Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Published Work Archive

Friday

25

November 2022

Consider the ravens

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry. Psalm 147:9 | Read more about the significance of ravens on hopereflected.com

True or false: After the flood, the first bird Noah sent out of the ark was a dove?

False.

After the flood, the first bird Noah sent out of the ark was a raven (Genesis 8:7).

Even though it’s written right in Scripture, perhaps we are surprised at this because we prefer the illustration of the presence and promise of God associated with the dove more than we do the darkness and death often associated with the raven. Several commentaries observe that Noah’s reasoning for sending out the raven first was likely because as a scavenger bird, the raven would be first to smell the decaying flesh of dead carcasses on the dry earth. And yet, when we think of Noah’s ark, we are more likely to recall the dove returning to the ark with an olive leaf. We should not discount the importance of ravens in Scripture, however.

Ravens in the Bible are very significant.

Ravens are fascinating creatures. When we read about ravens in the Bible, several times throughout Scripture ravens are used as examples of darkness, however ravens also paint a beautiful picture of God’s provision. It is interesting to note that God would choose to use such a bird as an example, because in Biblical times ravens were abominated by the Jews and considered to be unclean (Lev. 11:15). This is what makes the picture so beautiful: If God cares and provides for even the raven—a bottom-feeding bird that is despised and unclean—how much more must He care for us!

God cares for all His creatures.

The same God who cares about people whose homes and lives are being destroyed because of ravaging war also cares about birds in backyards who are building their nests. While we may not understand how He can care simultaneously for both, Jesus Himself told the disciples to “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). God demonstrates care for all His creatures; both great and small. Creatures that don’t matter at all to us matter a great deal to Him. God Himself asked Job, “Who provideth for the raven his food? When his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.” (Job 38:41). Who provides for the ravens? Certainly not man, but God. And if God provides for even the lowliest of creatures, will He not also provide for us?

“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

When Elijah could not provide food for himself, he remained obedient to God and trusted Him. It was no coincidence that God used ravens to provide Elijah with what he needed (1 Kings 17:6). Here again we see a beautiful picture of God’s providence and provision for us, painted from one of the most unlikely sources (ravens in the Bible). As Spurgeon said, “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.”

“He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.” (Psalm 147:9). God provides all things to all creatures, even the ravens.

Originally published as “Consider the ravens.” Independent Plus. April 28, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

17

November 2022

Of Faith and Friendship

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

We should consider it a privilege to have friends who will carry us to Christ

When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. Mark 2:5 | Read more on hopereflected.com

True friends are of utmost importance as we walk through the land of the living. One of the most frequently-referred to friendships in the Bible is that of David and Jonathan. Read almost anything about Biblical friendship, and theirs is likely an example that pops up.

Another important Biblical friendship

Of no less significance is the friendship between the unnamed men shared in Matthew 9, Mark 2, and Luke 5. We don’t know much about the group of friends, other than one of them was paralyzed from birth, and there would have likely been four others carrying him around (as in verse 3 it says he “was borne of four”). After word spread of the many miracles Jesus was performing, these men heard that Jesus was in Capernaum, and they brought their palsied friend to Jesus to be healed.

Bringing friends to Jesus

We read in Mark 2 that there were so many people gathered to see Jesus that the men couldn’t get into the house where He was (v. 4). Convinced that Christ could heal their friend, and desperate to get their friend into His presence, these guys went up on the rooftop, broke up the tiles and other roof coverings, and let their friend down through the ceiling. This was no easy task—it was difficult enough to carry a paralyzed man, let alone break up the roof, and safely lower the man in the bed down into the building—and yet these men knew if they could get their friend in front of Jesus, that Jesus could heal him. There was no guarantee that Jesus would heal the paralyzed man, but they had to try. Now that’s friendship!

We read in Mark 2:5, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” When Jesus saw their faith, not when Jesus saw the paralyzed man’s faith, but when Jesus saw their faith. Matthew Henry wrote that, “True faith and strong faith may work variously, conquering sometimes the objections of reason, sometimes those of sense; but however manifested, it shall be accepted and approved by Jesus Christ.” The faith of these friends was evident, so much so, that Jesus saw their faith. These friends were what we say today, “Living your faith.” Their faith was seen through their actions. Can the same be said for us?

It is a privilege to have friends who will labour to carry us to Christ

In the face of uncertainties – and let’s be real, there are many uncertainties in the world right now – do we demonstrate a visible faith? Are we willing to step out and act in faith, even if we don’t know exactly what the plan is? Do we trust God enough knowing that He is in total control, to totally yield to Him, even if we can’t see the outcome? It is hard to answer “yes” to these questions, but the answer becomes easier when – like the paralyzed man – it is believed and carried by a group of friends. We should consider it a privilege if when we are unable to answer “yes” for ourselves, we have such friends who will labour to carry us to Christ and exercise their faith on our behalf. 

Originally published as “Of faith and friendship.” Independent Plus. March 31, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Monday

14

November 2022

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.

Monday

7

November 2022

Lessons from the life of Jonah, Part 1

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"We behold professed Christians wrapping themselves up in their security, and calmly looking on upon the labours of others, wishing them no doubt all success, but not even lifting a finger to do any part of the work themselves." (Charles Spurgeon) | Read more on hopereflected.com

We won’t get far if we flee from God.

Jonah knew this, and yet he still tried to avoid the task that God had laid out for him. “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD…” (Jonah 1:3). We can run from God, but we can’t hide. Despite knowing this, how come so many of us try to avoid Him? Sometimes God allows us to be put in uncomfortable positions where we have to stand up for inconvenient truths, and we don’t like that. After all, who wants to risk discomfort by speaking up when they could just say nothing instead?

“We can run from God, but we can’t hide.
Despite knowing this, how come so many of us try to avoid him?

Hope Reflected

David asked in Psalm 139, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (v. 7). The answer is that there is nowhere we could ever go that will escape the presence of God. The wording used in Jonah 1:3, “from the presence of the LORD,” is the same wording used in Genesis 4:16 when Cain went out “from the presence of the LORD”. As Cain willingly forsook God, Jonah did likewise. Even though we try to abandon God, He will never abandon us.

God loves us so much that He will move heaven and earth to get our attention and draw us to Him.

After Jonah tried to get away from God, God used a storm to get his attention. “But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest…” (Jonah 1:4). The sad part is that in the midst of the storm, Jonah wasn’t afraid; he was asleep. The other men on the ship woke him and said, “What meanest thou, O sleeper?” (1:6). They were more concerned about their welfare than Jonah was. God has a purpose for each one of us, to effect both our own lives as well as the lives of those around us. Spurgeon wrote that “we behold professed Christians wrapping themselves up in their own security, and calmly looking on upon the labors of others, wishing them no doubt all success, but not even lifting a finger to do any part of the work themselves.” No doubt, God is using our present circumstances and storms to alert our attention, and we must choose whether or not we awaken to action.

God hears us when we pray with a pure and repentant heart.

For Jonah, it took being tossed into the depths of the sea and being swallowed up by a great fish that God had prepared (Jonah 1:17) to wake up. God has a way of using hard times and opposition to bring us back to Him. Jonah, stuck in the disgusting ditch of the fish’s belly cried out to God and prayed, “Salvation is of the LORD.” (Jonah 2:9). God hears us when we pray with a pure and repentant heart. God is merciful. Jonah said himself, “thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness…” (Jonah 4:2). What a parallel to David’s prayer in Psalm 86, “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” (v. 5).

Originally published as “Lessons from the life of Jonah, Part 1.” Independent Plus. March 17, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Friday

4

November 2022

Even the birds

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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 | Read more at hopereflected.com

God’s hand is in every detail

We’ve all seen the incredible display of hundreds or thousands of birds flitting about together, flying in a specially-choreographed formation across the sky. This is called a murmuration, and is thought to be the result of birds flying together to keep warm, conserve energy, and nest in large groups to keep safe. While some may argue that these instincts are given by nature, we understand that these exhibitions of the vertebrate kind are nothing short of God’s creation, as He said in the beginning that birds “may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” (Gen. 1:20).

Where’s your focus?

During His earthly ministry, when a human murmuration – an “innumerable multitude”, a crowd so large that they were stepping on one another (Luke 12:1) – were gathered together to hear Jesus teach, Jesus, directly after sharing with everyone the parable of the rich fool, shared specifically with the disciples the importance of not being anxious or worrying. While we may ponder how the two topics are connected, the answer is simple. When we lay up treasures for ourselves, when we strive to do things on our own, we are bound to be anxious and worried, because we’re focusing on the wrong things.  

“Our focus, where we’re investing, is of utmost importance.”

Hope Reflected

“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). Our focus, where we’re investing, is of utmost importance. When we focus on the unrest and upheaval around us, of course we are bound to be anxious and worried.

When we focus on God and the fact that none of what is happening right now is a surprise to Him, and that He is still very much in control, we remember that His hand is in every detail, even the birds. The Bible tells us that every bird in the sky knows the hand of the Lord (Job 12:9) and that eagles soar at God’s command and build their nests on high (Job 39:27).

Comfort and safety near the Lord

The picture we see painted by the Psalmist in Psalm 84:3, “Yes, the sparrow hath found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.” Even the smallest of creatures finds comfort and safety near the Lord. In the midst of dark hours these little birds sought refuge and rest close to Him.

Can the same be said of us, that the Lord’s presence is the place where we find comfort and safety, where we seek refuge and rest? MacLaren in his expositions wrote that, “These words not only may hearten us with confidence that our desires will be satisfied if they are set upon Him, but they point us to the one way by which they are so.”

Because God knows even the birds of the sky, because He calls them His (Psalm 50:11), we can rest assured that God also knows all the details of what is happening both on The Hill and He knows the desires within each one of our hearts.

Originally published as “Even the birds.” Independent Plus. March 3, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Monday

31

October 2022

Wise investments

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:20-21 | Read more at hopereflected.com

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21).

At the time when Jesus shared this, houses were mostly made from clay and dirt, making them pretty easy for thieves to break in. People had to take special care of their possessions to protect them, including burying treasures in the earth so that they were harder to find. Contact with dirt meant that valuables corroded more easily.

Where to put our focus

In this parable, Jesus isn’t telling us that it’s sinful to have money, or that we shouldn’t save for the future, or that it’s wrong for us to own more than one change of clothes, or that we are materialistic if we have an appreciation for nice things. What Jesus is telling us in this parable is that laying up treasures on this earth should not be our primary focus – we ought rather to put our focus on laying up treasures in heaven.

Matthew Henry wrote that, “Christ counsels to make our best things the joys and glories of the other world, those things not seen which are eternal, and to place our happiness in them.” The point of the parable is this; a life that is centred on earthly position and possessions is pointless. Only a life centred on Christ holds true, eternal value.

So how do we lay up treasures in heaven while we’re here on earth?

We lay up treasures in heaven through wise investments. As Christians, we are responsible to tithe (not only to the church but also to the organizations that are doing Kingdom work). We are called to be “given to hospitality” (Romans 12:13) by being welcoming and generous towards others, and because we have His certain Hope, we should live accordingly so that others through us see Christ and come to know Him.

“The only things we can keep

are the things that we freely give to God.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Finite vs. Infinite

Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:17, we are not to “trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;”. We may have earthly riches, but if we aren’t good stewards of our earthly riches, we won’t appreciate or be grateful for all that God has blessed us with. Earthly riches are finite if we are only enjoying them and not also investing them for eternity.

Attributed to Solomon, who was the wisest and richest man of his day, Proverbs 23:5 asks, “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” As C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “the only things we can keep are the things that we freely give to God.” While corrosion of our earthly possessions is inevitable, conservation of heavenly treasures is possible.

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.

Originally published as “Wise investments.” Independent Plus. February 24, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

11

August 2022

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.

Friday

29

July 2022

A work of the will

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Love is more than feelings

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 | Read more of "A work of the will" on hopereflected.com

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

“who loved me,” – we are the objects of God’s love. For us to live by faith and for Christ to live in us requires something so much greater than feelings. Love is sacrifice, love is service, and love is often a hard work of the will.

John wrote in his first epistle that we should, “love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).

"who loved me"—we are the objects of God's love. For us to live by faith—and for Christ to live in us—requires something so much greater than feelings. Read more of "A work of the will" on hopereflected.com

Christ was willing to serve and willing to die

In giving Himself for me, Christ delivered Himself up to suffering and death, and He did so willingly. He came to this earth as a sacrifice for our sins, and He lived a life of service. In the hours before His death, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples.

If you knew you were headed to your death in a matter of hours, you’d be more likely to spend the time thinking of ways to escape or prevent your death, than you would be to serve those closest to you. And yet Christ, “riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.” (John 13:4). He poured water into a basin, and one by one, washed the disciples’ feet.

Why would the One who came to save us wash the feet of those around Him?

In Biblical times, foot washing was symbolic and performed for various reasons. In John 13, we see Jesus taking on the lowest form of servitude, and at the same time demonstrating one of the greatest expressions of love. Even on His way to death, Jesus focused not on Himself or what He was going through, but on loving others by serving them.

Service requires sacrifice, and so love is not just service, love is also sacrifice. “God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9). God sent his only begotten Son into the world so that He could die for our sins. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (v. 10). The propitiation, the atonement, the necessary sacrifice for justice. Christ “gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20).

“Love is not just service, love is also sacrifice.”

Hope Reflected
Love is sacrifice, love is service, and love is often a hard work of the will. Read more of "A work of the will" on hopereflected.com

Willing to sacrifice

God loves us so much, that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son for our sins; Christ loves us so much, that He was willing to endure the cross for our souls. Our salvation is only possible because of the willingness of God to sacrifice Jesus for our sins. Jesus came, in His own words, to do “the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). He asked God to save Him from the cross, but accepted His assignment, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

More than feelings, love is often a hard work of the will.

Originally published as “Forget your feelings.” Independent Plus. February 10, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Tuesday

19

July 2022

Present-tense promises: Bible verses for when you’re feeling lonely or lost

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Rather than rely on our feelings, recall God’s promises to mind

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10 Read more on hopereflected.com

Understanding the tenses

Past tense is used to describe things that have already happened. For example, “I was walking outside in the cold yesterday.” Future tense is used describe things that have not yet happened. For example, “Next year, I’m going to attend college.” Present tense is used to describe things that are currently happening, right now, or things that are continuously happening.

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9 Read more on hopereflected.com

Bible verses about God being with us

Perhaps today you’re feeling as though you’re all alone. Loneliness affects each one of us at some point or another, even when we’re surrounded by other people. It’s encouraging to remember that though we may feel alone, or may actually appear to be physically alone, God promises that He is with us right now. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God:” (Isaiah 41:10). Jesus Himself promises “lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20).

As if God’s promises aren’t enough, prayer is a powerful way of reassuring us that we are not alone. God promises that when we pray according to His will, “he heareth us:” (1 John 5:14). God doesn’t just promise to be with us in the future; He states matter of fact that He is with us right now! He promises that He hears us when we pray! We are not alone.

What to do when we’re feeling lost

Besides feeling lonely, in our present circumstances it’s very easy to feel lost, or to feel as though life is on hold until things get better. Jesus tells us in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life:”. He is also the Word, so if we’re not spending time daily in His Word to know His way, it should come as no surprise that we’re feeling lost.

What to do when circumstances leave us feeling uncertain about the future

Not only do our present circumstances sometimes make us feel lost, our circumstances and world events can also leave us feeling uncertain about the future. To this, God says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 1:8, 21:6). Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet. God is not only the first and the last; He’s all the letters in between too (yes, including Delta and Omicron).

“God is not surprised by what’s going on all around us;”

Hope Reflected

The point is, God is not surprised by what’s going on all around us; there is no event to which He responds, “Oh boy, I didn’t know that was going to happen.” When we’re feeling uncertain and fretting about the future, we ought to fix our thoughts on the One who holds the future. When we’re feeling like there’s more to life, and we’re just not satisfied, there’s a good chance we’ve forgotten what Jesus says: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35).

Our spirits will never truly be satisfied until we know Jesus as our Saviour. Like bread is to our physical body, Christ is to our soul; we need Him to truly live.

Originally published as “Present-tense promises” Independent Plus. February 3, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

23

June 2022

What’s in your safety deposit box?

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

What’s in your safety deposit box?

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

My grandmother referred to the heart as the safety deposit box of your life. A safety deposit box is used to store items of utmost importance and value, things that you don’t want to lose or don’t want to be stolen – things that you don’t want to misplace and that you want to keep with you for the long-term.

Safety deposit boxes come with two keys: One stays with the owner, and the master key stays with the bank. The idea behind this is to protect against any unwanted access to your safety deposit box. Also, if you lose the key to your safety deposit box, you can show your ID to the bank and regain your access.

Why all the security for such a seemingly small thing?

As the owner of my heart, I get to control what goes into it through what I see, what I read, what I hear, and the things I think about. As a Christian, God should have the overall master key to my heart to help me guard the contents. Why all the security for such a seemingly small thing?

What we put into our hearts matters. What we put into our hearts determines what comes out of them. Think of our hearts as the fountain from which our morality (or lack thereof) flows. This fountain can only produce fresh water or foul. Jesus told the disciples (Matt. 15:11-19), “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:”

Because by our sinful nature our hearts produce such tempers, we must guard our hearts more carefully than anything else. Our hearts are incredibly impressionable. This is why David, famously known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14), asked the Lord to “Create in me a clean heart, O God;” (Psalm 51:10). By nature, our hearts are not clean. It’s only with the Lord’s help and work in us that we can get the contents of our hearts right.

“Be careful, it’s my heart”

Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn is one of my all-time favourite films. In it, Bing Crosby’s character Jim Hardy sings the song, “Be careful, it’s my heart”. The lyrics go like this: “It’s not my watch you’re holding, it’s my heart. It’s not the note I sent you that you quickly burned. It’s not the book I lent you that you never returned. Remember, it’s my heart.” Our hearts are delicate and fragile, and it’s critical that we keep them with all diligence.

“Our hearts are delicate and fragile,

and it’s critical that we keep them with all diligence.”

Hope Reflected

In 2 Peter 1:5, Peter wrote about adding virtue to our faith by “giving all diligence”. To keep our heart with diligence requires work, and it requires sacrifice. Diligence requires carefulness and consistency; it’s not a one-time thing. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” (Proverbs 23:7). We think about what we see and what we hear, and we must be careful to consider the qualities of the contents we’re putting in our hearts.

Originally published as “What’s in your security deposit box?” Independent Plus. January 27, 2022: 5. Print. Web.