Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

faith Archive

Tuesday

11

December 2018

Hope Reflected | The Purpose of Pruning

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Share Button

"Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." (John 15:2) The Purpose of Pruning | See more at hopereflected.com

The Purpose of Pruning

Pruning requires effort

 

People have varying opinions about fall; F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that “life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” John Burroughs once said, “how beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and colour are their last days.” Whether you look at fall as a new, exciting season, or you look at fall as the time when plants die and go dormant, autumn is a beautiful season that is not without its charms. It’s also a time of year when green thumbs – and wannabe gardeners – prepare their plants for winter. Wes and I usually take our cue from our neighbours when they trim back their hostas.

The type of plant determines the time of year in which you’ll prune – either late winter/early spring, or in the fall – and the purpose of pruning differs depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. This process that we go through with plants reminds me so much of the process that God goes through with us. Jesus said in John 15:1-2, “I AM the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

Pruning encourages plants to thrive. Pruning can help to improve a plant’s health, to promote growth of more flowers or fruit, and also higher quality and larger quantity of blooms. The same can be true in our own lives. When we prune away unhealthy habits or poisonous people, or when God removes certain things from our lives, the results can be incredible. We may not always understand why God prunes the things that He does, but we can be certain that the rewards of being patient during seasons of pruning far outweigh the results of trying to do it our own way. “Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt you to inherit the land.” (Psalm 37:34)

Pruning can also change the way a plant grows. Take the two hydrangea plants in our yard, for instance. This year, Wes is taking on the task to see if he can change the way the plants are growing, by removing any of the branches that are growing inward. One of the purposes of pruning can be to train a plant to grow in a certain direction or in a certain way. Pruning can help promote healthy growth patterns. As in our own lives, God often uses pruning as a way to alter how we’re growing or to change the direction in which we’re growing. God’s plans are bigger than any of our mistakes, and He’ll often use pruning as a method to turn us around. “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

Pruning is an important part of growth. Without pruning, the plants in our garden would enter the spring and summer season still carrying the weight of last year’s now dead growth. Isn’t that just like us? More often than not, we need to let go before we can grow. Someone once said that autumn leaves falling are an excellent reminder of how beautiful it is to let things go. It’s not always easy, but it always best to let go and let God. “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

While the purpose of pruning can vary depending on what you want to accomplish, pruning promotes a better, more well-rounded plant. Pruning requires effort – both working and waiting – and the results are always worth it.

Originally published as “The purpose of pruning.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 18, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

Share Button

Wednesday

18

July 2018

Hope Reflected | Peace

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Share Button

Seek peace, and pursue it. (Psalm 34:14) | Peace | Read more at hopereflected.com

Peace

When you have a personal relationship with our Lord and Saviour, peace is possible.

“Daniel slept in a lions den, Peter slept in a prison, Jesus slept in a storm. No matter your circumstance, you can take a nap.” Last week when I saw this meme I laughed out loud. Upon further consideration however, I realized how true that statement actually is, because of God. I think most of us would be in agreement that when you’re going through a stressful time, you don’t sleep as well. Your mind wanders. You can’t concentrate. You can’t rest.

Peace, it would seem, often eludes people during times of distress.

In an effort to capture peace, people search many different avenues, such as meditation, yoga, healthy eating, even exercise. The truth is though, that there is only one way to achieve true peace, the “peace that passes all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) It’s through God. When you have a personal relationship with our Lord and Saviour, eternal peace is possible. And trust me, it’s a reassurance unlike any other!

Does that mean that you won’t ever encounter stressful situations or hard times? On the contrary! However, even in the midst of adversity and trying times, peace is possible.

  • Keep your focus on the Lord. “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8) Psalm 16 goes on to say, “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.” (Psalm 16:9) Do you know when David wrote Psalm 16? During a stressful time! And yet, he confirmed that he could rest secure because he was keeping his eyes on the Lord. Sometimes when I’m stressed, the last place I’m focusing is on the Lord. You know what helps me? Bible verses like Psalm 16:8-9 and having Scripture either memorized or on a sticky note in front of me where I can remind myself where my peace truly is. Memorize some Bible verses that provide reassurance. Write down Scripture that reminds you to look to the Lord! We’re only human, and sometimes (OK most of the time) we need to be reminded to focus on the Lord. Focusing on the Lord takes your eyes off the problem and puts your eyes on God.
  • Learn to slow down. “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:7) Slowing down in a world that seems to be moving faster and faster and where people expect instant gratification seems near impossible. As silly as it may seem, slowing down – at least for most of us – is something we have to learn. Learn to say no. Learn to turn off distractions – music, TV, even other people! – and sit silently with our Lord. Read the Bible. Slow down. We live in a time where it’s trendy to have a side hustle in addition to your daytime hustle. Go against the grain! If you don’t slow down, and rest, and wait on the Lord, you won’t hear Him. Simple as that. And if you want peace, you have to be willing to take – make – the time to hear God and what He’s saying through His Word and through prayer.
  • You’re not in control. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) You’re not in control. Are you sweating yet? I am! As a planner, I understand first hand how anxious it can make you when you come to the realization that you’re not in control. And you know what? It’s a good thing I’m not in control! Countless times, Wes and I have prayed and made plans, only to have God deliver in the most unexpected ways. Thank you, Lord! He truly does “exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think,” (Ephesians 3:20). As Charles Stanley says, we can get so caught up in asking God for A, B, or C, and then He blows us out of the water and gives us the whole alphabet! When you realize that you’re not in control, and you acknowledge that with God, a weight will lift off your shoulders. He will bless you beyond and He will give you peace (Psalm 29:11) if you’ll only let Him!

In Psalm 34:14, we’re encouraged to “seek peace, and pursue it.” Just make sure you’re looking for peace in the right places. There’s only one peace that passes all understanding, and that’s the peace of God. Not sure how to find it? All you have to do is ask Him!

Originally published as “Peace.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. February 1, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

Share Button

Friday

19

January 2018

Hope Reflected | God’s Faithfulness to Us

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Share Button

His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) God's Faithfulness to us | See more at hopereflected.com

God’s faithfulness to us

Most of the time, we’re more apt to use a product or make a purchase based on someone else’s testimony of how well a product works or how a certain purchase changed their life. While it’s not a product or service, the Bible works in a similar way. After experiencing God’s faithfulness, you’re more apt to share about your experience with others and encourage them to get into God’s Word and give Him a chance. God’s Word is this amazing, incredible guide to life that works! In fact, without the Bible, without God’s promises and principles, we lack order. Look around!

Reading through the Bible, we’re met with so many accounts of God’s faithfulness. What I love about this, is that each account of God’s faithfulness comes to us courtesy of people who lived before us, who give firsthand accounts of how God changed their lives and changed the way they lived.

Even in my own life, I can’t begin to share all the stories of how God – time and time and time again – consistently shows up in my life and provides exceedingly abundantly above all I can ask or think. Even in the past few days! As David said in Psalm 63:3, “Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!”

God’s faithfulness is always fresh. “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) Lamentations 3:22-23 was the basis for the infamous hymn, “Great is Thy faithfulness”. God’s compassions are new every morning and His faithfulness is great – every morning. Each day, we get a fresh start to experience, recognize, and give thanks for God’s faithfulness! Whatever the day brings – big challenges, facing fears, enduring heartache – God will be faithful to you. “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

God’s faithfulness is independent of our faith. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful.” (2 Timothy 2:13) Thankfully, God’s faithfulness does not depend on us! There is nothing that we can do that will alter His faithfulness to us. I’m thankful for that as I so often falter throughout life. His love endures. When we are tired, He is enlivened; when we are weak, He is strong; when we are failing, He is thriving; when we are hating, He is loving. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

God’s faithfulness is everlasting. “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” (Deuteronomy 7:9) Since the beginning of time, God has been demonstrating His faithfulness. He always will! Check out the historical examples of God’s faithfulness in the books of Joshua, 1 Kings, the Psalms, Paul’s epistles, among others. God is faithful!

As we’re told in Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Though it may not always be easy, and though we may have to rest and wait patiently for the Lord to work, the fact is this: He always does. God is faithful, and He will quite often show up in our lives in ways that are far above and beyond anything we could imagine!

Originally published as “God’s faithfulness to us.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 9, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Share Button

Tuesday

24

October 2017

Encouragement | Zechariah 4:6

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Encouragement

Share Button

Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6 | See more at hopereflected.com

“Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6

When we give God our weakness, He will give us His strength. Too often we take for granted and don’t recognize the realities of having a relationship with God. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Zerubbabel was reminded not to be discouraged by his weakness, but to be encouraged and to rely and remember the Lord’s strength. That’s exactly what we need to learn to do more in our day to day lives.

How often do we go through the motions of life, relying on our own power and knowledge, rather than resting in the Lord’s strength and wisdom?

Zechariah 4:6 is a challenge and a great reminder to rest in the Lord’s strength and wisdom! We won’t succeed in our own strength, but rather when we truly set our focus on Him!

“Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6

Share Button

Friday

20

October 2017

Wednesday

11

October 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | Waiting on the Lord

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Wednesday Wisdom

Share Button

Waiting on the LORD. | See more at hopereflected.com

“Waiting on the Lord is never wasted time.” Charles Stanley

It may be difficult, it may be a challenge, but you can rest assured that waiting on the Lord is never wasted time.

Several times throughout Scripture, we read about the blessings that come when we choose to wait on the Lord.

  • “Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
  • “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your hear; wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14)
  • “Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land.” (Psalm 37:34)

We know that God blesses those who choose to wait for Him. Don’t let settling for the “good” get in the way of God’s best for your life! “All things work together for good to those who love God.” (Romans 8:28)

“Waiting on the Lord is never wasted time.” Charles Stanley

 

 

Share Button

Friday

6

October 2017

Hope Reflected | In the Hard Seasons

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Share Button

Christ's grace is sufficient. | See more at hopereflected.com

In the Hard Seasons

 

You know how sometimes during that mid-February dullness you find yourself wondering, “How much longer is winter going to last?!” “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us. Sometimes the seasons last for a few weeks, other times months, and in some cases, even years.

“Why?” is a question that’s often asked about different circumstances and world events. Why do we go through hard seasons in life? Why would a loving God allow bad things to happen? The reality is that the answer has less to do with God and more to do with us as human beings. We live in a fallen world, and nothing will be perfect until eternity.

While we don’t always have the answer to the “why” about difficult or hard seasons in life, we do have the answer through God’s Word of what we’re to do when times get hard. We aren’t always going to understand the purpose of why people get sick, or why people are bullies, or why it seems like sometimes we just can’t catch a break. But what we can understand is what we should do when times get hard.

  1. Learn more about Jesus. “Come unto me, all ye that labor 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.” (Matthew 11:28-29) We’re encouraged many times throughout the Bible that we should seek the Lord in times of trouble. David said in Psalm 61:2 “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Quite often when times are hard and we find our selves in the midst of challenging circumstances, or all the bad things happening at once, we don’t understand. Psalm 119:71-73 encourages those who are suffering, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Your hands made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.” God will give you perfect peace when you seek Him. (Isaiah 26:3)
  2. Don’t be afraid. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10) Sometimes the last thing we want to hear – OK let’s be honest, pretty much always the last thing we want to hear – from other people is “don’t worry about it.” Not only is that annoying, it can also be a downright hurtful statement to say to someone who is suffering. I’m not saying “don’t worry” when you’re going through a hard season (and if you figure out how to not worry, let me know your secret). What I am saying is that when God instructs us or commands us, we’d be wise to take heed. That being said, throughout the Bible there are more than 365 “fear not” references. Our reverence of God alone should alleviate or lessen any other fear we may have. “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” we’re encouraged in John 14:27. And do you know why? Because when you make Christ your focus, He gives you peace, and it’s like nothing else in this world. See also Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Even in the hard seasons, even when you can’t see Him and you don’t know what He’s doing, God is with you.
  3. Trust in the Lord. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Man, can it ever be hard when you have no idea what’s around the corner. But you know what we’re promised in God’s Word? That He’ll direct our paths. Psalm 119:105 puts it like this: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” At the time that Psalm was written, there were no crazy high beams, there was no high-powered LED flashlight. The light in Biblical times would have literally been just enough to see right in front you. Not the whole path, and not what’s at the end of the tunnel. In the hard seasons, trust in the Lord with all your heart. Even when that means crying out to God several times a day! Even when it means you have to take things moment by moment! Trust Him! You trust that your car will get you from point a to point b; you trust that chair is going to hold you when you sit down; so why not trust the Creator of heaven and earth with your life (even the hard seasons)! He will not forsake you! (Psalm 9:10)

Seasons come and go. In the hard seasons, cling to Christ. His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Christ is full of compassion, comfort, and He will carry you through.

Originally published as “In the hard seasons.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 21, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Share Button

Monday

2

October 2017

Great is thy faithfulness

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Encouragement

Share Button

Great is thy faithfulness quote. | See more at hopereflected.com

This past Sunday at church, we sang one of my favourite hymns, Great is thy faithfulness. Written in 1923 by Thomas O. Chisholm, Great is thy faithfulness is based off the portion of Scripture found in Lamentations 3:22-23:

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

If you’re in need of encouragement today, just remember, there is no shadow of turning with God! He does not change, and His compassions fail not. He is always the same, and He cares for each one of us!

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Thomas O. Chisholm

Share Button

Wednesday

6

September 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | Faith Reassures You

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Wednesday Wisdom

Share Button

Stress tells you that everything has to happen right now. Faith reassures you that everything will happen in God's perfect timing. | See more at hopereflected.com

“Stress tells you that everything has to happen right now. Faith reassures you that everything will happen in God’s perfect timing.”

A friend of mine shared this quote on Facebook the other day, and it reminded me of the importance of keeping our focus on God and His perfect timing — even when we feel like He can’t hear us. Isn’t it true? So often, we go to the Lord in prayer seeking an instant answer to a prayer request, or so confident in our own plan, when really, we ought to rest in Him and wait patiently for His perfect timing rather than rushing.

Elisabeth Elliot once said, “Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” When we make a conscious effort to keep our focus on God, we strengthen our faith. Here are 10 encouraging Bible verses for when you’re feeling stressed or if you need reassurance of God’s faithfulness.

  • “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:45)
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
  • “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8)
  • “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
  • “Cast all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
  • “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
  • “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)
  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

These are just 10 Bible verses for when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, worried. The Bible is filled with so many encouraging and uplifting verses. Dig into God’s Word and let faith reassure you. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him!

“Stress tells you that everything has to happen right now. Faith reassures you that everything will happen in God’s perfect timing.”

Share Button

Friday

1

September 2017

Hope Reflected | The Light

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Share Button

I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun. C.S. Lewis quote | See more at hopereflected.com

The Light

This past week, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the light. It’s not that the weather’s been particularly rainy, however my heart has just been hurting when I hear the news of unrest both in North America and abroad. Perhaps it’s the constant connectivity of social media that is making everybody suddenly “aware,” or perhaps as a nation we are finally getting to the point where something’s got to give. Either way, now more than ever, I find myself trying to remember that this world is not our forever home, and I find my focus and meditation is leaning more on the promises of God and His light.

Without light, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish much. It’s like a life without Christ; without Him, we can’t really accomplish much. I mean, sure, we may think we can do anything, but earthly glory is only temporary. Light is a fascinating thing.

Light encourages. “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1) If you’re someone who suffers from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), you know what I mean when I say that light encourages. There’s something about being stuck in the dull days of the middle of winter, where clouds are full and sunlight is sparse. When you experience the sunlight in the midst of the dark winter days, it’s almost like a weight lifts off your shoulders. You think more positively, your focus is more clear, and you are encouraged that spring is somewhere around the corner. The same rules apply when you have Christ as your Saviour. He encourages. He gives us strength. “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24) As Christians, we aren’t called to shine our own light, rather we are called to reflect Christ’s light. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Light helps things grow. “All things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” (Ephesians 5:13) If you’re reading this, you’re likely well aware of photosynthesis – the process in which plants use sunlight to make food from carbon dioxide and water. Not only does sunlight help plants grow, it also assists in the production of oxygen as a result. When you have Christ as your Saviour, you don’t just stay the same. There is great growth that comes as a result of having a genuine heart for God. Just as you learn and grow from grade to grade in school, you grow spiritually as you grow closer to God. “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

Light dispels darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) There is a whole lot of darkness in this world. And that’s to be expected. We live in a broken world. As Anne Graham Lotz (The Reverend Billy Graham’s daughter) said when asked about how God could let certain things happen in the world, “for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their first at God and said, ‘God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business, we want you out of our marketplace, and God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life, removing His hand of blessing and protection.’” It’s not just happening in America – it’s happening everywhere. The good news is that God’s light dispels darkness. We just need to put our faith in Him.

You may feel as though you’re walking in the darkness. Perhaps you’re anxious, discouraged, or fearful about the future. There is hope! There is light! As C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christ, like I believe in the sun – not because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else.” “Don’t shine so that others can see you, shine so that through you, others can see Him.”

Originally published as “The Light.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. August 24, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Share Button