Thursday, April 27, 2017

Start at the End to Find the Beginning

Dear Friends,
When reading the book of Ecclesiastes, you need to start at the end in order to understand what it is all about, since the style of this book is in a genre far removed from today’s “fast food” type of literature. I drive my husband crazy because I always read the end of a book first. It sort of makes up my mind if it’s worth my time reading it at all. Ecclesiastes makes a whole lot more sense when you go to the end to find out about the beginning.
It’s at the end of chapter 12 that the whole thing is summed up. “Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing whether it is good or evil” (verses 13-14).
Solomon concludes his work with a summary of the results of all his heart searching, experimenting and discovering. It has been hard work for Solomon.  I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven,” he explains (2:3). It took a lot of his life to find the answers but at the end he came to a satisfactory conclusion: Keep His commandments. This is the meaning to our existence. It’s the whole thing. The Message renders Ecclesiastes 12:13-14: “Fear God. Do what He tells you. And that’s it.” That’s what? The reason we are here—the whole purpose of life in this place, in this time.
There is an old saying: Fear God and live as you like. It makes sense that if you live in the fear of God you will live as He likes you to live. This is the only certain pathway to extreme joy, to living a life that makes perfect sense. Ecclesiastes teaches us that the pathway to an exuberance of living is realized by those who live within the boundaries set by His love. Those limits are simple. We don’t “do this” and we so “do that.” This and that being the ten rules God wrote in His own handwriting on a couple of slabs of rock on a mountain on fire. We call them the Ten Commandments.
Man’s wonderings and wanderings find their end in a relationship with our Maker, pleasing and serving Him. That’s the whole thing! Wisdom is coming to that conclusion as soon as possible, in order not to live a wasted and frustrated life. It is the only path that makes sense of life on planet earth. It’s God-sense. This advice comes to us from numerous places in the Word of God including from the wisest man who ever lived—King Solomon.
Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine





Friday, April 21, 2017

Laying Down Your Dreams

Dear Friends,
What do you do when your fondest dreams have to be laid down? When you discover that you will never realize those dreams? When, in fact, your dreams turn into nightmares? When God begins to make it plain that you are to spend your life playing on that second fiddle, functioning in a supporting role? Well, if you are like Jeremiahs’ scribe, Baruch, you might get a little depressed! Hidden conflict takes its toll. But Baruch’s struggles were, he thought, well hidden from the world and from his partner. We may learn to hide conflict from those closest to us, but we can’t hide it from God—as Baruch was to find out.
There is no doubt that the scribe’s noble family was unimpressed by the decisions he had made.  We all know that family pressure can be the strongest cause for discouragement. Many a family has tried to discourage a child from, as they see it, “throwing his life away in missions or ministry.” To go into a life’s work that promises to bring little worldly remuneration seems such a waste to those who see things from a worldly point of view. When parents have spent lots of money on a child’s education and given him or her privileges and status, it seems uncalled for that the child would “throw it all away.” Apparently Baruch did not have to put up with the dangerous antagonism that Jeremiah faced from his family, but he had enough family pressure to add to his misery.
Jeremiah’s relatives and “friends” in Anathoth had warned him, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord or you will die by our hands” (Jer. 11:21). How incredibly painful this must have been to Jeremiah! He dealt with his private pain by sharing it with his scribe, who wrote down his personal laments. Baruch also recorded God’s reply to him: If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? Your brothers, your own family—even they have betrayed you; they have raised a loud cry against you. Do not trust them, though they speak well of you. (Jer. 12:5-6)
It was time to play with the big boys. God knew there was trouble enough ahead for Jeremiah, and He encouraged His servant to toughen up and face the battle.
Sometimes this is just the message we need, a “toughen up” message. Even though God was concerned about Jeremiah’s pain, God did not allow His servant to wallow in it. “That’s how it is, Jeremiah,” He told him. “Sometimes following me carries with it a cost—a cost that hurts—but in the end a cost that is eminently worth it!”

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Who Will Roll the Stone Away?

Dear Friends,
On the very first Easter morning, some women hurried to the tomb, carrying the spices with which to anoint the body of their Lord. They asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
When we are in a new, frightening, surprising situation, we face the same problem. We would minister to a loved one perhaps, but a boulder lies in the way. Between us and that dear one a great barrier has appeared, one so big that our puny desires appear ludicrous beside it. Our love seems weak and ineffectual in the face of such an obstacle.
We would dive into this ministry, this package we never expected, but a boulder lies in the way, and we can’t possible imagine how to do it and function in this place.
“Love can’t find a way for me; I know, I’ve tried,” you say. Perhaps you face a hostile teenager fed up with being a minister’s kid and being moved around the country every three years or less.  With your hands full of good things—sweet and special presents carefully prepared—you have hurried toward her, only to be confronted with that huge stone of anger, resentment, or misunderstanding.
Jesus’ friends must have experienced some of these same feelings. As the women hurried toward that insurmountable “mountain” of trouble that lay ahead of them, they couldn’t think of anyone in the whole world except Jesus Christ Himself Who had the power to roll that stone away; and that was their biggest dilemma—Jesus Christ was dead! They had every reason to believe He was lying there, sealed into ineffectiveness by the very stone they confronted.
The thing to do in the face of insurmountable problems is to walk right on up to them with every intention of walking right on through them, even if they show no signs of yielding as you approach. If you can’t walk through, walk around—find a way past to the Lord, who may or may not move the stone or intervene on your behalf. Somehow we need to live life with the attitude, “O love the Lord; my hands are full of gifts for Him; and one way or the other, I will find Him on the other side of the problem.” It’s certain that you’ll never arrive at the other side of your problem by running away from it; face it together with your partner and with any other believers you can find with the same heartbeat, the same vision. And don’t waste energy apportioning blame. If you do that, you’ll exhaust yourself before you ever get there!
The women hurried on that early morning toward that huge rock that separated them from the body of their beloved Christ. They were frightened, yes, but they kept going. They went anyway.  Don’t wait until you are unafraid before you walk up to the sepulcher. If you can’t walk up to it unafraid, walk up to it afraid. And maybe, just maybe, when you get there, you will find that the stone has been rolled away.
Christ cannot be contained within the tombs of our troubles, inside the sepulchers of our sorrows, or behind the doors of our doubts. No stone can shut Him up or take Him away from His disciples. The stone still stood there in that quiet garden, a reminder of the reality of the problems we all must live with; but Christ had moved it to one side so very easily, demonstrating His resurrection power on our behalf.
You must face your personal Gethsemane and die at your Calvary. But all is not lost. Look toward your Pentecost, the power that will come. Rejoice, for “The stone has been rolled away!”

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine