July 2013

Get Up, Look Up, and Go On

A forgiven sinner, David, the “man after God’s own heart” wrote many poignant psalms, including songs that express his passionate outpouring of confession, a con­trite spirit, and the sparkling brilliance of joy.

Can you imagine that this tragic trial was a part of the brilliance of joy— a mortal illness taking a newborn child due to the sins of the father! This was the situation with David’s child conceived during his affair with Bathsheba. He mourned and he repented. Then the scripture tells us, “David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the lord and worshiped… and he ate” (2 Samuel 12:20).

David harbored no bitterness toward God. He accepted the responsibility for his wrongdoings. He wrote, “I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You [God], You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge” (Psalm 51:3-4). David owned his sin and considered the Lord to be “gracious… and righteous; yes… [and] merciful” (Psalm 116:5).

Follow David’s example of going on after a season of sin or tragedy. Do you need to…

  • Get up—rise up from the ground?
  • Wash up—wash yourself?
  • Dress up—change clothes?
  • Look up—enter into the presence of the Lord?
  • Pray up—spend time in prayer and worship?
  • Eat up—take in nourishment?
  • Go on—move forward?

What marvelous instruction and resolve you can draw from dear David! He shows you a pattern for spiritual growth: Your role is to rise up and go on. God’s role is to sustain you along the way… and He promises to do just that!

These truths are a powerful prompt to lift up your praise to God, rise up, and go on your journey with the Lord. Your confidence in Him will grow as you explore and claim the promises God offers to you.

He Giveth More Grace

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions, He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

Annie Johnson Flint

Find more challenges and insights into your godly role in A Man After God’s Own Heart by Jim George.

Count it All Joy: Part 2

Are you facing a difficult decision? A painful situation? Whether we like it or not, trials and tribulation are part of our everyday lives. II Corinthians 2:10 speaks of five types of trials that we will likely face in this world: weakness, insults, hardships, persecution for the sake of Christ, and difficulties.

As you fall into and face your various trials—also known as bumps, roadblocks, and dead ends!—let these truths or steps guide you down God’s path:

Step 1: Be sure what you are encountering is not the result of some sin, shortcoming, or wrong choice on your part. Be quick to confess any acts of disobedience to God if that is the case and then move on.

Step 2: Look to God for His joy and enablement as you walk on His path through your trials.  “You can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). That includes facing your trials with faith and making it through them.

Step 3: Realize that God suffered. Jesus was beaten, buffeted, betrayed, humiliated, and murdered. Yet “for the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus knew the great joy that comes from accomplishing His Father’s will. You too will know joy when you follow God without flinching and wavering, which pleases Him.

Step 4: Look to the end results. Trials are not meant to defeat you. They are meant to be defeated. And trials are not meant to weaken you, but to make you stronger. When you have successfully navigated your way down God’s path through each predicament, you will be stronger, more patient, and better able to cope with life and its demands. Joy will be yours as you walk with God on His path toward greater wisdom, faith, and usefulness.

God tells us how this happens in James 1:3, “The testing of your faith produces patience.” In other words, God uses trials to produce perseverance in you. Trials work good things, godly things, into your character. They lead to steadfast­ness and develop endurance.

Step 5: Know that good can come out of your problems. Success­fully enduring trials tests your faith and strengthens and matures you, causing you to be “perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4).

Step 6: Don’t forget to pray. You must pray, pray, pray about everything, at every moment, all the time—for your day and the unknown events that will come your way.

In all of our trials and challenges there is a joy set before us. There is the joy that we are fellow suffers with Christ, that we are becoming more like Him, and that ultimately one day good will come out of our worldly problems!

A Prayer to Pray:
Lord, the trials in my life can seem all consuming. I pray that your joy may consume me instead. I praise you for the end result of your suffering – my salvation and hope in life and in each detail of it.

You will find the book Quiet Confidence for a Woman’s Heart by Elizabeth George a great companion for your season of trials and challenges. This resource will help you live a life filled with faith, hope, and confidence built on the unshakable foundation of Jesus Christ.

Count it All Joy: Part 1

As a new bride I quickly learned to be a bookkeeper when my husband, Jim, left for six months to go to army boot camp. During his absence I devised a system that was precise, if not sophisticated. I placed a shoebox on the counter, and put faithfully into it each and every bill and receipt each and every day.

Believe it or not, there’s only one fundamental rule to follow for bookkeeping and accounting, and sticking to it makes bookkeeping a meticulous and precise —but easy—discipline. The rule is that every amount of money is either a debit or a credit. It is either an expense or income. There is not other option.

I regularly reached into the shoebox, pulled out one piece of paper, and made a decision about which category it belonged to on my simple ledger page. I had to ask of each amount, each receipt, each payment: “Are you a debit or a credit?” If money went out, it was a debit and put in the debit column. If money came in, it was a credit and put in the credit column.

The Lord actually challenges us with a similar process when He says in James 1:2, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Counting (considering, reckoning, accounting, evaluating, or chalking-up) trials as joy is truly a discipline. You (and I) have to do the bookkeeping, so to speak, and make a very conscious decision about each of your troubles. You have to decide whether to count each individual difficulty as joy, or to count it as sorrow. These are the only two options available for your spiritual bookkeeping.

As you hold each problem up before God for His clerical assistance, you may find yourself saying to Him, “Lord, this trial doesn’t look fair. It doesn’t look like joy, and it certainly doesn’t feel like joy. I can’t imagine how in the world this thing is ever going to turn out to be joy. But based on Your divine rules for bookkeeping, I will count this trial as joy.”

Then you obediently take pen in hand and decisively, in a willful act, mark your trial in the “joy” column. That’s how the decision is made to count your trial as joy, as a credit, as an asset, as income… as a positive! Counting is done not by sight, but by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). By faith and in obedience we choose to count any and every trial as joy. Why? Because that’s what God says we must do to find His path through our trials.

Where does today find you? In what state of mind or spirit do you reside? Are you suffering from sorrow, discouragement, fear, anxiety, worry, loneliness, or despair? Many believers (and perhaps even you) are in a time of trial.

You can take a giant, positive step forward by realizing the truth that trials are a fact of life, and that joy is a choice not a feeling. Follow God’s advice through James and “count it all joy.” Make the right choice of attitude—the one God prescribes. Bow your knee, your heart, and your emotions before God Almighty and express your heart attitude: “God, I don’t like this, but You say I am to count this trouble as joy. Therefore, by Your grace, I am choosing to do so.”

 A Quote Worth Remembering:
“Life need not be easy to be joyful. Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.
William Vander Hoven

Elizabeth George’s book Finding God’s Path Through Your Trials acknowledges the hard times you face and presents steps for experiencing hope, joy, and meaning in your journey.

Yea, Though I Walk Thru the Valley

Where does life find you today? What season are you in?

Spring—Are you in the early beginnings of life? Are you tasting the joy of fresh starts and taking your first steps as a Christian?

Summer—Have you progressed along the way with the Lord to the place of wisdom, of a blossoming knowledge of the One you walk with?

Fall—Are you in a fast-paced, terrific season of tremendous fruit-bearing, of harvest, of reaping profusely from the benefits that come from a close, sustained walk with God over time?

Winter—Are you experiencing endings that for the first time seem to have no new begin­nings? Are you being pressed to adjust to a new path that leads in directions you didn’t anticipate or choose? Are you approaching the next bend in the path with a measure of fear?

As I wrote these words, I was walking through several seasons of life at the same time. In the winter of sorrows and losses, my dear dad died (and so did my husband’s mother). My mother was institutionalized and no longer recognized me in any way. Yet it was also the spring of new beginnings. I welcomed my first two grandbabies—one month apart. And I relished a time of great productivity as I enjoyed health and ample time to write and speak to my heart’s content.

Just like you, I need God’s promises for the seasons I experience. I need them today and for the times I have yet to brave. Isn’t it wonderful that we have a God—a loving Shepherd!—that watches over us? His care is unceasing. His love is unending. His guidance is unfailing. His presence is everlasting.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

We can thank Him too for the promises He gives us in the Shepherd Psalm that confirm our hope and strength and joy in Him as we grow through and weather the seasons of life. As the psalm’s precious fourth verse promises: God is with us every day and all the way!

A Question to Consider:
Take time to reflect today what season are you in, in the various aspects of your life. How had God sustained and challenged you in each season? What have you learned? What do you think God is trying to teach you in this season?

Find more encouragement for a woman’s soul in Elizabeth George’s book, Quiet Confidence for a Woman’s Heart.

What Have I Set Before Me?

“I have set the Lord always before me” (Psalm 16:8).

What does it mean to “set the Lord always before us”? I once read about a church youth leader who took her youth group on an outing to the Huntington Art Museum in Pasadena, California, to view the fine arts on display. Once there she intently whisked her group from room to room, from painting to painting, from display to display. She was determined her group would see every item in the exhibits.

Each time she crisscrossed the museum on the run, she caught sight of one particular room where a gentleman was seated on a bench. He was gazing at one painting. While she and her class were zipping through every nook and cranny of the vast building, this man never moved from his spot. He remained on that bench the entire time the class was there, drinking in the glory of one masterpiece.

With her goal of touring the museum and its leg­endary gardens accomplished, the church leader breathlessly rounded up the group to bustle them out to the waiting bus. And sure enough, as she went by that one room again, she caught sight of the man. He was still there.

As the bus bumped its way home after an exhausting day, she thought about the man. Yes, she concluded, his is the better way. Admitting that she could hardly recall what she’d seen on her whirlwind tour, she could only imagine what the unknown man was taking home with him—the colors, the details, the understanding, the treasure, the appreciation, the com­prehension, the feelings of the famous work of art.

What a lesson! Why don’t you and I do what this wise man did? Let’s put aside the busyness and bustle of life—at least for a specific time each day—and set the Lord before us? Why don’t we set the many things in life aside and enjoy the one main Person? Why don’t we choose to sit and soak in God’s beauty, God’s essence, God’s majesty, God’s promises, and God’s glory… today… right now?

When you and I make this daily decision to set the Lord before us, we’ll be able to join the writer who yearned for his promised home and wrote the heart song of Psalm 84:

How lovely is Your tabernacle, O lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God (verses 1-2).

A Question to Consider:

What do allow to take precedence before the Lord. What do you set before yourself instead of God’s precious Word and Presence?

For more insight into ways to “set the Lord always before you” read, A Woman’s High Calling by Elizabeth George.

Home Sweet Home

Home. “The house of the Lord.” The concept of a specific place to dwell has a deeply emotional effect on the heart of every person. Imagine what it meant to David, a shepherd who knew all about the nomadic life. Shepherds were on the move their whole lives, regularly pitching and moving their tents as they rotated through the fields to keep their sheep happy and the land healthy.

David’s life was a pilgrimage, a journey home. He traveled through many fair meadows and dark valleys. He had his share of storms and adversaries. But God, the Good Shepherd, never failed to care for him. In Psalm 23:6 David reveals he’s ready for his troubled trek to end. He’s ready to go home!

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

What did David mean by “the house of the Lord”? We know he’s not referring to the Jewish temple in Jerusalem because it wasn’t built yet. And it wasn’t the house David wished to build for the Lord because he uses the word “forever,” and no man-made house lasts that long.

No, David must be referring to something far greater than a building. A forever fellowship with Jehovah beyond the grave. David was a king—and a wealthy one at that. And he possessed worldly riches and had access to any pleasure. But these worldly pursuits didn’t—and couldn’t!—compare with the eternal pleasure of being at home in the house of the lord… living with the Lord of the house forever!

I well remember wrestling with my emotions when our daughter Katherine graduated from college and wanted to live in an apartment with a group of her college friends. Why would she want to live with a group of young women when her own home, the place where she belongs, is only eight minutes away? What’s wrong with living here?

But Katherine was 22 years old, and the move was an obvious next step on her way to independence and maturity. So off she went to an environment that turned out to be a blessing. She learned how to cook for others on a regular basis, to keep her part of the apartment clean, to enhance her side of the bedroom with her things, and to get along with others on a day-in day-out basis.

But I’ll never forget Katherine’s words the day she moved back home as she prepared for her wedding. She sank into the sofa with a sigh and exhaled, “Mom, it’s ok out there, but it’s just not home!”

I think Katherine’s sentiment is what David is telling us: “It’s OK out here (in the world, in the marketplace, in our friendships, in our experiences, in managing our challenges), but it’s just not home!” We yearn to be in a permanent, loving family, not just guests or people passing through momentary situations and relation­ships. And that’s what our forever home means to us!

May our hearts ever reflect this truth as we contemplate the hope we have of an eternal home where we dwell with the Lord forever.

A Prayer to Pray:

Lord, help me to relish in the “home” that you have for me made up for me —  built of Your unconditional love, Your eternal life, and Your joy everlasting.

For more encouragement your daily life, check out my book, Quiet Confidence for a Woman’s Heart.

Listen to God, not the World

In Paul’s day, women were coming to faith in Jesus Christ out of pagan religions. They sorely needed the godly teaching and example of older women in both the spiritual and practical things of God. And the same is still true today. Women who come to Christ need help as they seek to put off the teachings and standards of the world and put on the behaviors the Word of God teaches.

So how do we keep from listening to the world? Here are some ways:

  • Avoid reading the women’s magazines on the newsstands or checkout counters. Or if you do, read with discernment. One glance at the touted contents on the covers will tell you they are filled with worldly wisdom rather than godly.
  • Be discerning about women’s talk shows. Again, about five minutes of any one of these programs will commu­nicate that you are getting a dose of the world’s view of your role as a woman.
  • Surround yourself with friends who are a godly influence.
  • Stay in God’s Word. Your best choice of input is always the Bible. Read it. Relish it. Rely on it. And let it rule your life.
  • Read daily from a trusted book on godly living. I found out firsthand that the simple act of reading just five minutes a day keeps me sharp, keeps me thinking, and keeps me on our my toes when filtering out the influence of this world.

Are you a new Christian? Open your eyes and look around. Spot an older woman who’s been a Christian for a while and watch how she loves her husband, how she balances the responsibilities of work, family, and church.

Then go one step further—ask this older woman if the two of you could talk. It doesn’t matter where (let her determine the place). And remember, you’re not asking for a long-term commit­ment to a mentoring or discipleship relationship. Your meeting may work its way into that, but just ask to get together once.

Prepare yourself for the meeting with your questions gleaned from your reading and studying God’s word. Arrive with a set of questions and a Bible, a journal or notepad, and a pen. Share your questions with her, and then allow this wonderful woman to share her insights with you. Perhaps at some future time, God will give you the opportunity to pass it on to another younger woman!

A Verse to Recall:

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).

For further study on the importance and blessings of God’s priorities for your life read my book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart.

Be Bold!

Freedom! William Wallace was not afraid to claim it in the movie “Braveheart.” Our founding fathers were not afraid to declare it for our nation on July 4, 1776. And the Lord says that the greatest kind of freedom possible is ours:

“…the truth will set you free”
John 8:32

“All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Romans 3:24

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”
Romans 6:22

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
Romans 8:1-2

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Galatians 5:1

Are you proclaiming these truths in your life? People should never doubt where our faith lies. We’re not secret agents. No way! Along with our friendliness and genuine concern and caring actions, we’re to be bold. We’re to be outspoken about our faith in Jesus Christ. And we should faithfully pray for the opportunities to introduce our friends to the Savior. There’s no greater gift than sharing the salvation offered through Jesus.

It was the apostle Paul’s desire “that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3). Paul wanted to declare Christ openly to as many people as possible.

I encourage you to study God’s Word and meet with other Christians so you can be prepared for questions people may have regarding Jesus. You don’t have to know everything, but be comfortable with a few facts about your faith in Him. Then reach out with the true gospel and offer freedom to those who are seeking!

A Prayer to Pray

Lord, I want other people to experience Your love and have Your promise of eternal life through Christ. Show me people I can minister to, help me be prepared, and give me the words to speak. Amen.

For encouraging insights into your spiritual growth read, A Woman’s High Calling by Elizabeth George.

From Jim’s heart for men…The Power of Obedience

When you consider the extraordinary ways God worked through men such as Moses and Paul, you may think, “I can’t measure up to people like them. I don’t have what they have.”

But you must realize that these “heroes” of the faith were just common, ordinary people. It was their obedience – their complete yieldedness to God – that gave them uncommon strength and faith. They submitted their lives to God, which freed God to work through them.

I don’t know about you, but their examples inspire me to re-evaluate my own obedience. Am I reluctant to listed to God because I think He is asking the impossible? Am I failing to make myself available to Him because I’m doubtful or afraid? Your part is to simply obey, and God will do His part.

A Prayer to Pray:

God, I see now that You can do anything through me if I will simply yield myself to You. Help me to make myself more available to You today. Amen

If the thought of consistent obedience, power, and wisdom is missing from your life, visit the Free Resources section of our website for the simple guide, “5 Steps to Increase in Godly Wisdom.”

Do you need daily reminders of the power of God in your life? I hope that you find my book, One-Minute Insights for Men, the encouragement you need to discover the rich spiritual wisdom you need to make a real difference – a godly difference – in all you do.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George

Made with ♥ by Guild & MCP