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Monday

16

October 2017

Encouragement | Colossians 3:2

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Set your affection on things above. Colossians 3:2 | Read more at hopereflected.com

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

In the midst of life, where our focus so often is set on the day-to-day grind of life, our careers, our families, our friends, and our own dreams and goals, it can be hard to retrain our thoughts to the heavens and to the One who created us.

We’re told in Colossians 3:2 to set our affection on things above, not on things on earth. Our affection — that feeling of fondness or love — is to be set on things above. So what does that really mean? Does it mean that we’re wrong for pursuing success here on earth? I don’t think so, but I do believe that it means we are to live with eternity in mind.

How often are each one of us guilty of concentrating on the here and now, and what’s best for us in this lifetime? It’s like when Jesus said to Peter, “you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)  I don’t know about you, but quite often in the hustle of the everyday, I’m guilty of not having the things of God in my mind.

While there’s nothing wrong with doing well for ourselves here on earth, ultimately we need to remember that we brought nothing into this world, and we’re not taking anything with us when we leave! As Christians, our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). The empire you build for yourself here on earth won’t matter in light of eternity.

Matthew 6:19-21 puts it like this: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasures is, there your heart will be also.”

We tend to focus where we spend the most time. That’s why it’s so important to get into God’s Word, to memorize scripture, to spend time in prayer everyday. Multiple times a day if we’re able. Ask God to centre your focus on Him. Purposefully recite your favourite verses from the Bible. Actively praise the Lord for His goodness to us — after all, His mercies are new every morning so there’s always something for which to worship Him!

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

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Friday

13

October 2017

Hope Reflected | Don’t grow weary in well doing

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"Let us not grow weary while doing good." Galatians 6:9 | See more at hopereflected.com

 

Don’t grow weary in well doing

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9) Sometimes I get weary. Do you ever feel like you just can’t do anything right? That no matter what you do, there’s always going to be someone right there, ready to criticize you and cut you down? I’m right there with you. And you know what? It can be wearying, can’t it? Sometimes I wonder what exactly Paul was going through when he wrote those words in Galatians. It’s not lost on me how even 2,000ish years ago, the struggle was real.

Weariness. It sure has a way of creeping up on you, doesn’t it? When you’re doing the best you can, and you’re coming up against criticisms and chastisements, weariness seems like a natural reaction. I mean, who, doing their best, wants to continue on when they’re only met with adversity?

What the apostle Paul wrote in Galatians however, is true. We aren’t to grow weary while doing good. Even when we think there’s no point, or we’re not being recognized or appreciated how we think we ought to be, we’re still supposed to keep doing good and to not lose heart. If you know anything about the life of the apostle Paul, you know he didn’t have it easy. He was trying his best, and he was beaten, bruised, jailed, and persecuted. The ironic thing is, that Galatians was the first epistle he ever wrote – can you imagine how he was feeling when he got to writing books 12 and 13?!

There are many areas in our lives where we should not grow weary while doing good.

  • Serving others. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24) It’s not always easy to work with others, especially those who have… difficult personalities. A good thing to remember is that there will always be that person who always has to be right, who always wants to be involved, or who always wants to be in control. As hard as it can be, sometimes you’ve just gotta run with it. Accept others. Eat humble pie. I am really speaking to myself, here. When everything in me wants to retaliate, sometimes the best course of action is no action at all. Rather, focus on the Lord and at the task at hand. After all, we’re told in Proverbs 25:21-22, when we work to serve others, even those who are against us, “you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”
  • Working diligently. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not unto men.” (Colossians 3:23) Perhaps you’re working in a factory where you think you’re nothing more than a number. Maybe you’re serving in a position that is less than glamorous and you long to be recognized. Whatever the case may be, remember that no matter your job here on earth, God sees you, and He sees your heart and how you serve. If you’re feeling discouraged, keep in mind that ultimately we’re to work for His glory.

Regardless of where you’re at in your Christian walk, there are many areas in each of our lives where we need to stay strong, keep the faith, and not grow weary while doing good. Whether your weariness is in your personal or professional life, God has a plan. Don’t underestimate how He can use even the most “ordinary” of circumstances and people to do something extraordinary. As the controversial artist Banksy said, “If you get tired, learn to rest and not to quit.” And if you catch yourself getting tired, remember that in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 we’re told that we should, “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” Ultimately, how we live our lives here on earth will affect our eternity. Who and what are you living for? Come unto Jesus, and He will give you rest!

Originally published as “Don’t grow weary in well doing.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 28, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

11

October 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | Waiting on the Lord

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Wednesday Wisdom

Waiting on the LORD. | See more at hopereflected.com

“Waiting on the Lord is never wasted time.” Charles Stanley

It may be difficult, it may be a challenge, but you can rest assured that waiting on the Lord is never wasted time.

Several times throughout Scripture, we read about the blessings that come when we choose to wait on the Lord.

  • “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)
  • “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your hear; wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14)
  • “Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land.” (Psalm 37:34)

We know that God blesses those who choose to wait for Him. Don’t let settling for the “good” get in the way of God’s best for your life! “All things work together for good to those who love God.” (Romans 8:28)

“Waiting on the Lord is never wasted time.” Charles Stanley

 

 

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Friday

6

October 2017

Hope Reflected | In the Hard Seasons

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Christ's grace is sufficient. | See more at hopereflected.com

In the Hard Seasons

 

You know how sometimes during that mid-February dullness you find yourself wondering, “How much longer is winter going to last?!” “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us. Sometimes the seasons last for a few weeks, other times months, and in some cases, even years.

“Why?” is a question that’s often asked about different circumstances and world events. Why do we go through hard seasons in life? Why would a loving God allow bad things to happen? The reality is that the answer has less to do with God and more to do with us as human beings. We live in a fallen world, and nothing will be perfect until eternity.

While we don’t always have the answer to the “why” about difficult or hard seasons in life, we do have the answer through God’s Word of what we’re to do when times get hard. We aren’t always going to understand the purpose of why people get sick, or why people are bullies, or why it seems like sometimes we just can’t catch a break. But what we can understand is what we should do when times get hard.

  1. Learn more about Jesus. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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.” (Matthew 11:28-29) We’re encouraged many times throughout the Bible that we should seek the Lord in times of trouble. David said in Psalm 61:2 “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Quite often when times are hard and we find our selves in the midst of challenging circumstances, or all the bad things happening at once, we don’t understand. Psalm 119:71-73 encourages those who are suffering, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Your hands made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.” God will give you perfect peace when you seek Him. (Isaiah 26:3)
  2. Don’t be afraid. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10) Sometimes the last thing we want to hear – OK let’s be honest, pretty much always the last thing we want to hear – from other people is “don’t worry about it.” Not only is that annoying, it can also be a downright hurtful statement to say to someone who is suffering. I’m not saying “don’t worry” when you’re going through a hard season (and if you figure out how to not worry, let me know your secret). What I am saying is that when God instructs us or commands us, we’d be wise to take heed. That being said, throughout the Bible there are more than 365 “fear not” references. Our reverence of God alone should alleviate or lessen any other fear we may have. “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” we’re encouraged in John 14:27. And do you know why? Because when you make Christ your focus, He gives you peace, and it’s like nothing else in this world. See also Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Even in the hard seasons, even when you can’t see Him and you don’t know what He’s doing, God is with you.
  3. Trust in the Lord. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Man, can it ever be hard when you have no idea what’s around the corner. But you know what we’re promised in God’s Word? That He’ll direct our paths. Psalm 119:105 puts it like this: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” At the time that Psalm was written, there were no crazy high beams, there was no high-powered LED flashlight. The light in Biblical times would have literally been just enough to see right in front you. Not the whole path, and not what’s at the end of the tunnel. In the hard seasons, trust in the Lord with all your heart. Even when that means crying out to God several times a day! Even when it means you have to take things moment by moment! Trust Him! You trust that your car will get you from point a to point b; you trust that chair is going to hold you when you sit down; so why not trust the Creator of heaven and earth with your life (even the hard seasons)! He will not forsake you! (Psalm 9:10)

Seasons come and go. In the hard seasons, cling to Christ. His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Christ is full of compassion, comfort, and He will carry you through.

Originally published as “In the hard seasons.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 21, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

4

October 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Wednesday Wisdom

God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. | See more at hopereflected.com

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides you, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4)

God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

Waiting can be hard, especially when we live in a time where it seems like everything is instant. From drive-thrus and credit cards to cell phones and the internet, we have the ability to get and receive pretty much whatever we want, when we want it, sometimes without giving a whole lot of thought to the consequences.

While waiting can be hard, we can be sure of this: God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him, and when you choose to wait for God, the results are always worth it.

Two of my favourite Bible verses talk about the importance of waiting for the Lord.

  • “Wait on the LORD, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)
  • “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who bring wicked schemes to pass.” (Psalm 37:7)

Waiting on the Lord can mean the difference between good and great for your life. Remember, it takes 6 months to build a Rolls-Royce and 13 hours to build a Toyota. God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him, and the wait is worth it!

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides you, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4)

 

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Monday

2

October 2017

Great is thy faithfulness

Written by , Posted in Encouragement, Hope Reflected

Great is thy faithfulness quote. | See more at hopereflected.com

This past Sunday at church, we sang one of my favourite hymns, Great is thy faithfulness. Written in 1923 by Thomas O. Chisholm, Great is thy faithfulness is based off the portion of Scripture found in Lamentations 3:22-23:

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

If you’re in need of encouragement today, just remember, there is no shadow of turning with God! He does not change, and His compassions fail not. He is always the same, and He cares for each one of us!

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Thomas O. Chisholm

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Tuesday

26

September 2017

Encouragement | Isaiah 33:2

Written by , Posted in Encouragement, Hope Reflected

"Be our arm every morning." Isaiah 33:2 | See more at hopereflected.com

“O LORD, be gracious to us; we have waited for You. Be their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.” Isaiah 33:2

Ever notice how the Bible refers to our Lord so many times as being “gracious”? Grace. It’s one of the most highlighted virtues of God, and serves as a great reminder that in our daily lives we ought to exercise grace towards others. It sure can be hard!

In Isaiah 33:2, Isaiah calls out to God to be our arm every morning and our salvation in the time of trouble. What exactly does it mean to be our arm every morning? Some versions of the Bible replace “arm” with “strength”. I think that puts it in perspective; each morning, we’d be wise to call on God as our strength. Start the day in prayer; spend time in the morning in the Bible; commit each day to the Lord.

Rather than rushing out the door in the morning, when you make time for prayer and devotions, it can make a huge difference in your day!

“O LORD, be gracious to us; we have waited for You. Be their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.” Isaiah 33:2

 

 

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Friday

22

September 2017

Hope Reflected | Heeding Instruction

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

Heeding instruction: "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only." (James 1:22) | See more at hopereflected.com

Heeding Instruction

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” (James 1:22-24)

After writing last week’s column about listening, Wes provided me with some interesting insight. He explained how while it is very important to listen, it is also important – depending on the circumstances – to take what we hear and to grow from it; “heeding instruction”.

I was immediately reminded of James 1:22-24, where as Christians we are encouraged to be doers of the word and not just hearers only. What benefit is it if you just hear instruction but you fail to apply it to your life?

While there are many benefits to following instructions or heeding instruction, here are a few practical ways that heeding instructions will directly benefit your life.

  1. Heeding instruction helps us grow and learn. “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.” (Proverbs 19:20) It seems like a no brainer that listening to advice and heeding instructions will help you grow and learn, doesn’t it? But how many of us spend our early years rebelling and learning things the hard way! Eleanor Roosevelt once suggested that we should, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” And it’s true. If you know that a certain decision will inevitably lead to heartache, it would be wise to heed the counsel of the people around you who love and care about your well-being. It will save you time and energy in the long run! Heeding instruction will also give you wisdom for your future, that you can impart to your own children.
  2. Heeding instruction keeps us humble. “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; cause me to understand wherein I have erred.” (Job 6:24) Even in the midst of trials (where he was blameless), Job still maintained a humble and a teachable spirit. I sure could learn from Job! How often are quick to be defensive and defend our position, to be short with others, and not open to change or suggestions! Heeding instruction keeps us humble. You can’t learn from your mistakes if you’re busy denying them. Better to hear instruction and heed wise words than to regret it later in life (see Proverbs 5:11-13).
  3. Heeding instruction gives life. “He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray.” (Proverbs 10:17) Heeding instruction (read: Godly instruction) gives life – joy, enthusiasm, growth, renewal, rest, refreshment, – in all of its forms. When you learn to heed instruction, you’re more apt to walk in the right way. And when you accept Christ as your Saviour and apply the principles of God’s Word to your life, then you will truly realize what it is to have eternal life. We’re told in 2 Timothy that God’s Word is profitable “…for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If you want to truly experience life to the fullest, seek wise counsel and heed instruction.

Proverbs 10:8 tells us that, “The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.” Not only does heeding instruction help us grow and learn, keep us humble, and give life, heeding instruction also helps us grow in wisdom.

Originally published as “Heeding Instruction.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 14, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

20

September 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | Nourish to Flourish

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Wednesday Wisdom

"You have to nourish if you want to flourish." Wednesday Wisdom | See more at hopereflected.com

“You have to nourish if you want to flourish.”

Self care is something that many of us aren’t good at. Think of all the competing priorities! From work and family to church and volunteering, sometimes it can be difficult to find — nay, take — time to rest yourself and to be still.

Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still and know that I am God.” Think about that. Providing nourishment for ourselves is about more than just the food that we put into our bodies. We also need to provide nourishment for our souls, through God’s Word, and through prayer, and we can’t do that if we are taking time to be still. Be still.

When I’m running all day, and my mind is running too, that’s when I have a tendency to get overwhelmed with anxious thoughts and feelings. Isn’t it true? Any time we find ourselves anxious or worrying, I can pretty much guarantee it’s because we’re spending more time focused on our problems than on our Saviour. It is crucial to take time each day to retrain our focus on the Lord and His goodness. When we do this, we are promised God’s perfect peace. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

In all areas of your life, if you want flourish, you’ve got to nourish. Jesus Christ is the living bread; it is only through Him that we can find nourishment for our souls! “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:51)

What are you putting into your body, soul, and mind? What are you doing to nourish your spirit? Remember to take time to rest each day. And remember, what you choose to focus on can have a huge impact on your life. Feed yourself with the right things!

“You have to nourish if you want to flourish.”

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Friday

15

September 2017

Hope Reflected | Listening

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

"Be quick to listen." (James 1:19) | See more at hopereflected.com

Listening

Recently in our devotional time, Wes and I have both been challenged by the concept of being still and learning to listen. Often when we pray, for example, we get so caught up in talking, expressing our feelings, our wishes, our worries, and our desires that we neglect to take the time to actually listen to God. This can translate into our human relationships as well. So often, we get caught up sharing an anecdote with a friend, trying to get our opinion across, or even talking about other people that we neglect – or sometimes even ignore – the opportunity to listen to what others have to say.

Let’s face it: Some people are more inclined to be constantly talking, or blaring the music a little louder, or turning up the volume on the TV. Silence has a way of making people feel uncomfortable. Sometimes we don’t want to listen to our own thoughts.

This makes me wonder why we as humans are often afraid to listen. We’re quick to interrupt others because we want to feel important by inputting our opinions. We’re fast to follow up and reply during conversation because we have a longing to be heard.

While we all want to be heard, we should also consider the blessings that come when we choose to listen.

Listening increases our productivity. “Whoever listens…will dwell secure and will be at ease.” (Proverbs 1:33) You know how you’re supposed to read the instructions the whole way through before you start putting the pieces together? Listening is much like reading the instructions – you need to take the time if you want to do things right. Listen to the whole story before getting to work. Listen to what the other person is saying before you formulate your reply. When you take the time to listen before making a decision, or before starting a project, or before responding in conversation, you will quickly realize that listening can save you a lot of time and help you become a more productive person.

Listening helps us learn. “Incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding.” (Proverbs 2:2) It’s been said of old that when we speak we’re only repeating things we already know, and it’s not until we stop and listen that we actually learn. Listening is the difference between being informed and being opinionated. Before you can understand, you must listen, and that is what will help you learn.

Listening encourages others. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) Not only does listening help us learn, listening helps us pay more attention to others. Listening puts the focus on being interested rather than being interesting. Rather than expressing our own opinions and getting our point across, listening demonstrates that we are interested in others and in hearing what they have to say. You know sometimes you just want to vent after you’ve come through a trying situation or a hard day? Whether I’m talking to God, or to Wes, or having a heated conversation with myself in the shower, there’s something so relieving about letting it all out on a listening ear (without someone trying to solve all your problems). It’s often said that the greatest gift you can give to another is your attention. Listening provides encouragement.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the word “listen” contains the same letters as the word “silent”. The next time you’re feeling uncomfortable or awkward because of silence, use the opportunity to listen. There are great blessings when you learn the skill of listening!

Originally published as “Listening.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 7, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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