Monday, October 25, 2010

Experiencing the Peace of God

Dear Friends,

Christ desires us to have peace. If we do not have it, we miss part of the blessings of being a Christian. Now there’s a simple statement! But I think we make it too hard. Too complicated. We think that peace of mind when we are in the midst of a storm can only be for the super saint who knows how to have super faith. Since most of us know ourselves well enough to know we are not super anything, we figure such experiences are not for us.

No, Christ wants every Christian to experience His peace. How many of us lived in peace this past week? Have you had peace today? If not, what is wrong?

The word peace runs through the whole Bible. In the Old Testament in the wonderful words of a benediction used by the priests, the promise is: “The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:26). Here it is a gift of God.

Where does peace begin? In the words of Job’s friend Eliphaz, “Acquaint now yourselves with Him and be at peace” (Job 22:21). It begins as we get acquainted personally with the mighty Prince of Peace. The Messiah is foretold as the Prince of Peace.

His Peace enters the heart by the Holy Spirit and makes it independent of all outside conditions. We cannot hope for a life without sorrow. To love is to weep sometimes in the journey of life. One of two friends must hold the other’s hand and stand by the other’s coffin. But when joy isn’t possible, peace is. The peace of God can turn sorrow into joy. And we can sing away the pain! Try praising! I loved this poem in my ‘old’ book:

God hasn’t promised skies ever blue
Flower-strewn pathways always for you
God hasn’t promised sun without rain
Joy without sorrow
Peace without pain.
But God has promised
Strength from above
Unfailing sympathy
Undying love.

And with this knowledge comes peace. Peace in the pain and sorrow. Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee (Is 26:3). There’s the promise. There is music in these words of the old prophet. Why then, can’t we get this music in our lives?

First, we need to stop trying to manufacture this peace feeling. We cannot keep ourselves in peace. “Thou will keep him in perfect peace,” the text says. It is the Lord who will do the keeping. “The Lord is thy keeper” (Ps 121:5).

We need to believe that God doesn’t need to get nine hours of sleep each night to do His keeping work properly either! He that keepeth thee will not slumber; the Lord will keep thee from all evil. He will keep thy soul (Psalm 121:3, 7). He will, He will, He will, we are promised.

And this peace cannot be disturbed -- only if we allow doubt and fear to dominate us instead. We must submit to Him and trust Him to be as good as His word. Corrie Ten Boom used to say: “Children, don’t wrestle, nestle.” And she should know because she endured months in the Nazi concentration camps in World War II. A lot of this has to do with our trust in God as our Father.

There is a story about Rudyard Kipling in my old book. As he lay dying, the nurse sitting by his side saw his lips were moving. Thinking he needed her, she leaned over him to hear his words and realized he was praying. “I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling,” she said. “I thought you wanted something.”

“I do,” he replied. “I want my Heavenly Father.” His Heavenly Father apparently came for his son, and the nurse witnessed a “peace that passes understanding” on the face of Rudyard Kipling as he entered the land of peace and glory.

A trifling illness frightens us. The most insignificant things in our lives can send us off in pitiable panic, spoiling our days, blotting out the blue of the skies, and putting out the stars. If we would like continual peace, we must have continuous trust in the little things as well as the big.

Jesus told us, “In nothing be anxious. Nothing means in anything. It is our privilege and duty to be free always -- free from anxiety, showing this sad world victorious joy. Even though joy may be manifest in difficult times as sober gaiety!

Every one of us should have peace. If we do not have it, we are living below our privileges. This is the will of God and it is only in the faithful doing of God’s will that peace can be found. When we are focused on God and others first we will know the peace of God. Selfishness is always a hinderer of peace.

Shalom!

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Where Will the Way Lead?

Following Jesus is a lifetime adventure. It requires risk and experimentation. Courage is necessary to increase our faith, hope, and love along the journey. We don’t know what life will bring to us—surprises that both overwhelm us with joy and sorrow.

So how do we know the way? A long time ago I heard a story that I’ve contemplated many times in my life when I didn’t know where the path I was on would lead. The story goes as I remember it like this: One night a father decided that his daughter was old enough to go to the barn and feed the horses on her own. But she was afraid.

So the father took his daughter out to the front porch of the house and lit a lantern, held it up, and asked her how far she could see by the lantern’s light. She said that she could see
halfway down the path to the barn. “Good!” her father responded. “Now carry this lantern halfway down the path.” The young girl did as she was told and when she reached her destination, her father called out to her, “Now how far can you see by the lantern’s light?” His daughter responded that she could see all the way to the gate. “Great!” her father responded. “Now walk to the gate.”

Once again the girl did as she was told and when she reached the gate, her father asked, “Now how far can you see?” She responded that she could see the barn. “Wonderful!”
replied her father. “Now walk to the barn and open the door.”

The girl did just as her father told her and finally she shouted back that she was at the barn and could see the horses. “Excellent!” her father called. “Now feed the horses.” And
he stepped back into the house.

God is like the father who gives us light for now and for the next step. God’s light doesn’t illuminate the whole journey, just one step at a time. The girl trusted her father to get her safely to the barn; and we, too, must trust God to get us safely to the next destination, decision, turning point, opportunity, or experience along our path.

When you are uncertain of the path ahead, how do you trust to take the next steps?

Taken from A Faithful Heart: Daily Guide for Joyful Living by Sally Dyck (Abingdon Press, 2010)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Finding Spiritual Strength

“You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season.” (Job 5:26)

Dear Friends,

Have you ever had a time in your life when you couldn’t face what the day would bring? I have – like today. Then I go to the Deep Place where nobody goes. He who has already visited all my tomorrows knows what today will bring forth. He is not beaten down – not bowed over, bent low like a sheaf of grain in a wind storm. Not like me.

“How do I ‘do today,’ Lord? It’s too long, too hard.”

“Life won’t go on without you?”

“No. But I can’t do today! Pain takes my breath. The things that matter most to me are crumbling. “Help!”

“I am here. Come” --

“I can’t ‘do today.’”

“I can!”

“I’m not God – that’s the problem.”

“I Am.”

“I believe! But dear Lord, I can’t do today – even half a day.”

“Do this minute.”

“I don’t think…”

“Yes you can, you can do the next minute. Try, count the seconds: One, two, three –

Silence

“Now the next one. I have counted out your moments and your days for you already. Now you do it.”

“But that first minute lasted so long!”

“This time stop counting and read a verse of Scripture: fill the next minute thinking about Me.”

Then I read Job 5:26: “You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season.”

“Lord, I feel beaten down like a sheaf in a wind storm.”

“Here comes the sun! You and I will ‘do today’ together.”

Silence

I put my hand into His, and counting hard, “did today.” “Lord of all my yesterdays and tomorrows: help me to ‘do today,’” I asked Him. “My sheaf bends in the wind.”

“Till I gather you into my barn you must bend in the winds that come: for you must stand in the harvest field until it is your season. It will not blow so hard today. In the respite wait patiently. Rest in Me. One day, ‘today’ as I intended it, will come to be.”

Then I began to climb the steps to the shallow place where everyone lives and found “today” happening. I counted every other step and tried to think of a promise. On the alternate step I said loudly, “I believe!” And when I just couldn’t’ take another step I breathed, “Help thou mine unbelief!”

Lord, sometimes I have no more strength to cope: However hard the wind blows, give me the spiritual vigor I need to serve you today. Amen.

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, October 11, 2010

Are You Parenting to Please Everyone?

Dear Friends,

Down through the years I have wrestled more with the fear of other Christians’ disapproval than with anything else, leading me to attempt to be all things to all people. Some people are so quick to “know it all” and tell others how they should be living the Christian life, ordering their family relationships, bringing up their children, and conducting their ministries that they forget Jesus told us not to judge – that we should cast out the plank in our own eye before we start scratching out the speck in our brother’s!

How often have I heard mature Christians waxing eloquent about clergy and missionary parents who “ruin” their children by neglect – by sending them off to boarding school or not spending any time with them. Now, I know some children of couples in full-time ministry don’t make it, but then some children of car salesmen and lawyers don’t make it either! I would want to know the dynamics of the relationship of a particular troubled family before I would even dare voice a suggestion as to what may have gone wrong.

Missionaries and ministry workers are ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances – called to do extraordinary tasks with very little help and less than adequate resources. By and large they do a wonderful job, but they would be much more effective if we who support them (and therefore think we have the inalienable right to criticize them) would pray more and try to think of practical ways to unload their boats for them once in a while! It is a very heavy burden to be told continually, “Your children will never make it – they will grow up to reject the Lord!” Sometimes I used to get the feeling that those giving us this “loving counsel” would almost be glad if that did happen to our kids – because then their opinions would be vindicated.

Even now, with our three children grown and in ministry, I have on occasion been told, “Well it was obviously the grace of God, despite what you did to them that brought them through!” Now undoubtedly there is a lot of truth in that; it was certainly by the grace of God that they turned out so well. But I have come to realize that no one does it all right – and no one does it all wrong, either. We mustn’t demand that all Christian families live according to this formula or that, but try and encourage each family to find out their formula from Him and fulfill it. The important thing is to please God first – then you’ll know what He wants you to do.

In His Joy,
Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, October 4, 2010

Finding God's Will in Your Life

Dear Friends,

Finding the will of God for our lives should be easy. After all, we know and love the Lord and want to serve Him. Yet around the corner of our surrender to the Lord we sometimes find confusion and regrets. “Did we miss the turn in the road?” a young pastor asked me. “Things have not been as we were led to believe they would be.”

Around our glad, “Yes Lord, anytime anywhere any way,” may be a day that finds us saying, “Oh no Lord, I never expected this!”

My husband was addressing the questions of a crowd of British teenagers who wanted to know just how they could know the will of God for their lives. He gave a great illustration. “Life is like a runway,” he said. “Before a plane lands it helps to have the lights that lead up to the runway lit before you land.” Then he talked about some of those landing lights.

The advice of Christians. Seek out Christians who are a little bit further along the road of faith than you are. It also helps if they know you well.

Inner convictions. This is different than feelings. The Holy Spirit does not come into our lives to do His deepest work in the shallowest part of us, which is in our emotions. He comes to do His illuminating work in the deepest part of us which is in our knowings - our convictions.

The Word of God. Principles from the Word will help us know His will. As we diligently keep our head in the Book a line of action will be confirmed.

Circumstances. How are the circumstances pointing?

Common sense. God expects us to use our reasoned judgment, which is another word for common sense.

Honesty. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to know the will of God whatever it is?”

Once as many of these lights as possible are lit, then land on the runway, asking God to, if you have misread the lights, abort your landing!

“What happens if you land and you find you shouldn’t have?” inquired a young girl.

“The Christian life is like a freeway not a tightrope,” my husband explained, changing the analogy. “There is plenty of room to crash, bump up against the fence, right the car and continue on your way a little bruised, but sadder and wiser!”

I have found that God is far more anxious to have us get it right than we are! Just because things are difficult doesn’t necessarily mean that you took the wrong turn. Jesus said, “I am the way.” Follow Him as best as you can and He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Happy landings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine