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From Jim’s Heart—A Heart That Praises

What usually comes to mind when you think about David? If you’re like me, you tend to think about David’s “macho” achievements. He fought a lion and a bear. He felled a giant. He was a mighty man of war, conquering many foes. He was feared by his enemies. He was one of the greatest kings of the ancient world. There’s no doubt David was a man’s man, a leader’s leader, and a warrior’s warrior.

And yet David was a man with a tender heart toward God. He was a man who was constantly praising his God. He even characterized himself as “Israel’s singer of songs,” saying “[God’s] word was on my tongue.” David was one whom “the Spirit of the Lord spoke through” (2 Samuel 23:1-2).

David may not have always done things right, but God was never far from his thoughts…

I will give thanks to the Lord… and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High (Psalm 7:17).

Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name (Psalm 30:4).

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him (Psalm 33:1).

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips (Psalm 34:1).

David sets a good example for us; doesn’t he? He shows us that a man or woman after God’s own heart is a person who is not afraid to verbalize love for God. David’s heart uttered praise upon praise throughout his day.

You too, as a person who loves God, should not hesitate to praise God. Whether while working at your job, driving out on the freeway, getting some exercise, or relaxing at home with your family, you can offer up praise to God in your heart and with your lips (Hebrews 13:15).

Shining Lights

Do you know what your purpose is? Can you boldly declare, “For this I was born” and know what the “this” is? Jesus could! He clearly stated, “For this cause I was born” when He was questioned by Pilate (John18:37). Jesus went on to say, “I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

Are living out your purpose for God’s good pleasure without murmuring and disputing? Are you studying and taking God’s instructions to heart and being obedient so you can discover your great purpose in Christ? You have been given the gift of being a child of God. Your heavenly Father wants to see you shine for Him. For this cause… for this privilege… you were born—to shine light into the world.

Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.
Philippians 2:14-16

From Jim’s Heart—God’s Strength Is Available to You!

You are called to live boldly by different standards—God’s standards. Yes, it will be difficult, but such hardship is nothing compared to what you’ll gain—God’s blessing for your obedience and a clear conscience for doing what is right.

The secret of obedience is that what God expects you to do, He also enables you to do. The strength to obey Him comes from Him. You just need a willing heart.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). God has made this strength available to you, and it’s pretty remarkable. Paul spoke of “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 1:19).

It’s a fact—The power of God triumphs over all else. And you have access to it. How? Through full dependence upon Him, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (6:18).

Lord, this is amazing! When I say yes to You—and mean it—You give me the strength to follow through. Thank You for the “exceeding greatness” of Your power in me! Amen.

From Elizabeth’s Heart – Counting on God’s Grace and Peace

You, my friend, are a truly special woman! Do you know how I know? Because you are pursuing grace and peace by spending time in these devotions and in God’s Word. When God lives within you, His Spirit causes you to yearn for a gentle calm in your life.

Are you struggling or suffering? Are you facing a painful loss? A common response women have when they’re first asked to contemplate a “gentle and quiet spirit” is to declare, “But I can’t be like that! I can’t remain calm when there’s trouble.” This is true, if you are relying on your own strength. But when you appropriate God’s great enablers—His grace and His peace—you can achieve gentleness and calmness even during hard times. You just need to:

  • Count on God’s grace. It’s given. It’s here. It’s available.
  • Pray for God’s grace. Your awareness of God’s grace will expand when you give more things and more of you to Him.
  • Get on with life. Regardless of your struggles, it’s possible—and important—to have something positive to show for your suffering, including a greater knowledge of how much God loves you, cares for you, and provides for you.

It’s encouraging to think about God’s grace and peace. They are two of the loveliest, most restful gifts He bestows on us.

Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
1 Peter 1:2

From Jim’s Heart—Keeping Your Eye on the Prize

Because following God in obedience has its challenges, it’s the less-traveled path. Disobedience, on the other hand, is the more well-worn way. In fact, it is characterized by gridlock! Why? Because it’s the easy way out. It’s the road we’re tempted to take when things get sticky or uncomfortable or confusing. It’s the path of least resistance. And sadly, it’s the path that makes us men of little or no positive impact.

As you run the long-distance race for Christ, you will definitely face daily hurdles that trip you up, knock you down, or pressure you to compromise God’s standards. That’s why Paul urges you to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:14). If you keep your eye on the prize at the finish line—the prize of being with Jesus and knowing Him more fully—you’ll have what it takes to overcome life’s challenges.

God, instead of sneaking around the hurdles of life on the path of least resistance, I want to sail over those challenges on the high road of obedience. Please help me. Amen.

Growing in Him

Laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. —1 Peter 2:1-3

Are you thirsty? Are you craving time in God’s Word? Peter instructs us to yearn for the Word of God as a baby needs milk. This reflects the way our longing should feel as we thirst for knowledge of God. It’s also a lovely reminder that studying God’s Word should never be a labor; it should always be a delight. Filling up on God’s promises and instructions is a satisfying, nourishing, enlightening experience.

Make it a goal to grow in the Lord. To do this calls for you to discard behaviors that are unlike your God. To embrace the spiritual truths found in God’s Word. Getting rid of the bad and desiring the good are actions you can take each and every day of your life. No matter how long you have been a believer—10, 20, or 30 years—you should still crave the Word of God. In fact, the desire increases the more you grow in Christ!

God calls you to discard… and to desire. Make God’s goal your goal. Purge whatever is not righteous and good in your life so you can grow in Him.

From Jim’s Heart—Pay Attention to God’s Word

If you struggle with obeying God, ask Him to give you His strength to obey His commands. That strength will come as you…

  • Faithfully read God’s Word
  • Faithfully hear the teaching of God’s Word
  • Faithfully seek wise counsel from God’s Word
  • Faithfully deal with sin [OMIT in your life] as revealed in God’s Word

Can you see how the Bible is such an important part of every-day life? Your willingness to obey the Lord is key to experiencing God’s blessings, and it will enable you to become a man or woman God can use to make a difference.

Lord, thank You for pouring Your strength into me as I pay more attention attend to Your Word. May every blessing and every trial in my life turn my [omit obedient] attention to obeying Your Word. Amen.

Making the Most of Opportunity

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and [money].
—Luke 16:13

Whether we acknowledge it or not, nothing that is ours is truly ours. A steward is “one who is accountable to another.” In our case, we answer to God for all He entrusts us with. Keep in mind these words from the apostle Paul: “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Are you faithful? Which representation of worldly wealth is your biggest obstacle to godly stewardship? Your house? Your possessions? For many of us it’s money. Here is God’s wisdom: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Stored riches on earth will break down and can be stolen. But those treasures we place in heaven will be preserved forever. The Bible tells us to focus on the eternal:

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed (1 Timothy 6:17-19 NASB).

My friend, place your trust in God alone. Ask Him today to help you make the most of the opportunities He brings your way. Seek to become rich in good works for God. Use your finances to help others. Give Richly. Serve sacrificially. And above all, love unconditionally.

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.