Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

faith Archive

Monday

10

February 2020

The Significance of Small Things

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"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also much." (Luke 16:10) | The Significance of Small Things, read more at hopereflected.com

Don’t underestimate the significance of small things

“Remember a small light will do a great deal when it is in a very dark place,” D.L. Moody once said. Don’t underestimate the significance of small things.

By the simple act of holding up his hands, Moses helped lead the Israelites to victory (Exodus 17:11). With the jawbone of a donkey, Samson killed one thousand Philistines and protected his people (Judges 15:16). Using a piece of scarlet cord, Rahab preserved her entire family from certain death (Joshua 2:18). By tithing two mites, the poor widow gave all that she had (Mark 12:42-44). By following a star, the wise men found Jesus (Matt. 2:9). The Bible is filled with the significance of small things, seemingly random things that don’t strike us as that important – until God uses them for His glory. “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed,” said Jesus, “ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matt. 17:20) All we need is faith that He is Who He says He is, and that He will do as He promises.

Faith as a grain of mustard seed

Speaking of small things, faith as a grain of mustard seed can be found along the narrow way, by the straight gate. Why is the way narrow, and why is the gate straight? If we think about it, the narrow way is not the popular route. People are always striving for more, trying to do something bigger and better, living large and getting ahead, making it to the top, looking out not for others but for self interests, self care, and success. Our Lord is the exact opposite of all that. Our Lord is all about the significance of small things, and that is how He lived His life here on earth. He was a true minimalist. He had no home, He looked out for others not so He could get ahead, but so He could get to the Cross. He became small and humbled Himself, and in doing so gave us the greatest gift we could ever receive: Eternal life in Him.

We must be faithful in the few

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16:10) If we aren’t willing to serve in the small things, what makes us think that God will use us in big ways? To hear His, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” we must be faithful in the few and see the significance of small things. When our initial thought is that something’s too small to consider or to insignificant to make a difference, remember our Lord, Whose eye is always on the small things, even the sparrow: “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

Originally published as “The Significance of Small Things.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. September 26, 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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Monday

9

September 2019

A Measure of Faith

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"We walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7) | Read more at hopereflected.com

While most people are familiar with Hebrews 11 (also known as the Faith chapter of the Bible), the first direct reference of faith in the Bible – at least from my observation – happens much earlier, in Deuteronomy 32, when God says that the children of Israel have no faith.

Faith is a necessary virtue

Faith is much like hope, in that it’s a virtue necessary to believe in God, but it’s something that can only be seen in how we live. D.L. Moody once said that, “Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian.” Our faith is demonstrated in the way that we live. “The things which are not seen are eternal,” Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:18. That is faith.

Faith is a lifestyle

“The just shall live by faith,” is a statement that repeats twice in Scripture; once in the Old Testament in Habakkuk 2:4, and again in Romans 1:17. Regardless of the season, a lifestyle of faith means that we must keep walking and “continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22) even though such a way of living is not without its challenges. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that, “we walk by faith, not by sight,” and it’s because of our trust in God that we can be confident as we move through life. It’s not in and of ourselves, or our friends, or our earthly establishments – we can be confident because we walk by faith.

Abound in faith

Furthermore, in 2 Corinthians 8:7, we’re called to abound in faith. Abound, meaning to be filled up, to overflow, be abundant, and flourishing. The only way to flourish in your faith is to follow Christ, and follow hard. On our best days, are we really doing that? We fail at living a lifestyle of faith because as humans, it’s our nature to compartmentalize faith, when really faith is too vast to ever be classified or catalogued by our finite minds. We just can’t handle it.

Also important to remember is that the apostles asked our Lord to increase their faith (Luke 17:5), and they were on to something. Inside each one of us is a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). For some, that faith is fleeting (Luke 8:13), and for others that faith is overflowing (Matthew 8:10). D.L. Moody once said that, “A little faith will bring your soul to heaven, but a lot of faith will bring heaven to your soul.” The measure of faith inside us is waiting for us to wake up and ask God to grow it, and therein is the difference between fleeting faith and overflowing faith. Faith requires action. Like a garden, your faith will only grow if you plant the proper seeds, provide your soul with regular watering from God’s Word, and keep short accounts with any weeds and pests. 

A lifestyle of faith is a life lived with intention, and with purpose.

Originally published as “Faith.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. May 30, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

20

August 2019

Practical ways to live your faith

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"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) Practical ways to live your faith | Read more at hopereflected.com

Sometimes it’s the things we don’t say that have the biggest impact

Sometimes it is the things that we don’t say that have the biggest impact on the lives of others. The old adage “actions speak louder than words” is very true, especially when it comes to living out your faith. Your peers aren’t interested in how you are on Sunday; however, they will notice if how you are on Sunday is different than the other days of the week. We shouldn’t be any different on Wednesday or Thursday than we are on the Sabbath.

So what are some practical ways to live your faith?

Practical ways to live your faith

Be kind

Be kind. As early as the book of Genesis, we read about the virtue of kindness. In Genesis 24, we read about Abraham’s servant praying that the Lord will show kindness to Abraham. This theme of kindness carries through the Old Testament, in the histories of Joseph, Joshua, Ruth, David, Esther, Jonah, and into the New Testament. Kindness is a very practical way to live your faith. We’re instructed many times in the Bible to show kindness to others, “…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12). And it’s no wonder, as kindness is one of God’s many beautiful attributes (Titus 3:4). As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Live your faith by being humble

There’s also humility, and we all know that being humble is hard to do. We get caught up in who’s right, who should get credit, and who deserves to come out on top, but as Ezra Taft Benson once said, “Pride is concerned with who is right, humility is concerned with what is right.” Many times throughout the epistles, Paul encourages Christians to be humble, which indicates to me that humility is important, and also something that we need to be constantly reminded about. In Ephesians 4:2, Paul writes that we should walk worthy, “with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” With all lowliness and meekness, not just some, not just when it’s convenient, not just when you don’t have a vested interest in the outcome of a situation. Humility is a habit, and it’s another practical way of living your faith.

Practice patience

Patience, or longsuffering as Paul calls it, is another practical way of living your faith. Psalm 37:7 says that we should “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for him;” and whoever said waiting isn’t work clearly wasn’t doing it right. Aristotle once said that, “patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” Scripture shows us that we should demonstrate patience in many areas of our lives: In decisions (Psalm 37:7), in afflictions and trials (Romans 12:12), in love (1 Corinthians 13:4), in doing good (Galatians 6:9), even with one another (Ephesians 4:2). If you’re tempted to lose patience, just remember how patient God is with you. Don’t lose heart! You can be a living demonstration of God’s power when you learn to practice patience. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Faither which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Kindness, humility, and patience are just a few of the practical ways that to live your faith.  

Originally published as “Practical ways to live your faith.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. May 9, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

11

December 2018

Hope Reflected | The Purpose of Pruning

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"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.

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Wednesday

18

July 2018

Hope Reflected | Peace

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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.

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Friday

19

January 2018

Hope Reflected | God’s Faithfulness to Us

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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.

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Tuesday

24

October 2017

Encouragement | Zechariah 4:6

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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

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Friday

20

October 2017

Wednesday

11

October 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | Waiting on the Lord

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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

 

 

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