Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

isaiah Archive

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.”

Friday

8

September 2017

Hope Reflected | The Anchor

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Don't focus on the storm; focus on the One who controls the storm! God is our anchor. | See more at hopereflected.com

The Anchor

During one of our trips down South, Wes and I spent a great deal of time on the waterfront, exploring some large watercraft and even an aircraft carrier. Whether a small fishing vessel, a mid-size yacht, or an aircraft carrier, every ship needs an anchor.

Like ships, we also need an anchor as we walk through this life. We need an anchor to keep us from drifting. Often overlooked, an anchor is arguably one of the most important components of the ship, for several reasons.

An anchor provides safety. “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7) When we trust the Lord as our anchor, we’re told several times throughout Scripture that He will keep us safe. Even the hymn writer William C. Martin wrote in his famous hymn, “My Anchor Holds,” that “wildly though the winds may blow, I’ve an anchor safe and sure, that can evermore endure.” There is great peace that comes with security in Christ. When you know Him as your Saviour, only then can you truly say, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep, for thou, God, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

An anchor provides strength. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) You may be in the best physical shape of your life, but true strength is found in your soul. When you trust the Lord as your Saviour, you’ve got strength like no one else. Nothing is impossible when God is your strength. “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)

An anchor provides stability. “Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times.” (Isaiah 33:6) No matter what you’re going through in life, you can count on Christ to remain the same. When you trust the Lord as your Saviour, you’ve got an anchor that will hold you sure, no matter how tough the storms of life may seem. I love how in Psalm 18, David says that God “enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.” (Psalm 18:36) Having Christ as your anchor may not change the circumstances around you, but it does change how you react to those circumstances. Even when you feel like there’s no way you can catch your balance, Christ will sustain you, and He will stabilize you.

When we choose Christ as our anchor, it is then that we can truly sing like the hymn writer, “We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.” Whether the seas of life are calm or stormy, it’s an incredible thought that we can fasten ourselves to the Rock which cannot move. Don’t focus on the storm; focus on the One Who controls the storm! “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.” (Hebrews 6:19)

 

Originally published as “The Anchor.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. August 31, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Friday

18

August 2017

Hope Reflected | Watching Your Words

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The birds sing among the branches. Psalm 104:12 Watch your words | See more at hopereflected.com

Watching your words

If you follow along on our blog (www.hopereflected.com), then you know how much Wes and I love bird watching. From robins and blue jays to cardinals and mourning doves, there is something so soothing and therapeutic about watching God’s creations live their lives and interact in our yard. When I told him my column this week would be about the tongue, Wes commented about how so often we think of “the tongue” as something that gets us into trouble, when in reality, our tongues were created to bring glory to God. And not just our tongues, but the tongues of the birds out side as well. Birds sing to attract mates, birds call to protect their territory or alert others in their flock of food or danger. And sometimes, birds just sing. The Bible tells us in Psalm 66:4 that all the earth worships God and sings praises to Him.

What’s the first thing – in nature – that you hear when you wake up in the morning? Likely birds singing (or possibly dogs barking). If you’re into whale watching, it’s a fact that you’re most likely to see whales at their most active and vocal first thing in the morning. As part of God’s creation, we are also created to glorify Him with our lives and our voices – and that includes the words that leave our lips. The Westminster Catechism says that, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” That starts when we awake in the morning!

What prompted me to write about the power of the tongue this week was reading Psalm 141, where verse 3 says, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” Many times throughout scripture, we are told of the perils of the tongue and how important it is to be mindful of our words and actions. You might think that guarding your tongue isn’t of much significance, but even Jesus “held His peace.” (Matthew 26:63). If Jesus knew the importance of guarding His tongue – especially right before He was crucified – we should also be mindful of His example.

Through scripture we read about the bad implications of the tongue, but we should also consider what the Bible says about the blessings that come when you guard your tongue and watch your words:

  1. You will gain understanding. “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Proverbs 17:28) Sometimes it can be so tempting to interrupt and get your two cents in before the person you’re conversing with finishes their thought. Consider how the quality of our conversations would improve if only we would take the time to listen to the thoughts of others before responding. As it says in Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” What you say reflects what’s in your heart. When you listen rather than speak, you gain understanding.
  2. You will have fewer regrets. “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23) Like turning jelly back into powder or putting an egg back in its shell after it’s been broken, once your words leave your lips, you can’t take them back. This is a lesson we are all constantly learning. Our words have consequences. You may have heard the quote, “Our words are free; it’s how we use them that may cost us.” How true it is! Just remember the next time you’re tempted that it’s not necessary to react to everything you notice.
  3. You will encourage others. “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 15:4) Our words have the power to build others up, or to tear others down (Proverbs 15:1) – especially when we speak out of turn or talk about others behind their back. Proverbs 16:24 says that “gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Knowing this, why not use your words and your tongue to edify others?

Isaiah 55:12 says, “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” God’s creation, even the trees of the field, have their own way of speaking. Before you let those words roll off your tongue, consider who you’re directing the words at and the permanent impact that your words may have on the life of another.

Originally published as “Watching your words.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. August 10, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Friday

30

June 2017

Hope Reflected | Rest

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him Psalm 37:7 | Hope Reflected

Rest

The past week has been a rather frustrating one for me. Vestibular neuritis – also known as vertigo – has been providing me with all the feelings of dizziness, imbalance, headache, earache, and nausea, and as a result I’ve been spending a majority of my time horizontal (including as I write this). If you’ve ever had vertigo, you understand the sensation I’m writing about. And just when you start to feel like you’re getting over it, one sudden movement in the wrong direction sets you right back where you started.

Spending a week basically doing nothing but being still has afforded me with many hours to contemplate questions such as, “Why is this happening to me?” “What am I missing at work?” “Why does this have to happen right now?” “How long will this affect me?” and “What are you trying to tell me, God?” I asked Wes, my parents, and a couple of close friends the same questions, and interestingly enough, everyone said the same thing: “Maybe this is God’s way of telling you that you need to rest.”

Rest should be a natural part of our lives, but so often when we’re running through the motions of life, admittedly, we forget to take time to rest. Rest in each other’s company, rest in the company of those we love, rest in our home, rest in the miracles of God’s creation like the roses blooming in our front yard, or the birds nesting in the trees across our property. The Roman poet Ovid said, “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.” We can’t give our best or properly serve if we don’t take time to rest.

This idea of rest brings to mind several Scripture references. It’s interesting to note that depending which translation of the Bible you read, sometimes rest is referred to as “wait”. To wait suggests that we need patience, and I’m not sure if that’s fitting, ironic, or both.

Here are ten Bible verses about rest that I hope will encourage and reassure you as you learn patience and seek true rest:

  1. “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
  2. “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!” 1 Samuel 12:16
  3. “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way.” Psalm 37:7
  4. “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.” Psalm 62:5
  5. “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.” Psalm 119:114
  6. “Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” Isaiah 46:4
  7. – 9. “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
  1. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

Christ alone is able to give us rest in every area of our lives. As A.W. Tozer once said, “You can’t truly rest until every area in your life rests in God.” Once you’ve started, it’s so easy to keep running that perhaps sometimes we just need a reminder to rest (free lesson in patience included).

Originally published as “Rest.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. June 15, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Monday

26

June 2017

Hope Reflected | For what you’re going through

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. “O LORD, You have searched me and known me… For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.” (Psalm 139:1, 4) | Hope Reflected

For what you’re going through

As humans, one of our most basic desires and one of our most common characteristics is that each of us has a longing to feel as though we belong and are understood.

When I think of belonging and understanding, the act of listening is not the first thing that comes to my mind. Wes and I have had the discussion before that sometimes when either of us is talking, we don’t necessarily need the other to go in to “fix” mode; he or I are just looking for a listening ear. More often than not, many miscommunications or disagreements stem from a lack of listening (and when you don’t listen, you don’t understand). Many feelings of loneliness and isolation begin when you feel that you don’t belong. Sometimes you just need to talk. Sometimes you just need to listen.

Maybe you’re going through an illness, or perhaps you’ve reached a relational crossroads. It could even be that you’ve entered a new and foreign season in your life and you’re longing for that one connection who can listen to you scrutinize your situation from every angle and provide you with the comfort of knowing that he or she has already been there and done that and they completely get where you’re at and what you’re going through.

During our devotions this past week, Wes and I were reflecting on how incredible it is that regardless of where we’re at in life or what we are going through, there is always One Who understands us, Who gets us, and Who loves us despite our human condition.

Your desire to be understood and to belong can only ever truly be fulfilled by God. He was made manifest in the flesh and took on any earthly pain or feeling imaginable (and even the unimaginable) and He carried it all on the cross. He understands what you are going through. You know that feeling you get when you connect with someone and realize that he or she understands exactly what you’re going through and experiencing because they’ve already been there? That’s what it’s like when you have a personal relationship with God, except in a much more intimate and powerful way.

God created you, God knows you, and God understands you and what you’re going through:

God created you. “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:16)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

God knows you. “O LORD, You have searched me and known me… For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.” (Psalm 139:1, 4)

God understands you and what you’re going through. “You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. “ (Psalm 139: 2-3)

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.” (Isaiah 40:28)

Our Lord experienced all of what we could ever go through in this life when He was on the cross. You may ask why, and the answer is that He loves us. As it says in Psalm 139, His thoughts toward us are precious, the sum of them is great, and they are more in number than the sand.

Originally published as “For what you’re going through.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. June 8, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Monday

12

June 2017

Hope Reflected | Three Facts to Remember About Hope

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facts about hope

Three Facts to Remember About Hope

 

Emily Dickinson once wrote:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all

Hope is a funny thing. Growing up, there were times when I found it difficult to have a name that rhymed so easily with other words. More recently, in my adult years, I’ve found it a challenge to bear this name, as there have been times where I’ve felt anything but hopeful.

Everyone, at some point in his or her life, feels discouraged. The key is to never give up hope. Even when all the cards are down and you feel like everyone’s against you, there is always hope. As long as you’ve got your Faith, you’ve got a solid foundation, and you’ve got hope.

If you’re feeling down or discouraged today, take heart. Remember these three facts about hope:

  1. Hope is a reality and not a feeling. (And I’m not talking about myself here!) Biblical hope means that I’ve got a solid foundation for LIFE, and can rest on the promises of the One who loves me and cares for me more than anyone on this earth. Hope is a promise, and God always keeps His promises. “…Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23, NKJV)
  2. Hope endures. Sure it may seem like the rain will never stop or your heart will never be whole again, but take heart – it will! Hope claims the promises of God and gives us confidence to weather the storm. He may not take away the challenge or stop the season, but He always gives strength to endure. Believe it, and cling to it. “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24, NKJV)
  3. Hope believes. And when you believe, you can achieve. God’s got a plan, and we just need to learn to rest in this reality and trust Him. It can be hard, but it’s like the book of Isaiah says: “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ saith the Lord.” Quite often our plans look very different from God’s plans, and quite often He has a way of bringing things to pass that we could never even dream. “’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 29:11NIV)

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope.” (Psalm 16:9 NKJV) Hope: A small word with endless promise. Even without all the words, keep singing!

Originally published as “Three facts to remember about hope.” Minto Express. June 10, 2015: 5. Print.

Friday

26

May 2017

Hope Reflected | Timeliness

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

timeliness God's timing

Timeliness

If you garden, you know that during the early days of Spring, it can prove a challenge to know the right timing for tasks that need to be completed. This year, I questioned the right time to trim back the rose bushes. Wes wondered about the ideal time to re-seed the lawn. Together, we’re still debating where several annuals should be planted throughout the garden. Timing is everything.

The timing you’re struggling with may not be related to gardening; maybe you’re waiting to hear back about that job application, or perhaps you’re waiting and wondering why you’re single when it seems as though all your friends are getting married and starting a family, or maybe you’re questioning the inconvenience of a recent health challenge.

Timing is everything.

  1. There is a time for everything. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Chances are that even if you haven’t read the book of Ecclesiastes, you’ve likely heard the famous song by The Byrds called, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” where we hear that, “To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn),” and it’s true. There is a season and a time for everything. Happiness. Sadness. Love. Heartache. Health. Sickness. Life. Death. The important thing to remember is that God is in control, and it’s God Who has a perfect timing for everything.
  2. Sometimes (OK most of the time), our timing is not the best. “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) Have you ever been held up in a traffic jam, feeling frustrated that you’re going to be late? Or have you ever hesitated to make a decision, only to make your choice and find out that the house is off the market/tickets are sold out/position has been filled? We think we’ve got it all together, and we’ve got everything planned out perfectly (according to us) in our minds, however the reality often is that God’s timing is not our timing (and written from experience, God’s timing is ALWAYS the best).
  3. Ultimately, our timing is in God’s hands. “My times are in your hand.” (Psalm 31:15a) Whether or not you’re a Christian, God is in control. God is omniscient (read: He knows everything), and He makes no mistakes. That can be a hard truth to accept, especially when things aren’t going the way I want them to. Frequently, I have to catch myself when things aren’t going my way, and remind myself that God’s timing is greater than anything I could ever imagine. Jesus Himself said in John 13:7, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”
  4. We can trust in God’s timing. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Trust can be difficult, especially if you’ve been hurt before, however when you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, He will never let you down. “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:25-26)

God’s timing is perfect. You may think you know the right time for everything, but remember what Elisabeth Elliot said: “God never denies us our heart’s desire except to give us something better.” If you’re questioning the timing of something in your life, keep in mind that God frequently answers our prayers in one of three ways: With a “yes”, with a “not yet”, or with “I have something better in mind.”

 

Originally published as “Timeliness.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. April 27, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Monday

27

March 2017

Encouragement | Isaiah 45:2

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make the crooked places straight

“I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.” (Isaiah 45:2)

In the New American Standard version of the Bible, Isaiah 45:2 is translated, “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth…”; in the English Standard version of the Bible, “I will go before you and level the exalted places…”; in the New International Version, “I will go before you and will level the mountains”.

It’s an encouragement to know that we serve a God Who will make the crooked places straight, make the rough places smooth, level the exalted places, and level the mountains.

Having that kind of strength and power before us, behind us, and within us is a huge comfort. Whatever crooked or rough places you face, whatever exalted places, whatever mountains are in your way, trust God. He will be the One to make your way straight, smooth, and level.

“I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.” (Isaiah 45:2)

 

Monday

20

March 2017

Encouragement | Isaiah 30:15

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in quietness and in confidence encouragement isaiah 30:15

 

“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

If you’re like me, sometimes (OK, a lot of times) you have the tendency to speak out, to get the last word in, and to be the authority on the issue of the day.

That’s why I love the gentle reminder of Isaiah 30:15 “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.”

So often throughout God’s Word, we read of examples of men and women who, by the world’s terms, weren’t strapping and strong, but rather were humble, had a teachable spirit, and were quick to listen (rather than quick to speak). I’m reminded of the fact that it’s in the stillness of our souls that we become strong. It’s not when we’re trying to be tough, getting out there and talking back, or being of an argumentative spirit that God uses us; no, it’s when we have a quiet spirit that God speaks through us most. It’s when we’re ready to rest in Him that He will use us.

This week, while everything in me wants to challenge and to be strong, I need to remember that I can do that best when I am quiet and confident in my Heavenly Father and His strength alone.

“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

Monday

6

March 2017

Encouragement | Rest | Matthew 11:28

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Encouragement

matthew 11:28 encouragement rest

“Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

You know how sometimes Monday morning can roll around and you wonder how on earth you’re going to make it through another week?

More often than not, it seems that each of us has too much going on, that we’re always running from place to place, just trying to get things done. While we’re busy being busy, it can be so easy to forget that there is One who sees all and knows all. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” There is no rest like the rest that Christ provides. There is no peace apart from Him.

You may recall in Isaiah 40:31 we are promised that “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.”

A.W. Tozer once said, “Sometimes when we get overwhelmed, we forget how big God is.” No matter how much is going on this week, or how many tasks you have on your to-do list, fix your eyes on our Lord Jesus Christ, and He will give you rest.

“Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28