June 2015

Second Fiddle

An interviewer asked famed conductor Leonard Berstein, “What’s the most difficult instrument to play?” Good-naturedly he replied, “Second fiddle!” He added, “And if no one plays second, there’s no harmony.” We need to be more than willing to be God’s servants. We need to revel in the opportunities He gives us to serve.

Do you have someone you work with, serve with shoulder to shoulder? Someone you help as they serve the Lord? The apostle Paul said of Timothy in Philippians 2, “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly… I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state” (verses 19-20). I pray that you’ll spend time with a mentor in ministry and in prayer and Bible study. I encourage you to mature in your usefulness. Be content to play “second fiddle.”

Jesus, You were so humble and willing to serve. I want to follow Your example. Keep me from being caught up in wanting to be in charge, the one who gets the recognition. Help me look for places to serve and uplift others. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—Your Weapon Against Temptation

Have you ever noticed how Jesus handled temptation?

When Satan tempted the Lord during His 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus responded to every temptation by saying, “”It is written… It is written… It is written” (Matthew 4:4-10). Why? Because God’s Word is truth, and only truth can refute the lies Satan sends our way when he tempts us. Satan wants us to believe sin will give us pleasure and satisfaction. By contrast, God’s truth warns that sin leads to guilt, emptiness, and painful consequences.

Are you well-armed with God’s Word? Do you know what it says? Are you fighting your battles against temptation with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17)? Get to know what the Bible says about the kinds of temptations you face and fortify yourself against them.

Lord, help me to prepare for the lies that are likely to bombard me today. Thank You for arming me with Your truth and teaching me to use the sword of the Spirit effectively. Amen.

Caring for Widows

Honor widows who are really widows. But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God… If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8

The thought of becoming a widow isn’t pleasant. But according to life insurance statistics, most married women will outlive their husbands. Not only do widows face the emotional loss of their partners, but many of them also face the burden of significant financial loss. Widows in AD 63, when Timothy was pastoring, didn’t have the safety nets of insurance, retirement plans, or social security. They were completely at the mercy of others. Many looked to the church for help, and the church was having difficulty carrying the burden. So Paul made it a point to say who should take care of the widows. This is a message for all of us.

Family members are to provide for the widows within the family. Paul tells it like it is: “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). That’s a strong statement, but it’s so true! Are we ready to care for our mothers and mothers-in-law when the time comes? Are we raising children who will respect us and the Word of God to help care for us one day?

Lord, give me eyes to see the needs present in my own family. Give me a loving heart and the courage to act on meeting their needs. God, You promised to care for the widow, the orphan, and those who call on Your name. May I serve You by serving them faithfully. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—A Dad Feeds His Flock

Putting food on the table for your family is one of your key roles as a father. You would never think of letting your family go hungry for physical food. Others would see your conduct as unthinkable, and God would consider you to be worse than an unbeliever (see 1 Timothy 5:8).

So why should it be any different when it comes to spiritual food? Part of being your family’s spiritual shepherd is providing spiritual food from God’s Word, the Bible. To take this task seriously, find ways to…

  • Make sure your children see you reading and studying your Bible. Make Paul’s cry your own: “Imitate me’ just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
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  • Make sure your children read their own Bibles. Remember, a good shepherd “makes” his sheep lie down and feed in green pastures (see Psalm 23:2). When your kids see how important it is to you to read and study your Bible, it will become important to them as well. A shepherd always leads the way.
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  • Make it a practice to have devotions with the whole family. This will reap untold spiritual blessings in the lives of your children. This practice certainly had an influence on the life of Jim Elliot, the great missionary martyr whose commitment to Christ was forged as he participated in regular devotions as a child with his family.
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  • Make sure your children go to church and youth group regularly. Who in your family is to lead the way to faithful church attendance and involvement? Why, you are, Dad, as the leader of your flock!
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  • Make sure you pray. Ask God daily to work through His Word and by His Spirit in your children’s hearts.

Loving Money

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

1 Timothy 6:10

News flash! We are money managers whether we have paying jobs or not and whether we’re married or not. We manage our households on a budget. We save money. And we give our money to others. To add to our list of principles and precepts regarding finances, Paul gets to the heart of the matter and addresses “the love of money.” Have you invested in the following truths?

Our value is in God. When we are godly and content as righteous believers, we have our gain and our worth. Looking for worldly sources of affluence will destroy our godly desires.

The love of money is evil. Some misquote Paul and say, “Money is the root of all evil,” but notice that Paul says “the love of money” is a root of all kinds of evil. The problem comes with misplaced desire and misplaced affection&mdashp;not with working for money to provide for necessities.

Lust destroys godly priorities. When we crave riches,, we fall prey to temptations and prideful desires. Lust shifts our hearts from being godly to being self-serving. A lustful heart is never satisfied because it strays from godliness and the contentment of living as a child of God.

Check out your heart:

What do you require for contentment?

Are food and clothing and shelter enough?

Do you desire more than is needed when you shop, receive, gather, and plan?

Lord, thank You for Your abundant provision. Keep me from loving money. Help me become a generous giver to Your church and to Your children near and far. Protect me from the love of money. I rest in my value in You. Thank You for giving me contentment. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—A Noble Quest

Take a look at Acts 17:11. Notice what God said about the Bereans: They “were of more noble character.” Other Bible translations describe the Bereans as “fair-minded” or “open-minded.” Their willingness to seek out the truth only enhanced their character. Their actions affirm Proverbs 9:9 and its admonition: “Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.”

Bible students embark upon a noble quest&mdashp;a quest that few others desire to take. Many people are not willing to pay the price that is required for such a quest for wisdom and knowledge. They recognize that the challenges are great and opt not to start the journey. Others start and are quickly distracted and veer off the path, never to return. Those who choose not to make the effort to grow in the knowledge of God’s Word don’t realize that continuing the quest to understand the Bible will yield a life of wisdom and success.

Maybe you have heard this saying before: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. This applies to Bible study as well. When you know how to fish for truth on your own, you are set for life!

Looking Forward to the End

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:6-7

How would you respond to an article or feature entitled “Three Reasons Why You Can Stand Anything That Comes Your Way”? To me it sounds like a bestseller! That’s the kind of information I want to grab. Well, my friend, Peter has a powerful–and hopeful!–message for us as we suffer for doing what’s right. He gives us three reasons why we can withstand anything that comes our way.

Reason 1:We can stand anything because of what we are looking forward to—our magnificent inheritance of life with God.

Reason 2:We can stand anything if we remember that every trial is a test… and trials make our faith stronger and more resilient.

Reason 3:We can stand anything because at the end of our lives, when we’re with Jesus Christ, we will receive our rewards from Him—His praise and glory and honor.

Regardless of past or current trials, remain joyous in the goodness of the Lord. It is in His strength that you can stand strong and persevere.

Lord, You know the affliction I’m currently experiencing. My circumstances grieve me, but I’m holding on to the knowledge of Your provision. I purpose to press on and do the right thing in Your name, to praise You each day. And when I’ve made it through this trial, I will give You even more praise and glory. Thank You for loving me. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—Mastering God’s Word

When I was young in the Christian faith, a man came to our church to teach a seminar. It was evident that he knew his Bible very well. I admired his grasp of Scripture, and wished I had the same.

After the seminar, I summoned the courage to ask how he came to know the Bible so well. I expected him to say it was his theological training, or his ability to interpret Scripture. But to my surprise, he said it was a lifetime of just reading the Bible regularly, day in and day out.

That’s pretty simple, isn’t it? What a joy it was to realize I—and every believer—could have the same kind of knowledge. All it takes is faithful and consistent reading.

Lord, open my eyes as I read the Scripture. May my heart be like good soil so the seed of Your Word will go deep and produce a good crop. Amen.

Wisdom Waits

Proverbs 19:2 warns, “A person who moves too quickly may go the wrong way” (NLT)! In today’s fast-paced world, circumstances may try to keep you from taking the time you need to think through situations. Your kids shout that they’re going to a friend’s house as they head out the door. Your friend calls and says she’s got tickets to a concert… and do you want to go… but you have to decide right this minute ’cause they’re going fast. A salesperson comes to the door and says if you order right now, you’ll get a big discount on carpet cleaning.

No matter what the pressure is, “wisdom waits.” Take time to pray and, when necessary, consult someone you trust. The truth is that very few things in life call for an instant decision or offer rewards worth the problems that haste brings. Keep your cool. Take your time.

Lord, give me a few minutes to catch my breath. Help me slow down so I can seek Your wisdom and consider the options for the decisions I have to make. Amen.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George


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