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Spiritual Nutrition

If you’ve put off your quiet time with God lately, think of regular time in God’s Word like you do nutrition: It’s absolutely necessary to maintain a healthy life. It’s so easy to start your day planning to have a devotional time—a little later. Yet a little later never happens! Suddenly you’re off and running, because you failed to set aside the time for the most important relationship in your life

Can you relate? That’s why you have to have regular scheduled times with God whether you feel like it or not. You might feel like you don’t have the time to spare. And if you feel like that, you need it more than ever. Jesus says that as you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you (James 4:8). What a great promise! Do what you need to do to make it happen, to get the spiritual nutrition you need.

God, I know my time with You is essential to my spiritual, emotional, and physical wellness. Jesus, You are the bread of life. Help me live out the psalmist’s cry: “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek you; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You” (Psalm 63:1). Amen.

From Jim’s Heart–The Key to Focus

Have you ever felt like your life is scattered, as if you’re going in ten different directions at once? Do you ever wish your life was more focused?

If there’s one key lesson we can learn from the apostle Paul, it’s the value of discipline. All his energies were passionately channeled in one direction—toward winning a “crown that will last forever” (I Corinthians 9:25 NIV). Many people chase after earthly prizes and crowns that won’t last, but Paul pursued an eternal prize. He wanted to know Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10). And he counted everything else but loss (3:3-7).

What’s motivating you? Is Christ truly first in your life? When He is, you’ll definitely be focused!

God, I want to be passionate, focused, and directed. Alert me today if I start going in several directions at once. Bring all my responsibilities together into a unified life of following You. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart–Rising to the Occasion

The path of obedience is seldom easy, and it certainly wasn’t easy for the Christians in the New Testament era. When they preached the gospel in Jerusalem, the Jewish religious leaders told them to stop. How did they respond? They rose to the occasion! They courageously declared, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).

And what was the effect of their obedience? “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (verse 31). As a result, people came to Christ, and the church grew, all because they were willing to overcome challenges in their pursuit to obey God. Are you ready to rise to the occasion—to any occasion?

Father, help me recognize the steps of obedience You ask me to make today. And when my commitment is challenged, help me rise to the occasion and glorify You in all I do. Amen.

Make Your Needs Known to God

The Bible exhorts us to make our requests known to God. We are instructed “in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). We are told to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18).

So what does this mean? The word “prayer” is a general term for worshipful conversation with God, but supplication or petition (NIV) refers to a prayer with a sense of need. In other words, there’s something you can—and should—do about the pressing needs in your family, your marriage, your friendships, your schooling, your job, and your everyday life. These, my friend, are specific needs, and you are to petition God in supplication about them—to pray specifically concerning the issues in your life. For instance,

  • Isaac prayed for his wife Rebekah to conceive (Genesis 25:21).
  • Hannah prayed for a son (1 Samuel 1:11).
  • Zacharias prayed for a child (Luke 1:13).
  • Paul prayed for the salvation of his countrymen, for the Philippians, and for Timothy.
  • Jesus prayed about His death (Matthew 26:36-46).

Our Savior and these heroes of faith prayed for specific needs, desires, and requests. And you and I are to do the same. Be faithful to lift up the personal needs in your life and those of your loved ones to God through specific supplications and petitions. Then watch to see how God will answer.

From Jim’s Heart–Parenting is a Partnership

God says to married men, “Husbands, love your wives” (Ephesians5:25). And how you love and care for your wife is a major factor in caring for your children. Why? Because parenting is a partnership. Let me explain…

As you love and care for your wife, she will have a sense of well-being. This, in turn, enables her to better focus her attention on the children. Because of the significant and unique role a mother plays in the lives of her children, your wife’s sense of well-being will affect how she influences and cares for your family. So by loving your wife, you have a positive and powerful impact on your children. That’s one way parenting is a partnership.

This doesn’t mean you can abdicate your duties as a dad. God still requires something of you. He requires that you bring your children up “in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). And when you love your wife, she will eagerly shoulder that responsibility with you. By working as partners, you’ll find the task of parenting much easier. So always keep in mind that one key to your success as a father (on the human level) is your love for your wife. Take a moment each day to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving for the mother of your children—your wife! She’s a special lady and deserves not only your prayers, but your verbal and physical affirmation. Take Solomon’s advice—”may you ever be captivated by her love” (Proverbs 5:19).

A Prudent Woman

Prudent? It sounds so old-fashioned… but what a wonderful attribute for any woman to have. Prudent is exactly what Proverbs 19:14 calls the wife who is from the Lord: “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”

This wife is in a special category. She’s a blessing to her husband directly from the hand of God. With a wife like this, a husband is set for life! Replace the word prudent with disciplinedreasonedpracticaldelightful… and you begin to get the full picture of the meaning of prudence. You are one of the Lord’s greatest gifts to your husband!

And you don’t have to be married to reap the rewards of being a prudent woman. You’ll be blessed… and you’ll be a delight to everyone around you. You’ll be a gift—”from the Lord.”

Lord, teach me to be prudent, to be disciplined. Help me exercise diligence, wisdom, and self-control in all I do. Though living prudently requires some daily effort on my part, I know the blessings to me and others make it worthwhile. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—Profitable for All Things

We live in a health-conscious society. Diet plans and exercise regiments abound, and we’re reminded again and again of the benefits of eating right and good physical training.

Even the Bible acknowledges this, saying that bodily exercise “profits” us (1 Timothy 4:8). Yet notice what it says next: “But godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” So while physical training has some value, spiritual training has a lot more. In fact, it’s “profitable for all things.” That includes your marriage, your children, your job, your ministry, and even your life in eternity!

How are you doing in your growth toward godliness—that is, becoming more like God as much as is humanly possible?

Lord, help me assess my spiritual training regimen and make adjustments where necessary. Thank You for the promise that my growth in godliness is not only possible but also profitable! Amen.

A Great Day–Or Is It?

You can plan, schedule, and control—but real life doesn’t always go as smoothly as you’d like, does it? Someone’s upset with you, the car breaks down, you’re in a meeting and the school calls because your child is sick, you get the news your mother has fallen and hurt herself—it’s an endless list.

Galatians 5:22-23 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” As a believer in Christ, you have longsuffering, or patience, as a fruit of the Spirit. Let this verse be a great comfort and reminder when you’re dealing with personal relationships, trying to keep a household together, and managing your workday, along with all the other responsibilities you have. Colossians 3:12 says to “clothe yourselves with… patience.” It’s spiritual fashion at its best!

Jesus, I want to wear my faith well. Grant me patience as I parent my children, encourage my spouse, do my work, and offer a listening ear and open heart to others. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—Developing a Passion for the Church

For many years I lived a lukewarm form of Christianity with little or no involvement in a local church. Call it drifting, call it distraction, call it laziness, call it enamorment with the things of the world, or even sin. Whatever you call it, my heart was not fixed on or consumed with the things of the Lord. Then, by God’s grace, I became aware of the crucial place being a part of a local church should have in my life.

My return to the church began when I met a dynamic Christian man while on the job. God used that one man to ignite within me a new passion for the Lord, for His Word, and for going to church. Then when I began attending church, some godly men began to mentor me and help me grow. The results were literally life-changing, for both me and my family.

Attending church can do that for you and your family, too. If you’re not actively involved, Christ is calling you to “not neglect meeting together” (Hebrews10:25). If you’re not sure whether you’re in the right church, determine to find the best church for you and your family. Determine to be faithful. Determine to be active. Determine to grow. Developing a passion for the church leads to manifold blessings!

Is There a Proper Place to Pray?

You can pray to God at any time, day or night. God never sleeps and is always available (Psalm 121:3). His ears are always open to the righteous, and He hears their prayers (1 Peter 3:12). But do you ever wonder, “Is there a correct or proper place to pray?”

True believers with clean hearts can approach God anywhere with their prayers. This was true in both Old Testament and New Testament times. For example,

  • King David prayed in a cave (Psalm 57).
  • The Israelites prayed in the wilderness (1 Kings 8:33-34, 47-49).
  • Elijah prayed in an upper room in a house (1 Kings 17:20).
  • Daniel prayed in his personal chamber (Daniel 2:19).
  • Sailors prayed in their boat (Jonah 1:13-14).
  • Peter prayed on a housetop (Acts 10:9).
  • Lydia and a group of women prayed by the riverside (Acts 16:13).
  • Paul and Silas prayed in stocks in a prison (Acts 16:25).
  • Paul and the disciples at Tyre prayed on the beach (Acts 21:5).

God’s people are to pray everywhere (1 Timothy 2:8). And that includes you! You can pray from any place, at any time.