April 2014

From Jim’s Heart — Amazing Grace

“Grace” is God’s gift of His loving favor extended to those He saves. It works like this: You can’t earn grace. And you cannot save yourself. Only God can save you. The only way for you to receive this gift of God’s grace is by faith in Jesus Christ.

There was a time when I tried to be the captain of my own life. But God, in His great grace, stepped in, intervened, and took control. To this day, every time I look back on the path my life has taken, I see the goodness God had in mind as He worked out what was best for me.

It’s an understatement to say that the Christian life is not easy. In fact, you could say that it is impossible. You will experience weaknesses, insults, distresses, persecution, and difficulties (2 Corinthians 12:10). But take cheer! God promises that when you allow His grace to control you in your difficulties, He will give you a strength that will empower you through the myriad of problems that will come your way. God has — and will — continue to do His part. Praise Him for His marvelous G-R-A-C-E!

G-Give thanks to God that you are under grace and not the law.

R-Respond in love and obedience to the gift of God’s grace.

A-Ask God for wisdom to understand what His grace should mean in your life.

C-Commune with other believers in a Bible-teaching church where you can receive training in the ways of God’s grace.

E-Extend God’s grace to others by sharing the Gospel, showing forgiveness, and shouldering their burdens.

Learning About Love

We can’t read very far in the New Testament without realizing that love is important to God. He calls us as women who love God…

  • to walk in love (Ephesians 5:2)
  • to love one another (John 15:12)
  • to love our husbands and children (Titus 2:4)
  • to love our neighbor (Matthew 22:39)
  • to love our enemies (Luke 6:27)

Scripture also teaches that “God is love” and that His Son Jesus Christ loved us and “gave Himself up for us [as] an offering.”  We also see love’s supremacy when Paul places it first on his list of the fruit of the Spirit (1 John 4:8; Ephesians 5:2; Galatians 5:22).

As a child of God, you are commanded to demonstrate the kind of love we see modeled by our heavenly Father and His Son. Jesus says very clearly, “This is My commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you” (John 15:12). And exactly how has Jesus loved you? And what does the kind of love you’re supposed to extend to people look like? You find answers to these questions when you turn to God and the Bible. After all, God is love and God is the source of all love, so it makes sense to look to His Word to learn what He says about love!

Hidden Strength

Are you ready to do some soul-searching? Here we go! Are you a woman of faithfulness? Can others — starting with those at home — count on you? Can others trust you with information? With work? With responsibility? Can others place their confidence in you no matter what? Proverbs 25:19 says, “Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble” (NIV). Do you want to be a woman who is as unsteady as a broken foot or do you want to be a woman your family can lean on in times of trouble?

You are to be a support to your husband, children, and to those God calls you to serve. And your strength for your responsibilities must come from the Lord. Faithfulness, commitment, obedience, perseverance, and willingness to follow God’s lead—do whatever you must do for these traits to become your hidden strength.

God, lead me to faithfulness and strength. As I stand in Your presence, I want to examine my heart and find the traits that make me a help and a refuge for my family and for others

The Women at the Cross

When I need strength and courage, I remember the women at the cross and the tomb of Jesus. Whenever I read Mark, chapter 15 and 16, I’m always amazed that a small band of ladies stayed with our Lord to the very end, even when His closest disciples left! These women stood near the cross through Jesus’ horrendous torture and suffering. And their devotion didn’t end with His death. They followed those who carried the Lord’s body to the tomb where He was placed.

But their devotion didn’t end with His burial. They returned to their homes after the worst day of their lives and prepared for the Sabbath. And then, “When the Sabbath was past, [they] bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him” (Mark 16:1). Very early the next morning, after all the trauma of the crucifixion, they came to the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid.

Our natural human tendency is to look for loopholes, to conjure up an excuse or reason that will get us out of having to show up or having to do something. These women left for the sepulcher not even knowing who would roll the huge stone away from the door of the tomb (verse 3). Next to this verse, I’ve written in my Bible, “They didn’t let a little thing like a massive stone keep them from going.”

I draw strength from these gallant women who endured a tumultuous day that ended with the horror of the crucifixion of their Lord and Savior. They wanted to do all they could for Him. So whenever I want to take a shortcut or pass on something important or risky, I remember the women at the cross. These women served faithfully in the midst of extreme difficulty—and to the end. May you and I be so faithful.

From Jim’s Heart — Jesus, the One and Only

History has affirmed the effects of the life and ministry of the lowly carpenter from Galilee. Jesus proclaimed that He is God’s only Son, equal with the Father, the Creator of the World, the culmination of history, the Friend of sinners, the Searcher of hearts, the Savior and Judge of mankind. At some point in the future, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:11).

What can you learn from such a singular life?

Greatness comes from serving others.Jesus came to this earth not to be served but to serve. To follow His example, be willing to serve others. Even in the area of leadership, Jesus said being a servant is what qualifies you for a position of authority. Real greatness in Christ’s kingdom is shown by service and sacrifice, not ambition or love of power. The way up is down.

There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity.Even though Jesus was fully God, He was also fully human and grew up in the same way as all humans. He did not bypass one stage of life to get to the next. He did not isolate Himself from the pressures and temptations of life. Jesus’ life reminds you that there are no shortcuts for you either. Maturity and service come with a price. The price is obedience to God each step of the way. Pay the price, and you will reap the benefits that accompany spiritual ministry.

Believing is seeing. Jesus instructed His disciples about how to continue on after His death, yet they didn’t believe the initial reports of His resurrection. Thomas is especially known for his disbelief. He had to see Jesus before he believed. Hopefully you aren’t like Thomas, demanding some sort of proof before you act in belief. The disciples believed as eyewitnesses of the Lord Himself. You have the opportunity to believe with the eyes of faith, to believe all that the Bible says about Jesus and your eternal destiny. Believe, that you may see.

A Remarkable Husband-Wife Team

In the Bible, we first meet Aquila and Priscilla in Acts 18:2. The year is AD 50, and the city is Corinth: Paul “found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla… and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers” (Acts 18:2-3).

Because Priscilla and Aquila were believers in Christ, it was easy for them to work with Paul in their mutual profession and to minister right alongside him as well. They did this for a year and a half, supporting and helping Paul while he preached the gospel. And when Paul decided to go to Ephesus, he “took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him” (Acts 18:18). This dynamic duo continued to be faithful in ministry. They used their home as a church in Ephesus and also in Rome. Paul even described them as “my fellow workers in Christ Jesus” (Romans 16:3).

Aquila and Priscilla were a phenomenal husband-wife team who accomplished effective ministry and faithful service behind the scenes for many years, and they show you exactly what a couple after God’s own heart looks like. This remarkable couple provides a perfect portrait of mutual love centered on God and each other. They give you a divine glimpse of how a marriage can and should function.

Like them, you and your spouse each bring a different personality and set of abilities into your marriage. You will spend the rest of your lives working together to live out God’s will for you as a husband and as a wife. With His help, you will grow to be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Philippians 2:2 NASB).

The Highest Calling

You have a calling. Did you realize that? God’s first and highest calling on your life is to Himself. So seek to draw close to Him in all ways and seek His transforming love. What’s in your heart affects your behavior, and God asks that your actions represent your relationship with Him.

The Bible says to “be reverent in behavior” (Titus 2:3). Even though that verse is addressed to older women, it wraps its arms around every woman of every age and circumstance. Why? Because it calls all of God’s women to be holy and godly. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Be a woman who walks with God every day. Love the Lord. Follow Him. Honor Him in the way you live. There is no greater calling.

Lord, Your calling and love bring worth and wonder to my life. My daily pursuit of Your heart and Your Word leads me to serve this high calling of Christ-like conduct. May all that I do and all that I become reflect my relationship with You.

From Jim’s Heart — Faithful to the Finish

Do you ever feel like you’re not making much progress in your spiritual life? That you seem to take two steps forward in your growth only to fall back one? Are you getting discouraged by shortcomings and slow growth? Do you feel unfinished? Incomplete? Lacking in spiritual maturity?

Well, take heart and be encouraged. When God starts a project (that’s you!), He completes it. God has promised that He will help each and all who embrace His Son as Savior to grow in His grace until He has completed — yes, completed! — His work in their lives.

That’s what this present promise is all about. When the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the believers in the Philippian church, he expressed excitement because he had heard that his friends there were maturing in their Christian faith. As he wrote to his comrades-in-Christ, Paul shared his confidence that God would be faithful to continue the spiritual growth process in their lives.

And, friend, God will continue that process until it is completed in you as well. That’s His promise! Read it for yourself. Read Paul’s powerful, encouraging, and comforting words of confidence to his friends… and to you!

For I am confident of this very thing,
that He who began a good work in you
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

Pray Through Your Priorities

Deciding what to say yes to and what to say no to is not a simple thing. I’m as social as the next person, but when I had children and home and was deep into raising my kids with God’s priorities in mind, I had to determine where other activities, commitments, and people fit within the big picture.

Your family is the masterpiece you’re assigned by God to create and preserve. Beyond that, you’ve got to be very discerning. When opportunities or events come up, each one has to be weighed against God’s best for your family. And that, my friend, takes wisdom.

So turn to the Father of your time. Go to Him and ask Him how much time should be spent on social activities and friendships. Ask Him to spell out what the need of the moment is. Then follow His leading.

Father, what must I do today to accomplish Your will? What must I let go of or decline in order to preserve my family as a priority? Give me a discerning heart that measures every opportunity against Your will for my family’s health and well-being.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George

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