Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

psalm Archive

Friday

6

October 2017

Hope Reflected | In the Hard Seasons

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Christ's grace is sufficient. | See more at hopereflected.com

In the Hard Seasons

 

You know how sometimes during that mid-February dullness you find yourself wondering, “How much longer is winter going to last?!” “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us. Sometimes the seasons last for a few weeks, other times months, and in some cases, even years.

“Why?” is a question that’s often asked about different circumstances and world events. Why do we go through hard seasons in life? Why would a loving God allow bad things to happen? The reality is that the answer has less to do with God and more to do with us as human beings. We live in a fallen world, and nothing will be perfect until eternity.

While we don’t always have the answer to the “why” about difficult or hard seasons in life, we do have the answer through God’s Word of what we’re to do when times get hard. We aren’t always going to understand the purpose of why people get sick, or why people are bullies, or why it seems like sometimes we just can’t catch a break. But what we can understand is what we should do when times get hard.

  1. Learn more about Jesus. “Come unto me, all ye that labor 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.” (Matthew 11:28-29) We’re encouraged many times throughout the Bible that we should seek the Lord in times of trouble. David said in Psalm 61:2 “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Quite often when times are hard and we find our selves in the midst of challenging circumstances, or all the bad things happening at once, we don’t understand. Psalm 119:71-73 encourages those who are suffering, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Your hands made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.” God will give you perfect peace when you seek Him. (Isaiah 26:3)
  2. Don’t be afraid. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10) Sometimes the last thing we want to hear – OK let’s be honest, pretty much always the last thing we want to hear – from other people is “don’t worry about it.” Not only is that annoying, it can also be a downright hurtful statement to say to someone who is suffering. I’m not saying “don’t worry” when you’re going through a hard season (and if you figure out how to not worry, let me know your secret). What I am saying is that when God instructs us or commands us, we’d be wise to take heed. That being said, throughout the Bible there are more than 365 “fear not” references. Our reverence of God alone should alleviate or lessen any other fear we may have. “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” we’re encouraged in John 14:27. And do you know why? Because when you make Christ your focus, He gives you peace, and it’s like nothing else in this world. See also Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Even in the hard seasons, even when you can’t see Him and you don’t know what He’s doing, God is with you.
  3. Trust in the Lord. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Man, can it ever be hard when you have no idea what’s around the corner. But you know what we’re promised in God’s Word? That He’ll direct our paths. Psalm 119:105 puts it like this: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” At the time that Psalm was written, there were no crazy high beams, there was no high-powered LED flashlight. The light in Biblical times would have literally been just enough to see right in front you. Not the whole path, and not what’s at the end of the tunnel. In the hard seasons, trust in the Lord with all your heart. Even when that means crying out to God several times a day! Even when it means you have to take things moment by moment! Trust Him! You trust that your car will get you from point a to point b; you trust that chair is going to hold you when you sit down; so why not trust the Creator of heaven and earth with your life (even the hard seasons)! He will not forsake you! (Psalm 9:10)

Seasons come and go. In the hard seasons, cling to Christ. His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Christ is full of compassion, comfort, and He will carry you through.

Originally published as “In the hard seasons.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 21, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

4

October 2017

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

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

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

God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Wednesday

20

September 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | Nourish to Flourish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday

15

August 2017

Hope Reflected | Encouragement | Psalm 139

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the next time you find yourself down, or hurting, ask God to search your heart, and remember that He knows you. He knows your thoughts. And He cares for you. "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts." (Psalm 139:23) | See more at hopereflected.com

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23)

Sometimes, you have a bad day. Sometimes, you have a series of bad days. Sometimes, it seems like your bad days just won’t end!

When you’re feeling like the whole world is against you, or you feel like you just can’t do anything right, remember what the psalmist said in Psalm 139.

God knows when you sit down, and He knows when you rise. He understands all of your thoughts, even if you don’t say them aloud or share them with anyone. God is your compass, and He knows all your ways. He knows every word on your tongue before you even think them. There is no where — no height and no depth — we can ever go that God is not already there. God cares for each one us, and He cared for us even before we were born!

We serve a God Who is bigger than a bad day (or a bad week)! We will all face days that are less than desirable, and in the end, as long as our hearts are right with the One Who matters, that is what matters. So the next time you find yourself down, or hurting, ask God to search your heart, and remember that He knows you. He knows your thoughts. And He cares for you.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23)

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Monday

31

July 2017

Hope Reflected | Encouragement | Verses about God’s Guidance

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Hope Reflected | Verses about God's Guidance. See more at hopereflected.com

Looking for wisdom and trying to go the right way? Look no further than our forever compass, the Lord! These verses about God’s guidance are an encouragement whether you’re preparing to make a big decision, or you need a reminder of the constant presence of God. Look to Him and you can’t go wrong!

  • “And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11
  • “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” Psalm 32:8
  • “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
  • “Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.” Psalm 27:11
  • “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
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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.

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Friday

2

June 2017

Hope Reflected | What to do in the face of fear

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what to do in the face of fear isaiah 41:10

What to do in the face of fear

In Psalm 56:3, David says “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” Note that he doesn’t say “If I’m afraid,” he says, “Whenever I am afraid.” Fear is a natural part of life. It would be completely fake for someone to say that they’ve never been afraid and that they don’t fear anything. Fear is normal. How we react to fear is what is truly important.

Three things to do in the face of fear:

  1. Face your fears. “Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.” Psalm 27:3 Eleanor Roosevelt once said to “Do one thing every day that scares you.” That quote has always resonated with me, because I’m a big believer that we gain confidence when we choose to face our fears and step outside of our comfort zone. Inaction breeds fear; action breeds confidence. In the face of fear, we should be confident. That’s easy to say when the skies are sunny and the going’s good. However, even when the rain is pouring and the road gets rocky, we can be confident because we trust the Lord. We have an anchor that will hold in the stormiest of seas. “Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear!” Behold, your God will come… He will come and save you.”” (Isaiah 35:4)
  2. Focus on the Lord, not on your fears. “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4) In this verse, David references trusting the Lord not once, but twice. He also references praising God’s Word. It’s important when we’re afraid to put our focus on the Lord, not on our fears. Claim a verse, or two, or three (Psalm 56:3 is a good one!) that you can recite in times when you’re afraid. Instead of putting energy into your fear, in those times turn it around and praise the Lord, tell Him of all the things and people for which you’re thankful.
  3. Feed your faith and move forward. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) The words “Fear not” appear 365 times throughout the Bible. Isn’t that incredible? That’s encouragement for every day of the year! We are told in God’s Word to “Fear not” and the only way we can do this is to trust God and rely on His strength (when we do, He promises to help us!). One of my favourite psalms is Psalm 18, where in the first two verses, David claims the Lord as his strength, not just once, but twice. In the face of fear, feed your faith by claiming God’s promises and calling upon His awesome characteristics. Only God can help you move forward and advance in the face of fear.

Wherever you’re at, remember that God is with you! All we have to do is call upon Him and He will hear us. God is omniscient (He knows everything), God is omnipresent (everywhere at the same time), and God is omnipotent (God is the Ultimate Power and can do ANYTHING). Don’t be afraid of tomorrow; God is already there!

Originally published as “What to do in the face of fear.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. May 11, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Monday

13

March 2017

Encouragement | Psalm 103 | Forget not all His benefits

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Psalm 103:2 encouragement Forget not all His benefits

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

(Psalm 103: 2-5)

One of my favourite Psalms, Psalm 103, was written by David and is a twenty-two verse song of praise for the LORD’s mercies. One of my favourite parts of this psalm is in verse two, when David says, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

Forget not all His benefits.

It is so easy to forget about God’s blessings. More often than not, we’re more apt to express momentary gratitude for God’s blessings and then lapse back into our bad attitudes, when in reality we would do ourselves a great favour by consistently living an attitude of gratitude.

Consider the children of Israel, who we read about in Old Testament. They would frequently forget God’s blessings, and spent forty years wandering in the wilderness as a result of their complaining and grumbling. What about us? We can get so caught up in our everyday challenges that we neglect to give God praise. We put our focus on what’s going wrong and we forget to give attention to everything that’s right. Imagine what would happen if we took every negative thought captive and focused on counting our blessings!

Forget not all His benefits!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:

(Psalm 103:2)

 

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Friday

3

March 2017

Hope Reflected | Sharing Your Faith

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sharing your faith psalm 96:2

 

As a young child, I can remember hearing stories of missionaries who traversed the world over, taking the Gospel to the farthest-reaching places of the globe, and sharing the “Good News” in a country that wasn’t their home. Historical figures such as Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, and Amy Carmichael dedicated their entire lives to spreading the Gospel of Christ and serving others. Even sitting and listening to the letters being read at our own church, – the weekly updates and reports of teaching, preaching, and building, – seemed unending coming in from those serving the Lord in other countries. “How do they do it,” I wondered. “I don’t even think I could share my faith with my friends here at home!”

 

Sharing your faith may seem like a daunting task, however there are a few things to keep in mind when you feel led to share your testimony with someone else.

 

  1. Sharing your faith is something you can do right at home. “Sing to the LORD, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.” (Psalm 96: 2) Sharing your faith isn’t something that you need to travel the world over to do. Sharing your faith starts right at home with your family, friends, and neighbours. We are called to proclaim the Good News from day to day. We are called to be missionaries wherever we are. Where does each day find you? Whether at school or at work, or even in recreation; sharing your faith is something you can do right in your own backyard.

 

  1. Sharing your faith is about Christ and what He did for you. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) Your salvation is not about you or anything you did. This is a reminder that we can all use, is it not? How often do we find ourselves caught up worrying about not having the right words to say, or fearful that if we stand up for our Faith, other people will judge us or not want to be friends with us? Well, here’s a reality check: Sharing your faith is not about you, and it’s not about me. It’s about Christ. I love what Billy Graham says on the topic: “Remember that God does not call the equipped; He equips the called – and as Christians, we are all called to share what Christ has done.” When it comes to sharing your faith with others, things don’t have to be complicated; while some individuals may have an incredible story and testimony about how they came to know the Lord, others may not; and there’s nothing wrong with that! Remember, sharing your faith is about what Christ has done for you, not about anything you have done.

 

  1. Sharing your faith is more than speaking words from a Bible. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15) When it comes to sharing your faith, remember that your testimony is more than speaking words; it’s living them. Your testimony is demonstrated practically in the life you live. Anyone can do some research and recite Scripture. The real proof is in the pudding. Is your life indicative of a close walk with Christ? It is a daily challenge to live right. As Wes says, “we’re all a mess and the only way we can make it through each day is by God’s grace.” In my own life, having the right attitude, being consistent, and guarding my tongue are not always easy tasks – the struggle is real. It is hard to live the fruits of the spirit, especially when some days I feel like I’m failing lesson after lesson on patience, kindness, and goodness. Sharing your faith is about your actions just as much as your words.

 

We are called to “walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:5-6) We are also called to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15) God makes no mistakes, and He brings people across each of our paths for a purpose. Grow where you’ve been planted!

Originally published as “Sharing Your Faith.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. February 23, 2017: 8. Print.

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Monday

27

February 2017

Encouragement | Psalm 139:3

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encouragement psalm 139:3

“You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.” Psalm 139:3-4

Sometimes it may seem like you can’t see the path just ahead of you, and you’re afraid to take the next step. Rest assured and be encouraged knowing that God knows your path, He knows your lying down, and He is acquainted with all your ways.

Psalm 119:105 tells us that God’s Word is “a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” If you’ve ever held a candle-lit lamp, you understand that it doesn’t provide a whole lot of light. Rather, it provides just enough light for the stairs in front of you.

That’s the beauty of having a relationship with God. We don’t need to see all the stairs; we can trust that He’s in complete control and will provide the light we require. Just like we’re told in Psalm 139:3-4, God knows our path and He knows all our ways. We can rest in that.

“You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.” Psalm 139:3-4

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