Monday, February 23, 2015

Control Your Tongue as Jesus Controlled His


Dear Friends,
Think about how Jesus wonderfully bridled his own tongue.  Think of all the times it must have been hard for Him to keep quiet.  The last time He saw the disciples in the upper room, for example, He said to them, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear” (Jn. 16:12).  He told them that when the Holy Spirit came, He would explain things further.  Can you imagine if you or I had knowledge that today was the last time we would be with those closest to us?  Our first inclination would be to talk our heads off, whether or not those listening were able to understand us.  Jesus, out of love and concern for His disciples, knew there was “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:7), and that this was a time to keep silent.  And so He did.  His Spirit, which He sent to live in us, can help us to do the same!
All through Jesus’ ministry, people wondered at the gracious words that came out of His mouth.  No bitter water sprang from the lips of the Lord Jesus!  Maybe strong words, maybe fierce words or righteously angry words, but above all, they were gracious words.
So Jesus in me can help me bridle my tongue, control my temper, and choose fitting words for me to speak that meet any and all situations.  When our tongue starts to lead us into rough waters, we have to allow the Pilot to turn our ship about and steer us to safety (Jas. 3: 2-6).
If we do not want our words to cause a shipwreck, we need to give Jesus the rudder.  Have you ever done that?  You can kneel down and say, “Jesus, it says in the Bible that all my members must be yielded to You.  My hands, my feet, my heart, my mind, my ears, my eyes, and my tongue.”  If you think about each of the parts of your body, especially the tongue, and give them one by one to God and ask Him to control them, He will.
God takes seriously the words of all His followers:  not just teachers, but listeners and learners too.  Jesus said, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (Matt. 12:36).
Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fighting the "Me" Trap


Dear Friends,
Erma Bombeck (one of my favorite prophetesses), commented wisely in a newspaper column I clipped more than thirty years ago:

“During the last year, I have dissected my marriage, examined my motives for buying, interpreted my fantasies, come to grips with midlife, found inner peace, outer flab, become my best and only friend.  I have brought order to my life, meditated, given up guilt, adjusted to the new morality, and spent every living hour understanding me, interpreting me, and loving me.  And… you know what?  I am bored to death of me.”

The results of being egocentric instead of Christocentric are boredom, lack of fulfillment, and a bad self-image.  It stands to reason that God’s creatures living in God’s world, sustained by God, intended by God to live for God, will be pretty miserable divorced from God.

In his book titled The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis wrote about sin coming between God and humanity.  He believed that the remarriage of God and man through Christ’s death and resurrection brought reconciliation between the divorced parties.  Yet some Christians seem to flirt with the world for the rest of their lives, thus falling into the “me trap” and putting their relationship with God on hold.

God says that reconnection with Him will never be boring, for at His right hand are “eternal pleasures” (Ps. 16:11).  Those who have experienced this relationship will tell you that its pleasure will far outweigh any transitory pain.

How, then, do we get out of the “me trap”?  We can start by asking the Lord to lift the steel spring and set us free.  Christ has the strength not only to liberate us but also to keep us free!  But first we have to recognize that we have made the choice to follow Satan’s deception, to eat the cheese he offers.  We can start by looking at our reaction to suffering.  If we ask angrily, “What is this trouble doing in my life?” we have not realized that the trouble we are suffering is acceptable to the Lord and therefore should be acceptable to us.  If we continue angrily fighting against what God has allowed, we are well trapped into an attitude of mind that can only add to the trouble that has already invaded our lives!

Look to the Lord for a relationship of reconciliation that will keep you far from the “me trap.”

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, February 9, 2015

Loving While We're Waiting


Dear Friends,
While we’re watching for Jesus, we need to be fighting the battle against self.  We need to be loving while we’re waiting for His glorious return.  We long to see Jesus, but, you see, we have seen Jesus!
You may say, “But I live not in the far-off heaven but in the here and now.  So what do I do while I’m waiting?  How can I glimpse a little of His glory so that I am spurred on till the end?”
It was Philip who said to the Lord, “Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”  Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?” (Jn. 14:8-9).  In other words, “Look at me, Philip!  You are looking at the Father when you look at me!”
This is what we can do while we are waiting.  We can learn to love as He loved.  We can read the Gospels and see Him heal a leper or feed the five thousand.  We can hear Him teach the Beatitudes or speak words of kindness to sinners.  We can watch Him in Gethsemane praying for strength to die for us and then breathing His last on the cross–but all this is in our mind’s eye.  One day we will see Him in truth and reality!
After Jesus had risen from the dead, He appeared to the disciples.  He said to Thomas, who had been doubting His resurrection from the dead, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn. 20:29).
We have not had a Philip chance or a Thomas chance to see Jesus in reality.  But we are happy indeed if we believe in Him.  One day we shall see Him face-to-face.
As we nurture our relationship with God by enjoying His immediate presence by His Spirit, we will find ourselves energized to finish our course with joy.  We are left in the world for a reason till that day.  There is a war to be won.  There are people who need the gospel.  There are enemies of Jesus who must be overcome.  And, of course, there is the battle that rages not only without but within to be like Christ.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to look Him in the face on that day!  I don’t want to be ashamed to meet His eye.  I hear so many people talking about the fact that they can’t wait till Jesus comes and takes us all out of here.  This is a rather selfish point of view and perhaps a shortsighted one.  He is going to ask us to account for the time we spent here while we were waiting for His return.  How did we fight the battle?  Were we active in His service until the very last day?  We don’t want to be so heavenly-minded that we are no earthly use. 
Above all, how did we love?
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, February 2, 2015

Generosity - God's Antidote to Greed


Dear Friends,
One of the things we discover as we know Christ and increasingly experience His life in us is a growing spirit of generosity:  a willingness to share.  We all need to realize that generosity is God’s antidote to greed.

If we suspect we are addicted to money or to the possession of what we can buy, we need to develop the habit of regularly giving some of those riches away.  Ask yourself if you have developed a real attachment to some possession or other.  Look around to see if someone needs that particular thing more than you do.  Pray about it.  If you are honest, you may realize that the thing has you in its power.  Give it away speedily!

Beyond giving of our material possessions, God calls upon us to give our selves away–our time, energy, and passion.  One way to develop a generosity of spirit is to get involved with missions.  Commit to a short-term mission project, contribute to a relief agency, or get involved in a refugee resettlement program in your own city.  Also, you could take a family vacation that involves service rather than just pleasure.  You and your children would be the richer for it. 

We tried to give our growing children exposure to others’ needs in their own backyards in the good old USA.  When David, our eldest, was fifteen, he went on a six-week assignment with about a dozen of his peers and their youth leader to New Orleans.  There they lived in a school dormitory and were servants to a mission working deep in the French Quarter.  It was hard work and quite a culture shock for those kids as they went along on visitations with the staff of the mission, were exposed to life in run-down tenements, and ran children’s clubs for the street kids.  The young people learned what the other half of the world looks like and lives like, and the experience was life changing.  They were not paid for their work; in fact, it cost them money to go!  But they came back with spiritual gold in their spiritual pockets, and that is what mattered. 

If we spend a lot of time building up real wealth–spiritual riches–instead of storing up things for ourselves, chances are that we will become “rich toward God” (Lk. 12:21).

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine