Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

encouragement Archive

Friday

27

March 2020

Thoughts around thankfulness

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” (G.K. Chesterton) | Read more at hopereflected.com

We should get in the habit of gratitude

A.W. Tozer once said that, “gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God. And it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” We often read throughout the Bible about the importance of thankfulness in our every day lives, but the reality is that most of us are more quick to take our blessings for granted than to show gratitude.

Thankfulness is an attitude

Thankfulness need not be an elaborate planned event – such as the Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate each year – thankfulness is something that once a spark is created, can turn into an ever-burning fire. It’s an attitude that we can cultivate, regardless of the time of year.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,”. Consider your own thoughts for a moment. How often do we think of a particular someone throughout the day: A spouse, mother, father, child, sister, brother, niece, nephew, or even our co-workers? Chances are, we think of several or all of the aforementioned many times throughout the day. And yet, how often do we give thanks for them? Paul wrote that he thanked God on every remembrance of his friends. A prayer of thanks, no matter how short, so long as it is genuine, is heard by God.

Thankfulness is our duty

An attitude of gratitude is part of our calling as Christians. Did you know we have a duty to thankfulness? Paul wrote in his second letter to the church at Thessalonica that, “we are bound to give thanks always to God for you,” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). We are bound to give thanks! Despite the second epistle to the Thessalonians being written after a somewhat discouraging description of coming events, Paul exhorts fellow believers that we should be thankful to God for all His blessings and for what He has called us to. He is our Comforter, our Rock, our Buckler, our High Tower, our Salvation! His blessings are everlasting.

Not only should thankfulness be part of the Christian’s character, it’s something we should do unceasingly. We’re all familiar with 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “pray without ceasing,” and for some reason we don’t as easily remember the other “cease not” counsel found in Ephesians 1:15-16: “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;” We should cease not to give thanks. We should get in the habit of gratitude.

“Thanks are the highest form of thought”

Small utterances of praise throughout the day can make all the difference in your life.  As G.K. Chesterton said, “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say, grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and the pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

Originally published as “Thoughts around thankfulness” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. November 28, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

24

March 2020

The Power to Transform

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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God's Word has the power to transform! "The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever." (1 Peter 1:24-25) | See more at hopereflected.com

God’s Word has the power to transform

“It is one thing to believe the Bible, but something else altogether to allow the Bible, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, to impact and change your life,” A.W. Tozer wrote.

“Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth,” David wrote in Psalm 119:142. Psalm 119 focuses on the greatness of God’s Word. David went on to write in v. 160, “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” Years later, Isaiah wrote, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (40:8). Generations after that, Peter wrote, “all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1 Peter 1:24-25). The word of the Lord endures for ever. Generations will pass away, but His Word will remain relevant. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

God’s Word Endures

Because the truth of God’s Word endures, it is also trustworthy. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 111:7-8, “The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.” We can trust God’s Word.

God’s Word is a powerful tool

“The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, 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.” (Heb. 4:12) God’s Word has the power to convict us of our sin, and to strengthen us in our faith. David requested of the Lord in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” A clean heart comes when we confess our sins, confession of our sins comes after we’re convicted of them, conviction comes through the Holy Spirit working in our conscience, and the Spirit can only work if we let Him. This is something that makes many people uncomfortable. They don’t want to face their sin; they’d rather continue living in complacency.

Spending more time in God’s Word

Paul wrote in Colossians 3:10 that we should “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” Knowledge can only be found through learning, and spending time in the Bible is the best way to learn about the One Who created you. Paul also wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” We should make a point to spend more time with God. Carve out time to read and pray each day, and guard that time. Spend more time trying to understand God through His Word. God’s Word has the power to transform.

Originally published as “The Power to Transform.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. December 5, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

20

March 2020

Peter: From Fearful to Faith-Filled

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"But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me." (Matthew 14:30) | Read more at hopereflected.com

From fishing to following

Peter was not a man with a formal education; rather, he was a fisherman, to whom we’re first introduced in Matthew 4, when Jesus implores Peter to “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19) Right away, without hesitation, both Peter and his brother Andrew leave their nets, and quite literally follow our Lord.

Peter is one of the most relatable of the apostles – in him we can see ourselves, and in him we witness such a redemptive testimony. Peter’s walk with the Lord took him from being fearful to living faith-filled, and reading through the New Testament takes us through his transformation. 

Lord, save me

When Christ walks on water in the middle of a storm in Matthew 14, we read that the disciples were afraid. Peter, first questioning, says, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” (14:28) Jesus responds to him, “Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.” (14:29) Peter becomes fearful when he takes his eyes off Christ and gets caught up in the storm raging around him. He cries out, “Lord, save me.” (14:30) Isn’t that just like us? We start out with good intentions, we get going, and then we take our eyes off the Lord. We’re quick to rely on our own strength, when we should be resting in the Lord. Years later in his ministry, we witness Peter’s transformation as he encourages fellow Christians to remember that we are “kept by the power of God through faith.” (1 Peter 1:5).

From cowardly to courageous

We see throughout Peter’s time with Christ his change from cowardly to courageous. Preceding Christ’s crucifixion, Peter pledges his allegiance to Christ (Matt. 26:35). Only a short time later, when Christ is betrayed into the hands of the high priest and abandoned by the disciples, we read that Peter “followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.” (Matt. 26:58) Peter watches as Jesus is beaten, abused, and spit upon, and he vehemently denies knowing Christ not just once, but three times in a matter of minutes. Peter then weeps bitterly after he recalls our Lord’s statement to him, “Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” (26:75) What a picture of us. We boast of our faithfulness, but in times of trial and testing – and when it seems everyone’s against us – we’re swift to shrink back and go silent. This hard lesson was a precursor to Peter’s eponymous epistle where he wrote, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…” (1 Peter 3:15-16) and that we should be happy if we are “reproached for the name of Christ,” (1 Peter 4:14).

Peter’s transformation from fearful to faith-filled required great perseverance. Like Peter, we must move forward, and continually cast all our cares upon Christ.

Originally published as “Peter: From Fearful to Faith-Filled.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. November 21, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

18

March 2020

10 verses to calm and reassure your anxious mind

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Encouragement

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During times of uncertainty, and when we focus on what’s happening all around us, it can be easy to lose our focus on God. We need God now more than ever! In the midst of all the staying home and social-distancing, we should be clinging to Him now more than ever. When we need reassurance and reminders of God’s goodness — and we all do, don’t we — God’s Word is the best place we can go. I hope these 10 verses to calm and reassure your anxious mind are an encouragement to your spirit. Read them, write them down, print them out, and commit them to memory so you can calm your anxious mind no matter where you are. Even when we don’t understand the plan or the purpose, we can trust the Great Planner. Remember, nothing is a surprise to God!

1. Joshua 1:9

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9)

"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." (Joshua 1:9) | 10 verses to calm and reassure your anxious mind | Read more at hopereflected.com

2. Psalm 55:22

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22)

"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." (Psalm 55:22) | 10 verses to calm and reassure your anxious mind | Read more at hopereflected.com

3. Psalm 86:7

“In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.” (Psalm 86:7)

"In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me." (Psalm 86:7) | 10 verses to calm and reassure your anxious mind | Read more at hopereflected.com

4. Psalm 91:4

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91:4)

"He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler." (Psalm 91:4) | 10 verses to calm and reassure your anxious mind | Read more at hopereflected.com

5. Isaiah 35:4

“Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.” (Isaiah 35:4)

"Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you." (Isaiah 35:4) | 10 verses to calm and reassure your anxious mind | Read more at hopereflected.com

6. Isaiah 41:10

“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)

"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) | 10 verses to calm and reassure your anxious mind | Read more at hopereflected.com

7. Matthew 10:29-31

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:29-31) | 10 verses to calm and reassure your anxious mind | Read more at hopereflected.com

8. 2 Corinthians 12:9

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12:9) | 10 verses to calm and reassure your anxious mind | Read more at hopereflected.com

9. Philippians 4:6

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." (Philippians 4:6) | 10 verses to calm and reassure your anxious mind | Read more at hopereflected.com

10. 2 Timothy 1:7

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) | 10 verses to calm and reassure your anxious mind | Read more at hopereflected.com

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Monday

16

March 2020

The Compassion of Christ

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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"And of some have compassion, making a difference." (Jude 22) | Read about the compassion of Christ at hopereflected.com

“He had compassion”

Read through the Gospels of Christ’s earthly ministry, and the words “he had compassion,” will stand out repeatedly. Compassion is one of the most over-looked characteristics of Christ. Compassion is something that each of us so desperately needs and yet is something that each of us so often withholds from showing to others. Our Lord is the ultimate source of compassion.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) Our Lord’s compassions fail not. How many times do we hear those verses and not consider how awesome it is that God’s compassions are unfailing. When we feel like giving up, that is precisely when we must not. Whatever we feel, our Lord has felt it in its deepest and truest form. His compassions fail not.

“But he, being full of compassion,”

“But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.” (Psalm 78:38) Rather than turn anger away, so many times we invite it in and entertain it! And what about stirring up our wrath – how many times throughout the day do we catch ourselves stewing rather than being still and remembering that He is God! We can be quick to get angry, to stir up our wrath – and bitterness, and envy, and loathing – but how often can it be said of us that we are full of compassion?

“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20) Like the father when his prodigal son returned, our Lord so willingly demonstrates compassion toward us. We read the words “he had compassion” many times throughout the Bible’s history of Christ’s ministry – our Lord is not just full of compassion, He is ready and willing to show us compassion.

Whatever we feel, our Lord has felt in its deepest and truest form

Our compassion should not just be limited to those we like or those we agree with, compassion requires just the opposite. Compassion is a character builder that pulls us from our comfort zone and counts us among the saddest and sickest and most sorrowful. Consider Christ: His compassion wasn’t reserved for His disciples, in fact any of the examples we read of Christ in Scripture show us that He had compassion on the grieving (Luke 7:13-14), the victimized (Mark 9), the weary (Matthew 11:28-30), and those experiencing trials and temptations (Hebrews 2:18). Christ’s compassion for us is so authentic, that He felt our deepest hurts more intensely than we ever will.

When we show compassion like Christ, we make a difference for Christ. When we show compassion like Christ, we’re making changes for Christ. When we show compassion like Christ, we’re walking in obedience to Christ. After all, we’re commanded in Jude 22, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.”

Originally published as “The Compassion of Christ.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. November 14, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

17

January 2020

Victory in Jesus

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Encouragement, Published Work

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Enough with the fatalistic attitude!

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57) | Victory in Jesus | read more at hoperflected.com

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

We aren’t called to be wimps. We are not called to get caught up in doom and gloom or bad news and bothered outlooks; enough with the fatalistic attitude! We are called to step up, get out there, and be game changers. Christians, remember and rejoice: We have the Holy Spirit living inside us!

Taking courage in the promise of Victory.

Take courage in the promise of victory in Jesus that David shared in Psalm 110. Consider the victory we have in Jesus through His resurrection from Acts 2:31-33: “He [God] seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” Contemplate the awesomeness of the victory we have in Jesus Christ’s triumphant return from Revelation 19:11,13: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True…and his name is called The Word of God.” There is victory in Jesus.

The theme of Victory.

We see it throughout Scripture. During Paul’s ministry, though he faced persecution and trials, his communications all have this overarching theme of victory. Look at Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth. One of the central themes is the joy of the Christian’s life in Christ! Read through his letter to the church at Ephesus where he clearly talks about the church’s position in Christ. Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse considers Christ’s preeminence and our life as Christians in Him. Or what about Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi where he encourages believers about our confidence in Christ! Despite his circumstances, Paul’s attitude was still that of victory in Jesus. What an awesome example for us to follow and be encouraged by.

We have proof of Christ’s deity, we have our own detailed Biblical history, and we have the promise of Christ’s triumphant return. What are we doing in the meantime? Take a cue from Scripture and take action. Obey Christ.

Have faith in Christ!

Jesus Christ Himself encourages us to have faith, even if it starts as a grain of mustard seed (Matt. 17:20). He also encourages us to let our light shine: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid…Let your light so shine before men…” (Matthew 5:14,16) We are not called to shrink back – we are called to step up. Don’t like what you’re seeing in the world? We aren’t supposed to sit around just waiting for Christ to come save us, we are to let our light shine and share the Good News.

Originally published as “Victory in Jesus.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. September 19, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

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Thursday

16

January 2020

The Importance of Fellowship

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Without Christian fellowship, our faith will falter.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1) | The Importance of Christian Fellowship | Read more at hopereflected.com

Our church family email group recently sent out a prayer request for one of our members. Wes and I, along with many others in our church, continue to pray for our friend. It is such an encouragement to have a strong community of believers, who pray for one another and care for one another’s well being.

Christian fellowship is powerful – not because of the people who are part of it – but because of Who we serve.

In Anne Graham Lotz’s book, Jesus in Me, she shares how fellowship directly affects our faith by using the analogy of a burning log that is removed from the fire. When it’s not a part of the fire – eventually, the log stops burning. When a fish is removed from water – eventually, the fish stops breathing. When a star runs out of hydrogen – eventually, the star stops being a star. So it is with us; without Christian fellowship, our faith will falter. We need community.

Christian fellowship is powerful – not because of the people who are part of it – but because of Who we serve.

Beyond fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, our church community is one of the places where we have fellowship with our Heavenly Father. J.R.R. Tolkien, author of Fellowship of the Ring (from the Lord of the Rings trilogy) once wrote to his son that, “the only cure for sagging or fainting faith is Communion.” Communion itself is the very act of communing with God. “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)

A Shared Faith

Fellowship is a shared faith, even in the face of opposition. In 1 Samuel 20, we read about the strength of David and Jonathan’s friendship, which was based on their shared faith. Even in the face of opposition, these two men shared a common bond: “The LORD be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever.” (1 Sam. 20:42) Fellowship between believers is a friendship that stands the test of time, and also provides an encouragement you won’t find in other earthly relationships. “A friend is someone,” said C.S. Lewis, “who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

The Power of Fellowship

Fellowship also equips us with strength in the midst of suffering. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were persecuted for their faith and thrown into the fire, the very man that put them there said,  “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of fire? … I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Daniel 3:24-25) That is the power of fellowship – it’s not just between us as Christians, it’s between us and Christ! We were called into His fellowship! It reminds us that we are not alone.

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other?” asked A.W. Tozer. “They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.” Fellowship doesn’t necessarily mean freedom from disagreements – so long as we’re humans there will be no perfect church – but it is something that we are called to in Christ (Phil. 2). We are called to be likeminded, to be of one accord, of one mind. As Psalm 133 begins, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

Originally published as “The Importance of Christian Fellowship.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. September 12, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

Read more about fellowship and the Christian church here.

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Friday

20

December 2019

The Christmas Tree and The Cross

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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To truly celebrate Christmas, you can’t have one without the other

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) | The Christmas Tree and The Cross | read more at hopereflected.com

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” Jesus said in John 10:10. By dying on the cross for our sins, Christ paid the ultimate price in order to grant eternal life to anyone who believes in Him.

How is eternal life associated with the Christmas tree?

Have you ever wondered how eternal life is associated with your Christmas tree? Centuries ago, Europeans apparently used evergreen trees as a symbol of eternal life. Years later, evergreen trees such as fir, spruce trees, or pine trees were brought into homes and decorated as a symbol of Christmas – this is a tradition thought to have originated with German Lutherans.

Regardless of your denomination, the Christmas tree is a symbol of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth for one purpose: To save us. He willingly went to the cross and gave His life in order to save us from our sins and to give us eternal life. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Trees referenced throughout Scripture

Trees are referenced so many times throughout the Bible. Two examples of trees used in Scripture that have incredible significance – and ties to Christmas – are the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the cross.  Adam and Eve sinned at the bottom of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil when they ate the fruit (Genesis 3:6), and Christ paid for our sins when He gave His life on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).

But it doesn’t end there! Yes, Christ died on the tree, paid the ultimate penalty for our sins, and was resurrected to life three days later. If you choose to put your trust in Christ and believe in His name, you too will have eternal life. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) You just need to trust Him. Your testimony need not be an exciting story; your testimony can be as simple as confessing your sin to Christ and putting your faith in Him.

Why do you celebrate Christmas?

Why do you celebrate Christmas? If you don’t celebrate, ask yourself why not. Christmas is the celebration of our Saviour’s birth, and while the decorations of red and green, the talk of Santa Claus, all the presents, and the food, may hold a certain attraction and enjoyment, true contentment can only be found when you remember the Christmas tree and the cross. To truly celebrate Christmas, you can’t have one without the other. The cross is as integral a part of Christmas as the evergreen that’s standing in your living room. Just because you may not believe doesn’t mean it’s not true. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Originally published as “The Christmas Tree and The Cross.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. December 13, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

22

November 2019

Lead me in the way everlasting

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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“As the Lord knows us thoroughly, and we are strangers to ourselves, we should earnestly desire and pray to be searched and proved by his word and Spirit. If there be any wicked way in me, let me see it; and do thou root it out of me. The way of godliness is pleasing to God, and profitable to us; and will end in everlasting life.”  Matthew Henry | Read more at hopereflected.com

Our lives here on earth aren’t separate from our lives after death

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) We often think upon reflection of David’s words in Psalm 139:24 that “lead me in the way everlasting” refers specifically to eternal life, however David was asking for direction for his life on earth.

Our lives here on earth aren’t separate from our lives after death; in fact, the path we choose here on earth will ultimately determine where we’ll live when we die.

The Lord knows us thoroughly

Matthew Henry said in his commentary that, “As the Lord knows us thoroughly, and we are strangers to ourselves, we should earnestly desire and pray to be searched and proved by his word and Spirit. If there be any wicked way in me, let me see it; and do thou root it out of me. The way of godliness is pleasing to God, and profitable to us; and will end in everlasting life.”

The way everlasting isn’t a path we just happen upon; throughout our journey we have to continuously ask God for directions. “Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.” (Psalm 5:8) It’s easy to get tripped up and sidetracked by what the world deems as wise, but the way everlasting is only found by seeking guidance in one place: God’s true and perfect Word. The self-care and do-good beliefs, the world religions, the “influencers” who try to woo us – they are like the teachers that Jude referred to as “wandering stars”. Joseph Benson said of them, “as the planets seem to have a very irregular motion, being sometimes stationary and sometimes retrograde, they are very proper emblems of persons unsettled in their principles, and irregular in their behavior….”

Seek the Lord first

None of us are perfect. We each go through seasons (some lasting longer than others) where we are also unsettled and irregular. The good news is that the way everlasting – on earth and to eternity – isn’t dependent on anything that you or I can do. We will never measure up, none of us will ever reach the righteous standard on our own merit, only God can do that for us – and He did, when He sent His only begotten Son to die so that we can live. Lest you think you’re destitute and too far down the path of darkness to turn around, our Lord has already paid the price to redeem your life from destruction (Psalm 103:4). All you have to do is choose Him.

Let us not be like the “wandering stars” described in Jude 13, “to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” Rather, let us follow the path of the just, which Proverbs 4:18 describes as, “the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” The way everlasting will lead us to the perfect day; eternity. Do you know where you’ll be spending it?

Originally published as “Lead me in the way everlasting.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. August 28, 2019: 7. Print. Web.

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Thursday

17

October 2019

Seeking God’s Counsel

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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5 things to remember when seeking God’s counsel

"Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel." (Psalm 73:24) | Read more about seeking God's counsel at hopereflected.com

“And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people? And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever. But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:” (1 Kings 12:7-8)

We all know how Rehoboam’s reign ended. The importance and impact of heeding wise counsel should never be underestimated. The Bible is filled with the history of men and women who sought wise counsel, and also of those who thought they knew better. Time and time again throughout Scripture we see a similar pattern: Seeking wise counsel is always best.

The book of Proverbs also shares a lot of advice on the subject of seeking wise counsel: “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety (11:14), “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” (12:15), “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.” (19:20), “For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (24:6)

Probably the most recognizable Proverb on the topic of seeking wise counsel is found in chapter 3, verses 5 and 6: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Our elders and mature believers are both excellent sources to go to for counsel, but let’s not forget the best source of all for wise counsel: Our Heavenly Father.

God’s counsel is sovereign. “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35)

God’s counsel is eternal. “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” (Psalm 33:11)

God’s counsel is reliable. “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” (Psalm 73:24)

He is our Wonderful Counsellor (Isaiah 9:6) and He is great in counsel (32:19). God’s Word stands no matter what – He is faithful and true. Seeking wise counsel? Remember to look to God first.


Want to understand more about seeking God’s counsel? Find out more about how God’s counsel stands here.


Originally published as “Seeking Wise Counsel.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. August 8, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

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