January 2018

When You’re Not Sure How to Parent

Parent

I was a new mom when I accepted Christ as my Savior. My heart and mind were full of questions about how to teach my daughters about the God and His Word. One day as I read my Bible, my eyes landed on Deuteronomy 6:5-7. God amazed me by showing me His guidelines in three verses for raising my little ones. I read those verses so many times I finally memorized them.

Have you had days when you’ve wondered what in the world you’re doing as a mom? Take heart! God goes straight to the heart of the matter and packed these verse with clear communication to us parents. The first step? We must love God first. Why? Because we become what we love.

This is the reason Scripture instructs us straightforward about where we are to place our love. And not just some of it. The Lord goes further and demands all of our love. God wants us to love Him with every breath, thought, emotion and passion, and choice we make. He wants us to think of Him first and to desire to please Him above all else. And He desires for our love to be intense and complete

I’m sure you’ve people say, “There is no love like a parent’s love.” If you’re a mom or dad, you know this is true! From the moment a parent knows they have a baby on the way, all of our prayers, thoughts, and goals are channeled toward our little one. This tiny being completely consumes and preoccupies our time.

Now put the strength of this love into your love for God. This is how much God wants us to focus on Him … even more! The more we love Him, the more you and I will know about love. This will allow us to know how to love. The more we know how to love, the better you and I will love our own children. And this, by God’s grace, will make you a parent who can raise a son or daughter after God’s own heart.

A PRAYER TO PRAY
Dear Lord, You are the best Father, and I long to follow Your example of selfless love. I commit to loving You most so that I can love my child best. Amen.

MORE ENCOURAGEMENT
A Mom After God’s Own Heart offers moms practical advice and real-life suggestions for helping children, no matter what their ages, to incorporate God into daily life.

REFLECTION
“You shall love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. And you shall teach them…” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)

How does the command, “love the Lord your God with all your heart” simplify the many parenting concerns that I have?

REMEMBER
When all your love centers on God, and when you follow Him with all your heart, you will qualify to lead your children to follow God too!

How to Make the Best Choice

CHOICE

Perhaps you’ve heard this little rhyme about making a choice: Good, better, best, never let it rest, until your good is better, and your better is best.

When I lived in Los Angeles, I spent a lot of time in traffic. For years, I tuned in to easy-listening music on the radio. It seemed like a good choice as I passed my time in the car. After a while, I moved up the “better” scale, and I made a change to Christian worship. As time went by, I opted to listen to sermons. Then it hit me—why not listen to the Bible? Finally, one day I turned off everything and landed on what for me was the best choice for my car time—memorizing Scripture. Good to better to best!

God promises us in His Word that His ways are the best for us. In following Him and His ways, our devotion to Him naturally deepens. We can know His ways and choose what is best by following Mary’s example when, instead of being too busy with life, she instead chose to be still and to be present with Jesus. “And Jesus, answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But, one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'” (Luke 10:42)

When I was a new Christian, a more spiritually-mature woman shared how she spent her mornings after her husband left for work. She could have done anything she wanted—watched TV, hopped on the computer, chatted with friends—but she opted to pick up her Bible and have her quiet time. This woman paid close atten­tion to what was good, better, and best, and made the best choice.

Let’s not miss out on God’s best due to choosing the mediocre or okay. Each moment and each decision in your day, ask for God’s help to choose beyond the better choice to what is best!

A PRAYER TO PRAY
Dear Lord, Your ways are the best ways. I want to follow them all the days of my life. Amen.

MORE ENCOURAGEMENT
Proverbs for a Woman’s Day
gives you a clear view of the right path as you follow God’s wisdom found in the book of Proverbs. Are you stressed out by your responsibilities? At a crossroads in your life? Wondering what to do about a complicated relationship? Pick up a copy of this book today!

REFLECTION
“And Jesus, answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But, one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'” (Luke 10:42)

Does my schedule make room for spending time in God’s Word and in prayer?

REMEMBER
Consider these words of wisdom as you plan your day: “Daily I live with [one] fear—a healthy fear—that I will miss something God has for me in this life. And it is mind-expanding to contemplate all that He wants me to have. I don’t want to be robbed of even one of God’s riches by not taking time to let Him invade my life. By not listening to what He is telling me. By allowing the routine, pressing matters of my minutes to bankrupt me of time for the most exciting, most fulfilling relationship in life.” (Carole Mayhall)

You are Beautiful

BEAUTIFUL


Every woman wants to be thought of as beautiful. We’ve all tried different products, haircuts, and clothes to enhance our physical beauty. But, did you know God has a prescription for the kind of beauty that He esteems? Proverbs 31:30 describes a woman of such a beauty, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Here is great news: inner beauty is attainable for every woman.

It’s generally agreed on by most scholars that Proverbs 31 reflects a wise mother’s instruction to her son, Lemuel—who would one day become a king—on the virtues of a godly woman. This ode of praise for a virtuous woman became God’s outline of feminine character.

These words or instructions aren’t merely a man expressing some personal and unrealistic fantasy. True, it’s thought that King Lemuel wrote the words down, but he was simply repeating a female’s opinion of true beauty! Such woman-to-woman instruction about a beautiful-in-God’s-eyes woman encourages and inspires me.

This mother begins with a question—”Who can find a virtuous woman?” (Proverbs 31:10). Hopefully we can answer that question by saying, “Here I am!” You see, you and I can be this woman. God’s Word gives examples of many virtuous women: He points us to Ruth, who was “a virtuous woman” (Ruth 3:11); Mary, the mother of Jesus; Phoebe and Lydia, women who helped Paul and served the early church; and many more examples! Each woman feared the Lord and was truly beautiful from the inside out.

A virtuous woman is rare—a distinc­t, exceptional, treasure—but according to God, the Author of all beauty, you and I can become one. You and I can be beautiful in His eyes!

A PRAYER TO PRAY
Dear Lord, Your Word is clear about what true beauty is—to love and revere You. Help me be a woman of virtue … a woman who is beautiful in Your eyes. Amen.

MORE ENCOURAGEMENT
Beautiful in God’s Eyes 
shares more insights about how God defines beauty and reveals His plan for a woman’s success.

REFLECTION
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

What has been my impression when I’ve heard about or read the Proverbs 31 woman? Do I long to be a virtuous woman?

REMEMBER
Beauty is more than skin deep. It starts in the heart and works outward.

God’s Purpose for You

Purpose

Knowing your purpose as a Christian woman is important. To drift aimlessly through your precious days is tiresome, frustrating, and unrewarding. It would be a great tragedy to wake up one day and realize all you could have accomplished if you had focused on some worthy goals along the way.

But so many voices shout at us and suggest innumerous goals for us. How are we to pursue our purpose if we can’t pinpoint it? If we read it, God’s Word will rise above the clamor and give us the answer. And here’s amazing news … God doesn’t ask a thousand or even a hundred things of His women.

The Lord asks us to focus on a mere 10 things. These will help us pursue His purpose for us—to love Him and others, to serve people, and to reflect Him. Let’s take a quick look at this list in Titus 2:3-5 for the essentials on which to focus our time and energies. We are to be: 

  • Godly in our behavior.
  • Kind and truthful in our speech.
  • Self-controlled and disiplined.
  • Devoted wives to our husband.
  • Devoted moms to our kids.
  • Wise in our actions.
  • Pure on the outside and inside.
  • Focused on the management of our home.
  • Good to all we meet.
  • A teacher of good things.

It’s liberating to know and pursue your purpose in life. Are you already living out your purpose? If so, continue to focus your time and energies on it. If not, spend time examining Jesus’ life. Now that you know this list, His purpose for you is not as mysterious as you may have thought.

Pay close attention to His focus and confidence as He lived God’s pur­pose on a daily basis. Notice how He fixed His gaze on God’s plan for Him. And be encouraged! As a woman who is seeking God’s plan, you are already evidencing purpose. You are reflect­ing Jesus as you live out His instructions to “seek first the king­dom of God” (Matthew 6:33).

A PRAYER TO PRAY
Dear Lord, You are so gracious to give Your children a purpose in life. Help me fulfill it by loving You and others by living out this list from Titus. Amen.

MORE ENCOURAGEMENT
In Proverbs for a Woman’s Day, Elizabeth George takes you on a journey through the 31 chapters of Proverbs, which cover the matters closest to your heart. Don’t guess about the next step and hope for the best. Get a clear view of the right path as you follow God’s wisdom through this book!

REFLECTION
“Seek first the king­dom of God” (Matthew 6:33).

Of the 10 items on the list from Titus, which ones am I already pursuing? Which ones do I need to begin pursuing?

REMEMBER
God’s purpose for us—to love Him and others, to serve people, and to reflect Him.

Teen Tuesday: Dating “A-List”

dating

The choices you make about dating will be some of the most important ones you make in your life. That’s why you should make plans now for when you may date in the future. Wait to date until you’re ready to look for a life partner. But until then, let’s do some homework.

Make a list of ideal qualities for your future spouse.
You can find these in the Bible. God’s Word has a lot to say about a godly woman’s character (see Proverbs 31).
And about a godly guy’s character (1 Timothy 6:11). Take your time to read and study these biblical standards.

Next, ask for God’s help to allow you to spot these qualities
in the lives of the girls or guys in your church or youth group.

And last, remember to ask for your parents’ advice.
Then, with all this input, make your “A list” of things you’d like in a person you will date.

Keep your list handy when you’re ready to date. Refer back to your list when you start the dating process, when you meet someone, and when you think you’re in love. These godly standards will be a useful guide for choosing the right person to date.

Meanwhile, while you are waiting and looking, prepare yourself to match the qualities on your list. Allow God to work on your godly characteristics. And remember to be patient …some qualities take years to develop.

A PRAYER TO PRAY
Dear Lord, please help me control my personal purity. Give me wisdom to do what is necessary to keep myself pure in body, soul, mind, and spirit. I will wait patiently wait for Your best to arrive. Amen.

MORE ENCOURAGEMENT
If you wish to encourage your son or daughter about additional teen-life issues, you will find a great resource in A Young Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices or A Young Man’s Guide to Making Right Choices.

REFLECTION
“… pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11b)

Teens: What’s on my “A-List” of dating qualities?
Parents: What qualities do I desire the most in the person my teen will date? Have I shared these qualities with my teen?

REMEMBER
Godly standards are a useful guide for choosing the right person to date.

Giving Generously

 

Generously

“Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” (Luke 6:30)

My husband, Jim, has given away our cars, our groceries, our money, his clothes, and our home to be used by others when we are away! He follows Jesus’ command to give to everyone (Luke 6:30), hoping for nothing in return (Luke 6:35). Giving generously can be difficult though, can’t it? Especially when God calls us to give in the generous way He does. He even gives to those who are unthankful and evil … and expects us to do the same (verse 35)!

I’m learning to be more generous and to care for others by giving (verse 38). One woman who truly inspired me is my friend Billie. While Jim and I lived as missionaries in Singapore, Billie and her husband came for a visit. As we shopped the port harbor and street vendors, my friend bought two of everything—and then she gifted me the second of each (batik clothes, Christmas ornaments, dinnerware) before she left! What an unexpected delight.

You and I may not give away cars, clothing, or china every day. But we can give joy to others by giving what we have generously.  Here are a few ideas:

Determine to withhold nothing—Proverbs 3:27 tells us, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.” What is “in the power of your hand”? Think non-tangible items for a moment … perhaps encouragement, a note of thanks, being kind, a helpful deed, or a note of appreciation. These are just a few of the good things we can choose to share.

Become a generous soul—Give both material and non-material blessings bountifully, cheerfully, above and beyond (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)! Here’s motivation for you: “The generous soul will be made rich.” (Proverbs 11:25) Becoming a “generous soul” can be a process, but it’s worth it.

Give of yourself—Your presence alone can be a source of comfort. Don’t worry if you don’t have the right words to say or the perfect scripture to share. In many situations, your touch can bring far more comfort than words. Keep these in mind: a smile, warm ques­tion, gentle touch, tender hug, and use of a person’s name.

By God’s blessing, I’ve grown to enjoy giving. A simple way that helped me is by regularly asking God, “Who can I give to that is in need? How can I bless others with the blessings You’ve given me?” Financial giving was part of the answer, but my giving went beyond money. It touched every part of my soul and possessions. You and I have groceries in our cupboards, clothes someone else could wear, baby items a mother may need, encouraging books to edify others. By God’s grace and transforming power, He can give us open and generous hearts to meet the needs of those around us.

A Prayer to Pray
Dear Lord, thank You for Your Word that shows me how to give without holding back. Please forgive me for the times I withhold my blessings from those on need. Show me how to grow in generosity. Amen.

For More Encouragement
A Woman After God’s Own Heart helps you experience real peace and joy as you follow God in every area of your life–and become a woman after His heart. With warmth and grace, Elizabeth shares practical, scriptural insights in this helpful book on how you can pursue God’s priorities.

Reflection
Who has the Lord put in my path that I can give to today who is in need?

Remember
Give both material and non-material blessings bountifully, cheerfully, above and beyond (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)!

Unmet Expectations

Expectations

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

When I was a young mother, I strived to “train a child in the way he should go,” so that, “when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). A decade later, however, the expectations I’d had for my kids weren’t coming to fruition. Angry, I said to God, “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be for my family! I did just like the Smith family, but I’m getting different results!

Like a child who doesn’t get her way, I threw a spiritual tantrum. I used my time and energy arguing with and battling against God. Then one day, in between my rantings, I took time to listen to what God seemed to be saying. “But, this is the way it is. What are you going to do with the way it really is?” I realized I had to quit fussing, embrace my present, and quit denying the reality that was before me. After all, it wasn’t helping me, my kids, or my marriage.

You see, because of my unmet expectations, I had been postponing doing anything to improve the situation. Since I didn’t like what was on my plate, I decided not to deal with the circumstances. The truth was that as long as I maintained that attitude—as long as I didn’t accept reality—no progress or change could take place.

Maybe you struggle with unmet expectations too. One of the most common areas of disappointment for women is in our marriages. It’s oftentimes difficult to face the less-than-desired reality in them. For most of us, our fantasies, expectations, and dreams about what marriage will be are usually different from the day-to-day realities of married life.

So, the questions that face our unmet expectations are:

What am I going to do about the way it is?
What solution or plan does God want me to pursue as a remedy?

You see, once we accept our reality, we can then use our time and energy to make it better. So, challenge yourself today to acknowledge unmet expectations. Then, accept what is real and commit to trust that God oversees and has overseen every detail of your life —your singleness, your marriage, your family, your job, your every circumstance. This will guide you to act on what is true and real (Philippians 4:8), rather than resent reality and idly wait for fantasies to magically materialize.

A Prayer to Pray
Dear Lord, with a heart full of faith and hope, and with You by my side, I will let go of unmet expectations. By Your great grace, I’ll trust that my circumstances are for my good and Your glory. And through Your strength, I’ll pursue wisdom to make needed changes. Amen.

More Encouragement
You will find more about God’s wonderful character in Loving God with All Your Mind.

Reflection
What action am I postponing by denying the reality of a specific circumstance in my life? When have I faced reality and positively changed the situation that was holding me back?

Remember
God oversees and has overseen every detail of your life —your singleness, your marriage, your family, your job, your every circumstance.

Letting Go of The Past

Past

“I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old.” (Psalm 77:11). 

I’ve known many women who have struggled with the if-only’s of their past … If only I had attended school … If only I had made a different decision … If only ….

For many years after I accepted Christ, I thought, “If only I had become a Christian sooner!” I reasoned that if I’d known Jesus sooner, I would have had God’s guidelines for marriage and for raising our two daughters. The almost ten years of marriage before I knew Christ were rough years indeed. And adding two children hadn’t helped! Can you relate?

If-only thinking is counterproductive. It breeds regret, and remorse, because it is impossible to change the past. We must follow God’s Word and deal with what is now, true, and real … what is happening today. There is no value in rehashing the past. And when we succumb to if-only thinking, we fail to acknowledge God’s role in our past.

Romans 8:28-29 is God’s promise that He will overrule the bad of the past and use it for good to make us more like Christ. By His transforming power, God will redeem even the most painful and perplexing moments of your past.

While it’s not healthy to ponder the negatives of our past, it’s good to note these exceptions to reflections on your past. It is good to …

Remember lessons learned from our past mistakes. Those lessons grow us in wisdom.

Recall God’s past wondrous works and faithfulness. Our faith is strengthened when we recount how God sustained and carried us through our trials.

Scripture encourages us to meditate on God’s goodness in the past whenever the trials of the present feel overwhelming. “I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old” (Psalm 77:11). The next time you’re tempted to entertain if-only thinking and look back at your past with regret… instead recall and give thanks for God’s faithfulness!

A PRAYER TO PRAY
Lord, I can be hard on myself for past choices I made. Thank You that You have forgiven me and You love me. Please help me release the past and embrace Your good plan for my life. Guide me through this new year according to Your will and ways. Amen.

MORE ENCOURAGEMENT
A Woman After God’s Own Heart 
helps you experience real peace and joy as you follow God in every area of your life–and become a woman after His heart. With warmth and grace, Elizabeth shares practical, scriptural insights in this book on how you can pursue God’s priorities.

REFLECTION
What are three ways I can recount God’s faithfulness to me in past difficulties?

REMEMBER
God was with you in the past … He is with you in the present … and He will be with you tomorrow (Psalm 73:23-24).

What Do You Pray For?

Pray

“Let us… come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

As you think about life and the New Year, what important events await you? What guid­ance do you long for about your future, for your health or job, or for your marriage? The Gospels share an important lesson about how Jesus prepared for each season of His life on earth. He prayed before important events and about important decisions.

Your ministry merits prayer—Jesus’ baptism marked the beginning of His public ministry. How did He approach this momentous occasion? By offering up His first recorded prayer:

“When all the people were baptized … Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended” (Luke 3:21-22).

The work God has given you is your ministry (see 1 Corinthians 12:7, 11, 18). Whether it is caring for an aging parent, raising your children, mentoring young women, or shining His light in your office … your ministry merits— and requires—your prayers.

Your relationships need prayer—Jesus chose 12 people as His inner circle of friends, leaders given special authority to deliver His message to the world. How did Jesus choose His apostles? By seeking God for an answer:

“He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day… He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13).

Jesus shows the importance of praying when we need to make decisions about relationships. This is a good reminder when we long for godly sisters-in-Christ, need direction about difficult friendships, or seek wisdom regarding our spouse.

Your hardships require prayer—As Jesus’ time on earth was coming to a close, He knew His death on the cross was ahead of Him. He went with the disciples to the Garden of Geth­semane … His usual place of prayer, to pray. Though His impending crucifixion would be excruciatingly painful, the Lord’s anguish had little to do with fear of the physical tor­ture. His soul was in agony because of the cup of divine judgment against sin He would soon drink. How did Jesus handle this horrendous situation?

“He … fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me'” (Matthew 26:39). As He continued to pray, His prayers changed. They began to reflect the powerful strength of His resolve: “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (verse 42).

You and I will never experience anything like Jesus did as He prepared for and endured His death on a cross. But we will suffer in this lifetime—physical and emotional pain, a lack in our lives, trying relationships, challenging circumstances, and more! To pre­pare for and endure life’s challenges, we must follow Jesus’ habit of prayer that teaches us how to tap into God’s power and grace, too.

A PRAYER TO PRAY
Dear Lord, it is amazing that we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Please help me make consistent and powerful prayer a regular part of my life. Amen.

MORE ENCOURAGEMENT
In Knowing God Through Prayer by Jim George, he shares the keys to meaningful communion with God. We could all benefit from some guidance on how to pray with more fervor and faithfulness. And there are no better prayer mentors than the men and women of the Bible. They talked with God and touched His heart. Get to know them through this great resource!

REFLECTION
Is my first response to trouble and hardship to pray?

REMEMBER
We are at the start of a New Year. Three-hundred and sixty-five days, 12 months, 8,760 hours filled with new highs, new lows, new joys, and new fears. Cover each one in prayer!

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George


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