Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Power of Forgiveness

Dear Friends,
I had the privilege of meeting a family in Croatia that demonstrated such a prosperity of spirit by loving their enemies that they have truly reflected the image of God.
I think of the husband as a modern-day Job and his wife and daughter as Job’s daughters. He is a pastor in the little Croatian town of Pak Rak. The town was blasted to pieces during the war with Serbia, and only three houses in the main street were left standing. The little church where Bozidar Korlovic was pastor was severely damaged, and even though the uneasy ceasefire was broken between the warring factions, the pastor and his seventeen-year-old daughter returned.  They wanted to encourage others to come back and pick up the bits of their shattered lives. The little town was surrounded by Serb-occupied Croatian territory, and the Serb soldiers were visible in the hills around.
One day when the pastor and his daughter were walking to their house, Serb soldiers came through the trees and took them prisoner. They marched them up the hill to the tree line and tortured him and took his daughter off with them. After they thrust Bozidar through seven times with a bayonet, he was still alive. “You can kill our bodies, but you cannot kill our souls!” he told them. “God will bring you to judgment for these cruel things, but if you repent, he will forgive you.” In the end they sent the two home through a minefield. God kept them safe, and the UN forces rescued them.
I stood in his little church a brief fourteen months later as he talked about that terrible time. We listened as Bozidar and his wife testified to a church packed with refugees. They told them that they had forgiven the Serbs for all of it. “We must forgive our enemies,” he told them with passion. “The Lord will help us. Only His love is sufficient.”
I thought of Job. I know he forgave the Sabeans and the Chaldeans for putting all his servants, many of whom would have been born in his household, to the sword. If they had tortured Job himself, he would have forgiven them for that as well. No wonder God prospered Job. The prosperity of spirit that makes the soul fat has little to do with monetary wealth.
Whom do you need to forgive? Your friends, family, servants, the Chaldeans or Sabeans? What do you need to forgive? The only place it’s possible is at the foot of the cross. There the death of Christ gives us power and permission to leave the judgment of the issues involved to Him and to reconcile!
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

His Word is Like a Hammer

Dear Friends,
The Word of God broke Jeremiah’s heart. He described God’s Word as “like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces” (Jer. 23:29). It made him stagger like a drunken man. “My heart is broken within me; all my bones tremble. I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the Lord and His Holy Words” (Jer. 23:9). Well before God’s Word ever touched other people’s lives, it touched Jeremiah. It made him tremble and stagger like a drunken man, and it broke his heart.
Have you ever had the experience of God’s Word hammering away at your conscience? I have.  When I first came to the States, I resisted getting involved with the women’s work at church. I didn’t particularly enjoy women and much preferred working with teenagers. However, God does not allow us to choose to work with those we much prefer! He wanted me to work with women. It was one of those secondary callings He had in mind for me.
I reluctantly answered an invitation to go to Memphis, Tenn., and speak at a women’s’ retreat. I had no other reason to go than that Stuart knew of the work and encouraged me to go.
A wonderful woman who loved working with women led the retreat. Just my luck, I thought to myself, watching her surreptitiously. She’s going to know I don’t want to be here. I was right.  She did know because my attitude was showing. Those bad attitudes always peek beneath our behavior like a slip hanging beneath a dress. She spoke to me at the end of the conference.  “You are a good speaker technically, Jill, but it’s obvious you don’t like women!”
“Ouch!” I replied. “You’re right, and what’s more I’ve no intention of liking them because if I do, I’m afraid God will just give me a whole lot more of them to like!”
I was really disturbed about that incident. When I got home, I spent some time with God and dared to ask Him to speak to me from His Word about it. A word from Lamentations “came to” or “happened to” me that night: “Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city,” lamented Jeremiah (Lam. 3:51, KJV). Here was a man lamenting over women, while this woman—me—cared little about her own kind. Jeremiah’s heart was broken for the daughters of Jerusalem and their grim state. Mine was not. But I could give God permission to take the hammer of His Word and break my heart as well. And that is exactly what I did that night!
I prayed that God would let “my eye” affect “my heart” when I looked at the women of my city, that I would feel and see what He felt and saw, and that I would do everything I could to reach them. The release was palpable, and I began fulfilling one of my secondary callings that day.  Starting with six women in a home investigative Bible study, God gave me a heart for women that has resulted in reaching thousands of women around the world with His Word.

All He wants is for you to say, “Break my heart, God,” and He will. He will use the hammer of His Word on the anvil of your life, and you will find Jeremiah’s experience to be yours. “My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed” (Lam. 2:11). If God’s Word dwells in us richly hour by hour, we will live and work with a broken heart—and it will show.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rich in "God Things"

Dear Friends,
There was a man who was the richest farmer in the valley. He was not a God-fearing man but was instead a “self—made” man who worshipped His creator (himself!). He had in his employ a humble gardener who loved the Lord.
One day the richest man in the valley opened the door to his godly servant who stood outside on the doorstep holding his hat awkwardly in his hands.
“What is it?” his master asked him.
“Sir,” the man replied awkwardly, “I had a dream that tonight at midnight the richest man in the valley would die.”
“Why, my man,” the richest man in the valley replied, “I’m in excellent health—don’t you worry about me!” Then gently, “It’s all that religion you go in for—makes you think morbid thoughts.”
The man shuffled away and the master went inside the house again. However, he couldn’t get over the man’s words and he decided to stay up late and ask his friend’s doctor to come over and play bridge with him—just in case! The doctor complied and the evening passed with the richest man in the valley glancing at the clock every half hour or so and insisting the doctor stay and play just “one more game.”
At half past midnight the doctor left and the richest man in the valley chided himself for being so foolish. As he turned off the lights and started to go up the winding staircase to bed, the doorbell rang. Thinking the doctor had forgotten something, the rich man returned to the front door and opened it. A young girl stood weeping on the doorstep.
“Whatever is the matter?” the man inquired, not unkindly.
“Sir,” the girl replied, “tonight at midnight my father died.”
“Who is your father?” the richest man in the valley asked.
“Your gardener, sir,” she said.
The richest man in the valley! And indeed he was, for those who know and love the Lord are rich beyond measure—in this world and the next.

We can be as poor as this world’s goods are concerned, but wealthy in “God things.”  There are spiritual riches, the Bible says, that surpass anything the world can offer.  Jesus asks in Mark 8:36, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine