Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

encouragement Archive

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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Thursday

26

July 2018

Hope Reflected | Forgiveness

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"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” C.S. Lewis | See more at hopereflected.com

God’s Forgiveness

God’s forgiveness, in addition to being all-encompassing and an example for us to follow, is a great reminder to us of His everlasting love for us.

C.S. Lewis once said that, “everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.” It’s true, isn’t it? So often we’re quick to give out the advice to forgive, but when it comes to leading by example, forgiveness can be difficult. Not that drinking the poison of bitterness and resentment is any less difficult, but sometimes avoidance – of the truth, of hurt, of pain – disguises itself as the easy road.

There is so much that we can learn when we look to the Lord. His forgiveness is a gift.

God’s forgiveness is not an excuse to do whatever you want. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1) This may seem like common sense, but it’s surprising how many people think that God’s forgiveness is an excuse to carry on with sinful behavior. I’d argue the contrary, that God’s forgiveness and grace should be reason enough to do our best to live a faithful and holy life! He sent His Son to the cross for us, to die – that’s the ultimate sacrifice. To continue on in sin, and to not strive to be our best for God is like the ultimate insult and ungratefulness. Does that mean that we’re perfect? No, but it does mean that we even when we trip, we pick up our cross and keep going.

God’s forgiveness is all-encompassing. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12) How far is the east from the west, exactly? Well, the two don’t meet. You can travel the world, and east and west don’t intersect. God’s forgiveness separates us from our sins. His forgiveness wipes our slate clean. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) God’s forgiveness isn’t just for some of your sins; God’s forgiveness is all-encompassing and includes even the secrets of which you’re most ashamed.

God’s forgiveness is an example. “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 3:13) God’s forgiveness of our sins is an example of how we should forgive others. C.S. Lewis once said that, “to be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” Is it easy? No! Sometimes forgiveness can seem like the hardest thing. We want to focus more on our feelings than we do on Christ, and that’s part of being human. We should challenge ourselves however, to look to Christ’s forgiveness and follow His example, not just with others, but with ourselves as well. “I think that if God forgives us, we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.” (C.S. Lewis)

God’s forgiveness is a gift. God’s forgiveness, in addition to being all-encompassing and an example for us to follow, is a great reminder to us of His everlasting love for us. He loves us enough to forgive us. “The great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.” (C.S. Lewis)

Originally published as “Forgiveness.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. February 8, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

13

July 2018

Hope Reflected | Matters of the heart

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"Pour out your heart before Him." (Psalm 62:8) Matters of the heart | Learn more at hopereflected.com

Matters of the heart

You can learn from the Psalms how to get your heart right with God.

In 2017, my Dad had a heart attack. To say the news came as a shock would be a complete understatement. My Dad, the foundation of our family, the rock, having a heart attack? It just seemed so unlikely. He was so fit, so healthy, at least so we thought. In more recent days, a friend of Wes’s and mine – and many others in the community – had a heart attack. Again, someone so strong, so energized, so full of life, seemed like an unlikely candidate for a heart attack.

That’s the mystery of the heart. In terms of health, we can look at someone else and think they’re fit, they eat – relatively – healthy, they exercise, they could never have a heart attack! Quite often however, the part that we can’t see, the heart, tells a different story.

It’s the same with our spiritual lives. So frequently we look at other Christians and think they’ve got it all together. They’ve got the gift of teaching, of praying, of encouraging – they must have it all together! Sometimes though, we might be surprised. After all, only God can see your heart.

Only God knows the condition of your heart. Only He truly knows the bitterness, the envy, the resentment, the jealousy, the dislike, hey, even the hatred, that you carry around. For all intents and purposes, on the outside, you may look like the model Christian. You’re sitting in church every Sunday, you’re serving others in the community, and you’re saying all the right things. Regardless of the surface or how things may appear, God knows your heart. He knows when you’re coming from a sincere place, and He knows when you’re acting or saying things to put others in a bad light. God knows when your heart is broken and crying out, even on those days when you’re pretending you’ve got it all together. He knows when you’re longing for companionship and you feel completely alone. God knows your heart. And that’s what matters.

It doesn’t matter how you look to others or what they think about you. What matters is that God knows your heart, and that your heart is right with Him.

Here are some relevant Bible verses about the heart to encourage and to instruct you in how to get your heart right with God.

  1. Confess your sin. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) You lied. You stole. Whatever you may have done, confess it to God. Ask Him to create a clean heart in you. David, who we read in the Bible was a man after God’s own heart, made many mistakes (we call it sin). Yet, he asked God to create in him a clean heart, and to renew his spirit (Psalm 51:10). To get your heart right with God, start with confessing your sin.
  2. Be honest with God. “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.” (Psalm 26:2) There have been many times when I’ve caught myself praying one thing but thinking another. It can be hard sometimes to be honest with ourselves and with God, can’t it?! And I have no idea what I’m thinking: As if I think that God of the entire universe isn’t going to know what’s truly in the bottom of my heart! To get your heart right with God, you’ve got to get right down to it. Guess what?! I don’t want to pray for that person who hurt me! I don’t like them! Tell God about it, because guess what? He already knows! Be honest with God.
  3. Actively pursue a relationship with God. “With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from your commandments!” (Psalm 119:10) We’re told in the book of James to draw near to God and He will draw near to us. (James 4:8). That verse continues with these words: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” When you’re actively pursuing a relationship with God – praying, getting into and memorizing God’s Word, going to church – when you earnestly seek Him, you’ll find Him. And more importantly, He will find you. Store up His word in your heart! (Psalm 119:11) and He will fill your heart.
  4. Protect your heart. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) You may have heard the saying “what goes in must come out,” or the computer slang GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out). What you allow in your heart will penetrate your life, so protect your heart. Fill your heart with God’s Word. Focus your eyes on God and your heart will surely follow. “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
  5. Trust God. “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.” (Psalm 62:8) Note that verse doesn’t say to trust God “sometimes” or “when things are going good”. No, we are called to trust God at all times. Even when things don’t make sense, and even when your heart is broken. Trust God, and pour your heart out before Him. Keep short accounts. When you’re actively talking with God, you’re less likely to allow the wrong things in your heart. Anger, jealously, pride, resentment, fear, worry– these are all things that take can up residence in your heart if you’re not careful! “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them about your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3)

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” God knows your heart. He knows my heart. He knows our intentions (Hebrews 4:12) and He longs for us to draw near to Him. Whether your heart is bitter or broken, He longs for you to take your heart and hand it to Him. After all, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

Originally published as “Matters of the heart.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. January 25, 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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Wednesday

4

July 2018

Hope Reflected | What does the Bible say about Insecurity

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"We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:10) | What does the Bible say about insecurity? | Read more at hopereflected.com

Insecurity

What does the Bible say about overcoming insecurity?

There are many different forms of insecurity. Perhaps you feel insecure about your weight, or maybe your relationships. It could be that you feel insecure in your job, or that you’re worried about what others think about you. Entering a new year can also be a trigger for insecurity: A new year brings with it many challenges and unknowns, filled with peaks and valleys.

In the face of insecurity, where are you searching for validation? Is it in the number of likes to your latest Facebook post, or maybe the attention and compliments you receive about your latest hair colour or outfit choice? We’re all longing for approval, but quite often we don’t look for approval in the right places.

So what does the Bible say about insecurity? There several references throughout Scripture regarding insecurity. God’s Word talks a lot about our worth and our value, and gives us wise instruction on ways to overcome insecurity.

  • Remember that you are of great value to God. “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.” (Psalm 139:17-18) Think about that for a minute. God’s thoughts toward you are more in number than the sand. If you have kids (or a dog) and you’ve ever taken them to the beach, you should have a good understanding of how small each grain of sand is. Those miniscule grains seem to work their way into every crack and lock of hair (or fur) on children and pets after a weekend at the water! Now imagine trying to count each grain of sand, not just on one beach, but on every beach in the entire world! It would be impossible to count every grain. And yet our Lord’s thoughts toward you are more in number than the sand. When you’re feeling insecure, remember that you are of great value to God. “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
  • Accept that you are a special creation. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27) You aren’t a mistake, and you are not unloved. God created you! There are a lot of people out there who don’t believe in the sanctity of life, but the fact is that even before you were conceived, God knew you. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5) You may feel insecure about certain aspects of your body, but God created you in His image. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) God loves you and you are a special creation. So special in fact, that God sent His only son to die so that you could have eternal life. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
  • Acknowledge that you have a purpose. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Each one of us was created for a purpose. Some days it may not feel like it, especially when you feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over, but God has a purpose for you. You’re not just born into this world to live and do what you like – though that’s how many of us often live – you’re born into this world with a God-given purpose. Have you asked God to reveal your purpose to you?
  • Seek the approval of God and not man. “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” (Psalm 118:9) This can be so hard, can’t it? We live in a world where we’re inundated with images from everyone’s highlight reel on Facebook and Instagram, and it’s so easy to start comparing ourselves to others and seeking more likes and reactions. That’s not where we should be focusing our energy, however. The Bible tells us to “Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?” (Isaiah 2:22) When we look to others for validation, that’s a sure-fire way to feel insecure. Consider the wisdom of Jeremiah 17:5: “Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD.” (Jeremiah 17:5) Looking to the Lord for approval means moving your eyes away from others and self and is a great way to overcome insecurity.

We live in a world where society profits from our self-doubt. When you put your eyes on the Lord, your thoughts will follow and will move away from self and others. Your mind believes what you tell it, so remember to nourish it with the right things: Start in God’s Word and feed on His truth, love, and faith.

Originally published as “Insecurity.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. January 11, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Sunday

1

April 2018

He is Risen | Easter | Resurrection Sunday

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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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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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Friday

23

February 2018

Hope Reflected | Lessons from the honey bee

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No matter who you are, and no matter where you are, God can use you. | Lessons from the honey bee | See more at hopereflected.com

Lessons we can learn from the honey bee

Birds, bats, wind, and even water can act as pollinators, but perhaps the most interesting of all the pollinators is the honey bee. Such an intricate creation, the honey bee is small but mighty. The honey bee plays a very important role here on earth!

We can draw many parallels between honey bees and Christians. The honey bee spreads seeds; so do Christians. The honey bee has a mission; so do Christians. The honey bee doesn’t always see the results of what it sows; neither do Christians. Sometimes, only the Lord sees the harvest. We may never know the results of our labours. But does that mean that we should stop working for Him? No!

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

Your words may be awkward. Your prayers may be meager. Your testimony may not be the most dramatic or exciting. No matter who you are, and no matter where you are, God can use you. In fact, sometimes it’s the most ordinary of people that God uses to do the most extraordinary things for His glory!

The honey bee isn’t concerned about whether it’s the strongest flyer, or whether it pollinates the most plants; no, the honey bee concentrates on the job at hand and remains focused. That’s how we need to be in our Christian walk. Keeping our focus always on the Lord.

There are other lessons we can learn from the small but mighty honey bee:

Learn how to adapt. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) Just as the honey bee knows how to adapt – honey bees can go for years without hunting by living on their food reserves – we as Christians also need to learn how to adapt to what’s going on in the world around us. Read: I’m not saying we conform to this world, but rather that we “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) Christians need to learn how to adapt and survive in a world where Christians are being held more and more accountable for what we believe.

Learn how to help others. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17) Honey bees are social creatures. They don’t work alone. They help each other. What have you done to help another soul recently? Perhaps you’re working anonymously in the background, giving to causes that assist those in need. Maybe you dedicate your spare hours to volunteering. You could even be serving by encouraging the people in your community. As Christians, we are called to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Learn how to give your life for Christ’s glory. “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) Honey bees give their life for the hive. The honey bee, by nature, is a defender. And when one honey bee’s stinger detaches from its body, it releases pheromones that inspire other honey bees to do the same and go on defense. I’m not suggesting that Christians should always be on the defensive (but sometimes!), rather I’m suggesting that as Christians we should be completely surrendered to Christ, wherever we are. For some Christians, the idea of giving up your life is quite literal, depending where you live in world. For others, giving up your life for Christ could mean complete and total dedication to serving the Lord. The reality is that we’re all missionaries, right here at home, even if we’re not called to full-time service.

Learning to adapt, helping others, and finding your purpose are all things we can glean from the honey bee. I also love what Ilan Shamir says in his “Advice from a honey bee”: Create a buzz, sip life’s sweet moments, mind your own beeswax, work together, always find your way home, stick close to your honey, bee yourself! “You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.” (Acts 2:28)

Originally published as “Lessons we can learn from the honey bee.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. December 14, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

9

February 2018

Hope Reflected | Time with God: Seeking God

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

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Seeking God "Seek the LORD and His strength, seek His face evermore!" (Psalm 105:4) | See more at hopereflected.com

Time with God: Seeking God

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been journaling about the references David made in the book of Psalms about seeking the Lord. David was a model of what it is to truly spend time with God. While he was incredibly flawed – hey, what it is to be human, right? – David was also incredibly close to our Lord. While we can learn from many positive examples of how David sought the Lord, here are three that really stand out to me: 

Seek God early. “O God, You are my God; early will I seek you.” (Psalm 63:1) Seeking God early: If you’re not a morning person, I can understand why you’d struggle with this. Reading through the Psalms however, there are so many encouraging verses about the value of seeking God early in the day. It’s such a viable point that David references it at least nine times that I can see in just one book of the Bible. “My voice you shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.” (Psalm 5:3) Beyond just early in the day, it’s also important that we seek God early: Before making important decisions, before addressing problems, before we interact with others, before we leave the house. Early doesn’t just reference the morning; it references seeking God diligently and earnestly before making decisions (1 Kings 22:5). I’m no scholar, but the same Hebrew word for “early” used in Psalm 63:1 is also used in Psalm 78:34, “they sought Him, and returned and searched diligently for God.”

Seek God often. “Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore!” (Psalm 105:4) Some versions of the Bible replace the word “evermore” with the word “continually” or “always”. We are to seek the Lord continually, to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17). Maybe for you seeking the Lord often means praying during your daily commute. Perhaps it’s communing with him while you’re out for a walk, or sitting at your desk, or while you’re making dinner. Wherever you are, seek Him! God is always with us, and we’re told in Proverbs 8:17 that those who seek the Lord diligently (read: Often) will find Him. You may think you don’t have time for God, but the key to seeking God often isn’t us making time; it’s making God part of everything that we do. After all, in Him we live and breathe and have our being. “In God we boast all day long, and praise your name forever. Selah.” (Psalm 44:8)

Seek God every day. “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life.” (Psalm 27:4) Each day brings with it new challenges and new opportunities. And no matter what the day brings, we are to seek God every day. What a challenge! We aren’t just to seek Him when we feel good, or when the circumstances suit us; we are to seek Him every day. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16) Whether the day is terrific or troubling, we should seek God every day (Psalm 50:15).

David was in no way a perfect man, and I think that’s part of what makes his testimony so relatable – he was human, just as we are, and yet we witness him demonstrate so many times through God’s Word ways that we should seek God. When we earnestly seek after God, He seeks after us. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Originally published as “Time with God: Seeking God.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 16, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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