Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

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Friday

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September 2020

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COMMENTS

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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Monday

27

April 2020

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Rahab: Obedience from an unlikely source

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"For the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath." (Joshua 2:11) | Rahab: Obedience from an unlikely source | Read more on hopereflected.com

Thankfully, God has a history of using unlikely people for His glory

We all have the opportunity to come to God, and He will never overlook a genuine heart.

Rahab is one such example. A prostitute by profession, Rahab seemed an unlikely person to help the Israelites; after all, she was a Canaanite, one of their mortal enemies. And yet, we read in the first chapter of Matthew that Rahab is part of our Lord’s genealogy! No matter who we are, or where we are at, God can use us.

“for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”

Joshua 2:11

By being obedient to the Lord, Rahab took a great risk. In Joshua 2, when Joshua sent messengers into Jericho to spy, they lodged at Rahab’s house (2:1). The king of Jericho heard about this, and questioned Rahab, who in turn lied to protect the spies. Rahab took a great risk in harbouring the spies and protecting them. Why take the risk? We find out later in the chapter that Rahab, even though she was a Canaanite, believed in God. “for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” (v.11) Because she believed in God, Rahab wanted to be obedient, even though it meant taking a great risk. Oswald Chambers once said that “you should let the consequences of your obedience be left up to God.” Obedience to God often requires great risk.

The rewards of obedience must be waited for

Rahab was willing to risk everything by her obedience to God, and because of it, she received a great reward. Rahab asked the spies to show her and her family kindness by saving them before the Israelites took the city of Jericho. She wasn’t afraid to take a risk for obedience, and she wasn’t afraid to ask for what she believed was right. The result? Rahab and her family were saved during the destruction of Jericho. “And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” (6:25) After being rescued out of Jericho, Rahab and her family went to live with the Israelites, and as a result, Rahab can be found in Christ’s family tree.

The rewards of obedience must be waited for, but there is great reward when we are obedient to the Lord. We also learn from Rahab’s example of obedience that she did the right thing. Especially when the world around us seems to going the opposite direction, it can make us question whether what we’re doing or how we’re living is truly right. Rahab, despite the influences around her, knew of the Lord’s faithfulness to the Israelites, and she believed in Him. Her faith was so great that Rahab is included in the “Faith Hall of Fame”, Hebrews 13. Rahab demonstrated obedience by not allowing the people around her to influence her beliefs. Obedience to God may mean persecution from people, but ultimately, there is blessing in obedience. “Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” (Luke 11:28)

You can read more about Biblical obedience here.

Originally published as “Rahab: Obedience from an unlikely source.” Independent Plus. February 21, 2020: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

24

April 2020

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COMMENTS

Noah: An Example in Obedience

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“Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.” (Genesis 6:22) | Noah: An Example in Obedience | hopereflected.com

One cannot walk with God unless they are walking in obedience

Noah. Abraham. Rahab. Moses. Joshua. David. What is one thing that all of these people have in common? While their lives were all incredibly different, the commonality between them was obedience: They were each obedient to the call of the Lord.    

Look at Noah, for example. When Noah lived, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth,” we read in Genesis 6:5, “and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” We think we’ve got it bad today! The Bible tells us that during Noah’s time, the earth was so filled with evil that the Lord felt bad that he had made man on the earth, and His heart was grieved. The Lord was so grieved that He decided to destroy man from the planet, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Gen. 6:8)

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

Genesis 6:8

Why did Noah find grace in the eyes of the Lord? Well, we read in the next verse that Noah was a just man, blameless, and that He walked with God. One cannot walk with God unless they are walking in obedience, there’s just no other path. We can learn so much from Noah and his walk.

Noah didn’t hesitate

Consider this: Noah’s obedience to the Lord was immediate. When God said to Noah, “Make thee an ark,” (Gen. 6:14), Noah didn’t hesitate and say, “Lord, why do you want me to do that?” or “Are you sure you want me to do that? It’s not even raining.” No, Noah, didn’t hesitate. “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.” (6:22) Noah didn’t question God’s instruction, he didn’t question God’s timing, and he didn’t question his ability to complete the task. American Pastor Steven Furtick says that, “great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience.” While the task at hand for Noah certainly wasn’t simple, it was a step that preceded a great move of God.  

It’s also important to recognize that Noah’s obedience was not influenced by others. While it is important that we are prayerful in our decision-making, and that we heed wise counsel, when we are walking with God as Noah did, our obedience won’t be influenced by anyone who doesn’t have our best interest at heart. D.L. Moody once said that, “There will be no peace in any soul until it is willing to obey the voice of God.” It may seem difficult, especially when others question us, however when we are walking in obedience to God, He grants us peace.  

Noah’s obedience saved his life and the life of his family. They entered the ark before the flood started. We read in Genesis 7:10 that it was seven days after they entered the ark that the flood actually started. Sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t make sense. We may not understand the timing, we may not see any realistic reason in the moment, but that’s the beauty of obeying God. We don’t have to have all the answers, because He always does what is best for us.

You can read more about Biblical obedience here.

Originally published as “Noah: An Example in Obedience.” Independent Plus. February 13, 2020: 6. Print. Web.

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Monday

20

April 2020

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COMMENTS

Obedience to God

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"And this is love, that we walk after his commandments." (2 John 6) | Read more about obedience to God at hopereflected.com

Do we have what it takes to live in obedience to God?

Reading through the book of second Kings in the Old Testament, which accounts for the history of the Northern and Southern kingdoms in Biblical times, it doesn’t go unnoticed how each account begins with either “…and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD,” or “…and he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD.” How sobering to consider that the lives of so many men – kings, leaders of nations, who led exciting lives and experienced thrilling adventures – can be summed up with so few words.

Are we doing that which is right in the sight of the Lord? Each of us will someday have to give an account, and our obedience to God – or our blatant disobedience – will determine the outcome.

Obedience is not always easy

By nature, – our sin nature, – none of us are obedient. Obedience to God is not something that comes naturally to us. Obedience is certainly not always easy, and quite frankly it’s not always something that we want to do, is it? When distractions are abounding and we’re feeling pulled in different directions, sometimes it seems like the easiest thing to do is to give up, rather than to press on in obedience to Him. That’s our sin nature coming out.

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”

Romans 6:17

Obedience must come from the heart, and as a result, obedience frees us from the bondage of sin. “Ye were the servants of sin,” wrote Paul. That’s past tense. When we make the decision to obey God and to follow after Him and His Word, we are freed from being servants of sin.

“Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it,” Jesus told us in Luke 11:28. In our “modern” and “progressive” society, obedience to God and His Word is not easy, and it’s definitely not popular. If we are to truly let our light shine and do Kingdom work however, obedience to God must be the foundation. Sure, those chapters of second Kings may be a little dry and sometimes difficult to understand, but we cannot keep God’s Word if we aren’t reading it, and reading all of it. Part of our problem today is that we pick and choose the “pieces” of the Bible that work well for us or that are convenient, rather than taking it all in, even the hard parts.

Obedience takes courage

Charles Stanley once said it takes courage to be obedient. Do we have what it takes? Are we brave enough to follow in obedience to Christ, even when it means walking the path alone? American preacher Jonathan Edwards wrote that two of his resolutions were to “live for God”, and “If no one else does, I still will.” It was also Edwards who wrote that our love for God is demonstrated by our obedience to God.

“And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.”

2 John 6

Originally published as “Obedience to God.” Independent Plus. February 6, 2020: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

13

January 2017

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COMMENTS

Hope Reflected | The Blessing in Obedience

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blessing in obedience luke 11:28

The Blessing in Obedience

Piano lessons. Talk to any adult, and they’ll tell you stories from their child hood about piano lessons. The difference in how the stories end is always related to obedience – some individuals demonstrated obedience in practicing piano, while others gave up and moved on to something else. In the long term, the benefits of demonstrating obedience in practicing piano means more than likely those individuals can still play today! It’s a great feeling of satisfaction as an adult to reap the benefits of obedience when you were a child.

The Bible talks a lot about obedience, and the book of Hebrews specifically recognizes great men and women from the Bible who were obedient and faithful: Abraham, Moses, and Sarah just to name a few.

Obedience plays a part in every believer’s life, and the Bible has much to say on the topic of obedience:

Obedience shows that we believe in and love God. Abraham, Moses, Sarah, and other men and women of faith in the Bible, demonstrated their belief and faith in God through their obedience. Jesus said in John 15:14, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Similarly, 1 John 2: 4-5 says, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”

Obedience brings glory to God. As Christians, we have a responsibility to be obedient to God’s Word. Though it’s not always easy – especially when popular opinion contradicts much of the Bible’s truths – obedience brings glory to God. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Obedience brings blessing. Psalm 1:1-2 tells us, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” We’re also told in Proverbs 13:13, “Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.” Jesus even said in Luke 11:28, “Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”

Obedience brings freedom. Jesus said in John 8:31-32, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” And with freedom, comes peace. D.L. Moody was famously quoted as saying, “There will be no peace in any soul until it is willing to obey the voice of God.”

What are you waiting for? If you want to see God do extraordinary things in your life, start taking steps of ordinary obedience.

Originally published as “The Blessing in Obedience.” Minto Express, Independent Plus. December 7, 2016: 5. Print.

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Monday

16

March 2020

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COMMENTS

The Compassion of Christ

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"And of some have compassion, making a difference." (Jude 22) | Read about the compassion of Christ at hopereflected.com

“He had compassion”

Read through the Gospels of Christ’s earthly ministry, and the words “he had compassion,” will stand out repeatedly. Compassion is one of the most over-looked characteristics of Christ. Compassion is something that each of us so desperately needs and yet is something that each of us so often withholds from showing to others. Our Lord is the ultimate source of compassion.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) Our Lord’s compassions fail not. How many times do we hear those verses and not consider how awesome it is that God’s compassions are unfailing. When we feel like giving up, that is precisely when we must not. Whatever we feel, our Lord has felt it in its deepest and truest form. His compassions fail not.

“But he, being full of compassion,”

“But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.” (Psalm 78:38) Rather than turn anger away, so many times we invite it in and entertain it! And what about stirring up our wrath – how many times throughout the day do we catch ourselves stewing rather than being still and remembering that He is God! We can be quick to get angry, to stir up our wrath – and bitterness, and envy, and loathing – but how often can it be said of us that we are full of compassion?

“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20) Like the father when his prodigal son returned, our Lord so willingly demonstrates compassion toward us. We read the words “he had compassion” many times throughout the Bible’s history of Christ’s ministry – our Lord is not just full of compassion, He is ready and willing to show us compassion.

Whatever we feel, our Lord has felt in its deepest and truest form

Our compassion should not just be limited to those we like or those we agree with, compassion requires just the opposite. Compassion is a character builder that pulls us from our comfort zone and counts us among the saddest and sickest and most sorrowful. Consider Christ: His compassion wasn’t reserved for His disciples, in fact any of the examples we read of Christ in Scripture show us that He had compassion on the grieving (Luke 7:13-14), the victimized (Mark 9), the weary (Matthew 11:28-30), and those experiencing trials and temptations (Hebrews 2:18). Christ’s compassion for us is so authentic, that He felt our deepest hurts more intensely than we ever will.

When we show compassion like Christ, we make a difference for Christ. When we show compassion like Christ, we’re making changes for Christ. When we show compassion like Christ, we’re walking in obedience to Christ. After all, we’re commanded in Jude 22, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.”

Originally published as “The Compassion of Christ.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. November 14, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

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Sunday

17

November 2019

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COMMENTS

Be strong and of a good courage

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"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?" (Psalm 27:1) | Be strong and of a good courage - read more at hopereflected.com

We are each called to find our confidence in Christ

The Bible is filled with examples of epimone, a rhetorical device that uses frequent repetition to emphasize an important point. Whenever a word, phrase, or command is repeated in Scripture, take note: It is important and requires our attention (and often our obedience).

In Deuteronomy 31:7, when Joshua is appointed as Moses’s successor, Moses encourages Joshua for the task ahead: “Be strong and of a good courage….” Only a few chapters later in the opening phrases of the Book of Joshua, our Lord repeats these same words three times to exhort Joshua. Then, Joshua’s own people embolden him with an echo of the edict: Be strong and of a good courage.

Seven words with such significance: Be strong and of a good courage.

We can learn from Joshua’s example of courage

Joshua, the man who led the Israelites as they crossed the Jordan, who defeated the Canaanites and divided the land among the tribes of Israel, under whom – as most are familiar – the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. While our walls of Jericho may look different than the ones in Joshua’s time, while we may be frightened by the flow of the Jordan River that we need to cross, or whether the Canaanites we face have changed from the ones of Joshua’s day – whatever our challenges, we are called to be strong and of a good courage.

Your Jordan River may flow faster than mine, the walls of your Jericho may seem taller than your neighbour’s, and the Canaanites you face may be more cunning and crafty, but the one thing we share in common as Christians is this: We are each called to be strong and of a good courage and we are each called to find our confidence in Christ.

We aren’t called to be weak; we’re called to be meek (and yes, they are two completely different qualities). We aren’t called to be pushovers; we’re called to prevail. We aren’t called to be losers; we’re called to be – and we are – loved by Christ.

David found his courage and strength in the Lord

In the midst of his flight from Saul, David wrote, “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) My Grandmother wrote in her Bible beside this verse that David’s confidence came only from keeping his faith trained on God. David went on to write in Psalm 27:14, “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.”

Just as we can’t strengthen our physical bodies unless we eat right and work out, so we can’t strengthen our hearts and spirits unless we’re taking in God’s Word and purposing to live for Him.

Where do our eyes go when we’re facing challenges, and where do our minds go when we’re feeling afraid? As humans, it’s not our natural inclination to go first to the Lord. We have to train our spirits and make it a habit to seek God first in all of our circumstances. Strength and courage aren’t qualities that we’re born with; strength and courage are developed as we grow closer to God and spend more time feeding from His Word.

Originally published as “Be strong and of a good courage.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. August 22, 2019: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

20

September 2019

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COMMENTS

Get thyself Wisdom

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"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God." (James 1:5) Wisdom | Read more at hopereflected.com

Wisdom is important as we walk through this life

In the books of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, after Solomon was anointed king, God asked Solomon what He could give to him. “Give me now wisdom and knowledge,” Solomon responds (2 Chronicles 1:10). God grants Solomon’s request. “Because this was in thine heart, and thou has not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself… Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee.” (2 Chron. 1:11-12)

Solomon went on to author most of the chapters found in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs contains many references to wisdom and how important wisdom is as we walk through this life. “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.” (Proverbs 4:5)

Rely less on your own knowledge

James 1:5 tells us that “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” Through quiet times spent in prayer and meditating on God’s Word, wisdom starts with God. The key is that you need to spend time with God in order to gain wisdom. As you read more of God’s Word, and consult Him more in daily prayer, you’ll begin to rely less on your own knowledge and more on God’s will. “There are many device’s in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” (Proverbs 19:21) As Charles Stanley says, “God will move heaven and earth to show you His will and your obedience to Him will bring greater blessings than your plans could hope to achieve.”

Learn from the godly influence of mature Christians

Wisdom can also be found when you follow the example and learn from the godly influence of mature Christians. An excellent place to start is with your elders. “Is not wisdom found among the aged?” (Job 12:12) Think of the believers in your life who have impacted you through an encouraging word or a strong spiritual example. The Bible is filled with examples of other believers who have lead by example: Joseph in the life of Pharaoh, Elijah in the life of Ahab (Ahab is a great example of what happens when godly wisdom isn’t pursued), Nathan in the life of David, and Jesus in the life of Nicodemus. Look around. You may never know the impact that your testimony has on the lives of those around you.

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools”

God’s wisdom looks very different from the world’s wisdom. Our finite minds can never comprehend the infinite Creator of the universe. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways are different than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Pursuing after wisdom by spending more time reading your Bible, or quieting your soul in prayer may never make sense to someone who has different priorities. In fact, you may even find in your pursuit to get thyself wisdom that others come into opposition. Don’t be discouraged. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). God’s foolishness is wiser than men; and His weakness is stronger than man (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Originally published as “Get thyself wisdom.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. July 4, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

19

October 2016

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COMMENTS

Wednesday Wisdom: Guard Your Heart, Mind, and Tongue

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guard your heart, mind, tongue

We’ve all been there; at least once a week, I something I shouldn’t say and then afterwards lament about it. Our words are incredibly powerful, and once we say them, we can’t take them back. Before we speak, we have to consider and be conscious of what we’re taking into our minds and hearts.

Here are 3 verses each about remembering to guard your heart, mind, and tongue:

Guard Your Heart

  • Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
  • Proverbs 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
  • Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

For more verses about the importance of guarding your heart, see also Psalm 51:10, Jeremiah 17:9, Philippians 4:6-7, and 1 John 3:20.

Guard Your Mind

  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
  • 1 Peter 1:13 “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”
  • Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

For more verses about guarding your thoughts and your mind, see also Psalm 101:3, Proverbs 4:25, Romans 12:2.

Guard Your Tongue

  • Proverbs 13:3 “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”
  • Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
  • Proverbs 21:23 “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.”

For more verses on the importance of guarding your tongue, see also Proverbs 15:4, Proverbs 17:28, Matthew 12:36, and Ephesians 4:29.

 

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