Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Christian character Archive

Thursday

29

October 2020

Stirring the pot

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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"And let

My Mum makes the best gravy. Any time someone “helps” her finish making it, she provides the same instructions: Once you’ve brought it to a boil, really stir it up so it doesn’t get lumpy. It always works with her gravy, not so much with mine.

Stirring the pot takes work

The Bible has many references to stirring things up, from both sides of the spectrum. Whether for good or bad, stirring the pot takes work. Where will we focus our efforts?

Proverbs 10:12 says that “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” Just one look at the news, and we can see the stirring up of strife in so many situations, because of hate. As God’s children, we should be looking for ways to show His love in how we live and treat those around us. It starts in our hearts and homes.

“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grevious words stir up anger.”

Proverbs 15:1

We all know that person who makes comments or says things just to get a rise out of others. Proverbs 15:1 says that, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grevious words stir up anger.” When we open our mouths, is it to share a soft answer, or to gush grievous words? “The tongue is a little member and it boasts great things”, James wrote in James 3:5. “Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” We all know the power of our words, because we have all said things that we regret – probably even as recently as today.

Stirring up strife, or appeasing it?

Proverbs 15:18 says that “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.” Are we predisposed to stirring up strife, or appeasing it? There are times when we react in the heat of the moment, but rather than be quick to anger, the Bible tells us that as Christians we should be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” (James 1:19). Though it can be hard, especially in the heat of the moment, those who are slow to anger will stir up peace rather than strife.

In addition to peace, we should be stirred up to generosity. In Exodus 35, the hearts of the people were stirred up to give of their possessions to help build the tabernacle. Are our hearts stirred up to give? There are so many lives that could be impacted by even a small act of generosity. While giving is often associated with financial means, being stirred to generosity could also look like dropping off a meal to a neighbour, sending a note of encouragement, or even sharing a smile and a kind word. Giving does not diminish; it always multiplies.

Stir up the gift of God which is in you

“Consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,”

Hebrews 10:24

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul encouraged Timothy “to stir up the gift of God which is in you,” (1 Timothy 1:6). Sometimes we need to be reinvigorated; this can especially be true for those serving in full-time ministry. It can be exhausting living a life of service. This is why it is so important that we stir one another up to use the gifts that God has placed in us. We should “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24). How are we stirring the pot?

Originally published as “Stirring the pot.” Independent Plus. June 4, 2020: 5. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

1

September 2020

Hot or cold, but not lukewarm

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"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." (1 Corinthians 16:13) | Read more at hopereflected.com - Hot or cold, but not lukewarm

We don’t like lukewarm things, do we?

Whether it’s a cuppa tea, bathwater, or dinner, lukewarm just won’t do. When any of the aforementioned are lukewarm, they lose their appeal and they’re just not as effective.

The same is true of lukewarm Christians. We all know them, and if we’re honest, we’ll admit that at sometime, we’ve been them. Afraid to go against the flow, concerned with political correctness more than we are with Biblical authority, worried that our friends won’t agree with our opinions, too tired to stand up for what’s right, and guilty of thinking that we can’t make a difference anyway.

God is very clear about the results of being lukewarm.

“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth,”

Revelation 3:16

God is very clear about the results of being lukewarm: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth,” (Rev. 3:16). James in his eponymous epistle describes being lukewarm or wishy washy like this: “For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways,” (James 1:6-8). Whether we call it being lukewarm, wishy washy, or double minded, the Bible warns us of the results of being lukewarm.

One of the most important ways to ensure we don’t become lukewarm is by staying in God’s Word.

We can discern the difference between right and wrong, good and evil if we are more immersed in God’s Word than we are in the culture and world around us. That doesn’t mean that we live with our heads under rocks, quite the contrary. We need to be armed and equipped for the real world. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword,” we read in Hebrews 4:12, “piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

We need to put on the full armor of God to avoid becoming lukewarm.

The most powerful piece of equipment we have is God’s Word. Psalm 1 promises that “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” We need to put on the full armor of God to avoid becoming lukewarm.

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong,”

1 Corinthians 16:13

When our foundation is firm, we can stand fast. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong,” Paul encouraged believers in 1 Corinthians 16:13. Jesus Himself said that we should strengthen our brethren (Luke 22:32). We should encourage each other to be “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear,” (1 Peter 3:15).

“Christianity if false is of no importance, and if true of infinite importance,” said C.S. Lewis, “The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” We do not serve a part-time Saviour, and we cannot be part-time Christians.

Originally published as “Hot or cold, but not lukewarm.” Independent Plus. April 23, 2020: 5. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

11

August 2020

Community

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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"Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God." Nehemiah 4:9 | Read more about community at hopereflected.com

Characteristics of a strong community

After giving up his position in the court of the Persian king Artaxerxes, Nehemiah served his people as governor in rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. We read all about the rebuilding of the city in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, which presents us with a wonderful example of how prayer, encouragement, and loyalty build a strong community.

“Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God,”

Nehemiah 4:9

When Nehemiah heard of the desolation of Jerusalem and that the city had been left in ruin, he was distraught, and his first reaction was to pray. “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,” (1:4). His city was destroyed, and only a remnant of the people was left. Throughout the book of Nehemiah, the importance of prayer is highlighted. Nehemiah was fervent in prayer; he sought the Lord first, and encouraged his community to do the same.

When we are going through a crisis and we are wearied by world news, is it our instinct as a community to cry out to God in prayer, or are we more apt to rest in our own abilities first? “Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God,” (4:9). The Lord led Nehemiah to help rebuild the city, and through prayer Nehemiah and his community persevered.

Encouragement is a vital part of community

Just as prayer is a vital part of community, so is encouragement. Nehemiah encouraged his community to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and even when the going got tough and they faced incredible opposition, he continued to encourage his people. “Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” (4:14). When Nehemiah and his community came up against scorn and ridicule, instead of getting discouraged, they encouraged each other to keep going. When they were faced with physical opposition, they came together even stronger. “In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.” (4:20).

Do we rally together with our community, ready to serve with our neighbours and encourage those around us? Like discouragement, encouragement is equally contagious. Which do we spread? Despite the huge task before them, Nehemiah and his community encouraged one another.

Impacting a community for future generations

The book of Nehemiah not only shows us how prayer and encouragement can strengthen a community, but also how loyalty can impact a community for future generations. While some may think that rebuilding the city wall was a task reserved for stonemasons or skilled carpenters, in Nehemiah’s community there was a place for every person. Each member demonstrated their loyalty by coming together to see how they could help. “Next unto him repaired Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, of the goldsmiths. Next unto him also repaired Hananiah the son of one of the apothecaries, and they fortified Jerusalem unto the broad wall.” (3:8). From goldsmiths to perfumers, everyone was committed to getting the job done. Each of us brings a unique gift to our community, and we should be willing to share it with others.

Originally published as “Community.” Independent Plus. March 26, 2020: 6. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

21

May 2019

Consistency

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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Developing consistency in your Christian walk is incredibly important.

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8) | It is important to develop consistency in your Christian walk

While it can be hard to be consistent in our Christian walk, it’s always encouraging to remember this: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8). Despite our changing moods and circumstances, our Lord never changes. “For I am the LORD, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6a)

Regardless of where you’re at as a Christian – whether you’ve recently come to know the Lord or you’re a veteran, or even if you’re somewhere in between – developing consistency in your Christian walk is incredibly important.

Consistency, often attributed as the key to success, may not always be easy, and it may not always be convenient, but consistency will make a huge difference in your walk with the Lord.

One way to develop consistency in your Christian walk is by keeping a calendar. Each day you should have an appointment with God. God’s Word – the Bible – is the greatest handbook for this life, and you’ve got to spend time reading and studying it if you want God to work in your life. The world ages, seasons change, and generations pass away, but one thing is for sure: God’s Word never changes. James 4:8 says that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. When we’re consistently taking time each day to get in to God’s Word, we’ll grow closer to Him.

Creating reminders is another effective way to develop consistency with your Christian walk. When you’re feeling discouraged or set back, a little encouragement can go a long way. God loves you. We all to be reminded of this! Write down verses of encouragement, keep a prayer and praise journal – remind yourself of God’s goodness. Even when times are hard, we’re called throughout Scripture to be consistent. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,” (James 1:12). A great way to remain steadfast under trial is to meditate on God’s Word day and night (Psalm1:2).

Consistency in your Christian walk also comes when we choose to follow the right example. “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) Our Lord never changes; He’s always been and He will always be (Heb. 13:8). We seek great leaders to follow because they have characteristics that we wish to emulate: Strength, leadership, skill, wisdom, consistency. Jesus is the ultimate leader (though not by the world’s standards). Humble, meek, gentle – Christ is the picture of consistency. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) No variableness means there is no change. Truly it can be said that, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” (Lamentations 3:22) What better example to follow!

Originally published as “Consistency.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. January 17, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

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