Thursday, August 17, 2017

It's "Not Fair"!

Dear Friends,
In Ecclesiastes 3:16, the Teacher says “And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there.” Later the Teacher comments, “There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve” (Eccl. 8:14).  What’s more, he warns, “God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked” (Eccl. 3:17).
Have you ever said, “It’s not fair?” You’re right, life isn’t always fair. It stopped being fair in the garden the day of the Fall. Yet God has put a sense of what is right and what is wrong—what is fair—deep down in our being. What’s fair and unfair raises its voice inside us, so even a small child will appeal to some unseen yet known standard of right and wrong.
When our two children Judy and David were in kindergarten, David hated to sing. One day their teacher in the small one-room schoolhouse asked the children if they would like to sing. Most responded “Yes!”
“Put your hand up if you don’t want to,” the teacher demanded. David put his little hand up.  “Good,” he thought, “she’s going to tell me it’s all right if I don’t join in.”
“Go and stand in the corner!” the teacher thundered at David. He did, and stayed there throughout the class. Judy was horrified. Watching her brother standing there, his little face to the wall, her five-year-old mind saw the injustice of it. She got to her feet, the tears running down her face. It’s no fair! It’s no fair!” The teacher turned a wrathful eye upon David’s little sister and said, “What’s not fair?”
“You asked him if he wanted to,” the little girl replied. “You asked him if he wanted to sing, and he told you!”
Good point, Judy. She was still sobbing when I picked the kids up that afternoon. We all need to do a little more sobbing, I think. There is injustice in the world at every level and we need to address it at every level.
Why does God allow it when He has the power to stop it? You may ask. Finding myself facing that question like so many others on 9/11, I resorted to a verse in Deuteronomy: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (29:29).
One thing He has revealed is that life here on earth will be full of injustice and sorrow until He has made a new earth where righteousness reigns. Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We who profess to know the Lord are to live rightly in a “wrongly” world! To shine as lights in the darkness and do our level best to point out inequities.

“Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen.18:25). Yes indeed, He will! He will bring everything to judgment. Meanwhile, we need to do right too.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Is God Governor of Your Marriage?

Dear Friends,
There is a story in John 2 about Jesus going to the wedding in Cana. You know the story—He was invited as a guest, and He went graciously and sat beside all the other guests. As custom would have it, the governor of the feast sat between the bride and groom at the head table. He was in charge of the wedding; he gave the orders.
During the feast, a serious thing happened—the wine ran out. Instead of going to the governor (whom they should have gone to) the servants went to Mary. They said, “The wine’s run out.” It doesn’t say why they went to Mary. Maybe they went to her because she was in charge of the food and the wine. They didn’t know what they were going to do. It would have been a disgrace in that culture to run out of food or drink. They certainly didn’t look to Jesus for a miracle because He hadn’t done any yet. But still, when Mary told them to, they approached Jesus and told Him, “The wine’s run out.”
Jesus said, “Fill the jars with water…Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet” (John 2:7-8). And the servants obeyed, even though they were risking their jobs by doing what He told them to do. As far as they knew, they believed they would be serving water, but they poured the drink anyway—and the miracle happened. The governor was very surprised and exclaimed, “This wine is better than any we’ve had before!” In fact, he said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2:10).
Jesus turned the water into wine when He took over and gave the orders.
Let’s take that story and use it as a picture of marriage for a minute. So many people I know want Jesus as a guest at their wedding, but they do not want Him as the governor of their marriage. And I believe that both spouses have to make sure that Jesus is the governor of their marriage. First, He must be governor of their lives individually. How do you know if He’s the governor? As Mary said to the servants in the story, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). What about you? Are you doing what He’s telling you to do? Are you being obedient? Is He governor?

When Jesus quit being the guest in that marriage and that wedding and became the governor, He turned the water into wine, and the Bible tells us it was better than anything they’d had before. In the same way, I believe marriage can be incredibly exciting, better than anything that has gone before. He, as the Scripture says, has “saved the best wine till now.” All the problems that show up on surveys do not need to be if the principle of Christian partnership is right, if God is the God of your individual life, and if God is the governor of your relationship with your husband.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Change in Character

Dear Friends,
Being a Christian means a change of character brought about by discipleship, beginning the moment you meet Jesus. By change of character I don’t mean a change of personality, but rather the ability to handle your personality, to enhance it and find its full potential. For example, the person who is lazy by nature will probably be a pretty laid-back character, fun to be with. After accepting Christ, this sort of person should be even more fun to be with, and Christ will help him not to allow his strengths to be his weaknesses anymore.
Our daughter is an extremely conscientious girl. She is an overachiever who doesn’t particularly enjoy overachieving! So many times while growing up she would say with great intensity such things as, “Why can’t I be like my brothers and take life a little easier? Why do I always have to get an A when a B would be perfectly acceptable? I wish I could be like them!”
One day a wise friend told her, “Judy, you’ll always be Judy. God made you with this type of personality. But He will help you to “handle” yourself, to cope with your strengths, which are also your weaknesses.”  that piece of advice was an enormous help to our daughter.
How often do Simons wish they were Andrews, Phillips wish they were Nathanaels, Matthews wish they were Peters! That is an exercise in futility. Christ changes for the better what is best and helps us cope with the things that are lacking in our personalities. He does this in many ways, one of the most common being to link us with others who can balance out the deficiencies.
One way or another, Christ will enable us to accept our inability to be what He never created us to be. But make no bones about it, Christ always perfects our potential over time and eternity.  That is, Christ always finishes what He begins. I’ve never seen an unfinished sunset or a perfect bird with one wing—have you? We can be confident of this: “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).
During the early years of our marriage, my husband and I worked with young people in Europe as part of a missionary organization. When that assignment was over and we had to move to America and leave those lovable teenagers we had been working with, I found myself struggling emotionally. We had seen many of these young people come to Christ from really raw backgrounds. They had kicked the drug habit, cleaned up their sex lives, and begun to show radical changes in their behavior. What would happen if their leaders just “disappeared,” I worried? Would they go on with God?

My husband reminded me, “You didn’t save them; you don’t have to keep them, Jill!” No, the work in them was not finished. They were “in the making” and in no ways “made”—but the God who had begun that changing work in their hearts had promised to complete it, and I could safely leave them in His hands.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine