Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

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Friday

1

September 2017

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COMMENTS

Hope Reflected | The Light

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun. C.S. Lewis quote | See more at hopereflected.com

The Light

This past week, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the light. It’s not that the weather’s been particularly rainy, however my heart has just been hurting when I hear the news of unrest both in North America and abroad. Perhaps it’s the constant connectivity of social media that is making everybody suddenly “aware,” or perhaps as a nation we are finally getting to the point where something’s got to give. Either way, now more than ever, I find myself trying to remember that this world is not our forever home, and I find my focus and meditation is leaning more on the promises of God and His light.

Without light, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish much. It’s like a life without Christ; without Him, we can’t really accomplish much. I mean, sure, we may think we can do anything, but earthly glory is only temporary. Light is a fascinating thing.

Light encourages. “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?” (Psalm 27:1) If you’re someone who suffers from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), you know what I mean when I say that light encourages. There’s something about being stuck in the dull days of the middle of winter, where clouds are full and sunlight is sparse. When you experience the sunlight in the midst of the dark winter days, it’s almost like a weight lifts off your shoulders. You think more positively, your focus is more clear, and you are encouraged that spring is somewhere around the corner. The same rules apply when you have Christ as your Saviour. He encourages. He gives us strength. “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24) As Christians, we aren’t called to shine our own light, rather we are called to reflect Christ’s light. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Light helps things grow. “All things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” (Ephesians 5:13) If you’re reading this, you’re likely well aware of photosynthesis – the process in which plants use sunlight to make food from carbon dioxide and water. Not only does sunlight help plants grow, it also assists in the production of oxygen as a result. When you have Christ as your Saviour, you don’t just stay the same. There is great growth that comes as a result of having a genuine heart for God. Just as you learn and grow from grade to grade in school, you grow spiritually as you grow closer to God. “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

Light dispels darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) There is a whole lot of darkness in this world. And that’s to be expected. We live in a broken world. As Anne Graham Lotz (The Reverend Billy Graham’s daughter) said when asked about how God could let certain things happen in the world, “for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their first at God and said, ‘God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business, we want you out of our marketplace, and God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life, removing His hand of blessing and protection.’” It’s not just happening in America – it’s happening everywhere. The good news is that God’s light dispels darkness. We just need to put our faith in Him.

You may feel as though you’re walking in the darkness. Perhaps you’re anxious, discouraged, or fearful about the future. There is hope! There is light! As C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christ, like I believe in the sun – not because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else.” “Don’t shine so that others can see you, shine so that through you, others can see Him.”

Originally published as “The Light.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. August 24, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Thursday

5

January 2023

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COMMENTS

20 life lessons learned in 2022

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

The celebration of Christmas and the excitement of a new year are an ideal time to reflect on the past year and the life lessons we’ve learned. For certain this past year I’ve learned more than my share of life lessons, and here are some of the highlights.

"God allows us to experience the low points in life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way." C.S. Lewis | Read more life lessons learned in 2022 on hopereflected.com
  1. Running is an activity that requires great patience, is never perfected, and always practiced. “…let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
  2. Christians have a responsibility to stand out and to stand up for Biblical truth. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” (Matthew 5:13).
  3. Though there may be unrest in the world, there can still be peace within us, and there are always glimmers of God’s grace around us. “No times are so wild but that in them are quiet corners, green oases, all the greener for their surroundings, where life glides on in peaceful isolation from the tumult.” (Alexander MacLaren).
  4. God is never surprised; there is no event to which He responds, “Oh boy, I didn’t know that was going to happen.” “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 1:8, 21:6)
  5. Service requires sacrifice, and so love is not just service, love is also sacrifice. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10).
  6. Even on days when we can’t see the sun, it’s still shining. There is always light. “One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more. What a dark dungeon would the world be without the sun!” (Matthew Henry).
  7. Anyone can lay up treasures on earth that they can’t keep; it takes real wisdom to lay up eternal treasures that you can’t lose. “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” (Proverbs 23:5).
  8. When we strive to do things on our own and in our own power, we are bound to be anxious and worried. “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?” (Luke 12:24).
  9. To wait, to keep serving the Lord requires great faithfulness and good courage because it is not easy, especially in the face of fighting and turmoil. “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14).
  10. We won’t get far if we try to flee from God. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalm 139:7).
  11. We are disillusioned if we think that we can get away with directly disobeying God. “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (Psalm 37:2).
  12. It is a privilege to have friends who will labour to carry us to Christ and exercise their faith on our behalf. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Mark 2:5).
  13. We are not really living our faith if our lives don’t bear fruit. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
  14. We don’t have to understand all the details when we trust that God is working every detail for His glory. “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).
  15. We can only grow spiritually if we are daily in God’s Word as a way of living, not an occasional activity. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:” (Colossians 2:6).
  16. “Although the Lord may not appear for us in the way we expect, or desire, or suppose, yet He will in some way or other provide for us.” (Charles Spurgeon).
  17. Sin is a slippery slope, and there is always a cost to compromise. “And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” (Genesis 14:12).
  18. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18). “The fall is simply and solely disobedience – doing what you have been told not do; and it results from pride – from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God.” (C.S. Lewis).
  19. We should be more interested in getting understanding than getting our point across. “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.” (Proverbs 29:11).
  20. Vain repetitions are many words with no meaning; persistence in prayer has power because it requires us to have great faith. “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

It was C.S. Lewis who wrote that “Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My god, do you learn.” Lewis also wrote that “God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.” Whether these lessons are learned at a low point or a high point, I hope these life hacks are found to be of value.

Originally published as “20 Life Lessons learned in 2022: Parts 1 and 2.” Independent Plus. December 29, 2022 and January 5, 2023: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

15

December 2022

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COMMENTS

A season for those pursuing peace

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) | Read more about peace during advent on hopereflected.com

Another theme of Advent is peace, and what better time for peace than a season that for some seems to have anything but.

Peace is not something that happens when we are passive; peace is something that happens when we remember our position. We are under the authority of the Prince of Peace, and we have peace when we live out His purpose for us. He is our Provider, and He gives real peace.

Subjects of The Prince of Peace

Throughout history, everyone has been the subject of some kind of ruler, from Kings and Queens to Princes and Princesses, Prime Ministers and Presidents to Governors and Senators. It’s expected that any citizen of a country has their allegiance therewith. At Christmas, we are reminded that just as there are earthly rulers, there is one Creator and Ruler over all. He came to earth so that we might know Him. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6).

Matthew Henry wrote of Jesus that “He is the prince of peace. As a King, he preserves the peace, commands peace, nay, he creates peace, in his kingdom. He is our peace, and it is his peace that both keeps the hearts of his people and rules in them. He is not only a peaceable prince, and his reign peaceable, but he is the author and giver of all good, all that peace which is the present and future bliss of his subjects.”

Pursuing after real peace

So many people become subjects of the commercialization of Christmas, falsely thinking that pursuing after price tags and parties and popular gifts will provide some parallel of peace. What they don’t realize is that God provides peace to those who pursue after Him, not to those who pursue after appearances. The peace of God that we read about in Colossians 3:15 is possible when we know the God of peace.

When we look at all the “perfect” Christmas card photos, decorated homes, and the abundance of gifts and giving that others have going for them, suddenly Christmas can be a time when our own imperfections are highlighted. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When we put our passion into pursuing after The Prince of Peace, rather than into making our own Christmas “perfect”, that’s when we will find true peace. The prophet Isaiah wrote that God “wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3).

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee.”

Isaiah 26:3

Peace, no matter what is happening

Contrary to what the world would have you think, Christmas isn’t about buying the most expensive gifts, or putting together the prettiest highlight reel, or even having the most beautiful table setting. Christmas is about focusing our hearts and thoughts on that first Advent of Christ, and having peace because—no matter what is happening in the world around us—He’s coming again.

Originally published as “A season for those pursuing peace.” Independent Plus. December 15, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

1

December 2022

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COMMENTS

Advent: A season for the grieving

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

It’s that time of year when Christmas preparations are getting into full swing—families and companies are hosting Christmas parties, friends are planning gift exchanges, and children everywhere are compiling their Christmas wish lists—and for some, this can be a hard season.

The first Advent - Christ's birth - gives us hope, because through it, God highlighted the significance of the hopeless. Read more about advent and a season for the grieving on hopereflected.com

For anyone grieving

For anyone suffering strained familial relationships, to say Christmas can be a challenge would be an understatement. For anyone who is grieving, the celebratory season of Christmas can cause an inconsolable heart to break even more. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When we redirect our attention from the family get-togethers, the food, and the gift exchanges, and we look to understand the true meaning behind Christmas, this season can become what it was originally meant to be: A season of hope.

A brief history of Advent

Christmas is a season which celebrates the birth of Christ, beginning with Advent (which always starts the Sunday closest to November 30, November 27 this year), and ending on Christmas Day. Advent is a key part of fully embracing Christmas. Taken from the Latin word adventus, Advent literally means “coming”. People who celebrate Advent usually explore different themes for the four weeks of December leading up to Christmas, traditionally themes of Hope, Faith, Peace, Love, or Joy.

Hope can be a difficult thing to grasp

Hope can be a very difficult thing to grasp, especially for anyone who is grieving or alone. Christmas, the first advent of Christ, is all about Hope. You cannot have Christmas without Hope. Christ’s birth gives us hope in that it is the fulfillment of several prophecies in Scripture: The virgin birth (prophesied in Isaiah 7:14), the incarnation of Christ (prophesied in Isaiah 9:6), the timing of Christ’s arrival on earth (prophesied in Daniel 9:24), man’s rejection of Christ (Isaiah 53:1-4), Christ’s crucifixion (Psalm 2), and Christ’s resurrection (Psalm 16).

Refusing to give up hope

Christ’s birth gives us Hope because through it, God highlighted the significance of all those who were without hope. Who was instrumental in Christ’s birth? Not Queens and Kings, not the rich and powerful, and certainly nobody famous. The unnoticed, the overlooked, and the under-appreciated, these were the people who played a role in the first advent of Christ. Mary and Joseph and the shepherds were no celebrities. What they were was faithful despite the dark season and refusing to give up hope when it seemed like there was no hope to be found.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.”

C.S. Lewis wrote that “The birth of Christ is the central event in the history of the earth, the very thing the whole story has been about.” Christ’s birth gives us Hope because His coming to earth was for you and for me. We are all familiar with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Christmas is a season for the grieving, for the lonely, for the sad, for the hopeless—Christ’s birth gives us Hope because it serves as a reminder that God gave His Son for you and I! Christ took on all our grief, loneliness, sadness, and hopelessness, so that we might find true Hope in Him.

Originally published as “A season for the grieving.” Independent Plus. December 1, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Monday

14

November 2022

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COMMENTS

Lessons from the life of Jonah, Part 2

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"The life of Jonah cannot be written without God; take God out of the prophet's history, and there is no history to write. This is equally true of each one of us." (Charles Spurgeon) | Read more at hopereflected.com

We can’t get away with directly disobeying God

We are disillusioned if we think we can get away with directly disobeying God. Jonah learned this the hard way. He went to great lengths to avoid the task that God had laid out for him, and as a result endured unnecessary challenges and hardships. God had to bring Jonah into the depths of the fish’s belly and the deep sea to bring Jonah to repentance.

God is judge and God is just

God may grant power to some for a season, but ultimately, God is judge and God is just. He will only allow the wicked to prosper for so long. When we look at the world around us and how evil seems to be prospering, it is easy to ask “How long shall the wicked triumph?” (Psalm 94:3). Rest assured that we are not the first generation to ask this very question! Look through the Bible and see that this question has been asked almost since the beginning of time.

Our focus shouldn’t be on what the wicked are up to. This is difficult to remember, especially when the way of the wicked seems to dominate the headlines. We need to keep our eyes on the One who is the ultimate Judge. The workers of iniquity “shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb” (Psalm 37:2). Our Lord loves justice (Psalm 37:28), and He will judge the unrighteous (2 Peter 2:9).

Listening to God is always the best option

In the meantime, it’s our responsibility to respond to God’s call. Listening to God is always the best option. When we directly disobey God in an attempt to thwart His plans because He wants us to do something we don’t want to do, it won’t turn out well for us.

God’s call to us

God calls us to fret not because of evildoers. He calls us to not be envious of how well they appear to be doing (Psalm 37:1, 7). We are to trust Him and keep doing good (Psalm 37:3). We are to delight ourselves in the Lord (Psalm 37:4), and commit our way to Him (Psalm 37:5). While the world around us is rushing and working, we are to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7). This does not mean that we sit by and do nothing. Quite the opposite, actually. We cannot wait on God without actively serving Him. And we cannot actively serve Him if we’re busy focusing on what others are up to.

“The life of Jonah cannot be written without God;
take God out of the prophet’s history, and there is no history to write.
This is equally true of each one of us.”

Charles Spurgeon

Jonah fought to flee the presence of God, but in the end he did acknowledge God. Jonah wavered in his faith, but God used circumstances and storms to grow his faith. Spurgeon wrote that “The life of Jonah cannot be written without God; take God out of the prophet’s history, and there is no history to write. This is equally true of each one of us.” No matter how low we sink, or how desperate we are to avoid doing what God has set out for us to do, God remains in control. Whether we make it easier or harder for ourselves is up to us.

Originally published as “Lessons from the life of Jonah, Part 2.” Independent Plus. March 24, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

11

August 2022

0

COMMENTS

Flip the switch

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Even on days when we can’t see the sun in the sky, the sun is still shining.

One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more. What a dark dungeon would the world be without the sun! (Matthew Henry) Read more on hopereflected.com

There is always light

There is always light. It may be blocked from our view by clouds and storm systems, some days may be duller than others, but the sun is still shining. And as big as our world seems, the sun is bigger still, and is earth’s main source of light. Matthew Henry wrote that, “One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more. What a dark dungeon would the world be without the sun!”

Unfortunately, many are trapped in a dark dungeon. “The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.” (Proverbs 4:19). Before we come to Christ and confess our deep need for His light, we are stuck in the dark.

Reaching for the Light

Throughout the Psalms, David refers to God as the one who provides light for the darkness (Psalm 18:28), enlarges his steps (Psalm 18:36), and lights his path (Psalm 119:105). Unless and until we confess our desperate need for a Saviour, we remain in the dark. That’s not a good place to be. “Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;” (Psalm 107:10). Affliction, chains, and death; what a way to go through life! We all know what it’s like to stumble around in the darkness, and it usually involves stubbing our toe on a night stand or walking headfirst into a door jam. When we’re in the dark and we have the option of turning on a light, do we not reach for the nearest light switch so we can see what we’re doing and where we’re going?

The Light of the world

So why do so many of us insist on stumbling through life in the dark, when we’ve got immediate access to the light? “I am the light of the world:” Jesus said, “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12). In the book of John alone, there are eight references that I can find where Jesus is referred to as the light of the world. With Christ, we’re promised that we won’t walk in darkness.

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me

shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

John 8:12

Perhaps you feel as though you’re stuck in the dark and though you’ve been grasping and groping in the dark, you can’t find the light switch. The practical, immediate way to access the light? The Bible. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105). When we allow God’s Word to be our guide, He keeps us on the right path, so we don’t stub our toes or walk headfirst into obstacles.

Light casts out darkness, provides direction, and dissolves discouragement.

Need some light in your life? Read more about the importance of light here.

Originally published as “Flip the switch.” Independent Plus. February 17, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Tuesday

7

June 2022

0

COMMENTS

A glimpse of sunshine

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Even though the outlook appears bleak, the goodness of the Lord can still be seen in the land of the living.

...no times are so wild but that in them are quiet corners, green oases, all the greener for their surroundings, where life glides on in peaceful isolation from the tumult. (Alexander MacLaren) | Read more of A Glimpse of Sunshine on hopereflected.com

“Every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” (Judges 17:6, 21:25). The book of Judges depicts a bleak and black history of Israel, one where man was doing what man wanted, where truth was twisted to suit selfish inclinations, and where God was not forgotten, but purposefully rebelled against. It sounds eerily similar to our present situation.

But God, in His tender mercy and grace, was still very much present among the profanity happening in Israel, just as He is today. Within the book of Judges we see reminders of this, that though man may seem to rule for a season, the Lord is the ultimate judge (11:27). Even though the outlook appears bleak, the goodness of the Lord can still be seen in the land of the living.

There can still be peace within us

Take Ruth, for example. Tucked away within the times of the judges of Israel, Ruth’s history serves as a reminder that though there may be unrest in the world, there can still be peace within us, and there are always glimmers of God’s grace around us. Alexander MacLaren wrote that “no times are so wild but that in them are quiet corners, green oases, all the greener for their surroundings, where life glides on in peaceful isolation from the tumult.”

Although days are dark and times are tumultuous, like Ruth, we can be beacons of light to those around us. Ruth was a Moabitess, the Moabites of which were enemies of Israel and certainly not godly by any stretch of the imagination. And yet we see in history that Ruth is an ancestor of Christ, a prominent member of His lineage. Thank God for His grace! Our past does not determine our future. When we know God, He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Rather than being preoccupied by our past, in Christ we can move forward and face the future with fearlessness.

Stand firm and resolute

Nowhere do we read that Ruth was afraid of what the people of Bethlehem would think of her or say about her. Rather, the Bible tells us of Ruth’s unwavering loyalty. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17). Even in the face of opposition, Ruth stood firm and resolute. Do we stand firm and resolute, even though noise comes at us from every side and current events contradict what is true and right? Is our loyalty to God unwavering?

“Even in the face of opposition, Ruth stood firm and resolute.”

Hope Reflected

Ruth showed a quiet strength, and lived with humility. She worked cheerfully, gleaning in the fields. The big picture didn’t need to be revealed to her in order for her to be diligent and faithful in the little things. God is the Painter and our life is the picture. As Ruth’s testimony is a glimpse of sunshine in an otherwise stormy sky, may others see His light through us in dark times.

Originally published as “A glimpse of sunshine.” Independent Plus. January 21, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Tuesday

22

March 2022

0

COMMENTS

Not in a hurry

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." (Psalm 37:4) Read more about delighting yourself in the Lord on hopereflected.com

Who are we waiting on?

Most of us hate waiting. It feels like wasted time. There’s an old analogy that while we’re waiting on God, we should do what waiters do: Serve. When we feel like waiting on God’s timing is wasted time, we should ask ourselves: Are we serving Him, or serving our own timing?

Psalm 37:4 instructs us to “Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” God knows and cares about the desires of our hearts – He fully understands what we want to happen. He will fulfill the desires of our hearts when we delight ourselves in Him. To delight ourselves in Him means delving more deeply into His Word, spending more time in conversation with Him, and going after His agenda and not our own.

Wondering why things aren’t going our way? Perhaps we’re not serving Him as we should.

God knows and cares about the desires of our hearts - He fully understands what we want to happen. Read more about waiting on God on hopereflected.com

God uses His timing to protect us

Unlike God, we don’t know everything, and we can’t see into the future. When things aren’t going our way, when it seems as though we’re coming up short, it’s important to remember that God uses His timing to protect us. Resting in His timing can save us from many a heartache and hurt, just ask others who are older and wiser. Their testimonies of God’s faithfulness and His perfect timing are a reminder that truly His ways are the best ways.

David wrote in Psalm 31:15, “My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.” Even though his life was in danger, David didn’t take matters into his own hands, he surrendered his situation to God’s hands. No matter how urgently we want things to happen, when we surrender our situation to Him and make His timing our timing, God will protect us. We may not need protection from a physical enemy, His timing may be meant to save us from a poor financial transaction, or a bad decision with lasting ramifications.

God’s timing requires us to plan ahead

Most times when I’m making dinner, I prepare enough food in advance so we have leftovers for lunch, or something to stick in the freezer for a night when I don’t feel like cooking. We prepare now to save time later.

Although we feel like waiting on the Lord is wasted time, waiting for God’s time inevitably always saves time. “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5). Committing our way to the Lord and trusting in Him requires us to plan ahead. It requires us to surrender our inclination for instant gratification.

“Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him;

and he shall bring it to pass.”

Psalm 37:5

God’s not in a hurry

On what and how we spend our time now has an eternal impact. We waste time when we follow our own timetable. Hitting dead end after dead end? We should confirm whether or not we’ve actually committed our way to Him, because He’s promised that when we acknowledge and trust Him, He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

God’s not in a hurry; we are. It’s only when we rest in His timing that we will have peace.

Originally published as “Not in a hurry.” Independent Plus. October 28, 2021: 5. Print. Web.

Sunday

6

February 2022

0

COMMENTS

More haste, worse speed

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"The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but every one that is hasty only to want." (Proverbs 21:5) Read more on hoepreflected.com

Striving for speed won’t make us get there any faster

Driving down the highway, you get stuck behind an extremely slow-moving vehicle. This usually only occurs when you have some place to be and no time to spare. So you get right up on their bumper, inching your way out in to the oncoming lane, looking for a window to pass.

We’ve all been there, and fight it though we may, we all understand that when we approach a slow-moving vehicle, the best way to get around it is by slowing down, staying back, and waiting for a safe space to pass. Keeping a distance between our vehicle and theirs allows us to see what’s approaching in the other direction.

Most of us have also experienced someone riding right on our bumper and blowing by us in a fit of road rage, even though we’re already keeping up with the flow of traffic. The irony is when both vehicles end up at the red traffic light at the same time, or pull into the same parking lot together.

Haste makes us miss out on the details

We don’t get anywhere faster or do the job right when we’re in a rush. As Albert Barnes wrote, “Undue hurry is as fatal to success as undue procrastination.” When we’re hasty, we often end up being further delayed and missing out on the details.

Haste is usually not described in the Bible as a positive thing. Proverbs 19:2 tells us, “Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.” We’re more apt to do things wrong when we rush. In the long run, it actually saves us time when we take the time to ask God for His guidance, look at all the angles, and gather information.

We waste time and learn the hard way when we speak too quickly, hastily jump into something, or form an opinion without all the facts – this is true in the decisions that we make, and in the relationships that we keep. There’s an old saying, “More haste, worse speed”. The more we strive to do things quickly, the slower we often end up getting things done.

What are we thinking about?

In Proverbs 21:5 we read that, “The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” Though none of us would probably describe ourselves as hasty, each of us is guilty of not wanting to wait. Whether for a spouse, a baby, a job, a promotion, or some new thing, we want it all now. We don’t like waiting! Anyone can be hasty; it takes real courage to wait.

Anyone can be hasty;

it takes real courage to wait.

Hope Reflected

“Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait I say on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14).   When we rest in Him, we do things right. We don’t have to fear the future, because the One who holds our future already knows. Before haste, remember, “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Luke 12:7). When we face delay it’s tempting to dismay, but God is always in the details.

Originally published as “More haste, worse speed.” Independent Plus. September 30, 2021: 5. Print. Web.

Read more about haste, waiting, and strength here.

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The Reason for the Season: A primer on Advent

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

What is Advent?

Advent, taken from the Latin word adventus, means "coming". Read more about what Advent is on hopereflected.com

Advent, taken from the Latin word adventus, means “coming”. During the four weeks of December each year, we celebrate the first advent of Christ and prepare our hearts for Christmas. Some families have an advent calendar for each day leading right up to Christmas day. Others prepare by reading through a selection of devotionals each day.

Some churches use an advent wreath and light a candle for each of the four Sundays:

  • the Prophecy candle, which symbolizes the hope of fulfilled Scripture;
  • the Bethlehem candle, which reminds us of the humility of Christ and symbolizes our faith in Him;
  • the Shepherd’s candle, which symbolizes love and reminds us that Christ came for all (including the shepherds who were some of the most inconspicuous people of their time);
  • the Angel’s candle, which symbolizes peace and reminds us of the Good News that angels announced.
During the first four weeks of December each year, we celebrate the first coming (advent) of Christ, and prepare our hearts for Christmas. Read more about what Advent means on hopereflected.com

Why does Advent matter?

Advent matters a great deal, because through it, we’re reminded of the accuracy of God’s Word. Advent represents truth. However we celebrate Advent, we remember that we are celebrating the first advent of Christ. After all, that is what Christmas is all about.

Christ’s birth fulfills so many prophecies in Scripture:

  • the virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14);
  • the incarnation of Christ (Isaiah 9:6);
  • the timing of Christ’s arrival on earth (Daniel 9:24);
  • man’s rejection of Christ (Isaiah 53:1-4);
  • Christ’s crucifixion (Psalm 2);
  • Christ’s resurrection (Psalm 16).

Does Advent matter if I’m not a Christian?

It sure does! Advent is an opportunity for you to come to know Christ and have a personal relationship with Him. (If you’re wondering how you can come to know Christ, please read this). Advent serves as a reminder that Christ came to this earth so that every person could come to know Him. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). Advent is a reminder that God so loved the world, and that includes you and I!

Should I celebrate Advent?

Should we celebrate the fact that God sent His Son to be birthed in a lowly manger, sent His Son to offer salvation to anyone who calls on His name? Yes!

This is a time of year when each of us can be reassured that no matter where we’re at – lonely, discouraged, or overrun and under-appreciated – God has a purpose and He cares about every detail. Look how He worked in the lives of the shepherds. There they were, “abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night,” (Luke 2:8). God’s glory shone around them, and everything changed. No matter where we are, God can work. We just need to be faithful. Notice how the shepherds were being faithful, quietly going about their work, and that’s when God works. He is all about recognizing the unnoticed, the overlooked, and the under-appreciated.

This is a time of year when we can be reassured that no matter where we're at - lonely, discouraged, overrun, or under-appreciated - God has a purpose and He cares about every detail. Read more about what Advent means on hopereflected.com

Who would have thought that the King of Kings would come to earth in the most humble of surroundings – in a stable, where the animals find shelter? Jesus, who throughout His earthly life was the model of humility, encouraged all of us to take up our yoke and come after Him, “for I am meek and lowly in heart:” (Matthew 11:29). It was Christ who reminded us – while speaking to perhaps one of the most prideful groups of His day, the Pharisees – “whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 14:11) Humility was one of the most incredible characteristics of Christ, and yet how often we fail to consider it during the Christmas season. Oh that our journey through advent will bring us closer to Christ. He is, after all, the reason for the season.

Originally published as “The reason for the season.” Independent Plus. December 12, 2019: 5. Print. Web.