Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

galatians Archive

Friday

23

February 2018

Hope Reflected | Lessons from the honey bee

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Share Button

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

Lessons we can learn from the honey bee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn how to give your life for Christ’s glory. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35) Honey bees give their life for the hive. The honey bee, by nature, is a defender. And when one honey bee’s stinger detaches from its body, it releases pheromones that inspire other honey bees to do the same and go on defense. I’m not suggesting that Christians should always be on the defensive (but sometimes!), rather I’m suggesting that as Christians we should be completely surrendered to Christ, wherever we are. For some Christians, the idea of giving up your life is quite literal, depending where you live in world. For others, giving up your life for Christ could mean complete and total dedication to serving the Lord. The reality is that we’re all missionaries, right here at home, even if we’re not called to full-time service.

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

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

Share Button

Thursday

2

November 2017

Hope Reflected | The Grateful Heart

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Share Button

"That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14 The Grateful Heart | See more at hopereflected.com

The Grateful Heart

Like most holidays, Thanksgiving comes and goes in the blink of an eye. In fact, here we are less than a month after Canadian Thanksgiving, and you’re more than likely already thinking about other things. More than a choice, having an attitude of gratitude the whole year through is possible when you have a grateful heart. So what are the characteristics of a grateful heart?

  1. The grateful heart seeks God regardless of circumstances. “In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Take note of this portion of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. He says, “in every thing give thanks.” Not “in some things,” or “in happy things.” In every thing we are to give thanks. Can that ever be a challenge or what?! There are some things and times in which I just don’t want to give thanks! Even in challenging times or difficult seasons, we’re called to give thanks, even if it’s for the little things (because really, the little things are the big things, aren’t they?). Don’t concentrate on the circumstances that will always change; focus on God Who will never change and Who will always be there for you. The grateful heart seeks God regardless of circumstances.
  2. The grateful heart wants to help others. “Do not forget to do good and to share with others.” (Hebrews 13:16) We’re called on several times throughout the Bible to help others. It’s not always going to be convenient, and it’s not always going to be easy. In fact in Hebrews 13:16 “to do good and to share with others” is referred to as a sacrifice. The grateful heart wants to help others. Maybe for some that means lending a helping hand, or for others, it could mean being a listening ear. Whatever the case, we are encouraged in Galatians 6:2 to “carry each other’s burdens.”
  3. The grateful heart is content. “Be content with what you have.” (Hebrews 13:5) The grateful heart remains focused on what it already has rather than looking for fulfillment in other places. I’ve written before about the importance of contentment, and a sure sign of a grateful heart is one that’s focused on all it’s been blessed with. You may have heard the old adage, “the grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greenest where you water it.” This wisdom is true. We brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing with us when we leave (1 Timothy 6:7) so where’s your focus? The grateful heart is content with what it already has.

Above all, the grateful heart realizes and treasures what is truly important. What’s in your heart? Is your heart a home for our Lord and Saviour? Or is your heart focused on building an earthly empire? Your answer will determine your eternity. The only One who can truly satisfy the human heart is the One who made it. There’s a longing in each heart that only Christ can fill (Psalm 90:14).

Originally published as “The Grateful Heart.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 12, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Share Button

Friday

13

October 2017

Hope Reflected | Don’t grow weary in well doing

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Share Button

"Let us not grow weary while doing good." Galatians 6:9 | See more at hopereflected.com

 

Don’t grow weary in well doing

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9) Sometimes I get weary. Do you ever feel like you just can’t do anything right? That no matter what you do, there’s always going to be someone right there, ready to criticize you and cut you down? I’m right there with you. And you know what? It can be wearying, can’t it? Sometimes I wonder what exactly Paul was going through when he wrote those words in Galatians. It’s not lost on me how even 2,000ish years ago, the struggle was real.

Weariness. It sure has a way of creeping up on you, doesn’t it? When you’re doing the best you can, and you’re coming up against criticisms and chastisements, weariness seems like a natural reaction. I mean, who, doing their best, wants to continue on when they’re only met with adversity?

What the apostle Paul wrote in Galatians however, is true. We aren’t to grow weary while doing good. Even when we think there’s no point, or we’re not being recognized or appreciated how we think we ought to be, we’re still supposed to keep doing good and to not lose heart. If you know anything about the life of the apostle Paul, you know he didn’t have it easy. He was trying his best, and he was beaten, bruised, jailed, and persecuted. The ironic thing is, that Galatians was the first epistle he ever wrote – can you imagine how he was feeling when he got to writing books 12 and 13?!

There are many areas in our lives where we should not grow weary while doing good.

  • Serving others. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24) It’s not always easy to work with others, especially those who have… difficult personalities. A good thing to remember is that there will always be that person who always has to be right, who always wants to be involved, or who always wants to be in control. As hard as it can be, sometimes you’ve just gotta run with it. Accept others. Eat humble pie. I am really speaking to myself, here. When everything in me wants to retaliate, sometimes the best course of action is no action at all. Rather, focus on the Lord and at the task at hand. After all, we’re told in Proverbs 25:21-22, when we work to serve others, even those who are against us, “you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”
  • Working diligently. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not unto men.” (Colossians 3:23) Perhaps you’re working in a factory where you think you’re nothing more than a number. Maybe you’re serving in a position that is less than glamorous and you long to be recognized. Whatever the case may be, remember that no matter your job here on earth, God sees you, and He sees your heart and how you serve. If you’re feeling discouraged, keep in mind that ultimately we’re to work for His glory.

Regardless of where you’re at in your Christian walk, there are many areas in each of our lives where we need to stay strong, keep the faith, and not grow weary while doing good. Whether your weariness is in your personal or professional life, God has a plan. Don’t underestimate how He can use even the most “ordinary” of circumstances and people to do something extraordinary. As the controversial artist Banksy said, “If you get tired, learn to rest and not to quit.” And if you catch yourself getting tired, remember that in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 we’re told that we should, “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” Ultimately, how we live our lives here on earth will affect our eternity. Who and what are you living for? Come unto Jesus, and He will give you rest!

Originally published as “Don’t grow weary in well doing.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 28, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Share Button

Tuesday

17

May 2016

3 Ways to Conquer Bad Habits

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Share Button

conquer your bad habits

Galatians 5:9 says, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,” and I was reminded over the weekend just how true this is. Last Fall, Wes and I did a lot of winter prep work in our garden and around the yard; we weeded, seeded, raked, and trimmed. Preparation is supposed to benefit the lawn, trees, and any perennials in the garden during the next season.

This past weekend, it seems as though every neighbour was out in his or her yard, just soaking up the warm weather. Wes and I were no exception. We took the opportunity Saturday to churn up the gardens, do some edging, and lay mulch for this year. While we were churning the earth around our trees, both of us noticed how this one weed spread and laid roots during the winter! We’re pretty sure it’s some sort of common knotweed, and it sure grows aggressively. Even after all our work to pull up the roots last Fall, it somehow managed to breed and grow throughout the Winter.

I say all this because, as we were pulling up any leftover (or new) weeds over the weekend, I thought to my self how important it is when you’re pulling weeds to make sure you pull the whole root – you can’t leave any of the root behind, or it will just start growing again. How similar that is to our own behaviours and habits – when we’re trying to make positive life changes, we have to get rid of all the negative, and make sure any bad habits are completely uprooted.

Bad habits pull you down. Sure, those vices may not seem all that destructive at first, but like sin, vices are progressive. They start out small, and you think they’re no big deal, and sometimes we can’t even see bad habits until we’re so far involved in practicing them, and by that time, they can seem almost impossible to break. So how can we pull away from destructive behaviours and bad habits?

Three areas I can think of that can help us conquer bad habits:

  1. Be accountable. Perhaps you have a spouse, a best friend, a parent, or even someone within your church family who can encourage you by helping you stay accountable. In the first part of the verse, James 5:16 instructs us to “Confess your faults one to another”.
  2. Pray specifically. The second part of James 5:16 instructs us to “pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” When you have a specific habit you need help overcoming, or a behavior that needs correction, ask for prayer specifically for that concern.
  3. Believe you can overcome bad habits and behaviours. The last part of James 5:16 tells us that “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Effectual is another word for successful, and fervent is another word for believing something so truly that you are actual passionate about the topic.

Bad habits and behaviours can be overcome. One of the keys is to nip it in the bud. Like the annoying (and fast-growing) knotweed, bad habits and behaviours have a way of spreading. As Dr. Bob Gilbert said, “First we form habits, then they form us. Conquer your bad habits, or they’ll eventually conquer you.”

 

Originally published as “3 Ways to Conquer Bad Habits.” Minto Express. April 20, 2016: 5. Print.

Share Button