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“Seek Ye First”

If you’re like us, you want your children to have some of the things you didn’t have when you were growing up. And you certainly don’t want them to make the same mistakes you did. Put another way, you want them to have a better life, to live a better life.

Do you worry about the social and financial status of your children? Many parents worry about their children going to the “best” schools, living in the “best” neighborhood, meeting the “right” people for the connections needed to get ahead. Dreaming about bettering your children’s lives is not a bad thing. You definitely should want to make sure your children are properly educated and develop self-discipline and self-motivation. And you should want your children to succeed and contribute positively to society and their future families. But you should never desire these things at the expense of godly principles.

Focus your attention on living for God and trusting in His care. Then train your children in righteousness. Show them the way—and the why—of making choices that please God. In the words of Jesus,

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33 NIV).

Lord, remind us daily that when we put You first, You will take care of everything else—including our children.

From Jim’s Heart—The Impact of Spiritual Growth

Here are a few questions about your spiritual growth:

Do you want to be a strong, maturing man of God? Then take care of your first priority, which is to develop a closer relationship with God.

Do you want to be a great husband? Through your time spent with God and in His Word, you will find the answers to everything you need to know about loving and caring for your wife.

Do you want to be a good father? Then cultivate a friendship with God that seeks to depend upon His Word for wisdom. This intimacy with your Father in heaven will give you the wisdom you need for raising your children.

Do you care about your coworkers? If so, you’ll want to have the kind of relationship with God that allows the Spirit of God to work through your life and point others to Him.

Do you want your life to make an impact? If you are ready to begin or accelerate your growth process, then the place to start is with God. Tell Him of your renewed or reinvigorated desire to grow spiritually. Then do whatever must be done.

Making Time Count

Here’s a great end-of-the-day exercise: Evaluate your day and note what you did that wasted time—too much TV or internet? Too much texting? Too much negotiating bath and bedtime with your kids? The Bible just happens to have a checklist that shows you your priorities. Take a look at Titus 2:3-5: “Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands” (NIV).

Make these “essentials” your priorities. Plan them into your days with intention and deliberation. You’ll be amazed at the positive changes in your use of time. And it’ll make a huge difference in what you focus on and how you spend your days.

Lord, thank You for the inspiration of knowing Your life essentials. I need a giant boost of hope and energy. Help me remember to wake up each morning excited to practice Your priorities—to make my time count!

From Jim’s Heart—A Healthy Perspective

God cares about your body and health. Scripture says that…

  • Your body is a stewardship from God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
  • Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians3:16).
  • Your body is meant to glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

So how are you doing? Many people today could eat better and definitely use more exercise. Are you among them? Do you view your body as something that God has entrusted into your care? Having that perspective may help you be more diligent about your physical health. And that, in turn, will help you to enjoy life more and live a better quality of life.

God, I realize the strong connection between my physical and spiritual health. Show me how to be a good steward of my body and how to glorify You with it. Lead me, Lord. Teach me. Amen.

Golden Day Perspective

“My life right now is like my 401(k)–about half its worth!” There’s no question: Life can seem hopeless and pointless at times. But imagine being a woman who can treat each day as if it—and it alone—were a God-given, golden day. Looking at your day from a “golden day” perspective helps you practice priorities. And it’s also “the why” that will motivate you to carry them out.

But what if your day has been one of failure? A day for merely surviving? Thanks be to God who enables you to forget today and reach forward to tomorrow! It’s just as Philippians 3:14 NASB says, “Press on toward the goal” — again, and again, and again. Keep following after God’s heart no matter what.

Lord, help me look to You when my day is going well… and when it’s looking bleak. I want to serve You and honor You in everything I do. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart — The Value of Goals

What are your goals in life? Have you defined them yet? Goals can help you in dozens of ways. For example,…

Goals give definition — they take daydreams and make them concrete.
Goals give focus — they help you know how to spend your time, and set aside time-wasters.
Goals give motivation — they give you something to aim for; they help prod you onward when the going gets rough.
Goals help you with decision-making — they equip you to make the best decisions about how to spend your time, money, and energy.
Goals help you to have an impact — when you achieve them, you’ll have grown as a person and hopefully others will benefit from your efforts.

So set some goals… and become the kind of person who makes a difference!

Lord, guide me as I assess my goals today. Help me set constructive goals, prioritize them appropriately, and submit them to Your leadership. May my goals lead me to my highest goal of knowing You better each day. Amen.

Your Priorities Are Showing

What do your calendar, “to do” list, weekly commitments—and even your checkbook register—say about you? What do they suggest about your walk with God? About your priorities? Take a look. Is what you see based on solid priorities you believe in, or on the desires and whims formulated by what you see and hear via people and advertising?

Prayerfully consider what changes you need to make to set your priorities on what you believe about God and His call to service, on what He says about helping others. Jesus said, “…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Moses prayed in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” A heart of wisdom! That’s exactly what you need as you live the priorities you and God hold dear. So, where is your heart?

Lord, I’m so easily swayed by advertising and wanting what I want and what other people have. Every time I’m ready to spend money, remind me to stop and remember that You are my priority… and that You provide my income so I can serve You, provide for my family, and promote Your kingdom. Amen.

Make It Your Resolve

What is it about resolutions that fill us with delightful anticipation… and dread? At first we are hopeful. But unfortunately we begin to doubt our ability to keep a resolution. Embrace this list of godly resolutions so that you have the strength of the Lord leading the way:

  1. Never worry about your self-worth, but instead…
  2. Rejoice in your worth to God. Psalm 139:14 says you are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
  3. Determine you’re going to seek a deeper relationship with God and
  4. Walk by faith even when you don’t always understand God’s direction.

How much time are you spending each day in God’s Word? How much time in prayer? It’s not a matter of legalism, but of relishing what you have in Christ! Doing these things will give you the strength and hope each day to follow through with your resolve to reflect God’s glory in your life.

Lord, give me the hope and faith of godly resolutions in this new year. With Your leading and Your power and grace, I can accomplish anything—and all things! Amen.

The Divine Criteria for Success

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Joshua 1:8

I’m not going to tell you, “Read through your Bible every week…or four times a year… or once a year… or read through a different translation of the Bible every year…or read 15 chapters a day.” And certainly my message is not that you need to go to Bible school, a Bible institute, or a seminary. No, I want you to know the foundational element of success according to Joshua 1:8 — ”this Book of the Law.” The Bible is the starting place for everything that matters, for all that really counts for success.

In this verse, God is speaking to Joshua. He’s giving him a new job assignment — to lead God’s people into unfamiliar territory, to conquer it, to divide it, and to settle it. How will Joshua know if he’s successful? And what is success? It’s not wealth. It’s not a title or a position. It’s not what you own, who you know, or a list of accomplishments. And it’s not being named in a Who’s Who book. No, success according to God and as recorded in Joshua 1:8 is:

  • knowing God’s Word
  • reading and studying God’s Word
  • thinking about God’s Word
  • obeying God’s Word
  • speaking God’s Word
  • following God’s Word with all your heart

When we follow this divine criteria, we’re succeeding in God’s eyes and useful to Him for fulfilling His purposes. We may not measure up to the world’s expectations or its definitions of success, but God is well pleased.

Christmas – The Birth of Our Savior

Are you wondering, “Why do I need a Savior?” Many people ask this question when the Christmas season approaches. This the reason Joseph was given regarding Jesus’ birth: “And [Mary] will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Consider all that Jesus the Christ, offers you and me. He:

S-ubstitutes His sinless life for our sinful one (2 Corinthians 5:21);
A-assures us of eternal life (John 10:28-29);
V-anquishes Satan’s hold on our life (2 Timothy 2:26);
I-nitiates us into the family of God (Galatians 4:4-6);
O-verthrows the power of sin (Romans 6:1-10); and
R-econciles us to a holy God (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Are you saved? Do you enjoy in Jesus Christ all that the word “SAVIOR” represents? If not, you can name Jesus your Savior right now. Pray, “Forgive my sins! Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.” You can begin your walk with the Savior today.

Pray and thank God for these truths. Rejoice, sing, and shout, “Hallelujah, what a Savior!”