August 2015

Become a Reader

Wisdom and knowledge don’t come without effort. A big part of that effort involves reading. Here’s something to think about: If you don’t see reading as important, then your children probably won’t either. You yourself need to be convinced that being a reader is an important part of growing both spiritually and mentally. Only as you model this to your children will they become readers.

Perhaps you don’t like to read. You never have. But it doesn’t have to continue to be that way. Reading is just like any other skill. How do you learn a skill? You start from the beginning and develop the skill as you go. Start by picking books about subjects you are highly interested in-history, health, a hobby. Or start reading books that help you solve a problem you’re struggling with-like how to better manage your time or finances, how to be a better at your job, how to be a better spouse and parent.

A good way to start up is to set a goal of reading one chapter a day of the book of your choice. Set aside time to make that happen-like during your lunch hour, or the kids’ nap time, or during your visit to a coffee shop.

And don’t forget-the first book you want to read and have your children read is the Bible.

God Will Lead You

The Holy Spirit does not automatically seal your mouth so you don’t overeat-or so you don’t yell at your children. But He will prompt you! God will gently lead you as you read, study, pray, and try to apply God’s Word to every area of life. For example, Proverbs 17:28 tells us that even fools are considered wise and perceptive when they hold their peace and shut their mouths.

You have to decide how you’re going to respond to the issues in your life. Often your best response comes only after you are silent, prayerful, and willing. God’s Spirit lives in you as a believer in Christ-and He’s ready and willing to assist you with your personal discipline, self control, and spiritual growth.

Lord, Your peace eases my soul and gives me perspective and patience. I will follow Your leading and lean into Your strength to become a wise believer and better parent—one filled with Your Spirit. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—Beware of Spiritual Laziness

I am a part of a men’s Saturday morning Bible study at my church. The study started at 7:00 am, so I have to leave home at 6:30 to get there on time. Each Saturday as I drive to the church, my route takes me by a golf course that was filled with men playing golf and a lineup of carts waiting to tee off. Because many of the golfers are already far along on the course, it is evident they got there much earlier in the morning… like about 6:00 am!

By contrast, when I arrive at church, only a few men are there. I am always amazed that so many non-Christian men are willing to get up so early on a Saturday morning to play golf, but so few Christian men are willing to get up early to study and grow in God’s Word.

I know finding a balance that ensures that God is my #1 priority isn’t an easy matter. Even after decades of being a Christian, I’m constantly having to evaluate my choices. Here are some questions that help me, and can help you too. Invite the Lord to help you with your priorities.

  • Am I choosing the world over God and His Word?
  • Am I choosing hobbies and sports to the point of excluding any time that could be spent reading my Bible and growing in faith?
  • Am I choosing fun at the expense of being in a Bible study group?

The Refining Process

Have you ever seen a speeding car with the bumper sticker that says, “Please be patient-God is not finished with me yet!”? If that law-breaking driver is a child of God, then the theology of the bumper sticker is correct. From the moment of your salvation, God is in the process of conforming you into the image of your Savior Jesus Christ. Even though there are momentary lapses in your conduct, the transforming work of the Holy Spirit will continue until you see Jesus face-to-face. How does this process take place in your life? God uses people, events, and circumstances to refine you.

People, events, and circumstances affect you in one of two ways: Either they become stepping stones to progress or they become barriers—their effect is all in your response. One response propels you, while the other diverts you.

What mission has God given you? Are you a husband or wife? A mom or a dad? A daughter or son? A missionary or teacher or office worker? First pray. Then name your mission, and own it. Ask for the Spirit’s help in not being distracted or diverted from the mission God has given you. And always remember: God is not finished with you yet!

From Jim’s Heart—Do Your Best

Over the years I’ve traveled to India 15 times for ministry. Because of my deep interest in India, my eye was drawn to this story that speaks of doing your best at whatever God calls you to do.

A missionary from India told about an army officer who stopped to have his shoes shined by a poor Indian boy on the street. The lad launched into his task with such enthusiasm and vigor that the man was utterly amazed. Instead of an ordinary, slipshod performance with an all-too-eagerly outstretched hand for a tip, the boy worked diligently until the leather sparkled with a brilliant luster.

The officer asked, “Why are you taking so much time to polish my boots?”

“Well, sir,” was the reply, “last week Jesus came into my heart and now I belong to Him. Since then, every time I shine someone’s shoes, I keep thinking they’re His, so I do the very best I can. I want Him to be pleased!”

This young man demonstrated a desire to do his best. Because of what Christ has done for you and me, how can we do less than give Him our best?

  • We give God glory when we do our best.
  • We represent the Lord Jesus, therefore we do our best.
  • We serve the Lord and not men, so we do our best.
  • We provide a living model of our risen Savior while we do our best.
  • We fulfill God’s purpose as we do our best.

When You Can’t Do Anything Else

Jesus tells us to pray in times of trouble. He “told His disciples a parable…that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). Praying instead of giving up means looking to God in times of trouble. This kind of praying keeps us from caving in.

I once read a story about a young boy who was saved from drowning by his brother and carried home uncon­scious by his group of friends. The grateful father wanted to know exactly who had done what so he could properly thank each child. So he said to John…

“Well, John, what did you do?”

He replied, “Oh, I jumped into the water and pulled him out!”

“And James and Thomas, what did you do?” questioned the dad.

“Oh, we carried Danny home!”

“And Mary, what did you do?” came the next inquiry.

And poor little Mary, who was only three years old, burst into tears and said, “Daddy, I couldn’t do anything at all, so I just prayed and prayed!”

Then her father gently said, “Mary, you deserve the most praise of all, for you did all you could, and God answered your prayers through John and James and Thomas.”

My friend, in times of trouble…when you can’t do anything at all…just pray and pray! Turn to God in prayer during the tough times, when you don’t know where else to go or what else to do.

From Jim’s Heart—The Challenge of Apathy

Apathy is such a subtle challenge. In fact, it is so subtle that I didn’t even see it coming until it was too late. Let me explain. I went away to college to study to become a pharmacist. I fully intended to continue my habit of going to church and being active in student ministry. However, little by little I stopped going to church on a regular basis. I was too busy with college life and my studies to be involved with other Christians at church activities. Eventually I got to the point where I was “spiritually frozen.” For the next ten years I was in the grips of spiritual apathy. I was useless to God. I was barren of any spiritual life and fruit. I was even having a negative influence on others because of my apathy.

How can you keep apathy from settling into your life? Check your spiritual temperature on a regular basis by asking these questions:

  • Am I making excuses for missing church?
  • Am I becoming comfortable with little sins?
  • Am I able to take or leave God’s Word?
  • Am I spending more of my discretionary hours with non-Christians rather than Christians?
  • Am I looking to myself or the world rather than to God for help with life issues?
  • Am I resisting the warnings of fellow believers?

If your answer to any or most of these questions is Yes, then, my friend, you are well on your way to apathy. But realize that with God’s help, you can overcome the problem. Here is a “spiritual prescription” for dealing with apathy.

  • Recognize that apathy can happen to you.
  • Realize that God’s Word is essential.
  • Reach out to those with “hot hearts” for the Lord.
  • Regularly attend church.
  • Request that others hold you accountable for your commitments to God.

Start with God

Do you wonder what to pray about or how to get started? Here are a few tried and true suggestions.

  • Start with God first: “Lord, thank You for loving me. I look around in amazement at Your lovely creation. Thank You for Your sacrifice so I can know You.”
  • Consider your relationship with Him: “Lord, what can I do today to live out the fact that You are my ultimate priority?” Write down God’s answers and promptings.
  • Then ask, “Lord, what can I do today to grow spiritually? How can I prepare for future ministry?”
  • Finish with, “Lord, what else would You have me do today?”

These simple prayers put your heart and feet in line with God and His plan.

Father, I love that I can come to You in praise…and get my questions answered. It amazes me that You care about the big and little things that happen in my life. Help me get over any awkwardness I feel about approaching You in prayer. Amen.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George

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