Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Tuesday

22

March 2022

Not in a hurry

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." (Psalm 37:4) Read more about delighting yourself in the Lord on hopereflected.com

Who are we waiting on?

Most of us hate waiting. It feels like wasted time. There’s an old analogy that while we’re waiting on God, we should do what waiters do: Serve. When we feel like waiting on God’s timing is wasted time, we should ask ourselves: Are we serving Him, or serving our own timing?

Psalm 37:4 instructs us to “Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” God knows and cares about the desires of our hearts – He fully understands what we want to happen. He will fulfill the desires of our hearts when we delight ourselves in Him. To delight ourselves in Him means delving more deeply into His Word, spending more time in conversation with Him, and going after His agenda and not our own.

Wondering why things aren’t going our way? Perhaps we’re not serving Him as we should.

God knows and cares about the desires of our hearts - He fully understands what we want to happen. Read more about waiting on God on hopereflected.com

God uses His timing to protect us

Unlike God, we don’t know everything, and we can’t see into the future. When things aren’t going our way, when it seems as though we’re coming up short, it’s important to remember that God uses His timing to protect us. Resting in His timing can save us from many a heartache and hurt, just ask others who are older and wiser. Their testimonies of God’s faithfulness and His perfect timing are a reminder that truly His ways are the best ways.

David wrote in Psalm 31:15, “My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.” Even though his life was in danger, David didn’t take matters into his own hands, he surrendered his situation to God’s hands. No matter how urgently we want things to happen, when we surrender our situation to Him and make His timing our timing, God will protect us. We may not need protection from a physical enemy, His timing may be meant to save us from a poor financial transaction, or a bad decision with lasting ramifications.

God’s timing requires us to plan ahead

Most times when I’m making dinner, I prepare enough food in advance so we have leftovers for lunch, or something to stick in the freezer for a night when I don’t feel like cooking. We prepare now to save time later.

Although we feel like waiting on the Lord is wasted time, waiting for God’s time inevitably always saves time. “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5). Committing our way to the Lord and trusting in Him requires us to plan ahead. It requires us to surrender our inclination for instant gratification.

“Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him;

and he shall bring it to pass.”

Psalm 37:5

God’s not in a hurry

On what and how we spend our time now has an eternal impact. We waste time when we follow our own timetable. Hitting dead end after dead end? We should confirm whether or not we’ve actually committed our way to Him, because He’s promised that when we acknowledge and trust Him, He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

God’s not in a hurry; we are. It’s only when we rest in His timing that we will have peace.

Originally published as “Not in a hurry.” Independent Plus. October 28, 2021: 5. Print. Web.

Tuesday

1

March 2022

Preparation for Easter: A Primer on Lent

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Encouragement

What is Lent?

Lent represents the number 40 and means 40th day. Lent is taken from the Latin term quadragesima. Read more about Lent on hopereflected.com

I’m glad you asked. Lent is a season in the Christian liturgical calendar that remembers the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert fasting. You can read more about Jesus being tested in the desert in the Gospels: Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 4.

In present day, Lent is the 40 days (not including Sundays) that start Ash Wednesday through to the Saturday before Easter.

During Lent, participants will often fast, giving up specific foods (or alcohol) or activities that they would usually enjoy. You may be familiar with “Fat Tuesday” which is the feast or celebration (a time to indulge) right before Lent starts on Ash Wednesday.

Why is Lent celebrated or practiced?

Lent observes the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, where He was tempted of the devil and He fasted. Read more about Lent on hopereflected.com

Lent is a time of preparation and reflection leading up to Easter. Lent is practiced in an effort for Christians to get their hearts right and follow Christ’s example.

Who should participate?

While it is not limited to Catholics and Christians, usually those who believe in Jesus and follow Him participate in Lent.

During the 40 days (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter, we prepare our hearts by reflecting on Christ's example. Read more about Lent on hopereflected.com

How do you participate?

While there is no official sign up sheet, many churches make arrangements in the weeks leading up to Lent to help people prepare their hearts and minds for the Lent season.

Fasting and reflection help to focus our hearts on the greatest sacrifice, Christ's powerful and selfless gift of salvation, and His ultimate sovereignty. Read more on hopereflected.com

During Lent, people may choose to study specific parts of the Bible, read books or devotionals that help them to reflect on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Questions about Lent? Drop your question in the Comments section below!

Looking for appropriate devotional materials leading up to Easter? Please read Hope Reflected’s Easter Reflections!

Tuesday

8

February 2022

At the helm: God makes things still

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow:" (Mark 4:37-38) Read more of At the Helm on hopereflected.com

Striving, not being still

Although it was night and He had just spent the day preaching, Jesus suggested traveling across the sea with the disciples. A great storm arose, and the ship filled up fast (Mark 4:37). In this storm, Jesus  “was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow:” (Mark 4:38).

The disciples had an initial reaction of panic. “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” they questioned (v. 38). In any storm where we face unknowns, things that are out of our control, our first reaction – unfortunately – is not to be still. Usually we run about, trying to take matters into our own hands and figure things out. We find ourselves striving, not being still.

The first thing we should do

And yet, Scripture says to be still is the first thing that we should do. “Be still, and know that I am God:” (Psalm 46:10). Before verse 10, Psalm 46 reminds us that God is “a very present help in trouble” (v. 1). “Very present,” meaning that He’s right there, He is always with us, He’s always in the boat with us, at the helm, even when we – like the disciples – are panicking and wondering why He’s not panicking.

We're quick to observe Jesus sleeping. We forget that He is in the hinder part of the ship, right in the captain's place. He's always at the helm, even when we think He's not paying attention, or we wonder why He's sleeping. Read more of At the Helm on hopereflected.com

When you pass through the waters

In the prophecy of Isaiah, our Lord said, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” (Isaiah 43:2). He did not say, “If you go through the waters,” or “if you go through the rivers, or “If you walk through the fire,” He said “When”.

As much as we’d like to deny it, storms and troubles are a part of this life, but God is with us. We are created for His glory. When things are not going our way, it’s a reminder that His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). God uses the rivers to make the rocks smooth and He uses the fire to make the metal pliable.

Prayer is how we get His attention. Read more of At the Helm on hopereflected.com

He’s always at the helm

Like the disciples, we’re quick to observe Jesus sleeping, and we forget that He is “in the hinder part of the ship”, right in the captain’s place. He’s always at the helm, even when we think He’s not paying attention, or we wonder why He’s sleeping. How can we get His attention?

The disciples woke Him by talking to Him. In storms and troubles, are we talking to Him first or using prayer as our last resort? When the disciples spoke to Him, Jesus got up, “and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39).

“He maketh the storm a calm,

so that the waves thereof are still.”

Psalm 107:29

It is God that makes things still. “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.” (Psalm 107:29). As Matthew Henry wrote, “A word of comfort to us, that, be the storm of trouble ever so loud, ever so strong, Jesus Christ can lay it with a word’s speaking… He that made the seas, can make them quiet.”

Originally published as “In the hinder part of the ship.” Independent Plus. October 21, 2021: 5. Print. Web.

Read more about how to trust Jesus in the storm here.

Sunday

6

February 2022

More haste, worse speed

Written by , Posted in Uncategorized

"The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but every one that is hasty only to want." (Proverbs 21:5) Read more on hoepreflected.com

Striving for speed won’t make us get there any faster

Driving down the highway, you get stuck behind an extremely slow-moving vehicle. This usually only occurs when you have some place to be and no time to spare. So you get right up on their bumper, inching your way out in to the oncoming lane, looking for a window to pass.

We’ve all been there, and fight it though we may, we all understand that when we approach a slow-moving vehicle, the best way to get around it is by slowing down, staying back, and waiting for a safe space to pass. Keeping a distance between our vehicle and theirs allows us to see what’s approaching in the other direction.

Most of us have also experienced someone riding right on our bumper and blowing by us in a fit of road rage, even though we’re already keeping up with the flow of traffic. The irony is when both vehicles end up at the red traffic light at the same time, or pull into the same parking lot together.

Haste makes us miss out on the details

We don’t get anywhere faster or do the job right when we’re in a rush. As Albert Barnes wrote, “Undue hurry is as fatal to success as undue procrastination.” When we’re hasty, we often end up being further delayed and missing out on the details.

Haste is usually not described in the Bible as a positive thing. Proverbs 19:2 tells us, “Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.” We’re more apt to do things wrong when we rush. In the long run, it actually saves us time when we take the time to ask God for His guidance, look at all the angles, and gather information.

We waste time and learn the hard way when we speak too quickly, hastily jump into something, or form an opinion without all the facts – this is true in the decisions that we make, and in the relationships that we keep. There’s an old saying, “More haste, worse speed”. The more we strive to do things quickly, the slower we often end up getting things done.

What are we thinking about?

In Proverbs 21:5 we read that, “The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” Though none of us would probably describe ourselves as hasty, each of us is guilty of not wanting to wait. Whether for a spouse, a baby, a job, a promotion, or some new thing, we want it all now. We don’t like waiting! Anyone can be hasty; it takes real courage to wait.

Anyone can be hasty;

it takes real courage to wait.

Hope Reflected

“Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait I say on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14).   When we rest in Him, we do things right. We don’t have to fear the future, because the One who holds our future already knows. Before haste, remember, “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Luke 12:7). When we face delay it’s tempting to dismay, but God is always in the details.

Originally published as “More haste, worse speed.” Independent Plus. September 30, 2021: 5. Print. Web.

Read more about haste, waiting, and strength here.

Saturday

5

February 2022

Be clothed in humility

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"...be clothed with humility:" (1 Peter 5:5) We must decide whether we'll be clothed with the outfit of humility or the poorer-fitting, less attractive outfit of pride. Read more on hopereflected.com

Putting on humbleness of mind

Paul wrote his letter to the church at Colossae after hearing that the church was falling into some serious error because they were listening to false teachers. From prison, Paul warned the church about the dangers of false humility (Colossians 2:18-23), and then he provided specific instruction to the church at Colossae to “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;” (Colossians 3:12). Humbleness of mind, or humility as we call it today, is to be one of the characteristics of Christians.

A choice we must make

We often think that humility is something that we’ve got or we don’t, when the reality is that humility is very much a choice. “Put on therefore,” Paul instructed. To put on requires us to do something. It’s an action, a choice that we make. Around the same time that he penned his letter to the church at Colossae, Paul also wrote his letter to the church at Ephesus, where he addressed – you guessed it – the importance of humility. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;” (Ephesians 4:1-2). Walking with all lowliness, or humility in our present-day language, is a choice.

“Walking with all lowliness,

or humility in our present-day language,

is a choice.”

Hope Reflected

Dress for success

Peter put it like this in his first epistle: “be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5). Much like we choose what we’re going to wear when we get up in the morning, we choose to be clothed with humility (or not). We’ve all heard the term “dress for success”. How successful we are in our Christian walk is determined by whether or not we choose to put on humbleness of mind when we get up in the morning. We must decide whether we’ll be clothed with the outfit of humility or the poorer-fitting, less attractive outfit of pride.

We need a shift in focus

How do we choose what to put on, how to walk, and what to wear? It’s all about a shift in focus. We have to shift our gaze from inward and outward, to upward. Chances are that if we’re concerned about humility – or lack thereof – in someone else, it’s actually us that’s lacking in the virtue. “The victorious Christian neither exalts nor downgrades himself.” A.W. Tozer wrote, “His interests have shifted from self to Christ.” That’s how we choose humility; by shifting our interests from self to Christ.

Lest we hesitate at the idea of shifting our interests from self-serving to serving Christ, we should follow Christ’s instructions. He told us to “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 11:29). There can be no greater satisfaction. As Matthew Henry said, “To be humble, and subject to our reconciled God, will bring greater comfort to the soul than the gratification of pride and ambition.”

Originally published as “What to put on, how to walk, and what to wear.” Independent Plus. September 30, 2021: 5. Print. Web.

Wednesday

26

January 2022

Surviving the storm, part 2

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

How many times in the storm do we miss shelter because we don't petition the very One who calms the storm we are stuck in? | Read more about surviving the storm on hopereflected.com

In the storm, how can we remember the presence of God?

Spurgeon said, “The Christian is made strong and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life.” We can only be made strong and firmly rooted when our foundation is sure. After the disciples call out to Christ, “saying, Lord, save us: we perish.” (Matthew 8:25), Jesus questions them, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26). For the Christian, fear and faith cannot coexist. Ultimately, one will overpower the other. Matthew Henry wrote, “How imperfect are the best of saints! Faith and fear take their turns while we are in this world; but ere long, fear will be overcome, and faith will be lost in sight.”

The very One who calms the storm

Jesus then “…arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.” (Matthew 8:26). How many times in the storm do we miss shelter because we don’t petition the very One who calms the storm we are stuck in? “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.” David wrote in Psalm 61:1-4. “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.” When it storms, birds protect their babies from the wind and rain by covering them with their wings. God, in His great care for us, does the same, offering us shelter under the cover of His loving arms. Does our cry come unto Him first, or do we exhaust our own devices and strength before seeking His shelter?

"Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer... For thou hast been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy." (Psalm 61: 1, 3) | Read more about surviving the storm on hopereflected.com

In the midst of the storm, God is still in control

Sometimes this is hard to believe, but it is true. In His timing, He will arise, and He will rebuke the winds and sea that are tossing us about. We need only “Be still” and rest in the knowledge that He is in control (Psalm 46:10). When someone is stuck in the water, or in danger of drowning, the worst thing they can do is to panic. But that’s our human instinct. We fight to keep our head above the waves, we struggle to swim. It seems senseless to try to remain still and breathe deeply even though these are two of the ways that can help us stay afloat. We are instructed throughout the Bible to “Be still,” (Psalm 46:10), to “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him,” (Psalm 37:7). Even in the midst of the storm when it doesn’t make sense, we need to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5).

“But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this,

that even the winds and the sea obey him!”

Matthew 8:27

When we’re tempted to worry, may we marvel instead that the One who controls the winds and the sea cares for us. “But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matthew 8:27). The bigger God is to us, the smaller the storm will seem.

Originally published as “Surviving the storm, part two.” Independent Plus. September 16, 2021: 5. Print. Web.

Read part one of Surviving the storm here.

Monday

24

January 2022

Surviving the storm, part one

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be trouble, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah." (Psalm 46:1-3) | Read more about surviving the storm on hopereflected.com

Storms can make us ask all kinds of questions

“Why would a good God allow this to happen to me?”

“What is the point to this?”

“Where do I go from here?”

“How did I get here?”

“Who would have ever thought this would happen?”

Storms have a way of making us wax existential and ask some serious questions of our Creator.

The disciples had questions too, after they ended up in a great storm whilst traveling with Jesus. "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" (Mark 4:38). Read more of surviving the storm on hopereflected.com

The disciples had questions too

The disciples had questions too after they ended up in a great storm whilst traveling with Jesus.

“Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38).

What a question to ask, especially on the heels of the miracles Jesus had just performed, healing a leper, a centurion’s son, and even Peter’s mother-in-law! One would think that by witnessing Christ’s healing power firsthand that the disciples would have no doubt of His love for them, and yet, they asked, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”

Be prepared for rough waters

We can learn so much from the accounts of Jesus calming the storm in Matthew 8, Mark 4, and Luke 8. When we follow Christ, we ought to be prepared for rough waters. “And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.” (Matthew 8:23).

If we’re following Christ because we think by doing so we’ll be exempt from troubles, think again! Before the disciples followed Him on to the ship, what did Jesus say? “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14).

Following Christ is not for the faint of heart.

Troubled waters need not trouble us, because God is a very present help in any kind of trouble. Read more of surviving the storm on hopereflected.com

Comfort in the storm

What a comfort that God is not worried about the storms that we’re going through. God is not worried about the waves washing on board our ships. “And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.” (Matthew 8:24). God already knows what we are going through.

The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 46:1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.” Troubled waters need not trouble us, because God is a very present help in any kind of trouble.

“Troubled waters need not trouble us, because God is a very present help in any kind of trouble.”

Hope Reflected

Charles Spurgeon famously said, “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages.” In the midst of the storm, are we coming to the only One who can save us?

“And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.” (Matthew 8:25). He hears our petitions; He wants us to come to Him! We should never let the presence of a storm cause us to doubt the very presence of God.

Originally published as “Surviving the storm, part one.” Independent Plus. September 9, 2021: 5. Print. Web.

Tuesday

18

January 2022

Bold as a lion

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"The Bible not only describes the devil as a lion; this mighty animal is used to illustrate Christians as well. "...the righteous are bold as a lion." (Proverbs 28:1) Read more on hopereflected.com

A roaring lion

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8). Anyone who’s watched a documentary about lions understands the picture being described here. A roaring lion is both fierce and hungry, with a powerful roar that can be heard up to 8km away. Lions have a distinctive prowess; they act gracefully and swiftly to take over their prey – even when their prey is running in the opposite direction.

Peter warned believers that the devil is “seeking whom he may devour,” walking and watching for the best opportunity to destroy Christians. If he fails at one attempt, most assuredly he will continue trying until he succeeds.

Lions are not afraid to face each other head on

Fortunately, this is not a one-sided battle. The Bible not only describes the devil as a lion; this mighty animal is used to illustrate Christians as well. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth:” Proverbs 28:1 opens, “but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Bold as a lion not only in the sense of our ability to pursue, but also bold as a lion that is not afraid to face another lion head on. Observation of nature has shown us that lions will fight one another in situations when they are threatened, when their cubs are in danger, and when another lion assaults their territory.

Biblical examples of courageous Christians

Fellow Christians, we are not to turn away in times of adversity, we are not to shrink back and sulk away silently when our beliefs are openly contradicted and wrongfully made out to be backwards; these are the very times that we are trained for. The confrontations that we face courageously every day prepare us for even greater adversaries.

Consider David, who before defeating Goliath bravely killed a lion that threatened his sheep (1 Samuel 17:35). Look at Samson, who before destroying the temple and defeating the Philistines, killed a lion that attacked him (Judges 14:5-6). Famously, Daniel was cast into a den of ravenous lions and demonstrated courageous bravery the whole night through, and then his accusers were cast in and destroyed by the same lions before they reached the bottom of the den (Daniel 6:20-24).

Be prepared to give an answer

Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians that Christians become more confident when they see other Christians boldly “speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1:14). What do our brothers and sisters in Christ see when they look at us? We are exhorted in 2 Timothy 2:15 to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Are we working for God, are we prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in us when someone questions us or contradicts what’s right?

“speak the word without fear.”

Philippians 1:14

We should not be ashamed! Unfortunately, we often avoid giving hard answers because we want to be liked and we want to be comfortable. In doing so, we become cowards, and we teach our children the same. Matthew Henry wrote that, “Sin makes men cowards. Whatever difficulties the righteous meet in the way of duty, they are not daunted.” Christian lions need to stop basking and start being bold.

Originally published as “Bold as a lion.” Independent Plus. September 2, 2021: 5. Print. Web.

Read more about being bold here.

Monday

17

January 2022

Forgiveness: Lord, increase our faith

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Forgiveness is often very difficult and hard. Read more about why on hopereflected.com

Why does forgiveness seem like such a hard option?

When someone wrongs us, our initial response is to set up our favourite defence mechanism. For some, it’s avoidance. For others, it’s revenge. For even more, it’s what I call the slow cooker, where we internalize whatever has happened. We put our hurt feelings in the slow cooker and set it to low, or high, and let it cook, stew, burn, and eventually harden to the sides of the slow cooker until getting that thing clean is near impossible. All of these responses are wrong, but it seems as though forgiveness is just as hard an option.

Why?

Forgiveness is part of God's nature, not ours. Read more on hopereflected.com

Forgiveness is part of God’s nature, not ours

To start, forgiveness is part of God’s nature, and because we’re fallen, sinful creatures, forgiveness is not something that comes naturally to us. Some people are born with the natural ability to sing, while others sound best when they keep their mouths closed. Other people have a natural aptitude to dance, while some people are safest when they stand still.

“For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee,” David prayed in Psalm 86:5. God – without trying – is good and ready to forgive. He doesn’t need time, He doesn’t need to think about it, He is ready to forgive and shower us with mercy when we call on Him.

Forgiveness is an act of humility. Read more about forgiveness on hopereflected.com

Forgiveness is an act of humility

Another reason that forgiveness is so hard for us is that forgiveness is an act of humility. C.S. Lewis wrote, “…if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”

James wrote in his eponymous epistle, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10). Similarly, Peter wrote “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” (1 Peter 5:6). To humble ourselves is first a choice, and also an act of repentance. Each one of us understands how humiliating it can be to go to another and say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, please forgive me”. It is a difficult task to admit that we are wrong and repent.

Like humility, forgiveness is a choice. It is something that we do, and that we are called to do over and over and over again, many, many times (Luke 17:4).

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord,

and he shall lift you up.”

James 4:10
Forgiveness is a method of healing. Read more on hopereflected.com

Forgiveness is a method of healing

Anyone who has been injured, sick, or undergone surgery knows that the road to recovery is not easy. Some days, healing hurts. Initially, forgiveness may hurt as well. Who wants to uncover old wounds or rip off the bandages hiding our hurt? Spurgeon said, “It is nobler to forgive and let the offense pass. To let an injury rankle in your bosom and to meditate revenge is to keep old wounds open and to make new ones.” Wounds must be treated if they are to heal properly.

When Hezekiah prayed for the Lord to pardon those that prepared their hearts to seek God, we read that the Lord healed the people (2 Chronicles 30:20). Forgiveness is no easy task. Like the disciples, we ought to approach it by asking the Lord to increase our faith.

Originally published as “Lord, increase our faith.” Independent Plus. August 19, 2021: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

13

January 2022

When fear is holding you back

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"There is neither in heaven nor earth nor hell anything that we need fear when we are once right with God. Settle the centre, and the circumference is secure." (Charles Spurgeon) | Read "When fear holds you back" on hopereflected.com

Fear makes us do funny things

In John 9, Jesus miraculously restored the sight of a man who was blind from birth. If a member of your family were miraculously healed of a life-long ailment or disability, would you not rejoice? And yet, when questioned by the Pharisees about how their son could now see, the parents of this man said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.” (John 9:20-21). Rather than rejoice and profess the glory of God and the healing power of Christ, they were silent. Rather than share their incredible testimony, they stood still.

Fear can affect when and how we share our faith

We may think we’d react differently, but this response is sadly like many of us. We often allow the fear of others to affect when and how we share our faith. Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” We get trapped when we’re afraid of others. We do or say things we ought not to. The Message paraphrase puts Proverbs 29:25 like this: “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in GOD protects you from that.” When our testimony is tested, have we ever said, “I felt trapped!” “I was caught off-guard!” or “I was afraid of what they would think!” as an answer to why we didn’t speak up? Why do we care so much about the opinion of others, when we read right in scripture that, “whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe”?

We act foolishly when we let fear control us. Abraham is an example of this, when he asked his wife Sarah to lie for him in Genesis 12:12, because he was afraid of what others would do if he told the truth. When we choose fear over faith, the outcome is never good. Thankfully, Abraham checked his behavior and changed his ways, ultimately moving forward in his faith.

God can help us break out of the fear trap

When fear is holding us back, only God can help us break out of the trap. Calling on the name of Christ is the only way to go from fearful to fearless. When his parents fizzled out and the Pharisees questioned him, the man who Jesus healed spoke the truth. “If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.” (John 9:33). As a result, he was excommunicated. But what man meant for evil, God meant for good.

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” (9:35). Jesus personally seeks us out. He finds us. When a child is afraid, he usually calls out for his mother or father to comfort. Will we call on Christ to come to us? Jesus relieves our fears when He finds us. When fear is holding us back, only God can help us move forward.

“There is neither in heaven nor earth nor hell anything that we need fear when we are once right with God. Settle the centre, and the circumference is secure.”

Charles Spurgeon

Originally published as “When fear is holding us back.” Independent Plus. August 12, 2021: 5. Print. Web.