December 2014

The Divine Criteria for Success

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Joshua 1:8

I’m not going to tell you, “Read through your Bible every week…or four times a year… or once a year… or read through a different translation of the Bible every year…or read 15 chapters a day.” And certainly my message is not that you need to go to Bible school, a Bible institute, or a seminary. No, I want you to know the foundational element of success according to Joshua 1:8 — ”this Book of the Law.” The Bible is the starting place for everything that matters, for all that really counts for success.

In this verse, God is speaking to Joshua. He’s giving him a new job assignment — to lead God’s people into unfamiliar territory, to conquer it, to divide it, and to settle it. How will Joshua know if he’s successful? And what is success? It’s not wealth. It’s not a title or a position. It’s not what you own, who you know, or a list of accomplishments. And it’s not being named in a Who’s Who book. No, success according to God and as recorded in Joshua 1:8 is:

  • knowing God’s Word
  • reading and studying God’s Word
  • thinking about God’s Word
  • obeying God’s Word
  • speaking God’s Word
  • following God’s Word with all your heart

When we follow this divine criteria, we’re succeeding in God’s eyes and useful to Him for fulfilling His purposes. We may not measure up to the world’s expectations or its definitions of success, but God is well pleased.

Christmas – The Birth of Our Savior

Are you wondering, “Why do I need a Savior?” Many people ask this question when the Christmas season approaches. This the reason Joseph was given regarding Jesus’ birth: “And [Mary] will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Consider all that Jesus the Christ, offers you and me. He:

S-ubstitutes His sinless life for our sinful one (2 Corinthians 5:21);
A-assures us of eternal life (John 10:28-29);
V-anquishes Satan’s hold on our life (2 Timothy 2:26);
I-nitiates us into the family of God (Galatians 4:4-6);
O-verthrows the power of sin (Romans 6:1-10); and
R-econciles us to a holy God (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Are you saved? Do you enjoy in Jesus Christ all that the word “SAVIOR” represents? If not, you can name Jesus your Savior right now. Pray, “Forgive my sins! Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.” You can begin your walk with the Savior today.

Pray and thank God for these truths. Rejoice, sing, and shout, “Hallelujah, what a Savior!”

Be Generous

I vividly recall the day I began praying to be more generous. After assessing my spiritual life, I discovered I could use improvement in this area. So every day I asked God for opportunities to give. I prayed for open eyes and an open heart that would recognize the needs of others. Immediately God began to fine-tune my senses. Jim and I have been blessed to minister to many people through teaching, speaking, and writing. And we also love to privately and quietly assist when we can.

The amazing results are that people have heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, people have been helped, and some people have accepted Christ as their Savior! On top of those wonderful blessings, the Lord has honored our commitment to Him in countless ways.

I encourage you to be generous with your gifts, your time, and your faith. And watch what God does through you!

Father, You have blessed me so much. As I share with others, may the spotlight be on You so that You get the recognition and thanks. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—Developing a Passion for Mentoring

When I first arrived at the church where my family spent over 30 years growing as Christians, I was an immature believer. I didn’t have a clue about what God was asking of me as a husband, father, provider, church member, or witness.

So what did I do to get help? I began looking around the church for men who were mature in the areas in which I was weak. Then I asked them to meet with me, to mentor me. Some of these men were younger than me, but that didn’t matter. They were much farther along on the road to maturity than I was. They had what I needed!

As I matured in my faith and in my understanding of my roles, I began to sense the responsibility I had to pass on to others what I had been taught. As I grew, the passion to help others also grew. Today, more than 30 years later, I receive scores of e-mails, phone calls, or letters each week from men who tell me, by God’s grace, I have influenced their lives. I only wish I had awakened sooner to the opportunities I have had for being a man of influence. I also wish I could have given them more than I did.

O man of God, start growing! And as you grow, God will give you the same passion men like Jesus and Paul have displayed for mentoring other men of God.

Offer a Helping Hand

As a young child, I remember my mother reading a particular fable to me. While she read, I studied the painting in our storybook that illustrated the fable. It pictured a man who was frantically calling out for help while he was drowning in a river. On the footbridge that spanned the water, another man was casually leaning over the rail looking at the struggling man.

According to the story, the observer was lecturing the man who was drowning beneath him. He was telling him what he ought to have done and letting him know what he should do if he ever got into that situation again. Instead of reaching in with a helping hand and saving the dying man’s life, he talked on and on about what the man who had fallen into the water had done wrong and how he could avoid the same mistake in the future. Clearly the perishing man didn’t need a lecture! He needed help!

And that is what you and I have to do when it comes to praying for those who have fallen and failed. We must help them! We must set aside our disappointment, forsake the lectures, forsake the judgment, forsake the shock, and go to work helping and praying for others, taking heed lest we fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). Sure, correction, instruction, restoration, and rebuilding may come later. But when someone fails and is in trouble, pray and offer a helping hand.

If a man is overtaken in any trespass,
you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness,
considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Galatians 6:1

From Jim’s Heart—Leading by Serving

I’m sure you agree that Jesus Christ was the most influential man who ever lived. No one has or ever will match the impact He had.

What makes Him all the more remarkable is He wasn’t an autocrat. He wasn’t a leader running roughshod over people or demanding respect and obedience. Rather, Jesus was a humble servant. He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life” (Mark 10:45). After He performed the lowly task of washing the disciples’ feet, He said, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15).

Whose feet could you wash today? What opportunities do you have right now to serve rather than be served?

Jesus, You are the King of kings and Lord of lords, yet You chose to live as a humble servant. May I follow in Your steps today as You give me opportunities to serve those around me. Amen.

Lesser Choices

Is your fire for the Lord burning low? You know what happened, don’t you? At some time, for some reason, lesser choices were made and that passion for knowing and following God’s plan got lost. If you want to be a person who lives out God’s will for your life, you must first have a passion for God’s Word. Be purposeful and willing to stick to God’s path.

There is so much at stake. Your own spiritual growth, the lives of those you love, your marriage, your witness to others. What you do and don’t do doesn’t only affect you, it affects everyone and everything. In God’s goodness, it’s not too late to begin to make good, better, and best choices. God is waiting patiently for you.

God, please rekindle my flame of faith. When I first met You, I was hungry for Your Word and so eager to share it. Today, I will walk forward with a renewed spark of belief and commitment. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—One Man’s Example and Impact

All Scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness,
so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work.

—2 Timothy 3:16-17

Influence isn’t about numbers. No, it’s about individuals. Individuals with a passion, a focus, or an intensity—or all of the above—that drives them forward. It’s this energy that attracts a following, and most men of influence down through the centuries have gained their influence through a crisis, a cause, or a mandate. In the case of the apostle Paul, it was a mandate from God to take the gospel to the Gentiles.

From the first time I heard theologian John MacArthur preach from God’s Word and observed how he viewed the importance of correctly understanding the meaning of Scripture, I saw a man on a mission. His desire was that people would develop a love for the Bible and understand how important it is to the life and faithfulness of every Christian.

Until age 30, I was one of countless Christians who had never thought much about their Bible. I, like so many others, knew many of the Bible stories but never saw their connection to my life. I also didn’t have much to do with my Bible. Oh, I was given a Bible when I was young, and I dutifully carried it to church every Sunday. But I never grasped the importance of the Bible.

It wasn’t until I observed the power and authority of the Bible in John MacArthur’s life and ministry that I longed to know the source of his power and the reasons for his convictions about the Bible. The influence of this one man and his belief in the importance of God’s Word had an impact on my life, and I still feel John’s impact on my life today, 35 years after first hearing him teach and sensing his belief in the grandness of God’s Word. I’m still being shaped by his example.

As you and I study the Bible and embrace its teachings, we too can set an example and influence countless others.

Humility Possesses a Helpful Spirit

Humility is active cooperation, not passive resignation. Humility rolls up its sleeves and says, “Where can I help? What do you want me to do? It doesn’t matter how great or small the task, I’m here to help!”

Unfortunately we also often encounter these women:

  • The “last word” woman—isn’t willing to give encouragement or positive input, but she certainly feels free to tell you how you should have done the job.
  • The “know it all” woman—is the one who constantly interrupts her husband or friends with correct but unimportant information: “No, Harry, it wasn’t seven years ago. It was six years ago.”
  • The “I can top your day” woman—quickly blurts, “You think you had a day! Let me tell you about mine.” What she’s really saying is, “Don’t expect anything from me today.”
  • The “question everything” woman—feels it’s her God-given task to question everything she’s asked to do. Are you sure? Do you really want me to do that? Do you really think this is important?
  • The “reluctant” woman—is passive. She says she’ll help or do whatever you ask, but doesn’t quite get around to her duties and responsibilities.

Sadly, it’s easy to fall into these categories. But there’s hope, sweet hope! Peter says that if we — and all believers — will humble ourselves, God will give us His grace, His favor, His blessing, His power so we can do and be all He planned for us.

And this includes you! God wants you to succeed even more than you do. He saved you to serve Him, His people, and others, starting with your family, your church family, and your sphere of influence.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George

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