Monday, July 29, 2013

Look at Those Who Pray Well


Dear Friends,

What sort of person do you need to be in order to be effective in your prayer life?

First, You Need to Have Been Forgiven by God.

Notice that it is the righteous man who has power with God.  “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (Jas. 5:16).  Another way of looking at that word righteous is to realize that it means, among other things, that a person has been forgiven.  Are you forgiven?

Years ago I invited a good friend to a meeting.  She was not a believer, and she listened carefully to a clear explanation of the gospel.  Realizing she was a sinner needing salvation, I introduced her to the speaker at the end of the service.  He shook her hand and then said to her, “Tonight you will either sleep as a forgiven sinner or an unforgiven sinner!”  She was startled but thought about it and decided to sleep forgiven.  Praying a simple prayer of repentance, she asked the Lord Jesus to enter her life, which He graciously did.  Now she was ready to pray prayers that were effective.

Second, You Have to Learn to Be Passionate in Your Praying.

Elijah “prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain” (Jas. 5:17).  Elijah’s heart was in His work.  Many times we kneel to pray and we really don’t care if God hears and answers us or not.  Fervency is a condition of the heart that is developed through our growing relationship with God.  As we grow to love Him, we find ourselves caring about the things He cares about.  Prayer turns our thoughts away from our selfish concerns because we are putting ourselves into the presence of a selfless Being–and a little of that rubs off.

Third, You Need to Be a Persistent Pray-er if You Are to See Your Prayers Work.

Elijah prayed continually about the work of God. He climbed a mountain and got to work.  He set himself to watch and pray until the rain came (1 Kings 18:42-46).  Most of us give up far too soon when we are praying.  We hit an obstacle such as an unanswered prayer and stop dead in our tracks.  When Elijah set himself to pray on the top of Mount Carmel, you get the impression that he settled down until the answer came. God likes us to be persistent.  Jesus told a story about a woman who persistently asked a judge to grant her request (Lk. 18:1-8).  And Jesus commended the persistent, blind beggar (Lk. 18:35-43).  He wants us to go on asking until it’s the right time to get an answer.

I think that prayer is a bit like jogging.  Years ago I took up running.  Everyone in my family was into the sport in a big way, and I didn’t want to be left out.  They talked enthusiastically about “going through the wall.”  I wondered what they meant.  They explained that if you persisted when you felt you just had to give up, then you went through an invisible wall and got a second wind.  It only happened to me once, but I do recall the sense of exultation and the sudden belief that I could run forever.

I think there is a wall as we engage in prayer as well.  It’s my belief that when many Christians practice prayer, they live on this side of the wall.  They get to what I call the point of push, and they stop instead of pressing on.  Next time this happens to you, press on; be persistent and you will find yourself in a new country, a land of joy and freedom, with new hope and expectations.  Persistence takes your prayer life into a whole new orbit.  “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray,” James tells us (Jas. 5:13).


In His Love,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, July 22, 2013

His Plan for Your Life


Dear Friends,

The idea that God had a plan and that His was the master plan for my life never occurred to me.  Unlike my parents, teachers, tennis coach, and boyfriends, I couldn’t see God, didn’t know Him, and was not remotely interested in Him or His plans.  I had absolutely no idea that God had any personal interest in me at all.  I considered it responsible behavior to take charge of my own affairs.  I was an eighteen-year-old college student, intent on making my own plans for my own life.  I appreciated all that the adults in my life had done for me up to that time, but I thought “growing up” meant relieving them of their responsibility and charting my own course.  It was going to be my own business to choose my path, partner, and philosophy of living.  I had never opened a Bible so had never read any biblical concepts on the subject.

But one day all that changed.  God told Jeremiah that He had a plan for his life when Jeremiah was young and inexperienced, and He told me the same when I was young and inexperienced, too.  One day I met a girl who was marching to the beat of another drummer.  She told me I would never be happy until I connected with God.  She had a meaningful life, a sense of purpose, and an unshakable faith in a higher being.  She told me that God in love had planned for her–and that He had done the same for me.  I was fascinated, not least because of her vibrant personality that I knew was somehow connected with her faith.

Compared to hers, my own life with all my plans appeared colorless and insipid.  Could it be that God was a personal God who cared about me and planned for me in love?  Step-by-step my new friend led me to the Cross of Christ and a Savior who died for me in order that I might live with Him forever.

When I asked Him to forgive my sin, my arrogant self-reliance, and my godless independence, I found myself at the beginning of a great adventure–living life according to the grand cosmic plan of God.  It’s a wonderful thing to find the Lord in your youth.  I thank God for His grace that found me while I still had a lifetime to love and serve Him.

Who is making the plans for your life?  You?  Your parents, teachers, or friends?  Do you know that God has a wonderful plan for your life and that you will never be satisfied until you find that plan by submitting your whole self to Him?

God told Jeremiah that before He even formed him in his mother’s body He had already figured out the master plan for his life.  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” God told him (Jer. 1:5).  Think about it.  Before Jeremiah existed for anyone else to know, God knew him.  And before I was, God knew me.  He surely has plans for you and me as He had for Jeremiah.  Before we were conceived in the womb, He knew us!  In fact, this knowing and purposeful choosing of God predates our conception.

Like any loving father, our heavenly Father has a plan and purpose for all of His children.  In fact, the Bible says, “I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jer. 29:11).  God was talking to Israel, but He wants to give all of His children hope and a future.  You can trust God with the plans He has for your life!

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine



Monday, July 15, 2013

Sharing the Answer


Dear Friends,

I found such deep purpose and meaning and fulfillment in seeking Christ that I was compelled to ask the girl who led me to Him, “Does anyone else know about this?”  She laughed, “Of course,” she replied, “why do you ask?”

“You mean all those people sitting in church knew about this, and they never went out of their way to tell me?”

I have never recovered from the shock.  How anyone who truly knows Christ can ever sleep more than four hours a night beats me.  How can we who know the answers to the eternal why in people’s hearts do anything other than continually share it with others?  We must “go into all the world” and tell what we know.  How can I watch people filling their lives with water when I own the wine cellar?  How could I find the cure for cancer and keep the secret to myself?  Not me!  The fact that we have the answers is just too exciting, too important not to share.

This poem by Jason Lehman came to me through the mail a long time ago.  It sums up the dilemma of the person who thinks the answer is just around the corner, or perhaps just behind their back, or even under their nose right now, or they can’t seem to see it.


PRESENT TENSE

It was Spring, But it was Summer I wanted,
The warm days, And the great outdoors.
It was Summer, But it was Fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves, And the cool, dry air.
It was Fall, But it was Spring I wanted,
The warmth, and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, But it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom, And the respect.
I was 20, But it was 30 I wanted,
To be mature, And sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, But it was 20 I wanted,
The youth, And the free spirit.
I was retired, But it was middle age I wanted,
The presence of mind, Without limitations.
My life was over.
But I never got what I wanted.


How incredibly sad!  We only have today–not yesterday, not tomorrow.  If we don’t appreciate it right now, we’ll miss it!  Today is where we’ll find our significance.  Let’s not waste one more minute.  Pray that God would reveal His significant purpose for your own life.  Pray that you would have the strength, courage, and persistence to never stop seeking Him.

In His Love,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine



Monday, July 8, 2013

Are You a Worrier?


Dear Friends,

One thing is very clear: Those whose roots are in the river get a handle on fear and worry.  Jeremiah used the word fear and worry in his short parable. “It does not fear when heat comes” and “It has no worries in a year of drought” (Jer. 17:8l, italics added). Fear and worry are not fruit of the Spirit but rather fruit of the flesh. This is because fear and worry denote a lack of trust and confidence in the Lord.

The longer my roots rest in the river, the better I will deal with fear and worry. When I look at the entire life of Jeremiah, I can see that he lived in the heat of life in drought conditions. The heat was on him all the days of his life. There was a drought of leadership in the land, a drought of belief on behalf of the people, a drought of the word of the Lord because most of the prophets spoke lies, and a drought of support in every dimension for Jeremiah himself. There was a drought of friends, of supportive family, of health and wealth. All around him people were worrying about their past, present, and future. God was Jeremiah’s past, present, and future!

Jeremiah encouraged himself in the Lord and kept his roots in the river. When he lost faith and confidence in the character and workings of God, he came back to the sap of God’s Word and flourished again. When he put his faith into operation, he had no worries or fears. God proved to be bigger than them all.

For years I tried to deal with my many fears one by one. The fear of flying was very real and almost paralyzing to me. I tried to concentrate on overcoming that particular fear. Then I had a fear of speaking in front of  “important” people, and a worry about my children not growing up to love the Lord. I fear the hospital and anesthetic. I feared the absence of my husband when away on missions. I worried about our financial security as missionaries and our loss of benefits when we immigrated to America.

As each worry came along, I concentrated all my efforts on overcoming the worry of the day. Then one day I decided I would stop doing that and concentrate on the main thing. When we do the main thing—making sure our roots are in the river—we develop greater faith in God’s ability to help with all and any of our individual worries. This is a huge step forward in dealing with our fears and concerns.

Because of the years of drought I have experienced, the worries of life seem less frightening to me. What God did for me in the past He will do for me in the future. Why should He do anything else? He will not be anything less than He has been. He never changes His mind or character. I can bank on that—and so can you!

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine