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Thursday

20

July 2017

Hope Reflected | Resentment

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In the face of resentment, focus on God | Hope Reflected See more at hopereflected.com

Resentment

The best navigation tool for our daily lives, the Bible is filled with several accounts that deal with resentment. As early as Eve, resentment has weaseled its way into many hearts throughout the years, including Job, Sarah, Jacob, Joseph, Saul… I could go.

The story of Joseph is a classic tale of resentment. Favoured by his father Jacob, all Joseph’s brothers resented him. It wasn’t anything Joseph did that caused these hard feelings, rather a reaction to their circumstances that caused Joseph’s brothers to have ill will against him. They were so bitter and resentful towards Joseph that they sold him, and told their father that he was dead. It’s a great example of how harbouring resentment can quickly get out of control if we don’t put ourselves in check.

Joseph’s brothers thought that by hurting him, they would cause Joseph to change his ways, and they also that hurting Joseph would somehow make themselves feel better and validated in their actions. And what happened? The exact opposite!

What I love about the account of Joseph is that no matter the difficulty or challenging circumstance (and he had several), Joseph refused to let resentment take root in his heart, and he continued to seek the Lord and to put Him first, no matter what. Joseph didn’t get angry or bitter with his brothers and he didn’t try to get revenge. In fact, he did quite the opposite.

While the Lord brought Joseph along a challenging – and ultimately an incredibly blessed – path, Joseph’s bitter brothers endured hardship after hardship, including a famine that brought them face to face with their younger brother once more.

When they were reunited and Joseph realized that it was his long lost brothers standing in front of him, do you know what he did? Rather than seek revenge, he showed his brothers love. He demonstrated the love of Christ by forgiving his brothers for every hurt they had caused them. And in turn, God brought them back together.

When someone wrongs you, or intentionally hurts you, rather than breed resentment by focusing on what they’ve done or how you feel, look above and put your focus on the Lord. God is in control, and He is well aware of every circumstance and challenge you’ll face in life.

In the face of resentment, when you choose God, there are many blessings.

God restores. “And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10) It could be that someone’s hurt your heart, or maybe done something deliberately to get under your skin. Rather than resent them, pray for them as a first reaction. God hears our prayers, and nothing is impossible for Him! Sometimes the situation we think is impossible to fix is a none-issue in God’s eyes. Only God can heal the heart that’s broken and restore relationships – and He does, often exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think! (Eph. 3:20)

God renews. “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength…” (Isaiah 40:31) Even in our weakest moments, even in the times when we say to ourselves (and sometimes others) “I can’t believe he did that!” and we let bitterness or resentment creep into our hearts, the moment we turn those feelings over to God, He will renew our spirit. David said in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” To put it in perspective, David wrote Psalm 51 after he slept with Bathsheba. Nathan had just called him out for his sin, and David was feeling convicted. See what he did there? Rather than getting defensive or caught up, he confessed and asked the Lord to renew his spirit. And God did. He’ll do the same for you and me.

God reveals. “The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises those who are bowed down.” (Psalm 146:8) When you find yourself challenged with feelings of resentment, ask the Lord to reveal any wrongdoing in your heart and also in the heart of whomever you may be feeling resentful towards. God has a way of revealing our wrongdoings and convicting our spirits; we just need to have a tender heart to hear His voice. God will bless a teachable spirit. (Proverbs 13:18)

C.S. Lewis said that “to be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” Praise the Lord for His forgiveness! Wherever you’re at, and whatever you’re going through, we serve a God Who is bigger than any problem or any resentment you may have.

Originally published as “Resentment.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. June 29, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

4

July 2017

Hope Reflected | As our shepherd

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Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd | Hope Reflected

As our shepherd

If you’ve ever read Thomas Hardy’s famed novel, Far from the Madding Crowd, then you understand a little bit about the work of a shepherd. A shepherd has the position of caring for and tending to a flock of sheep – feeding them, leading them, and protecting them. As we read in Far from the Madding Crowd, being a shepherd is anything but glamourous, it can prove to be a dangerous career choice, and it doesn’t get a whole lot of attention.

You may have heard the analogy of Jesus as the good Shepherd, Who lays down His life for His sheep. Perhaps you’ve heard the analogy so many times that you’ve never stopped to think about what that truly means. What I find so fascinating about Jesus being portrayed throughout Scripture as the Shepherd is that the Saviour of the world is compared to a shepherd – quite possibly one of the lowliest, least recognized, introverted vocations out there.

Isn’t that just the opposite of us? Here on earth, we are in constant pursuit of being recognized, appreciated, and wanted. While each of us may yearn for it in our own way, we all long for recognition. Perhaps you’re pursuing a career as a full-time mother, or maybe you’re a man working long days to provide for his family, or you might even be a recent graduate who’s out working your first “real job” in your field of study – it doesn’t matter your lot in life, the longing is the same – we all want someone to pat us on the back and recognize us.

Consider Jesus. While we’re busy pursuing earthly glory, He is pursuing us and seeking after our well-being. Just like a shepherd that pursues his flock, Christ always keeps us in His sight, and even when we screw up, He continues to watch over us and longs to lead us in the right direction. While we’re looking everywhere except to Him for gratification, He is looking after – and looking out for – you and I.

As our Shepherd, Christ knows us and loves us. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you.” (Jeremiah 1:5) Long before your parents found out whether you’d be a boy or girl, Christ knew all about you, and who you would grow up to be. He knows everything about you, and He cares what happens to you.

As our Shepherd, Christ knows our wants and desires, and He will provide. “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’…For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33) Lest you think God doesn’t care about the details in your life, you should know that He values you more than anything. After all, “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Luke 12:7)

As our Shepherd, Christ will protect us. “So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6) Beyond providing protection here on earth, only Christ can provide you with eternal protection. You may have heard the George MacDonald quote “Never tell a child you have a soul. Teach him, you are a soul; you have a body.” While your body will die, your soul will live for eternity – where you choose to spend eternity is up to you, but keep in mind, eternity is forever.

Beyond love, provision, and protection, there is also an unbreakable trust between the shepherd and his flock. When you trust Jesus to be your shepherd and to lead and guide you, “the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

Originally published as “As our shepherd.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. June 22, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

30

June 2017

Hope Reflected | Rest

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Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him Psalm 37:7 | Hope Reflected

Rest

The past week has been a rather frustrating one for me. Vestibular neuritis – also known as vertigo – has been providing me with all the feelings of dizziness, imbalance, headache, earache, and nausea, and as a result I’ve been spending a majority of my time horizontal (including as I write this). If you’ve ever had vertigo, you understand the sensation I’m writing about. And just when you start to feel like you’re getting over it, one sudden movement in the wrong direction sets you right back where you started.

Spending a week basically doing nothing but being still has afforded me with many hours to contemplate questions such as, “Why is this happening to me?” “What am I missing at work?” “Why does this have to happen right now?” “How long will this affect me?” and “What are you trying to tell me, God?” I asked Wes, my parents, and a couple of close friends the same questions, and interestingly enough, everyone said the same thing: “Maybe this is God’s way of telling you that you need to rest.”

Rest should be a natural part of our lives, but so often when we’re running through the motions of life, admittedly, we forget to take time to rest. Rest in each other’s company, rest in the company of those we love, rest in our home, rest in the miracles of God’s creation like the roses blooming in our front yard, or the birds nesting in the trees across our property. The Roman poet Ovid said, “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.” We can’t give our best or properly serve if we don’t take time to rest.

This idea of rest brings to mind several Scripture references. It’s interesting to note that depending which translation of the Bible you read, sometimes rest is referred to as “wait”. To wait suggests that we need patience, and I’m not sure if that’s fitting, ironic, or both.

Here are ten Bible verses about rest that I hope will encourage and reassure you as you learn patience and seek true rest:

  1. “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
  2. “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!” 1 Samuel 12:16
  3. “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way.” Psalm 37:7
  4. “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.” Psalm 62:5
  5. “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.” Psalm 119:114
  6. “Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” Isaiah 46:4
  7. – 9. “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
  1. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

Christ alone is able to give us rest in every area of our lives. As A.W. Tozer once said, “You can’t truly rest until every area in your life rests in God.” Once you’ve started, it’s so easy to keep running that perhaps sometimes we just need a reminder to rest (free lesson in patience included).

Originally published as “Rest.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. June 15, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Monday

26

June 2017

Hope Reflected | For what you’re going through

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. “O LORD, You have searched me and known me… For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.” (Psalm 139:1, 4) | Hope Reflected

For what you’re going through

As humans, one of our most basic desires and one of our most common characteristics is that each of us has a longing to feel as though we belong and are understood.

When I think of belonging and understanding, the act of listening is not the first thing that comes to my mind. Wes and I have had the discussion before that sometimes when either of us is talking, we don’t necessarily need the other to go in to “fix” mode; he or I are just looking for a listening ear. More often than not, many miscommunications or disagreements stem from a lack of listening (and when you don’t listen, you don’t understand). Many feelings of loneliness and isolation begin when you feel that you don’t belong. Sometimes you just need to talk. Sometimes you just need to listen.

Maybe you’re going through an illness, or perhaps you’ve reached a relational crossroads. It could even be that you’ve entered a new and foreign season in your life and you’re longing for that one connection who can listen to you scrutinize your situation from every angle and provide you with the comfort of knowing that he or she has already been there and done that and they completely get where you’re at and what you’re going through.

During our devotions this past week, Wes and I were reflecting on how incredible it is that regardless of where we’re at in life or what we are going through, there is always One Who understands us, Who gets us, and Who loves us despite our human condition.

Your desire to be understood and to belong can only ever truly be fulfilled by God. He was made manifest in the flesh and took on any earthly pain or feeling imaginable (and even the unimaginable) and He carried it all on the cross. He understands what you are going through. You know that feeling you get when you connect with someone and realize that he or she understands exactly what you’re going through and experiencing because they’ve already been there? That’s what it’s like when you have a personal relationship with God, except in a much more intimate and powerful way.

God created you, God knows you, and God understands you and what you’re going through:

God created you. “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:16)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

God knows you. “O LORD, You have searched me and known me… For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.” (Psalm 139:1, 4)

God understands you and what you’re going through. “You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. “ (Psalm 139: 2-3)

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.” (Isaiah 40:28)

Our Lord experienced all of what we could ever go through in this life when He was on the cross. You may ask why, and the answer is that He loves us. As it says in Psalm 139, His thoughts toward us are precious, the sum of them is great, and they are more in number than the sand.

Originally published as “For what you’re going through.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. June 8, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Thursday

22

June 2017

Gardening | Peonies

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Gardening | Beautiful peonies | Best perennials | Hope Reflected

Our peonies have officially been in bloom for one week! This year, Wes and I really wanted to document the full process of the various plants in our garden and keep a photo journal so we can look back year after year and enjoy our progress.

We’ve got three peony plants in our front yard, and throughout the fleeting weeks of June, we love watching our peony plants grow and blossom.

Gardening | Beautiful peonies | Best perennials | Hope Reflected

For the first time, we opted to use tomato cages around our peony plants to ensure that once at their full maturity for the season, the heavy balls of fluff didn’t just flop over due to their weight. The cages have been relatively successful, however we know for next year that the light pink peonies require the cage to come up just a bit higher (as you can see from these photos).

Gardening | Beautiful peonies | Best perennials | Hope Reflected

Do you have peonies planted in your garden? If so, what are your tips for best practices for the colourful perennials?

Some of our tips for keeping peonies:

  • Early on in the season, use tomato cages to provide support around your peony plants. This will encourage the plants long, thin stems to grow straight, and also provide support for when the peony petals bloom (they’re a top-heavy plant).
  • Let the peony seeds drop if you want a fuller plant year after year. Many people opt to collect their peony seeds before they drop, however if you want your plant to continue to thicken, let the seeds fall naturally.
  • Plant any seeds you do collect in the fall. If you plant peony seeds in the spring, chances are your peonies will not grow and bloom until the following spring. Like garlic, peonies do best if they’re planted in the fall.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy your blooms! The season for peonies is a short one, so don’t forget to cut some of your peony blooms and enjoy them; they work wonders in brightening up a table setting — or someone’s day!

Gardening | Beautiful peonies | Best perennials | Hope Reflected

If you’d like to see pictures of our peonies from last year, check out this post about why I think peonies are some of the best perennials for your garden.

Gardening | Beautiful peonies | Best perennials | Hope Reflected

Gardening | Beautiful peonies | Best perennials | Hope Reflected

 

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Wednesday

21

June 2017

Hope Reflected | What’s your focus?

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"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee." Isaiah 26:3 Hope Reflected | Focus on God

What’s your focus?

At some point in each of our lives, we will visit a buffet-style restaurant. A test of will power and self-control, you may have experienced the sensation of having eyes bigger than your stomach, and over-filling your plate. You think you’re going to eat all this food in front of you, and then you hit a wall. Or, as it often happens when you eat too much, you actually start to not feel so great because you’ve over-indulged. You focus so much on the food in front of you that you forget to listen to your stomach.

Isn’t that so much like life? We think that after pursuing all of our dreams and wants we’ll be so much happier, so much more satisfied. “When I buy my dream car,” “When I complete my degree,” “When I get that promotion,” “When we buy that house,” “When we get married,” and the list goes on. The truth is, if you’re living in the mindset that achieving dreams and goals will make you a happier person, you’re setting yourself up for severe disappointment.

Please don’t misunderstand; having dreams and pursuing goals are both good and honourable – they’re part of a healthy mentality – however when you start thinking that you’ll be happier once you achieve your dreams and conquer your goals, that’s when you set yourself up for disappointment.

True contentment can only be found when you put your focus on God. Some people learn this early; some people learn it later; some people never learn. It is true however, what is written in Proverbs 15:16-17 “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with trouble. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.” You can be content with very little when you turn away from distractions and learn to focus on God.

When your focus is on God, He will bring you true joy and contentment. Not just for the good times, but for every season. Lest you think the temporary high of achieving earthly goals will sustain you, there are countless blessings when you choose to put your focus on the Lord. Focusing on the Lord will:

  • Provide peace. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
  • Relieve worry. “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” (Psalm 112:7) We all worry. But has worrying ever done you any good? Only God can provide the reassurance each of us longs for. As Max Lucado says, “The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional.” God will help you break free of your worries. He even calls us to lay it all on Him! “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
  • Breed contentment. “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8) We’ve all heard the saying, “Once you need less, you will have more.” God doesn’t call us to compare ourselves to others, to accumulate more material possessions, or to build our financial portfolios. He calls us to be responsible, He calls us to follow Him, and it’s only when we put our focus on Him that we shift our gaze from temporary earthly successes to what will truly count for eternity.
  • Inspire compassion. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) The Golden Rule is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. When we put our focus on the Lord, we learn to look at the well-being of others rather than just ourselves. Compassion begins within, and it has a ripple effect.
  • Mold character. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) There are many notes on the developing of a man’s character. What’s undisputed is that character certainly starts within. When your focus is on the Lord, your character will show it. As John Wooden once said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what other think you are.”
  • Change your heart. “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole hearts.” (Jeremiah 24:7) One of my favourite Bible verses is Proverbs 21:1, which says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” When your focus is heavenward, your life will show it. Luke 6:45 tells us that “from the overflow of the heart his mouth speaks.” Only the Lord can change a heart, and when your focus is on Him, He will steer you in the right direction.

Originally published as “What’s your focus?” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. June 1, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Monday

19

June 2017

Hope Reflected | What is the blessing in adversity?

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what is the blessing in adversity

What is the blessing in adversity?

As we’ve all learned the past several weeks, nothing grows without rain. Sometimes, the same can be said of our own personal growth. Without adversity and challenges in life, we would not be who we are.

Last year, I wrote about what to do in the face of adversity, and lately Wes and I have been discussing the blessing in adversity. It’s human nature when we go through hard times or have to face challenges, to get discouraged and to get down. The hard truth to swallow is that in those times of adversity, we should learn and train ourselves to embrace adversity, to see the blessing in adversity.

What is the blessing in adversity? Adversity is an opportunity.

  1. Adversity is an opportunity to reflect. “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.” (Psalm 26:2) Adversity offers an opportunity to reflect. It is thought that David wrote Psalm 26 during a very testing time – when he was fleeing King Saul and hiding out in the wilderness (for ten years, no less). Even at a time when he was fleeing for his life, David asked the Lord to examine him, and to try his mind and heart. Adversity offers an opportunity to reflect and question our own actions and motivations. What is God trying to teach us or to tell us? What can we learn from our current circumstances? Sometimes our own spiritual reflection is a way for God to reveal a misbehavior or bad attitude.
  2. Adversity is an opportunity to get better and strengthen your faith. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4) Adversity is an opportunity to strengthen your faith – look at the Biblical examples of men and women who moved forward with faith, even when the odds were against them: Joseph, Joshua, and Ruth, just to name a few. “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)
  3. Adversity is an opportunity to grow closer to God. “Call upon Me [God] in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” (Psalm 50:15) David is perhaps one of the greatest examples of a man who would continuously seek after God, even in the most dire and desperate of circumstances. Over and over again in the Psalms, we read his testimony of God’s faithfulness. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) If you’re struggling in stormy seas, take your focus off the unsettled wind, sea, and rains, and put your faith in the One Who controls all the weather. You might be going through a season of adversity, and that’s no surprise to God. Look to Him.
  4. Adversity is an opportunity to encourage others. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17) Have you ever had a friend who, no matter what, has been there for you; a friend who’s seen you at your worst, and still loves and encourages you? Going through adversity provides a great opportunity to encourage another soul who may also be going through a challenging time. In Galatians 6:2, we’re told to “bear one another’s burdens,” and adversity is an opportunity to do just that.

If you’re facing adversity, don’t be afraid. Remember, there is blessing in adversity. Dr. Charles Stanley puts it like this: “Adversity is not simply a tool. It is God’s most effective tool for the advancement of our spiritual lives. The circumstances and events that we see as setbacks are oftentimes the very things that launch us into periods of intense spiritual growth.” Adversity is an opportunity. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:8-11)

Originally published as “What is the blessing in adversity” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. May 18, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

16

June 2017

Hope Reflected | The Remnants

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Biblical remnants

The Remnants

Wes and I appreciate the fellowship of our Christian friends, and one of our friends who has been of particular encouragement recently is our friend, Muriel. Muriel is always ready with an uplifting word and a cheerful spirit. Serving in a capacity that often goes unnoticed, Muriel works tirelessly in the background, creating clothing and preparing practical items to send to the less fortunate overseas. She ministers joyfully, using the remnants of fabric that people give to her to share God’s love and to provide for people who have nothing.

When we were talking to Muriel recently about remnants, she described how incredible it is that God often (and more frequently than we realize) uses the remnants of a situation for His glory. How true that is!

Consider perennial plants, such as the peony, for example. At the end of the summer season, after we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the bright beauty of their elegant blooms, peony plants drop their seeds, and the following summer their blooms multiply into a whole new array.

In the Bible, there are many examples of how God uses remnants. There are pages upon pages of examples in both the Old and New Testaments of how God uses remnants for His glory and to show us living examples of His amazing attributes.

  1. God’s faithfulness and righteousness | Noah. “So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.’” (Genesis 9:1) In the book of Genesis (specifically chapters 5-10) we read how God used Noah and his family and promised a blessing to them. After the flood, Noah and his family were the only humans left on the earth. God chose them, and He blessed them. They were the remnants of a wicked and depraved people, and God used a seemingly catastrophic situation – literally, the earth was destroyed by a flood – for His glory. The account of Noah and his family is a great testimony to God’s faithfulness and righteousness.
  2. God’s grace and mercy | Mephibosheth. “So David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.” (2 Samuel 9: 7) Mephibosheth was the only remaining member from Saul and Jonathan’s family, and David took him in and treated him as his own. A little background: David and Jonathan (Mephibosheth’s Dad) were best friends. David and Saul (Mephibosheth’s Grandfather) were mortal enemies (Saul persecuted David and is the reason that David spent more than 10 years fleeing and living in the wilderness). For David to take in Mephibosheth, Saul’s only remaining heir, to live in his house and to eat at his table, is a demonstration of God’s grace and mercy.
  3. God’s loyalty and provision | Naomi and Ruth. “Ruth said, ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.’” (Ruth 1:16) After Naomi lost both her husband and her sons, Ruth committed to staying with her mother-in-law, even if that meant she’d be single for life and never marry again. As a result of her faith, Ruth ended up meeting marrying Boaz when she returned to the land of Canaan with Naomi. The account of Naomi and Ruth is an amazing example of God’s loyalty and provision in our lives, often “exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Maybe you think you’ve been through the storm and think God could never use you because of your past. Perhaps you think that you’ve wasted the best years of your life because of the decisions that you’ve made. Or maybe you feel cheapened or devalued by the treatment of others. No matter where life finds you, God uses the remnants. He is able to take the most devastating situation and use it for His glory. All you need to do is look to Him and put your trust in Him. As C.S. Lewis said, “Look for yourself and you will find loneliness and despair. But look for Christ and you will find Him and everything else.” He will be your Saviour and Redeemer, and He will make Himself real to you. You just have to let Him. All you need is faith – only God can restore what is broken and make it into something brand new.

Originally published as “The Remnants.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. May 25, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Thursday

15

June 2017

Roses: Rosa Hybrid Pink Promise Tea Rose

Written by , Posted in Gardening

Last year, Wes and I planted our first four rose bushes. While roses are delicate and relatively high-maintenance, we enjoyed our experience with the beautiful blooms so much last year that we planted a fifth rose bush (rosa hybrid pink promise rose) early on this season (beginning of May).

pink promise roses

Planted in a different location of our garden than the other bushes, we were impressed with the rich green foliage of the Pink Promise hybrid tea rose from the very beginning. The pink promise rose bush was already about two feet tall when we purchased it, and with the addition of blooms, it continues to grow (this hybrid tea rose bush grows to be about 4 feet tall at it’s maximum).

 

While initially I was so excited that the latest addition to our rose garden seemed healthy, it wasn’t long before we noticed some clusters on the bush. After some research and polling my #gardenchat friends on Twitter, we realized we were dealing with aphids. You may know aphids as “plant lice”, and whatever you call them, they’re a total pest and they feed on new plant growth.

 

The good news is that a swift blast of water on the leaves and bloom of our pink promise rose bush seemed to get rid of the aphids. The problem is that they tend to come back. We’ve been keeping an eye on the pest situation, and we think we may be dealing with more than just aphids, as now we’ve got almost transparent spots on the leaves of our pink promise rose bush. From the experience with our other four hybrid rose bushes last year, I’m fairly sure we are dealing with sawfly larvae again.

pink promise roses

Besides the potential for pests, hybrid rose bushes are some of the most beautiful and rewarding plants to enjoy in your garden. There is something so satisfying about watching the development of new blooms on a rose bush that is both beautiful and inspiring.

Our pink promise hybrid rose bush has just produced its first bloom, and we are looking forward to many more throughout the summer.

The pink promise hybrid tea rose requires 6+ hours of daily sunlight, which makes it a perfect fit for our front garden. The elegant pink flowers have a creamy white centre, and are a classic choice for cut roses (they work well in a floral arrangement or as a standalone bloom).

While we were promised that the pink promise rose is incredibly disease and pest-resistant, I’ve got to say between the aphids and the sawfly larvae that we put them in the same category as our other rose bushes: Delicate and high-maintenance.

For more on our experience with roses, check out these posts on the other rose bushes in our garden: Our bolero floribunda roses, singin’ in the rain roses, ten-ten hybrid tea roses, and our beloved Oscar Peterson roses.

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Monday

12

June 2017

Hope Reflected | Three Facts to Remember About Hope

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

facts about hope

Three Facts to Remember About Hope

 

Emily Dickinson once wrote:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all

Hope is a funny thing. Growing up, there were times when I found it difficult to have a name that rhymed so easily with other words. More recently, in my adult years, I’ve found it a challenge to bear this name, as there have been times where I’ve felt anything but hopeful.

Everyone, at some point in his or her life, feels discouraged. The key is to never give up hope. Even when all the cards are down and you feel like everyone’s against you, there is always hope. As long as you’ve got your Faith, you’ve got a solid foundation, and you’ve got hope.

If you’re feeling down or discouraged today, take heart. Remember these three facts about hope:

  1. Hope is a reality and not a feeling. (And I’m not talking about myself here!) Biblical hope means that I’ve got a solid foundation for LIFE, and can rest on the promises of the One who loves me and cares for me more than anyone on this earth. Hope is a promise, and God always keeps His promises. “…Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23, NKJV)
  2. Hope endures. Sure it may seem like the rain will never stop or your heart will never be whole again, but take heart – it will! Hope claims the promises of God and gives us confidence to weather the storm. He may not take away the challenge or stop the season, but He always gives strength to endure. Believe it, and cling to it. “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24, NKJV)
  3. Hope believes. And when you believe, you can achieve. God’s got a plan, and we just need to learn to rest in this reality and trust Him. It can be hard, but it’s like the book of Isaiah says: “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ saith the Lord.” Quite often our plans look very different from God’s plans, and quite often He has a way of bringing things to pass that we could never even dream. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” {Jeremiah 29:11NIV)

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope.” (Psalm 16:9 NKJV) Hope: A small word with endless promise. Even without all the words, keep singing!

Originally published as “Three facts to remember about hope.” Minto Express. June 10, 2015: 5. Print.

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