Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Biblical history Archive

Saturday

28

January 2023

Disobedience is our downfall

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"The fall is simply and solely disobedience—doing what you have been told not to do; and it results from pride—from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God." (C.S. Lewis) | Read more about disobedience on hopereflected.com

Recently, Wes and I were reading through 2 Samuel 6 and we came to the part where David and the house of Israel transport the ark of God out of the house of Abinadab to bring it to Jerusalem. What stood out to both of us was how Uzzah was killed when he reached out and tried to steady the ark of God.

“Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.” (2 Samuel 6:6-7).

Wasn’t Uzzah trying to help?

Wasn’t Uzzah trying to do the right thing by steadying the ark of God so that it didn’t fall?

God is perfect and we are not

To the average reader, we may question how God could kill Uzzah for touching the ark of God, when it appeared that Uzzah was just trying to help. There may be portions of Scripture that appear to us to be wrong or outdated, but as many theologians have pointed out, God is perfect, we are not, and it’s not up to us to question His Word.

Digging a little deeper, it turns out that while Uzzah was trying to help, he was actually directly disobeying God’s commands. Had David, Uzzah, and company obeyed God, they never would have been transporting the ark of God by cart in the first place. God instructed only His children – more specifically the sons of Kohath (Num. 4:15) – to carry the ark, according to His specific design of the ark in Exodus 25.

The consequences of disobedience

One might ask then if only one group of people was allowed to carry the ark, and the ark wasn’t to be moved by cart, then how come God didn’t kill the Philistines for transporting the ark in 1 Samuel 4 and 6?

As Christians, one of the indicators of our salvation is that we will act differently than we did before we came to know the Lord. Our salvation is not dependent upon our works; our works are demonstrations of our salvation. We are called to obey God.

Because the Philistines did not know God, they didn’t understand God’s rules. David, Uzzah, and the rest of the children of Israel did know God, and they understood God’s rules, but chose to disobey them and do their own thing. Hence why God allowed for Uzzah to be killed. There are consequences when we directly disobey God’s Word.

“The fall is simply and solely disobedience –
doing what you have been told not to do; and it results from pride –
from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place,
thinking that you are God.”

C.S. Lewis

In A Preface to Paradise Lost, C.S. Lewis wrote that “The fall is simply and solely disobedience – doing what you have been told not to do; and it results from pride – from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God.”

On the outside, Uzzah’s intentions looked good – I certainly questioned why God would kill him – but God could see his heart, that “proud presumption”, as Matthew Henry called it.

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18).

Disobedience was Uzzah’s downfall.

Originally published as “Disobedience is our downfall.” Independent Plus. May 26, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Wednesday

18

January 2023

The cost of compromise

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

“Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan…” (Genesis 13:10)

In the case of Lot, he walked by sight and not by faith. "Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan..." (Genesis 13:10). Read more about compromise on hopereflected.com

How compromise starts

It started with a look. Abram generously offered Lot first dibs on the land, and Lot chose for himself and his family the lush plain of Jordan, “…and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.” (Genesis 13:12). Lot purposefully set up his homestead looking out toward Sodom, the inhabitants of which “were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” (Gen. 13:13).

This is how compromise starts; we see something and on the surface it probably looks good. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that “we walk by faith, not by sight:” however in this case, Lot walked by sight. Lot wasn’t trusting the Lord; he was trusting what he could see and what he thought looked good.

One of the problems with Christians today

We see more of the news and what the world declares to be right and wrong, and suddenly we’re making decisions based not on God’s Word, but on the world around us. Ever wonder why the world is actually fighting about things like “the right” to kill unborn children or trying to “change” biology? We’re more interested in cultural morality than we are in what God says is right and wrong.

At some point, Lot went from looking at Sodom to living right in Sodom, as we read in Genesis 14:12 that Lot gets taken hostage by the four kings, “And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.”

The sin of compromise is a slippery slope

The sin of compromise is a slippery slope; we start by looking at something, and the next thing you know we’re living it. Lot may have been a lukewarm Christian, but because he was lukewarm, he was weak, he compromised, and he was unwilling to stand up for what was right. His entire family suffered as a result and didn’t follow God.

Look around; certainly, there are things happening where we are living that are wrong, but what are we doing about it? We’re often afraid to speak up or stand up for the truth because we do not want to be accused of being intolerant. D.A. Carson, founder of the Gospel Coalition, once said that “People don’t drift toward holiness, they drift toward compromise and call it tolerance, and drift toward disobedience and call it freedom.”

“People don’t drift toward holiness, they drift toward compromise
and call it tolerance, and drift toward disobedience and call it freedom.”

D.A. Carson

Compromise doesn’t lead to anything good

In Genesis 19:1, we read that Lot “sat in the gate of Sodom:”. As I wrote in a previous column, gates in ancient times were places were the kings and civic leaders of a community or a city gathered to work. Lot was a leader in Sodom, probably using “tolerance” and “freedom” as his talking points.

Sin is a progressive thing. Lot started looking, then living, and then leading in Sodom. And what happened next? He lost everything. God literally destroyed Sodom and everything in it, and Lot ended up living in a cave. That’s the cost of compromise. Don’t be deceived; compromise in our lives doesn’t lead to anything good.

Originally published as “The cost of compromise.” Independent Plus. May 19, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

1

December 2022

Advent: A season for the grieving

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

It’s that time of year when Christmas preparations are getting into full swing—families and companies are hosting Christmas parties, friends are planning gift exchanges, and children everywhere are compiling their Christmas wish lists—and for some, this can be a hard season.

The first Advent - Christ's birth - gives us hope, because through it, God highlighted the significance of the hopeless. Read more about advent and a season for the grieving on hopereflected.com

For anyone grieving

For anyone suffering strained familial relationships, to say Christmas can be a challenge would be an understatement. For anyone who is grieving, the celebratory season of Christmas can cause an inconsolable heart to break even more. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When we redirect our attention from the family get-togethers, the food, and the gift exchanges, and we look to understand the true meaning behind Christmas, this season can become what it was originally meant to be: A season of hope.

A brief history of Advent

Christmas is a season which celebrates the birth of Christ, beginning with Advent (which always starts the Sunday closest to November 30, November 27 this year), and ending on Christmas Day. Advent is a key part of fully embracing Christmas. Taken from the Latin word adventus, Advent literally means “coming”. People who celebrate Advent usually explore different themes for the four weeks of December leading up to Christmas, traditionally themes of Hope, Faith, Peace, Love, or Joy.

Hope can be a difficult thing to grasp

Hope can be a very difficult thing to grasp, especially for anyone who is grieving or alone. Christmas, the first advent of Christ, is all about Hope. You cannot have Christmas without Hope. Christ’s birth gives us hope in that it is the fulfillment of several prophecies in Scripture: The virgin birth (prophesied in Isaiah 7:14), the incarnation of Christ (prophesied in Isaiah 9:6), the timing of Christ’s arrival on earth (prophesied in Daniel 9:24), man’s rejection of Christ (Isaiah 53:1-4), Christ’s crucifixion (Psalm 2), and Christ’s resurrection (Psalm 16).

Refusing to give up hope

Christ’s birth gives us Hope because through it, God highlighted the significance of all those who were without hope. Who was instrumental in Christ’s birth? Not Queens and Kings, not the rich and powerful, and certainly nobody famous. The unnoticed, the overlooked, and the under-appreciated, these were the people who played a role in the first advent of Christ. Mary and Joseph and the shepherds were no celebrities. What they were was faithful despite the dark season and refusing to give up hope when it seemed like there was no hope to be found.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.”

C.S. Lewis wrote that “The birth of Christ is the central event in the history of the earth, the very thing the whole story has been about.” Christ’s birth gives us Hope because His coming to earth was for you and for me. We are all familiar with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Christmas is a season for the grieving, for the lonely, for the sad, for the hopeless—Christ’s birth gives us Hope because it serves as a reminder that God gave His Son for you and I! Christ took on all our grief, loneliness, sadness, and hopelessness, so that we might find true Hope in Him.

Originally published as “A season for the grieving.” Independent Plus. December 1, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Monday

14

November 2022

Lessons from the life of Jonah, Part 2

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"The life of Jonah cannot be written without God; take God out of the prophet's history, and there is no history to write. This is equally true of each one of us." (Charles Spurgeon) | Read more at hopereflected.com

We can’t get away with directly disobeying God

We are disillusioned if we think we can get away with directly disobeying God. Jonah learned this the hard way. He went to great lengths to avoid the task that God had laid out for him, and as a result endured unnecessary challenges and hardships. God had to bring Jonah into the depths of the fish’s belly and the deep sea to bring Jonah to repentance.

God is judge and God is just

God may grant power to some for a season, but ultimately, God is judge and God is just. He will only allow the wicked to prosper for so long. When we look at the world around us and how evil seems to be prospering, it is easy to ask “How long shall the wicked triumph?” (Psalm 94:3). Rest assured that we are not the first generation to ask this very question! Look through the Bible and see that this question has been asked almost since the beginning of time.

Our focus shouldn’t be on what the wicked are up to. This is difficult to remember, especially when the way of the wicked seems to dominate the headlines. We need to keep our eyes on the One who is the ultimate Judge. The workers of iniquity “shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb” (Psalm 37:2). Our Lord loves justice (Psalm 37:28), and He will judge the unrighteous (2 Peter 2:9).

Listening to God is always the best option

In the meantime, it’s our responsibility to respond to God’s call. Listening to God is always the best option. When we directly disobey God in an attempt to thwart His plans because He wants us to do something we don’t want to do, it won’t turn out well for us.

God’s call to us

God calls us to fret not because of evildoers. He calls us to not be envious of how well they appear to be doing (Psalm 37:1, 7). We are to trust Him and keep doing good (Psalm 37:3). We are to delight ourselves in the Lord (Psalm 37:4), and commit our way to Him (Psalm 37:5). While the world around us is rushing and working, we are to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7). This does not mean that we sit by and do nothing. Quite the opposite, actually. We cannot wait on God without actively serving Him. And we cannot actively serve Him if we’re busy focusing on what others are up to.

“The life of Jonah cannot be written without God;
take God out of the prophet’s history, and there is no history to write.
This is equally true of each one of us.”

Charles Spurgeon

Jonah fought to flee the presence of God, but in the end he did acknowledge God. Jonah wavered in his faith, but God used circumstances and storms to grow his faith. Spurgeon wrote that “The life of Jonah cannot be written without God; take God out of the prophet’s history, and there is no history to write. This is equally true of each one of us.” No matter how low we sink, or how desperate we are to avoid doing what God has set out for us to do, God remains in control. Whether we make it easier or harder for ourselves is up to us.

Originally published as “Lessons from the life of Jonah, Part 2.” Independent Plus. March 24, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Tuesday

7

June 2022

A glimpse of sunshine

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Even though the outlook appears bleak, the goodness of the Lord can still be seen in the land of the living.

...no times are so wild but that in them are quiet corners, green oases, all the greener for their surroundings, where life glides on in peaceful isolation from the tumult. (Alexander MacLaren) | Read more of A Glimpse of Sunshine on hopereflected.com

“Every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” (Judges 17:6, 21:25). The book of Judges depicts a bleak and black history of Israel, one where man was doing what man wanted, where truth was twisted to suit selfish inclinations, and where God was not forgotten, but purposefully rebelled against. It sounds eerily similar to our present situation.

But God, in His tender mercy and grace, was still very much present among the profanity happening in Israel, just as He is today. Within the book of Judges we see reminders of this, that though man may seem to rule for a season, the Lord is the ultimate judge (11:27). Even though the outlook appears bleak, the goodness of the Lord can still be seen in the land of the living.

There can still be peace within us

Take Ruth, for example. Tucked away within the times of the judges of Israel, Ruth’s history serves as a reminder that though there may be unrest in the world, there can still be peace within us, and there are always glimmers of God’s grace around us. Alexander MacLaren wrote that “no times are so wild but that in them are quiet corners, green oases, all the greener for their surroundings, where life glides on in peaceful isolation from the tumult.”

Although days are dark and times are tumultuous, like Ruth, we can be beacons of light to those around us. Ruth was a Moabitess, the Moabites of which were enemies of Israel and certainly not godly by any stretch of the imagination. And yet we see in history that Ruth is an ancestor of Christ, a prominent member of His lineage. Thank God for His grace! Our past does not determine our future. When we know God, He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Rather than being preoccupied by our past, in Christ we can move forward and face the future with fearlessness.

Stand firm and resolute

Nowhere do we read that Ruth was afraid of what the people of Bethlehem would think of her or say about her. Rather, the Bible tells us of Ruth’s unwavering loyalty. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17). Even in the face of opposition, Ruth stood firm and resolute. Do we stand firm and resolute, even though noise comes at us from every side and current events contradict what is true and right? Is our loyalty to God unwavering?

“Even in the face of opposition, Ruth stood firm and resolute.”

Hope Reflected

Ruth showed a quiet strength, and lived with humility. She worked cheerfully, gleaning in the fields. The big picture didn’t need to be revealed to her in order for her to be diligent and faithful in the little things. God is the Painter and our life is the picture. As Ruth’s testimony is a glimpse of sunshine in an otherwise stormy sky, may others see His light through us in dark times.

Originally published as “A glimpse of sunshine.” Independent Plus. January 21, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Friday

24

April 2020

Noah: An Example in Obedience

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

“Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.” (Genesis 6:22) | Noah: An Example in Obedience | hopereflected.com

One cannot walk with God unless they are walking in obedience

Noah. Abraham. Rahab. Moses. Joshua. David. What is one thing that all of these people have in common? While their lives were all incredibly different, the commonality between them was obedience: They were each obedient to the call of the Lord.    

Look at Noah, for example. When Noah lived, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth,” we read in Genesis 6:5, “and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” We think we’ve got it bad today! The Bible tells us that during Noah’s time, the earth was so filled with evil that the Lord felt bad that he had made man on the earth, and His heart was grieved. The Lord was so grieved that He decided to destroy man from the planet, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Gen. 6:8)

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

Genesis 6:8

Why did Noah find grace in the eyes of the Lord? Well, we read in the next verse that Noah was a just man, blameless, and that He walked with God. One cannot walk with God unless they are walking in obedience, there’s just no other path. We can learn so much from Noah and his walk.

Noah didn’t hesitate

Consider this: Noah’s obedience to the Lord was immediate. When God said to Noah, “Make thee an ark,” (Gen. 6:14), Noah didn’t hesitate and say, “Lord, why do you want me to do that?” or “Are you sure you want me to do that? It’s not even raining.” No, Noah, didn’t hesitate. “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.” (6:22) Noah didn’t question God’s instruction, he didn’t question God’s timing, and he didn’t question his ability to complete the task. American Pastor Steven Furtick says that, “great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience.” While the task at hand for Noah certainly wasn’t simple, it was a step that preceded a great move of God.  

It’s also important to recognize that Noah’s obedience was not influenced by others. While it is important that we are prayerful in our decision-making, and that we heed wise counsel, when we are walking with God as Noah did, our obedience won’t be influenced by anyone who doesn’t have our best interest at heart. D.L. Moody once said that, “There will be no peace in any soul until it is willing to obey the voice of God.” It may seem difficult, especially when others question us, however when we are walking in obedience to God, He grants us peace.  

Noah’s obedience saved his life and the life of his family. They entered the ark before the flood started. We read in Genesis 7:10 that it was seven days after they entered the ark that the flood actually started. Sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t make sense. We may not understand the timing, we may not see any realistic reason in the moment, but that’s the beauty of obeying God. We don’t have to have all the answers, because He always does what is best for us.

You can read more about Biblical obedience here.

Originally published as “Noah: An Example in Obedience.” Independent Plus. February 13, 2020: 6. Print. Web.

Wednesday

18

December 2019

Peace, Be Still (I Saw Three Ships)

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:38-40) | Peace be still | Read more at hopereflected.com

The Bible is filled with rich history that involves ships

I Saw Three Ships is an English Christmas carol with which many of us are familiar. While there’s always been some debate as to how the ships could be headed to Bethlehem (when the closest body of water is the Dead Sea), some people believe that the ships being referenced in the carol were not ships at all, but rather the three camels that the wise men used on their journey to meet Jesus.

The ship’s rudder determines the direction that a ship is going; whichever way the rudder turns, the boat will go in the direction with the least water pressure resistance. The direction we choose is based on our foundational beliefs, and that is why it’s so important that we have a firm foundation.

Peace, Be Still

The Bible is filled with rich history that involves ships, and we can learn many lessons from these accounts. It was from the stern of a ship that Jesus taught us the importance of finding peace and rest in Him. Mark 4 details one of the times that Jesus quieted the sea: “And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:38-40)

It was also from a ship that Jesus provided reassurance and reinforced our faith. When His disciples were caught up in unsettled waters, Jesus walked to them on water. Doubting whether it was really Jesus, Peter wanted to walk to Him on the water to be sure. And Jesus said, “Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matt. 14:29-31)

Jesus used a ship to remind us that He is our provider

We can recall to mind the times that Jesus used a ship as the vessel to remind us that He is our provider, and that He does exceedingly abundantly above and beyond all that we can ask or think. In Luke 5, when Peter first meets our Lord, Jesus instructs him to let down his nets, and the multitude of fish Peter and his crew catch is so large that the net breaks (Luke 5:6). From this point on, Peter becomes a fisher of men. Or what about in John 21, after the resurrection, when Jesus appears to the disciples and tells them to cast their net, and they can’t draw the net in because there are so many fish (John 21:6).

Whatever season you’re sailing through, you will find true peace, rest, and reassurance when you put your faith in the One whom even the wind and the sea obey. He will be the anchor for your soul.

Originally published as “I Saw Three Ships.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. December 6, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

Friday

13

September 2019

We learn great lessons from Biblical history

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"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.