December 2013

From Jim’s Heart–Take the Challenge

At first impression, the Bible looks and feels like any other book. Yet it claims that God Himself inspired and directed its 40-plus different authors over a span of hundreds of years to produce a singular message of salvation for mankind. And despite the fact it is 2000 years old and it has faced countless attempts to destroy it, the Bible is the most popular book that has ever been printed.

These facts should give you pause for reflection. If the Bible is what it claims to be–a message from God about your eternal destiny–wouldn’t it be worth your time and effort to take this next year to look daily at its message? You will never know how significant the Bible is until you open it and read its contents for yourself. Take on the challenge of reading your Bible daily in 2014. It will be THE most profitable thing you do each day. Keep these suggestions in mind as you approach the Bible:

Realize the Bible’s usefulness (2 Peter 1:3).

Read with a mind open to the truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Respond to the Bible’s message (John 3:16).

Resolve to live out the truths in the Bible (1 Samuel 12:24).

Reap the blessings of knowing and obeying God’s Word (Psalm 1:1-3).

To help you get started, I’m launching “In the Word Wednesday,” starting tomorrow, January 1, on our Facebook page. Each Wednesday, I will share a brief synopsis of one book of the Bible to help you become more acquainted with its themes and what it has to teach you today.

Also, don’t forget to visit my website (JimGeorge.com) to download a free “One-Year Daily Bible Reading Plan” and other helpful Bible study resources. (You’ll find them under the “Free Resources” tab.)

For a blessed New Year, commit to reading your Bible every day. “Blessed is the man” whose “delight is in the law of the LORD” (Psalm 1:1-2).

God’s Brand of Success

As you head into another year, think about your assignments from God—your role in your family, your work, your church and community. Are you approaching your tasks with God’s leading or are you going it alone? Look to God’s Word, find out what He says you’re to do, and then do what God says—do it His way. Would you like to have success in 2014? Then every day try to:

  • Reexamine your life according to the three components to God’s brand of success: your heart for God’s Word, your heart for thinking on God’s Word, and your heart for obeying God’s Word.
  •  Relinquish how you may have defined success in the past and allow God to redesign your values.
  • Reflect on your level of obedience. Have you been as careful as you should be in doing what the Bible says?
  • Realign your practices and values to demonstrate the perspective and level of obedience God desires.
  • Realize the impact of your obedience. What is God asking you to do? Obeying makes a huge difference, beyond what you can think of or dream of.

If your assignments are anything like mine and most of the people I know, they look daunting. But we have God. We must listen to Him and adhere to everything God tells us. We must believe in His plan for us, lock in on it, move forward, see it through, and finish. Then we will know God’s brand of success.

From Jim’s Heart—Jesus: The Promised One

When the fullness of the time had come,
God sent forth His Son, born of a woman,
born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law,
that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Galatians 4:4-5

From the beginning of biblical history, God had promised a Savior for fallen man (Genesis 3:15). Abraham’s descendants were the race through which this Savior was to come. For centuries, devout Jews all over the inhabited world regularly searched the Old Testament prophecies in the hopes of understanding when and where this Savior, their Messiah, would appear.

In the “fullness of time”—God’s time—a star appeared in the sky. Wise men from the East, in Persia, recognized this bright star as the fulfillment of a prophecy: “A Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17). They then began the long journey to find this King whose arrival had been predicted long ago.

The appearance of this star and the birth of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus, were the culmination of thousands of years of anticipation. Jesus’ coming to earth as the Savior was the fulfillment of the covenant promises that were made to Israel that shape the structure of the Old Testament. From this point onward, the rest of history would revolve around the brief years that Jesus Christ lived among us.

It is impossible to treat Jesus as merely another man! He is unique. He is the Promised One who, through His birth, death, and resurrection, brings us into a relationship with God when we believe in Him. This, my friend, is the true meaning of Christmas!

Jesus, Your Precious Savior

“My spirit has rejoiced in God my savior.”
Luke 1:47

In the richness of Mary’s spoken “Magnificat” in Luke 1:45-55, notice she began where every testimony begins—in praise to God for salvation. Mary’s baby Jesus was the long-awaited Savior. He would take away the sins of the world—including Mary’s. Her song begins, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” Mary freely acknowledged she needed a Savior. She recognized salvation was through the divine grace of God revealed in His Son, her Messiah.

Are you wondering if you need a Savior? Consider what Jesus Christ, the Savior God sent, offers you. He…

Substitutes His sinless life for your sinful one (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Assures you of eternal life (John 10:28-29).

Vanquishes Satan’s hold on your life (2 Timothy 2:26).

Initiates you into the family of God (Galatians 4:4-6).

Overthrows the power of sin (Romans 6:1-10).

Reconciles you to a holy God (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Do you enjoy in Jesus Christ all the word “Savior” represents—the forgiveness of sin, the assurance of heaven, freedom from Satan’s power, fellowship with fellow believers, and a personal relationship with God? If not, accept Jesus’ offer right now! Pray,

Jesus, please forgive my sins.
Come into my heart today and forever.

Whether you have belonged to the Savior for a minute or for years, sing and shout, “Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

Join the Chorus of Praise!

Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord.”
Luke 1:46

The surest test of a heart is the caliber of its speech—the quality of the words that issue forth. Through Mary’s words we see her pure heart. As she arrived at Elizabeth’s, this young woman opened her mouth and offered rich words of praise, a song now known as Mary’s “Magnificat.” Mary began, “My soul magnifies the Lord,” and the inspired words that follow contain 15 quotations from the Old Testament (Luke 1:45-55). As author Gien Karssen observed, the number of Scriptures quoted in the “Magnificat” shows that “Mary knew God, through the books of Moses, the Psalms and the writings of the prophets. She had a deep reverence for the Lord God in her heart because she knew what He had done in the history of her people.”

Clearly Mary’s heartstrings were tuned to the heart of God. Her heart was saturated with His Word! Knowing God and His mercy, provision, and faithfulness, Mary sang…

  • a song of joy, of gladness, of celebration.
  • a song of substance based on the Scriptures.
  • a song reflecting the love and devotion of Hannah, a saint from the past (1 Samuel 2).
  • a song for today since God is the same yesterday and today.
  • a song for eternity because God’s Word stands forever.

Join Mary in her chorus of praise. Because you know God and recognize His infinite power and love, make Mary’s solo a duet. Read her beautiful and joyful words and add your voice to her sweet melody, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”

The Heart That Submits

Take a minute to read the account of Christ’s “Birth Announcement”:

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’

Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’

And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’…Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.'” (Luke 1:26-35,38)

So often we struggle with God and postpone our submission. And even in Mary’s case, a rash of human emotions and responses probably raced through her mind. And with good reason!

  • Wonder—Mary didn’t understand (verse 34).
  • Fear—Mary was troubled (verses 29-30).
  • Distress—Mary probably knew the penalty for pregnancy outside marriage was death by stoning (see Leviticus 20:10).
  • Troubled—How could she explain this to others? To her family? To Joseph, her spouse-to-be?
  • Questioning—Mary was a virgin and unmarried. How could or would this happen?

But, in the end, Mary submitted to God’s mysterious will and purpose from the heart. Beloved, follow Mary’s example. Cultivate a humble heart—a heart of pure faith. In essence Mary’s heart reply to God was, “I live to serve You. I desire no life apart from You. I will do whatever You ask because I belong to You. I will do whatever You ask, quietly and without question. Let it be to me according to Your word.”

What’s a Mom to Do?

When we’re thinking “Christmas,” it always seems so ideal, so perfect, doesn’t it? But in reality, it can get pretty hectic for everyone. Finding that balance between a Christ-centered Christmas and real life is a challenge, and Mom often finds herself right in the middle. What’s a mom to do?

It’s so easy to get sidetracked, especially this time of year. But no matter what you do each day, whatever it is, it’s a matter of the heart. Whether it’s deciding how to spend your money for Christmas, how you spend your time, how you treat people, or how you do the work you have to get done, your choices will reveal your heart.

It says in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life.” In other words, we’re to present our entire being to God—the heart first. Mom, what are the choices you’re making this holiday season revealing about your heart? Are the things you’re saying “yes” to Christ-centered and God-honoring? Do you need to say “no” to some things in order to keep your family’s focus (and sanity!) on what’s really important?

What’s a mom to do? Ask God for His wisdom during this Christmas season. Ask Him to help you make the choices that reveal a heart wholly devoted to Him.

Finding Favor with God

This time of the year we can’t help but marvel again at the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was a very special young woman who, through her faith and humility, found favor with God.

Faith and favor with God have nothing to do with externals. But they have everything to do with how we respond to the externals. We don’t know for certain the details of how Mary’s faith was formed, but we do see how her faith in God performed… and found favor with God.

Mary exhibits the kind of faith you and I, as women after God’s own heart, must nurture in ourselves. She shows us how God can use any woman, regardless of age and status, if that woman will love Him, obey Him, and trust in Him.

Many women wrongly think that they’re not anyone special, that they are deficient in areas that the world deems essential, that they need more education, better clothes, a better resume, a better pedigree—the list goes on. But, my dear friend, as Mary’s humble life teaches us, if you love God—if you seek after Him with all your heart and if you obey Him because you love Him—you, like Mary, will enjoy His favor.

Do you want to do extraordinary things for God? Then start by simply loving and obeying Him. Mary’s love for God qualified her to be used by God. She was poor, young, and unknown, but she exhibited a faith that was pleasing in God’s sight, a faith that found favor with God.

My Favorite Christmas Memory

My favorite part of Christmas is first about Jesus, then family—both my own and the families of those who are near and dear to me.

Everyone has their favorite Christmas stories—you know, the ones that just pop into your mind when you think “Christmas.” I have several! One is from when I was young, and our family received a little puppy. His mother had milk fever, and he had to be fed with an eye dropper. Because he came to our home on Christmas Day, we—of course–named him Chris!

And then there was the time when Jim was deployed in the Army. He was able to come home for Christmas, so he asked me to wait to put up the tree so we could do it together. We got it all done, and he got the vacuum cleaner out and—well, you guessed it–he pushed our beautiful little Christmas tree over as he was vacuuming around it!

But my most favorite memory is of our family as missionaries in Singapore. That Christmas, we were away from family and home and church and Christmas trees and cool weather! As Christmas came, one of my daughters said, “We can’t have Christmas without a Christmas tree!” So she grabbed some construction paper and outlined a tree, cut it out, taped it on our stone wall in our bungalow, and even made paper ornaments to hang on it.

When our family thinks of our favorite Christmas, that’s the one we love to talk about. How about you? What’s your favorite Christmas memory?

I pray you, your family, and your friends will create many new and wonderful memories together this season as we come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George


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