Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

trust the Lord Archive

Tuesday

11

December 2018

Hope Reflected | The Purpose of Pruning

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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"Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." (John 15:2) The Purpose of Pruning | See more at hopereflected.com

The Purpose of Pruning

Pruning requires effort

 

People have varying opinions about fall; F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that “life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” John Burroughs once said, “how beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and colour are their last days.” Whether you look at fall as a new, exciting season, or you look at fall as the time when plants die and go dormant, autumn is a beautiful season that is not without its charms. It’s also a time of year when green thumbs – and wannabe gardeners – prepare their plants for winter. Wes and I usually take our cue from our neighbours when they trim back their hostas.

The type of plant determines the time of year in which you’ll prune – either late winter/early spring, or in the fall – and the purpose of pruning differs depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. This process that we go through with plants reminds me so much of the process that God goes through with us. Jesus said in John 15:1-2, “I AM the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

Pruning encourages plants to thrive. Pruning can help to improve a plant’s health, to promote growth of more flowers or fruit, and also higher quality and larger quantity of blooms. The same can be true in our own lives. When we prune away unhealthy habits or poisonous people, or when God removes certain things from our lives, the results can be incredible. We may not always understand why God prunes the things that He does, but we can be certain that the rewards of being patient during seasons of pruning far outweigh the results of trying to do it our own way. “Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt you to inherit the land.” (Psalm 37:34)

Pruning can also change the way a plant grows. Take the two hydrangea plants in our yard, for instance. This year, Wes is taking on the task to see if he can change the way the plants are growing, by removing any of the branches that are growing inward. One of the purposes of pruning can be to train a plant to grow in a certain direction or in a certain way. Pruning can help promote healthy growth patterns. As in our own lives, God often uses pruning as a way to alter how we’re growing or to change the direction in which we’re growing. God’s plans are bigger than any of our mistakes, and He’ll often use pruning as a method to turn us around. “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

Pruning is an important part of growth. Without pruning, the plants in our garden would enter the spring and summer season still carrying the weight of last year’s now dead growth. Isn’t that just like us? More often than not, we need to let go before we can grow. Someone once said that autumn leaves falling are an excellent reminder of how beautiful it is to let things go. It’s not always easy, but it always best to let go and let God. “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

While the purpose of pruning can vary depending on what you want to accomplish, pruning promotes a better, more well-rounded plant. Pruning requires effort – both working and waiting – and the results are always worth it.

Originally published as “The purpose of pruning.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 18, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Monday

19

March 2018

Encouragement | Isaiah 53:3-7

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Encouragement

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"The LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:6 | See more at hopereflected.com

Next week marks the beginning of Holy Week, and as we head into this Easter season, I’m meditating on our Lord and what He took on for us, all so we can have eternal life. I woke up Sunday morning with the hymn “Hallelujah! What a Saviour!” stuck in my head, and as Wes and I read through Mark 15 where Jesus stands before Pilate, I realized how casually we often read through the account of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

Really there are no words to fully describe or illustrate what Jesus went through leading up to and on and after the cross. This weekend, the passage of scripture found in Isaiah 53 struck me in a new way. I went through and underlined how Isaiah describes what happened to our Lord.

Isaiah 53:3-7 reads [emphasis my own]:

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Despised, rejected, man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, carried our sorrows, stricken, smitten of God, afflicted, wounded, bruised, chastised, oppressed, afflicted, brought as a lamb to the slaughter — our Lord endured it all, all so we can have eternal life.

Wherever you are, and whatever you’re going through, Jesus has already been through it all for you.

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Friday

6

October 2017

Hope Reflected | In the Hard Seasons

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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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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