March 2014

My Sun and Shield

For the Lord God is a sun and shield.
Psalm 84:11

I thank God that even when we don’t see the physical sun, we have the Lord God as a sun! Here are a few of the benefits of the sun and how God, as your sun, provides for you spiritually:

  • The sun brings joy, warmth, and energy. Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Like the sun, the Lord’s presence in your life brings great joy.
  • The sun brings routine. You can set your watch by the morning sunrise. You can also depend on God, who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).
  • The sun brings light to guide you. David said, “You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord shall enlighten my darkness” (2 Samuel 22:29). Even in the dark, you have the glory of the Lord to light your path.
  • The sun brings relief from the darkness. Darkness causes fear and brings great anguish for many who are fearful of the dark, the unseen, and the unknown. The psalmist says, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You (Psalm 139:11-12).
  • The sun brings healing. Malachi 4:2 says, “The Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.” Not only is physical healing promoted by the sun, but there is spiritual healing in the Messiah’s righteousness.
  • The sun brings emotional well-being. States that have a lot of cloudy, gray, wet weather (like Washington!) often see large populations leaving to winter in warmer, drier climates. With or without the sun, and with or without sun breaks, Psalm 30:11 tells you that God can turn your gloom into gladness: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.”

From Jim’s Heart — The Promise to Forgive

When you receive God’s gift of Jesus, you also receive the promise of forgiveness:

As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:12

God is bigger than your biggest sin, and He’s aware of even your smallest ones. Unconfessed sins have consequences. They hinder your fellowship with a holy and just God. Although God forgives sin, He overlooks none. Whether your sins are big or small in your estimation, you need to experience God’s promise of forgiveness for them. To better understand this, read on.

God’s forgiveness is complete. When you receive Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven once and for all. When Jesus uttered, “It is finished” on the cross, He was speaking of His work of redemption (John 19:30). Jesus died for your sins. Every sin that you will ever commit is covered by Jesus’ death. As God’s child, His forgiveness is complete because Jesus’ work is complete.

God’s forgiveness is permanent. When God forgives, He also forgets. You can’t use up God’s forgiveness. Whether your sins are few or many, private or public, God is always faithful to forgive.

God’s forgiveness changes you. After asking God for forgiveness, go one step further and also ask Him for the wisdom to avoid sin in the future. Constantly seek advice from God’s Word and godly Christian friends to learn how to change, how to avoid sin, and how to grow in your walk with God.

A Masterpiece

Have you thrown in the time-management towel? Are you operating in survival mode? Many women have given up using their organizers and other plan-making methods out of frustration.

Well, I want you to give it another try. Determine to make tomorrow a better day than yesterday. Ask God for His wisdom. Just for today, create a schedule, even if it’s a “bad” one. Any schedule is better than no schedule. Scheduling is a necessity. It’s a mirror of your life. A tool for improvement. And it’s a “wand” for accomplishment.

Think about the creation of the world. God had a schedule — from before the foundation of the world. He knew exactly what He would create each day—that first and most glorious week of the history of all creation. It was a true masterpiece. And He knew He would rest on the seventh day.

How about you? How’s your masterpiece looking?

God, I will commit to scheduling my time. I will follow Your lead and create a plan for this day, this week, and maybe even beyond. Show me what it means to be faithful to good intentions and godly priorities. I want to live for you today.

Be Strong

Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and of good courage;
do not be afraid, nor be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

God says, “Be strong.” What pops into your mind when you hear or read the word “strong”? Weightlifters, wrestlers, fighters, and soldiers? Rocks and stones? Steel? Inner strength is that something in the character of a person who

  • stands in adversity,
  • who acts and speaks up because it’s the right thing to do,
  • who moves forward toward a goal of purpose regardless of the cost or obstacles,
  • who endures through harsh and trying times and treatment.

When God told Joshua to “be strong,” it was an order, something Joshua was to do. God was commanding Joshua to strengthen himself, to encourage himself, to harden himself, and to behave valiantly. God was telling Joshua that he is to move out in battle and conquer the land on the other side of the Jordan River… whether he wants to or not, whether he feels like doing it or not, whether he thinks he can win or not. Joshua is not to be feeble, fragile, or frightened about this command. He is to be strong and move forward.

You and I have to do the same. When everything in you chafes or shies away from doing what must be done, endured, or finished, you have to stand up, buck up, look up, and just do it. You have to step up to the challenge, stare it in the face, and boldly step into it. Power, valor, and victory come as you draw upon God’s grace and obediently press on by faith.

God’s Songbird

Have you noticed in your church, your Bible study, your circle of Christian friends, that women who love God tend to sing? Miriam, Moses’ sister, sang when God gloriously delivered His people (Exodus 15:21).

Fanny Crosby was an American hymn writer who lived from 1820 until 1915. That’s 95 years — and Fanny Crosby spent all but six weeks of those 95 years in complete blindness. When she was six weeks old, a doctor unwittingly caused Fanny’s blindness. Yet Fanny, through the eyes of her Christian faith, saw that doctor’s apparent mistake as “no mistake of God’s.” She wrote, “I verily believe it was [God’s] intention that I should live my days in physical darkness, so as to be better prepared to sing His praises and incite others to do so.” Note the path Fanny Crosby’s life of singing in the darkness took:

  • At age 8, Fanny Crosby began writing poetry.
  • When she was 11, one of her poems was published.
  • When Fanny was 24, she published her first book of poems.
  • Throughout her life, Fanny wrote a large number of religious poems, cantatas, and many songs.
  • At the time of her death, the total number of her hymns and poems of praise to her God exceeded 8000!

Truly, Fanny Crosby was a woman who loved God and trusted in His wisdom and His ways (Romans 11:33). Rather than succumb to bitterness or resentment, self-pity or regret, Fanny sang. She became God’s songbird. Like the nightingale, she sang in the darkness… for 95 years.

Today, if you are facing what seems to be a tragedy, look up, even through your tears, and lift a song of praise to God in that darkness. Worship Him while you wander in the fog of uncertainty. And bless God despite the blindness of your incomprehension. Your song of faith gives clear tribute to the goodness and greatness of God.

From Jim’s Heart — Deliver Us

Temptation comes into every believer’s life — not one of us is immune. So how would you like a fantastic promise for victory over temptation? Read on. Here it is!

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man;

and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able,

but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also,
that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

In these reassuring words, God promises you deliverance from sin. He promises an exit. There is no need to view temptation as a bad thing. It is simply an opportunity to strengthen and reaffirm your faith and trust in God. Facing temptation and staying strong strengthens and adds maturity to your Christian life.

When a temptation comes your way, realize that you are never left alone. By His very nature, God will not leave you alone. He is present with you as you face temptation. By His grace, you will be able to resist it.

Although God doesn’t always remove the temptation, He does promise to keep the temptation from becoming too strong for you to handle. Temptation can be resisted because God says you can “endure it.” And God also promises to “provide the way of escape.”

Whether you endure or escape, you are to be actively resisting temptation, on the lookout for His deliverance… and counting on it!

The Velvet Side of Strength

Discover this new kind of power — humility. In 1 Peter 5:5-6, Peter says:

Be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.

As Saint Augustine noted, “If you plan to build a tall house of virtues, you must first lay deep foundations of humility.” Humility is an attitude which is nurtured in the heart and mind. According to Peter, three actions build a foundation and, in time, characterize humility in a Christian. First, choose to defer to others. The goal of submission is to fit in with someone else’s plans or direction. It includes adapting your way to another’s way, deliberately subordinating yourself and giving the other person more authority or grace.

Next, choose to submit yourself. Peter said, “Be submissive to one another.” Deferring to others is an attitude, so make it your practice to always be ready to willingly submit and serve others. And finally, choose to rank yourself under others. Just as a soldier chooses to put himself in subjection to the commands of officers, you are to choose to voluntarily rank yourself beneath other people.

Be willing to bend and flex and submit to God’s commands… and to the people He places in your path and asks you to defer to. Learn from your gentle, humble, wonderful, perfect Lord Jesus.

When You Are Hurting… Pray!

One of my favorite words in the English language is “bittersweet.” It’s sort of like the well-known announcement, “I’ve got good news and bad news. Which do you want first?” This picturesque term always reminds me that many occurrences in life fall simultaneously into the glad/sad category, bringing forth both emotions at once.

We wonder, How can something be both bitter and sweet at the same time? It can only be so because of God’s great power and grace! As you have probably already experienced, it is God and God alone who is able to sweeten what is bitter (Exodus 15:23-25), to make the one who is sad become glad (Psalm 30:11), and to turn something bad into something good (Romans 8:28). Therefore…

When your heart hurts… pray! Dare to step into the heart-wrenching cries of Psalm 55. It contains much-needed instruction for your own hurting, bewildered heart. Here you learn lessons for living life and about praying from a wounded heart. Evil and treachery, along with personal agony, caused David to cry out and contend with God:

Give ear to my prayer, O God, and do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Attend to me, and hear me; I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily… My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me (see verses 1-2,4).

When you are driven to distraction by the assaults of others, when you are wrestling with despair, when all seems hopeless — like David — put your God-given faith to work and trust in the Lord.

And what will happen when you turn to God in prayer during your times of distress and pain? Your bitter ordeal will be sweetened. In your bad times — when your soul is hurting and your need for God’s gentle touch is at its greatest, when your heavy heart is the most sensitive — your prayers will be the most sweet and rewarding. Please don’t wish these times away! Some of your most meaningful fellowship with God will come when you contend with Him over your hurting heart. So fly away in prayer… and rest in Him.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George

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