Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

wisdom Archive

Friday

18

August 2017

Hope Reflected | Watching Your Words

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

The birds sing among the branches. Psalm 104:12 Watch your words | See more at hopereflected.com

Watching your words

If you follow along on our blog (www.hopereflected.com), then you know how much Wes and I love bird watching. From robins and blue jays to cardinals and mourning doves, there is something so soothing and therapeutic about watching God’s creations live their lives and interact in our yard. When I told him my column this week would be about the tongue, Wes commented about how so often we think of “the tongue” as something that gets us into trouble, when in reality, our tongues were created to bring glory to God. And not just our tongues, but the tongues of the birds out side as well. Birds sing to attract mates, birds call to protect their territory or alert others in their flock of food or danger. And sometimes, birds just sing. The Bible tells us in Psalm 66:4 that all the earth worships God and sings praises to Him.

What’s the first thing – in nature – that you hear when you wake up in the morning? Likely birds singing (or possibly dogs barking). If you’re into whale watching, it’s a fact that you’re most likely to see whales at their most active and vocal first thing in the morning. As part of God’s creation, we are also created to glorify Him with our lives and our voices – and that includes the words that leave our lips. The Westminster Catechism says that, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” That starts when we awake in the morning!

What prompted me to write about the power of the tongue this week was reading Psalm 141, where verse 3 says, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” Many times throughout scripture, we are told of the perils of the tongue and how important it is to be mindful of our words and actions. You might think that guarding your tongue isn’t of much significance, but even Jesus “held His peace.” (Matthew 26:63). If Jesus knew the importance of guarding His tongue – especially right before He was crucified – we should also be mindful of His example.

Through scripture we read about the bad implications of the tongue, but we should also consider what the Bible says about the blessings that come when you guard your tongue and watch your words:

  1. You will gain understanding. “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Proverbs 17:28) Sometimes it can be so tempting to interrupt and get your two cents in before the person you’re conversing with finishes their thought. Consider how the quality of our conversations would improve if only we would take the time to listen to the thoughts of others before responding. As it says in Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” What you say reflects what’s in your heart. When you listen rather than speak, you gain understanding.
  2. You will have fewer regrets. “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23) Like turning jelly back into powder or putting an egg back in its shell after it’s been broken, once your words leave your lips, you can’t take them back. This is a lesson we are all constantly learning. Our words have consequences. You may have heard the quote, “Our words are free; it’s how we use them that may cost us.” How true it is! Just remember the next time you’re tempted that it’s not necessary to react to everything you notice.
  3. You will encourage others. “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 15:4) Our words have the power to build others up, or to tear others down (Proverbs 15:1) – especially when we speak out of turn or talk about others behind their back. Proverbs 16:24 says that “gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Knowing this, why not use your words and your tongue to edify others?

Isaiah 55:12 says, “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” God’s creation, even the trees of the field, have their own way of speaking. Before you let those words roll off your tongue, consider who you’re directing the words at and the permanent impact that your words may have on the life of another.

Originally published as “Watching your words.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. August 10, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Monday

24

July 2017

Hope Reflected | Meekness

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Meekness isn't weakness; it's strength under control. | Hope Reflected Read more at hopereflected.com

Meekness

Sunday is a day that both Wes and I look forward to each week. Not only is it the start of a new week, the Sabbath brings with it an opportunity to rest, to receive Biblical teaching, and to fellowship with other believers. This past Sunday, we were blessed by the ministry of Tim Horne. Speaking on the subject of the Beatitudes, Tim shared from God’s Word about Christians cultivating the characteristics of Christ in our everyday lives.

If you’re not familiar with the Beatitudes, you can read them as part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1-12. The Beatitudes are a list of blessings and characteristics that Jesus highlights, and as Tim explained, the Beatitudes are a portrait of Jesus.

One of the Beatitudes is that of meekness. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” What does it truly mean to be meek?

Often, the virtue of meekness is associated with weakness (perhaps because the two words rhyme?). However, meekness isn’t weakness; it’s strength under control. From what I can see, Jesus is referred to (or calls Himself) meek at least ten times throughout Scripture. When you think about the definition of meekness, and what it means to embody the word, the references to Jesus as meek are very fitting. In fact meekness – for those living and looking to the Lord every day – is one of the essential expressions of a true Christian.

To be meek requires wisdom. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” (James 3:13) When I think of the people in my life who I consider to be wise, I see them as great pillars of strength. American theologian Warren Wiersbe once said that “meekness is the right use of power, and wisdom is the right use of knowledge. They go together. The truly wise person will show in his daily life (conversation means behavior), that he is a child of God. Attitude and action go together.”

To be meek requires strength. “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3) Moses was a strong man. Not only did he lead the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, he also received the Ten Commandments from God. Meekness isn’t weakness; it’s strength under control. As Elder Ulisses Soares once said, “Being meek does not mean weakness, but it does mean behaving with goodness and kindness, showing strength, serenity, healthy self-worth, and self-control.” Never assume that loud is strong and quiet is weak.

To be meek requires humility and a teachable spirit. “The meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek will he teach his way.” (Psalm 25:9) Getting caught up in always being right, winning the argument, or always having the last word can be exhausting. You can find rest when you’re willing to learn. In one of my favourite Bible verses, Jesus provides encouragement when He says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:29) It takes courage to be humble, and the Lord blesses a teachable spirit. “…God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

To be meek requires peacefulness. “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing…” (2 Timothy 2:24-25) Sometimes we confuse being peaceful with being a pushover, and that’s not the case. Part of being meek means that you don’t purposefully strive with others, and you don’t seek out arguments. That being said, being meek requires you to stand up for what’s right, and to address it if someone treats you wrong. After all, God doesn’t call us to be doormats but He does call us to live in love. “Put them in mind… to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing meekness unto all men.” (Titus 3:2)

If you’re ever in doubt about the virtue of meekness, consider Jesus. As a mirror of the Beatitudes, His life is an example of meekness. To be soft and strong is a combination that few have mastered, but it can be done when you keep your focus on Christ.

Originally published as “Meekness.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. July 6, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

Monday

8

May 2017

Hope Reflected | Wisdom | 5 Characteristics of the Wise

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wisdom 5 characteristics of the wise

Wisdom | 5 characteristics of the wise

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16) Defined as the “capacity of judging rightly in matters relating to life and conduct; soundness of judgment in the choice of means and ends; sometimes, less strictly, sound sense, especially in practical affairs,” wisdom has been sought after for ages.

The word wisdom is used 234 times throughout the Bible (54 times in the book of Proverbs alone). Wisdom is an incredibly important virtue that is imperative to living a fulfilling and godly life. People often confuse wisdom with knowledge when in fact the two are completely different. Knowledge is the gathering and learning of facts and information while wisdom is understanding which of those facts and pieces of information are true, and how those facts and information apply to one’s life. Ironically, Jimi Hendrix described the difference like this: “Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens.”

As Christians, we are called to seek after wisdom and pursue it. Throughout the Bible we read of several examples of wise – and unwise – men and women and the role that wisdom – or a lack thereof – played in each one of their lives. There are several telltale characteristics of a wise person:

  1. Wise people heed instruction. “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” (Proverbs 13:1) Wise people accept constructive criticism and grow from it; they listen to the advice of their elders who’ve “been there and done that”. As my Mum once told me, “You can learn from your mistakes, or you can learn from the mistakes of others and then choose not to make the same mistakes yourself.” Wise people consider, and follow instruction. “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.” (Proverbs 19:20).
  2. Wise people listen. “A wise man will hear,” (Proverbs 1:5), “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15) If you’re wise, you’ll take the time to listen. The struggle is real, am I right?! Sometimes everything in me wants to speak when really what I need to do is listen. If you’re struggling to listen, remember the old adage: “If you seek wisdom, be silent.” “Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace.” (Proverbs 17:28).
  3. Wise people plan ahead. “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” (Proverbs 14:1) You’ve likely heard of the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31. In Proverbs 14:1 we’re told of the wise woman who builds her house. At the time this Proverb was written, women were very involved in the managing and planning of their husbands’ estates (for more on this, read Proverbs 31). Whether you’re a woman or a man, if you’re living wisely, you’re working your best to provide for your family, to improve their lives, not just for now, but for the future as well.
  4. Wise people encourage one another. “The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.” (Proverbs 10:21) The book of Proverbs is filled with examples of guarding your tongue and thinking before you speak. Wise people encourage, exhort, and uplift those around them. They build others up rather than tear them down. They act with discernment and want to have good relationships (see also Proverbs 11:12).
  5. Wise people work hard and save. “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established.” (Proverbs 24:3) You build up for yourself and for your family through wise and prudent management, and by working diligently. Proverbs 10:4-5 says, “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a wise son; he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.”

There are so many characteristics of people who are wise, perhaps most especially that they consistently pursue that very virtue. Charles Spurgeon once said that wisdom is “the right use of knowledge.” Use your knowledge to discern what is truly important in this world, and eternity. If you’re searching for wisdom, ask God. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

Originally published as “Wisdom | 5 characteristics of the wise.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. March 16, 2017: 7. Print.

Wednesday

28

September 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: Get into God’s Word

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Get into God's Word, everyday

“Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be.” A.W. Tozer

God’s Word is perhaps the greatest earthly gift we will ever receive. It’s a compass for everyday living, an encouragement when we’re down, and an instruction manual with details on how to deal with life.

If you’re someone who’s not accustomed to practicing devotions on a daily basis, I encourage you to seek out the Bible and its wisdom each and every day. Make time each day to get into God’s Word. Even if you just start with a Psalm or a Proverb, make the effort to read something from the Bible each day. You won’t regret it!

David said in Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” When we go out in the world with God’s Word as our guide, He will provide light for our steps and direct our paths. Tozer said that whatever kept him from his Bible was his enemy, because he realized the crucial importance and impact of the Bible in his life. God’s Word is not just a way to to get to know more about God; it’s a way to know God.

“Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be.” A.W. Tozer

Wednesday

20

July 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: God Will Help You Find a Way

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God will help you

“God did not remove the Red Sea, He opened it: He will help us find a way through our problems as well.” Brad Wilcox

How many times have we read in Exodus how God parted the Red Sea for Moses, allowing the Israelites to walk on dry ground and cross to safety while being pursued by their enemies? We’ve heard the event shared time after time after time; this is classic Sunday School lesson material.

Exodus 14:21-22 (KJV) tells us, “And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.”

Notice anything interesting about this selection of scripture? It wasn’t until I came across author Brad Wilcox’s awesome quote that the truth struck me: God divided the waters of the Red Sea for the Israelites so they could cross to safety.

“God did not remove the Red Sea, He opened it: He will help us find a way through our problems as well.” Brad Wilcox

Wow.

Sometimes we can hear a truth over and over again, but until it’s explained in the simplest of terms, we don’t necessarily understand the breadth of it.

God’s not necessarily going to remove our problems, but He has promised to help us through whatever challenges we’re facing.

David testified in Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Psalm 46:1 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Isaiah 41:10 instructs us, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus promises us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

God is with us, always, if we trust in Him. God is our refuge, and our strength. God will give you the strength to get through whatever challenge or problem you are facing, if you will trust in Him. God is the one who will provide us with rest. Seek Him, learn about Him, trust Him.

We don’t need to fear problems or eliminate them when we have the choice to face them with God on our side.

“God did not remove the Red Sea, He opened it: He will help us find a way through our problems as well.” Brad Wilcox

Trust God, and let Him help you today!

Wednesday

22

June 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: The Best Way To Get Things Done is To Get Started

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wednesday wisdom: the best way to get things done is to get started

Call it wisdom, or call it a life hack: The best way to get things done is to get started.

We’ve all been there. The most important task we should be doing is the last thing we feel like getting started. Whether it be house work, cleaning, or final exams, sometimes getting started is so hard.

But that’s the key.

Get started.

Getting started on something is often the hardest part, but when you make the decision to dive in and begin, you’ll find you’re able to get more done.

Increase your productivity by helping yourself out along the way. Don’t leave things until the morning of; take steps the night before to make your life easier. Set up the coffee, plan your outfit, take notes. Do as much prep work in advance of your task as possible, that way, when it comes time to actually beginning the work at hand, you’re better prepared, ready to work, and more apt to remain focused.

Sometimes, you just have to simply begin.