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Offer a Helping Hand

As a young child, I remember my mother reading a particular fable to me. While she read, I studied the painting in our storybook that illustrated the fable. It pictured a man who was frantically calling out for help while he was drowning in a river. On the footbridge that spanned the water, another man was casually leaning over the rail looking at the struggling man.

According to the story, the observer was lecturing the man who was drowning beneath him. He was telling him what he ought to have done and letting him know what he should do if he ever got into that situation again. Instead of reaching in with a helping hand and saving the dying man’s life, he talked on and on about what the man who had fallen into the water had done wrong and how he could avoid the same mistake in the future. Clearly the perishing man didn’t need a lecture! He needed help!

And that is what you and I have to do when it comes to praying for those who have fallen and failed. We must help them! We must set aside our disappointment, forsake the lectures, forsake the judgment, forsake the shock, and go to work helping and praying for others, taking heed lest we fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). Sure, correction, instruction, restoration, and rebuilding may come later. But when someone fails and is in trouble, pray and offer a helping hand.

If a man is overtaken in any trespass,
you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness,
considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Galatians 6:1

From Jim’s Heart—Leading by Serving

I’m sure you agree that Jesus Christ was the most influential man who ever lived. No one has or ever will match the impact He had.

What makes Him all the more remarkable is He wasn’t an autocrat. He wasn’t a leader running roughshod over people or demanding respect and obedience. Rather, Jesus was a humble servant. He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life” (Mark 10:45). After He performed the lowly task of washing the disciples’ feet, He said, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15).

Whose feet could you wash today? What opportunities do you have right now to serve rather than be served?

Jesus, You are the King of kings and Lord of lords, yet You chose to live as a humble servant. May I follow in Your steps today as You give me opportunities to serve those around me. Amen.

Lesser Choices

Is your fire for the Lord burning low? You know what happened, don’t you? At some time, for some reason, lesser choices were made and that passion for knowing and following God’s plan got lost. If you want to be a person who lives out God’s will for your life, you must first have a passion for God’s Word. Be purposeful and willing to stick to God’s path.

There is so much at stake. Your own spiritual growth, the lives of those you love, your marriage, your witness to others. What you do and don’t do doesn’t only affect you, it affects everyone and everything. In God’s goodness, it’s not too late to begin to make good, better, and best choices. God is waiting patiently for you.

God, please rekindle my flame of faith. When I first met You, I was hungry for Your Word and so eager to share it. Today, I will walk forward with a renewed spark of belief and commitment. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart—One Man’s Example and Impact

All Scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness,
so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work.

—2 Timothy 3:16-17

Influence isn’t about numbers. No, it’s about individuals. Individuals with a passion, a focus, or an intensity—or all of the above—that drives them forward. It’s this energy that attracts a following, and most men of influence down through the centuries have gained their influence through a crisis, a cause, or a mandate. In the case of the apostle Paul, it was a mandate from God to take the gospel to the Gentiles.

From the first time I heard theologian John MacArthur preach from God’s Word and observed how he viewed the importance of correctly understanding the meaning of Scripture, I saw a man on a mission. His desire was that people would develop a love for the Bible and understand how important it is to the life and faithfulness of every Christian.

Until age 30, I was one of countless Christians who had never thought much about their Bible. I, like so many others, knew many of the Bible stories but never saw their connection to my life. I also didn’t have much to do with my Bible. Oh, I was given a Bible when I was young, and I dutifully carried it to church every Sunday. But I never grasped the importance of the Bible.

It wasn’t until I observed the power and authority of the Bible in John MacArthur’s life and ministry that I longed to know the source of his power and the reasons for his convictions about the Bible. The influence of this one man and his belief in the importance of God’s Word had an impact on my life, and I still feel John’s impact on my life today, 35 years after first hearing him teach and sensing his belief in the grandness of God’s Word. I’m still being shaped by his example.

As you and I study the Bible and embrace its teachings, we too can set an example and influence countless others.

Humility Possesses a Helpful Spirit

Humility is active cooperation, not passive resignation. Humility rolls up its sleeves and says, “Where can I help? What do you want me to do? It doesn’t matter how great or small the task, I’m here to help!”

Unfortunately we also often encounter these women:

  • The “last word” woman—isn’t willing to give encouragement or positive input, but she certainly feels free to tell you how you should have done the job.
  • The “know it all” woman—is the one who constantly interrupts her husband or friends with correct but unimportant information: “No, Harry, it wasn’t seven years ago. It was six years ago.”
  • The “I can top your day” woman—quickly blurts, “You think you had a day! Let me tell you about mine.” What she’s really saying is, “Don’t expect anything from me today.”
  • The “question everything” woman—feels it’s her God-given task to question everything she’s asked to do. Are you sure? Do you really want me to do that? Do you really think this is important?
  • The “reluctant” woman—is passive. She says she’ll help or do whatever you ask, but doesn’t quite get around to her duties and responsibilities.

Sadly, it’s easy to fall into these categories. But there’s hope, sweet hope! Peter says that if we — and all believers — will humble ourselves, God will give us His grace, His favor, His blessing, His power so we can do and be all He planned for us.

And this includes you! God wants you to succeed even more than you do. He saved you to serve Him, His people, and others, starting with your family, your church family, and your sphere of influence.

Thanksgiving Day Every Day

What person hasn’t dreamed of coming home to a set table and a delicious, prepared meal? When David prayed to God in Psalm 23, he said, “You prepare a table before me” (verse 5). Your host for this feast is the Lord Himself. And the table is prepared for you in advance because you are an anticipated, invited guest.

Imagine! Your divine host is the awesome, all-powerful, all-knowing God. He is attentive, watching for every opportunity to provide for you, continually refilling your cup. He delights in pouring out a generous portion. This dream is for real! God invites you to this table of fellowship and thanksgiving.

Have a seat! Participate with Him in His personal love for you. Relax… and enjoy!

Sweet Lord, You are so thoughtful. My every need is satisfied when I’m in Your presence. I delight in this feast and am fully nourished by Your love, attention, and care. Amen.

From Jim’s Heart–Using Time Well

The sooner we realize that life is but a vapor (James 4:14), the more likely we are to make sure we are using our time well.

That doesn’t mean you can’t take time to have fun and relax. Rather, it means making sure you have your priorities in order. At the top of the list is your spiritual health. That’s because it affects everything else you do. When things are right between you and God and you’re spending time in His Word, that will help you align the rest of your priorities properly. That means caring for your family, managing your finances wisely, maintaining good physical health, giving your best on the job, and serving others in your church. When you’ve taken care of these priorities, you can be confident you are using your time well.

Father, do my priorities bring glory to You? Do they help me make the most of my short time on this earth–and of each day? Help me evaluate my priorities and quickly make any necessary adjustments. Amen.

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.