October 2012

Courage for the Moment

Someday — maybe even today — you will need cour­age for the trials Jesus said will come your way. He encourages you in such times to be brave and trust in His strength through you. For, “You are from God…and have overcome them, for greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). This means He is there with you, and He will provide all the courage you need for the moment.

A Prayer to Pray

Lord Jesus, I thank You that You are beside me right now and at all times. Help me to recall Your power­ful presence when I need to be courageous and live boldly as a Christian, to speak up when it’s the right thing to do, and stand up in the midst of difficult sit­uations. Amen.

From Jim’s heart…God Never Gives Up on You

Elijah was a prophet of God from the settlers of Gilead, who was used mightily by God during the reigns of the kings Ahab and Ahaziah. He was a Tishite and his name means “Yahweh is my God. Elijah not only helped a widow with her provisions and her son (whom God raised from the dead through Elijah), but he also challenged the corrupt King Ahab and the priests of the false god Baal on Mount Carmel. After God was demonstrated to be the true God and Baal a false one, Elijah then ordered the deaths of — and killed — the priests of Baal. The evil queen Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab, was furious when she heard about this, and ordered the death of Elijah.

Frightened, Elijah fled to Mount Sinai. There, God revealed Himself to Elijah and commanded him to go back to Damascus. God also chose Elisha to serve as an assistant and successor for the worn-out and discouraged Elijah. After warning Ahab and Jezebel of their future violent deaths and warning Ahaziah of his own death, Elijah was miraculously “taken up” or “carried” by a whirlwind to heaven in a chariot of fire drawn by horses of fire. (For Elijah’s story, see 1 Kings 17:1–2 Kings 2:11.)

A Life Lesson from Elijah — Yahweh Is My God

Elijah was a man dedicated to God in a hostile society. He was bold and brave, but he was also human and succumbed to fear and depression. The moment of his greatest victory — the confrontation against the 450 priests of Baal — was also the moment he was shaken by the threats of Jezebel. In a fit of depression, he tried to hide. However, God— Yahweh—found His servant and dealt with His prophet’s depression in a gracious way. God never rebuked Elijah. Instead, He ministered to Elijah and nurtured him back to wholeness and usefulness.

Even during his faltering moments, Elijah never veered from his devotion to God. Do you have your “ups and downs” when it comes to following God’s will for your life? Like Elijah, you are not alone. And like Elijah, God will never give up on you. Follow Elijah’s example. Serve the Lord faithfully and courageously. Keep your eyes on Him, even in defeat. Trust Him to nurture you back to usefulness and supply all you need to carry out your ministry.

Question: How does it make you feel to know that God will never give up on you?

Money Matters to God

Money matters to God. Just look up online all of the verses in His word that speak of money! And, I’d bet that money matters between you and your husband come up in conversation too. In fact, a statistic reports that almost 90% of all marital arguments can be traced back to issues of money.

I’ve written extensively on the money management of the woman portrayed as God’s ideal wife in Proverbs 31:10­-31. Threaded throughout the 22 verses that make up her portrait is the theme of money and money management. Her character qualities shine as she “girds” herself physically to do the work (verse 17), uses her mind to budget and increase the family funds, and creates goods to barter and sell to further benefit her beloved family. As a result, God was honored (verse 30), the poor were served (verse 20), her husband was elevated (verse 23), and she was known by all as “a virtuous wife” (verse 10). “Her worth” to her husband, children, and community was “far above rubies” (verse 10).

God graciously gives us clear instruction on the best management of our finances. Take time to read His word or read a book outlining godly finances. When you agree with God about the importance of doing your best to manage your part of the family finances, and by making a commitment to Him to do a better job with His resources, the wise management of it will begin to matter to you. Therefore you’ll want to be sure to…

Pray — because managing God’s money is not only a spiritual issue requiring spiritual disci­plines and character qualities, but it is a matter of obedience.

Give — because God asks you to.

Save — because it will better your family. Save for educa­tional funds. Save for a home or home furnish­ings. Save for retirement. Save for a special trip (vacation or missions) Save, too, to fund someone’s ministry.

Budget — because a budget maps out the path for your lifestyle.
Go without — because a host of spiritual disci­plines are birthed and enhanced as you do.

Beware — of greed, lust, bitterness, and envy.

Grow — in contentment.

Wives, we have a unique position to influences the financial climate of our marriages. I want you to represent the Lord and His will well (Titus 2:5). And I want you to be a blessing, first and foremost to your dear sweet husband. I want you to grow in character, be con­tent with what you have, support your husband’s efforts, and be a diligent homemaker and financial warrior as you “build your home” (see Proverbs 14:1). I want you to be a woman filled with every good virtue and God’s fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). And your faithful watch care of your joint assets and the place where you live will accomplish all this and more as you look to our dear Lord for His gracious enablement.

Question: Which trait from above speaks to you the most as lacking in your family’s financial strategy?

The Generosity in Your Heart

Like all of the character traits Jesus embodied, generosity is a matter of the heart. The Pharisees, a sect of religious leaders in Jesus’ day, made a great show of giv­ing to the needy, both in the synagogues and on the streets. They thought this proved how righteous and spiritual they were.

However, Jesus taught just the opposite regarding generosity. He said giving should be done in secret. He instructed us to “take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them.” Instead, you are to not even “let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Why? “That…your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:1,2-4).

Giving God’s way demonstrates true righteousness before God, not in front of others, And the result? God in turn rewards the giver. In other words, you cannot look for your blessings and rewards from both man and God.

Giving is a matter between you and God and not you and another person or cause, no matter how impor­tant it is. It’s a matter of the heart. Giving is to be an act of worship. Just as you prepare yourself for wor­ship and ministry, you are to prepare yourself for acts of generosity (2 Corinthians 9:7). Where’s your heart? A guiding truth teaches that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

We know generosity is not necessarily an indicator of a relationship with Jesus. There are many charitable people in the world who are not Christians. But those who have a heart for Jesus and sincerely desire to follow Him are generous — like Him! He instructed us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteous­ness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Unfortunately we tend to get this backward. We seek “things” first and add Jesus on as an afterthought.

If you’re feeling the need for a priority makeover, a look at your checkbook or your monthly credit card statement will shout out what you are seeking — things, or the things of God. Take a peek. It’s a lit­tle like taking your temperature. See what it reveals about the level of your commitment to possessions versus the things Jesus values. What does it disclose about your heart-attitude toward money and possessions and generosity?

We also need to asses the generosity of our time and attitudes. Are we available and free with our time for others’ concerns. Do we secretly avoid or seek to help those in need?

Jesus did not make it a secret that a life of faith in Him will look differently than the world. But, let make sure that the secret of your heart is genuine generosity that reflects the genuine goodness of God.

Question: What surprise did you find when you first took the temperature of your generosity by observing your checkbook? Did something stand out in particular that you wish to remedy?

Be Rich

Despite the title, this is not the quick guide to God’s fame and fortune for you! God warns us often to beware of greed, lust, bitterness, and envy. But, in our culture and day-and-age it can be hard for any person to have a correct perspective on money. Beloved woman after God’s own heart, you and I must realize that in God’s economy, many things are more important than money.
True wealth – We are to “be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18). As a few more proverbs put it, “Better is a little with righteousness, than vast revenues without justice” and “better is a little with the fear of the LORD, than great trea­sure with trouble” (Proverbs 16:8 and 15:16).

Rather than greediness, desiring to be rich, and loving and chasing after money, we are to “flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). Dear one, physical riches will one day be gone (verse 7). Therefore realize that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (verse 6).

Your character is more important than money — “Those who are of a perverse heart are an abom­ination to the LORD, but the blameless in their ways are His delight” (Proverbs 11:20).

Your reputation, too, is better than money — “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1).

Wisdom is also more important than money — “The crown of the wise is their riches” (Proverbs 14:24); “how much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver” (Proverbs 16:16).

And humility is better than money — “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4).

And here’s another twist — you, as a godly wife, are better than money to your husband! “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD” (Proverbs 19:14). In fact, according to the Bible, you, as a godly wife, are your husband’s greatest asset. With a godly wife of character, humility, wisdom, and faithful­ness beside him, the Bible says your husband “will have no lack of gain” (Proverbs 31:11). Why? Because as “a virtuous wife” your “worth is far above rubies” (verse 10).

In the reality of God’s economy we are rich beyond measure. We’ve been given the ultimate gifts of salvation through Christ, the constant presence of the Holy Spirit, and every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3). We can rest in God’s care and provision for all of our needs (Philippians 4:19). Praise God— We are rich indeed!

A Prayer to Pray: Lord, I have so many blessings right now, and I still tend to focus on my wants or what others have. Do not let me define my value by a dollar sign. Help me to place more value and crave the things that you value.

From Jim’s heart…Stop, Look, and Listen to God

When Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep in Midian, he led them out to the desert to Mount Horeb (also known as Mount Sinai). There he encountered a bush that burned, yet was not consumed by the fire. As Moses turned to see what was going on, God called to him from inside the bush. He told Moses to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. God then explained to Moses that He had heard the cries of the people of Israel, who were in bondage in Egypt, and that He was going to use Moses to confront Pharaoh and bring His people out of Egypt.

Moses thought there was no way God could use him. He basically asked God, “Who am I? Why would You send me to go before Pharaoh? And what makes You think I could bring the children of Israel out of Egypt? No, God. You’ve got the wrong guy!” (See Exodus 3:11). God assured Moses that He would be with him. But Moses remained unconvinced that he was the right man for the job, even after God provided him with miracles to show the people confirmation that God had sent him. Moses wanted God to send someone else, but God refused, allowing only Aaron, Moses’ brother, to go with him. Eventually, Moses complied and prepared to leave Midian to go to Egypt. (See Exodus 3:1-21.)

A Life Lesson from Moses — Stop, Look, and Listen:

The mind plays funny tricks on a person in a desert environment. Moses saw something that looked like a burning bush, yet it was not consumed by the flame. Moses had spent 40 years in the desert and had never seen anything like this! He could have concluded that it was a mirage or that he was having a heat stroke, and returned to his tent. But the supernatural caught his attention and he went to investigate. This choice to turn and check out this strange happening turned Moses’ life upside down. He was never the same person again.

Is God wanting to speak to you from His Word or through wise counsel? And are you willing to take the time to turn aside and hear His message? What if Moses hadn’t paused and turned to receive God’s instruction? Perhaps God would have found someone else, and Moses would have lost the blessing. Follow Moses’ example: Stop, look, and listen to what God has to say to you. You’ll be glad you did!

Question: Share a story of how you’ve stopped to look and listen from God in the last year. How was your life changed by this encounter?

“Like Apples of Gold…”

In poetic language the writer of Proverbs 25:11 paints this word picture of good communication:

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

As a wife after God’s own heart, this kind of beauty should be the goal for all of your communication, but especially with the person most important and closest to you—your husband. So here are several of God’s keys to godly speech. Your words are to be…

…soft. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). The words we choose to use have an effect on the hearer. Harsh, loud, caustic speech leads to arguments and quarrels, while soft, gentle words bring about peace. And here’s another fact: “A soft tongue can break hard bones” (Proverbs 25:15 TLB)!

…sweet. “Sweetness of the lips increases learning” or influence (Proverbs 16:21). Do you want to get your point across? Then realize that “pleasant words promote instruction” and understanding (16:21 NIV).

…suitable. “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). Kind, sweet words have a medicinal effect on both body and soul.

…scant. “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). Another Bible translation is very vivid and down-to-earth in its language: “Don’t talk so much. You keep putting your foot in your mouth. Be sensible and turn off the flow!” As a wise person once put it, “Sometimes the most skillful use of the tongue is keeping it still.”

…slow. “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). In even fewer words, make it your aim to “listen much, speak little, and not become angry” (TLB)! Why? Because “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (verse 20 NKJV). No good ever comes from sinful anger.

What happens when you and I don’t communicate God’s way with our husbands? What results from a failure to pay attention to God’s wise guidelines for our speech? Proverbs has more word pictures for us, detailed in these verses:

“Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (Proverbs 21:9).

“Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman” (Proverbs 21:19).

“A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike” (Proverbs 27:15).

I’m sure you get the picture! The message is that a crabby, cranky, nagging, quarrelsome, complaining, ill-tempered wife annoys her husband in the same way a con­stant drip gets on our nerves and “drives us crazy.” And, it’s important to note that poor communication drives people away, isolates, and divides spouses apart from one another.

Instead, don’t you want your speech to be like apples of gold in settings of silver? Like 14-carat gold fruit in a sterling silver basket? Priceless? Indescribable? Admirable? Exquisite? Desirable?

Then learn to speak with godly wisdom when you communicate with your husband. Choose words that are soft, sweet, suitable, and, despite the female tendency (especially mine!), scant!

Question: Which communication approach do you need to practice most with your husband?

Sounds of Fury or Words of Faith

I love music, orchestras, and concerts. Perhaps that’s because I played the violin in my junior high school orchestra. I like to think that I did my part and made a pos­itive contribution to the group and those in our audiences.
But what do you think would have happened if, on Day One of my violin undertaking, I grabbed my new school-issued violin, ran onto the concert stage, plopped down in a chair, and began playing with the other members of the group? What a racket you would have heard! What squeaks, screeches, squawks, and scratches you would have been forced to endure!

Both you and I know what it requires to play in harmony in any setting, whether in an orchestra, in a choir, in a drama troupe, on a sports team…or in a marriage. It requires learning the proper techniques. And it demands time as you practice, practice, and practice!

If I could say one thing to you about the vital skill of commu­nicating with your husband, I would say this: Don’t just run in to talk to your husband, plop down, grab at any­thing your sometimes-empty brain finds handy, and blurt out thoughtless or insensitive words. Instead take the time to prepare your heart and your words. Pray about timing, tone, and topics. Ask God for help with godly discipline over the thoughts of your heart and the words of your mouth as in Psalm 19:14:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

Make it your aim to convey information, to bless your precious husband, and to create harmony. Seek to do an excellent job of verbalizing your heart to your husband in a godly way and with godly wisdom. By all means, make an effort and take the time to learn—and apply—God’s rules for communication. You’ll be glad you did. And I guarantee your husband will, too!

Question: Is there a specific topic with your husband that could benefit from this type of purposeful communication?

From Jim’s heart for husbands…Encouraging Your Wife’s Spiritual Growth

One morning while I was reading my Bible, I came to a passage that really challenged me in my own spiritual growth:

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” (Luke 1:5-6, emphasis added)

These two people — Zechariah and Elizabeth — were about to become the parents of John the Baptist, the herald of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. God desired a special set of parents for a special child who would have a special mission. As I read this passage, I noticed an immediate application for me: God is asking that both my wife and I be growing spiritually. To have the greatest spiritual impact not only in our family but also in ministry, we both need to be growing.

Once you and I as husbands grasp this reality and start growing, we can then begin to assist our wives in their growth. Our assistance may be as simple as having a daily Bible reading schedule that we follow individually and then coming together at the end of the day to compare notes. It may mean we study through a book of the Bible together. Fortunately, there are many study tools that couples can use together. So a lack of resources is no excuse. We as men just need to take the initiative to have a more active role in leading our family spiritually.

Encouraging my wife’s spiritual growth doesn’t always mean that I have to personally be a part of the growth process. Sometimes I only need to be a “spiritual cheerleader.” My role is cheering her on in her growth as she studies the Bible on her own or as she participates in a woman’s Bible study. I am still fulfilling my role as the spiritual leader, even though I don’t personally teach my wife. I’m there to give her encouragement and direction.

Again, remember your wedding day? You made a vow to nurture your wife. Nurturing her involves both the physical and spiritual areas of life. Therefore you must see that your wife is growing spiritually! And the first step, of course, is asking God to give you a fresh commitment to grow yourself. Then ask your wife how you can best help her grow.

Question: How about it, men? What are some of the ways you’ve helped nurture your wife’s spiritual growth? (Ladies, feel free to share examples of what your husband has done, too.)

Five Little Things…

Wives, here a quick list of five little things that can make a bit difference in your marriage this week!

1. Thank your husband for living out his roles.

Specifically remark on a decision your husband has made regarding the direction the two of you will take. Thank him that he works hard on his job. Instead of complaining if he gets home late or puts in extra hours or goes the extra mile at work, praise him for his diligence, his desire to do things excellently, and his efforts in providing for you and your family. Let him know, too, that you notice the many ways he helps you out. These are ways that your husband expresses his love for you, so thank him! And don’t worry if he doesn’t do these things. Just keep your eyes and ears — and your heart! — open so they catch the ways that he does express his love. Then, of course, thank him!

2. Ask your husband how you can help.

Every day ask your husband two questions: “What can I do for you today?” and “What can I do to help you make better use of your time today?” Stand by with a willingness of schedule, and a prayer in your heart, to help your husband in the ways he believes he can best be helped.

3. Show greater respect for your husband.

God wants you to show your respect for your hus­band. So think of one way you can do just that. Then, of course, follow through. Let your admira­tion shine forth for all to see, especially him! Do you look at him when he’s talking? Do you refrain from interrupting? Do you ask him to do things instead of telling him? Do you practice sweet speech in your conversations? Do you need to stop putting him down when you talk to others? It wouldn’t hurt to keep a list of ways to show respect as a reminder…in case you slip up. It happens!

4. Think of a way the two of you can have fun this week.

Your marriage was founded on friendship, and you need to nurture that friendship “love” spoken of in Titus 2:4. So be creative! Your fun time together doesn’t have to cost any money — it might only cost the time to think of an activity, set it up, and make it happen. Let the fun begin!

5. Pray to follow God’s plan for a wife.

Consider God’s four guidelines for you as a wife (see Genesis 2:18; Ephesians 5:22; Ephesians 5:33; and Titus 2:4) and pray over them. Take your time and express your heart to God. Make your com­mitments, purpose in your heart to pursue God’s plan for you in each area, and then move ahead through your day seeking to comply with God’s blueprint for a wife. To stay on your wifely toes, pray every day to be a wife after God’s own heart!

Question: Can you share one thing from the list above that spoke to you the most?

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George

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