Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Bible quotes Archive

Tuesday

11

December 2018

Hope Reflected | The Purpose of Pruning

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

The Purpose of Pruning

Pruning requires effort

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday

6

October 2018

Hope Reflected | Thoughts Around Thanksgiving

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

Thoughts around thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday

7

September 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday

2

August 2018

Truths about Pride

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"None is so empty as those who are full of themselves." Benjmain Whichcote | See more at hopereflected.com #quotes #qotd #bestquotes

Truths about Pride

Truths about pride from the book of Proverbs.

Pride. It’s personal. It’s not always public. It’s quite often your own perception of yourself. Pride starts in your heart, pride causes problems, and pride brings you down. Someone once said that “pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes,” which is ironic because pride will tell you that you’re at the top above everybody else.

The Bible is filled with verses about pride – more than 60 by my count – and the book of Proverbs is no exception. More a part of character than a feeling, here are three truths about pride from the book of Proverbs:

  1. Pride starts in the heart. “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honor is humility.” (Proverbs 18:12) We’re told in Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. God hates pride (Proverbs 8:13), and it should come as no surprise that pride starts in the heart. We’re told in Proverbs 16:5 that “everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD”. Pride, in its most pungent form, puts you above everybody else. Sure, pride may not always be overtly obvious, “I’m up here and you’re down there.” Maybe pride for you stems from a situation that you think should be suited to your needs. Perhaps pride for you is placing your own emotions over the facts. Or it could be that pride for you is not being willing to hear the opinions or feelings of another. Pride starts in the heart, and it won’t stop until it destroys you.
  2. Pride causes problems. “By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.” (Proverbs 13:10) The philosopher Benjamin Whichcote once said that, “none are so empty as those who are full of themselves.” Pride has this way of making everything about “me” and driving others away. Why did they say that about me? What does that mean for me? How is this situation going to affect me? Pride causes problems – relationally, professionally, and personally – because it puts the focus on “me”. You may be familiar with the JOY adage, “Jesus first, Others second, Yourself third”. By putting yourself first, you’re putting yourself above the Lord, and above others. And that’s bound to cause problems. As Ezra T. Benson once said, “Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.”
  3. Pride brings you down. “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honour.” (Proverbs 29:23) It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, and in fact, it may not be until eternity that your pride will bring you down. Whatever the case, we’re promised in God’s Word that “when pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2) Pride starts in your heart, pride causes problems, and as a result, pride will bring you down. Proverbs 26:12 tells us that there is more hope for a fool than for a person is who is wise in their own eyes. Pride will ultimately bring you to a point where you think you’re equal – or better – than God. Psalm 10:4 says, “In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” And where there’s no room for God, you’re bound for disaster. Pride will bring you down.

The deceptive thing about pride is that it’s not always obvious. Pride has this way of sneaking up on us – through private thoughts or vain victories – so it’s important that we always remain aware and keep a short account with God. Ultimately, the greatest danger of pride is that it divides us and separates us from God. As C.S. Lewis said, “As long as you are proud, you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

Originally published as “Pride.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. February 22, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

8

November 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | It Costs Nothing to Be Kind

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Always be kind. | See more hopereflected.com

“Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” Proverbs 11:17

It costs nothing to be kind. Even on our bad days, our sad days, and yes, even on our mad days, it costs nothing to extend the gift of kindness to another.

In the New International Version, Proverbs 11:17 says that “those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” In the New King James Version, the verse reads, “the merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

The merciful man.

Kindness and mercy. When you show kindness to another, in a way, you’re showing them mercy. Mercy is defined as not getting something you deserve, and when it’s put like that, we could almost interpret that Proverbs 11:17 is instructing us to show kindness even to those people who don’t deserve it. What a challenge!

“Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” Proverbs 11:17

 

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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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Tuesday

24

October 2017

Encouragement | Zechariah 4:6

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Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6 | See more at hopereflected.com

“Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6

When we give God our weakness, He will give us His strength. Too often we take for granted and don’t recognize the realities of having a relationship with God. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Zerubbabel was reminded not to be discouraged by his weakness, but to be encouraged and to rely and remember the Lord’s strength. That’s exactly what we need to learn to do more in our day to day lives.

How often do we go through the motions of life, relying on our own power and knowledge, rather than resting in the Lord’s strength and wisdom?

Zechariah 4:6 is a challenge and a great reminder to rest in the Lord’s strength and wisdom! We won’t succeed in our own strength, but rather when we truly set our focus on Him!

“Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6

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Monday

11

September 2017

Hope Reflected | Encouragement | Zechariah 10:1

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"Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain." Zechariah 10:1 | See more at hopereflected.com

“Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.” Zechariah 10:1

Here’s what Matthew Henry has to say about this beautiful passage of scripture, Zechariah 10:1.

“Spiritual blessings had been promised under figurative allusions to earthly plenty. Seasonable rain is a great mercy, which we may ask of God when there is most need of it, and we may look for it to come. We must in our prayers ask for mercies in their proper time. The Lord would make bright clouds, and give showers of rain. This may be an exhortation to seek the influences of the Holy Spirit, in faith and by prayer, through which the blessings held forth in the promises are obtained and enjoyed.”

How often do we not receive from the Lord because we don’t take the time in prayer to humbly approach the Lord and ask?

Ask ye of the Lord.

As you head into this week, remember that God is with you. Whenever you’re ready to start a conversation with Him, He’s ready to hear you.

“Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.” Zechariah 10:1

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Tuesday

5

September 2017

Hope Reflected | Encouragement | Romans 15:13

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing. (Romans 15:13) | See more at hopereflected.com

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  (Romans 15:13)

If you’ve ever read through the book of Romans, you’re well aware that throughout it, the apostle Paul delivers a powerful presentation of the Gospel. Through Christ alone can we find eternal salvation; it is His righteousness alone.

The book of Romans also provides encouragement for Christians, as evidenced in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

  • Only God can fill us with all joy and peace in believing (the key is we must believe in Him)
  • As Christians, God will fill us with ALL joy, not just some joy or a little joy, ALL joy
  • We have the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives
  • We can abound in hope because we believe in Christ
  • Only God can fill us with peace, and that peace comes when we believe

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  (Romans 15:13)

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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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