Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Christianity Archive

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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Monday

7

January 2019

Hope Reflected | Do you work out?

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A strong spiritual life requires strength training.

Do you work out? "This is the way, walk ye in it." (Isaiah 30:21) | See more at hopereflected.com

Recently, Wes and I have heard about the daily fitness regimens of several of our friends. While we don’t consider ourselves to be fitness buffs by any stretch of the imagination, Wes and I do enjoy engaging in moderate physical activity.

Even more important than keeping your physical body in shape, we need to keep our spiritual life strong and in shape. People often talk about how important the food is that we feed our bodies, and even more important is the soul food.

Like physical exercise, working out spiritually should be pursued thoughtfully, mindfully, and most importantly, with consistency. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) A strong spiritual life requires strength training.

Lift up your eyes, your praises, and your requests to the Lord. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2) When it comes to weights, lifting is best done with a spotter. When it comes to your spiritual well-being, you’ve got more than just a spotter. Our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), and there is no place we can go without His presence (omnipresent). As the Creator of Heaven and Earth, our Lord should be the first place we go to – not just for help, but with our thanksgiving – for every thing. “In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

More so than the sports themselves, the thing the sticks with me most from the ’92 Summer Olympics in Barcelona is the pictograms that were used for each sport. That summer, javelin and shot put were two of the highlighted sports. That act of casting, launching an object to see how far you can throw it is a great work out. We’re told in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast all our cares upon Christ because He cares for us. The act of casting isn’t just handing something over, or letting it go, no, casting requires us to exert some effort and throw our cares at Christ’s feet. Take off your burdens, and leave them with the Lord.

While it’s not the exercise for everyone, long distance running requires a great amount of endurance, patience, and proper form. The same can be said of our spiritual state. “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Those who are truly seeking after the Lord will confirm that running this race called life requires a great deal of patience. We don’t suddenly just ‘get there’, or achieve spiritual success – it’s a journey. Like long distance running, we need to learn the art of patience. “They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Wes and I enjoy walking. While we’re all running this race through life, we need to remember that our walk with the Lord requires consistency and it is one of the most important parts of staying strong spiritually. There are many Bible verses that reference the importance of walking with the Lord, including Isaiah 30:21, which says, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” We are also commanded in Micah 6:8 to “walk humbly with the Lord.” Walking is a critical component of staying spiritually fit. Lifting, casting, running, and walking are all important activities when it comes to staying strong spiritually. At times it may be scary, and we’re never guaranteed that it will be easy, but remember to stay the course when it comes to staying spiritually fit. Be consistent, be faithful, and the Lord will bless. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Originally published as “Do you work out?” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 1, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Monday

3

September 2018

Hope Reflected | Seek Peace, and Pursue It

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"God can't give us peace apart from Himself because there is no such thing." C.S. Lewis | Seek peace and pursue it | See more at hopereflected.com

Seek Peace, and Pursue It

“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14)

Seek peace, and pursue it. You can read through your Bible time and time again, and one of precious things about God’s Word is that there is always something new there to learn, or a new time to learn something you may have heard hundreds of times over.

The word pursue is a verb, and to pursue something means to actively chase after it, to follow it, or to seek it out. “Seek peace, and pursue it,” we’re told in Psalm 34:14. Peace is something that we are to actively chase after, to follow, and to seek out. Peace, that freedom that we all so long for, is not something that will just show up in our lives; we need to actively seek peace out, to chase peace, to follow peace.

In some ways, it makes sense. There are so many people running down paths of yoga, minimalism, meditation, and “religion,” chasing after some illusive idea of peace. They’re seeking after something. Narrow is the way where true peace is found, however. There’s only one true peace, as C.S. Lewis said, “God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.” If you don’t believe it, you’ve likely never given God a chance. As our Lord said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Seek peace, and pursue it. When we have true peace in God, we’ll also discover that there are other areas where we can pursue peace here on earth.

Pursue peace in your relationships. “Follow peace with all men….” (Hebrews 12:14) How often are we guilty of pretending or harbouring the things that bother us, rather than pursuing peace in our relationships? Sometimes pursuing peace means dealing with the difficult and uncomfortable topics so we can cross that bridge and get to the other side. Acknowledging hurts and offenses is often one of the most difficult topics to raise, but the alternative is a life spent bottling up and burying emotions, and we all know how that turns out. Colossians 3:13 instructs us to, “bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against another.”

Pursue peace in your work. “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace….” (2 Peter 3:14) We’re called to work diligently as unto the Lord, and sometimes the workplace is a place where we neglect to pursue peace. Maybe you always have to be right. Maybe you want to take matters into your own hands and prove that person wrong. Perhaps your co-workers talk about you behind your back. Regardless of your work environment, pursuing peace is just as relevant at work as it is at home. Pursuing peace doesn’t mean that things will always be easy, however it is the right thing to do. Matthew 5:9 says that, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” It could mean holding your tongue. It may mean letting someone else take the glory for your idea. It may mean showing grace even though others don’t treat you kindly. To pursue peace in your work, remember that the Lord knows.

Pursue peace in your spirit. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3) How do you pursue peace in your spirit? Philippians 4:6-7 gives us some great guidance on the topic: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Peace for your spirit is possible when you commit your anxieties, fears, and worries to the Lord. Peace is possible when you take your praises and requests to God. Peace is possible when you remember to give thanks to God.

Pursuing peace. There’s only one way to have true peace, and that’s when you have a relationship with the Lord. 1 Peter 3:10-11 says, “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; let him eschew evil, and do good, let him seek peace, and ensue it.” As C.S. Lewis said, “If you want to get warm, you must stand near the fire; if you want to get wet, you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.”

Originally published as “Seek Peace and Pursue It.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. March 22, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

17

August 2018

Hope Reflected | Listening to God

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"Call to me, and I will answer you." (Jeremiah 33:3) Listening to God | See more at hopereflected.com

Listening to God

Listening to God is one of the most important components to being a Christian

If you watch, listen, or read the news, you’ve likely heard about Vice President Pence being mocked for saying that He talks to God and listens for God’s voice. “I will hear what God the LORD will speak,” reads Psalm 85:8. One of the fundamentals of the Christian faith is that we communicate with the Lord, and listen for His leading. While it may not be popular, that doesn’t mean that it’s not right.

Last week, Wes and I were discussing the importance of listening to God. We place so much emphasis on talking to God, but what about the other side of the conversation? Sometimes when God is speaking to us, He’s easy to hear. You make a prayer request, and He answers it, sometimes very obviously. When we slow down, we often hear God in the quiet times – early in the morning or late at night lying in bed – and that’s one reason why so many people turn up the noise and distractions of music, talking, and that bad word “busy”. But what about listening to God in the chaos? Oh, how challenging it can be to hear God when we have so much going on! When the clock is ticking and we’re feeling overwhelmed, we often talk ourselves into believing several myths to avoid listening to God.

Myth #1: I don’t have time. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Some days, you just find yourself running: Laundry, dishes, work, meetings, dinner, and the list goes on. One of the biggest myths about listening to God is that you don’t have time. That’s not true! You do have time. In fact, any time that you do have is a gift from God. Charles Stanley says that “prayer is life’s greatest time saver,” and he couldn’t be more correct. When we take the time to take our problems and our praises to the Lord, He hears us. When we take the time to listen to God, we’ll often be surprised at what we hear. God longs to speak to us, and prayer is a two-way street.

Myth #2: Thanks, Lord, but I’ve got this under control. “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” (Proverbs 19:21) Why would we spend time listening to God when we’ve got it under control! We’re all guilty of thinking we’ve got everything under control or that we’re the orchestrators of our own circumstances. Ultimately, however, we’re told in the Bible that God is One Who is in control. Job 12:10 says that, “In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” God’s thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). The next time you catch yourself thinking you’ve got things under control, take a moment and give it to God.

Myth #3: It won’t make a difference. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) Sometimes we negate the importance of listening to God because we think that listening to God won’t make a difference, or that casting our cares at His feet doesn’t really matter. This is where our faith comes in. So often, when everything’s going our way, we’re less apt to take things to the Lord in prayer, but really that’s when it’s the most important! Keeping a prayer journal and a record of prayer requests, answers to prayer, and praises, is an awesome way to recall to mind and remind ourselves that our time spent listening to God really does make a difference!

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known,” reads Jeremiah 33:3. Listening to God is one of the most important components to being a Christian; do you have a listening ear? As C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Originally published as “Listening to God.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. March 15, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

6

July 2018

Hope Reflected | Mercy

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"Show mercy and compassion." Zechariah 7:9 Mercy | Read more at hopereflected.com

Mercy

How can you live a life filled with mercy?

David and Saul. You’ve likely read about their tumultuous relationship before. David was that guy that Saul just loved to hate: Successful, beloved, and righteous. Saul couldn’t stand it. He hated David, so much so that he pursued David throughout the wilderness because he wanted to kill him. And what happened? Well, in the end, Saul dies in the most tragic of circumstances, but before that happens, we see perhaps one of the most moving examples of mercy documented in the Bible.

Whether or not he was sleeping or using the bathroom is beyond the point, but in the midst of his pursuit of David, we find Saul taking a break in a cave (1 Samuel 24:3). It just so happens that this very cave is the place where David and his men were hiding! Saul is completely unaware of his present company, while David and his men contemplate their next move, and what does David do? He spares Saul’s life, and he doesn’t let his men kill Saul, either. He chose to show goodness rather than evil to the very person who was purposefully practicing evil against him, and he encouraged his men to do the same. David demonstrated mercy.

God’s mercy is described in many ways throughout the Bible: Great (Isaiah 54:7), sure (Isaiah 55:3), abundant (1 Peter 1:3), tender (Psalm 25:6), new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Quite often in Scripture, we read about God’s mercy in its plural form (God’s mercies). We serve a God Who doesn’t just show us mercy in one way – He is filled with mercies. As Christians, we should lives that exhibit mercy, just as Christ demonstrated toward us when he went to the cross so we could have eternal life.

So how can you live a life filled with mercy?

You can live a life filled with mercy when you show mercy to others. “Show mercy and compassion every man to his brother.” (Zechariah 7:9) Mercy can be defined as not getting what you deserve. When you live a life filled with mercy, you show compassion to others even when they treat you with cruelty. When you apply mercy in your own life, you exercise forgiveness.

You can live a life filled with mercy when you learn to love mercy. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8) I don’t think you can love mercy until you’ve truly experienced it. And the greatest mercy of all? God’s gift of eternal life to us. Some versions of the Bible replace “love mercy” in Micah 6:8 with “love goodness,” or “love kindness”. When you live with mercy, you learn to love that virtue and the others that go along with it.

You can live a life filled with mercy when you keep mercy close to your heart. “Put on therefore…bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering….” (Colossians 3:12) Your bowels are the deepest part of you. The term “bowels of mercies” suggests that mercy, like many other virtues, comes from the deepest part of you. When you truly have mercy in your heart, you’ll show it through your actions towards others.

We see God’s mercy demonstrated toward us in His forgiveness, His gift of eternal life to us. As C.S. Lewis once said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” Mercy doesn’t come naturally, it is learned through a personal relationship with God. When you have a relationship with God, God’s mercy toward you is bigger than any mistake you can make. God’s mercy is inexhaustible. And when you see God’s mercy at work in your own life, you’ll be better equipped to live a life filled with mercy.

Originally published as “Mercy.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. January 18, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

16

February 2018

Hope Reflected | Understanding the characteristics of a solid church

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“Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.” A.W. Tozer | Characteristics of a solid church | See more at hopereflected.com

Understanding the characteristics of a solid church

After last week’s column, a few readers suggested that perhaps just as important as going to church is that the church that you’re going to needs to be a solid church.

So what makes a solid church?

There are several characteristics. A solid church is so much more than a bricks-and-mortar building. A solid church is about the people attending, and more than that, that the people attending are all joining together for the same purpose – to worship God, and to proclaim the Gospel, that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead, so that we might not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

If you’ve been looking for a church, or contemplating what kind of church you should be attending, here are a few indications of a solid church.

A solid church speaks the truth. “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:17) A solid church is one that believes that the Bible is the divinely inspired – and complete – Word of God. What is the truth? The Bible. A solid church speaks the truth. “He who speaks truth tells what is right, but a false witness, deceit.” (Proverbs 12:17) God’s Word is faithful and true (Revelation 22:6) and that’s what you’ll find in a solid church.

A solid church challenges and inspires growth. “…from who the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16) A solid church isn’t just a place where you go to feel good about yourself – no, a solid church is about much more than just “feeling”. Beyond any emotion, a solid church will challenge you through speaking the truth, and inspire growth.. “A wise man will hear and increase in learning. And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” (Proverbs 1:5) A solid church is place where Christians can seek “wise counsel” and grow in their faith. And as Matthew Henry said, “The Christian’s growth tends to the glory of Christ.”

A solid church provides comfort. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) A solid church is a place that provides comfort and renewal. As much as it’s meant to challenge Christians, the church is also meant to be a place where believers can have fellowship one with another. Through fellowship, and the preaching of God’s Word, we can find comfort and renewal. You may be familiar with Proverbs 16:24, which tells us that, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” A solid church provides comfort through fellowship with other Christians.

A solid church isn’t trying to look like the world, to remove the Cross, or to provide entertainment for the masses. As Tozer said, “Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.” A solid church speaks the truth, challenges and inspires growth, and provides comfort. It also encourages Christians to serve humbly, to live by faith, and to grow closer to our Lord.

Originally published as “Understanding the characteristics of a solid church.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 30, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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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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Sunday

31

December 2017

45 Life Lessons Learned in 2017

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45 Life Lessons Learned in 2017

2017 has been a year of growth. There is so much more that I learned this year than can be compiled in a column. While some of these lessons certainly aren’t new, they are truths that I reflected on or learned from a new perspective in 2017.

Cheers to this year that has passed, and God’s continued blessings ahead in 2018! Can’t wait to share it with you all!

  1. It pays to be prepared. “Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” (Proverbs 3:28) Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
  2. It costs nothing to be kind. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) “Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” (Mark Twain)
  3. When you feel alone, reach out. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) “Look for yourself and you will find loneliness and despair. But look for Christ and you will find Him and everything else.” (C.S. Lewis)
  4. God will love you more in a moment than anyone will in a lifetime. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) If you’re looking for love, the best place to start is a relationship with God.
  5. Jealousy is a bitter cup. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2) When you find yourself feeling jealous, stop looking in and start looking up.
  6. Grow where you’ve been planted. “Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.” (Psalm 96:2) God brings people across each of our paths for a purpose. Share your faith through your actions and not just your words.
  7. Bitterness will destroy you. “Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:17) Like its cousin comparison, bitterness is a thief. “Bitterness and love can’t live together in the same heart. Each day, we must decide which one gets to stay.” (Dave Willis)
  8. Once you say it, you can’t take it back. “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.” (James 1:19) We’ve all learned the hard way that you can’t “un-speak” words. God gave us mouths that close and ears that don’t, so that should tell us something.
  9. Seek wisdom and pursue it. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.” (James 1:5) Charles Spurgeon once said that wisdom is “the right use of knowledge.” Use it to discern what is truly important in this world, and eternity.
  10. Get into God’s Word. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) “Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be.” (A.W. Tozer)
  11. Don’t give up. “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Whatever trial or difficulty you’re going through right now, you are not in it alone; God is with you. We are weak, but He is strong. Don’t give up; give it to God. He will see you through.
  12. God’s grace is immeasurable, and God’s mercy is inexhaustible. “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) Living a life filled with grace and mercy requires a lot of God’s grace and mercy.
  13. Jesus is alive. “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20) God’s gift of salvation is free; all we have to do is put our trust in Him! “I believe in Christ, like I believe in the sun – not because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else.” (C.S. Lewis)
  14. Renovations aren’t just for houses. “For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) God can perform a renovation on your spirit and make you brand new. We’re all in desperate need of a Saviour, even when on the outside we appear to have it all together.
  15. There is a time for everything. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) If you’re questioning the timing of something in your life, keep in mind that God frequently answers our prayers in one of three ways: With a “yes”, with a “not yet”, or with “I have something better in mind.”
  16. We have a responsibility to stand up for what is right. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) If we don’t stand up, we’re never going to make an impact. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)
  17. Wherever you’re at, God is with you. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismay, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10)
  18. Adversity is an opportunity. “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2)
  19. Only God can restore what is broken and make it into something brand new. “Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20) No matter where life finds you, God uses the remnants. He is able to take the most devastating situation and use it for His glory. All you need to do is look to Him and put your trust in Him.
  20. There are countless blessings when you put your focus on the Lord. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
  21. God understands what you’re going through. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. “ (Psalm 139: 2-3)
  22. Take time to rest. “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.” (Psalm 62:5) As “You can’t truly rest until every area in your life rests in God.” (A.W. Tozer)
  23. In the face of resentment, when you choose God, He renews and restores. “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength…” (Isaiah 40:31)
  24. Meekness isn’t weakness. “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing…” (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
  25. Rather than putting your focus on the furiousness of the storm, put your focus on the One Who controls the storm. “for in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5)
  26. Be humble. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
  27. Christ is our constant companion. “And he said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” (Exodus 33:14) Christ will never turn away anyone who turns to Him.
  28. As part of God’s creation, we are also created to glorify Him with our lives and our voices – and that includes the words that leave our lips. “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23)
  29. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you realize that God is your rock at the bottom. “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
  30. “Don’t shine so that others can see you, shine so that through you, others can see Him.” “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) As C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christ, like I believe in the sun – not because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else.”
  31. Like ships, we need an anchor. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.” (Hebrews 6:19)
  32. It’s not a coincidence that the word “listen” contains the same letters as the word “silent”. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) The next time you’re feeling uncomfortable or awkward because of silence, use the opportunity to listen.
  33. Following instructions gives life. “He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray.” (Proverbs 10:17)
  34. Don’t grow weary in well doing. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9)
  35. Even when you can’t hear God, see God, or feel God, God is still working. “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)
  36. The grateful heart is content. “Be content with what you have.” (Hebrews 13:5)
  37. Waiting on the Lord makes you a more efficient person. “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient.” (James 5:7-8)
  38. Love others, even when it’s hard. “Love suffers long and is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
  39. God is our source of life, abundance, and security. “He sends the springs into the valleys”. Isaiah 41:18 says that God opens “fountains in the midst of the valleys.” (Psalm 104:10) No matter how low or far down we may feel, God can reach us, especially in our valleys.
  40. 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)
  41. When you’re part of a solid church, you will be challenged, cherished, and comforted. “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)
  42. A solid church speaks the truth. “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:17)
  43. In our Christian walk, just like in fishing, the quieter you become, the more you can hear. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  44. God’s economy is different than our economy. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35)
  45. Jesus came to earth for you and I. “For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah 57:15)

Originally published as “Life Lessons Learned in 2017.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. December 28, 2017 and January 4, 2018: 7. Print. Web.

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