Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

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Thursday

7

December 2017

Encouragement | Stand firm in the faith

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"Do everything in love." 1 Corinthians 16:13 | See more at hopereflected.com

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

In the day we live in, it can be so difficult to stand firm in the faith. Right is considered wrong; tolerance is considered accepting only one side of the story.

Whether or not you think your opinion is being stepped on or thrown out, and whether you think your side of the story is or isn’t being accepted, we’re called in 1 Corinthians to the following:

  • To be on guard
  • To stand firm in the faith
  • To be courageous
  • To be strong
  • To do everything in love

Note how the thought finishes: “Do everything in love.” In love. Not in pride. Not in arrogance. Not in superiority. In love.

Whether it’s a difference of opinion with a family member or co-worker, or a political divide with a friend, or even a disagreement with a church member, remember to do everything in love.

Love doesn’t mean weakness. Love doesn’t mean backing down. Love doesn’t mean caving to another’s opinion just to appease them. Love is standing up for God’s truth, doing what’s right, and caring enough to share your faith with others.

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

 

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Monday

27

November 2017

Hope Reflected | Loving Others, Even When It’s Hard

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"Be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 | See more at hopereflected.com

Loving Others, Even When It’s Hard

Chances are that at some point in your life, you’ve read the “love” chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. We usually hear 1 Corinthians 13 quoted or recited at weddings, anniversaries, or other happy occasions. But what about loving others, even when it’s hard?

This world is filled with difficult people, and if each of us were honest, we’d all have to admit that sometimes in life we are actually the difficult ones. Loving others even when it’s hard or when they’re being difficult can be extremely trying, can’t it? The good news is that it’s possible, because God first loved us. Because God first loved us, we’re equipped with the capacity to love others.

How do we love others, even when it’s hard? Let’s look at some practical instruction from 1 Corinthians 13.

Love others by being patient. “Love suffers long and is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) In most areas of life, when you have patience, you will have peace. Loving others, even when it’s hard, means guarding your reactions. It means exercising patience towards those who have difficult personalities. When you’re being patient, you’re less likely to speak out of turn; you’re less likely to add fuel to the fire; and you’re more likely to act with integrity and kindness, and as a result better understand where the other person is coming from.

Love others by being humble. “Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Comparison is the thief of joy, and the sooner we learn to water the grass in our own yard rather than seeking “greener” pastures, the better off we’ll be. You may be tempted to “win” the argument, you may really want to have the last word, but part of loving others means being humble and taking the high road – even when it’s hard. And man oh man, can it ever be hard sometimes! Through it all however, we’re called to love by being completely humble.

Love others by being kind. “Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) It costs nothing to be kind. And while our initial reaction may be to speak out of turn and return bitter barb with bitter barb, the Lord will bless you for taking the high road. Even when it’s hard, we can each demonstrate love to others by being kind. Sometimes being kind means taking time or stepping away, and it also means taking time to pray for others. You might think it’s impossible, especially when someone else is being everything but kind to you, and when that’s the case, prayer can have a huge impact. With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37), and when you take the time to pray for others, God has a way of making kindness that much easier.

Love others by wanting what’s best for them. “Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6) When you love others, you want what’s best for them and genuinely have their best interest at heart. Especially when someone has been unkind or hurtful, it can be tempting to rejoice when they run into difficulties or when they’re proved wrong, but just like we’re told in Proverbs 25:21-22, the Lord sees when we give to those who only give us grief and He will use it for His glory.

Love others by bearing with them. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) 1 Corinthians 13:7 is a challenge. Love bears all things – not just good things, not just convenient things – love bears all things. That includes difficulties and it includes hard times. We show our love to others by bearing with them. Proverbs 17:17 says that, “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” We are called to love others, not just in happy times, but in sad times. Not just in easy times, but in adverse times.

Ephesians 4:2 sums up the love described in 1 Corinthians 13 like this: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient bearing with one another in love.” When we’re trying to love others even when it’s hard, remember this: We know true love and we can love because Jesus Christ laid down His life so we might have life (1 John 3:16-18).

Originally published as “Loving others, even when it’s hard.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 26, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

17

November 2017

Hope Reflected | Waiting on the Lord

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"Wait on the LORD, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart." Psalm 27:14 | See more at hopereflected.com

Waiting on the Lord

Waiting on the Lord is something that we will spend our whole lives learning. John Piper once said, “God works for those who wait for Him. We do the waiting and the trusting, God does the working and the timing.”

Beyond producing patience, there are a myriad of blessings that come from waiting on the Lord.

Waiting on the Lord strengthens your heart. “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14) Throughout most of my youth and adult life, Psalm 27:14 is a verse that’s been highlighted in my Bible. I remember the night I highlighted it. My heart was broken. For a long time, I kept asking, “Lord, what on earth are you trying to teach me here?!” I kid you not, after asking that question one evening, I came to Psalm 27, and verse 14 stuck out to me like a sore thumb. “He shall strengthen your heart.” To this day, Psalm 27:14 remains one of the verses that I cling to, because God has proven it to be true in my life.

Waiting on the Lord builds trust. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) We may not understand how the Lord is working, but waiting on Him builds trust. We can be confident that He’s got our best interests at heart. Psalm 37 is a great resource on the subject. “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5)

Waiting on the Lord renews your strength. “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) Waiting on the Lord renews your strength. It’s during the times when our “best laid plans” aren’t working out how we thought, and when we’re thrown curve balls that we didn’t see coming that we realize the sovereignty of God. We aren’t in control! And there’s something so relieving and uplifting about giving it all to God. When we surrender to Him, He renews our strength.

Waiting on the Lord sharpens your focus. “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13) Waiting on the Lord sharpens our focus, and it does this by teaching us the blessing of contentment. You know when you’ve got your camera set to manual focus and you’re trying to hone in your subject? Waiting on the Lord sharpens our focus; it helps us centre our minds on where God has us rather than focusing on where we want to be. Are you so pre-occupied with planning your future that you’re not taking time to enjoy your present? Too often we limit ourselves because of our own shortsightedness. Don’t confuse one chapter with the whole book.

Waiting on the Lord improves efficiencies. “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient.” (James 5:7-8) Just like sharpening our focus, waiting on the Lord also improves efficiencies. When our focus is on the Lord, when we’re waiting for Him, we learn to take our time, to slow down, and as a result, we’re more methodical and purposeful, and we work with intention. I like how Charles Stanley uses the illustration of gardening to get the point across. After you plant seeds in your garden, you have to wait for them to grow. You wouldn’t spoil all the work you did in planting your garden by pulling all the seeds out just because you don’t see anything happening immediately. No, you have to wait for the seeds to bring forth fruit!

While we’re waiting, God is working. The irony is that the work God performs within us while we’re waiting on Him is quite often just as – or even more – important than what we’re waiting for. “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” (Lamentations 3:25) God’s “good” is better than your best could ever be and it is worth the wait!

Originally published as “Waiting on the Lord.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 19, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

8

November 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | It Costs Nothing to Be Kind

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Always be kind. | See more hopereflected.com

“Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” Proverbs 11:17

It costs nothing to be kind. Even on our bad days, our sad days, and yes, even on our mad days, it costs nothing to extend the gift of kindness to another.

In the New International Version, Proverbs 11:17 says that “those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” In the New King James Version, the verse reads, “the merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

The merciful man.

Kindness and mercy. When you show kindness to another, in a way, you’re showing them mercy. Mercy is defined as not getting something you deserve, and when it’s put like that, we could almost interpret that Proverbs 11:17 is instructing us to show kindness even to those people who don’t deserve it. What a challenge!

“Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” Proverbs 11:17

 

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Monday

6

November 2017

Bible verses for when you need strength

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10 Bible verses for when you need strength | See more at hopereflected.com

At any given point in time, we could all use more strength. When days are long and hard, and you find yourself weary, rest in the promises of God’s Word. He promises to be our strength, even when we have none.

Here are 10 Bible verses for when you need strength (OK there’s 13 verses here but who’s counting). Committing these verses to memory or writing them down will ensure that you can remind yourself of God’s strength and draw on His strength anytime.

  1. Psalm 22:19 “But You, O LORD, do not be far from me; O my Strength, hasten to help me!”
  2. Psalm 28:7-8 “The LORD is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.”
  3. Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
  4. Isaiah 12:2 “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; he also has become my salvation.”
  5. Isaiah 40:29-31 “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
  6. Habakkuk 3:19 “The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.”
  7. Nehemiah 8:10 “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
  8. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
  9. Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the LORD and in the power of His might.”
  10. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

What are your favourite Bible verses about strength, and what are the verses you recall to mind when you feel weak? We are told in Psalm 1 that the man who makes the law of the Lord his delight and meditates on the Lord day and night “shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:1-3) When you feel like you don’t have the strength, look to the Lord. He will not let you down! He will uphold you with His right hand!

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Thursday

2

November 2017

Hope Reflected | The Grateful Heart

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"That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14 The Grateful Heart | See more at hopereflected.com

The Grateful Heart

Like most holidays, Thanksgiving comes and goes in the blink of an eye. In fact, here we are less than a month after Canadian Thanksgiving, and you’re more than likely already thinking about other things. More than a choice, having an attitude of gratitude the whole year through is possible when you have a grateful heart. So what are the characteristics of a grateful heart?

  1. The grateful heart seeks God regardless of circumstances. “In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Take note of this portion of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. He says, “in every thing give thanks.” Not “in some things,” or “in happy things.” In every thing we are to give thanks. Can that ever be a challenge or what?! There are some things and times in which I just don’t want to give thanks! Even in challenging times or difficult seasons, we’re called to give thanks, even if it’s for the little things (because really, the little things are the big things, aren’t they?). Don’t concentrate on the circumstances that will always change; focus on God Who will never change and Who will always be there for you. The grateful heart seeks God regardless of circumstances.
  2. The grateful heart wants to help others. “Do not forget to do good and to share with others.” (Hebrews 13:16) We’re called on several times throughout the Bible to help others. It’s not always going to be convenient, and it’s not always going to be easy. In fact in Hebrews 13:16 “to do good and to share with others” is referred to as a sacrifice. The grateful heart wants to help others. Maybe for some that means lending a helping hand, or for others, it could mean being a listening ear. Whatever the case, we are encouraged in Galatians 6:2 to “carry each other’s burdens.”
  3. The grateful heart is content. “Be content with what you have.” (Hebrews 13:5) The grateful heart remains focused on what it already has rather than looking for fulfillment in other places. I’ve written before about the importance of contentment, and a sure sign of a grateful heart is one that’s focused on all it’s been blessed with. You may have heard the old adage, “the grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greenest where you water it.” This wisdom is true. We brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing with us when we leave (1 Timothy 6:7) so where’s your focus? The grateful heart is content with what it already has.

Above all, the grateful heart realizes and treasures what is truly important. What’s in your heart? Is your heart a home for our Lord and Saviour? Or is your heart focused on building an earthly empire? Your answer will determine your eternity. The only One who can truly satisfy the human heart is the One who made it. There’s a longing in each heart that only Christ can fill (Psalm 90:14).

Originally published as “The Grateful Heart.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 12, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

25

October 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy

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"If the devil can't make you bad, he'll make you busy." Encouragement when you're busy. | Hope Reflected

“If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”

Attributed to several sources over the years, we’ve all heard the quote, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” I most recently read it in one of Charles Stanley’s devotionals, and it stuck with me. There are several posts I’ve written about learning to live slowly,  learning moderation, and the culture of slowness. Slowing down has to be one of the hardest challenges of our lives here on earth!

Between our professional and personal lives, many of us struggle with being “busy”. The danger that lies therein is not having time for the most important things in life. When was the last time that you skipped your devotions because you were too rushed in the morning? What about not being able to properly serve at church because of “other” commitments? What about not praying because you don’t have time?

We don’t just have too much on the go; no, most of the time we just don’t have our priorities in the correct order. Tozer once said that “Anything that keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be.” How do we battle “busy” and get our priorities straight? Maybe it means waking up earlier in the morning, or perhaps learning the art of saying, “No”. Both apply in my life!

We’re told in Proverbs 21:5 that “the plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” To be hasty means that you’re hurried, you’re in a rush. When we’re busy, we each need to learn how to apply Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.” We can’t be still if we’re rushing around being “busy”!

“If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”

 

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Tuesday

24

October 2017

Encouragement | Zechariah 4:6

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Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6 | See more at hopereflected.com

“Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6

When we give God our weakness, He will give us His strength. Too often we take for granted and don’t recognize the realities of having a relationship with God. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Zerubbabel was reminded not to be discouraged by his weakness, but to be encouraged and to rely and remember the Lord’s strength. That’s exactly what we need to learn to do more in our day to day lives.

How often do we go through the motions of life, relying on our own power and knowledge, rather than resting in the Lord’s strength and wisdom?

Zechariah 4:6 is a challenge and a great reminder to rest in the Lord’s strength and wisdom! We won’t succeed in our own strength, but rather when we truly set our focus on Him!

“Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6

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Friday

20

October 2017

Thursday

19

October 2017

Encouragement | 1 Peter 5:10

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God will strengthen and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10 | See more at hopereflected.com

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Not only do we serve the God of all grace as 1 Peter 5:10 describes Him, we are reassured of our Lord’s countless virtues so many times throughout scripture (check out Psalm 18 if you’re looking for an example).

The God of all grace — God is compassionate, full of mercy and truth, long-suffering (Psalm 86:15). He provides stillness and peace (Isaiah 26:3).

He has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus — The Saviour of the world has personally invited us to His eternal glory. I’m not sure that we will ever be able to fully comprehend just how amazing that is!

After you have suffered a while — When you accept Jesus as your Saviour, you’re not guaranteed a life without pain or suffering. In fact, no wore than ever, Christians are persecuted for what they believe. Suffering is a part of this life. Just remember that this life on earth is only the beginning; I think we could all use the reminder to live with eternity in mind.

If you’re looking for encouragement today, consider the above, and consider these encouraging facts from 1 Peter 5:10:

  • God will perfect you (Psalm 138:8)
  • God will establish you (Proverbs 16:3)
  • God will strengthen you (Philippians 4:13)
  • God will settle you (Exodus 14:14)

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10

 

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