Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

bible verses Archive

Friday

13

September 2019

We learn great lessons from Biblical history

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"The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever." (Psalm 33:11) | History of the Bible | Read more at hopereflected.com

First and second Kings, found in the Old Testament, record the details of the Kings of Israel and Judah, and it is here that we read about the lives of multiple leaders and what happened when they chose – or chose not to – follow after the Lord. Two examples of Kings who chose not to follow the Lord are Zimri and Ahab. In 1 Kings 16, it’s documented that King Zimri reigned for merely a week, while King Ahab’s reign lasted for 22 years.

Why would the Bible chronicle such extreme examples of evil, back to back? It is in Biblical history that we learn great lessons. 1 Kings 16 is a great reminder that – even when we don’t understand and we can’t see the big picture – God is in control. “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me.” (Jeremiah 27:5). Whether seven days or more than twenty years, God is sovereign and He is in control.

Biblical history reminds us that God’s counsel stands

When you’re worried, anxious, and discouraged, remember this: Feelings come and go. In the ups and downs of your emotions, you can rest in the Lord, who doesn’t change and whose counsel stands (Mal. 3:6, Prov. 19:21). During times of uncertainty, you can take God at His Word. “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations.” (Psalm 33:11)

When you don’t understand what’s happening or why the Lord is allowing a tough trial or a season of sadness, remember this: Our thoughts are finite, and we serve a God who is infinite. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). His hand holds every living soul and the breath of every man (Job 12:10).

When you’re wondering what the purpose is of someone who’s done you wrong, or you feel like everyone’s against you, remember this: Though it makes us uncomfortable to consider, God formed not only the light, but the darkness, too (Isaiah 45:7). Your labours and longing are not in vain, and – in the good times and bad – Christ calls us to be steadfast, unmoveable, and always abounding (1 Corinthians 15:58).

The only way to be at peace is to cling to the One who is in control. The only way to get through all life’s changes is to cling to the One who never changes. The only way to get through the trial is to cling to the One who is Judge over all. The only way to be unmoveable is to cling to the One who controls all movement.

Originally published as “Remember this: It is in the Bible’s rich history that we learn great lessons.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. June 20, 2019: 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

7

February 2018

Wednesday Wisdom | Don’t Confuse Complacency with Contentment

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Wednesday Wisdom: Don't confuse complacency with contentment. | See more at hopereflected.com

Wednesday Wisdom: Don’t confuse complacency with contentment

Complacency is rooted in pride, self, and idleness, while contentment is rooted in gratitude, thanksgiving, and active faith.

Complacency says, “Wow, look at everything I’ve accomplished,” while contentment says, “Thank you for all that you’ve blessed me with.”

Complacency fools you with conceit, while contentment fills you with humility.

Complacency tells you to stay where you are, while contentment encourages you to grow in your faith.

The book of Proverbs explains complacency vs. contentment in several verses:

  • “For the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.” (Proverbs 1:32-33)
  • “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” (Proverbs 10:4)
  • “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” (Proverbs 13:4)

Complacent people tend to be more slothful and sluggish; they’re of the mindset that they don’t have to work hard or strive to be better because they think they’re already the best, that they’ve already “arrived”. Content people are thankful for where they are, but they understand and appreciate the value in working diligently and in continuing to grow.

It’s easy to fall into the rut of complacency, but learning contentment is the only way to grow and move forward.

Don’t confuse complacency with contentment.

 

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Tuesday

30

January 2018

Hope Reflected | The Church

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“Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.” D.L. Moody | See more at hopereflected.com

The Church

Many Hope Reflected readers grew in a home where Sundays were made for going to church. I can remember as a child one Sunday in particular. I was about four years old, was wearing my favourite purple dress, and I was thirsty (think crawling through the Sahara desert and longing for a drop of water thirsty). I was trying to figure out a way to strategically squeeze out from between my parents and get out to the water fountain for a drink. As I was devising my plan, the pastor asked passionately, “Is anybody thirsty?!” and I immediately thought he was directing his question at me. “Yes!” I called out, “I am!” Of course, my outburst got a lot of laughs from the congregation, and eventually I really did get a drink.

More than an obligation or a ritual, there are so many reasons why going to church is important. A key part of our Faith, going to church can help each of us grow in several ways.

Going to church allows us a time for personal inventory and reflection. “Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:40) One thing I love about being part of the Bible Chapel, is that during communion, we’re afforded the opportunity to reflect on what our Lord has done for us. 1 Corinthians 11:28 says, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” Just as much as church is a time for fellowship with other Christian believers, church is also a time for personal inventory and reflection. Through communion, Sunday sermons, Bible studies, and prayer, church provides an excellent opportunity to look at our own lives and look to the Lord. “I considered my ways and turned my feet to your testimonies.” (Psalm 119:59)

Going to church cultivates our character. “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:11) Going to church helps to cultivate character. When you’re being taught truth from a Biblical perspective, and as you learn to discern the difference between right and wrong, your character will grow. Being part of a solid church will help to develop and deepen your relationship with God, and will strengthen your character.

Going to church means being part of a family. “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) Even if your home life isn’t great, you can still be at home in the house of Christ. When you belong to a solid church, you’re part of an even greater family – God’s family. Jesus points out in Matthew 12:48, “Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?” He wasn’t questioning who his mother and his brothers actually were, He was merely pointing out the importance of our relations in a spiritual sense. Matthew Henry said in his commentary, “let us look upon every Christian, in whatever condition of life, as the brother, sister, or mother of the Lord of glory; let us love, respect, and be kind to them, for His sake, and after His example.”

Going to church is about so much more than going through the motions. When you’re part of a solid church, you will be challenged, cherished, comforted, and more. As the evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, “Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.”

Originally published as “The Church.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 16, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

19

January 2018

Hope Reflected | God’s Faithfulness to Us

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His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) God's Faithfulness to us | See more at hopereflected.com

God’s faithfulness to us

Most of the time, we’re more apt to use a product or make a purchase based on someone else’s testimony of how well a product works or how a certain purchase changed their life. While it’s not a product or service, the Bible works in a similar way. After experiencing God’s faithfulness, you’re more apt to share about your experience with others and encourage them to get into God’s Word and give Him a chance. God’s Word is this amazing, incredible guide to life that works! In fact, without the Bible, without God’s promises and principles, we lack order. Look around!

Reading through the Bible, we’re met with so many accounts of God’s faithfulness. What I love about this, is that each account of God’s faithfulness comes to us courtesy of people who lived before us, who give firsthand accounts of how God changed their lives and changed the way they lived.

Even in my own life, I can’t begin to share all the stories of how God – time and time and time again – consistently shows up in my life and provides exceedingly abundantly above all I can ask or think. Even in the past few days! As David said in Psalm 63:3, “Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!”

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) Lamentations 3:22-23 was the basis for the infamous hymn, “Great is Thy faithfulness”. God’s compassions are new every morning and His faithfulness is great – every morning. Each day, we get a fresh start to experience, recognize, and give thanks for God’s faithfulness! Whatever the day brings – big challenges, facing fears, enduring heartache – God will be faithful to you. “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

God’s faithfulness is independent of our faith. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful.” (2 Timothy 2:13) Thankfully, God’s faithfulness does not depend on us! There is nothing that we can do that will alter His faithfulness to us. I’m thankful for that as I so often falter throughout life. His love endures. When we are tired, He is enlivened; when we are weak, He is strong; when we are failing, He is thriving; when we are hating, He is loving. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

God’s faithfulness is everlasting. “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” (Deuteronomy 7:9) Since the beginning of time, God has been demonstrating His faithfulness. He always will! Check out the historical examples of God’s faithfulness in the books of Joshua, 1 Kings, the Psalms, Paul’s epistles, among others. God is faithful!

As we’re told in Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Though it may not always be easy, and though we may have to rest and wait patiently for the Lord to work, the fact is this: He always does. God is faithful, and He will quite often show up in our lives in ways that are far above and beyond anything we could imagine!

Originally published as “God’s faithfulness to us.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 9, 2017: 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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Monday

27

November 2017

Hope Reflected | Loving Others, Even When It’s Hard

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"Be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 | See more at hopereflected.com

Loving Others, Even When It’s Hard

Chances are that at some point in your life, you’ve read the “love” chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. We usually hear 1 Corinthians 13 quoted or recited at weddings, anniversaries, or other happy occasions. But what about loving others, even when it’s hard?

This world is filled with difficult people, and if each of us were honest, we’d all have to admit that sometimes in life we are actually the difficult ones. Loving others even when it’s hard or when they’re being difficult can be extremely trying, can’t it? The good news is that it’s possible, because God first loved us. Because God first loved us, we’re equipped with the capacity to love others.

How do we love others, even when it’s hard? Let’s look at some practical instruction from 1 Corinthians 13.

Love others by being patient. “Love suffers long and is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) In most areas of life, when you have patience, you will have peace. Loving others, even when it’s hard, means guarding your reactions. It means exercising patience towards those who have difficult personalities. When you’re being patient, you’re less likely to speak out of turn; you’re less likely to add fuel to the fire; and you’re more likely to act with integrity and kindness, and as a result better understand where the other person is coming from.

Love others by being humble. “Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Comparison is the thief of joy, and the sooner we learn to water the grass in our own yard rather than seeking “greener” pastures, the better off we’ll be. You may be tempted to “win” the argument, you may really want to have the last word, but part of loving others means being humble and taking the high road – even when it’s hard. And man oh man, can it ever be hard sometimes! Through it all however, we’re called to love by being completely humble.

Love others by being kind. “Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) It costs nothing to be kind. And while our initial reaction may be to speak out of turn and return bitter barb with bitter barb, the Lord will bless you for taking the high road. Even when it’s hard, we can each demonstrate love to others by being kind. Sometimes being kind means taking time or stepping away, and it also means taking time to pray for others. You might think it’s impossible, especially when someone else is being everything but kind to you, and when that’s the case, prayer can have a huge impact. With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37), and when you take the time to pray for others, God has a way of making kindness that much easier.

Love others by wanting what’s best for them. “Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6) When you love others, you want what’s best for them and genuinely have their best interest at heart. Especially when someone has been unkind or hurtful, it can be tempting to rejoice when they run into difficulties or when they’re proved wrong, but just like we’re told in Proverbs 25:21-22, the Lord sees when we give to those who only give us grief and He will use it for His glory.

Love others by bearing with them. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) 1 Corinthians 13:7 is a challenge. Love bears all things – not just good things, not just convenient things – love bears all things. That includes difficulties and it includes hard times. We show our love to others by bearing with them. Proverbs 17:17 says that, “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” We are called to love others, not just in happy times, but in sad times. Not just in easy times, but in adverse times.

Ephesians 4:2 sums up the love described in 1 Corinthians 13 like this: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient bearing with one another in love.” When we’re trying to love others even when it’s hard, remember this: We know true love and we can love because Jesus Christ laid down His life so we might have life (1 John 3:16-18).

Originally published as “Loving others, even when it’s hard.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 26, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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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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Wednesday

4

October 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him

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God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. | See more at hopereflected.com

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides you, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4)

God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

Waiting can be hard, especially when we live in a time where it seems like everything is instant. From drive-thrus and credit cards to cell phones and the internet, we have the ability to get and receive pretty much whatever we want, when we want it, sometimes without giving a whole lot of thought to the consequences.

While waiting can be hard, we can be sure of this: God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him, and when you choose to wait for God, the results are always worth it.

Two of my favourite Bible verses talk about the importance of waiting for the Lord.

  • “Wait on the LORD, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)
  • “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who bring wicked schemes to pass.” (Psalm 37:7)

Waiting on the Lord can mean the difference between good and great for your life. Remember, it takes 6 months to build a Rolls-Royce and 13 hours to build a Toyota. God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him, and the wait is worth it!

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides you, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4)

 

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