Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

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Friday

14

September 2018

Hope Reflected | Choose Joy

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"We have to choose joy, and keep choosing it." (Henri J.M. Nouwen) | Read more at hopereflected.com

Choose Joy

Joy can be found in many places

While many people believe that happiness and joy are one and the same, I’ve often said that happiness is a feeling and joy is a choice. One of my favourite quotes is about joy: “We have to choose joy, and keep choosing it.” (Henri J.M. Nouwen)

The notion to “choose joy” suggests that joy isn’t so much a feeling as it is a choice or a habit that we purposefully develop. While you may not be happy, you can still choose joy. While happiness resides temporarily in your heart and relies solely on your circumstances, joy indwells your spirit and can be yours at any time so long as you make the choice.

C.S. Lewis once said, “no soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek, find. To those who knock, it is opened.” Lewis also said, “I didn’t go to religion to make me ‘happy’.” Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed the path to Easy street. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean that you’re exempt from challenges. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean that you’ll always be “happy”, but it does mean that you’ve got a relationship with the Creator, and you’ve got direct access to the One Whose arm can move the world.

Mentioned more than 165 times throughout the Bible, joy is a fascinating thing. Joy, when we choose it, can arm us and equip us with many blessings. Joy can be found in many places.

  1. In God’s presence. “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11) When was the last time that you sat and just revelled in God’s presence? We often get caught up going through the motions of our morning or evening devotions and telling the Lord what we want from Him through prayer once or twice a day that we miss out on the simple delight that comes when we stop to enjoy His presence. It’s in His presence that we can experience the fullness of joy.
  2. In sorrow. “Make me to hear joy and gladness;” (Psalm 51:8) This verse continues, “…that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” That’s heavy. David (yes, David as in David and Goliath, that David) wrote Psalm 51 at a very low point in his life. He had an affair with a married woman (Bathsheba) whose husband was away at war. And what happened? Bathsheba became pregnant, and to cover his tracks, David ultimately had her husband Uriah killed at war. The prophet Nathan called David out on his sin, he repented, and that’s the backstory to David penning Psalm 51. In the midst of his sorrow, David asked the Lord to make him hear joy and gladness. And the Lord heard him. David’s testimony isn’t the only place we read about finding joy in sorrow or hardship. In James 1, we’re encouraged and reminded to consider it “all joy” when we experience trials, because it is then that our faith produces patience.
  3. In creation. “For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.” (Psalm 92:4) There’s something to be said about the experience of enjoying (to find joy in) the outdoors and God’s creation. Every morning before the sun rises, I can hear the birds singing for joy outside my window. Joy can be found in taking a walk and breathing fresh air, or in planting and tending a garden. There’s a quote about gardening that says, “he who shares the joy in what he’s grown spreads joy abroad and doubles his own.”
  4. In the morning. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) Lamentations 3:22-23 says that, “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Along with the Lord’s mercies, joy comes in the morning. If you’re not a morning person, I can appreciate this may not be what you want to hear, but it’s true. There’s something about the quiet of a new day dawning, an opportunity to start over, and a fresh perspective that makes joy that much easier to find.

Nehemiah 8:10 provides the reassurance that, “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” If you’re truly seeking after joy, God will give you strength. And it is only in God that your joy will be full (John 15:11).

Originally published as “Choose Joy.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. April 12, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

5

September 2017

Hope Reflected | Encouragement | Romans 15:13

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing. (Romans 15:13) | See more at hopereflected.com

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  (Romans 15:13)

If you’ve ever read through the book of Romans, you’re well aware that throughout it, the apostle Paul delivers a powerful presentation of the Gospel. Through Christ alone can we find eternal salvation; it is His righteousness alone.

The book of Romans also provides encouragement for Christians, as evidenced in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

  • Only God can fill us with all joy and peace in believing (the key is we must believe in Him)
  • As Christians, God will fill us with ALL joy, not just some joy or a little joy, ALL joy
  • We have the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives
  • We can abound in hope because we believe in Christ
  • Only God can fill us with peace, and that peace comes when we believe

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  (Romans 15:13)

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Tuesday

22

August 2017

Hope Reflected | Encouragement | Hebrews 13:5

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Be content with what you have. Hebrews 13:9 | See more at hopereflected.com

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” Hebrews 13:5

It is so easy to lose sight of what we already have by looking across the grass to what we think are greener pastures. The truth is though, that the grass isn’t greener on the other side; the grass is greenest where we choose to water it.

When I find myself feeling discouraged or discontent, nothing puts me in check quite like taking an inventory of all that God has blessed me with. We can’t experience true joy until we learn to be content with what we have, and the biggest part of that is giving thanks to God.

The things of this earth will pass away, but we are promised from God that He will never leave us for forsake us. Even when you feel like the whole world is against you, God is with you. No matter what happens or what you do, He will never leave you, and He will never forsake you.

That alone is reason to rest content!

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” Hebrews 13:5

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Wednesday

15

February 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | A Firm Foundation

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firm foundation wednesday wisdom a purposeful life is built on a foundation more than mere possessions

“A purposeful life is built on a foundation stronger than mere possessions.”

A few weeks ago, my Wednesday Wisdom post resonated with many of you. I heard several comments from several readers who agree with the adage that “when you love what you have, you have everything you need”. An attitude of gratitude certainly is one of the components to a joy-filled life. On another, deeper level, we also have to realize that in order to live a purposeful (or purpose-filled) life, we need to build our lives on a foundation that’s stronger than mere possessions.

Life isn’t about how much ‘stuff’ you have; life is more than an accumulation of ‘things’. Each of us was created for a unique purpose, and until we start building on the foundation that God formed us and created us and has a plan for us, we’ll just be wandering through this life without real purpose.

You may think that love, or success, or even sunshine and warm weather, will help you live the life you want to live, however without the proper foundation, ultimately your life will amount to nothing. As we’re told in 1 Timothy 6:7, “After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.” Your life is about more than mere possessions.

A purposeful life is built on a foundation stronger than mere possessions. What foundation are you building on?

 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” Matthew 7: 24-27

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Monday

13

February 2017

Your Consolation Brought Me Joy | Encouragement from Psalm 94:19

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psalm 94:19 encouragement your consolation brought me joy

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19

A new week brings with it new challenges: School assignments that are due, big meetings at work, extracurricular activities every night, personal responsibilities. The list is endless; there’s always something to do, somewhere to go, and someone to help.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our circumstances, and just running, that we get overwhelmed. According to Matthew Henry’s commentary, Psalm 94 was written during a time of great persecution within the church. Yet, the Psalmist penned, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:19)

Even in the midst of adversity and anxiety, God provides encouragement and support. We can get so caught up in trying to control our own circumstances and lives that we forget the simple strength of “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) You can’t be comforted or consoled when you’re running and being “busy”.

Slow down, soul, and let God’s consolation bring you joy. When anxiety is great with you, — and even when it’s not — let God refresh your spirit and renew your strength.

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19

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Monday

24

October 2016

Encouragement: Zephaniah 3:17

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zephaniah 3:17

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Zephaniah 3:17 is an incredibly encouraging verse. If you’re feeling down, or overwhelmed, or not sure how you’re going to face the week ahead, check out the promises in Zephaniah 3:17. This verse is filled with God’s truth and promises.

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty…” — Not only are we promised that God is in our midst, we are also reassured in this verse that He is mighty! We can call on Him whenever, wherever, and for whatever, and He is right there with us. He’s also mighty, meaning He’s stronger than any challenge we may face.

“…he will save…” — Wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done, God is able to save you. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to this earth to redeem us.

“…he will rejoice over thee with joy…” — I love how Barnes’ Notes on the Bible describes this part of the verse: “Love, joy, peace in man are shadows of that which is in God, by whom they are created in man. Only in God they exist undivided, uncreated.” Joy in us is something that comes from within – joy is not based on circumstances, it is based on our knowledge and love of Christ.

“…he will rest in his love…” — And because of that, we can rest in Him. Only in God can we truly find peace and rest. You may feel overwhelmed, or anxious, however remembering the love God has for you, and that He has His perfect timing, will help you find rest and renewal.

“…he will joy over thee with singing.” — For the second time in this verse, we see the word joy. God delights in us; that should be enough to make us joyful! Singing can be used as an expression of joy. Think about that in context – God will joy over thee with singing. What an encouraging and inspiring thought!

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

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Monday

4

April 2016

A Guide to Encouraging Bible Verses Part 1 – Verses About Peace, Courage, Comfort, Happiness, and Joy

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apr4_hopereflected_psalm4211

As I’ve written in past columns, there are so many ways to be encouraged. Smiling more often, writing a handwritten note, going for a walk – these are all great ways to boost not only our own morale, but also the spirit of others who are touched by our gratitude.

Another great way to be encouraged is to dig into God’s Word and find some verses of encouragement. Feeling anxious? There are verses for that. Feeling afraid? There are verses for that. Feeling sad? There are verses for that. This selection is certainly not exhaustive, however I’ve curated some of my favourite Bible verses about a few different topics that I hope will be an encouragement to you, wherever you’re at in your walk today.

[If you’re feeling afraid or anxious] Verses about PEACE:

  • Psalm 4:8 “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
  • Psalm 29:11 “The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.”
  • Psalm 34:14b “Seek peace, and pursue it.”
  • Psalm 85:8a “I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people…”
  • Isaiah 26: 3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You.”
  • Isaiah 26:12 “LORD, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our works in us.”
  • Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;”

[If you’re feeling afraid] Verses about COURAGE:

  • Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave your nor forsake you.”
  • Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
  • Ezra 10:4 “Be of good courage, and do it.”
  • Psalm 27:1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
  • Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”
  • Psalm 31:24 “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.”
  • Psalm 118:6 “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

[If you’re feeling sad] Verses about COMFORT, HAPPINESS, and JOY:

  • Nehemiah 8:10b “The joy of the LORD is your strength.”
  • Psalm 16:11 “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
  • Psalm 32:11 “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”
  • Psalm 42:11 “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”
  • Psalm 119:111 “Thy testimonies have I taken has an heritage forever; for they are the rejoicing of my heart.”
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

 

Originally published as “A Guide to Encouraging Verses in the Bible Part 1 – Verses About Peace, Courage, Comfort, Happiness, and Joy”. Minto Express. March 9, 2016: 5: Print.

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Tuesday

8

March 2016

Hope Reflected: Leaving a Legacy

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Colossians 3:23

“Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.” Dr. Seuss

Last week during the Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day memorials, we were all reminded of the incredible sacrifice of the men and women who have served our country in years past, and who continue to serve and protect today. Additionally, this past week brought the tragic news that one of my former schoolmates – 12 weeks pregnant with her second child – was murdered during a random home invasion. You might wonder how any of this relates, however for me, these two events have served as great reminders of the importance of living a life of purpose and being mindful of our influence. There is a legacy of bravery that follows our servicemen and women. Similarly, there is a legacy of joy and purpose that follows my former schoolmate, Amanda.

At least in our twenties and thirties, we don’t often give a whole lot of thought to the legacy that we will one day leave when we depart from Earth. But this past week has  got me thinking about how quickly our lives pass, and the importance of what we leave behind. Quite often, our initial thoughts may be what we will leave behind for family and loved ones from a financial or material perspective, however there are several other – and I’d argue more important – ways that we should concentrate on leaving a lasting legacy.

  1. The legacy of love. They say there is nothing like a mother’s love, and this is true. Nothing compares to the love we receive from our mother, and this is something I know I’ll try to carry on someday when Wes and I have children. John 13:34-35 (KJV) says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” People notice when you act out of love and demonstrate a genuine care for others. True love can’t be faked, and it shows through our actions.
  2. The legacy of commitment. Ever worked with someone who’s incredibly motivated, and who has an unmatched work ethic? I have. Equal parts challenging and inspiring, someone who works with commitment has a unique influence on his or her peers. Colossians 3:23 (KJV) says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men…”.
  3. The legacy of joy. You know those people who exude something more than happiness? When you make the choice every day to have joy, that has lasting impact. Psalm 16:11 (KJV) says, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy…”. Craig Lounsbrough once said that inheritance is what we leave with people, and legacy is what you leave in people – that’s how it is with joy. It spreads in the soul, especially when we’re taking time each day to deepen our relationship with the Lord and His word.

With everything going on in the world today, sometimes it’s difficult to remember the importance of building our legacy. It’s s easy to get caught up in circumstances or what’s happening around us, however it’s so important to remember our influence and the importance of living a life of purpose. As entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck says, “Please think about your legacy, because you’re writing it every day.”

 

Originally published as “Leaving a Legacy”. Minto Express. November 18, 2015: 5. Print.

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Thursday

25

February 2016

Hope Reflected: 3 Building Blocks – The Blessings of Contentment

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Comparison is the thief of joy.

As a young girl, I was an avid Barbie collector. With each allowance, birthday, or celebratory holiday (or even sometimes just because), my Barbie collection grew to include upwards of thirty to forty dolls, complete with all the accessories – Barbie convertible, Barbie funhouse, Barbie dog – but I can remember specifically visiting my cousin’s house and seeing her collection – which included the enviable Barbie mansion – and thinking, “I really, really want the Barbie mansion. Like, really!” I’m pretty sure every one of us has a similar story from our childhood.

So what does Barbie have to do with contentment? It’s not the Barbie doll per se, it’s the principle of the story. Too often I think we look at our friends and neighbours and – whether consciously or not – start thinking the grass is greener on the other side. But the fact is, the grass is greenest where we choose to water it! It’s important to be satisfied with what God has given us. Not to say that we shouldn’t have drams and goals that we work towards, all I mean is that we need to place value on the blessings that we already have.

So what does the Bible say about contentment?

  1. Contentment builds reassurance. Jesus says in Matthew 6:25 (NKJV), “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” It’s a huge exercise in faith to learn to be content with what we have and not worry about what we could have or how we’ll get what we want or think we need.
  2. Contentment builds trust. When we’re content (read: Satisfied, but not lazy), we’re demonstrating trust that God’s got everything under control. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use common sense or intelligence, just that you’re trusting God to provide for your needs. David said in Psalm 23:1 (KJV), “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Think of what a shepherd does for his flock: He provides and he protects.
  3. Contentment builds joy. There’s an old saying that says “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And how true it is! When we start comparing ourselves or our circumstances to others, we lose our sense of self and quite often are left feeling deflated and inferior. Because guess what? There’s always going to be someone who’s smarter than you, someone who’s prettier, someone who has more money, or a bigger house, or a better car. Fact. Of. Life. So why waste time fretting about it? The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians (4:11-13, NKJV), “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Content people are not always happy people, but content people are consistent, thankful, and more likely to be loving and grateful for the people around them. There’s the old saying that goes, “When we pursue happiness, we flee contentment.” Stop, take a look around, and purposefully count your blessings. Choose something today – or someone – for which you’ll practice an attitude of gratitude.

Originally published as “3 Building Blocks: The Blessings of Contentment”. Minto Express. August 12, 2015: 5. Print.

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Tuesday

25

February 2014

Quotes about Joy

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I’m a huge fan of winter. I love grey skies, cold winds, and any excuse to sit inside with a piping cuppa and a good book. That being said, it’s long winters and dull days that attribute to the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Here are some verses and quotes I love on the topic of joy, that I hope will uplift you when certain seasons seem unending, and inspire you to jumpstart your joy.

Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the LORD is your strength.”

joy_quote_HR

Psalm 16:11 “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy…”

“Joy can only be real if people look upon their life as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.” Leo Tolstoy

“Joy is the echo of God’s life in us.” Aboot Coumba Marmion

“Joy springs from within; no one makes you joyous; you choose joyfulness.” Unknown

psalm518_joy

“Joy is a sustained sense of well-being and internal peace – a connection to what matters.” Oprah

“Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy, you must have somebody to divide it with.” Mark Twain

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.” Richard Wagner

 

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