Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Christian living Archive

Thursday

5

January 2023

20 life lessons learned in 2022

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

The celebration of Christmas and the excitement of a new year are an ideal time to reflect on the past year and the life lessons we’ve learned. For certain this past year I’ve learned more than my share of life lessons, and here are some of the highlights.

"God allows us to experience the low points in life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way." C.S. Lewis | Read more life lessons learned in 2022 on hopereflected.com
  1. Running is an activity that requires great patience, is never perfected, and always practiced. “…let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
  2. Christians have a responsibility to stand out and to stand up for Biblical truth. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” (Matthew 5:13).
  3. 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. “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).
  4. God is never surprised; there is no event to which He responds, “Oh boy, I didn’t know that was going to happen.” “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 1:8, 21:6)
  5. Service requires sacrifice, and so love is not just service, love is also sacrifice. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10).
  6. Even on days when we can’t see the sun, it’s still shining. There is always light. “One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more. What a dark dungeon would the world be without the sun!” (Matthew Henry).
  7. Anyone can lay up treasures on earth that they can’t keep; it takes real wisdom to lay up eternal treasures that you can’t lose. “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” (Proverbs 23:5).
  8. When we strive to do things on our own and in our own power, we are bound to be anxious and worried. “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?” (Luke 12:24).
  9. To wait, to keep serving the Lord requires great faithfulness and good courage because it is not easy, especially in the face of fighting and turmoil. “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14).
  10. We won’t get far if we try to flee from God. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalm 139:7).
  11. We are disillusioned if we think that we can get away with directly disobeying God. “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (Psalm 37:2).
  12. It is a privilege to have friends who will labour to carry us to Christ and exercise their faith on our behalf. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Mark 2:5).
  13. We are not really living our faith if our lives don’t bear fruit. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
  14. We don’t have to understand all the details when we trust that God is working every detail for His glory. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  15. We can only grow spiritually if we are daily in God’s Word as a way of living, not an occasional activity. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:” (Colossians 2:6).
  16. “Although the Lord may not appear for us in the way we expect, or desire, or suppose, yet He will in some way or other provide for us.” (Charles Spurgeon).
  17. Sin is a slippery slope, and there is always a cost to compromise. “And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” (Genesis 14:12).
  18. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18). “The fall is simply and solely disobedience – doing what you have been told not do; and it results from pride – from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God.” (C.S. Lewis).
  19. We should be more interested in getting understanding than getting our point across. “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.” (Proverbs 29:11).
  20. Vain repetitions are many words with no meaning; persistence in prayer has power because it requires us to have great faith. “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

It was C.S. Lewis who wrote that “Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My god, do you learn.” Lewis also wrote that “God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.” Whether these lessons are learned at a low point or a high point, I hope these life hacks are found to be of value.

Originally published as “20 Life Lessons learned in 2022: Parts 1 and 2.” Independent Plus. December 29, 2022 and January 5, 2023: 5. Print. Web.

Friday

23

December 2022

A season for those who are discouraged and down

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Finding joy at Christmas can be very difficult for some people.

No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened. (C.S. Lewis) | Read more about joy during advent on hopereflected.com

As we move through the final week of Advent, we look at the theme of joy. The first advent of Jesus came during a time when people were discouraged and down. It was a time when people were not joyful. This is one reason the Gospel of Luke’s account of that first Christmas includes a history of John the Baptist and his parents Zacharias and Elisabeth.

Then joy arrived

Zacharias and Elisabeth lived during the “days of Herod the king” (Luke 1:5). A foreign ruler and friend of the Romans, Herod made Judea part of the Roman empire. Things were not going in Israel’s favour. Things were bad, and then joy arrived with the birth of John and then Christ’s first coming. Things got really good. As Matthew Henry wrote, “Israel enslaved, yet then comes the glory of Israel.”

Zacharias and Elisabeth were John’s parents. Elisabeth was barren, and in addition, she and her husband were now “well stricken in years” so she was past the age of bearing children. In Biblical times, part of being a woman included having children, and to not be able to have children was a tremendously difficult burden to bear. (Read 1 Samuel 1 for a better understanding of the grief and depression of being barren).

“joy cometh in the morning.”

David wrote in Psalm 30:5 “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Just as we cannot grow our faith without first facing fear and other unfavourable feelings, so we cannot experience joy without first experiencing grief and other sorrows. How do you even know what joy is unless you’ve first come to know what it most certainly is not?

The angel of the Lord visited Zacharias and foretold of John’s birth. “…thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.” (1:13-14). The angel also visited Mary and shared with her the news that she would carry Christ, and the news that her cousin Elisabeth was pregnant. “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (1:36). After the grief of barrenness, imagine the joy of a child! What a beautiful reminder that in and of ourselves we are fruitless, until God miraculously intervenes!

A strength to grow our faith

Mary hurried to visit Elisabeth, who greeted Mary, “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb… For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” (1:42, 44). The babe, John (very much a living human in the womb), leaped for joy.

“No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.
Those who seek find.
To those who knock it is opened.”

C.S. Lewis

Joy! What a strength to grow Mary’s faith! “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour… For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.” (1:46-47, 49). The first advent of Christ reminds us that God does great things on behalf of those who believe in Him. And to believe in Him is to know true joy. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”

Originally published as “A season for those who are discouraged and down.” Independent Plus. December 22, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

You can read more about the themes of Advent here.

Thursday

15

December 2022

A season for those pursuing peace

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) | Read more about peace during advent on hopereflected.com

Another theme of Advent is peace, and what better time for peace than a season that for some seems to have anything but.

Peace is not something that happens when we are passive; peace is something that happens when we remember our position. We are under the authority of the Prince of Peace, and we have peace when we live out His purpose for us. He is our Provider, and He gives real peace.

Subjects of The Prince of Peace

Throughout history, everyone has been the subject of some kind of ruler, from Kings and Queens to Princes and Princesses, Prime Ministers and Presidents to Governors and Senators. It’s expected that any citizen of a country has their allegiance therewith. At Christmas, we are reminded that just as there are earthly rulers, there is one Creator and Ruler over all. He came to earth so that we might know Him. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6).

Matthew Henry wrote of Jesus that “He is the prince of peace. As a King, he preserves the peace, commands peace, nay, he creates peace, in his kingdom. He is our peace, and it is his peace that both keeps the hearts of his people and rules in them. He is not only a peaceable prince, and his reign peaceable, but he is the author and giver of all good, all that peace which is the present and future bliss of his subjects.”

Pursuing after real peace

So many people become subjects of the commercialization of Christmas, falsely thinking that pursuing after price tags and parties and popular gifts will provide some parallel of peace. What they don’t realize is that God provides peace to those who pursue after Him, not to those who pursue after appearances. The peace of God that we read about in Colossians 3:15 is possible when we know the God of peace.

When we look at all the “perfect” Christmas card photos, decorated homes, and the abundance of gifts and giving that others have going for them, suddenly Christmas can be a time when our own imperfections are highlighted. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When we put our passion into pursuing after The Prince of Peace, rather than into making our own Christmas “perfect”, that’s when we will find true peace. The prophet Isaiah wrote that God “wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3).

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee.”

Isaiah 26:3

Peace, no matter what is happening

Contrary to what the world would have you think, Christmas isn’t about buying the most expensive gifts, or putting together the prettiest highlight reel, or even having the most beautiful table setting. Christmas is about focusing our hearts and thoughts on that first Advent of Christ, and having peace because—no matter what is happening in the world around us—He’s coming again.

Originally published as “A season for those pursuing peace.” Independent Plus. December 15, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Monday

14

November 2022

Lessons from the life of Jonah, Part 2

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"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.

Monday

7

November 2022

Lessons from the life of Jonah, Part 1

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"We behold professed Christians wrapping themselves up in their security, and calmly looking on upon the labours of others, wishing them no doubt all success, but not even lifting a finger to do any part of the work themselves." (Charles Spurgeon) | Read more on hopereflected.com

We won’t get far if we flee from God.

Jonah knew this, and yet he still tried to avoid the task that God had laid out for him. “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD…” (Jonah 1:3). We can run from God, but we can’t hide. Despite knowing this, how come so many of us try to avoid Him? Sometimes God allows us to be put in uncomfortable positions where we have to stand up for inconvenient truths, and we don’t like that. After all, who wants to risk discomfort by speaking up when they could just say nothing instead?

“We can run from God, but we can’t hide.
Despite knowing this, how come so many of us try to avoid him?

Hope Reflected

David asked in Psalm 139, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (v. 7). The answer is that there is nowhere we could ever go that will escape the presence of God. The wording used in Jonah 1:3, “from the presence of the LORD,” is the same wording used in Genesis 4:16 when Cain went out “from the presence of the LORD”. As Cain willingly forsook God, Jonah did likewise. Even though we try to abandon God, He will never abandon us.

God loves us so much that He will move heaven and earth to get our attention and draw us to Him.

After Jonah tried to get away from God, God used a storm to get his attention. “But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest…” (Jonah 1:4). The sad part is that in the midst of the storm, Jonah wasn’t afraid; he was asleep. The other men on the ship woke him and said, “What meanest thou, O sleeper?” (1:6). They were more concerned about their welfare than Jonah was. God has a purpose for each one of us, to effect both our own lives as well as the lives of those around us. Spurgeon wrote that “we behold professed Christians wrapping themselves up in their own security, and calmly looking on upon the labors of others, wishing them no doubt all success, but not even lifting a finger to do any part of the work themselves.” No doubt, God is using our present circumstances and storms to alert our attention, and we must choose whether or not we awaken to action.

God hears us when we pray with a pure and repentant heart.

For Jonah, it took being tossed into the depths of the sea and being swallowed up by a great fish that God had prepared (Jonah 1:17) to wake up. God has a way of using hard times and opposition to bring us back to Him. Jonah, stuck in the disgusting ditch of the fish’s belly cried out to God and prayed, “Salvation is of the LORD.” (Jonah 2:9). God hears us when we pray with a pure and repentant heart. God is merciful. Jonah said himself, “thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness…” (Jonah 4:2). What a parallel to David’s prayer in Psalm 86, “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” (v. 5).

Originally published as “Lessons from the life of Jonah, Part 1.” Independent Plus. March 17, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Friday

4

November 2022

Even the birds

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? Luke 12:24 | Read more at hopereflected.com

God’s hand is in every detail

We’ve all seen the incredible display of hundreds or thousands of birds flitting about together, flying in a specially-choreographed formation across the sky. This is called a murmuration, and is thought to be the result of birds flying together to keep warm, conserve energy, and nest in large groups to keep safe. While some may argue that these instincts are given by nature, we understand that these exhibitions of the vertebrate kind are nothing short of God’s creation, as He said in the beginning that birds “may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” (Gen. 1:20).

Where’s your focus?

During His earthly ministry, when a human murmuration – an “innumerable multitude”, a crowd so large that they were stepping on one another (Luke 12:1) – were gathered together to hear Jesus teach, Jesus, directly after sharing with everyone the parable of the rich fool, shared specifically with the disciples the importance of not being anxious or worrying. While we may ponder how the two topics are connected, the answer is simple. When we lay up treasures for ourselves, when we strive to do things on our own, we are bound to be anxious and worried, because we’re focusing on the wrong things.  

“Our focus, where we’re investing, is of utmost importance.”

Hope Reflected

“Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?” (Luke 12:24). Our focus, where we’re investing, is of utmost importance. When we focus on the unrest and upheaval around us, of course we are bound to be anxious and worried.

When we focus on God and the fact that none of what is happening right now is a surprise to Him, and that He is still very much in control, we remember that His hand is in every detail, even the birds. The Bible tells us that every bird in the sky knows the hand of the Lord (Job 12:9) and that eagles soar at God’s command and build their nests on high (Job 39:27).

Comfort and safety near the Lord

The picture we see painted by the Psalmist in Psalm 84:3, “Yes, the sparrow hath found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.” Even the smallest of creatures finds comfort and safety near the Lord. In the midst of dark hours these little birds sought refuge and rest close to Him.

Can the same be said of us, that the Lord’s presence is the place where we find comfort and safety, where we seek refuge and rest? MacLaren in his expositions wrote that, “These words not only may hearten us with confidence that our desires will be satisfied if they are set upon Him, but they point us to the one way by which they are so.”

Because God knows even the birds of the sky, because He calls them His (Psalm 50:11), we can rest assured that God also knows all the details of what is happening both on The Hill and He knows the desires within each one of our hearts.

Originally published as “Even the birds.” Independent Plus. March 3, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Monday

31

October 2022

Wise investments

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:20-21 | Read more at hopereflected.com

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21).

At the time when Jesus shared this, houses were mostly made from clay and dirt, making them pretty easy for thieves to break in. People had to take special care of their possessions to protect them, including burying treasures in the earth so that they were harder to find. Contact with dirt meant that valuables corroded more easily.

Where to put our focus

In this parable, Jesus isn’t telling us that it’s sinful to have money, or that we shouldn’t save for the future, or that it’s wrong for us to own more than one change of clothes, or that we are materialistic if we have an appreciation for nice things. What Jesus is telling us in this parable is that laying up treasures on this earth should not be our primary focus – we ought rather to put our focus on laying up treasures in heaven.

Matthew Henry wrote that, “Christ counsels to make our best things the joys and glories of the other world, those things not seen which are eternal, and to place our happiness in them.” The point of the parable is this; a life that is centred on earthly position and possessions is pointless. Only a life centred on Christ holds true, eternal value.

So how do we lay up treasures in heaven while we’re here on earth?

We lay up treasures in heaven through wise investments. As Christians, we are responsible to tithe (not only to the church but also to the organizations that are doing Kingdom work). We are called to be “given to hospitality” (Romans 12:13) by being welcoming and generous towards others, and because we have His certain Hope, we should live accordingly so that others through us see Christ and come to know Him.

“The only things we can keep

are the things that we freely give to God.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Finite vs. Infinite

Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:17, we are not to “trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;”. We may have earthly riches, but if we aren’t good stewards of our earthly riches, we won’t appreciate or be grateful for all that God has blessed us with. Earthly riches are finite if we are only enjoying them and not also investing them for eternity.

Attributed to Solomon, who was the wisest and richest man of his day, Proverbs 23:5 asks, “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” As C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “the only things we can keep are the things that we freely give to God.” While corrosion of our earthly possessions is inevitable, conservation of heavenly treasures is possible.

Anyone can lay up treasures on earth that they can’t keep, it takes real wisdom to lay up eternal treasures that you can’t lose.

Originally published as “Wise investments.” Independent Plus. February 24, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

11

August 2022

Flip the switch

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Even on days when we can’t see the sun in the sky, the sun is still shining.

One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more. What a dark dungeon would the world be without the sun! (Matthew Henry) Read more on hopereflected.com

There is always light

There is always light. It may be blocked from our view by clouds and storm systems, some days may be duller than others, but the sun is still shining. And as big as our world seems, the sun is bigger still, and is earth’s main source of light. Matthew Henry wrote that, “One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more. What a dark dungeon would the world be without the sun!”

Unfortunately, many are trapped in a dark dungeon. “The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.” (Proverbs 4:19). Before we come to Christ and confess our deep need for His light, we are stuck in the dark.

Reaching for the Light

Throughout the Psalms, David refers to God as the one who provides light for the darkness (Psalm 18:28), enlarges his steps (Psalm 18:36), and lights his path (Psalm 119:105). Unless and until we confess our desperate need for a Saviour, we remain in the dark. That’s not a good place to be. “Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;” (Psalm 107:10). Affliction, chains, and death; what a way to go through life! We all know what it’s like to stumble around in the darkness, and it usually involves stubbing our toe on a night stand or walking headfirst into a door jam. When we’re in the dark and we have the option of turning on a light, do we not reach for the nearest light switch so we can see what we’re doing and where we’re going?

The Light of the world

So why do so many of us insist on stumbling through life in the dark, when we’ve got immediate access to the light? “I am the light of the world:” Jesus said, “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12). In the book of John alone, there are eight references that I can find where Jesus is referred to as the light of the world. With Christ, we’re promised that we won’t walk in darkness.

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me

shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

John 8:12

Perhaps you feel as though you’re stuck in the dark and though you’ve been grasping and groping in the dark, you can’t find the light switch. The practical, immediate way to access the light? The Bible. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105). When we allow God’s Word to be our guide, He keeps us on the right path, so we don’t stub our toes or walk headfirst into obstacles.

Light casts out darkness, provides direction, and dissolves discouragement.

Need some light in your life? Read more about the importance of light here.

Originally published as “Flip the switch.” Independent Plus. February 17, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Friday

29

July 2022

A work of the will

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Love is more than feelings

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 | Read more of "A work of the will" on hopereflected.com

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

“who loved me,” – we are the objects of God’s love. For us to live by faith and for Christ to live in us requires something so much greater than feelings. Love is sacrifice, love is service, and love is often a hard work of the will.

John wrote in his first epistle that we should, “love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).

"who loved me"—we are the objects of God's love. For us to live by faith—and for Christ to live in us—requires something so much greater than feelings. Read more of "A work of the will" on hopereflected.com

Christ was willing to serve and willing to die

In giving Himself for me, Christ delivered Himself up to suffering and death, and He did so willingly. He came to this earth as a sacrifice for our sins, and He lived a life of service. In the hours before His death, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples.

If you knew you were headed to your death in a matter of hours, you’d be more likely to spend the time thinking of ways to escape or prevent your death, than you would be to serve those closest to you. And yet Christ, “riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.” (John 13:4). He poured water into a basin, and one by one, washed the disciples’ feet.

Why would the One who came to save us wash the feet of those around Him?

In Biblical times, foot washing was symbolic and performed for various reasons. In John 13, we see Jesus taking on the lowest form of servitude, and at the same time demonstrating one of the greatest expressions of love. Even on His way to death, Jesus focused not on Himself or what He was going through, but on loving others by serving them.

Service requires sacrifice, and so love is not just service, love is also sacrifice. “God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9). God sent his only begotten Son into the world so that He could die for our sins. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (v. 10). The propitiation, the atonement, the necessary sacrifice for justice. Christ “gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20).

“Love is not just service, love is also sacrifice.”

Hope Reflected
Love is sacrifice, love is service, and love is often a hard work of the will. Read more of "A work of the will" on hopereflected.com

Willing to sacrifice

God loves us so much, that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son for our sins; Christ loves us so much, that He was willing to endure the cross for our souls. Our salvation is only possible because of the willingness of God to sacrifice Jesus for our sins. Jesus came, in His own words, to do “the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). He asked God to save Him from the cross, but accepted His assignment, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

More than feelings, love is often a hard work of the will.

Originally published as “Forget your feelings.” Independent Plus. February 10, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

23

June 2022

What’s in your safety deposit box?

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

What’s in your safety deposit box?

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

My grandmother referred to the heart as the safety deposit box of your life. A safety deposit box is used to store items of utmost importance and value, things that you don’t want to lose or don’t want to be stolen – things that you don’t want to misplace and that you want to keep with you for the long-term.

Safety deposit boxes come with two keys: One stays with the owner, and the master key stays with the bank. The idea behind this is to protect against any unwanted access to your safety deposit box. Also, if you lose the key to your safety deposit box, you can show your ID to the bank and regain your access.

Why all the security for such a seemingly small thing?

As the owner of my heart, I get to control what goes into it through what I see, what I read, what I hear, and the things I think about. As a Christian, God should have the overall master key to my heart to help me guard the contents. Why all the security for such a seemingly small thing?

What we put into our hearts matters. What we put into our hearts determines what comes out of them. Think of our hearts as the fountain from which our morality (or lack thereof) flows. This fountain can only produce fresh water or foul. Jesus told the disciples (Matt. 15:11-19), “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:”

Because by our sinful nature our hearts produce such tempers, we must guard our hearts more carefully than anything else. Our hearts are incredibly impressionable. This is why David, famously known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14), asked the Lord to “Create in me a clean heart, O God;” (Psalm 51:10). By nature, our hearts are not clean. It’s only with the Lord’s help and work in us that we can get the contents of our hearts right.

“Be careful, it’s my heart”

Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn is one of my all-time favourite films. In it, Bing Crosby’s character Jim Hardy sings the song, “Be careful, it’s my heart”. The lyrics go like this: “It’s not my watch you’re holding, it’s my heart. It’s not the note I sent you that you quickly burned. It’s not the book I lent you that you never returned. Remember, it’s my heart.” Our hearts are delicate and fragile, and it’s critical that we keep them with all diligence.

“Our hearts are delicate and fragile,

and it’s critical that we keep them with all diligence.”

Hope Reflected

In 2 Peter 1:5, Peter wrote about adding virtue to our faith by “giving all diligence”. To keep our heart with diligence requires work, and it requires sacrifice. Diligence requires carefulness and consistency; it’s not a one-time thing. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” (Proverbs 23:7). We think about what we see and what we hear, and we must be careful to consider the qualities of the contents we’re putting in our hearts.

Originally published as “What’s in your security deposit box?” Independent Plus. January 27, 2022: 5. Print. Web.