Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

proverbs Archive

Thursday

8

March 2018

Hope Reflected | 6 Characteristics of a godly Christian Woman

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"Blessed is she that believed." (Luke 1:45) 6 characteristics of a godly Christian woman | See more at hopereflected.com

6 Characteristics of a godly Christian Woman

March 8 the world over is recognized as International Women’s Day. Those who read the news and stay abreast of current events should be well aware of many “female-centric” movements that have developed over the past several years, including the Women’s March or even “I stand with Planned Parenthood”. Both movements have received a lot of media attention from certain networks and publications, and both movements relate specifically to women’s “rights”. Feminism, with its roots in the equality of women, is often tied with fighting – fighting for relevance, fighting for rights, fighting for recognition.

To be a feminist and to believe in the beauty of being female doesn’t mean that you have to fight. On the contrary, when you look at being a woman from a Christian perspective, you’ll see that throughout God’s Word, women are celebrated. We are recognized as a completely unique creation.

Being a woman, from a Biblical perspective, means celebrating life, supporting each other, and standing up for what’s right. The Bible shares so many accounts of strong females (and the men that they raised); look through the histories of Ruth, Hannah, and Mary just to name a few examples. The qualities of the godly Christian woman are referenced throughout the Bible, and the qualities of the godly Christian woman can impact generations.

Loyalty.

“The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.” (Proverbs 31:11) The book of Ruth lays out an amazing example of loyalty. After her husband passed away, Ruth demonstrated her loyalty to her mother in law by not abandoning her. “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16). Being a woman, a godly Christian woman, means demonstrating loyalty and having a constant heart.

 

Focus.

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30) The godly Christian woman demonstrates a keen focus on the eternal rather than the external. Look at the testimony of Hannah, for example. While those around her were having children, Hannah was childless. Rather than bemoan and lament her circumstances, Hannah kept her focus on the Lord. Look through the first two chapters of 1 Samuel, and you’ll see these words several times, “and Hannah prayed.” A godly Christian woman keeps her focus on things above (Colossians 3:2).

 

Strength.

“She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.” (Proverbs 31:17) “Strength and honour are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.” (Proverbs 31:25) Esther is an incredible Old Testament example of a woman who demonstrated strength. God used Esther to save His people. “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) Even in the face of uncertainty, Esther stood strong. Strength, both intellectually and physically, is one of the qualities of a godly Christian woman.

 

Industriousness.

“She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard.” (Proverbs 31:16) “She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.” (Proverbs 31:24) Productivity. Ingenuity. Diligence. One of the qualities of a godly Christian woman is being industrious. Working at whatever you’re called to do. Look at Deborah, the only female judge who boldly obeyed God (Judges 4). Consider Rahab, who though she was a prostitute, ultimately came to know the Lord. Being a godly Christian woman requires industriousness and diligence in our work.

 

A nurturing spirit.

“She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants.” (Proverbs 31:15) Not only is the godly Christian woman industrious, she also has a nurturing spirit and cares for her family. Take the account of Rebekah from Genesis 24. In the search for a bride for Isaac, Rebekah showed that she was the one because she had a nurturing spirit, and gave Isaac’s servant (and his camels) water to drink. Your work as a woman is important and makes an impact, whether your work is outside or inside the home.

 

Faithfulness.

“She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” (Proverbs 31:27) Another one of the qualities of the godly Christian woman is her faithfulness. She stays the course. Even in the midst of challenging and trying times, she is diligent and sees things through. As it was said of Mary, the mother of Jesus, “blessed is she that believed” (Luke 1:45).

Originally published as “Being a woman.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. March 8, 2018: 7. Print. Web.

Friday

23

February 2018

Hope Reflected | Lessons from the honey bee

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

Lessons we can learn from the honey bee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday

7

February 2018

Wednesday Wisdom | Don’t Confuse Complacency with Contentment

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Wednesday Wisdom: Don't confuse complacency with contentment. | See more at hopereflected.com

Wednesday Wisdom: Don’t confuse complacency with contentment

Complacency is rooted in pride, self, and idleness, while contentment is rooted in gratitude, thanksgiving, and active faith.

Complacency says, “Wow, look at everything I’ve accomplished,” while contentment says, “Thank you for all that you’ve blessed me with.”

Complacency fools you with conceit, while contentment fills you with humility.

Complacency tells you to stay where you are, while contentment encourages you to grow in your faith.

The book of Proverbs explains complacency vs. contentment in several verses:

  • “For the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.” (Proverbs 1:32-33)
  • “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” (Proverbs 10:4)
  • “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” (Proverbs 13:4)

Complacent people tend to be more slothful and sluggish; they’re of the mindset that they don’t have to work hard or strive to be better because they think they’re already the best, that they’ve already “arrived”. Content people are thankful for where they are, but they understand and appreciate the value in working diligently and in continuing to grow.

It’s easy to fall into the rut of complacency, but learning contentment is the only way to grow and move forward.

Don’t confuse complacency with contentment.

 

Monday

27

November 2017

Hope Reflected | Loving Others, Even When It’s Hard

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"Be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 | See more at hopereflected.com

Loving Others, Even When It’s Hard

Chances are that at some point in your life, you’ve read the “love” chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. We usually hear 1 Corinthians 13 quoted or recited at weddings, anniversaries, or other happy occasions. But what about loving others, even when it’s hard?

This world is filled with difficult people, and if each of us were honest, we’d all have to admit that sometimes in life we are actually the difficult ones. Loving others even when it’s hard or when they’re being difficult can be extremely trying, can’t it? The good news is that it’s possible, because God first loved us. Because God first loved us, we’re equipped with the capacity to love others.

How do we love others, even when it’s hard? Let’s look at some practical instruction from 1 Corinthians 13.

Love others by being patient. “Love suffers long and is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) In most areas of life, when you have patience, you will have peace. Loving others, even when it’s hard, means guarding your reactions. It means exercising patience towards those who have difficult personalities. When you’re being patient, you’re less likely to speak out of turn; you’re less likely to add fuel to the fire; and you’re more likely to act with integrity and kindness, and as a result better understand where the other person is coming from.

Love others by being humble. “Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Comparison is the thief of joy, and the sooner we learn to water the grass in our own yard rather than seeking “greener” pastures, the better off we’ll be. You may be tempted to “win” the argument, you may really want to have the last word, but part of loving others means being humble and taking the high road – even when it’s hard. And man oh man, can it ever be hard sometimes! Through it all however, we’re called to love by being completely humble.

Love others by being kind. “Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) It costs nothing to be kind. And while our initial reaction may be to speak out of turn and return bitter barb with bitter barb, the Lord will bless you for taking the high road. Even when it’s hard, we can each demonstrate love to others by being kind. Sometimes being kind means taking time or stepping away, and it also means taking time to pray for others. You might think it’s impossible, especially when someone else is being everything but kind to you, and when that’s the case, prayer can have a huge impact. With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37), and when you take the time to pray for others, God has a way of making kindness that much easier.

Love others by wanting what’s best for them. “Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6) When you love others, you want what’s best for them and genuinely have their best interest at heart. Especially when someone has been unkind or hurtful, it can be tempting to rejoice when they run into difficulties or when they’re proved wrong, but just like we’re told in Proverbs 25:21-22, the Lord sees when we give to those who only give us grief and He will use it for His glory.

Love others by bearing with them. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) 1 Corinthians 13:7 is a challenge. Love bears all things – not just good things, not just convenient things – love bears all things. That includes difficulties and it includes hard times. We show our love to others by bearing with them. Proverbs 17:17 says that, “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” We are called to love others, not just in happy times, but in sad times. Not just in easy times, but in adverse times.

Ephesians 4:2 sums up the love described in 1 Corinthians 13 like this: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient bearing with one another in love.” When we’re trying to love others even when it’s hard, remember this: We know true love and we can love because Jesus Christ laid down His life so we might have life (1 John 3:16-18).

Originally published as “Loving others, even when it’s hard.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 26, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Wednesday

8

November 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | It Costs Nothing to Be Kind

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Always be kind. | See more hopereflected.com

“Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” Proverbs 11:17

It costs nothing to be kind. Even on our bad days, our sad days, and yes, even on our mad days, it costs nothing to extend the gift of kindness to another.

In the New International Version, Proverbs 11:17 says that “those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” In the New King James Version, the verse reads, “the merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

The merciful man.

Kindness and mercy. When you show kindness to another, in a way, you’re showing them mercy. Mercy is defined as not getting something you deserve, and when it’s put like that, we could almost interpret that Proverbs 11:17 is instructing us to show kindness even to those people who don’t deserve it. What a challenge!

“Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” Proverbs 11:17

 

Wednesday

25

October 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy

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"If the devil can't make you bad, he'll make you busy." Encouragement when you're busy. | Hope Reflected

“If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”

Attributed to several sources over the years, we’ve all heard the quote, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” I most recently read it in one of Charles Stanley’s devotionals, and it stuck with me. There are several posts I’ve written about learning to live slowly,  learning moderation, and the culture of slowness. Slowing down has to be one of the hardest challenges of our lives here on earth!

Between our professional and personal lives, many of us struggle with being “busy”. The danger that lies therein is not having time for the most important things in life. When was the last time that you skipped your devotions because you were too rushed in the morning? What about not being able to properly serve at church because of “other” commitments? What about not praying because you don’t have time?

We don’t just have too much on the go; no, most of the time we just don’t have our priorities in the correct order. Tozer once said that “Anything that keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be.” How do we battle “busy” and get our priorities straight? Maybe it means waking up earlier in the morning, or perhaps learning the art of saying, “No”. Both apply in my life!

We’re told in Proverbs 21:5 that “the plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” To be hasty means that you’re hurried, you’re in a rush. When we’re busy, we each need to learn how to apply Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.” We can’t be still if we’re rushing around being “busy”!

“If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”

 

Friday

20

October 2017

Thursday

19

October 2017

Encouragement | 1 Peter 5:10

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God will strengthen and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10 | See more at hopereflected.com

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Not only do we serve the God of all grace as 1 Peter 5:10 describes Him, we are reassured of our Lord’s countless virtues so many times throughout scripture (check out Psalm 18 if you’re looking for an example).

The God of all grace — God is compassionate, full of mercy and truth, long-suffering (Psalm 86:15). He provides stillness and peace (Isaiah 26:3).

He has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus — The Saviour of the world has personally invited us to His eternal glory. I’m not sure that we will ever be able to fully comprehend just how amazing that is!

After you have suffered a while — When you accept Jesus as your Saviour, you’re not guaranteed a life without pain or suffering. In fact, no wore than ever, Christians are persecuted for what they believe. Suffering is a part of this life. Just remember that this life on earth is only the beginning; I think we could all use the reminder to live with eternity in mind.

If you’re looking for encouragement today, consider the above, and consider these encouraging facts from 1 Peter 5:10:

  • God will perfect you (Psalm 138:8)
  • God will establish you (Proverbs 16:3)
  • God will strengthen you (Philippians 4:13)
  • God will settle you (Exodus 14:14)

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10

 

Friday

22

September 2017

Hope Reflected | Heeding Instruction

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Heeding instruction: "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only." (James 1:22) | See more at hopereflected.com

Heeding Instruction

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” (James 1:22-24)

After writing last week’s column about listening, Wes provided me with some interesting insight. He explained how while it is very important to listen, it is also important – depending on the circumstances – to take what we hear and to grow from it; “heeding instruction”.

I was immediately reminded of James 1:22-24, where as Christians we are encouraged to be doers of the word and not just hearers only. What benefit is it if you just hear instruction but you fail to apply it to your life?

While there are many benefits to following instructions or heeding instruction, here are a few practical ways that heeding instructions will directly benefit your life.

  1. Heeding instruction helps us grow and learn. “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.” (Proverbs 19:20) It seems like a no brainer that listening to advice and heeding instructions will help you grow and learn, doesn’t it? But how many of us spend our early years rebelling and learning things the hard way! Eleanor Roosevelt once suggested that we should, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” And it’s true. If you know that a certain decision will inevitably lead to heartache, it would be wise to heed the counsel of the people around you who love and care about your well-being. It will save you time and energy in the long run! Heeding instruction will also give you wisdom for your future, that you can impart to your own children.
  2. Heeding instruction keeps us humble. “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; cause me to understand wherein I have erred.” (Job 6:24) Even in the midst of trials (where he was blameless), Job still maintained a humble and a teachable spirit. I sure could learn from Job! How often are quick to be defensive and defend our position, to be short with others, and not open to change or suggestions! Heeding instruction keeps us humble. You can’t learn from your mistakes if you’re busy denying them. Better to hear instruction and heed wise words than to regret it later in life (see Proverbs 5:11-13).
  3. Heeding instruction gives life. “He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray.” (Proverbs 10:17) Heeding instruction (read: Godly instruction) gives life – joy, enthusiasm, growth, renewal, rest, refreshment, – in all of its forms. When you learn to heed instruction, you’re more apt to walk in the right way. And when you accept Christ as your Saviour and apply the principles of God’s Word to your life, then you will truly realize what it is to have eternal life. We’re told in 2 Timothy that God’s Word is profitable “…for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If you want to truly experience life to the fullest, seek wise counsel and heed instruction.

Proverbs 10:8 tells us that, “The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.” Not only does heeding instruction help us grow and learn, keep us humble, and give life, heeding instruction also helps us grow in wisdom.

Originally published as “Heeding Instruction.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 14, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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.