Monday, December 24, 2012

A Time for Giving


Dear Friends,

What are you giving for Christmas?

God the Father scattered the Milky Way across the skies, hung Saturn’s rings in place, and thought about Christmas.  God the Son, working in unity with the Father, fashioned the lumbering oxen and the gentle cow with His creative power, and thought often of the day when the Father would speak the Word, and He would become flesh.  On that day he would gaze with “baby eyes” upon the very creatures He had made.  God, the Holy Spirit, moving as a shadow upon the face of the waters in Genesis days, knew one day it would be necessary to move again. This time He would overshadow Mary’s womb, that “the Holy thing” to be born of her should be called the “Son of God.”

Adam, walking with God in the Garden of Eden, oblivious to such names as Bethlehem, Herod, Egypt, Gethsemane, and Calvary, chose in one appalling moment the company of Satan rather than God.  Adam opted for the kingship of self rather than the kingdom of God, and the bondage of sin rather than the glorious liberty of God’s children.  But even at that time Adam heard the Maker’s promise: The promised Seed would bruise the serpent’s head.  God was saying, “Christmas is coming, Adam.”  And I believe that, even there in the Garden, the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – celebrated the Christmas redemption that would come someday.

Many of God’s people throughout time thought about God’s special gift, and offered their own gifts in thankful response.  These gifts are not boxes decorated with tinsel, silver bells, and Father Christmases, but unique contributions to the tremendous story of God’s special gift. In quiet sadness Jeremiah contemplated the massacre of the infants.  Hosea joyfully thanked God for the escape to Egypt.  Micah let the world know where Jesus would be born.  And Isaiah told us that God’s gift would come special delivery, a son born of a virgin.  This son would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Four hundred years later, as an elderly Elizabeth was thinking about those promised gifts, God was busy wrapping His Christmas present form heaven in human flesh.  Christmas came early for Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth welcomed her cousin Mary, the outcast, ostracized, pregnant young girl, God pulled back the wrapping paper just a little, to let her have a peek at His present. Elizabeth’s own baby leaped in her womb for joy, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit, and said: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!  But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy” (Lk. 1:42-45).

Encouraged and strengthened by her cousin, Mary also prepared.  She believed the anointed One must come and soon, and by her holy character made ready to acknowledge her Messiah and yield her allegiance to Him.  God couldn’t have a Christmas without a Mary.  He needed more than just a devout person, someone who attended synagogue and said her prayers.  The child Christ needed a body to live in!

When God became a baby, He knew He’d need to compress,
His vastness, glory, all that power, into littleness.
A baby was the answer, but where to find the one,
The one who’d say, “Be born in me –“ 
Oh, let me bear your son?”

Would Mary be the earthly vehicle for God’s divine action?  “Now wait a minute,” the devil must have whispered to Mary.  “You’ve got everything going for you—

You’re engaged to be married, what will people say,
When you say that your baby is conceived in a new way?
Just imagine their startled incredulity,
When you say so sincerely, “God gave it to me!”

But Mary offered the gift of her body.  She whispered, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Lk. 1:38, KJV).

Christmas is a time for giving.  The prophets gave their promises.  Elizabeth gave her praise. Mary gave her body.  Joseph gave his reputation. The innkeeper gave his stable. The shepherds gave their time.  And God gave His Son.  Tell me, do you see your present there?

What are you giving for Christmas?

Christmas Joy,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us 



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Loving Those Who Drive Us Up The Wall


Dear Friends,

Paul writes, “Love is patient and kind” (1 Cor. 13:4).  Most of us find that we can love those who are easy to love, but what about those who are hard to love or those who drive us up the wall?  I used to laugh at mother-in-law jokes until I became one.  Then I entered a whole new world and found this traditionally hard relationship a challenge!

Our daughter, Judy, and I have a seminar we teach together on the story of Ruth and Naomi.  I tell the story of what happened when my mother-in-law came to stay with us in America for three months and while here discovered that she had cancer.

Up to that point in our relationship, I had had no intention of anything more than a truce between us for the holidays.  Certainly I had no plans to love her as God wanted me to, not that visit anyway.   However, the discovery of her cancer changed everything.  As Mother stayed with us in America and began to undergo treatment, I knew God had to do a deep, radical work in my life if I was to be able to nurse her to the end.

I went to talk to our family doctor, who was a wonderful Christian. I was honest with him.  “Try as I might, I don’t want her to stay with us,” I blurted out.  “I can’t love her enough!”

He commended me for at least being honest about my fears of what was ahead, but he also challenged me to go for it and trust God.  So I went home, got on my knees, and committed myself to the task.

Mother was having the same qualms about staying with us, and she was certainly wondering about me!  She knew the limits I had placed on the boundaries of my love.  We both threw ourselves on the Lord and prayed for a miracle!  Over the terrible last eighteen months before she went home to England to die, God did what He does best.  Agape love got control of my pathetic attempts to love her, fueling my human love until it burned brighter than I had ever dreamed possible.  He worked the same miracle in Mother’s heart. In the end she said, “Thank you, Jill.  You have taught me how to live.”

And I said, “Dear Mother, you have taught me how to die!”

It was done.  God did it.  There was no other way it could have happened.  We had to have Jesus, and we did!

Loving people when things are good between you is a whole different ball game from loving people when things are bad.  Tough times in relationships come to all of us and indicate the caliber of our relationship with God and the extent of our love for Him.  We need to learn how to love even those who drive us crazy.

Who is it in your life that’s driving you crazy?  Especially with Christmas around the corner, are there some relatives you are dreading seeing? Ask God to do a deep, radical work in your life and commit yourself to the task of loving those difficult people as Christ does.

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us



Monday, December 10, 2012

A Letter from Jill Briscoe


Dear Friend,

Just Between Us has been ministering to women around the world for the last 22 years bringing spiritual encouragement and support. It’s been our great joy and privilege to do so. We are so thankful to have been able to minister to so many of you for years and others just recently. This ministry is all about you!

What many of you might not know is that we are a faith-based ministry and the subscription price of the JBU magazine doesn’t begin to cover the costs of the ministry. That’s why we’re dependent on donations from women like you. Women who believe in what we’re doing, and whose lives have been deeply blessed, encouraged, and changed as a result of this ministry.

Today, we need your help. Especially as you consider your year-end giving, would you consider giving a gift to Just Between Us? We depend on the generosity of friends like you for sustaining this ministry.

We want to finish the year strong and right now we’re looking at a $25,000 shortfall along with the need for start-up funds as we move into 2013.

We’re hoping you’ll be able to help us out today by giving as substantial a gift as you’re able – so we can continue encouraging and equipping women all over the world for a life of faith.

Thank you for your consideration and for being a partner with us.

Blessings,





Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

P.S. Thank you for your gift, helping Just Between Us meet our 2012 budget in good shape – and ready to move forward with the many exciting endeavors God has in store for 2013!     




Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Scanning the Horizon


Dear Friends,

When you’re struggling in your prayer life, make it a habit to scan the horizon.  Start looking around the whole situation until you see a tiny answer to prayer.  Just a little one.  Sometimes we get discouraged because we don’t think anything is happening unless there is a storm-swept sky. We need to learn to discern the approach of the blessing that God will surely send our way.  Look for the little things before the big thing appears.

When Florence Nightingale went to the Crimean War with her heroic band of nurses, she believed with all her heart that God was sending them there.  But when they finally arrived after a horrendous journey, the officer in charge tried to send them away.  The soldiers didn’t want women around in that ghastly environment.  The nurses were confused and begged to stay and help, but the soldiers were adamant.  This was no place for women, they said.  The nurses prayed hard.  It had been incredibly difficult to get there.  And they had been so very sure God had sent them.

After a week or so, during which the camp commander refused to let the nurses do one thing, Florence went to him and begged him to at least let them scrub the filthy floor of the makeshift hospital.  He relented, but said, “Only the floor now, and then you have to go home.”

So the nurses rejoiced and got to work scrubbing the floor till it was spotless.  They saw God’s hand in this “small” answer to their prayers.  They had seen a tiny cloud on the horizon, and they believed God for the rest.  Sure enough, within a few days the camp commander allowed them to do another job and then another, until the sky became black with clouds and the rain finally came.  These great women of God learned to scan the horizon for the smallest sign that the Lord was at work, and seeing that “small” cloud, they took courage to believe that God’s full answer was on the way.

What is God asking you to pray for?  Have you become discouraged by how few signs there are of His answer?  Look up, scan the horizon.  Watch for the little answers, and take heart.  Soon the sky will be full of the evidence that God hears and answers prayer.

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine