Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Published Work Archive

Tuesday

28

May 2019

Perseverance

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

Share Button

Perseverance is not for the faint of heart

Perseverance: "Run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) | see more at hopereflected.com

Right now in our devotions, Wes and I are reading through the book of Genesis and history of Joseph. Widely remembered for his longsuffering, his forgiving spirit, and his strong faith, Joseph is an excellent example of perseverance.

By this point in the New Year, many people who have made New Year’s resolutions have already given up on them. As humans, we have a tendency to start out strong and enthusiastic towards our goals, only to get distracted by other priorities, or even laziness. We lose sight of – or maybe aren’t even sure of – our reason why we started in the first place.

Joseph isn’t the only figure in the Bible who gives us a great example of perseverance; his father Jacob also provides an excellent framework around what it is to be patient, as does Esther, Ruth, David, Hannah, and many others.

When you’re tempted to give up because you’re not seeing progress, or you just don’t get the point, don’t lose heart! That is precisely the time when you must keep going. God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him (Isaiah 64:4). Perseverance is as much about patience as it is about waiting well. Perseverance requires work, and if you don’t think waiting is work, then you’re likely not doing it right.

From credit cards and food to cell phones and the internet, we want everything now. Living in a society where everything is instant means that learning the value of true perseverance can be difficult.

As Christians living in today’s world, it can be wearying to hear about the injustices happening all around us, but we must persevere. We are called to let our light shine before others (Matthew 5:16), we are called to let His light shine and be the difference. When we know the right thing to do and we don’t do it, that’s called sin (James 4:17). One of the best ways you can help your Christian brothers and sisters to persevere is to pray. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” (Ephesians 6:18). You can also persevere by being courageous (Psalm 27:14). It can be difficult to persevere when you feel like you’re alone, but remember, you are not alone. “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.” (Psalm 37:7). Perseverance is not for the faint of heart; remember, we are to “run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1). “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9). As Oswald Chambers once said, “Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen.”

Originally published as “Perseverance.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. January 31, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

Share Button

Thursday

23

May 2019

You are not alone

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

Share Button

You are not alone in your feelings of loneliness.

You are not alone in your feelings of loneliness. "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD." (Jeremiah 23:23-24) | Hope Reflected

Loneliness is not a feeling that is limited to times when we’re physically alone. While during the winter months isolation and loneliness plague many – especially those with limited mobility – loneliness is something that affects everyone at some point in their life, more than just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.

The key to loneliness is recognizing it for what it is: A feeling. Feelings come and go, and that’s why it’s incredibly important during periods of loneliness to anchor yourself in the truth.

God is omnipresent, meaning He is everywhere, and He is always with you. “Am I a God at hand saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 23:23-24 is just one example about God’s omnipresence. When you’re feeling lonely, it’s always encouraging to remember that wherever you go, God goes. Whatever you’re feeling, God is there. David asked in Psalm 139:7, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I make my bed in hell, behold, you art there, if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”

In addition to God being everywhere, when you’re feeling lonely, remember that you’re not the first person to feel this way, in fact, if we’re all being honest, at some point in time we’ve all felt lonely – even while surrounded by other people! Jesus is an excellent example of this. Isaiah 53 provides a picture of what our Lord experienced during His time on earth. He bore our griefs, and He carried our sorrows, He was wounded for our transgressions and was bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement of our peace was upon Him (Isaiah 53:4-5). It wasn’t just your sin or my sin that Christ carried to the cross; it was everyone’s sin. Christ was oppressed and afflicted, and as a result, today we understand that we aren’t alone! When you know the Lord as your Saviour, you have a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

The Bible is filled with verses on the topic of loneliness (at least 30 by my count). You can be sure that you are not alone in your feelings of loneliness. No matter how lonely you are, Christ is there. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me,” (Psalm 23:4). For thou art with me – the father of the Fatherless, the defender of widows, the one who sets the lonely into families – He is with you! 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.” In seasons of loneliness, look for Him!

Originally published as “You are not alone.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. January 24, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

Share Button

Tuesday

21

May 2019

Consistency

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

Share Button

Developing consistency in your Christian walk is incredibly important.

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8) | It is important to develop consistency in your Christian walk

While it can be hard to be consistent in our Christian walk, it’s always encouraging to remember this: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8). Despite our changing moods and circumstances, our Lord never changes. “For I am the LORD, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6a)

Regardless of where you’re at as a Christian – whether you’ve recently come to know the Lord or you’re a veteran, or even if you’re somewhere in between – developing consistency in your Christian walk is incredibly important.

Consistency, often attributed as the key to success, may not always be easy, and it may not always be convenient, but consistency will make a huge difference in your walk with the Lord.

One way to develop consistency in your Christian walk is by keeping a calendar. Each day you should have an appointment with God. God’s Word – the Bible – is the greatest handbook for this life, and you’ve got to spend time reading and studying it if you want God to work in your life. The world ages, seasons change, and generations pass away, but one thing is for sure: God’s Word never changes. James 4:8 says that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. When we’re consistently taking time each day to get in to God’s Word, we’ll grow closer to Him.

Creating reminders is another effective way to develop consistency with your Christian walk. When you’re feeling discouraged or set back, a little encouragement can go a long way. God loves you. We all to be reminded of this! Write down verses of encouragement, keep a prayer and praise journal – remind yourself of God’s goodness. Even when times are hard, we’re called throughout Scripture to be consistent. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,” (James 1:12). A great way to remain steadfast under trial is to meditate on God’s Word day and night (Psalm1:2).

Consistency in your Christian walk also comes when we choose to follow the right example. “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) Our Lord never changes; He’s always been and He will always be (Heb. 13:8). We seek great leaders to follow because they have characteristics that we wish to emulate: Strength, leadership, skill, wisdom, consistency. Jesus is the ultimate leader (though not by the world’s standards). Humble, meek, gentle – Christ is the picture of consistency. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) No variableness means there is no change. Truly it can be said that, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” (Lamentations 3:22) What better example to follow!

Originally published as “Consistency.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. January 17, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

Share Button

Monday

1

April 2019

Endurance

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

Share Button

Because of God, we can find encouragement in endurance

Often used interchangeably with its synonyms tolerance and patience, endurance is one of those things that we get tired just thinking about. Associated with challenges, hard times, and periods of suffering, endurance is not for the faint of heart.

We weren’t called to enjoy this life; we were called to endure it. Some of you reading this will balk, thinking rather that we are here on earth to enjoy our life. The reality is that you can spend your whole life searching and seeking enjoyment and happiness, but without the Lord you will come up short and end up empty-handed. You know what we are called to enjoy? God. As the Westminster Catechism states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” You can disagree, but thankfully the Christian faith is based on facts that date back far earlier than you or I.

When you become a Christian, your life is probably not going to be easy. People are going to make fun of you, belittle you, laugh at your expense, and depending where you live in the world, persecute you. The good news is that we aren’t the first to endure hardships, and if we’re being honest, ours are “first world problems” compared with what Christians in many other nations have to endure.

So where’s the encouragement in endurance? The Bible is filled with accounts of men and women who lived in faith before us. Abraham, Moses, Noah, Sarah, Isaac, Joseph, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, Mary, Samson, David, – I could go on. By faith they endured (Hebrews 11:27). By faith, they “subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, and out of weakness were made strong (Hebrews 11:33-34).

Beyond our ancestors before us, because of God, we can find encouragement in endurance. Our chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Even when we are at our worst, God’s goodness endures forever. “Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? The goodness of God endureth continually.” (Psalm 52:1)

Even when we doubt, God’s truth endures forever. “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)

Despite our ruthlessness, God’s mercy endures forever. “Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 106:1)

Regardless of our immorality, God’s righteousness endures forever. “His work is honourable and glorious: and His righteousness endureth for ever.” (Psalm 111:3)

Even though we think we’re in charge right now, His dominion endures forever. “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.” (Psalm 145:13)

Originally published as “Endurance.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 29, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

Share Button

Monday

4

March 2019

Don’t take yourself too seriously

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

Share Button

It’s a liberating thing when you can learn to laugh

We often get caught up worrying about life, work, other people, what other people think of us, and ourselves, but consider how much more fulfilling life is when you can learn to not take yourself so seriously. Rather than looking in, start looking out, and learn how to let go.

Don’t take yourself too seriously; learn to let go and to laugh. Nobody is perfect; we are all human, and we are all prone to err. Taking yourself too seriously is a huge indicator of pride. The Bible says that, “when pride comes, then comes shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2) There’s something so freeing about not taking yourself too seriously. It’s a liberating thing when you can learn to laugh and when you learn to accept that it’s not “all about you” and how you’re feeling. People around you will appreciate you all the more for it, and God will bless you for it. “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty; and before honour is humility.” (Proverbs 18:12)

When you take yourself too seriously, you’re trying to take control away from God (and we all know that’s just not possible). Pride puts forth a lot of effort into controlling circumstances, but faith puts trust in the One who controls the universe. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7) As a Christian, not taking yourself too seriously doesn’t mean that you act immaturely or carelessly; it means that you’ve got faith and you’re resting in the Lord’s strength rather than your own.

Not taking yourself too seriously doesn’t mean that you don’t have confidence, quite the contrary; not taking yourself too seriously means that you’re all the more secure in who God has made you. As Christians, we have every reason to be secure in the Lord. We don’t have to take ourselves too seriously because we stand firm in our faith. As it says in 2 Corinthians 9:8, in all things at all times, we have all that we need in God. He is our rock, our refuge, our shield, our strength – our security is in Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

You’ve likely read – or at least heard of – Proverbs 31, which tells of the virtuous woman. One of her virtues is that “she shall rejoice in time to come” (Proverbs 31:25). Some versions of the Bible say that, “she can laugh at the days to come.” As I said above, it’s a liberating thing when you can learn to laugh. We don’t have to take ourselves too seriously because we know who controls the future. “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 29:11) We need not worry about tomorrow, because we know who holds tomorrow.

Don’t take yourself too seriously, and don’t take others too seriously, either. The most important one to take seriously is God.

Originally published as “Don’t take yourself too seriously.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 15, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

Share Button

Friday

8

February 2019

Hope for the Anxious Heart

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

Share Button

In the midst of how you’re feeling, it always helps to remember the facts

While the degree to which may vary, anxiety affects each of us in some shape or form. It can be easy to get caught up in the events of the day, to find your mind wandering and replaying in the middle of the night, or playing out possible scenarios to all kinds of situations that haven’t even happened. Anxiety, fear, and worry happen to us all. In the midst of how you’re feeling, it always helps to remember the facts. There is hope for the anxious heart.

Feeling worried? Remember what Jesus asked the disciples in Luke 12: “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? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?” (Luke 12:25-26) The only thing that worrying accomplishes is wearing you out. Jesus also said that we should, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34). When you’re tempted to worry, take it to the Lord and He will give you peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

Beyond worry, fear is also a reality for many people. When Joshua became Moses’s successor, it was a daunting task. He was commanded to “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) Or consider David, who penned Psalm 34 from the cave of Adullam while fleeing Saul. In the midst of his fears, David said, “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4) “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.” (Isaiah 35:4)

Hope for the anxious heart is never too far away, in fact, God promises us that He is always with us (Isaiah 41:10) and He will never abandon us (Hebrews 13:5-6). “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19) What are God’s comforts? His love is eternal, His promises are never broken, and He is the surety of our salvation. As Thomas Horton said, “The little world within us is, like the great world without full of confusion and strife; but when Jesus enters it, and whispers “Peace be unto you,” there is a calm, yea, a rapture of bliss. Let us turn away from the mournful contemplation of the oppression of man and the present predominance of the wicked, to that sanctuary of pure rest which is found in the God of all comfort.”

Originally published as “Hope for the anxious heart.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 8, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

Share Button

Monday

7

January 2019

Hope Reflected | Do you work out?

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

Share Button

A strong spiritual life requires strength training.

Do you work out? "This is the way, walk ye in it." (Isaiah 30:21) | See more at hopereflected.com

Recently, Wes and I have heard about the daily fitness regimens of several of our friends. While we don’t consider ourselves to be fitness buffs by any stretch of the imagination, Wes and I do enjoy engaging in moderate physical activity.

Even more important than keeping your physical body in shape, we need to keep our spiritual life strong and in shape. People often talk about how important the food is that we feed our bodies, and even more important is the soul food.

Like physical exercise, working out spiritually should be pursued thoughtfully, mindfully, and most importantly, with consistency. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) A strong spiritual life requires strength training.

Lift up your eyes, your praises, and your requests to the Lord. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2) When it comes to weights, lifting is best done with a spotter. When it comes to your spiritual well-being, you’ve got more than just a spotter. Our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), and there is no place we can go without His presence (omnipresent). As the Creator of Heaven and Earth, our Lord should be the first place we go to – not just for help, but with our thanksgiving – for every thing. “In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

More so than the sports themselves, the thing the sticks with me most from the ’92 Summer Olympics in Barcelona is the pictograms that were used for each sport. That summer, javelin and shot put were two of the highlighted sports. That act of casting, launching an object to see how far you can throw it is a great work out. We’re told in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast all our cares upon Christ because He cares for us. The act of casting isn’t just handing something over, or letting it go, no, casting requires us to exert some effort and throw our cares at Christ’s feet. Take off your burdens, and leave them with the Lord.

While it’s not the exercise for everyone, long distance running requires a great amount of endurance, patience, and proper form. The same can be said of our spiritual state. “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Those who are truly seeking after the Lord will confirm that running this race called life requires a great deal of patience. We don’t suddenly just ‘get there’, or achieve spiritual success – it’s a journey. Like long distance running, we need to learn the art of patience. “They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Wes and I enjoy walking. While we’re all running this race through life, we need to remember that our walk with the Lord requires consistency and it is one of the most important parts of staying strong spiritually. There are many Bible verses that reference the importance of walking with the Lord, including Isaiah 30:21, which says, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” We are also commanded in Micah 6:8 to “walk humbly with the Lord.” Walking is a critical component of staying spiritually fit. Lifting, casting, running, and walking are all important activities when it comes to staying strong spiritually. At times it may be scary, and we’re never guaranteed that it will be easy, but remember to stay the course when it comes to staying spiritually fit. Be consistent, be faithful, and the Lord will bless. “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)

Originally published as “Do you work out?” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 1, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

Share Button

Wednesday

12

December 2018

Esther | An Excellent Example

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

Share Button

"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.

Share Button

Tuesday

11

December 2018

Hope Reflected | The Purpose of Pruning

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

Share Button

"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.

Share Button

Friday

7

December 2018

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

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

Share Button

"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.

Share Button