Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

isaiah Archive

Friday

17

April 2020

Acquainted with grief

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"Bless are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4) | Acquainted with Grief, read more at hopereflected.com

Even in grief, God is still good

There is nothing quite like grief. Grief is a lot like love, and we feel grief because we love; it’s not until we experience grief that we start seeing it everywhere. Grief, that homesick longing that will never be fulfilled on this side of heaven; grief, that feeling that we all have in common in some way or another, but that each of us experiences so differently.

“Feelings, feelings, feelings.” C.S. Lewis said in A Grief Observed. “Let me try thinking instead.” That’s just it, as Lewis said, “our feelings come and go, but God’s love for us does not.” Even in our grief, God is still good. When we are in the middle of suffering, when we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and when we are caught in the furnace of affliction, God is still good. He is still with us. Though we may not feel it – though we may feel everything but – God is still with us, even in our grief, as we see in Scripture.

In Isaiah 53, which is widely read at Easter, we are reminded of this truth.

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Isaiah 53:3

He hath borne our griefs

Man of sorrows! What a name! Christ, our Lord, is acquainted with grief! We are not alone! When we feel that God is hiding His face from us, when we feel that He doesn’t esteem us, let us remember the truth: That is precisely what we did to Him, and it is precisely what He will never do to us. On the contrary, God loves us so much, that He let His only son endure deeper grief that we could ever imagine, because He loves us so much.

Even in grief, God is still good. Even when we feel the weight of the world, He still cares, and He still carries us.

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

Isaiah 53:4

“And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.”

Isaiah 46:4

Though grief lingers and leaves us under a cloud of gloom, He will carry us and He will deliver us.

We must have faith

“Blessed are those who mourn,” Jesus said in Matthew 5:4, “for they shall be comforted.” That is a promise! When our hope is in God, He will help us. Though weeping may endure for a night – or a week, or months, or even years, – joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Our grief is not forever. Though our grief may at times feel greater than we can bear, we must remember that even when we are wearied in the greatness of our way, He will deliver us.

Originally published as “Acquainted with grief.” Independent Plus. January 23, 2020: 6. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

1

April 2020

The Furnace of Affliction

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"Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." (Isaiah 48:10) | Read more on hopereflected.com

In the furnace of affliction, God still has His hand on us

In the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar threw three Hebrew believers – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, – into a fiery furnace. Remember their words in response? “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us out of thine hand.” (Dan. 3:18) Even when they faced the fiery furnace, they stood firm in their faith. The result was that God was with them – literally! Three men were thrown into the furnace, and king Nebuchadnezzar and his counselors saw four: “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.” (Dan. 3:25)

A furnace of a different kind

It’s not the first time we read about a furnace in Scripture. Earlier in Isaiah, we’re introduced to a furnace of a different kind: “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”(Isaiah 48:10) In this passage about God redeeming the Israelites from the Babylonian captivity, we come to understand that even in His refining of us – which more often than not brings us through trials and trying times – God does not deal so rigorously with us that He neglects to show us His mercy. For even in the furnace of affliction, God still has His hand on us. It can be hard to believe when you’re thrown off your feet, but when we cling to our faith, when He is all that we have, we will find that God is with us. In C.S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain he writes: “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our consciences, but shouts to us in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

The furnace of affliction has this way of forcing us to look up

The furnace of affliction has this way of forcing us to look up, searching for comfort and seeking relief. Grief, sorrow, sadness, pain – when we are down and out, the best option is to use these times as opportunities to grow. It sounds trite, and when someone says that to you when you’re down, when someone promises that “it will get better,” or “it will get easier,” your first thought may be to say, “You have no idea what I’m going through!” (even when they do). But it does get better, when you go to God’s Word. “For the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” (Isaiah 49:13) There is a bittersweet embrace in reading these words and experiencing their truth.

Matthew Henry wrote of this passage in Isaiah that God’s “bringing men into trouble was to do them good,” and as troubling as we may find this, he is right. Even in the furnace of affliction, when we choose to listen to God and obey His commandments, He gives us peace like a river, and He makes our righteousness as waves of the sea – “Come ye near unto me,” God invites us in Isaiah 48:6. In the furnace of affliction, He is with us, and His Word is the place we find Him.

Originally published as “The furnace of affliction.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. January 16, 2020: 6. Print. Web.

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Thursday

22

March 2018

Encouragement | Easter meditation on Isaiah 53:5

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"The chastisement of our peace was upon him." Isaiah 53:5 | See more at hopereflected.com

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

The first part of Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities;”. Jesus carried the weight of our sin to the cross. Every sin, every transgression, and all of our iniquity — even the things that happened last week, and this week, or that will happen in the future — Christ bore it all on the cross. It’s hard to fathom, isn’t it?

Romans 4:25-5:1 puts it like this: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”.

Jesus went to the cross for all of our sins. But He didn’t stay there!

Isaiah 53:5 continues on to say, “the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

What is the chastisement of our peace? In his exposition of the Bible, John Gill explains the chastisement of our peace like this:

“the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
that is, the punishment of our sins was inflicted on him, whereby our peace and reconciliation with God was made by him; for chastisement here does not design the chastisement of a father, and in love, such as the Lord chastises his people with; but an act of vindictive justice, and in wrath, taking vengeance on our sins, of our surety, whereby divine wrath is appeased, justice is satisfied, and peace is made.”

Christ didn’t just go to the cross to die. He went there, carrying all of our sins, so that we might live and have eternal life and peace. I love how it’s described in 1 Peter 2:24: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

Christ went to the cross so that we should live unto righteousness!

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Click here to read more from this series on Isaiah 53.

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Wednesday

21

March 2018

Encouragement | Easter meditation on Isaiah 53:4

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"Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." Isaiah 53:4 | See more at hopereflected.com

Casting all your cares on Him

Isaiah 53:4 “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

Isaiah 53:4 is tied to Matthew 8:17 “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”

Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, bore our griefs and carried our sorrows to the cross. And you know what? He still bears our griefs and carries our sorrows to this very day.

When you have a personal relationship with Christ, you have the privilege of casting all your cares on Him.

  • “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
  • “Come unto me, all ye that labour 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
  • “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22)

Although He faced a world that regarded Him as stricken, although He was smitten of God, although He was afflicted — although Christ carried the burdens of the entire earth to that cross, we all know what happened.

He rose again the third day. Christ conquered the grave. He conquered our sin. He conquered every insecurity and every fear. All we have to do is put our trust in Him. You are able to give your all to Him, casting all your cares on Him because He cares for you.

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)

Isaiah 53:4 “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

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Tuesday

20

March 2018

Encouragement | Easter Meditation on Isaiah 53:3

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He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. | See more at hopereflected.com

Encouragement | Easter Meditation on Isaiah 53:3

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:3

With Holy Week starting next Sunday, this week I’m meditating over Isaiah 53 and the New Testament Scriptures that detail the history of our Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus was despised, rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, despised. We hid our faces from him, and we esteemed him not.

Psalm 22:6 says, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” Jesus was despised. He was rejected. He was the man of sorrows. He was acquainted with grief.

If you’re sad, discouraged, down, or depressed, remember this: Jesus has already been through it all. He has been through the deepest grief, and He has felt more sorrow than you will ever know.

We’re told in Hebrews 4:15 that “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are….” Jesus knows every aspect of the feeling of your infirmities. He completely understands the depths of your debilitating depression and your grief. You know why? Because He’s been there!

Jesus was in the world, in fact He made the world, and the world knew Him not (John 1:10). If you’re longing for significance, or looking for an answer, I encourage you to look to the Lord. He went to the cross for you. He wants to know you personally. Call out to Him, and He will hear you.

“Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.” (Psalm 105:4)

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:3

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Friday

15

December 2017

Hope Reflected | The Fountain of Life

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"For the Lamb... will lead them to living fountains of waters." (Revelation 7:17) | Read more at hopereflected.com

The Fountain of Life

Easily one of the most recognizable tourist attractions in Rome, the Trevi Fountain is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture. It took thirty years to construct, is one of the oldest sources of water in Rome (the fountain is built at the end of the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct, which was used as early as 19 B.C. as water in the ancient Roman baths), and attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Throughout the Bible, our Lord is referred to as many things, one of the most fascinating of which is the fountain of life. Several times throughout Scripture, a parallel between God and a fountain or spring is drawn. During times of spiritual struggle, discouragement, or deep valleys in our lives, looking to God as our source of water, as our fountain, can provide just the relief, encouragement, and light that we need.

God is our source of life. “…on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.” (Genesis 7:11) In the midst of seasons when we are tired, drained, and wondering where we’ll muster the strength for the day ahead, recall this to mind: God is our source of life. While we don’t know when exactly David wrote Psalm 36, we can be sure he was looking to the Lord as his source of strength: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” (Psalm 36:9). In Christ alone, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). When our strength seems small, or even when it seems like we’ve got the world wrapped around our finger, we need to claim Christ as our source of life.

God is our source of abundance. “A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house and will water the valley of acacias.” (Joel 3:14) All that we are and all that we have comes from the Lord. As our source of abundance, we can rely on God to provide for our every need, even the things we haven’t thought of. It’s not until we learn (and will we really ever learn in this lifetime?!) to rest in Him, rather than our own power, that we will truly understand the blessing of relying on God as our source of abundance. He truly is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think! “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

God is our source of security. “For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17) In a previous column, I wrote about God as our Shepherd. Just as a shepherd protects his sheep, God also protects His children. He’s our source of security (Isaiah 41:10). He is our Great Comforter (Psalm 23:4). He is our fortress (Psalm 91:2). Psalm 46:1 opens with the statement, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

One of the things that I love about the metaphor of God as our fountain is that throughout the Bible, we read how fountains flow down into valleys. Psalm 104:10 says that “He sends the springs into the valleys”. Isaiah 41:18 says that God opens “fountains in the midst of the valleys.” God is our source of life, abundance, and security. No matter how low or far down we may feel, God can reach us, especially in our valleys.

Originally published as “The Fountain of Life.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 2, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Monday

6

November 2017

Bible verses for when you need strength

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10 Bible verses for when you need strength | See more at hopereflected.com

At any given point in time, we could all use more strength. When days are long and hard, and you find yourself weary, rest in the promises of God’s Word. He promises to be our strength, even when we have none.

Here are 10 Bible verses for when you need strength (OK there’s 13 verses here but who’s counting). Committing these verses to memory or writing them down will ensure that you can remind yourself of God’s strength and draw on His strength anytime.

  1. Psalm 22:19 “But You, O LORD, do not be far from me; O my Strength, hasten to help me!”
  2. Psalm 28:7-8 “The LORD is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.”
  3. Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
  4. Isaiah 12:2 “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; he also has become my salvation.”
  5. Isaiah 40:29-31 “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but 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.”
  6. Habakkuk 3:19 “The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.”
  7. Nehemiah 8:10 “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
  8. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
  9. Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the LORD and in the power of His might.”
  10. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

What are your favourite Bible verses about strength, and what are the verses you recall to mind when you feel weak? We are told in Psalm 1 that the man who makes the law of the Lord his delight and meditates on the Lord day and night “shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:1-3) When you feel like you don’t have the strength, look to the Lord. He will not let you down! He will uphold you with His right hand!

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Wednesday

4

October 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him

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God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. | See more at hopereflected.com

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides you, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4)

God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

Waiting can be hard, especially when we live in a time where it seems like everything is instant. From drive-thrus and credit cards to cell phones and the internet, we have the ability to get and receive pretty much whatever we want, when we want it, sometimes without giving a whole lot of thought to the consequences.

While waiting can be hard, we can be sure of this: God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him, and when you choose to wait for God, the results are always worth it.

Two of my favourite Bible verses talk about the importance of waiting for the Lord.

  • “Wait on the LORD, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)
  • “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who bring wicked schemes to pass.” (Psalm 37:7)

Waiting on the Lord can mean the difference between good and great for your life. Remember, it takes 6 months to build a Rolls-Royce and 13 hours to build a Toyota. God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him, and the wait is worth it!

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides you, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4)

 

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Tuesday

26

September 2017

Encouragement | Isaiah 33:2

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"Be our arm every morning." Isaiah 33:2 | See more at hopereflected.com

“O LORD, be gracious to us; we have waited for You. Be their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.” Isaiah 33:2

Ever notice how the Bible refers to our Lord so many times as being “gracious”? Grace. It’s one of the most highlighted virtues of God, and serves as a great reminder that in our daily lives we ought to exercise grace towards others. It sure can be hard!

In Isaiah 33:2, Isaiah calls out to God to be our arm every morning and our salvation in the time of trouble. What exactly does it mean to be our arm every morning? Some versions of the Bible replace “arm” with “strength”. I think that puts it in perspective; each morning, we’d be wise to call on God as our strength. Start the day in prayer; spend time in the morning in the Bible; commit each day to the Lord.

Rather than rushing out the door in the morning, when you make time for prayer and devotions, it can make a huge difference in your day!

“O LORD, be gracious to us; we have waited for You. Be their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.” Isaiah 33:2

 

 

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Wednesday

20

September 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | Nourish to Flourish

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"You have to nourish if you want to flourish." Wednesday Wisdom | See more at hopereflected.com

“You have to nourish if you want to flourish.”

Self care is something that many of us aren’t good at. Think of all the competing priorities! From work and family to church and volunteering, sometimes it can be difficult to find — nay, take — time to rest yourself and to be still.

Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still and know that I am God.” Think about that. Providing nourishment for ourselves is about more than just the food that we put into our bodies. We also need to provide nourishment for our souls, through God’s Word, and through prayer, and we can’t do that if we are taking time to be still. Be still.

When I’m running all day, and my mind is running too, that’s when I have a tendency to get overwhelmed with anxious thoughts and feelings. Isn’t it true? Any time we find ourselves anxious or worrying, I can pretty much guarantee it’s because we’re spending more time focused on our problems than on our Saviour. It is crucial to take time each day to retrain our focus on the Lord and His goodness. When we do this, we are promised God’s perfect peace. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

In all areas of your life, if you want flourish, you’ve got to nourish. Jesus Christ is the living bread; it is only through Him that we can find nourishment for our souls! “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:51)

What are you putting into your body, soul, and mind? What are you doing to nourish your spirit? Remember to take time to rest each day. And remember, what you choose to focus on can have a huge impact on your life. Feed yourself with the right things!

“You have to nourish if you want to flourish.”

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