Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Published Work Archive

Friday

17

November 2017

Hope Reflected | Waiting on the Lord

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"Wait on the LORD, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart." Psalm 27:14 | See more at hopereflected.com

Waiting on the Lord

Waiting on the Lord is something that we will spend our whole lives learning. John Piper once said, “God works for those who wait for Him. We do the waiting and the trusting, God does the working and the timing.”

Beyond producing patience, there are a myriad of blessings that come from waiting on the Lord.

Waiting on the Lord strengthens your heart. “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14) Throughout most of my youth and adult life, Psalm 27:14 is a verse that’s been highlighted in my Bible. I remember the night I highlighted it. My heart was broken. For a long time, I kept asking, “Lord, what on earth are you trying to teach me here?!” I kid you not, after asking that question one evening, I came to Psalm 27, and verse 14 stuck out to me like a sore thumb. “He shall strengthen your heart.” To this day, Psalm 27:14 remains one of the verses that I cling to, because God has proven it to be true in my life.

Waiting on the Lord builds trust. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) We may not understand how the Lord is working, but waiting on Him builds trust. We can be confident that He’s got our best interests at heart. Psalm 37 is a great resource on the subject. “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5)

Waiting on the Lord renews your strength. “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) Waiting on the Lord renews your strength. It’s during the times when our “best laid plans” aren’t working out how we thought, and when we’re thrown curve balls that we didn’t see coming that we realize the sovereignty of God. We aren’t in control! And there’s something so relieving and uplifting about giving it all to God. When we surrender to Him, He renews our strength.

Waiting on the Lord sharpens your focus. “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13) Waiting on the Lord sharpens our focus, and it does this by teaching us the blessing of contentment. You know when you’ve got your camera set to manual focus and you’re trying to hone in your subject? Waiting on the Lord sharpens our focus; it helps us centre our minds on where God has us rather than focusing on where we want to be. Are you so pre-occupied with planning your future that you’re not taking time to enjoy your present? Too often we limit ourselves because of our own shortsightedness. Don’t confuse one chapter with the whole book.

Waiting on the Lord improves efficiencies. “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient.” (James 5:7-8) Just like sharpening our focus, waiting on the Lord also improves efficiencies. When our focus is on the Lord, when we’re waiting for Him, we learn to take our time, to slow down, and as a result, we’re more methodical and purposeful, and we work with intention. I like how Charles Stanley uses the illustration of gardening to get the point across. After you plant seeds in your garden, you have to wait for them to grow. You wouldn’t spoil all the work you did in planting your garden by pulling all the seeds out just because you don’t see anything happening immediately. No, you have to wait for the seeds to bring forth fruit!

While we’re waiting, God is working. The irony is that the work God performs within us while we’re waiting on Him is quite often just as – or even more – important than what we’re waiting for. “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” (Lamentations 3:25) God’s “good” is better than your best could ever be and it is worth the wait!

Originally published as “Waiting on the Lord.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 19, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Thursday

2

November 2017

Hope Reflected | The Grateful Heart

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"That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14 The Grateful Heart | See more at hopereflected.com

The Grateful Heart

Like most holidays, Thanksgiving comes and goes in the blink of an eye. In fact, here we are less than a month after Canadian Thanksgiving, and you’re more than likely already thinking about other things. More than a choice, having an attitude of gratitude the whole year through is possible when you have a grateful heart. So what are the characteristics of a grateful heart?

  1. The grateful heart seeks God regardless of circumstances. “In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Take note of this portion of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. He says, “in every thing give thanks.” Not “in some things,” or “in happy things.” In every thing we are to give thanks. Can that ever be a challenge or what?! There are some things and times in which I just don’t want to give thanks! Even in challenging times or difficult seasons, we’re called to give thanks, even if it’s for the little things (because really, the little things are the big things, aren’t they?). Don’t concentrate on the circumstances that will always change; focus on God Who will never change and Who will always be there for you. The grateful heart seeks God regardless of circumstances.
  2. The grateful heart wants to help others. “Do not forget to do good and to share with others.” (Hebrews 13:16) We’re called on several times throughout the Bible to help others. It’s not always going to be convenient, and it’s not always going to be easy. In fact in Hebrews 13:16 “to do good and to share with others” is referred to as a sacrifice. The grateful heart wants to help others. Maybe for some that means lending a helping hand, or for others, it could mean being a listening ear. Whatever the case, we are encouraged in Galatians 6:2 to “carry each other’s burdens.”
  3. The grateful heart is content. “Be content with what you have.” (Hebrews 13:5) The grateful heart remains focused on what it already has rather than looking for fulfillment in other places. I’ve written before about the importance of contentment, and a sure sign of a grateful heart is one that’s focused on all it’s been blessed with. You may have heard the old adage, “the grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greenest where you water it.” This wisdom is true. We brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing with us when we leave (1 Timothy 6:7) so where’s your focus? The grateful heart is content with what it already has.

Above all, the grateful heart realizes and treasures what is truly important. What’s in your heart? Is your heart a home for our Lord and Saviour? Or is your heart focused on building an earthly empire? Your answer will determine your eternity. The only One who can truly satisfy the human heart is the One who made it. There’s a longing in each heart that only Christ can fill (Psalm 90:14).

Originally published as “The Grateful Heart.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 12, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

20

October 2017

Friday

13

October 2017

Hope Reflected | Don’t grow weary in well doing

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"Let us not grow weary while doing good." Galatians 6:9 | See more at hopereflected.com

 

Don’t grow weary in well doing

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9) Sometimes I get weary. Do you ever feel like you just can’t do anything right? That no matter what you do, there’s always going to be someone right there, ready to criticize you and cut you down? I’m right there with you. And you know what? It can be wearying, can’t it? Sometimes I wonder what exactly Paul was going through when he wrote those words in Galatians. It’s not lost on me how even 2,000ish years ago, the struggle was real.

Weariness. It sure has a way of creeping up on you, doesn’t it? When you’re doing the best you can, and you’re coming up against criticisms and chastisements, weariness seems like a natural reaction. I mean, who, doing their best, wants to continue on when they’re only met with adversity?

What the apostle Paul wrote in Galatians however, is true. We aren’t to grow weary while doing good. Even when we think there’s no point, or we’re not being recognized or appreciated how we think we ought to be, we’re still supposed to keep doing good and to not lose heart. If you know anything about the life of the apostle Paul, you know he didn’t have it easy. He was trying his best, and he was beaten, bruised, jailed, and persecuted. The ironic thing is, that Galatians was the first epistle he ever wrote – can you imagine how he was feeling when he got to writing books 12 and 13?!

There are many areas in our lives where we should not grow weary while doing good.

  • Serving others. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24) It’s not always easy to work with others, especially those who have… difficult personalities. A good thing to remember is that there will always be that person who always has to be right, who always wants to be involved, or who always wants to be in control. As hard as it can be, sometimes you’ve just gotta run with it. Accept others. Eat humble pie. I am really speaking to myself, here. When everything in me wants to retaliate, sometimes the best course of action is no action at all. Rather, focus on the Lord and at the task at hand. After all, we’re told in Proverbs 25:21-22, when we work to serve others, even those who are against us, “you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”
  • Working diligently. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not unto men.” (Colossians 3:23) Perhaps you’re working in a factory where you think you’re nothing more than a number. Maybe you’re serving in a position that is less than glamorous and you long to be recognized. Whatever the case may be, remember that no matter your job here on earth, God sees you, and He sees your heart and how you serve. If you’re feeling discouraged, keep in mind that ultimately we’re to work for His glory.

Regardless of where you’re at in your Christian walk, there are many areas in each of our lives where we need to stay strong, keep the faith, and not grow weary while doing good. Whether your weariness is in your personal or professional life, God has a plan. Don’t underestimate how He can use even the most “ordinary” of circumstances and people to do something extraordinary. As the controversial artist Banksy said, “If you get tired, learn to rest and not to quit.” And if you catch yourself getting tired, remember that in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 we’re told that we should, “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” Ultimately, how we live our lives here on earth will affect our eternity. Who and what are you living for? Come unto Jesus, and He will give you rest!

Originally published as “Don’t grow weary in well doing.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 28, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

6

October 2017

Hope Reflected | In the Hard Seasons

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Christ's grace is sufficient. | See more at hopereflected.com

In the Hard Seasons

 

You know how sometimes during that mid-February dullness you find yourself wondering, “How much longer is winter going to last?!” “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us. Sometimes the seasons last for a few weeks, other times months, and in some cases, even years.

“Why?” is a question that’s often asked about different circumstances and world events. Why do we go through hard seasons in life? Why would a loving God allow bad things to happen? The reality is that the answer has less to do with God and more to do with us as human beings. We live in a fallen world, and nothing will be perfect until eternity.

While we don’t always have the answer to the “why” about difficult or hard seasons in life, we do have the answer through God’s Word of what we’re to do when times get hard. We aren’t always going to understand the purpose of why people get sick, or why people are bullies, or why it seems like sometimes we just can’t catch a break. But what we can understand is what we should do when times get hard.

  1. Learn more about Jesus. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29) We’re encouraged many times throughout the Bible that we should seek the Lord in times of trouble. David said in Psalm 61:2 “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Quite often when times are hard and we find our selves in the midst of challenging circumstances, or all the bad things happening at once, we don’t understand. Psalm 119:71-73 encourages those who are suffering, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Your hands made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.” God will give you perfect peace when you seek Him. (Isaiah 26:3)
  2. Don’t be afraid. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10) Sometimes the last thing we want to hear – OK let’s be honest, pretty much always the last thing we want to hear – from other people is “don’t worry about it.” Not only is that annoying, it can also be a downright hurtful statement to say to someone who is suffering. I’m not saying “don’t worry” when you’re going through a hard season (and if you figure out how to not worry, let me know your secret). What I am saying is that when God instructs us or commands us, we’d be wise to take heed. That being said, throughout the Bible there are more than 365 “fear not” references. Our reverence of God alone should alleviate or lessen any other fear we may have. “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” we’re encouraged in John 14:27. And do you know why? Because when you make Christ your focus, He gives you peace, and it’s like nothing else in this world. See also Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Even in the hard seasons, even when you can’t see Him and you don’t know what He’s doing, God is with you.
  3. Trust in the Lord. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Man, can it ever be hard when you have no idea what’s around the corner. But you know what we’re promised in God’s Word? That He’ll direct our paths. Psalm 119:105 puts it like this: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” At the time that Psalm was written, there were no crazy high beams, there was no high-powered LED flashlight. The light in Biblical times would have literally been just enough to see right in front you. Not the whole path, and not what’s at the end of the tunnel. In the hard seasons, trust in the Lord with all your heart. Even when that means crying out to God several times a day! Even when it means you have to take things moment by moment! Trust Him! You trust that your car will get you from point a to point b; you trust that chair is going to hold you when you sit down; so why not trust the Creator of heaven and earth with your life (even the hard seasons)! He will not forsake you! (Psalm 9:10)

Seasons come and go. In the hard seasons, cling to Christ. His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Christ is full of compassion, comfort, and He will carry you through.

Originally published as “In the hard seasons.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 21, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

22

September 2017

Hope Reflected | Heeding Instruction

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Heeding instruction: "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only." (James 1:22) | See more at hopereflected.com

Heeding Instruction

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” (James 1:22-24)

After writing last week’s column about listening, Wes provided me with some interesting insight. He explained how while it is very important to listen, it is also important – depending on the circumstances – to take what we hear and to grow from it; “heeding instruction”.

I was immediately reminded of James 1:22-24, where as Christians we are encouraged to be doers of the word and not just hearers only. What benefit is it if you just hear instruction but you fail to apply it to your life?

While there are many benefits to following instructions or heeding instruction, here are a few practical ways that heeding instructions will directly benefit your life.

  1. Heeding instruction helps us grow and learn. “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.” (Proverbs 19:20) It seems like a no brainer that listening to advice and heeding instructions will help you grow and learn, doesn’t it? But how many of us spend our early years rebelling and learning things the hard way! Eleanor Roosevelt once suggested that we should, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” And it’s true. If you know that a certain decision will inevitably lead to heartache, it would be wise to heed the counsel of the people around you who love and care about your well-being. It will save you time and energy in the long run! Heeding instruction will also give you wisdom for your future, that you can impart to your own children.
  2. Heeding instruction keeps us humble. “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; cause me to understand wherein I have erred.” (Job 6:24) Even in the midst of trials (where he was blameless), Job still maintained a humble and a teachable spirit. I sure could learn from Job! How often are quick to be defensive and defend our position, to be short with others, and not open to change or suggestions! Heeding instruction keeps us humble. You can’t learn from your mistakes if you’re busy denying them. Better to hear instruction and heed wise words than to regret it later in life (see Proverbs 5:11-13).
  3. Heeding instruction gives life. “He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray.” (Proverbs 10:17) Heeding instruction (read: Godly instruction) gives life – joy, enthusiasm, growth, renewal, rest, refreshment, – in all of its forms. When you learn to heed instruction, you’re more apt to walk in the right way. And when you accept Christ as your Saviour and apply the principles of God’s Word to your life, then you will truly realize what it is to have eternal life. We’re told in 2 Timothy that God’s Word is profitable “…for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If you want to truly experience life to the fullest, seek wise counsel and heed instruction.

Proverbs 10:8 tells us that, “The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.” Not only does heeding instruction help us grow and learn, keep us humble, and give life, heeding instruction also helps us grow in wisdom.

Originally published as “Heeding Instruction.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 14, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

15

September 2017

Hope Reflected | Listening

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"Be quick to listen." (James 1:19) | See more at hopereflected.com

Listening

Recently in our devotional time, Wes and I have both been challenged by the concept of being still and learning to listen. Often when we pray, for example, we get so caught up in talking, expressing our feelings, our wishes, our worries, and our desires that we neglect to take the time to actually listen to God. This can translate into our human relationships as well. So often, we get caught up sharing an anecdote with a friend, trying to get our opinion across, or even talking about other people that we neglect – or sometimes even ignore – the opportunity to listen to what others have to say.

Let’s face it: Some people are more inclined to be constantly talking, or blaring the music a little louder, or turning up the volume on the TV. Silence has a way of making people feel uncomfortable. Sometimes we don’t want to listen to our own thoughts.

This makes me wonder why we as humans are often afraid to listen. We’re quick to interrupt others because we want to feel important by inputting our opinions. We’re fast to follow up and reply during conversation because we have a longing to be heard.

While we all want to be heard, we should also consider the blessings that come when we choose to listen.

Listening increases our productivity. “Whoever listens…will dwell secure and will be at ease.” (Proverbs 1:33) You know how you’re supposed to read the instructions the whole way through before you start putting the pieces together? Listening is much like reading the instructions – you need to take the time if you want to do things right. Listen to the whole story before getting to work. Listen to what the other person is saying before you formulate your reply. When you take the time to listen before making a decision, or before starting a project, or before responding in conversation, you will quickly realize that listening can save you a lot of time and help you become a more productive person.

Listening helps us learn. “Incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding.” (Proverbs 2:2) It’s been said of old that when we speak we’re only repeating things we already know, and it’s not until we stop and listen that we actually learn. Listening is the difference between being informed and being opinionated. Before you can understand, you must listen, and that is what will help you learn.

Listening encourages others. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) Not only does listening help us learn, listening helps us pay more attention to others. Listening puts the focus on being interested rather than being interesting. Rather than expressing our own opinions and getting our point across, listening demonstrates that we are interested in others and in hearing what they have to say. You know sometimes you just want to vent after you’ve come through a trying situation or a hard day? Whether I’m talking to God, or to Wes, or having a heated conversation with myself in the shower, there’s something so relieving about letting it all out on a listening ear (without someone trying to solve all your problems). It’s often said that the greatest gift you can give to another is your attention. Listening provides encouragement.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the word “listen” contains the same letters as the word “silent”. The next time you’re feeling uncomfortable or awkward because of silence, use the opportunity to listen. There are great blessings when you learn the skill of listening!

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

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Friday

8

September 2017

Hope Reflected | The Anchor

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Don't focus on the storm; focus on the One who controls the storm! God is our anchor. | See more at hopereflected.com

The Anchor

During one of our trips down South, Wes and I spent a great deal of time on the waterfront, exploring some large watercraft and even an aircraft carrier. Whether a small fishing vessel, a mid-size yacht, or an aircraft carrier, every ship needs an anchor.

Like ships, we also need an anchor as we walk through this life. We need an anchor to keep us from drifting. Often overlooked, an anchor is arguably one of the most important components of the ship, for several reasons.

An anchor provides safety. “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7) When we trust the Lord as our anchor, we’re told several times throughout Scripture that He will keep us safe. Even the hymn writer William C. Martin wrote in his famous hymn, “My Anchor Holds,” that “wildly though the winds may blow, I’ve an anchor safe and sure, that can evermore endure.” There is great peace that comes with security in Christ. When you know Him as your Saviour, only then can you truly say, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep, for thou, God, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

An anchor provides strength. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) You may be in the best physical shape of your life, but true strength is found in your soul. When you trust the Lord as your Saviour, you’ve got strength like no one else. Nothing is impossible when God is your strength. “Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

An anchor provides stability. “Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times.” (Isaiah 33:6) No matter what you’re going through in life, you can count on Christ to remain the same. When you trust the Lord as your Saviour, you’ve got an anchor that will hold you sure, no matter how tough the storms of life may seem. I love how in Psalm 18, David says that God “enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.” (Psalm 18:36) Having Christ as your anchor may not change the circumstances around you, but it does change how you react to those circumstances. Even when you feel like there’s no way you can catch your balance, Christ will sustain you, and He will stabilize you.

When we choose Christ as our anchor, it is then that we can truly sing like the hymn writer, “We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.” Whether the seas of life are calm or stormy, it’s an incredible thought that we can fasten ourselves to the Rock which cannot move. Don’t focus on the storm; focus on the One Who controls the storm! “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.” (Hebrews 6:19)

 

Originally published as “The Anchor.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. August 31, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

1

September 2017

Hope Reflected | The Light

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I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun. C.S. Lewis quote | See more at hopereflected.com

The Light

This past week, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the light. It’s not that the weather’s been particularly rainy, however my heart has just been hurting when I hear the news of unrest both in North America and abroad. Perhaps it’s the constant connectivity of social media that is making everybody suddenly “aware,” or perhaps as a nation we are finally getting to the point where something’s got to give. Either way, now more than ever, I find myself trying to remember that this world is not our forever home, and I find my focus and meditation is leaning more on the promises of God and His light.

Without light, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish much. It’s like a life without Christ; without Him, we can’t really accomplish much. I mean, sure, we may think we can do anything, but earthly glory is only temporary. Light is a fascinating thing.

Light encourages. “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1) If you’re someone who suffers from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), you know what I mean when I say that light encourages. There’s something about being stuck in the dull days of the middle of winter, where clouds are full and sunlight is sparse. When you experience the sunlight in the midst of the dark winter days, it’s almost like a weight lifts off your shoulders. You think more positively, your focus is more clear, and you are encouraged that spring is somewhere around the corner. The same rules apply when you have Christ as your Saviour. He encourages. He gives us strength. “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24) As Christians, we aren’t called to shine our own light, rather we are called to reflect Christ’s light. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Light helps things grow. “All things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” (Ephesians 5:13) If you’re reading this, you’re likely well aware of photosynthesis – the process in which plants use sunlight to make food from carbon dioxide and water. Not only does sunlight help plants grow, it also assists in the production of oxygen as a result. When you have Christ as your Saviour, you don’t just stay the same. There is great growth that comes as a result of having a genuine heart for God. Just as you learn and grow from grade to grade in school, you grow spiritually as you grow closer to God. “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

Light dispels darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) There is a whole lot of darkness in this world. And that’s to be expected. We live in a broken world. As Anne Graham Lotz (The Reverend Billy Graham’s daughter) said when asked about how God could let certain things happen in the world, “for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their first at God and said, ‘God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business, we want you out of our marketplace, and God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life, removing His hand of blessing and protection.’” It’s not just happening in America – it’s happening everywhere. The good news is that God’s light dispels darkness. We just need to put our faith in Him.

You may feel as though you’re walking in the darkness. Perhaps you’re anxious, discouraged, or fearful about the future. There is hope! There is light! As C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christ, like I believe in the sun – not because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else.” “Don’t shine so that others can see you, shine so that through you, others can see Him.”

Originally published as “The Light.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. August 24, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

25

August 2017

Hope Reflected | The Rock

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The LORD is my rock. | See more at hopereflected.com

The Rock

While reading in the Psalms this week, one word really stood out to me in Psalm 92:15. The word is rock. “To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” Throughout the Psalms, God is referred to as a “rock” more than twenty times. This tells me that there is something incredibly significant about the fact that God is our rock.

Being married to a stone mason, and also having several masons on both sides of our family, it didn’t take long for me to understand the value and impact that a well-shaped rock can make.

More than any rock in its earthly form, when I think about God as our rock, I’m not sure it’s possible to fully comprehend the power of this fact. As Christians, it’s so easy to become de-sensitized to our all access pass to the Creator of the entire Universe and the fact that although we are but dust, He cares about each one of us.

Psalm 18:2 says, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” The LORD is my rock. When I think about God being my rock, there are a few illustrations that come to mind.

God is our firm foundation. “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24) Just as you can’t build a house without a firm foundation, you can’t live a Christian life without a firm foundation, either. Knowing God as our rock means that we have a firm foundation on which to build our faith. 1 Timothy 6:19 says that those who know God as their rock are “storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:19) What do you base your life on? Do you measure success by the amount of money you make? Do you count yourself “lucky” if you have a healthy family here on earth? Do you have it all if you have some who loves you? The only true firm foundation is God – when God is your foundation, no matter what your earthly circumstances, you’ve got a rock that will never change. He will always love you, no matter what.

God is our protection. “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3) What are you seeking refuge from in your life? Are you having a hard time with another individual? Are you being bullied at school? Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed with the daily grind. Wherever this life finds you, God can be your protection if you put your trust in Him. Does that mean when you become a Christian that you’re suddenly exempt from any problems in life? No, sorry to disappoint you, you’re actually more likely to encounter hardships and persecution when you live a Christ-filled life. What it does mean is that God is your protection through whatever you’re facing. Just as a rock protects the land from the water when it’s used in a jetty, or solid stones are used to build a fortress, God will protect you from whatever you fear. God will be your “strength and shield.” (Psalm 28: 7)

God is our strength. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Several years ago for my birthday, my friend Jess gifted me a mug inscribed with Philippians 4:13. The mug top sits on my desk to this day as a reminder that regardless of what the day brings, God is my strength. If you’re tired, if you wake up thinking you just can’t go on, call out to God. He will give you the strength you need to proceed. If you’re facing difficult decisions, or if you’re feeling emotionally and/or physically exhausted, God will sustain you in ways that you cannot even fathom (spoken from experience). Isaiah 40:29 says that “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Let’s be honest, some days it’s hard to get out of bed, isn’t it? Try starting the day by conversing with God and asking Him to be your strength. Think on God as your strength. He will not let you down.

Sometimes rocks aren’t pretty, and other times rocks can be beautiful. We aren’t Christians because we’re strong and we think we have it all together; we are Christians because we realize that we are weak and that we need a Saviour. Meditate on God as your rock. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you realize that God is your rock at the bottom. No matter where you’re at, if you put your trust in God, He will be your rock.

Originally published as “The Rock.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. August 17, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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