Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

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Sunday

31

December 2017

45 Life Lessons Learned in 2017

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45 Life Lessons Learned in 2017

2017 has been a year of growth. There is so much more that I learned this year than can be compiled in a column. While some of these lessons certainly aren’t new, they are truths that I reflected on or learned from a new perspective in 2017.

Cheers to this year that has passed, and God’s continued blessings ahead in 2018! Can’t wait to share it with you all!

  1. It pays to be prepared. “Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” (Proverbs 3:28) Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
  2. It costs nothing to be kind. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) “Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” (Mark Twain)
  3. When you feel alone, reach out. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) “Look for yourself and you will find loneliness and despair. But look for Christ and you will find Him and everything else.” (C.S. Lewis)
  4. God will love you more in a moment than anyone will in a lifetime. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) If you’re looking for love, the best place to start is a relationship with God.
  5. Jealousy is a bitter cup. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2) When you find yourself feeling jealous, stop looking in and start looking up.
  6. Grow where you’ve been planted. “Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.” (Psalm 96:2) God brings people across each of our paths for a purpose. Share your faith through your actions and not just your words.
  7. Bitterness will destroy you. “Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:17) Like its cousin comparison, bitterness is a thief. “Bitterness and love can’t live together in the same heart. Each day, we must decide which one gets to stay.” (Dave Willis)
  8. Once you say it, you can’t take it back. “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.” (James 1:19) We’ve all learned the hard way that you can’t “un-speak” words. God gave us mouths that close and ears that don’t, so that should tell us something.
  9. Seek wisdom and pursue it. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.” (James 1:5) Charles Spurgeon once said that wisdom is “the right use of knowledge.” Use it to discern what is truly important in this world, and eternity.
  10. Get into God’s Word. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) “Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be.” (A.W. Tozer)
  11. Don’t give up. “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Whatever trial or difficulty you’re going through right now, you are not in it alone; God is with you. We are weak, but He is strong. Don’t give up; give it to God. He will see you through.
  12. God’s grace is immeasurable, and God’s mercy is inexhaustible. “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) Living a life filled with grace and mercy requires a lot of God’s grace and mercy.
  13. Jesus is alive. “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20) God’s gift of salvation is free; all we have to do is put our trust in Him! “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.” (C.S. Lewis)
  14. Renovations aren’t just for houses. “For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) God can perform a renovation on your spirit and make you brand new. We’re all in desperate need of a Saviour, even when on the outside we appear to have it all together.
  15. There is a time for everything. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) If you’re questioning the timing of something in your life, keep in mind that God frequently answers our prayers in one of three ways: With a “yes”, with a “not yet”, or with “I have something better in mind.”
  16. We have a responsibility to stand up for what is right. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) If we don’t stand up, we’re never going to make an impact. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)
  17. Wherever you’re at, God is with you. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismay, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10)
  18. Adversity is an opportunity. “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2)
  19. Only God can restore what is broken and make it into something brand new. “Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20) No matter where life finds you, God uses the remnants. He is able to take the most devastating situation and use it for His glory. All you need to do is look to Him and put your trust in Him.
  20. There are countless blessings when you put your focus on the Lord. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
  21. God understands what you’re going through. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. “ (Psalm 139: 2-3)
  22. Take time to rest. “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.” (Psalm 62:5) As “You can’t truly rest until every area in your life rests in God.” (A.W. Tozer)
  23. In the face of resentment, when you choose God, He renews and restores. “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength…” (Isaiah 40:31)
  24. Meekness isn’t weakness. “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing…” (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
  25. Rather than putting your focus on the furiousness of the storm, put your focus on the One Who controls the storm. “for in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5)
  26. Be humble. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
  27. Christ is our constant companion. “And he said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” (Exodus 33:14) Christ will never turn away anyone who turns to Him.
  28. As part of God’s creation, we are also created to glorify Him with our lives and our voices – and that includes the words that leave our lips. “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23)
  29. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you realize that God is your rock at the bottom. “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
  30. “Don’t shine so that others can see you, shine so that through you, others can see Him.” “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) 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.”
  31. Like ships, we need an anchor. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.” (Hebrews 6:19)
  32. It’s not a coincidence that the word “listen” contains the same letters as the word “silent”. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) The next time you’re feeling uncomfortable or awkward because of silence, use the opportunity to listen.
  33. Following instructions gives life. “He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray.” (Proverbs 10:17)
  34. 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)
  35. Even when you can’t hear God, see God, or feel God, God is still working. “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)
  36. The grateful heart is content. “Be content with what you have.” (Hebrews 13:5)
  37. Waiting on the Lord makes you a more efficient person. “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)
  38. Love others, even when it’s hard. “Love suffers long and is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
  39. God is our source of life, abundance, and security. “He sends the springs into the valleys”. Isaiah 41:18 says that God opens “fountains in the midst of the valleys.” (Psalm 104:10) No matter how low or far down we may feel, God can reach us, especially in our valleys.
  40. God’s faithfulness is always fresh. “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
  41. When you’re part of a solid church, you will be challenged, cherished, and comforted. “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19)
  42. A solid church speaks the truth. “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:17)
  43. In our Christian walk, just like in fishing, the quieter you become, the more you can hear. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  44. God’s economy is different than our economy. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35)
  45. Jesus came to earth for you and I. “For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah 57:15)

Originally published as “Life Lessons Learned in 2017.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. December 28, 2017 and January 4, 2018: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

15

December 2017

Hope Reflected | The Fountain of Life

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"For the Lamb... will lead them to living fountains of waters." (Revelation 7:17) | Read more at hopereflected.com

The Fountain of Life

Easily one of the most recognizable tourist attractions in Rome, the Trevi Fountain is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture. It took thirty years to construct, is one of the oldest sources of water in Rome (the fountain is built at the end of the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct, which was used as early as 19 B.C. as water in the ancient Roman baths), and attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Throughout the Bible, our Lord is referred to as many things, one of the most fascinating of which is the fountain of life. Several times throughout Scripture, a parallel between God and a fountain or spring is drawn. During times of spiritual struggle, discouragement, or deep valleys in our lives, looking to God as our source of water, as our fountain, can provide just the relief, encouragement, and light that we need.

God is our source of life. “…on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.” (Genesis 7:11) In the midst of seasons when we are tired, drained, and wondering where we’ll muster the strength for the day ahead, recall this to mind: God is our source of life. While we don’t know when exactly David wrote Psalm 36, we can be sure he was looking to the Lord as his source of strength: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” (Psalm 36:9). In Christ alone, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). When our strength seems small, or even when it seems like we’ve got the world wrapped around our finger, we need to claim Christ as our source of life.

God is our source of abundance. “A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house and will water the valley of acacias.” (Joel 3:14) All that we are and all that we have comes from the Lord. As our source of abundance, we can rely on God to provide for our every need, even the things we haven’t thought of. It’s not until we learn (and will we really ever learn in this lifetime?!) to rest in Him, rather than our own power, that we will truly understand the blessing of relying on God as our source of abundance. He truly is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think! “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

God is our source of security. “For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17) In a previous column, I wrote about God as our Shepherd. Just as a shepherd protects his sheep, God also protects His children. He’s our source of security (Isaiah 41:10). He is our Great Comforter (Psalm 23:4). He is our fortress (Psalm 91:2). Psalm 46:1 opens with the statement, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

One of the things that I love about the metaphor of God as our fountain is that throughout the Bible, we read how fountains flow down into valleys. Psalm 104:10 says that “He sends the springs into the valleys”. Isaiah 41:18 says that God opens “fountains in the midst of the valleys.” God is our source of life, abundance, and security. No matter how low or far down we may feel, God can reach us, especially in our valleys.

Originally published as “The Fountain of Life.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 2, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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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

Thursday

19

October 2017

Encouragement | 1 Peter 5:10

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God will strengthen and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10 | See more at hopereflected.com

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Not only do we serve the God of all grace as 1 Peter 5:10 describes Him, we are reassured of our Lord’s countless virtues so many times throughout scripture (check out Psalm 18 if you’re looking for an example).

The God of all grace — God is compassionate, full of mercy and truth, long-suffering (Psalm 86:15). He provides stillness and peace (Isaiah 26:3).

He has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus — The Saviour of the world has personally invited us to His eternal glory. I’m not sure that we will ever be able to fully comprehend just how amazing that is!

After you have suffered a while — When you accept Jesus as your Saviour, you’re not guaranteed a life without pain or suffering. In fact, no wore than ever, Christians are persecuted for what they believe. Suffering is a part of this life. Just remember that this life on earth is only the beginning; I think we could all use the reminder to live with eternity in mind.

If you’re looking for encouragement today, consider the above, and consider these encouraging facts from 1 Peter 5:10:

  • God will perfect you (Psalm 138:8)
  • God will establish you (Proverbs 16:3)
  • God will strengthen you (Philippians 4:13)
  • God will settle you (Exodus 14:14)

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10

 

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Tuesday

17

October 2017

Encouragement | Psalm 145:18

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The LORD is near all who call out to Him." Psalm 145:18 | See more at hopereflected.com

“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

Even when you feel like He can’t hear you, you can rest assured that the Lord is near to all those who call upon Him.

Each one of us has days where it feels as though God is far away, or like He can’t hear us. It’s what we do when we feel that way that matters.

Psalm 145:18 says that we should “call upon Him”. Even when it feels as though God can’t hear you or maybe even like He’s not listening, call upon Him and cry out to Him!

King David, who wrote many of our favourite psalms, shared throughout several of the psalms that at times he felt abandoned by God. But notice the pattern? While he may start a psalm lamenting that he feels God can’t hear or has forsaken him, by the end of the psalm he is praising God for His goodness and faithfulness!

When we feel like God can’t hear us, it’s at those times that we really need to cry out to God! He does hear! He is listening!

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Make an effort. Pray. Read your Bible. Cry out to the Lord. The Lord said that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Trust Him. In Matthew 28:20 Jesus said, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

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Monday

16

October 2017

Encouragement | Colossians 3:2

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Set your affection on things above. Colossians 3:2 | Read more at hopereflected.com

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

In the midst of life, where our focus so often is set on the day-to-day grind of life, our careers, our families, our friends, and our own dreams and goals, it can be hard to retrain our thoughts to the heavens and to the One who created us.

We’re told in Colossians 3:2 to set our affection on things above, not on things on earth. Our affection — that feeling of fondness or love — is to be set on things above. So what does that really mean? Does it mean that we’re wrong for pursuing success here on earth? I don’t think so, but I do believe that it means we are to live with eternity in mind.

How often are each one of us guilty of concentrating on the here and now, and what’s best for us in this lifetime? It’s like when Jesus said to Peter, “you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)  I don’t know about you, but quite often in the hustle of the everyday, I’m guilty of not having the things of God in my mind.

While there’s nothing wrong with doing well for ourselves here on earth, ultimately we need to remember that we brought nothing into this world, and we’re not taking anything with us when we leave! As Christians, our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). The empire you build for yourself here on earth won’t matter in light of eternity.

Matthew 6:19-21 puts it like this: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasures is, there your heart will be also.”

We tend to focus where we spend the most time. That’s why it’s so important to get into God’s Word, to memorize scripture, to spend time in prayer everyday. Multiple times a day if we’re able. Ask God to centre your focus on Him. Purposefully recite your favourite verses from the Bible. Actively praise the Lord for His goodness to us — after all, His mercies are new every morning so there’s always something for which to worship Him!

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

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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

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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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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