Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Deep Down in My Life

Dear Friends,
We’ll soon be celebrating New Year’s Day.  As I look out across another year with all its known and unknown challenges, I remind myself that what transpires for God and for good as far as my small life is concerned, depends on what happens “deep down in my life”.  How do I go deeper, reach further, climb higher, cling closer, dream bigger, and be seen to be empowered by the Spirit, in touch with the risen Christ, with an unmistakably evident relationship with the Father – deep down in my life?  In other words, what does it mean to live in the present reality of the living God?
I know there is absolutely no way I can do the work I’ve committed to do on the “outside” of me, unless God is doing the work He has committed to do on the “inside” of me.  I simply need to give Him permission to be who He is, in each and every area of my heart and life!  This is my prayer not only for me, but also for you my friends.
Dear Lord, hear my heart.  I give You full permission to be who You want to be, as “deep down” in my life as You wish to go!  Amen.
Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, December 22, 2014

Going to Bethlehem

Dear Friends,
It was the Christmas season and I was thinking about all the tinsel triviality around me.  The Grinch was winning big time!  I had been frantically rushing around my world in ever-decreasing circles.  Have you ever been like this at Christmas?  So hectic that you miss what it’s all about?  I was sitting on The Front Door step at last, when it opened and He whom my soul loves joined me.
“Lord,” I began as my soul stopped rushing around inside me and sat down for a few saving moments – “Speak to me.  Do whatever it takes to touch the quiet place within me where You live. Whatever it takes, Lord, do what it takes to renew my faith and set my spirit dancing, so I can do whatever it takes to tell my world why You came at Christmas.”  He smiled at me thoughtfully as if remembering something.  Then He spoke.
“One day I said to my Father, ‘Whatever it takes Father, I’ll do it.  Whatever it takes to bring them all home to our house.’  And my Father said to me:  ‘Go to Bethlehem!  That’s what it takes!’  And so I came!  As a baby, born to a woman who barely counted her age in double figures.  Go to Bethlehem, Jill.”
I knew at once what He was telling me.  I needed to go to Bethlehem. 
Lord, I worship You, I am in awe!  I am reduced in spirit, Lord, overcome with remorse that I have for far too long allowed my faith to lie low at Christmas of all times!  I have allowed the Grinch to steal my Christmas.  Forgive me!
I had been to the mall, to the outlets, to visit the family, but I hadn’t been to Bethlehem!  I had fallen foul of the Christmas rush.  I went – right then and there.  You can too, you know.  It changed my Christmas.  It will change yours!
Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Life that Bears Much Fruit

Dear Friends,
Jeremiah spoke of a stream from God that gives nourishment to our life (our “tree”) in times of drought (Jer. 17:7,8).  He tells us that that a life rooted in God’s stream “never fails to bear fruit.”

There are many varieties of trees.  But the Lord’s trees are fruit trees.  As if it is not enough to have your roots in the river and your leaves ever green, the trees of the Lord described here have their branches laden with fruit.  Life in the Spirit is healing life, green life, and fruitful life. It is the life of the Spirit as described in Gal. 5:22-23:  “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  Paul had already told the Galatians, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal. 5:6).  Love is being primarily concerned with others’ well-being, regardless of the cost to yourself.  Love shows itself in service.

At a Bible conference the guests were asked to help with the chores.  They were paying guests, but the school was short on staff.  As the guests arrived, they were asked to sign up for a chore to do.  The chores ranged from serving at tables to cleaning or vacuuming the rooms to helping in the kitchen.  These chores were called “privileges.”  I was fascinated to watch this play out.  We were served with love, care, and big smiles by staff and guests alike.  Everyone’s leaves shone, and the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, patience, and kindness – were evident.

A Christian counts service a privilege.  It is the fruit of the Spirit!  To become a person who lives a life totally focused on God is to become a person who “has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit,” the fruit of the Spirit (Jer. 17:8).  This will manifest itself in serving others – even strangers – instead of being served oneself.

When you are bearing the fruit of the Spirit, you will express love in action to a spouse who doesn’t “love” you anymore, or a child who doesn’t “like” you anymore, or a mother-in-law who doesn’t talk to you anymore, or a workmate who doesn’t respect you anymore.  And all this because your branches are laden with the fruit of the Spirit.  You can be patient with the impatient, kind to the cruel, good to the bad, consistent with the unfaithful, gentle to the rough, forgiving to the ones who have hurt you, and able to control your temper when all of those around you have lost theirs.

In John’s grand vision of the trees in heaven he notes that these trees are “bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month” (Rev. 22:2).  This is a picture of God’s everlasting, constant presence.

Has there been a new crop of fresh fruit growing in your life?

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, December 8, 2014

A Healing Place for Others

Dear Friends,
In Rev. 22:1, John saw “the river of the water of life… flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”  John noticed that the leaves of the trees that lined the river’s banks were used for “the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2).  What a beautiful picture.  We may borrow the picture and apply it to ourselves, for Scripture uses the same symbol to describe the happy person who is planted by the river of God with her roots in the river of life.

Our lives should offer relief from the heat and shelter from the storm to those who need it.  People should take one look at our ever green lives and make a beeline for us.  Our lives should be full of healing, relief, and balm.

Are your leaves used for healing?  You can be a tree of life for others.  If I think about my life in recent days and years, I ask myself, “Have people beaten a path to my door because they know where help can be found?”  I want to be a tree Like Jeremiah describes with its roots in the river, its leaves ever green, and fruit that never fails.

When I heard about my father’s cancer, I knew the heat was on.  Coming from a family with little evangelical background, I knew there would be lots of opportunities to offer my leaves for healing in the days to come.  But this was my great test, too!  This was my beloved father who was entering the valley of the shadow.  I would be struggling with my own huge sense of loss.  How could I help others when I needed such a lot of help myself?

The answer was the river, the river of life.  Life in the Spirit offered a source of life to me in the very face of death.  My job would be to keep my roots in the river, my leaves full of sap, and stay ever green.  It was a hard, hot, desert experience for me, but the Spirit of God was sufficient to supply all I needed, not only for myself, but also for others.  God was indeed a life-giving spring.

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor 
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, December 1, 2014

Soaking Up the Word of God

Dear Friends,

Jeremiah spoke of a stream from God that gives nourishment to our life (our “tree”) in times of drought (Jer. 17:7, 8).  How will you know your roots are firmly planted in God’s river?  By the color of your leaves!  If you look into the river to see your reflection, you will notice leaves that are ever green and healthy.  A favorite verse of mine says, “The trees of the Lord are full of sap” (Ps. 104:16, KJV).  I like to think of the sap as Scripture.

As my roots are in the river of God and my mind is soaked in the Word of God, something sprouts.  What is inside comes out.  Evergreen trees ignore the seasons.  When the summer heat is on or the winter winds blast, their leaves shine on.  So with my roots in the river and my mind in the Word, I can shine on too.  I can bring color to a drab landscape.  People can find relief from the heat under my evergreen tree in the summer, and shelter from the storm in the winter. 

An evergreen tree is a tree for all seasons, and so are Christians who determine to dress themselves in faith’s foliage.  Not only in the book of Jeremiah but also in David’s psalms the happy person is described as one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers” (Ps. 1:2-3).

The more the sap of Scripture fills my branches, the more my leaves shine.  The sap must flow unhindered through the branches.  It is my job to confess and abandon sin so there will be no blockages hindering the flow of life.  This life, given through the Word of God, will produce an ever green tree.  “It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green” (Jer. 17:8).

Read the Bible every day, and obey it every moment.  Then your leaves will be ever green.

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor

Just Between Us Magazine