Monday, November 24, 2014

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Dear Friends,
As we embark on this week of Thanksgiving there are so many things to be thankful for.  We can get so busy with the day to day, or focus on the problems of life that thankfulness fades to the background of our lives. May this week awaken in us afresh the need to live a life of gratitude not just this week, but every week of the year—and to deeply appreciate the freedoms and gifts we have been given.  

Here’s a piece on thankfulness I wrote not long ago for my book Faith Dancing. Why don’t you use my words and make this a Thanksgiving prayer from your heart to His? Take some time to reflect on the words as you read and pray. 

Thank you for the will to praise
My Father God through all my days;
Blessings more than I can name,
For, first and foremost, Christ who came,
Saving, changing, lifting high,
Those who weep, and hurt and sigh.

Thank you, God, for hearts that sing,
Thank you, God, for everything!

Thank you for the chance to love
A God who lives in heaven above.
Thank you for a world to tell
About the One who saves from hell,
Thank you, Lord, for trusting me
With serving, giving ministry.

Thank you, God, for hearts that sing,
Thank you, God, for everything.

Thank you, thank you, for the day
When hard-won freedom came to stay,
Giving us a chance to grow
And better serve our God below.
Forbid we take for granted here
The things that cost our fathers dear.

Hear my heart, its anthem sing.
Thank you, God for everything!

“Thank you for thanking me,” He said with a smile. “Never take your freedom to freely worship for granted.”
“Oh, I won’t, dear Lord,” I replied.
“Always remember what your freedom is for,” He continued seriously.
“Freedom to_____?” I paused, thinking hard. What was the freedom our fathers had fought and died for all about?
“It’s not freedom to ‘do what you like,’ He reminded me.
“It’s freedom to ‘be what you ought.’ Never forget it!”
“I’ll try not to,” I promised.
Then I prayed for all the people in other countries who had little or no freedom of religion. How blessed we are.
“Help us to use our freedom for Your ‘kingdom things,’ Lord,” I prayed.
Why don’t you ask Him to help you to do the same?

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine




Monday, November 17, 2014

Finding Refreshment in Times of Drought

Dear Friends,
Jeremiah contrasts the tree on the bank of the flowing stream with a bush in the wastelands.  This bush is just a little scrub bush that sits in the sun and burns up “in a salt land where no one lives” (Jeremiah 17:6).  This is not to say there were no other scrub bushes around; it was just that no bush “lived” there – really lived there.  You may be a scrub-bush person surrounded by hundreds of other scrub bushes but feel as lonely as if you were absolutely on your own in the desert.  It is not pleasant to be a scrub bush in the wastelands.

It is possible to be a Christian and yet feel as isolated and cut off from anything fresh and living as the scrub bush in the wastelands.  I have met such little scrub bushes in the far corners of the world as well as in North America.  Do you feel as if I am describing you?  Let me ask you some questions.

Do you ever go to church and feel lonely even though you are in a crowd?  Do you look around at your Christian friends and find that they are all as dead and dry as you feel?  Above all, do you feel alone?

One characteristic of life in the Spirit is the consciousness of the presence of God so you never feel alone.  As you live life in the Spirit, you might be alone physically, but you will never be lonely spiritually – and there is a difference.  Jeremiah certainly felt alone.  He was abandoned by his family and his people, but he wrote about an experience of obedience in his relationship with God that led to his roots’ being in the river of life.  He discovered that God was nearer than breathing, closer than hands and feet.  He was a person who had no worries in a year of relational drought.

So has this been a year of drought for you?  Perhaps your friendships shriveled or funds dried up.  Maybe you got passed over for a promotion that you had waited all your life to win.  It could be that you moved to a different city because of your husband’s job and your marriage has taken a beating because of the move.  Is your child doing poorly in school?  Is the heat on for your Christian child who is getting laughed at by her schoolmates?

When you have experienced a year of drought in any of these areas, it is bound to bring worries into your life.  But worries are drowned in the river of God!  The tree planted by the river has “no worries in a year of drought” (Jer. 17:8) because its roots reach into the river of healing and help.  That river of life provides renewed trust in the God who can give you refreshment.

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor

Just Between Us Magazine



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

God Calls You to a Relationship with Him

Dear Friends,
The plan of God is first and foremost for you to have a relationship with Him.  He wants you to identify with His will and work in this world, but He wants you first to identify with Him.  He invites you to be forgiven and enjoy His life in you.  He wants to be your Father and desires that you be His child.  This relationship with God can happen only when you realize that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ (2 Cor. 5:19).  This reconciliation can come to pass only when you realize that your sin has separated you from God.  Only the death of Christ on your behalf can put that right.  When you believe that God can make you right with Him, when you repent of your sin and ask His forgiveness, then He grants you His Holy spirit.  At that point your relationship with Him begins.  Notice I didn’t say that a “religion” begins.

The fact that God calls us to a relationship rather than to a religion was a pleasant surprise to me.  Religion itself had a bad connotation in my thinking.  I believed that religion would get in the way of my relationships.  In fact, I had the idea that religion would mess up any exciting relationship I had!

I was eighteen, at college, and having a wonderful time on the outside.  But I was miserable on the inside because my life revolved around my relationships.  If my relationships were going well, I was going well.  Most of the time, however, they weren’t going well, so I was miserable.  Religion didn’t interest me one little bit, but relationships did.

Then I met a girl who was, appropriately, named Grace.  She obviously had a relationship with someone special – I was sure of it.  She had a little secret smile playing around her mouth and a twinkle in her eye that made her look as though someone was loving her to death.  Actually, someone was loving her to life!  She was a Christian, the first one I ever remember meeting.  Imagine my chagrin when I found out that she was “religious”!  Yet she didn’t act, talk, or behave as I had imagined religious people do.  How on earth did she have religion and a relationship at the same time?  She set me thinking.

The next Christian I met was the girl who told me that I needed a relationship with God.  I remember thinking she was just like Grace.  In fact, I was sure they were relatives!  Once she explained the Gospel to me, I went for it with my heart and soul.  This was the relationship that would make all the other relationships in my life make sense.  My sin was forgiven, and I put all my earthly relationships in God’s hands from that point on.  Those two girls showed me what it meant to relate to the living God, who alone could fill the inner longing for someone special in my life.

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, November 3, 2014

Faith Cheerfully Perseveres

Dear Friends,

Scripture tells us, “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5).  We cannot grow spiritually until we exhibit a healthy faith that our troubled night will not last forever.  Lamentations 3:31 says that “men are not cast off by the Lord forever.”

As we wait out the storms of life, will we assert that God’s compassion and mercy will come to our aid and that our loving God will not “willingly bring affliction” (Lam. 3:33)?  Will we speak up for Him instead of speaking against Him?  Will we say loudly and clearly that we believe He is fully aware of our suffering and the injustice done to us and that nothing escapes His notice?

Above all, will we be willing to accept hardship and testing, knowing that they strengthen our faith?  If our answer to that question is, “I will, the Lord helping me,” then we are well on the way to experiencing a faith that works morning by morning for every moment of our days!

I suppose it comes down to a new willingness to be broken by the circumstances of life that God in His sovereign grace permits.  When you do that, your faith distress becomes faith developed, which can then be gloriously displayed by God to a hungry world.  You can have faith in the loving compassion of a merciful God, who will, moment by moment and crisis by crisis, supply all the grace you need.

“Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love” (Lam. 3:32).


Blessings,
  

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine