Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

wise words Archive

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.

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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.

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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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Wednesday

18

January 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | When you love what you have, you have everything you need

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love what you have

“When you love what you have, you have everything you need.”

In my column, “Some Habits Are Actually Good,” I talked about learning to be content with yourself. You learn contentment when you make the choice to stop comparing yourself to others and competing with others. The grass isn’t greener on the other side; the grass is greenest where you water it.

You learn contentment when you continually give thanks and practice an attitude of gratitude.

You learn to love what you have when you’re content.

So what does the Bible say about contentment and gratefulness?

  • “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13
  • “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
  • “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” 1 Timothy 6:6-7
  • “Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'” Luke 12:15
  • “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
  • “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Psalm 100:3-4
  • “So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house,” Deuteronomy 26:11
  • “The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.” Psalm 126:3
  • “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 118:1

There are so many verses throughout the Bible about contentment and gratefulness. The key to contentment is living with an attitude of gratitude, and the key to loving what you have is learning contentment!

“When you love what you have, you have everything you need.”

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Friday

19

February 2016

Hope Reflected: 3 Ways to Control Your Reactions

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Hope Reflected: On Reactions

Anyone else love eating a good steak? You marinade the meat in the fridge overnight, and then grill it, and that combination of char-grilling with your secret spice recipe is mouth-watering – literally. Our saliva contains an enzyme called amylase, which reacts with the food we put in our mouths everyday, and begins the digestion process. And what about photosynthesis? Plants have to eat too, you know! Photosynthesis is a reaction that plants have to convert carbon dioxide and water into food and oxygen for themselves.

OK, so you might be wondering how eating a piece of steak and photosynthesis are relative to each other. Besides the food connection, eating and photosynthesis are processes that both contain reactions.

We don’t always think a lot about our reactions – someone throws a ball, you catch it; the sun shines, you’re more cheerful; someone asks, “how are you today?”, you reply, “Fine.”; something’s funny, you laugh – but reactions are an important part of life, and they can have huge impact on those around us.

Reactions have been on my mind quite a bit lately, especially when I see challenging situations around. Ever notice how when someone gets upset with you, or does something just to spite you, that others are watching to see how you’ll react?

Reactions are important for several reasons, not just because they have lasting impact, but because – even though they are sometimes impulsive – reactions are an outward demonstration of how we feel inside and what’s in our heart.

Here are 3 ways to better control your reactions (usually applied to unfavourable circumstances or people):

  1. Wait for it. Someone say something to you that was rude or out-of-line? Receive a nasty note or email? If you can, step away from the situation before speaking or hitting that ‘Reply’ button. In the heat of the moment, we’re more apt to respond rashly. Give yourself a break, take a breather, step outside and inhale some fresh air – once you’ve had a chance to gain some perspective, then respond.
  2. Sometimes, not doing anything is the best thing. During my undergrad studies, one of my teachers gave my entire class a reading assignment: J. Allan Petersen’s Your Reactions Are Showing booklet. I’m pretty sure several in the class laughed as a reaction to receiving the booklet, but some of the wisdom shared within those pages has stayed with me, even years later. J. Allan Petersen suggests that sometimes, saying or doing nothing is the best reaction of all.
  3. Keep in mind, reactions have lasting impact. What we say and do can’t be taken back, and quite often, even if a circumstance or comment occurs between two people, there are others on the outside watching to see how you’ll respond or react to a situation. Our actions and reactions impact others. What kind of impact do you want to have?

I’ll close with this unknown quote, which says: “You can’t change how people treat you or what they say about you. All you can do is change how you react to it.”

Originally published as “How to Control Your Reactions”. Minto Express. May 20, 2015: 5. Print.

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Thursday

18

February 2016

Hope Reflected: How to Be Decisive

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When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier. Roy E. Disney

“Where do you want to eat?”

“I don’t know; where do you want to eat?”

“It doesn’t matter to me, I’m good with whatever. You decide.”

“I’m totally neutral, you decide.”

While my indecisiveness is usually focused mostly around what restaurant to eat at when dining out with friends, the struggle is real. Indecisiveness is something that’s affected generations, throughout the entire world. Hey, even in Biblical times, there were some ‘ordinary’ men who had to make extraordinary decisions – check out Moses, Joshua, Elijah, and Daniel. We make decisions every single day, in every aspect of life – whether political, personal, or professional. That’s why it’s important to learn the fine art of being decisive!

The word ‘decisive’ is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “Settling an issue; producing a definite result; having or showing the ability to make decisions quickly and effectively.”[1] Interestingly enough, the word was first used in the early 17th century, coming from the medieval Latin decisivus, decis– meaning “determined”.

If you’re someone who struggles with making decisions, or making the right decisions, here are 3 ways to be more decisive:

  1. Prayerfully consider decisions. People who pray and put thought into major life decisions have a peace and a calm that others lack. There’s good reason for that. The Bible says in Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV), “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” While your spirit gives you a sense of right and wrong, your Bible is also an awesome place to look for clear counsel.
  2. Prioritize, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Buying a house? Committing to spend the rest of your life with one person? Yeah, I’d say those are pretty big decisions and require some serious consideration. Choosing a new paint colour for your house? Buying a new pair of shoes? While these may seem like important decisions (especially the shoes!) it’s important to prioritize and spend time focusing on the big picture. Forget trivial things; focus on what’s truly important.
  3. Own your decisions, and your mistakes. Having confidence in the choices we make is HUGE, and this can only be done when we know what we believe in and where we stand. Don’t make decisions based on what others think you should do (this mentality will only lead to unhappiness). And also, don’t be afraid of mistakes. As much as we try to avoid them, mistakes are inevitable, so it’s key to admit mistakes, own them, and grow from them.

It’s not always easy to make decisions, – especially decisions that have lasting impact, – however as a wise man once said, “when your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” Now if only I could decide on what to have for dinner.

[1] “decisive.” Oxforddictionaries.com. 2015. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/ (30 April 2015).

Originally published as “How to Be Decisive”. Minto Express. May 6, 2015: 5. Print.

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Wednesday

17

February 2016

Hope Reflected: Consistency

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Even if we can't see it, every day there will be a sunrise and a sunset.

If you’ve ever lived near, or gone on vacation and stayed at the beach, one of the most exceptional experiences is to watch the sunrise over the ocean. There’s something so majestic about the slow, gradual spread of vibrant colours over the water. Everything is still, with the exception of a few morning birds and waves coming into shore. That’s the miracle of nature. Even if we can’t see it, every day there will be a sunrise and a sunset, day in, day out, week after week, month after month, year after year.

 

While change is inevitable, each one of us can make the choice to remain consistent – in our faith, relationships, and work. Aristotle once said, “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Let’s face it – you can’t create habits without consistency.

Three facts about the power of consistency:

  1. Consistency is one of the keys to success. There’s a difference in being persistent and being consistent. As the old adage goes, “If you are persistent, you will get it. If you are consistent, you will keep it.” Consistent people are often more successful, and that’s a fact.
  2. Consistency requires patience. Greatness is never achieved in just one single act; it’s what we do with each day that we’re given that counts. Awesome achievements require time.
  3. Consistency proves people. Remember the saying “don’t trust words, question actions, but never doubt patterns”? We’ve probably all been there at some point or other. See #1, but someone who’s consistently inconsistent? Oy vey.

While it’s impossible for anyone to be as consistent as the sunrise and sunset, each of us can make the choice to be more consistent in the things that matter. And beware when you choose consistency – there will always be people who say consistency is boring or uninteresting. Those are shortsighted opinions. You can still be spontaneous once in a while even whilst you’re living with consistency!

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Tuesday

16

February 2016

5 Truths for Life from Proverbs 29

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Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honour. Proverbs 29:23

About ten years ago, I was given some of the best advice: Read a Proverb a day. For anyone just starting their spiritual walk, or even for those who are mature in their faith, there are so many simple truths for life found in the book of Proverbs.

Each chapter of Proverbs contains so much wisdom, which is just as practical today as when some of the Proverbs were first written as early as 900 B.C. Last week, I was inspired by five simple truths I found in Proverbs 29:

  1. Be compassionate towards those less fortunate than you. Proverbs 29:7 (NKJV) “The righteous considers the cause of the poor, but the wicked does not understand such knowledge.” No matter how bad you think things are, there is always someone less fortunate than you. We can’t all be Mother Teresa, but we can all show compassion and lend a helping hand to others.
  2. Watch your mouth. Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV) “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” Ever meet someone who is constantly talking, and doesn’t seem to know when to be quiet? There’s always someone who loves the sound of his or her own voice, and never takes the time to listen to others and learn from them. Don’t be that person.
  3. Plan ahead, set goals, and pursue your dreams. Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” To accomplish anything in life, each of us needs to plan ahead and set goals. Sometimes spontaneity is good, however proper planning demonstrates responsibility. That’s not to say you’ve got to be super serious and no fun – it’s all about living a balanced lifestyle.
  4. Think before you speak. Proverbs 29:20 (KJV) “Seest thou a man hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him.” [See also #2 above.] There’s something to be said about knowing when to speak and when to listen. Ever left a conversation and thought, “I shouldn’t have said that!” – yeah, pretty sure we all have. There’s a proper time and occasion to express your emotions. Be mindful of what and when you share. If we’re always talking all the time, we can’t hear what others have to say.
  5. Learn to control your emotions. Proverbs 29:22 (KJV) “An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.” You know that feeling when you just can’t hold back the ugly cry? UGH! We’ve all been there. It’s important to remember that how we display our emotions can have a direct effect on those around us – family members, friends, co-workers – that’s why it’s important to keep our “feelings” in check. It’s way easier said than done to control our actions – and our reactions – to what others say and do, but it sure is important!

Originally published as “5 Simple Truths for Life from Proverbs 29”. Minto Express. April 8, 2015: 5. Print.

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