November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thankfulness should characterize every aspect of your life. “Thank You, Lord,” should be recurring words throughout your every day—not just on one day a year. What can Christians be thankful for? Read on!

  • We become Christians by God’s grace, through His unmerited favor.
  • We can’t buy salvation. We can’t earn eternal life. All that God offers in a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ comes to us as a free gift.
  • We have all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
  • And what’s also amazing is that God hears and answers our prayers!

With all that you have been given, you are truly blessed! Make it your habit to daily praise and thank God along with the psalmist who declared:

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night.”
Psalm 92:1-2

Three Steps to a Calmer Holiday Season

Even though Thanksgiving and Christmas are some of my favorite times of the year, it’s no question—these days have potential disaster written all over them! There is so much to do, so many decisions to make, so many people to make happy.

Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” I don’t know about you, but I get a great deal of encouragement from that verse—especially this time of year.

It’s easy to lose sight of what’s really important, isn’t it? Through the years, I’ve developed a little three-step method to make sure first things like spending time with God are truly first, especially at this time of year.

(1)   Set Aside a Time. All of your time will be better spent when you spend some of it in God’s Word. Yes, even in these full days before Thanksgiving and Christmas! It will not only help you keep your own sanity, it will calm everyone around you.

(2)   Make It Your First Time. Make it a point to give the first minutes of each day to reading something out of God’s Word. It doesn’t have to be a long stretch of time, although once you start, you’ll likely find yourself craving more. But that’s one craving that’s a good thing! Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with the first-fruits of all your increase.” You’ll be blessed in your spirit and in your practical life when you make it a point to give God the first portion of time from your day.

(3)   Make It an Early Time. David wrote in Psalm 63:1, “O God, early will I seek you.” The Bible says Abraham got up early in the morning and went to the place where he met with the Lord. And our Lord Jesus rose up early–the Bible says while it was still night–to talk with His heavenly Father.

Three small steps: (1) a time, (2) the first time, and (3) an early time. It’s a simple formula, and I encourage you to follow it in the days and weeks ahead. You’ll be so glad you did. Happy Holidays!

Nurturing Family Values

Have you ever asked yourself, How can I nurture family values in my home? How can I promote concern for one another among my children and teach them to love one another? Before we look at some of God’s answers to these vital questions, note how one devoted sister models such family values for us.

Her name is Miriam. And Miriam was a 12-year-old girl who undoubtedly adored her new baby brother, Moses. For three months she helped her mother, Jochebed, hide little Moses and care for him as their family defied the pharaoh’s edict to kill every newborn Hebrew boy (Exodus 1:22). Then her mother placed the infant into a floating basket that she set among the reeds of the Nile River. Miriam “stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.” Then, when the opportunity arose—when the pharaoh’s daughter discovered the baby—Miriam approached her and offered to find a nurse for the infant, thereby arranging for her baby brother to be cared for at home again (Exodus 2:2-9).

Now, where do you think young Miriam developed such family loyalty? Probably from her wonderful mom. And, as a devoted mother, grandmother, or aunt, you can help instill such values in your family. Daily make the effort to:

  • Teach siblings to love one another (John 15:12, 17). Encourage brothers and sisters to pray for each other and to do secret acts of kindness for one another.
  • Openly express kindness and concern for others (Proverbs 12:25). Children repeat what they hear and mimic what they see. So be a living model of Jesus Christ, acting with His kindness and compassion.
  • Express love openly. Be affectionate and verbal. Say “I love you” every time you say goodbye or goodnight or talk on the phone to your children.
  • Cultivate strong family ties. See that each family member supports and encourages the others.
  • Pray for God’s love to be lived out by your children (Galatians 5:22).

And don’t forget–the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous parent avails much (James 5:16)!

What is Prayer?

What is prayer? Referring to prayer as the pathway to the heart of God, author Terry Glaspey writes in Pathway to the Heart of God,

To ask the question, “What is prayer?” is to ask a question of such depth that it is beyond our limited human understanding to ever fully answer. The question probes not only the mysteries of what it means to be a human being, but even inquires into the mystery of God Himself… Because it is a topic too deep for the human intellect, it requires that we look to God as our teacher.

This is exactly what you and I must do right now. We must look to God’s Word—the Bible—for His definition of prayer, while at the same time acknowledging that prayer lies in the depths of “the mystery of God Himself.” As the great apostle and man of prayer Paul hopelessly—and worshipfully—exulted when he gave up trying to understand God’s action, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)

As you look at prayer as explained by God through the language in the Bible, keep in mind that prayer has, from the very first of time, been the principle means by which man, created in God’s image, has evidenced sentiment toward Him. From the earliest times, prayer has been an integral part of the worship of God. Believers of all ages have expressed their hearts through praise, thanksgiving, prayer, and intercession to and before God. That’s why it is so important for God’s people to learn to pray.

As you consider life’s many avenues and concerns, you will come to realize that prayer is truly your pathway to the heart of God!

Tests of Faith

We never know what a day holds, do we? But an ordinary day can mark the beginning of an extraordinary journey! That’s what happened to Rebekah, one of God’s women in the Bible. How could she have known that on an ordinary day back in her hometown, an ordinary trip to the town well would change the course of the history of the world? Rebekah had simply gone—as she did every day of her life—to draw water for the household. Yet, on that God-appointed day, a stranger—the servant of Abraham, in search of a wife for Isaac–was waiting there… and, well, the rest is history! (See Genesis 24 for the incredible story.)

As our Rebekah began her remarkable journey into God’s will, her beloved family stood on the road and called out their blessings for her life to come. With these important preliminaries taken care of, Rebekah set off on her journey of faith, and from that point on she encountered one test of her faith after another.

Everyone struggles… and so did Rebekah. And every struggle is a test of our faith. We struggle in marriage, with finances, with health problems, with family members, in our career, in our job, with friends, and with temptation. Rebekah’s life certainly didn’t turn out as she wished! She failed in many ways as a wife and mother, but through her remarkable life’s journey with its hills and valleys, you learn many life-messages, messages like these:

  1. Decisions must be guided by God’s Word.
  2. Problems must be prayed over.
  3. Marriages must be worked at.
  4. Children must be raised without favoritism.
  5. God must (and can be) be trusted at all times.

Leave Fear Behind

Is your courage a little thin these days? Do you feel overwhelmed or like you’re bordering on being overwhelmed by tough issues and demanding responsibilities? Are your fears getting the best of you? Bolster your nerve and fight your fears by remembering these fundamentals:

  • Prayer dispels fear and doubt. The Bible says you’re not to be double-minded, for the person who doubts is unstable in all his or her ways (James 1:6-8). So pray, says verse 5! Search the Bible for God’s direction and ask for it through prayer. And once you find it, move out! No wondering. No doubts. No fears. And no wishing your life was different. Just do God’s will!
  • Focusing on the finish line diminishes fear. As a Christian, you know you’ll spend eternity with God. There will be less fear in following God when you keep your eyes on that end—the finish line of heaven. There will be little or no waffling and wavering when you keep the promise of life forever with Jesus fresh and alive. No matter what happens along the way to doing God’s will and fulfilling His plan, you know you’ll experience fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).
  • Forward momentum forces fear aside. Proceeding forward pushes fear aside. Like the snowball that rolls down an incline, you gains speed, mass, and momentum as you step out and do what God asks. Soon you’ll discover your fears have been left behind.

When you pray, focus on your future and boldly advance. Follow hard after God with all your heart (Psalm 63:8).

From Jim’s Heart to Men After God’s Own Heart The Enabling Grace of God

The life of David makes for a fascinating character study. His is one of those great “rags to riches” stories. David started out a shepherd boy and ended up as a king. He became a great warrior and consolidated the tiny nation of Israel into a powerful kingdom that ruled a large part of the Middle East during the tenth century B.C.

But even with all these accomplishments, David’s greatest claim to fame, so to speak, is God’s epitaph, “I have found David… a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22). And yet, I find this statement perplexing! God is declaring His approval of David’s heart and life. That is puzzling in light of the fact that David’s actions weren’t always godly.

And yet God states, “I have found David… a man after my own heart.” How can that be? How could God possibly commend a man with a checkered history?

Yes, David was a man with feet of clay, a man who at times committed sins that most of us could not imagine, let alone commit. Yet, over the long haul, David sought to be righteous and his heart’s desire was to do God’s will. This is the kind of man God looks for, as indicated by Jeremiah 5:1-9. God doesn’t expect perfection, as we can clearly see from David. With the many wrongs David committed in his life, God could still look at David’s heart and declare him a man after His own heart—a man who did all God’s will.

This, my friend, is the grace of God! You may imagine that being a man after God’s own heart is too lofty a goal, or it’s not possible because of some of your past actions. But God looks into your heart too. When it comes to becoming a man after God’s own heart, you can count on the grace of God—a grace that enables you and strengthens you at all times.

Unstoppable You

When you focus your heart, soul, mind, and strength on God and His Word, you will experience God’s kind of success. Through His Word, God reveals His will to you and gives you the power you need to accomplish the jobs He has for you.

How can you move forward in your desire to be more courageous? How can you march through whatever river is impeding your progress, attack whatever hindrances appear, and fight your enemies?

Make sure you place the truths in God’s Word first and foremost in your mind and heart. They need to be the ruler of your every thought, word, and deed. After all, the Bible is for YOU—to edify you. It’s not here to prepare you for ministry and service (although it definitely does!). And it’s not here to earn you any kind of award, certificate, or recognition for the number of verses you memorize (although that can’t hurt, and it certainly can help). No. It’s here to build you up, to change you, to teach you God’s ways, to show you God’s will, and to empower you to move forward with courage.

Make sure you take care that your focus is in the right place… and on the right Person. Fix your focus on God… not on your problems. On His commands… not your confusion. On His presence… not your fears. Serve Him, trust Him, and count on Him. After the psalmist wondered, “Where does my help come from?” he answered, “My help comes from the Lord” (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV). You have God’s commands (His will) and God’s presence. What more do you need?

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George

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