Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

matthew Archive

Sunday

1

April 2018

He is Risen | Easter | Resurrection Sunday

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"He is risen, as He said." Matthew 28:6 | See more at hopereflected.com

He is risen! Wishing you a blessed Easter. Happy Resurrection Sunday!

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Matthew 28:1-7

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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

30

January 2018

Hope Reflected | The Church

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“Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.” D.L. Moody | See more at hopereflected.com

The Church

Many Hope Reflected readers grew in a home where Sundays were made for going to church. I can remember as a child one Sunday in particular. I was about four years old, was wearing my favourite purple dress, and I was thirsty (think crawling through the Sahara desert and longing for a drop of water thirsty). I was trying to figure out a way to strategically squeeze out from between my parents and get out to the water fountain for a drink. As I was devising my plan, the pastor asked passionately, “Is anybody thirsty?!” and I immediately thought he was directing his question at me. “Yes!” I called out, “I am!” Of course, my outburst got a lot of laughs from the congregation, and eventually I really did get a drink.

More than an obligation or a ritual, there are so many reasons why going to church is important. A key part of our Faith, going to church can help each of us grow in several ways.

Going to church allows us a time for personal inventory and reflection. “Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:40) One thing I love about being part of the Bible Chapel, is that during communion, we’re afforded the opportunity to reflect on what our Lord has done for us. 1 Corinthians 11:28 says, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” Just as much as church is a time for fellowship with other Christian believers, church is also a time for personal inventory and reflection. Through communion, Sunday sermons, Bible studies, and prayer, church provides an excellent opportunity to look at our own lives and look to the Lord. “I considered my ways and turned my feet to your testimonies.” (Psalm 119:59)

Going to church cultivates our character. “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:11) Going to church helps to cultivate character. When you’re being taught truth from a Biblical perspective, and as you learn to discern the difference between right and wrong, your character will grow. Being part of a solid church will help to develop and deepen your relationship with God, and will strengthen your character.

Going to church means being part of a family. “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19) Even if your home life isn’t great, you can still be at home in the house of Christ. When you belong to a solid church, you’re part of an even greater family – God’s family. Jesus points out in Matthew 12:48, “Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?” He wasn’t questioning who his mother and his brothers actually were, He was merely pointing out the importance of our relations in a spiritual sense. Matthew Henry said in his commentary, “let us look upon every Christian, in whatever condition of life, as the brother, sister, or mother of the Lord of glory; let us love, respect, and be kind to them, for His sake, and after His example.”

Going to church is about so much more than going through the motions. When you’re part of a solid church, you will be challenged, cherished, comforted, and more. As the evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, “Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.”

Originally published as “The Church.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 16, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Monday

16

October 2017

Encouragement | Colossians 3:2

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Set your affection on things above. Colossians 3:2 | Read more at hopereflected.com

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

In the midst of life, where our focus so often is set on the day-to-day grind of life, our careers, our families, our friends, and our own dreams and goals, it can be hard to retrain our thoughts to the heavens and to the One who created us.

We’re told in Colossians 3:2 to set our affection on things above, not on things on earth. Our affection — that feeling of fondness or love — is to be set on things above. So what does that really mean? Does it mean that we’re wrong for pursuing success here on earth? I don’t think so, but I do believe that it means we are to live with eternity in mind.

How often are each one of us guilty of concentrating on the here and now, and what’s best for us in this lifetime? It’s like when Jesus said to Peter, “you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)  I don’t know about you, but quite often in the hustle of the everyday, I’m guilty of not having the things of God in my mind.

While there’s nothing wrong with doing well for ourselves here on earth, ultimately we need to remember that we brought nothing into this world, and we’re not taking anything with us when we leave! As Christians, our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). The empire you build for yourself here on earth won’t matter in light of eternity.

Matthew 6:19-21 puts it like this: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasures is, there your heart will be also.”

We tend to focus where we spend the most time. That’s why it’s so important to get into God’s Word, to memorize scripture, to spend time in prayer everyday. Multiple times a day if we’re able. Ask God to centre your focus on Him. Purposefully recite your favourite verses from the Bible. Actively praise the Lord for His goodness to us — after all, His mercies are new every morning so there’s always something for which to worship Him!

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

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Monday

6

March 2017

Encouragement | Rest | Matthew 11:28

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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

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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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Friday

10

February 2017

Hope Reflected | The Cure for Loneliness | 3 things to do when you feel alone

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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loneliness quote c.s. lewis

At some point in life, each of us feels alone. Perhaps it’s physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. You may feel like there’s no one out there who gets what you’re going through, as though there’s no one out there who understands what you’re thinking or feeling, or as though you’re the only one who’s been there before.

As a child, in gym class – my least favourite class, btw – when we’d be playing dodge ball, or another “team building” game, group captains were assigned to create teams. Each captain got to choose who would be part of his or her team. And there was always someone who was the last to be selected. There were similar situations in class, when students were asked to form groups. There was always someone who didn’t get chosen to be part of a group.

Perhaps you feel like no one wants you to be on their team, or no one wants you to be part of their group. Maybe you’re single and you feel like you’re never going to meet “the one”. Maybe you’re an empty nester whose children are off at college or university. Maybe you’re a senior who feels isolated and misses family or like you’re constantly saying goodbye to people who are passing away into eternity. Maybe you’re someone who has plenty of friends yet still struggles with feelings of loneliness.

You don’t have to be alone to feel the force of loneliness. If you’re feeling isolated, or as though no cares or understands where you’re at or what you’re going through, take heart! There is a cure for loneliness, and steps you can take to overcome your feelings of loneliness.

  1. Admit that you’re lonely. “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 The first step to overcoming loneliness is admitting that you’re lonely. Tell the Lord how you feel; there’s no one who will understand more deeply. Jesus Himself experienced the anguish of loneliness. We read about the most public display of His loneliness and agony when He cried out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) But if we’re being real, Jesus’s loneliness on earth started long before He went to the cross for us. He spent His whole earthly life as an outsider – the only sinless man living in an entirely sinful world – Who came to redeem our sins and eradicate any feelings of loneliness and heartache we could ever experience.
  2. Enjoy the presence of God. “You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 If you’re feeling lonely, take a cue from David, who, arguably, experienced more loneliness and heartache throughout his life than any of us ever will. Wherever he was at, David claimed God’s promises and declared that being in the presence of God was the fullness of joy. When feelings of loneliness flood your heart and mind, get into God’s Word; train your thoughts on Him; talk to Him. Learn to enjoy the presence of God. We are promised in James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” When you feel alone, remember that there is One who truly cares for you.
  3. Reach out. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 A long time ago I heard the advice that in times of loneliness or anxiety, we should “Stop looking in, and start looking out and up.” Those are wise words. When you’re feeling lonely, reach out! It could be as easy as picking up the phone and calling someone you love, or getting involved with a local Church group or Bible study. Also, if you’re not feeling lonely, why not reach out to someone who is or who could use a friend? Visit the elderly or send a handwritten note of encouragement.

At some point in life, each one of us experiences the feelings of loneliness. C.S. Lewis once said, “Look for yourself and you will find loneliness and despair. But look for Christ and you will find Him and everything else.” Just remember, you are never truly alone; Jesus Christ longs to have a relationship with you, if you’ll put your trust in Him.

Originally published as “The Cure for Loneliness: 3 things to do when you feel alone.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. February 2, 2017: 7. Print.

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Friday

26

August 2016

Hope Reflected: The Importance of Being Original

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original

 

Wes and I love jazz. Diana Krall, Duke Ellington, Tony Bennett, Wes Montgomery; you name the artist, and chances are, we’ve got them in our playlist. Listening to a Diana Krall album last week, we were both struck by her ability to take a standard that’s been sung so many times before and make it her own. Krall has her own distinct delivery that gives her the ability to sing the same songs as other jazz artists, but to make them unique. She takes the influences that speak to her and infuses them into her music. Krall is an original.

We all collect and draw influences from our surroundings – people, music, movies, books, ideologies – and we live these influences out in our daily lives. Even what you eat can affect your mind! That’s why it’s so important to be conscious of what you allow into your heart and mind.

In a world of copycats, it’s not easy to be original. And let’s be real, is there anything that’s truly original anymore? King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.” God is the original Creator of every single thing, and He created each of us uniquely in His image.

Why else is it important to be original?

  1. God created you to be you. Not your neighbour, not your best friend. God created you with a distinct purpose in mind, and you can’t achieve His purpose for your life if you spend all your time trying to be like other people. Luke 12:7 reminds us that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” If God knows the exact amount of how many (or how few) hairs are on your head, you can rest assured that He created you for a purpose that only you can accomplish and fulfill.
  2. You have a responsibility to draw from the Original Source. While there are many influences in the world, remember to draw your best influences from the Creator of everything: God. God is loving, and He is the Great Comforter. God provides peace, and only He can provide true joy in our lives. Philippians 4:8 says that “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” When we draw on God as the Original Source of all creation, we keep our focus on the right things in life.
  3. Others look to you as an Influencer. As much as you draw from the influences of other people, there are also other people who look to you as an influence in their lives. That’s another reason it’s so important to be conscious of the sources from where we draw our influences. 1 Corinthians 15:33 is a great reminder, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”” Who we allow to influence us and how we live our lives matters! Matthew 5:16 tells us “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in heaven.” Being yourself is a big deal; you never know who is watching.

God created all the snowflakes unique, He is the Creator of every single thing, and all of His creations are original. Often overlooked, being original is very important. Be a voice, not an echo!

 

Originally published as “The Importance of Being Original.” Minto Express. July 13, 2016: 5. Print.

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Tuesday

14

June 2016

Hope Reflected: It Is What’s On The Inside That Counts

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it is what's on the inside that counts 1 Samuel 16:7b

It is what’s on the inside that counts.

Recently, Wes and I have been spending several hours each week out in the yard; I’ve been working in the garden, and he’s been tending to the lawn (where we have a serious thing with dandelions – anyone have suggestions for how we can eradicate them?). We’ve been spending a record amount of time outdoors this season, weeding our garden faithfully and working on other outdoor living projects. Regardless of the day, I am always struck by the amount of weeds that pop up overnight in our garden, and how when I pull them, although the top part of the weed is small, the roots are huge and deeply settled in the soil.

When I was first started pulling the weeds, I thought to myself, “They’ll come out easily enough,” only to be surprised with how deep-rooted they were. How often do we look at things on the surface and think we know what lies on the inside, only to delve deeper and be surprised when things are completely different than we expected? It’s kind of like looking at an iceberg. What we see above water is only about 10% of the total iceberg; the other 90%, the greater mass, lies beneath the waters.

How often do we, as human beings, just look at the surface, when so often there is so much deeper-rooted beneath in the spirit!

1 Samuel 16:7 (KJV) says, “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

Take King David, for instance. The Lord looked on David with favour, while in his early days mere mortals thought of David as the least regarded and good only for tending sheep (rather than defending a nation). If we as humans got it wrong then, who’s to say we don’t often get it wrong now?

How often do we see a homeless person, or encounter someone with less than we’ve been blessed with, and pass judgment? How often do we look on our circumstances and feel bad, comparing ourselves to others, when really we know nothing of what’s really going on in their lives? When we take time to look past the surface, we’ll learn not to judge a book by it’s cover, and that it is what’s on the inside that counts:

  1. Be interested. Philippians 2:4 (KJV) says that we should, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Instead of looking in, take time to look out. Be sincerely interested in those around you. When you’re interested in others, others take interest in you. This is a great way to build true friendships and also to get to know those around you.
  2. Don’t judge. Matthew 7:1-2 (KJV) says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Quite often, we look on the appearance of others and form our decision from just what we can see. The beauty of it is, that God looks so much deeper than just looks. He looks into our heart.
  3. Search your heart. In Psalm 139: 1-3 (KJV), David asks the Lord to search his heart: “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.” Ask the Lord to search your heart. While we should all spend more time looking out and up rather than in, a little bit of self-analysis and prayerful consideration can go a long way. What are our motives? What do we truly feel? What is our real condition?

I’ll close with this quote, which is a good reminder, from Proverbs 11:27 (KJV): “He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief it shall come unto him.” Choose to be one who looks past the surface; don’t judge a book by its cover.

 

Originally published as “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover.” Minto Express. June 1, 2016: 6. Print.

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