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From Jim’s Heart – Faithful God

Do you ever think about the fact that God knows, in advance, everything that will happen?

That means there is nothing that takes God by surprise – even the difficult crises in your life. So when you find yourself worried about tomorrow, lift your cares up to the Lord. He already knows the future, and because He is faithful, He will give you whatever you need to persevere through your problems. In the same way that He sustained the psalmist “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4), He will preserve and comfort you in every trial you face. That’s why you can rejoice with David and say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (verse 6)!

God, I don’t know what might happen tomorrow,
but You do. I can’t cause good to come from any crisis,
but You can. I won’t always be able to meet my own needs, but You will.
I thank You with all my heart.
Amen

Prayers for Friends

When we love people, we can’t help but pray for them because we carry them in our hearts! And when friends are far away and we’re unable to express our love and support personally, we can pray, knowing that God hears us. Jesus prayed for His disciples. Paul prayed for the believers in Philippi, the Christians in Colossae, and his friends in Ephesus. When it comes to your friends and friendships, there are many reasons to turn to God in prayer! What can you do?

—Praise God for your friends. You’ve been blessed with special people in your life. Give thanks for them.

—Pray for their spiritual insight. Paul prayed for believers to have their spiritual eyes opened so they would recognize their spiritual blessings.

Every prayer you lift up for your friends reaches God’s ears and heart. Ask Him to use His power, might, strength, and wisdom to help the people you care about.

Lord, thank You for hearing my prayers for my friends. For those who don’t know You, help me be an example of Your love and grace. And for those friends who know You, I pray they will see Your hand in their lives.

From Jim’s Heart – Spiritual Power

When we first meet Stephen in the Bible, he is selected by the early church apostles to take care of the needs of the widows in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-6). Later we see him standing before the rulers of Israel and powerfully admonishing them for their unbelief in Christ (Acts 7:2-53). Also consider Priscilla and Aquila, who are introduced as tent makers (Acts 18:1-3). Later we see them open their home to the formation of the church, invite missionaries to stay over, work shoulder to shoulder in ministry, and forge ahead fearlessly in service to God, even in the face of persecution.

Where did Stephen and this dynamic couple get their power for ministry? The answer comes from Jesus. Before He left earth, He explained, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8).

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit empowered a small number of individuals – like Moses and David – for specific purposes. But from the New Testament onward, the Holy Spirit has come into the life of every follower of Christ. That means you have His empowerment available for a lifetime – for a ministry, for living a God-honoring life, at all times! It gives us the conviction, courage, and confidence to live for Christ.

My friend, when God asks you to accomplish something, He provides all the resources you need to succeed. Like Stephen and Priscilla and Aquila, God gives you His Holy Spirit so you can be a witness for Him and accomplish great things for His kingdom.

Leaving the Old

When you became a believer, you entered into an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus. When you embrace Him as Savior, you put into motion a lifelong process of putting off the sinful ways of mankind and putting on the nature and conduct of a new creation in Christ.

As part of this process, amazingly the bad attitudes and habits you’ve added to your life over the years start falling by the wayside. With God’s help, you begin to get rid of attitudes that are far from flattering and don’t fit your life in Christ – selfishness, anger, ignorance, impatience, envy, etc. As you toss these out of your closet of choices, you discover, instead, how to dress in the wonderful attributes God.

As you think about “putting off” and “putting on,” do any behaviors, faults, shortcomings, or areas of sin immediately pop into your mind? Turn these over to Jesus immediately.

Live as the son or daughter of the King of kings! Start every morning by talking to Him, asking Him to guide you and give you strength to live for Him. Leave the old life behind. Study His Word and put His wisdom and principles into your daily life.

From Jim’s Heart – Hope in the Hard Times

When something terrible happens in your life, are you ever tempted to ask, “What good could possibly come out of this?” It looks like a disaster. It feels like a disaster. Therefore you conclude, “It is a disaster!”

That’s when you want to remember God’s promise, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you… thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). And then there’s Romans 8:28, which says, “All things work together for good to those who love God.”

God doesn’t tell you that you will escape suffering or pain. Rather, He promises to miraculously use even bad situations for your ultimate good, and He assures you that you have a great future ahead of you. Let these promises sustain you when you find it’s hard to have hope.

Father, when I suffer, please strengthen me with Your Word and Your Spirit
so I can endure with joy, knowing that You ultimately have
great things in store for me. Amen.

Handling Life’s Crises

Jesus’ mother, Mary, was living in the center of a huge crisis. She was single and pregnant, which was a public disgrace and punishable by stoning. She was engaged to a righteous man, who was sure to be hurt and would surely want nothing to do with her. As Mary appears to have silently trusted in God. You and I have a front-row seat as we watch how Joseph handled his crisis and assisted Mary in handling hers. Note three qualities that mark the way Joseph handled a major life crisis:

  • Righteous—Joseph was a man who desired to handle the situations and crises of his life in the right way—God’s way. As he thought through his situation regarding Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph determined to do the right thing according to the Old Testament and divorce or cancel the marriage.
  • Respectful—But when God said no to Joseph’s plan, Joseph respectfully followed God’s instructions. He didn’t fully understand what was happening, but he submitted to God’s will and instructions and stayed with Mary.
  • Responsible—Although Joseph was “afraid” of possible and probable consequences and may have been hurt or upset, he responded immediately to the angel’s message and took on the responsibility for Mary and her Son.

What seemed to be a crisis in Mary’s and Joseph’s lives was God working out His will for this couple. When you encounter rough times you, like Mary and Joseph, you will find God’s grace to be sufficient as you seek to handle life’s crises… His way.

From Jim’s Heart – Your Wife, Your Friend

How would you define intimacy? If you’re like most men, you probably think of terms of sexual intimacy or lovemaking. While that is a part of intimacy, there’s definitely more to the definition. It also refers to great closeness—the kind that the closest of friends share, in which they feel they can talk about anything.

Are you enjoying that kind of friendship with your wife? Sometimes the friendship part of marriages goes through a dry spell, but this doesn’t need to last. Purpose in your heart to cultivate both friendship and marital intimacy with your wife. Build the kind of relationship where she can say of you, “This is my beloved, and this is my friend” (Song of Solomon 5:16).

God, you can make all things new –
including my friendship with my wife.
As You renew us individually day by day,
may our relationship also experience new life as we follow You.

Submit to Your Authority

A windstorm came down on the lake, and [the boat was] filling with water, and they were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” —Luke 3:23-25

Over and over we read about submission to authority in the Bible. Recognizing and submitting to authority is no easy assignment for any of us. We want to be in control of our lives and circumstances… at least until a crisis comes along.

Jesus shows us His divine control over all things so we know we can trust Him with our lives and all its ups and downs. The Son of Man has authority over nature, demons, disease, and death. When the disciples were in the boat with Jesus, and the storms came and the waters began to rush into the boat, they ran to Him. They didn’t trust that God was already in control of the situation. Their lack of faith was evident in their fear. They cried out, “We are perishing!” No wonder Jesus asks them, “Where is your faith?”

Don’t wait until the boat is sinking to recognize Jesus’ authority and call for help. Submit now and marvel at the ministry of the Son of Man in your life. You’ll be amazed by the peace, contentment, and calm that will flood your life.

From Jim’s Heart – Exactly Where You Should Be

Do you know what I believe is the best reward for obedience, what I believe to be one of the most compelling reasons for choosing to obey God? It is this: Obedience leads to a powerful, confident life. When you are obedient, and when you allow yourself to be led by God through the unexpected, you then have a confidence based on the fact that you know you are exactly where God wants you to be. You won’t find yourself doubting the circumstances in your life or the direction things are going.

Although you might not know exactly where God’s will is taking you, you can trust God to watch over and stay with you. And even though life may take surprising turns, the way is not unexpected to God. He knows what is happening and why. All He calls you to do is to trust Him. Walk in confidence knowing that “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4).

Lord, thank You for leading me to the center of Your will.
Help me to see Your hand in everything that comes my way
as I follow You today. Amen.

Favoritism

It seems that no matter what our status in life is, there are others who are better looking, wealthier, and more talented than we are…and there are always others who “fall beneath us” in some way. It seems like we spend our lives looking up at some and down on others.

The truth is that there is no positive side of favoritism. That’s why James points us to a better – a glorious – standard. That standard of impartiality and equality is set by Jesus and presented by James in a way we can understand…

If there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:2-4)

God extended His love toward you by sending His Son to die for your sins and redeem you.

So, the message is clear, isn’t it? You are not honoring God and living His way if you treat anyone with partiality or favoritism. Always remember such behavior is contradictory and incompatible with your salvation — by the grace of God, without partiality.