Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Published Work Archive

Wednesday

12

December 2018

Esther | An Excellent Example

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"The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness." Proverbs 21:5 | Esther: An Excellent Example | Read more at hopereflected.com

Esther: An excellent example

We can learn many lessons from the life of Esther

 

The Bible is filled with many amazing examples of men and women who went before us, their testimonies, and the examples and legacies that they have left for generations to learn from and to follow. One such example is Esther, or Hadassah, the maiden who became the queen of Persia.

Esther’s story is unique in that out of all the books in the Bible, not once in the book of Esther is the Lord mentioned. Esther’s story gives reference to the origins of the feast of Purim, and also provides a unique viewpoint and record of an important part of Jewish history. Esther’s story is also an awesome testimony of a woman of influence. We can learn many lessons from the life of Esther that are still practical and relevant for women and men today.

After both her parents died, Esther was raised primarily by her uncle, Mordecai (who many speculate actually wrote the book of Esther that we read in the Bible). Esther was an orphan. Even though her background was not necessarily conducive to her becoming queen, it’s evident that she didn’t let her past didn’t define her. It’s an important reminder for each of us that our past shouldn’t dictate our present, or our future. It’s never too late to start fresh; while we can’t go back, we can move forward. As Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14, “…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” Mordecai said of Esther, “who knows whether you’re come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther lived with purpose.

Another example we can learn from Esther’s life is that she was prayerful. Esther didn’t rush into decisions and she certainly wouldn’t be defined as hasty. Proverbs 21:5 says that “the thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” Esther was diligent in her thoughts. In fact, before one of the biggest decisions of her life, Esther fasted for three days, and she asked everyone close to her to fast as well. When it comes to decision making, is your first inclination to consult others first or to consult God? Esther didn’t make decisions lightly; she made them very prayerfully because she recognized that prayer changes things. As we’re told in James 5:16, “…pray for one another…the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Esther was a woman who was quietly confident, but she also stood up for what she believed in, and was willing to risk her life for it. While she first caught people’s eyes with her beauty, she commanded respect with her wisdom and confidence. Esther is an excellent example of knowing when to speak and when to hold your tongue. She was quick to listen and slow to speak, but when she spoke, she stood her ground. Each of us can learn from this. Meekness doesn’t mean weakness. We’re told in 1 Corinthians 16:13 to “be on guard; stand fast in the faith, be strong.”

Originally published as “Esther: An Excellent Example.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 25, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

11

December 2018

Hope Reflected | The Purpose of Pruning

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"Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." (John 15:2) The Purpose of Pruning | See more at hopereflected.com

The Purpose of Pruning

Pruning requires effort

 

People have varying opinions about fall; F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that “life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” John Burroughs once said, “how beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and colour are their last days.” Whether you look at fall as a new, exciting season, or you look at fall as the time when plants die and go dormant, autumn is a beautiful season that is not without its charms. It’s also a time of year when green thumbs – and wannabe gardeners – prepare their plants for winter. Wes and I usually take our cue from our neighbours when they trim back their hostas.

The type of plant determines the time of year in which you’ll prune – either late winter/early spring, or in the fall – and the purpose of pruning differs depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. This process that we go through with plants reminds me so much of the process that God goes through with us. Jesus said in John 15:1-2, “I AM the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

Pruning encourages plants to thrive. Pruning can help to improve a plant’s health, to promote growth of more flowers or fruit, and also higher quality and larger quantity of blooms. The same can be true in our own lives. When we prune away unhealthy habits or poisonous people, or when God removes certain things from our lives, the results can be incredible. We may not always understand why God prunes the things that He does, but we can be certain that the rewards of being patient during seasons of pruning far outweigh the results of trying to do it our own way. “Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt you to inherit the land.” (Psalm 37:34)

Pruning can also change the way a plant grows. Take the two hydrangea plants in our yard, for instance. This year, Wes is taking on the task to see if he can change the way the plants are growing, by removing any of the branches that are growing inward. One of the purposes of pruning can be to train a plant to grow in a certain direction or in a certain way. Pruning can help promote healthy growth patterns. As in our own lives, God often uses pruning as a way to alter how we’re growing or to change the direction in which we’re growing. God’s plans are bigger than any of our mistakes, and He’ll often use pruning as a method to turn us around. “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

Pruning is an important part of growth. Without pruning, the plants in our garden would enter the spring and summer season still carrying the weight of last year’s now dead growth. Isn’t that just like us? More often than not, we need to let go before we can grow. Someone once said that autumn leaves falling are an excellent reminder of how beautiful it is to let things go. It’s not always easy, but it always best to let go and let God. “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

While the purpose of pruning can vary depending on what you want to accomplish, pruning promotes a better, more well-rounded plant. Pruning requires effort – both working and waiting – and the results are always worth it.

Originally published as “The purpose of pruning.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 18, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

7

December 2018

Do the Opposite | Thoughts on The Overcoming Life by D.L. Moody

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"Let us not grow weary in well doing" (Galatians 6:9) Thoughts on overcoming | See more at hopereflected.com

Do the opposite

To overcome sin, we need to head in the other direction

I’ve recently started reading D.L. Moody’s classic, The Overcoming Life. A guide for Christian living, the book covers several aspects of life in which we must overcome: Spiritual warfare, sin, etc. During the section on “internal foes,” Moody covers the enemy of self. He writes that, “’I’ is the centre of S-I-N. It is the medium through which Satan acts.”

He goes on to explain various internal struggles that each of us face – as relevant when he wrote the book in 1896 as they are today – from appetite and temper to envy and pride. Moody’s advice seems so obvious, and yet while reading, I found myself in the midst of a discovery.

To conquer our internal foes, we must do the opposite. Whatever is juxtaposed to our struggles, that is the thing we should do. When it comes to sin, we need to do the opposite. To overcome sin, we need to head in the other direction.

When we are tempted by pride, we need to be humble. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” Someone once said that when you are wrong, you should admit it, and when you are right, you should be quiet. Maybe you are right. Perhaps someone else is getting the glory. In times when pride is your first instinct – and if we’re being honest, pride is the first instinct for each of us, because we’re human – it takes true character to put yourself in check and take the high road of humility. God will give you grace, guaranteed (James 4:6).

When you find yourself in want, purpose in your heart to give. Proverbs 11:25 says, “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that waters shall be watered also himself.” See also 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, which tell us that “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Greed can quickly overpower giving if we let it. It times when you find yourself in want of more, remember that nothing you have on this earth is truly yours, and you can’t take any of it with you (Job 1:21). As Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” What are you placing emphasis on in your life?

And how about jealousy? Each one of us are guilty of being green with envy. You may be familiar with quote, “Kill them with kindness.” Proverbs 25:21-22 says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap coals of burning fire on his head.” (Proverbs 25:21-22). This is a truth that applies not just to those who treat you adversely, but to those of whom you’re jealous as well. Maybe it’s a co-worker, or perhaps a friend. It could even be someone in your own family. Just remember, you’ll never look good by trying to make someone else look bad. When jealousy strikes, try a dose of kindness instead.

Because we’re human, goodness isn’t an instinct that comes naturally. It’s only when we purpose to be the change that changes really happen. As Moody said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.” Doing good is not always easy, but in due season you’ll reap, as long as you don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Originally published as “Do the opposite.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 11, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

20

November 2018

Hope Reflected | The Gift of Giving

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"The gift of giving is a blessing." | See more at hopereflected.com

The Gift of Giving

3 examples of generosity from which we can learn

Last weekend, Wes and I were waiting in line for the car wash, and when the vehicle in front of us finished, the driver announced, “I got it started for you!” As we pulled ahead, we realized that the driver had paid for our car wash. What an awesome, unexpected blessing!

Later in the week, our neighbours invited us over for tea and cake, to celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary. We were so touched that they wanted to share their special day with us, and that they wanted to give to us.

The gift of giving is a blessing, regardless of the type of giving. Some people give of their time, while others give of their finances, and some give of their talents. Regardless of how you give, giving is a gift.

There are so many examples of the gift of giving that we can learn from in the Bible. Whether Old Testament or New, we can all learn from the examples of generosity in the Bible.

Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. He is a primary example that the gift of giving doesn’t have to be about money. Beyond financial giving, the Good Samaritan saved a life, a life that others went out of their way to avoid. He gave his time, he gave of himself, and he even risked his own reputation to give to another. “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.” (Luke 10:33) Even the act of compassion for someone else is an example of the gift of giving. Compassion! Showing sympathy and a caring heart toward another is one way of giving to someone. We can all be challenged to give the gift of compassion.

We can learn from the example of the poor widow in Mark 12. The poor widow taught us that you don’t have to have a lot in order to give. “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” (Mark 12:44) The widow gave everything she had, literally. She only had two mites, and she gave them. Perhaps you already give regularly to a cause or through tithing at church. We can all learn from the poor widow what true giving really is. Giving a lot isn’t a prerequisite to the gift of giving. Even when you think you don’t have anything worth giving, you do. Give in faith.

And what about Zachhaeus, the money collector! Yes, that’s right. We learn from Zacchaeus that the gift of giving is something that can be learned. The man who was famous for taking money had an incredible turnaround when he came to know Christ. Zacchaeus, who started out as a tax collector, turned around in faith and turned into a giver! “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” (Luke 19:8) Perhaps your track record isn’t representative of the gift of giving. Anyone can change; you just have to purpose in your heart. As C.S. Lewis once said, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

The gift of giving doesn’t have to be overly elaborate. Sometimes the simple and quiet gift of giving has the biggest blessing of all.

Originally published as “The Gift of Giving.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 27, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Saturday

6

October 2018

Hope Reflected | Thoughts Around Thanksgiving

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"Be ye thankful." Colossians 3:15 Thoughts Around Thanksgiving | Read more at hopereflected.com

Thoughts around thanksgiving

It’s not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.

With summer behind us, this doorway to fall during mid-September through October often finds people getting excited about pumpkin spice, Halloween, and wearing heavy knits. As we head in to this Thanksgiving season, I am reminded of what the Bible tells us about thanksgiving, and these are truths that are applicable the whole year through.

So many times throughout the Bible we read about giving thanks, thanksgiving, and being thankful. Colossians 3, talking about Christian characteristics, says that we should, “let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” As children of God, we are called, among other things, to be merciful, kind, humble, meek, patient, forgiving, loving, peaceful, and thankful.

While all of those characteristics stand out to me as areas in which I fail daily, I can’t help but be convicted by the last part of verse 15: “Be ye thankful.” This is instruction that we are to follow in our daily lives, not just one day out of the year, and yet, how often – even in the span of a single day – do I find myself complaining, lamenting, and resenting! As humans, we’ve made it a habit to complain and as a result we’ve become immune to God’s blessings.

The Bible also provides specific guidance around the areas for which we are to give thanks. When you consider Thanksgiving with your family, perhaps you’re accustomed to going around the table and sharing something, or someone, for which you’re thankful. These thoughts are traditionally positive, however note what we read throughout the Scripture about the nature of thanksgiving. “In every thing give thanks,” (1 Thess. 5:18). “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God,” (Phil. 4:6). “Giving thanks always for all things unto God.” (Eph. 5:20). “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” (Col. 4:2). Thanksgiving is not to be reserved just for the good stuff. No, on the contrary, we’re called to be thankful for every thing – that includes the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. As C.S. Lewis said, “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”

Thanksgiving, it should also be remembered, is not just a singular action. Thanksgiving has two components, that of being thankful, and that of giving. As much as thanksgiving is about what we are thankful for, thanksgiving is also about what we give. Consider who is around you, what have you been blessed with, and where can you serve others.

Someone once said that it is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy. As we enter this new season, may we remember that thanksgiving is an acknowledgement and reflection of God’s blessings to us.

Originally published as “Thoughts Around Thanksgiving.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 20, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

21

September 2018

Hope Reflected | Be of good courage

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"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart." Psalm 27:14 | Read more at hopereflected.com

Be of good courage

It’s up to us to make the decision to live a life filled with courage

If you’re familiar with C.S. Lewis’s book, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, then you’re likely familiar with the characters of Aslan and Lucy. In Lewis’s book Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Aslan whispers to Lucy, “Courage, dear heart,” and it is shortly after this that the ship Lucy is sailing on travels from darkness into light. “And all at once everybody realized that there was nothing to be afraid of and never had been,” writes Lewis.

In a recent column, I wrote about the importance of choosing joy, and today I’d like to suggest that courage is also a choice. Courage is a decision that we make in the face of fear, opposition, and uncertainty, and it can change everything.

“Be strong, and of good courage,” are words that, by my count, appear at least 10 times throughout Scripture; these words are written four times in the first chapter of Joshua alone! Time and time again throughout the Bible, we are encouraged and commanded as Christians to be of good courage and to be courageous. To be of good courage and lead by example. To be of good courage and not be afraid or quiet when it seems like the majority of people disagree with you and want to silence you. To be of good courage and to stand firm and to stand up for what is right.

Does that mean that you’re never afraid? No, on the contrary! As Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not the absence of fear.” Does that mean that it’s easy to stand up for what’s right and defend your faith? No, on the contrary! Courage is a choice that as Christians we’re called to make, regardless of the circumstances. Joshua was called to be courageous when it came time to lead the Israelites into a new and unknown land. David reminded himself to be courageous during seasons of persecution. Paul demonstrated courage when he traveled across the world and taught about Jesus and came up against many people who disagreed with him.

Courage. We can take courage in many different areas:

  1. God’s Word and Promises. “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) Referenced several times throughout Deuteronomy and Joshua alone, we can take courage in God’s Word and Promises. God is always with us. God will not fail us. God will not forsake us. Don’t be dismayed. Don’t be discouraged, because God is with you! Don’t believe me? Ask Him. If you truly seek God out, you will find Him. And that’s a fact. We can take courage in God’s Word and in His Promises, because they never change. “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8). Not just for one hundred years. Not just for one thousand years. God’s Word stands forever. Some people may not like it, many people may try to fight it, but we can be strong and of a good courage because the Bible is our firm foundation, and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)!
  2. Other Christian Believers. “And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us… whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.” (Acts 28:15) You know that feeling you get when you realize that someone else shares the same faith, or when you discover that there’s someone else out there who totally gets something you thought only you understood? We can take courage in other Christian believers. Each one of us can take time to “encourage” other Christian believers. Just as thousands of candles can be lighted from a single flame, all it takes is one voice to speak out and to stand up for our faith, and that can inspire others to do the same. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John… they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) As Christians, we aren’t called to be silent. We aren’t called to be pacifists. On the contrary, we are called to be strong and to be courageous, and to stand up and be counted. Maybe that means witnessing to someone who doesn’t know the Lord. Maybe that means getting out and voting, even if you’ve never done it before. Maybe that means being silent and not laughing when someone says something crude or makes fun of another. We can take courage in other Christians, and we can also encourage one another.
  3. Our Faith in the Lord. “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14) Living our Faith can be hard, can’t it? Especially when sometimes it seems like God is silent, or like He can’t hear us, or during times when we think we’ve got everything under control only to be thrown curve ball after curve ball. As Charles Stanley says, “Obey God, and leave the consequences to Him.” Exercising patience and prayerfully waiting on the Lord before making a decision can be one of the hardest things. But the wait is worth it. When you choose courage and exercise your faith, the Lord will bless you. “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24) When we choose courage, God will strengthen our hearts. It may not always be in exactly the way we plan, but part of having Faith means not resting in our own knowledge or following our own leads (Proverbs 3:5-6). “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong,” we’re encouraged in 1 Corinthians 16:13. We can find courage in our Faith.

The greatest place of all to take courage? When you know the Lord as your personal Saviour, you’ve got something that no man, no weapon, no illness, no circumstance can ever take away. The security that comes with God’s gift of eternal salvation should be all the “encouragement” we need to take courage. “Courage,” said C.S. Lewis, “is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” It’s up to us to make the decision to live a life filled with it.

Originally published as “Courage, Dear Heart.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. April 19, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

14

September 2018

Hope Reflected | Choose Joy

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"We have to choose joy, and keep choosing it." (Henri J.M. Nouwen) | Read more at hopereflected.com

Choose Joy

Joy can be found in many places

While many people believe that happiness and joy are one and the same, I’ve often said that happiness is a feeling and joy is a choice. One of my favourite quotes is about joy: “We have to choose joy, and keep choosing it.” (Henri J.M. Nouwen)

The notion to “choose joy” suggests that joy isn’t so much a feeling as it is a choice or a habit that we purposefully develop. While you may not be happy, you can still choose joy. While happiness resides temporarily in your heart and relies solely on your circumstances, joy indwells your spirit and can be yours at any time so long as you make the choice.

C.S. Lewis once said, “no soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek, find. To those who knock, it is opened.” Lewis also said, “I didn’t go to religion to make me ‘happy’.” Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed the path to Easy street. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean that you’re exempt from challenges. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean that you’ll always be “happy”, but it does mean that you’ve got a relationship with the Creator, and you’ve got direct access to the One Whose arm can move the world.

Mentioned more than 165 times throughout the Bible, joy is a fascinating thing. Joy, when we choose it, can arm us and equip us with many blessings. Joy can be found in many places.

  1. In God’s presence. “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11) When was the last time that you sat and just revelled in God’s presence? We often get caught up going through the motions of our morning or evening devotions and telling the Lord what we want from Him through prayer once or twice a day that we miss out on the simple delight that comes when we stop to enjoy His presence. It’s in His presence that we can experience the fullness of joy.
  2. In sorrow. “Make me to hear joy and gladness;” (Psalm 51:8) This verse continues, “…that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” That’s heavy. David (yes, David as in David and Goliath, that David) wrote Psalm 51 at a very low point in his life. He had an affair with a married woman (Bathsheba) whose husband was away at war. And what happened? Bathsheba became pregnant, and to cover his tracks, David ultimately had her husband Uriah killed at war. The prophet Nathan called David out on his sin, he repented, and that’s the backstory to David penning Psalm 51. In the midst of his sorrow, David asked the Lord to make him hear joy and gladness. And the Lord heard him. David’s testimony isn’t the only place we read about finding joy in sorrow or hardship. In James 1, we’re encouraged and reminded to consider it “all joy” when we experience trials, because it is then that our faith produces patience.
  3. In creation. “For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.” (Psalm 92:4) There’s something to be said about the experience of enjoying (to find joy in) the outdoors and God’s creation. Every morning before the sun rises, I can hear the birds singing for joy outside my window. Joy can be found in taking a walk and breathing fresh air, or in planting and tending a garden. There’s a quote about gardening that says, “he who shares the joy in what he’s grown spreads joy abroad and doubles his own.”
  4. In the morning. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) Lamentations 3:22-23 says that, “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Along with the Lord’s mercies, joy comes in the morning. If you’re not a morning person, I can appreciate this may not be what you want to hear, but it’s true. There’s something about the quiet of a new day dawning, an opportunity to start over, and a fresh perspective that makes joy that much easier to find.

Nehemiah 8:10 provides the reassurance that, “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” If you’re truly seeking after joy, God will give you strength. And it is only in God that your joy will be full (John 15:11).

Originally published as “Choose Joy.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. April 12, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

7

September 2018

Hope Reflected | 5 things to remember for whatever you’re going through

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"Commit thy way unto the LORD, trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:5 | 5 things to remember for whatever you're going through | Read more at hopereflected.com

Commit thy way unto the Lord: 5 things to remember for whatever you’re going through

David’s advice in Psalm 37 is wisdom that we should all remember.

David, often referred to as a man after God’s own heart, led nothing short of an adventurous life. Equal parts heartache and heart-warming, the Bible gives a detailed account of David’s life from his humble beginnings as a Shepherd boy to a battle-worn King who conquered many nations.

If you’re familiar with David’s history, you know that he killed a giant named Goliath, he was chosen to be king, he was a gifted musician, he was a poet, he was a bit of a lady’s man, he had his lover’s husband killed, as a result he lost his child, he was Solomon’s father, and he conquered many nations. David lived a colourful life. He went through many things from which we can learn.

David wrote Psalm 37 near the end of his life, so you can be sure that the wisdom he shares in this Psalm come from experience. If you’re anxious or if you need encouragement, here are 5 things to remember for whatever you’re going through:

  1. Fret not. “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.” (Psalm 37:1) Fretting, also known as being anxious, worried, concerned, overly analytical, or upset, is something that’s common to all of us! This notion of “fret not” is so important that David mentions it not just once, not just twice, but three times in Psalm 37. “Fret not thyself because of evildoers”, “fret not thyself because of him who prospers in his way”, “fret not thyself in any wise to do evil”. Notice the similarities? Usually our fretting is related to other people. David advises that we shouldn’t worry about those people who do evil, or those who are prosperous, or be envious or concerned about what other people are doing.
  2. Trust in the Lord. “Trust in the LORD, and do good, so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” (Psalm 37:3) Trusting in the Lord can be very difficult, especially when you only have enough light for where you’re standing and you can’t see the path ahead. Our faith isn’t built on something we can physically see per se. But when you purpose to put your trust in the Lord, He promises that He will direct your path (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  3. Delight yourself in the Lord. “Delight yourself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37: 4) Delight, joy, take pleasure in the Lord. We’re promised in God’s Word that when we make Him our delight, He will give us the desires of our heart. “Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob.” (Isaiah 58:14). When you find your fulfillment in Christ, when you choose to keep your eyes on Him, when you take the time to delve into His Word, and when you make Him the centre of your life, that is delighting in the Lord.
  4. Commit it to God. “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5) How often are each of us guilty of making plans for the future without first seeking the Lord? When you commit your way to God (i.e., praying in advance about big and little decisions and life choices), and when you put your trust in Him, He shall bring it to pass. Does it mean that God will always work things out exactly how you want? No! Sometimes things will not go as you expect. Sometimes you’ll feel like God’s not answering your prayers. And sometimes, when you ask for A, B, or C, God will exceed your expectations and give you the entire alphabet (as Charles Stanley says).
  5. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:7) Rest and patience. So often the two go hand in hand. We are able to rest when we learn the virtue of patience, and we are able to be patient when we resolve to rest. When you choose to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him, you can rest assured that He will act with your best interest in mind. “It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord,” (Lamentations 3:26). You’ve likely heard the quote that it takes 6 months to build a Rolls Royce and only 13 hours to build a Toyota. The difference between “good” and God’s best for your life is patience.

American blues guitarist B.B. King once said that, “the beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” When David wrote Psalm 37, he had lived and learned throughout his often-challenging life. And yet, at the end of it all, David still claimed God as his buckler, his rock, and his power. You can avoid a lot of heartache by taking the advice of those who’ve gone before you, and David’s advice in Psalm 37 is wisdom that we should all remember.

Originally published as “5 things to remember for whatever you’re going through.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. April 5, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Monday

3

September 2018

Hope Reflected | Seek Peace, and Pursue It

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"God can't give us peace apart from Himself because there is no such thing." C.S. Lewis | Seek peace and pursue it | See more at hopereflected.com

Seek Peace, and Pursue It

“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14)

Seek peace, and pursue it. You can read through your Bible time and time again, and one of precious things about God’s Word is that there is always something new there to learn, or a new time to learn something you may have heard hundreds of times over.

The word pursue is a verb, and to pursue something means to actively chase after it, to follow it, or to seek it out. “Seek peace, and pursue it,” we’re told in Psalm 34:14. Peace is something that we are to actively chase after, to follow, and to seek out. Peace, that freedom that we all so long for, is not something that will just show up in our lives; we need to actively seek peace out, to chase peace, to follow peace.

In some ways, it makes sense. There are so many people running down paths of yoga, minimalism, meditation, and “religion,” chasing after some illusive idea of peace. They’re seeking after something. Narrow is the way where true peace is found, however. There’s only one true peace, as C.S. Lewis said, “God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.” If you don’t believe it, you’ve likely never given God a chance. As our Lord said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Seek peace, and pursue it. When we have true peace in God, we’ll also discover that there are other areas where we can pursue peace here on earth.

Pursue peace in your relationships. “Follow peace with all men….” (Hebrews 12:14) How often are we guilty of pretending or harbouring the things that bother us, rather than pursuing peace in our relationships? Sometimes pursuing peace means dealing with the difficult and uncomfortable topics so we can cross that bridge and get to the other side. Acknowledging hurts and offenses is often one of the most difficult topics to raise, but the alternative is a life spent bottling up and burying emotions, and we all know how that turns out. Colossians 3:13 instructs us to, “bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against another.”

Pursue peace in your work. “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace….” (2 Peter 3:14) We’re called to work diligently as unto the Lord, and sometimes the workplace is a place where we neglect to pursue peace. Maybe you always have to be right. Maybe you want to take matters into your own hands and prove that person wrong. Perhaps your co-workers talk about you behind your back. Regardless of your work environment, pursuing peace is just as relevant at work as it is at home. Pursuing peace doesn’t mean that things will always be easy, however it is the right thing to do. Matthew 5:9 says that, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” It could mean holding your tongue. It may mean letting someone else take the glory for your idea. It may mean showing grace even though others don’t treat you kindly. To pursue peace in your work, remember that the Lord knows.

Pursue peace in your spirit. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3) How do you pursue peace in your spirit? Philippians 4:6-7 gives us some great guidance on the topic: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Peace for your spirit is possible when you commit your anxieties, fears, and worries to the Lord. Peace is possible when you take your praises and requests to God. Peace is possible when you remember to give thanks to God.

Pursuing peace. There’s only one way to have true peace, and that’s when you have a relationship with the Lord. 1 Peter 3:10-11 says, “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; let him eschew evil, and do good, let him seek peace, and ensue it.” As C.S. Lewis said, “If you want to get warm, you must stand near the fire; if you want to get wet, you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.”

Originally published as “Seek Peace and Pursue It.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. March 22, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

17

August 2018

Hope Reflected | Listening to God

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

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"Call to me, and I will answer you." (Jeremiah 33:3) Listening to God | See more at hopereflected.com

Listening to God

Listening to God is one of the most important components to being a Christian

If you watch, listen, or read the news, you’ve likely heard about Vice President Pence being mocked for saying that He talks to God and listens for God’s voice. “I will hear what God the LORD will speak,” reads Psalm 85:8. One of the fundamentals of the Christian faith is that we communicate with the Lord, and listen for His leading. While it may not be popular, that doesn’t mean that it’s not right.

Last week, Wes and I were discussing the importance of listening to God. We place so much emphasis on talking to God, but what about the other side of the conversation? Sometimes when God is speaking to us, He’s easy to hear. You make a prayer request, and He answers it, sometimes very obviously. When we slow down, we often hear God in the quiet times – early in the morning or late at night lying in bed – and that’s one reason why so many people turn up the noise and distractions of music, talking, and that bad word “busy”. But what about listening to God in the chaos? Oh, how challenging it can be to hear God when we have so much going on! When the clock is ticking and we’re feeling overwhelmed, we often talk ourselves into believing several myths to avoid listening to God.

Myth #1: I don’t have time. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Some days, you just find yourself running: Laundry, dishes, work, meetings, dinner, and the list goes on. One of the biggest myths about listening to God is that you don’t have time. That’s not true! You do have time. In fact, any time that you do have is a gift from God. Charles Stanley says that “prayer is life’s greatest time saver,” and he couldn’t be more correct. When we take the time to take our problems and our praises to the Lord, He hears us. When we take the time to listen to God, we’ll often be surprised at what we hear. God longs to speak to us, and prayer is a two-way street.

Myth #2: Thanks, Lord, but I’ve got this under control. “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” (Proverbs 19:21) Why would we spend time listening to God when we’ve got it under control! We’re all guilty of thinking we’ve got everything under control or that we’re the orchestrators of our own circumstances. Ultimately, however, we’re told in the Bible that God is One Who is in control. Job 12:10 says that, “In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” God’s thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). The next time you catch yourself thinking you’ve got things under control, take a moment and give it to God.

Myth #3: It won’t make a difference. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) Sometimes we negate the importance of listening to God because we think that listening to God won’t make a difference, or that casting our cares at His feet doesn’t really matter. This is where our faith comes in. So often, when everything’s going our way, we’re less apt to take things to the Lord in prayer, but really that’s when it’s the most important! Keeping a prayer journal and a record of prayer requests, answers to prayer, and praises, is an awesome way to recall to mind and remind ourselves that our time spent listening to God really does make a difference!

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known,” reads Jeremiah 33:3. Listening to God is one of the most important components to being a Christian; do you have a listening ear? As C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Originally published as “Listening to God.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. March 15, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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