Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

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Monday

23

September 2019

Our walk with God

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"One road leads home and a thousand roads lead into the wilderness." (C.S. Lewis) | Read more about our walk with God at hopereflected.com

Beware the bunny trails

“One road leads home and a thousand roads lead into the wilderness,” C.S. Lewis once said. Recently during a conversation, I commented about getting off topic and going down a “bunny trail,” as I referred to it. How easy it is to veer off course and head down the wrong path, not just in conversation, but in our walk with God as well.

The book of Proverbs is filled with references to pathways and footsteps, walking and ways. The book of Proverbs is widely attributed to Solomon, and each chapter is filled with life hacks that are as relevant to us today as they were a few thousand years ago. “He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly,” Solomon wrote, “He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.” (Proverbs 2:7-8)

God preserves our way and keeps our feet

A direct reference to Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel, Proverbs 2:7-8 is an important reminder that it is God Who preserves our way and keeps our feet. In Proverbs 2:13, Solomon wrote that men “…leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness.” When we get sidetracked from our walk with God, we head straight into darkness. “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness; they know not at what they stumble.” (Proverbs 4:18-19) Bunny trails on our walk with God can start out innocently enough; in fact, oft times we don’t even know we’re headed down one. In order to stay on the right path, we have to seek after God to preserve our way and keep our feet.

Our walk with God requires action

Our walk with God requires action. We have to receive God’s words, we have to take to heart His commandments, incline our ears to wisdom, apply our hearts and lift our voices up to understanding, cry after knowledge, seek after Him as silver, search after Him as for hid treasure – we have to act to understand the fear of the LORD and to find the knowledge of God. “For the LORD giveth wisdom,” Proverbs 2:6, “out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”

We have to keep our focus on God

It seems so easy in theory, until we try to put it into practice. The readying ourselves for work each day, preparing meals, cleaning house, taking care of the yard – there are endless activities that can convolute our time with God and distract our gaze from the Giver to all that we have to give in order to make a life. Wisdom isn’t something we’re born with; wisdom is a gift from God. “He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous,” (Proverbs 2:7). To lay up means to give, which suggests that what wisdom any of us have comes from our walk with God. In our walk with God, we have to purposefully beware the bunny trails and keep our focus on Him if we want Him to preserve our way and keep our feet. As C.S. Lewis once said, “Relying on God has to start all over everyday as if nothing has yet been done.”

Originally published as “Our walk with God.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. July 11, 2019: 6. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

16

August 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | The Sovereignty of God

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Wednesday Wisdom | The sovereignty of God (See more at hopereflected.com)

“When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.” C.H. Spurgeon

When you’re going through a trial, how well do you sleep at night?

When you’re trusting the sovereignty of God, you’ve got the most comfortable, reassuring pillow there is.

Sure, it’s easier to say than to do, but there are seemingly endless verses throughout the Bible about trusting God and His sovereignty. So what are you waiting for?

No matter what you’re facing, claim God’s sovereignty to get you through it. Don’t forget that He is in control — and that can be a real challenge at times, can’t it?!

In times of trials, focus on the Bible verses (or better yet, commit them to memory!) that remind you of God’s strength, His power, His care, and His sovereignty:

  • Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
  • Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you. (Matthew 5:44)
  • And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
  • Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
  • The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. (Exodus 15:2)
  • Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! (1 Chronicles 16:11)
  • Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
  • I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
  • …God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. (Psalm 18:32-33)
  • But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me. (2 Timothy 4:17)
  • 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 brings wicked schemes to pass. (Psalm 37:7)
  • Be strong and of a good courage. Do not be frightened, neither be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Remember, when you go through a trial, God’s sovereignty will be your rest. Keep your eyes on Him!

“When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.” C.H. Spurgeon

 

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Friday

24

March 2017

Hope Reflected | The power of the tongue

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power of the tongue james 3:8

The power of the tongue

One thing that we all have in common is that at some point or another, each one of us, – inevitably, – is going to say something we don’t mean. You may make a comment in the middle of an argument, or maybe it will be something you say behind someone’s back, or perhaps you’ll speak words to someone that just don’t come out right. Or, as Wes experienced this past week, you may say something about a complete stranger that you instantly regret. The tongue. At some point in each one of our lives, our tongues are going to hurt someone else and cause us trouble.

The problem with the tongue is that once you say something, you can’t take it back. James 3:5 tells us, “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” We all need to learn how to guard our tongues and watch our mouths.

There’s the old saying that goes, “God gave us mouths that close and ears that don’t so that should tell us something.” It’s so true, isn’t it? How often we speak words in haste when really we should be just as quick to listen. I write that quickly, like it’s no big deal and easy to do, when the reality is more often than not quite different. I struggle at least a couple of times a day to listen when everything in me wants to interrupt. It’s like, sometimes when someone else is speaking and telling me something, the time I should be spending listening to them, I’m actually formulating my response to them in my head. That’s not right. We are called to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” (James 1:19) Don’t underestimate the power of the tongue.

  1. Once you say it, you can’t take it back. “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.” (Proverbs 12:18) Like the toothpaste leaving the tube analogy, once you speak words, you can’t “un-speak” them. That’s why it’s so important to consider our words before saying them aloud.
  2. Actions speak louder than words. “Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) There’s the saying that goes, “You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.” The way you live is just – or more – important than the words you speak. There is no such thing as a part-time Christian. Living a life that is pleasing to God happens every day of the week, every where, – whether you’re in the barn or in the office, – authentic Christian living does not just happen on Sundays while you’re in church.
  3. Take a step back; give it some time. “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” (Proverbs 13:3) If you’re anything like me, sometimes you just need to take a step back before you react. I’ve learned the hard way – and learned several times, actually – that in the heat of the moment is the wrong time to hit the ‘send’ button on that reactive email or to say something out of spite. Usually, the best practice is just to sleep on it. Give yourself some time to cool off before you answer anyone in a heated tone. “Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace.” (Proverbs 17:28)
  4. It’s never too late to apologize and ask forgiveness. “’Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘Return to Me with all your heart.” (Joel 2:12) In earthly terms, words can be forgiven but not forgotten. But God, when we truly repent, He forgives and God has the ability to wash our slate clean and make us white as snow. If we’re truly reflecting a life lived for Him, we’ll seek forgiveness to those we’ve wronged through our words (and our actions). It’s never too late to seek forgiveness, and you might be surprised how well received a sincere apology will be.

Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that “death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” James 3:7-8 shares that “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue.” It may be small, but the tongue is a mighty weapon. May each of our words speak love and truth.

 

Originally published as “The power of the tongue.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. March 9, 2017: 8. Print.

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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

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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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Monday

23

January 2017

Encouragement | Isaiah 43:19 | God’s Promises

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encouragement Isaiah 43:19 God's promises

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

The beginning of a new year and a new week is a great time to draw encouragement from God’s Word. Take some time to read about God’s promises in Scripture so you can face this week with His strength.

If you are feeling defeated, overwhelmed, or without hope, take heart! When you make the choice to trust God, you will see that He does things that are beyond anything you can ask or think!

Isaiah 43:19 says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Whatever wilderness you’re facing, and whatever wasteland you find yourself in, put your trust in the One Who is bigger than any obstacle or problem you face!

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

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Friday

13

January 2017

Hope Reflected | The Blessing in Obedience

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blessing in obedience luke 11:28

The Blessing in Obedience

Piano lessons. Talk to any adult, and they’ll tell you stories from their child hood about piano lessons. The difference in how the stories end is always related to obedience – some individuals demonstrated obedience in practicing piano, while others gave up and moved on to something else. In the long term, the benefits of demonstrating obedience in practicing piano means more than likely those individuals can still play today! It’s a great feeling of satisfaction as an adult to reap the benefits of obedience when you were a child.

The Bible talks a lot about obedience, and the book of Hebrews specifically recognizes great men and women from the Bible who were obedient and faithful: Abraham, Moses, and Sarah just to name a few.

Obedience plays a part in every believer’s life, and the Bible has much to say on the topic of obedience:

Obedience shows that we believe in and love God. Abraham, Moses, Sarah, and other men and women of faith in the Bible, demonstrated their belief and faith in God through their obedience. Jesus said in John 15:14, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Similarly, 1 John 2: 4-5 says, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”

Obedience brings glory to God. As Christians, we have a responsibility to be obedient to God’s Word. Though it’s not always easy – especially when popular opinion contradicts much of the Bible’s truths – obedience brings glory to God. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Obedience brings blessing. Psalm 1:1-2 tells us, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” We’re also told in Proverbs 13:13, “Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.” Jesus even said in Luke 11:28, “Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”

Obedience brings freedom. Jesus said in John 8:31-32, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” And with freedom, comes peace. D.L. Moody was famously quoted as saying, “There will be no peace in any soul until it is willing to obey the voice of God.”

What are you waiting for? If you want to see God do extraordinary things in your life, start taking steps of ordinary obedience.

Originally published as “The Blessing in Obedience.” Minto Express, Independent Plus. December 7, 2016: 5. Print.

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Wednesday

11

January 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | Listen to Your Heart

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be yourself listen to your heart

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.” Eleanor Roosevelt

In her book, You Learn by Living, Eleanor Roosevelt provided many nuggets of wisdom, including the wise words to listen to your heart. A politician, diplomat, and activist, Eleanor Roosevelt was a great example of a strong woman.

When I was a child, my Mum always used to tell me to be myself, to do what I felt was right, regardless of what everyone else was doing. As a child, that’s hard advice to take, especially when you want to ‘fit in’. Looking back, I am so glad that I heeded her wisdom to listen to my heart and stay true to myself, even if it wasn’t ‘cool’.

No matter what you do, there is going to be someone out there who criticizes you, or thinks they know better, so why bother trying to be a people-pleaser when you can be the unique creation God intended you to be? Be yourself; there is no one else better suited. God created you with a unique purpose that only you can fulfill, so trust Him and listen to His leading.

There are several verses throughout Scripture that talk about the importance of what’s in your heart:

  • “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
  • “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
  • “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
  • A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

Don’t be afraid of what other people will think of you, just be yourself and listen to your heart; the only opinion of you that matters is God’s.

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.” Eleanor Roosevelt

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Wednesday

7

December 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: Guard Your Mouth and Your Tongue

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guard your mouth and your tongue

“Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” Proverbs 21:23

Guarding my tongue can be a challenge. Evidently, I’m not the only one, as throughout the Bible we read of various examples of men and women who learned the importance of guarding their mouths and tongues. Often seen as a sign of wisdom, there is a quote that says, “Wise men are not always silent, but they know when to be.” It’s important to learn when to speak, and when to hold your tongue. It’s not always easy, but if you get in the practice of tasting your words before you speak them, guarding your mouth and your tongue gets easier. The art of knowing when to speak and when to hold your tongue, is a life-long learning process, I’m convinced.

Here are some verses that speak about guarding your mouth and thinking before you speak:

  • “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3
  • “An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will escape from trouble.” Proverbs 12:13
  • “The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3
  • “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

“Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” Proverbs 21:23

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Friday

18

November 2016

Hope Reflected: Choose Faith Over Fear

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faith

Have you ever been in a season of life where you face an unknown future? Perhaps you’re starting at a new school, or starting a new job, or maybe even making a career change. Maybe you’re facing health issues, or moving to a new town. One of the realities of life is that we will all face seasons of change. Many thoughts can run through our minds when embarking on a new journey, and it’s in those times of uncertainty that we all need to be reminded to choose faith over fear.

Have you ever tried mixing oil and water? Or, fellow food lovers, what about mixing extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar? Notice how they just don’t jive? Olive oil is less dense than vinegar, so it always floats to the top. Try as you might, you can’t mix the two together. The same thing can be said of faith and fear. Bob Proctor said it like this: “Faith and fear both demand you believe in something you cannot see. You choose!”

Last week at Clifford Community Church, Reverend Bott painted a picture in his sermon about the children of Israel and how close they came to entering the promised land… before spending forty years wandering through the wilderness. God doesn’t want us to stay stagnant in the wilderness; but we have to put our faith in Him in order to move forward! Sometimes it’s hard, but I know I’d rather choose a future and a hope through faith than anxiety and worry through fear!

By definition, faith is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. In the Bible, we learn a lot more about faith than just a dictionary definition, however. We see faith in action all through God’s Word, and we’re introduced to so many men and women who chose faith over fear and experienced God’s amazing blessings.

From my own experience, here are three facts I know to be true about faith:

  1. Faith is powerful. Hebrews 11:1 states that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” When we put our faith and hope in God, and His best, we eliminate any unbelief or feelings of fear. You can’t have fear when you’ve got faith – what a powerful thought! At one of the lowest points of his life, when he was caught by the Philistines at Gath, David said, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3) If you’re feeling fearful or afraid, put your faith in God. He will see you through. If He brings you to it, He can bring you through it! And it’s through facing our fears head on that we defeat them and grow our faith.
  2. Faith is a gift. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” You may know people who have a super-strong faith that seems rock solid. And guess what? Faith isn’t just reserved for certain people. Faith is a gift from God that can be yours, too! As a result of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you’ll start to grow the fruits of the Spirit, including faith! You can go to church, get baptized, be a good person, even give money away, but none of it means anything unless you accept God’s gift of salvation. Faith is a gift; God’s grace is a gift.
  3. Faith is something we learn. Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” An unshakable faith isn’t just something that happens to us when we come to know the Lord; faith is something we learn and develop when we dig into God’s Word. The more time we spend feeding our souls in the Bible, the less time we spend feeding fear and worry. When Joshua replaced Moses as leader over the children of Israel, he was reminded and encouraged to stay in God’s Word: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have not I 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.” Faith is something we have to grow, and we can’t grow our faith if we don’t spend time in the Bible each day!

Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Wherever you are today, you’ve got the option to choose faith over fear. Like oil and vinegar, faith and fear don’t mix. As Greg Laurie says: “Where fear reigns, faith is driven away. But where faith reigns, fear has no place.”

Originally published as “Choose Faith Over Fear.” Minto Express. October 19, 2016. 5: Print.

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