From Our Hearts to Yours

Our Hawaiian Thanksgiving

Aloha! Our Thanksgiving was probably a lot like yours–some housework and food prep for the big dinner. However, we began the day with a walk along the water and nearby marina. This sight brought me great peace. Our verse for the day–and all days–is Psalm 118:29: “Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.” Praise Him!

 

Turkey Day found Jim hauling “the turkey” from our home across the street to my daughter Courtney’s home for dinner with 19 kids and adults! And, by the way, it was perfectly cooked! One special blessing was being with a family whose husband/dad is deployed to Afghanistan. Many prayers were lifted for him and his safe return in January after a year away from home and loved ones. Join us in praying Matt home!

 

This picture was taken while I was thinking of you during our Thanksgiving Day festivities, and your loved ones. God’s overarching word to us in the area of thanksgiving is not to reserve it for one special day each year, but to be “giving thanks always for all things” (Ephesians 5:20).

We thank God for your continued support of our books and ministry! We are honored to be a part of helping you live after His own heart!

 

Part 1: Forgiven First

Let’s take a look at the very origin of forgiveness for the human race by turning back the clock to Genesis 3. What happened after Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden? Well, there were consequences. First, the couple was sentenced to a life of pain and hard labor, neither of which they had ever experienced in the sin­less perfection of Eden. Then they were expelled from the garden paradise they had always known and thrust into a sin-laden world to fend and provide for themselves. That’s the bad news.

But the good news is that God forgave the sinful couple He had lovingly created to have sweet, intimate, perfect fellowship with Him. Furthermore, He clothed them (Genesis 3:21) and sent them out to have a new life as opposed to the death their sin mer­ited. Though their new home in the world was nothing as lovely and perfect as what they had experienced in the garden (verses 17-19), God provided for their needs.

Forgiveness back then began with God, and it still does today. God took the initiative to forgive Adam and Eve’s sin. His first act of forgiveness and cleansing toward them was to clothe them with the skins of sacrificed animals. The physical deaths suffered by the animals should have been theirs, but it was the animals that died — a preview of Jesus’ substitutionary death for our sins.

In this act of providing animal skins to cover the nakedness of the man and woman, the Almighty set up a system for forgiving the sins of His people. That system found its final sacrifice for the for­giveness of sin in the death of Jesus. Throughout the Bible, God the Father refers to Himself as the God of forgiveness. And this forgive­ness was modeled for us in the life and death of Jesus, God’s Son.

What confidence is yours when you know that you are forgiven in Christ! That forgiveness of sin produces life everlasting, which you began participating in from the moment of salvation. When Christ is your Savior, God’s Holy Spirit comes to reside in you. That means you can exhibit Christ-like behavior (Galatians 5:22-23).

Here’s how it works. Christ in you enables you to reflect Christ-­like character. For instance, it allows you to be “longsuffering” or to show “patience.” Longsuffering or patience refers to your ability to endure injuries inflicted by others and your willingness to accept annoying or painful situations. In Christ you are capa­ble of not only withstanding great pain and suffering inflicted by others, but you also possess the strength and power of Christ to forgive — with His love — those who cause the hurt.

A Prayer to Pray

Lord Jesus, thank You for forgiving my sin, and help me in turn to forgive others. Search my heart for situa­tions in which I’m not fully forgiving a wrong inflicted upon me. Whenever I recall the injury, pain, or mem­ory of that hurt, let the beauty of Your forgiveness wash over me. Give me your love and perspective to forgive. Amen.

Find more encouragement to follow in Jesus’ footsteps in my book, A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus.

Special Thanksgiving holiday offer:
Get the e-book of A Woman After God’s Own Heart
for only $2.99 at select retailers during November 22 – 26.

Click here to purchase. 

Is It Just Me (or Is It Them)?

In Matthew 18:15, Jesus offers a principle for healthy relationships that revolutionized my mindset when I sensed conflict with others. He says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” The primary application of this truth is for me as the reader of the verse to simply obey the command and go to any person who sins against us directly.

But think for a minute about what this command means for you and me when it is reversed, and other believers are called to obey it. It means that if we’ve offended others unknowingly, they are to come to us in pri­vate to talk about it.

Because of this revelation, I’ve quit wasting time and energy wor­rying about what other people think of me, or about what I might unintentionally do. I’ve stopped wondering what others might be thinking…or what I might have done wrong. Why? Because if I’ve done something wrong, they are to come to me and tell me. Until that happens, my guesses are just that. They’re guesses…rather than fact, reality, or truth.

As I’ve stopped analyzing my every move and second-guessing other people’s ideas about me, I have experienced more peace and greater openness in my relationships. I no longer fear or dread encounters with standoffish people. I’ve stopped presuming that they have a problem with me. Instead, I’ve begun looking to God through prayer, His Word, and the affirmation of mature Christian mentors to reveal any wrong attitudes and actions, rather than con­stantly looking for fault in things I’ve said or done.

What kinds of thoughts do you tend to have about people’s perception of you? I doubt that they are always positive and confident. No one’s are! After all, who hasn’t been plagued by self-doubt or crippled by negative thoughts, insecurity, and worry? And who hasn’t slipped into second-guessing, analysis, and suspicion? Instead of such unhealthy, cynical thinking, applying God’s principles to your thoughts —

  • Choose to think on what is true and real.
  • Corral your thoughts and refuse to second-guess or draw conclusions about people’s behavior.
  • Count on others to tell you if you have failed in your behavior.
  • Count on God’s Spirit to point out when you have offended someone.

By God’s grace and with His help, choose to think no evil about people or their perception of you. Determine to trust what others say and do. Count on others to come to you when you have failed them and count on God to reveal where you have offended them. Thoughts about people that are based on what is true and real liberate you to generously love and serve others. And, that’s what the Chris­tian life is all about!

Question: Do you tend to presume that others are thinking positively or negatively about you? Who can you go to for wise counsel and genuinely ask if you need to make changes in your interaction with others?

For more encouragement read, Loving God with All Your Mind.

Special Thanksgiving holiday offer:
Get the e-book of A Woman After God’s Own Heart
for only $2.99 at select retailers during November 22 – 26.
Click here to purchase. 

Thank Thee!

Traditionally, Thanksgiving Day is a food-filled celebration associated with expressing gratitude to God for the harvest of His bounty. Praise, thankfulness, and gratitude should be a regular part of our everyday life as Christians. Think about it — we have so much! But unfortunately our affluent society has dulled our sensitivity to God’s grace and gracious provision. Let’s look at Jesus’ examples of offering up prayers of thanks to His Father for an entirely different kind of provision.

In Matthew 4:12-13 Jesus and his teaching were rejected by the people. He performed many wondrous miracles in the area and spoken of God’s love. Wouldn’t you think the people would enthu­siastically embrace Him as Messiah? Yet they showed complete indifference to Him.

Rather than being downcast, Jesus offered up thanks to His Father: “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight” (Matthew 11:25-26).

Throughout His earthly ministry Jesus continued to offer up prayers of thanks and gratitude to the Father for all He had accom­plished for and with Him, His Son. In His prayer in John 17, just prior to His betrayal, Jesus…

… thanked the Father for the power and the opportunity to secure eternal life for all believers (John 17:2).

… thanked the Father for giving Him the disciples (verses 6-7).

… thanked the Father that believers had heard and obeyed the Father’s Word, which Christ had spoken (verse 8).

Then, with a heart of thankfulness, Jesus turned His focus on the cross and His death. How could Jesus be thankful? And what was the reason for this grateful attitude? He knew the Father was in absolute control. He knew everything was going according to God’s divine plan.

Has something happened in your life that doesn’t make sense? Are you facing a Thanksgiving Day that is not full of celebration? Has this been a tough year for you and your family? Maybe you couldn’t understand how a loving God could let something like that hap­pen to you or a loved one. Well, you are not alone. Most people have events happen that are difficult or impossible to understand. Rather than question the Father, the Lord of heaven and earth, with your whys, take a page out of Jesus’ life and be thankful. As the Bible says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Is yours a heart filled with thanksgiving? Is there any reason you don’t exhibit more of Jesus’ thankful attitude? For instance…

Maybe you don’t know Jesus and are facing an un­known future without confidence. Ask God to grant you His grace to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and give you the gift of eternal life. Then you too can be abundantly thankful (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Maybe you are a Christian who’s forgotten how hope­less your life was before you knew and belonged to Jesus. There is no greater gift than the gift of salvation. And, as with any gift, you should say, “Thank you” — constantly! Pause for a moment and thank God for His indescribable gift in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 9:15). Then purpose in your heart to respond with gratitude, praise, and joy to God for Jesus and the treasure of His salvation.

A Prayer to Pray

And now, O Lord, I bow before You with a heart of grat­itude. In the words of King David, I marvel “Who am I, O Lord God” that You have blessed me so abundantly? For Your salvation, for the forgiveness of my sins, for my family and church, I offer You inadequate but sin­cere praise and thanksgiving. Thank You, dear Lord!

For more about God’s wonderful character read, A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George


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