July 2015

From Jim’s Heart—The Essential Element for Life

I love to run. In fact, I’ve been a runner since high school. Well, one bright sunny California Saturday, I decided I would see just how far I could run. So off I went running… five… ten… fifteen miles…

It was at the 15-mile mark that I figured it was time to head for home. One reason was because my running conditions were no longer very pleasant because the early morning sun had turned into the oppressive heat of midday.

Another reason was because I hadn’t taken any water with me. I was beginning to crave water, the essential element for life. By the time I was within a few miles of home, all I could think about was water, water, more water, lots of water! My body ached for that life-giving substance. As I staggered into my house after 21 miles, I was truly panting for water.

This kind of desire is the kind of thirst we are to have for God’s Word. Our physical body knows it cannot function without physical water. So, too, our spiritual life should realize it can’t function without the “living water” of God’s Word. The psalmist described this craving for God in this way:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Psalm 42:1-2).

Do you have this kind of craving for God and His Word? Just as water is the only substance that can relieve your thirst, God’s Word is the only substance that can satisfy your spiritual thirst and ensure your spiritual growth.

Two Kinds of Hearts

I have found David… a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.
Acts 13:22

God’s words about David were spoken in startling contrast to the character of the reigning king of Israel, Saul.

Here’s a little background information. Speaking on behalf of God, the prophet Samuel rebuked Saul for failing to obey God’s specific instructions (1 Samuel 13). Again and again, as reported in 1 Samuel, Saul overstepped his bounds, the ones God set for him. On several occasions he specifically disobeyed God. Although he was very careful to offer prescribed sacrifices to God, Saul failed to offer God the ultimate sacrifice—obedience from a heart wholly devoted to Him (1 Samuel 15:22).

Finally, after one extremely serious act of disobedience, God sent Samuel to Saul with a twofold message: “Your kingdom shall not continue” and “The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

God was communicating something along this order—”Saul, you’re through as king. I’ve put up with your rebellious, unresponsive heart long enough, and now I’ve found just the right man to serve Me. This man who will take your place is a man with a responsive heart, a man with a heart of obedience, a man who will follow all My commands, fulfill all My desires, and do all My will.”

Here we witness two very different kinds of hearts—the heart of David and the heart of Saul.

  • David served God while Saul served himself and did things his way.
  • David was concerned with following God’s will, but Saul cared solely for his own will.
  • David’s heart was centered on God, and Saul’s was centered on Saul.
  • Even though David didn’t always obey God, he had what mattered over the long haul—a heart after God. In sharp contrast, Saul’s devotion to God was impulsive and sporadic.
  • Although David was well-known for his physical prowess and might as a warrior, he was humbly dependent upon God, trusting in Him and repeatedly acknowledging, “The Lordis the strength of my life” (Psalm 27:1). Saul, on the other hand, was proud. He relied on his own skill, his own wisdom and judgment, and his arm of flesh.

God gave both of these kings opportunities to lead Israel, but in the end they walked down different paths—Saul away from God and David toward Him.

How’s your heart? The heart God delights in is compliant, cooperative, and responsive to Him and His commands.

From Jim’s Heart—Your Wife’s Best Friend

He who finds a good wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.
Proverbs 18:22

Let’s revisit your courtship with your wife. Did you strive to be her best friend? I know you did! You were probably a little jealous if she spent time with any person other than you. Did you like being in her company and doing crazy things together? Elizabeth and I were the same way—we were best friends while we were dating.

During courtship, it seems as if the pure joy of just being together will never end. But after marriage, for some reason, that seems to fade away, doesn’t it? What happened? Here’s a basic formula that seems applicable to many of us:

time + familiarity + distractions + duties = diminished interest

In other words, the demands and distractions of daily life crept into that beautiful friendship and began to erode the relationship.

How can you recapture that friendship you enjoyed with your wife while you two were dating? To begin, think back on those days. What did you do to nurture your relationship with your wife-to-be? Take a moment to write a list. Then make a commitment to do some of these activities again—the activities that helped you to become best friends. After all, after your friendship with God, your wife’s friendship is the greatest treasure you possess.

From Jim’s Heart—Remember Your Wedding

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…
Ephesians 5:25

To be honest, I can’t remember much about my wedding or what was said during the ceremony—it’s all a blur in my mind. I do, however, remember coming into the church from a side entrance with the minister and my best man. There I stood, in front of all those people, waiting for my bride-to-be… with a beet-red face! No, I wasn’t embarrassed or suffering from an attack of hives. I was sunburned from water-skiing all day with my buddies from the wedding party. The wedding started at 8:00 p.m., and it must have been an extremely short ceremony because in our after-wedding pictures of Elizabeth’s and my hands with our new wedding rings, my watch reads 8:20 p.m.!

Now let’s put you on the hot spot. What about you and your wedding? In the months or years since that day, have you thought back on the vows you made to your bride? Our wedding day is one of the most important occasions in our life. What we say at that ceremony affects us for the rest of our lives.

Just for today think about what you can do–today and every day in the future–to truly fulfill the vows you made to your bride—whether those vows were made yesterday, last week, last year, or in my case, decades ago.

The Making of a Hero

As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Galatians 6:10

What makes a person a hero? A person doesn’t become a hero because he or she decides to. No, a hero is born when some incident occurs, and he or she answers the call with a heroic act. A hero is just an ordinary person who, on one day, with one act, does the extraordinary. Or a hero could be someone just like you—a person who faithfully serves others.

When I think of someone who had a heart that cared and served, I can’t help but think of one particular woman in the Old Testament. You can read her story for yourself (see 2 Kings 4:8-10), but for now, let me give you the condensed version. This nameless woman, who is referred to as “the Shunammite” in the Bible, saw that the prophet Elisha had no place to stay when he came to her town on his preaching tours. So this dear woman asked her husband if they could build a small room on their roof for the prophet to stay in when he came to town.

So what did the Shunammite do that was so great? So heroic? She did what you and I could do and should do—she looked out and saw a need, she reached out and extended a helping hand, and she gave out of a heart of love for another person.

My friend, God has given us an example in this woman and her actions (and her heart). We, too, should be looking out and reaching out and extending a helping hand to those around us. The Shunammite woman will never be found on any list of heroes. But we can be sure that every time God’s weary prophet Elisha entered that little room on the top of her house, the Shunammite was a hero in his eyes.

A Heart That Serves

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because… your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58

Everyone has a hero or two. And an amazing thing about heroes is that most of them have hearts that serve. Joan of Arc loved God, served God, and fought valiantly as she served others. Do you know her story?

Joan of Arc was a French peasant who lived in the fifteenth century. When France was occupied by the English, she convinced the king to put her at the head of 10,000 troops. She rallied the French forces to liberate France and has been since dubbed “The Maid of Orleans,” heroine of France. Joan of Arc couldn’t read or write, but she cared deeply and she prayed passionately. And here’s the shocker—Joan of Arc was 19 when she died. She was a teenager! To this day this teenage woman is considered to be a national heroine of France.

As she prepared for death, Joan of Arc prayed, “I shall only last a year; use me as You can.” Hers was a heart committed to serving God by serving others to the very end.

God wants you and me to have hearts that serve, too. He has given us everything we need for living our lives in a godly way (2 Peter 1:3), He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3), and He has gifted us spiritually to serve others in the church (1 Corinthians 12:7).

From Jim’s Heart—Saying Yes to God

God is able to use a man who is willing to do whatever He says. By this I mean a person who listens to and obeys Him. We see confirmation of this in the Bible…

–The apostle Paul was asked to get up—and spread the gospel.

–Abraham was asked to give up—to sacrifice his son Isaac up to God, until God spared Isaac.

–Moses was asked to speak up—to confront Pharaoh about letting the people of Israel go.

–Daniel was asked to stand up—to not yield to demands to compromise his faith.

In every case, God rewarded the obedience these men showed. When you yield yourself in complete and wholehearted obedience to God, He can do great things through you.

Father, show me how I can honor You in everything I do at home, at work, and when I’m just having fun. I choose in advance to say yes to You in all I do! Amen.

First Things First

When it comes to my prayer life, I have a saying that helps me each day—First things first. I try to make my quiet time with God the first thing I do each morning. Somehow, dedicating my fresh new day to God in prayer first thing makes a tremendous difference in that day. It reminds me who I am (His child) and who I am to serve (Him!) and what I am to do with my day… and my life (glorify Him).

And as I pray for the people in my life, the very act of prayer amazingly changes my heart toward them as God gives me His love and His wisdom for living out these relationships in a way that causes Christ to shine through me.

Now I have a question for you: Do you believe praying—even for just five or ten minutes a day—could change your life? I believe it can!

Lingering in God’s presence will increase your faith, provide a place for you to unload your burdens, remind you that God is always near, and help you not to panic when troubles come. When you accept God’s invitation to pray, He will transform your heart and change your life.

From Jim’s Heart—Understanding the Importance of the Church

Aside from Paul’s consistent theme of salvation by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5), his teachings on the church are one of the most dominant subjects in his writings. That should serve as a clue that, as men after God’s own heart and as men who desire to fulfill all of God’s will, you and I ought to heed Paul’s heartfelt teachings on this most important subject. If God inspired Paul to say so much about the church, then clearly the church is important to God, and likewise, it should be important to us. Here’s a sampling of what Paul taught about the church in just one of his 13 letters, the book of Ephesians:

  • The church is headed by Christ (Ephesians 1:22).
  • The church is Christ’s body (1:23).
  • The church is to show forth the wisdom of God (3:10).
  • The church is subject to Christ (5:24).
  • Christ loved and died for the church (5:25).
  • Christ feeds and cares for His church (5:29).
  • We, as believers, are members of Christ’s body, the church (5:30).

…and there’s much more Paul says about the church! Given this emphasis, we can see why the church—both worldwide and our local church—should be important to us. In fact, the church is a priority for a man after God’s own heart!

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George

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