Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

easter Archive

Sunday

12

April 2020

Easter Encouragement

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" (John 11:25-26) | Easter encouragement from hopereflected.com

From darkness to light

At Easter, may we remember that from darkness and death, God can bring light and life; from sorrow He can bring love, and from thorns He can make a crown. Easter is as much about new life and resurrection as it is about Christ’s death on the cross.

We have so much to rejoice in this Resurrection Sunday. Christ’s resurrection means freedom from Satan’s power. It was meant to open our eyes, to turn us from darkness to His glorious light, “and from the power of Satan unto God,” (Acts 26:18) that we may receive forgiveness from our sins, freedom from bondage, and sanctification by faith. We have no reason to be doom and gloom and down and out, because we can claim the Power of God in us.

Easter: Christ’s resurrection is the catalyst for changed lives

Christ’s resurrection provides the catalyst for changed lives. Because of Him, we are no longer coloured by our past sins and transgressions. When we are crucified with Christ, we die to our past and ourselves, because Christ now lives in us (Galatians 2:20). What a gift! This life we live here on earth, we can live by faith in Him, because He loves us, and because He went to the cross for us. What a praise!

Although hard to fathom, Christ’s resurrection gives us eternal life. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24) How wonderful that we can rest in this promise.

The real meaning of Easter

Christ’s resurrection is for us now. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” (John 5:25) Christ’s death and resurrection is open to all who believe, it is not just reserved for those who witnessed it or lived two thousand years ago. No, the Gospel, God’s gift of eternal life, is just as relevant – if not more so – to us today than it was those years ago.

“May the Lord have mercy on us so that we can live a life of being conformed to the death of Christ through the cross,” Witness Lee wrote in his book God’s Economy, “Only those who have passed through death and resurrection can have their eyes opened; they live and walk by the revelation that they have seen.” Without Christ’s resurrection, we would not have the privilege of living the crucified life.

Of all that is and was against us – every sin, every fear, every sorrow, every grief, every earthly affliction, every thing that “was contrary to us” – Christ took it out of the way and nailed it to His cross! This – all His suffering, all His anguish, all His pain, all His torture, all His humiliation, – this was Christ’s triumph (Col. 2:15) and His victory through resurrection!

Praise the Lord, He is the resurrection and the life, and when we believe in Him, though we may die, yet we shall live; “whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26)

Originally published as “Easter Encouragement.” Independent Plus. April 9, 2020: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

10

April 2020

Good Friday

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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"In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." (Ephesians 1:7) | Good Friday | Read more at hopereflected.com

It is only when we understand Good Friday that we can truly celebrate Easter Sunday

What’s so good about Good Friday? It’s a fair question, especially given that Christians the world over commemorate the crucifixion of Christ each year on Good Friday. It’s an occasion that makes many wonder how Christ’s death can be something that we call good. Whether you believe Good Friday is just the bastardization of God’s Friday or not, I’d argue that Good Friday could even be called Great Friday.

The day Christ was crucified was the day that He went, willingly no less, to His death, for you. “But how can that be, when I wasn’t even born yet?” you may ask. He knew you before you were born. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee,” (Jeremiah 1:5). God knew you before you were even created. And since sin has been a part of mankind since Adam and Eve walked in the Garden of Eden, we all have a need for a Saviour.

Easter, Redemption through His blood

Christ died so that you could be redeemed. Think about that for a second. Consider even your actions and thoughts just this past week. God knows all of your motives, and while you’re thankful that no one else can hear your thoughts, God knows them too. He knows each one of us right down to our rotten cores, and He loves us anyway. Where we can never measure up, His grace overflows. Where we can never be good enough, His blood is more than enough. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” (Ephesians 1:7).

Good Friday is a great day not because Lent is over or you get a day off work, no, Good Friday is a great day because it is the reminder to each one of us that Jesus’s blood is God’s love. His suffering was for our salvation. Yes, there is someone who loves you that much! It is only when we understand Good Friday that we can truly celebrate Easter Sunday.

The Resurrection of our Lord

Easter Sunday is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. The day that we rejoice in the greatest friend we could ever know. Jesus, the One who while hanging on the tree in complete agony asked God to forgive the very people who had put Him there – you and I. In Christ’s resurrection, we are reclaimed, redeemed, and restored. It is in His resurrection that we can recover, regroup, and find revitalization. It doesn’t matter what your past is, God already knows. He also knows your future and He longs for you to let Him love you. God isn’t forceful, but when you let Him, He’ll help you move forward. Jesus lives so that you can have life. How?

Recognize that you are a sinner (Romans 3:23) and that you are in need of forgiveness (Romans 6:23), accept Christ’s gift of salvation which He provided through His death on the cross (Romans 5:8), claim Christ as Lord of your life (Romans 10:9).

Originally published as “Easter.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. April 18, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

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Thursday

9

April 2020

His hands

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;" (Isaiah 49:16) | His hands | Read more hopereflected.com

We are always in God’s hands

“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;” (Isaiah 49:16) Our hands are amazing instruments. Consider them for a moment. We use them for almost everything. Our hands are always before us, and we know them. We use our hands to create, to give, to receive, to help, to shield, and to care. How many times have we heard the saying, “I know that like the back of my hand.” Just like we see our hands before us, we are always in God’s sight. We are always before Him, and He can use each one of us. Even in those times when we feel like our prayers are reverberating off the ceiling, we can be sure that He does hear. He has not forgotten us. John Gill compares Isaiah 49:16 with Song of Solomon 8:6, “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm:” – we are always with God. Even in our brokenness – especially in our brokenness – He can use us for His glory.

Remember His promise: “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:13) The right hand is referenced many times throughout Scripture, and it is a symbol of strength. David wrote in Psalm 17:7 that God “savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them.” Then, while in the wilderness, he wrote in Psalm 63:8 about God, “thy right hand upholdeth me.” In Psalm 73:23 he wrote that God “has holden me by my right hand.” Not only are we graven upon the palms of His hands, but God also promises to hold our right hand, wherever we are.

God holds us with His right hand

Where are you? When you have a personal relationship with the Lord, He is with you. In the second half of Isaiah 49:16, Isaiah wrote, “thy walls are continually before me”. Wherever we are, God is there. He is the architect of our lives, and as we are familiar with the walls inside our homes, so He knows all His plans for us. Remember David’s words in Psalm 139: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (v.7). No matter where we are – even in the depths of the sea, He is there. “Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” (v.10). God is with us and He holds us with His right hand.

Just as we are always before God, graven upon the palms of His hands, so should we always set the Lord before us. “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” (Psalm 16:8) What a great difference it makes when we let His hand steady us, and when we allow His hand to lead us! “Though I walk in the midst of trouble,” David wrote in Psalm 138:7, “thou wilt revive me; thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of my enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.”

“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” (Isaiah 49:16) This is God’s response to our fears that He would forget us! He will not! We are in His hands.

Originally published as “His hands.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. January 30, 2020: 6. Print. Web.

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Sunday

1

April 2018

He is Risen | Easter | Resurrection Sunday

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Encouragement

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"He is risen, as He said." Matthew 28:6 | See more at hopereflected.com

He is risen! Wishing you a blessed Easter. Happy Resurrection Sunday!

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Matthew 28:1-7

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Friday

23

March 2018

Encouragement | Easter Meditation on Isaiah 53:6

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Encouragement

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"All we like sheep have gone astray." (Isaiah 53:6) | See more at hopereflected.com

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

Sheep need a Shepherd. For Christians, that Shepherd is Jesus Christ.

The role of the Shepherd is to protect the flock. The Shepherd guards the flock with his life. In Jesus’s case, rather than let us suffer the consequences of our sins, He went to the cross for us. The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Because Jesus went to the cross and rose the third day, we have the peace and promise of eternal salvation, when we have a relationship with Him.

Consider Christ as our Shepherd. He is our protector. He is our salvation. He is our buckler. He is our high tower. Christ is our Saviour.

This idea of Christ carrying our sins to the cross also translates into Christ carrying us. As the shepherd carries the sheep, so Christ carries us always. “Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.” (Psalm 28:9)

As humans, it can be hard to keep our eyes on the Lord. And it can be easy to stray, even when we have a relationship with Christ. “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.” (Psalm 119:176)

And while we all have a habit of turning to our own ways, thankfully the Lord, as our Shepherd, has a habit of keeping His hand on us. “For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold I, even I, will both search my sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered: so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.” (Ezekiel 34:11-12)

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

Click here to read more from this series on Isaiah 53.

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Thursday

22

March 2018

Encouragement | Easter meditation on Isaiah 53:5

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"The chastisement of our peace was upon him." Isaiah 53:5 | See more at hopereflected.com

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

The first part of Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities;”. Jesus carried the weight of our sin to the cross. Every sin, every transgression, and all of our iniquity — even the things that happened last week, and this week, or that will happen in the future — Christ bore it all on the cross. It’s hard to fathom, isn’t it?

Romans 4:25-5:1 puts it like this: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”.

Jesus went to the cross for all of our sins. But He didn’t stay there!

Isaiah 53:5 continues on to say, “the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

What is the chastisement of our peace? In his exposition of the Bible, John Gill explains the chastisement of our peace like this:

“the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
that is, the punishment of our sins was inflicted on him, whereby our peace and reconciliation with God was made by him; for chastisement here does not design the chastisement of a father, and in love, such as the Lord chastises his people with; but an act of vindictive justice, and in wrath, taking vengeance on our sins, of our surety, whereby divine wrath is appeased, justice is satisfied, and peace is made.”

Christ didn’t just go to the cross to die. He went there, carrying all of our sins, so that we might live and have eternal life and peace. I love how it’s described in 1 Peter 2:24: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

Christ went to the cross so that we should live unto righteousness!

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Click here to read more from this series on Isaiah 53.

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Wednesday

21

March 2018

Encouragement | Easter meditation on Isaiah 53:4

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Encouragement

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"Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." Isaiah 53:4 | See more at hopereflected.com

Casting all your cares on Him

Isaiah 53:4 “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

Isaiah 53:4 is tied to Matthew 8:17 “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”

Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, bore our griefs and carried our sorrows to the cross. And you know what? He still bears our griefs and carries our sorrows to this very day.

When you have a personal relationship with Christ, you have the privilege of casting all your cares on Him.

  • “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
  • “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
  • “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22)

Although He faced a world that regarded Him as stricken, although He was smitten of God, although He was afflicted — although Christ carried the burdens of the entire earth to that cross, we all know what happened.

He rose again the third day. Christ conquered the grave. He conquered our sin. He conquered every insecurity and every fear. All we have to do is put our trust in Him. You are able to give your all to Him, casting all your cares on Him because He cares for you.

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)

Isaiah 53:4 “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

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Tuesday

20

March 2018

Encouragement | Easter Meditation on Isaiah 53:3

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He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. | See more at hopereflected.com

Encouragement | Easter Meditation on Isaiah 53:3

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:3

With Holy Week starting next Sunday, this week I’m meditating over Isaiah 53 and the New Testament Scriptures that detail the history of our Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus was despised, rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, despised. We hid our faces from him, and we esteemed him not.

Psalm 22:6 says, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” Jesus was despised. He was rejected. He was the man of sorrows. He was acquainted with grief.

If you’re sad, discouraged, down, or depressed, remember this: Jesus has already been through it all. He has been through the deepest grief, and He has felt more sorrow than you will ever know.

We’re told in Hebrews 4:15 that “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are….” Jesus knows every aspect of the feeling of your infirmities. He completely understands the depths of your debilitating depression and your grief. You know why? Because He’s been there!

Jesus was in the world, in fact He made the world, and the world knew Him not (John 1:10). If you’re longing for significance, or looking for an answer, I encourage you to look to the Lord. He went to the cross for you. He wants to know you personally. Call out to Him, and He will hear you.

“Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.” (Psalm 105:4)

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:3

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Monday

19

March 2018

Encouragement | Isaiah 53:3-7

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"The LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:6 | See more at hopereflected.com

Next week marks the beginning of Holy Week, and as we head into this Easter season, I’m meditating on our Lord and what He took on for us, all so we can have eternal life. I woke up Sunday morning with the hymn “Hallelujah! What a Saviour!” stuck in my head, and as Wes and I read through Mark 15 where Jesus stands before Pilate, I realized how casually we often read through the account of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

Really there are no words to fully describe or illustrate what Jesus went through leading up to and on and after the cross. This weekend, the passage of scripture found in Isaiah 53 struck me in a new way. I went through and underlined how Isaiah describes what happened to our Lord.

Isaiah 53:3-7 reads [emphasis my own]:

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Despised, rejected, man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, carried our sorrows, stricken, smitten of God, afflicted, wounded, bruised, chastised, oppressed, afflicted, brought as a lamb to the slaughter — our Lord endured it all, all so we can have eternal life.

Wherever you are, and whatever you’re going through, Jesus has already been through it all for you.

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Wednesday

30

March 2016

Hydrangea Plants

Written by , Posted in Gardening

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Every Friday, Wes has been known to bring me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. This past weekend, we celebrated Easter with some beautiful Hydrangea blooms. We have two Hydrangea bushes in our outdoor garden (which usually bloom mid-summer). Since it’s too early for blooms outdoors, these indoor plants were a welcome addition to our kitchen, brightening up the space with their voluptuous shape and vibrant colour.

mar30_hopereflected_hydrangea1

The name Hydrangea comes from the Greek “Hydro“, meaning “Water“, and “Angeion“, meaning “Vase“. As you know, Hydrangea plants love their sun and they love their water. The plants have two flower arrangements: One is the mophead flower (pictured here), and the other is the lacecap flower.

pink and white hydrangea.

The Hydrangea plant was originally discovered in the 1730s by an English-American botanist, John Bartram. Bartram became King George III’s botanist and is widely known as the “Father of American Botany”.

mar30_hopereflected_hydrangea3

While white is the most common colour of Hydrangea, in some species the plant can also be pink, purple, blue, and even green. Regardless of the hue, Hydrangea blossoms remain some of my favourite. Not only is the flower itself beautiful, but these plants have healthy green leaves, which make for a lovely contrast.

mar30_hopereflected_hydrangea4

 

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