we should be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” (James 1:19). Though it can be hard, especially in the heat of the moment, those who are slow to anger will stir up peace rather than strife.

In addition to peace, we should be stirred up to generosity. In Exodus 35, the hearts of the people were stirred up to give of their possessions to help build the tabernacle. Are our hearts stirred up to give? There are so many lives that could be impacted by even a small act of generosity. While giving is often associated with financial means, being stirred to generosity could also look like dropping off a meal to a neighbour, sending a note of encouragement, or even sharing a smile and a kind word. Giving does not diminish; it always multiplies.

Stir up the gift of God which is in you

“Consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,”

Hebrews 10:24

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul encouraged Timothy “to stir up the gift of God which is in you,” (1 Timothy 1:6). Sometimes we need to be reinvigorated; this can especially be true for those serving in full-time ministry. It can be exhausting living a life of service. This is why it is so important that we stir one another up to use the gifts that God has placed in us. We should “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24). How are we stirring the pot?

Originally published as “Stirring the pot.” Independent Plus. June 4, 2020: 5. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

28

October 2020

Trust Issues

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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"And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, has not forsaken them that seek thee." Psalm 9:10 | Read more about trust at hopereflected.com

Everybody trusts in something, and it is amazing what people will stake their eternal destiny on – good works, generosity, and even other people. The Bible provides encouragement and examples about trusting God. It also shows us some of the areas where we shouldn’t place our trust. We are not to trust in our works (Jeremiah 48:7) or our righteousness (Ezekiel 33:13). Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 64:6, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf;” – our greatest works are worthless because in ourselves we are not sufficient. Isaiah continues that the Lord can be trusted, because He is our Father, our potter, and we are the work of His hand.

The dangers of trusting in things other than God

Another area we shouldn’t put our trust is in our riches. In Psalm 49:6-7, the sons of Korah wrote about the dangers of trusting in material wealth: “They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:” There’s nothing wrong with making money or storing up savings, but when we start to trust in our riches rather than God, we’re headed for trouble.

“And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”

Psalm 9:10

Rather than our own works and riches, we should trust in the name of God. There is power in the name of the Lord! David wrote in Psalm 9:10, “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” We can trust the Creator of the Universe. There is a great relief when we stop searching for our own sufficiency and we choose to rest in Him. “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)

Trust in God’s mercy

Not only is the name of the Lord a strong tower, it is because of His mercies that we are not consumed (Lamentations 3:22). Even when it feels like God forgets us, or like He can’t hear us, we can trust in His mercy. When David wrote Psalm 13 and Psalm 52, he was enduring seasons of darkness and sorrow. After lamenting to the Lord about his pains and the people fighting against him, take notice how he finishes his prayers: “But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.” (Psalm 13:5), “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.” (Psalm 52:8)

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Although he was enduring hardships, David could flourish and rejoice because he trusted in God’s mercy. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us that we should, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Our hearts are deceitful, our feelings change frequently, and despite what some of us think, we don’t actually know everything. God on the other hand never changes. His heart doesn’t change; His feelings don’t change; He knows all and we are in the palm of His hand. We can trust Him!

Originally published as “Trust Issues.” Independent Plus. May 28, 2020: 5. Print. Web.

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Thursday

1

October 2020

Fear not

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"Let not your heart be trouble, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27) | Fear not, read more on hopereflected.com

Fear is a theme that is common not just during times of uncertainty

Look back through the Bible and there are more than 500 references to the word fear. While some of these speak to a reverence of God, at least 100 of these references speak about why we should not be fearful. Fear is nothing new; it’s been one of the devil’s tactics since man’s beginnings in the Garden of Eden.

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Isaiah 41:10

“Fear thou not;” we read in Isaiah 41:10. That’s a command from our Lord! We are not to fear. Easier said than done, especially during difficult seasons of life. We may wonder why God tells us to fear not, particularly if our circumstances are uncertain or we’re feeling anxious. “Fear thou not;” Isaiah 41:10 begins, “for I am with thee:” We are commanded not to fear, because no matter the season and no matter our circumstances, God is with us. The verse continues, “be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

When we have a personal relationship with Christ, when He is our Saviour, He is with us, and we have nothing to fear. We can also find encouragement in our Lord’s words to Joshua in Joshua 1:9: “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

Because God is with us, we have no reason to fear

David wrote in Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Wherever we are, God is with us. Even when everything around us seems dark, the Lord is our light. Psalm 27 opens, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” When we stop looking to ourselves, our circumstances, and our surroundings for strength, and we start looking to God, we are reassured. We have no reason to fear!

Fear can be conquered when Christ is our champion

With Him, peace is possible. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

“The father of fear is unbelief.”

A.W. Tozer

Tozer once said that, “the father of fear is unbelief.” God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Does that mean that we will never be afraid? No, but the key is, that when we find fear creeping in, we like David should reaffirm our trust in the Lord. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3). Whatever we may be going through, may we find reassurance in Jesus’s words, “Be not afraid, only believe.” (Mark 5:36)

Originally published as “Fear not.” Independent Plus. May 21, 2020: 5. Print. Web.

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Thursday

17

September 2020

Cast, don’t carry

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"To cast our burden upon God is to stay ourselves upon his providence and promise, and to be very easy in the assurance that all shall work for good." Matthew Henry | Read more about casting your cares at hopereflected.com

What does it mean “to cast”?

When boating, to cast off means to free your boat from its mooring and set out on the water. In angling, to cast is the act of throwing your fishing line and bait out over the water. While knitting, casting on is a method of adding new stitches that don’t depend on earlier stitches. No matter the context, the act of casting requires energy and exertion on the part of the person performing it.

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

Psalm 55:22

When David penned Psalm 55, he wrote in verse 22, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” We are to cast our burden on the Lord. We aren’t to hesitate, and we aren’t to pray and then worry, rather, we are to throw our cares on Him. What is our burden? Perhaps it’s a fear of the unknown, or an uncertain future. Maybe it’s worry over finances. It could even be concern for our physical or mental health. “Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop,” we read in Proverbs 12:25. What is weighing heavy on your heart? Whatever our burden, we are to cast it on Him. In his commentary on Psalm 55, Matthew Henry said that, “To cast our burden upon God is to stay ourselves on his providence and promise, and to be very easy in the assurance that all shall work for good.” It’s easier said than done.

Casting takes work

Casting our care is certainly not for the faint of heart, and it always requires full disclosure to God. We can be quick to forget in our prayers that God sees and knows all – not even the darkest, deepest parts of our hearts are hidden to Him. If we are to truly cast our burden upon the Lord, if we truly want Him to sustain us, we must be totally honest and open with Him. We must be humble.

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

1 Peter 5:6-7

Peter, in his first epistle to the Christians in and around Asia Minor, specifically when writing to the elders, encouraged them to “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” then he wrote, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7). Part of casting our cares upon Him requires us to humble ourselves. Remember in Psalm 138:6 we understand that God is close to the humble, “but the proud he knoweth afar off.” It doesn’t matter how strong your pitching arm is, the farther away something is when you’re trying to cast to it, the more difficult it is. Spiritually, we cannot cast our cares on the Lord unless we are close to Him.  

Rather than looking everywhere else for support, we should look to Him to sustain us. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Jesus promises in Matthew 11:28-30, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Originally published as “Cast, don’t carry.” Independent Plus. May 14, 2020: 5. Print. Web.

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Monday

7

September 2020

Devotions require devotion

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“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4 | Read devotions require devotion on hopereflected.com

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Devotions are the name that we give to our daily time with God, usually spent reading the Bible and possibly a Bible study guide or book, and praying. They are not something we do just once, they’re not a habit we develop overnight, and they’re not a practice that comes to us naturally. Devotions require commitment, dedication, loyalty – our devotions requires devotion.

The Bible isn’t merely a history book

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,” Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (15:4) The Bible, with its 66 books, 31,102 verses, and countless topics that are just as relevant today as they were when they were written, is given to us for our learning and for our comfort. The Bible isn’t merely a history book; it is our tool book, and the greatest weapon in our arsenal, after all, “the word of God is quick, and powerful, sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Devotions convict us of our sin

This is one of the reasons that some Christians neglect to spend time in devotion with God’s Word. Because the Bible discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart, and it’s quick to convict us of our sin, it makes for some uncomfortable self-reflection. As Tozer once said, “An honest man with an open Bible and a pad and pencil is sure to find out what is wrong with him very quickly.” This is another reason we ought to devote more time to God. “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading,” wrote C.S. Lewis. God’s Word has the power to transform, and the more time we spend in the Bible the more we will grow.

Our devotional time will bring us closer to our Lord

There is a misconception that our devotional time will always be filled with some spiritual enlightenment, with “aha” moments, and feelings of closeness with our Lord. This is not always the case – and that’s not a bad thing. We may at times experience enlightenment, and there will be truths revealed to us that we’ve not seen or understood before. Our devotional time will bring us closer to our Lord even when we don’t feel it. Our daily soak in God’s Word is meant to develop, reprove, correct, and instruct us over time. Devotions take time. Just as going to the gym doesn’t give you overnight results, so devotional time in God’s Word won’t transform you in a day.

“I will run the way of thy commandments… Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.” (Psalm 119:32-33). Our devotions require devotion.

You may also be interested in: 3 reasons to start doing devotions daily

Originally published as “Devotions require devotion.” Independent Plus. May 7, 2020: 5. Print. Web.

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Friday

4

September 2020

Walking in Obedience

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"And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands." (2 John 1:6) | Read more about walking in obedience at hopereflected.com

“To have Faith in Christ means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

How often do we get caught up in the lip service of Christianity, forgetting the fundamental importance of the actions of our faith. Our obedience to God is the biggest, truest expression of our love for God. “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” is what Jesus instructed us (John 14:15).

Why do we so often do the opposite, or delay in our obedience to God? We wait for a sign, we put Him off, and we neglect to realize that even delayed obedience is actually disobedience. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey;” Paul asked the Romans in his epistle to them, “whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (6:16). We become the slaves of whatever we choose to obey. Perhaps we don’t even realize that we’re being disobedient when we choose greed, jealousy, hate, bitterness, selfishness, worry, doubt, fear. Don’t be deceived; these all make wicked masters.

Obedience requires a change in behaviour

We need to turn our bad behaviours around. When we find ourselves doubting how we’ll get through something, may we remember: God says He will make a way for us, and make no mistake about it, what God says, He will do. “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19). Nothing is impossible for Him!

When we’re being hasty, losing patience, and rushing, may we recall: God calls us to “rest in him and wait patiently for him,” (Psalm 37:7). His thoughts are above our thoughts, His ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55), and His timing is perfect. He is not trying to shortchange us, He is not going to let us miss out, rather God wants His best for us. “The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:25-26).

Walking in obedience requires perseverance

When we want to give up because it seems a better solution than going through, may we retain: God says that He will fight for us. “The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:14). He will not fail us; He will not forsake us (Deut. 31:6). He has promised that, “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.” (Isaiah 54:17).

We can only walk in love when we’re walking in obedience. “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” (2 John 1:6).

Interested in learning more about walking in obedience? Check out these articles about obedience to God.

Originally published as “Walking in obedience.” Independent Plus. April 30, 2020: 5. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

1

September 2020

Hot or cold, but not lukewarm

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"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." (1 Corinthians 16:13) | Read more at hopereflected.com - Hot or cold, but not lukewarm

We don’t like lukewarm things, do we?

Whether it’s a cuppa tea, bathwater, or dinner, lukewarm just won’t do. When any of the aforementioned are lukewarm, they lose their appeal and they’re just not as effective.

The same is true of lukewarm Christians. We all know them, and if we’re honest, we’ll admit that at sometime, we’ve been them. Afraid to go against the flow, concerned with political correctness more than we are with Biblical authority, worried that our friends won’t agree with our opinions, too tired to stand up for what’s right, and guilty of thinking that we can’t make a difference anyway.

God is very clear about the results of being lukewarm.

“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth,”

Revelation 3:16

God is very clear about the results of being lukewarm: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth,” (Rev. 3:16). James in his eponymous epistle describes being lukewarm or wishy washy like this: “For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways,” (James 1:6-8). Whether we call it being lukewarm, wishy washy, or double minded, the Bible warns us of the results of being lukewarm.

One of the most important ways to ensure we don’t become lukewarm is by staying in God’s Word.

We can discern the difference between right and wrong, good and evil if we are more immersed in God’s Word than we are in the culture and world around us. That doesn’t mean that we live with our heads under rocks, quite the contrary. We need to be armed and equipped for the real world. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword,” we read in Hebrews 4:12, “piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

We need to put on the full armor of God to avoid becoming lukewarm.

The most powerful piece of equipment we have is God’s Word. Psalm 1 promises that “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” We need to put on the full armor of God to avoid becoming lukewarm.

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong,”

1 Corinthians 16:13

When our foundation is firm, we can stand fast. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong,” Paul encouraged believers in 1 Corinthians 16:13. Jesus Himself said that we should strengthen our brethren (Luke 22:32). We should encourage each other to be “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear,” (1 Peter 3:15).

“Christianity if false is of no importance, and if true of infinite importance,” said C.S. Lewis, “The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” We do not serve a part-time Saviour, and we cannot be part-time Christians.

Originally published as “Hot or cold, but not lukewarm.” Independent Plus. April 23, 2020: 5. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

11

August 2020

Community

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"Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God." Nehemiah 4:9 | Read more about community at hopereflected.com

Characteristics of a strong community

After giving up his position in the court of the Persian king Artaxerxes, Nehemiah served his people as governor in rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. We read all about the rebuilding of the city in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, which presents us with a wonderful example of how prayer, encouragement, and loyalty build a strong community.

“Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God,”

Nehemiah 4:9

When Nehemiah heard of the desolation of Jerusalem and that the city had been left in ruin, he was distraught, and his first reaction was to pray. “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,” (1:4). His city was destroyed, and only a remnant of the people was left. Throughout the book of Nehemiah, the importance of prayer is highlighted. Nehemiah was fervent in prayer; he sought the Lord first, and encouraged his community to do the same.

When we are going through a crisis and we are wearied by world news, is it our instinct as a community to cry out to God in prayer, or are we more apt to rest in our own abilities first? “Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God,” (4:9). The Lord led Nehemiah to help rebuild the city, and through prayer Nehemiah and his community persevered.

Encouragement is a vital part of community

Just as prayer is a vital part of community, so is encouragement. Nehemiah encouraged his community to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and even when the going got tough and they faced incredible opposition, he continued to encourage his people. “Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” (4:14). When Nehemiah and his community came up against scorn and ridicule, instead of getting discouraged, they encouraged each other to keep going. When they were faced with physical opposition, they came together even stronger. “In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.” (4:20).

Do we rally together with our community, ready to serve with our neighbours and encourage those around us? Like discouragement, encouragement is equally contagious. Which do we spread? Despite the huge task before them, Nehemiah and his community encouraged one another.

Impacting a community for future generations

The book of Nehemiah not only shows us how prayer and encouragement can strengthen a community, but also how loyalty can impact a community for future generations. While some may think that rebuilding the city wall was a task reserved for stonemasons or skilled carpenters, in Nehemiah’s community there was a place for every person. Each member demonstrated their loyalty by coming together to see how they could help. “Next unto him repaired Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, of the goldsmiths. Next unto him also repaired Hananiah the son of one of the apothecaries, and they fortified Jerusalem unto the broad wall.” (3:8). From goldsmiths to perfumers, everyone was committed to getting the job done. Each of us brings a unique gift to our community, and we should be willing to share it with others.

Originally published as “Community.” Independent Plus. March 26, 2020: 6. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

23

June 2020

Lies the devil tells us

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"Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar." C.S. Lewis | Read more at hopereflected.com

Since the Garden of Eden, the devil’s tactics have remained the same. Too frequently, we believe the lies the devil tells us.

Isolation is one of the devil’s lies

Satan doesn’t want us to be part of a church community or communicating openly. Guaranteed that whatever we feel, there are others who can relate. This is challenging to remember, especially during times of distress. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee:” God promises (Isaiah 41:10). In the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us (Psalm 23:4). When we are brokenhearted, He is with us (Psalm 34:18). When we are acting foolishly, He is with us (Psalm 73:23). When we can’t find our way, He is with us (Psalm 139:11). We are not alone.

Satan would love for us to believe that we are alone

Satan would love for us to believe that we are alone, and he also wants us to feel ashamed. He doesn’t want us to share our feelings or to accept God’s grace. Shame is another of the devil’s lies. Satan would have us forever carry around the weight of our past sins, of our regrets, of that thing that happened so long ago that we wish no one would find out about. But God, He’s not a God of shame; He’s a God of saving grace! “For the LORD GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” (Isaiah 50:7). As our Saviour, Christ removes our shame.  “Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.” (Psalm 25:3).

The devil will tell you that no one understands

Another lie Satan wants us to believe is that no one understands us. No one else gets it. Like feeling alone, feeling like no one understands us is another attempt from the devil to hinder our walk with God. But God, He does understand. “Thou understandest my thought afar off.” (Psalm 139:2). God understands far more about us than we do about ourselves! Psalm 139 is a beautiful reminder of this. Truly, as Isaiah wrote, “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.”

Pessimism is another tactic from the devil’s toolkit

It’s easy to become discouraged when we hear about persecution, viruses spreading, and countries at war. The devil would love to see us quit. Too often we allow our discouragement to change our outlook. We are called to press on. We are called to victory! Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:57-58, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” We are to be always abounding in the work of the Lord, not giving up because we don’t think we can make a difference.  We must not believe the lies the devil tells us. As C.S. Lewis said, “Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar.”

Originally published as “Lies the devil tells us.” Independent Plus. March 12, 2020: 6. Print. Web.

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