Monday, March 21, 2016

What was Jesus Thinking?

Dear Friends,

What does a person think about when he is being crucified?  When You are the Son of God dying for a lost world, you think of forgiveness.  Jesus showed us how to react to the ones responsible for our agony!  We are to pardon them for it!  But how on earth do we do that?  We pray about it!  What a part prayer played in the life of our Lord—Jesus, hanging on the cross, was in prayer!  He was in prayer for His tormentors.  Whom did Jesus need to pardon?  The disciples who forsook Him and fled, the soldiers who played dice for His clothes, the Pharisees who railed at Him, and the people who simply stood beholding!

Who is causing your suffering?  Have friends seen your misfortune and forsaken you?  Are relatives trying to do you out of your property, a legacy, or something that they owe you?  Have people railed at you in the heat of an argument?  Have others simply stood beholding your pain and doing nothing to help?  Whom do you need to forgive?

We are commanded to forgive by the One who forgave us.  “Pray for those who despitefully use you and forgive as you have been forgiven,” Jesus said.  When we understand the breadth of Christ’s forgiveness, perhaps we will not find it impossible to pardon our own persecutors!  Then we will need to tell those who have hurt us that we have forgiven them.  Jesus prayed aloud, so everyone could hear: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”


Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Surprised by Grace

Dear Friends,

If we look closely at Job’s story, we recognize that Job did not discover significant aspects of God’s character until the blessings were withheld.  Before Job went through his trials, he knew God as a God of power, wisdom, and justice.  Until he suffered, he did not know Him as a God of loving grace.  Job talks about God’s “whisper” (Job 26:14).  It is these still, small whispers of comfort in the ears of our souls that explain why it is necessary perhaps to spend some time out of our comfort zone.  How would we ever know God to be adequate if we had never been inadequate?  How would we ever have our tears wiped away if we had never cried?  Job was well aware that the honor and success that had been his were gifts of grace.  He had been able to hold his material wealth lightly and not tightly.  As David McKenna suggests in Whispers of His Grace, “Being right with God should help us in doing right with things, so we don’t suffer from affluenza!”

Job did not waste needless energy asking why these terrible things should have happened to him.  He immediately began to look for hope and light—without the answers.  This mind-set helped him to put the little strength he had left into seeking to be a distinctive believer in the midst of his suffering.  He was well aware that others were watching him closely.  This is always the case.

I remember when I was a new Christian taking note of how people coped with trouble.  The people I knew who claimed to belong to Christ—who were committed Christians—responded differently from those who made no profession of faith at all.  This was not lost on me.  There was a man I knew who worked in a factory, a workplace in which there was a strong atheistic element.  Even though this man tried to speak about his faith, no one would listen.  We knew the family through business and were aware that he and his wife had been trying to have a baby for years.  One day the man’s wife got pregnant.  They were both ecstatic.  The man shared his good news with his workmates, who showed little interest.  They showed considerable interest, however, when the child was born with a severe handicap.  “That’s funny,” commented the hard-bitten union chief.  “We don’t believe in a god, and our kids are healthy!  What sort of a god would give you a handicapped child?”

“What did you say?” I asked our friend, aghast at such a comment.

“I just said, ‘I’m so very glad God gave her to us and not to you.’”

I was amazed, and even though a new believer, I took note of the distinctive way God enables His children to handle pain and testify of God’s grace in it.  There is no doubt in my mind that even though our friend’s workmates would rather die than admit it, they, too, must have been impressed!

Nobody knows what is around the corner of tomorrow.  But one thing we can know: God will be waiting there for us. He is a God of comfort, a God well acquainted with grief and suffering.  A God who knows what it is to have the forces of hell do their worst.  Because God inhabits our future, He is never surprised by the magnitude of the troubles waiting for us. 


Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Escape from Busyness

Dear Friends,

We can all relate to the ongoing need for renewal in the midst of our busy day.  However, we’re often on the run from early morning till late at night and can’t seem to find the precious minutes to be still.  Over and over again women tell me what an ongoing struggle this is for them.  I quite understand; it’s an ongoing struggle for me, too!

In Luke 10, we meet Martha, who was seemingly too busy to be blessed.  Jesus did not rebuke her busyness but rather her anxiety about it.  Jesus wanted to take her worry about her work away from her, relieving her of the stress that is so often the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  Martha’s problem is often ours.  We are distracted by our much serving and become, as someone has said, more concerned with the work of the Lord than the Lord of the work!  It is so easy to do.  There was nothing wrong with Martha’s love and devotion for Jesus.  But busyness that hustles out to meet the day without meeting Jesus first is busyness that will soon be busy bossing everyone around, getting irritated, becoming self-righteous and downright hostile with everyone in sight.  What’s more, it is an activity that will end up in an accusing, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me”  (Luke 10:40b)!

Of course He cares!  He would have us join Mary at His feet so He can tell us how much He cares.  You might be tempted to think it was easy for Mary.  She was obviously of a very different temperament than her sister.  But we must be careful; we must not presume we really know what Mary’s temperament was like.  John Calvin points out that Jesus said she had chosen the better part.  If this was the case, he suggests, perhaps she was Martha before she was Mary.  That’s a neat thought.  Maybe Mary was even more of a Martha than Martha!  The point is, whatever our temperament or inclination to worship, we all need to make a daily choice to meet Him sometime, someplace that fits our particular schedule.  If we do, we will go out to serve with His blessing resting on our service, His peace in our hearts, His joy on our lips.  If we don’t take time to be renewed, we’ll end up earning a rebuke at the end of the day.

So come ye apart and rest awhile—as Jesus invited you.  If you don’t, you may well find yourself coming apart!


Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Spiritual Art of Generosity

Dear Friends,

Giving your life away a bit at a time is a lifelong occupation.  It starts with a full surrender to the will of God in your life—and doing so before you know what it entails.  “Whatever, Lord; whenever, Lord; however, Lord” are good words to use.  It is a mind-set that asks, “What do I possess that I did not receive?”  A mind-set that is ever grateful for Jesus.  A mind-set that regards everything I have as a trust for the kingdom.  I am simply a steward, not only of the mysteries of God (1Cor. 4:1), but also of anything God gives me here and now to use for Him.  That includes my property, my home and garden, my cars, my bank balance, and so on.  Everything. Jesus didn’t say to the rich young ruler, “Leave some of it in escrow and follow me.”  He said, “Sell everything you have….Then come, follow me” (Luke 18:22).

The amazing thing is that when you live like this, you find your own needs being met.  Paul says to his generous friends in Philippi, “My God shall supply all your needs as you supply other people’s needs.  That’s how it works.  You supplied mine, God will supply yours” (Phil. 4:19).
I want my life to be characterized by generosity.  I want people to see me giving it all, all the time, all the way.  I want to because that’s what Jesus did for me.  “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” says Paul, “that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

When you know the grace of Jesus, then it’s easy to respond in kind.  Ask yourself: “How can I become poorer for Jesus?”  This may not sit well in some circles today.  I hear a lot of, “How can I become richer for Jesus?”  Ask instead, “What can I give away?  What would really cost me?”  Do you get rid of all your loose change in the offering, or do you empty your purse into the plate and walk ten miles home because you have no money to pay for a bus ride, as a friend of mine did one day in response to a missionary offering?  Extreme?  Maybe.  But did I hear a laugh?  A great, grand cosmic laugh?  Does God love the one who learns the spiritual art of generosity in all its dimensions?  Oh yes, very much!

“Well, Jill,” I hear you say, “I can’t do that.  That’s taking this Christianity you talk about too far.”  It’s a question of “Will you?” not, “Can you?”  You can do anything God calls you to do.  “Well,” you say with relief, “God hasn’t ‘called’ me to be irresponsible with money.”  True enough—God has simply asked you to give it all away.  Come, follow Him.  Like the rich young ruler, you will go away sad if you refuse to abandon your life—all you have and all you are—to God.  It’s a choice.  If you take the challenge, then you’ll be able to say with Paul, “I can do everything through [Christ] who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).


Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine