Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rich in "God Things"

Dear Friends,
There was a man who was the richest farmer in the valley. He was not a God-fearing man but was instead a “self—made” man who worshipped His creator (himself!). He had in his employ a humble gardener who loved the Lord.
One day the richest man in the valley opened the door to his godly servant who stood outside on the doorstep holding his hat awkwardly in his hands.
“What is it?” his master asked him.
“Sir,” the man replied awkwardly, “I had a dream that tonight at midnight the richest man in the valley would die.”
“Why, my man,” the richest man in the valley replied, “I’m in excellent health—don’t you worry about me!” Then gently, “It’s all that religion you go in for—makes you think morbid thoughts.”
The man shuffled away and the master went inside the house again. However, he couldn’t get over the man’s words and he decided to stay up late and ask his friend’s doctor to come over and play bridge with him—just in case! The doctor complied and the evening passed with the richest man in the valley glancing at the clock every half hour or so and insisting the doctor stay and play just “one more game.”
At half past midnight the doctor left and the richest man in the valley chided himself for being so foolish. As he turned off the lights and started to go up the winding staircase to bed, the doorbell rang. Thinking the doctor had forgotten something, the rich man returned to the front door and opened it. A young girl stood weeping on the doorstep.
“Whatever is the matter?” the man inquired, not unkindly.
“Sir,” the girl replied, “tonight at midnight my father died.”
“Who is your father?” the richest man in the valley asked.
“Your gardener, sir,” she said.
The richest man in the valley! And indeed he was, for those who know and love the Lord are rich beyond measure—in this world and the next.

We can be as poor as this world’s goods are concerned, but wealthy in “God things.”  There are spiritual riches, the Bible says, that surpass anything the world can offer.  Jesus asks in Mark 8:36, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

God's Amazing Grace

Dear Friends,
When Jesus told the parable of the lost son, He told of a father watching for his prodigal to return. You get the feeling that the man watched the road every day, waiting to catch a glimpse of his boy coming home. Jesus said that this is exactly what happens in heaven. The Father and His angels are watching a whole world full of prodigals sitting in packed-out pigsties! And whenever one comes to his senses and starts out for home, the Father leans out of heaven, alerting the angels, and says, “Look, there’s one” (Luke 15:7)!
When I was fourteen years old and hadn’t a serious thought in my empty little head, I remember looking at a Bible on a bookshelf and struggling with myself.
“Read it,” insisted a little voice inside.
“What for?” I argued, “I don’t need it.”
“You don’t even know what’s inside,” said the voice, “so how can you know you don’t need it!  Go on, take it down off the shelf and open it up.”
“No,” I answered stubbornly.
The funny thing was that I suddenly wanted to but something held me back. I never did obey that still, small voice, but I do believe at that initial moment of spiritual awakening in my young heart, the Father turned to the angels, pointed me out, and said, “She’s coming home!”  I didn’t arrive until five years later, when I realized that the Father of love runs down the road of repentance and meets us at the cross. He does not make us crawl home, because His Son already crawled to Calvary for us, carrying our cross on His back! It’s such a powerful picture, it leaves me breathless.
God’s grace is an amazing thing. God’s truth tells us the truth about ourselves, but His grace forgives us for the truth He reveals!
Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Keep the Faith

Dear Friends,
It isn’t easy to continue going to church or trying to do a ministry during, or immediately after, a period of pain and suffering—and yet there is healing if we do so. I know how difficult it can be to go to a worship service and hear everyone singing happy hymns. One more happy chorus and I’ll scream you think!  But there is a certain therapy in worship and service. Not the least of it because in ministry we often meet a lot of people a whole lot worse off than we are. It’s like the old saying, “I was sad because I had no shoes—until I met a man who had no feet!” In life we usually bump into quite a few people who have no feet! In helping and encouraging them, we find a measure of relief ourselves.
What did Jesus’ followers do while they were waiting for the Comforter to come after Jesus had ascended into heaven? “They all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14). They also went to a great deal of trouble to choose a disciple to take the place of Judas, who had killed himself after betraying Jesus—and can’t you imagine the emotions this process brought up for all of them? At this point, their only instructions were to wait for the Holy Spirit. They waited in faith, restoring the apostles’ number back to the original twelve in the anticipation that their little organization—their body of Christ—would indeed move forward and continue Jesus’ ministry on earth. On the day of Pentecost, “they were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1). During their wait, all they knew to do was pray and stay together—and that’s what they did.
I find the examples of these faithful people practical and helpful. While I am in God’s waiting room, I can realize that my character is under divine reconstruction. I can try to normalize my routine (with lots of English cups of tea and a big pair of pruning shears or similar helps). I can continue my religious disciplines, whether I am feeling “connected” or not, and keep up whatever ministry is feasible for me. I can also try to mend whatever fences I can and try not to worry too much about the ones that only God can mend at some future date. Persisting in all of this will help me regain my spiritual perspective.
Are you in God’s waiting room? Are you waiting for a baby to be born? A prodigal to return? A spouse to reconcile? Are you waiting for someone to share your life with? For a Job? or a cure?  Wait on the Lord and not on the answer. Try to concentrate on His person, His plans, and schedule—His business. Job’s growing faith did not stop the agony, but it helped him find a measure of productivity in his life, to the extent that the Scriptures say, “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.”

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ministry is a Spiritual Art for Everyone

Dear Friends,
People often say to me, “I wish I knew what God wanted me to do with my life.”
“That’s easy,” I reply. “Ministry.”
Their eyes open wide. “You mean give up my job and go away to a nunnery or something?”
“No,” I reply, “probably not. Just get going.  Look around you. The mission field is between your own two feet at any one time.”
Ministry is not something for the professional Christian only—someone who has been to seminary or Bible school or on the mission field. It is for all who have become new persons in Christ Jesus and have experienced “the old things passing away, and all things becoming new” (2 Cor. 5:17). It is for those who have had a radical change in their lives because of their conversion and who want—more than that, feel—a responsibility to make sure everyone has the same opportunity.
Ministry is being a blessing. It’s serving and giving and not counting the cost. It’s what we who love Jesus are supposed to be doing all day, every day. Ministry is talking about Jesus, serving Jesus, being Jesus where people are in need of Jesus. Ministry is the most exciting, stretching thing in the world. It’s an art—a spiritual art.
Ministry—helping people—happens all day every day and all night every night. Ministry goes on all over the world and on all seven continents.  Old people and young people minister. Black people and white people. Wealthy people and poor people.  Sick people and healthy people.  Ministry is a full-time twenty-four-hour thing. An “I can’t wait to get going in the morning” thing. An “I don’t have time to sleep” thing. An “I can’t believe I have the privilege of doing this” thing. It’s a hard thing, a glorious thing, a stretch, a reach, a “pulling you in every direction” thing. It is exhausting and exhilarating, and emptying of yourself and a “filling up to overflowing” thing.  inistry is in the end an art of the Spirit—a spiritual art.
Ministry is for all of us—those of us who have grown up in the church and those of us who, like me, have come to Christ from the outside of “Christian everything.” So don’t say, “But I don’t have any opportunity to minister. I have no training.” Ask God to show you the hundreds of opportunities that are right under your nose every day. And get going!

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, May 4, 2017

I Don't Want to be a Complainer!

Dear Friends,
In the book of Isaiah, God had said no to certain things His people wanted. They were told not to worship other gods. They had more or less complied, but their temple worship had become empty and meaningless—a mere ritual. God had told them their worship must not be like this; but they ignored Him, and apostasy followed, which resulted in their beautiful temple being in ruins (see Isa. 1:10-18).
The people of God felt very bad about it; however, they were not sorry for God but for themselves. They wept when they thought of Jerusalem and their temple rituals. They did not weep for their rebellious, contrary hearts. Now that there was no temple in which to worship, they did not realize their error and begin to worship God in spirit and in truth; they simply grumbled and mumbled as had been their habit since Moses led them out of Egypt. When you indulge in self-pity, it’s a miserable affair. No joy in that!  he people of God had truly hung up their harps on the Gripe Tree!
I’ve discovered that when I complain, my spirit is overwhelmed. A spirit of complaint leads to discouragement and spoils my relationships. I’ve observed that I can be sitting in a worship service and start to gripe inwardly about the music, the teenager’s earrings in front of me, or the lighting or flowers on the platform. Immediately my spirit of worship disappears, and I am overwhelmed with a sense of discontent. The children of Israel were into complaining—especially in “church.” This did nothing to lift their spirits or fortify their souls.
So how do we stop ourselves from griping and grumbling, thereby losing our joy?
Christians, who should be the most thankful people in the world, often sound the most disgruntled. It’s as if we feel the world owes us something instead of remembering it’s we who owe the world. The apostle Paul thought of himself as in debt to humankind. He believed he owed them an explanation of the gospel. He also felt he owed them a life of service and sacrifice.  He was, after all, rich beyond measure.
He had come to know Christ, the priceless Son of God. He had spiritual wealth enough and to spare to pay his debt. Paul had more reasons than any of us to grumble. He was hounded, stoned, imprisoned, beaten, tried unjustly, and abandoned by friends. He was lonely, hungry, shipwrecked, laughed at, homeless, and helpless. But the only thing he grumbled about was the fact that there weren’t enough hours in the day to tell people about his Savior and Lord and to build his church!
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine