Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Praise Prepares Us for Problems

Dear Friends,
Learning to receive the good gifts of God, praising Him, and cultivating a thankful attitude in general, gets us into the right frame of mind to accept the problems of life. Job and his family had been the recipients of God’s free blessings for seventy years. Their hands had been open wide, stretched out toward heaven, to receive all the Lord gave them. Job refused to take those same outstretched hands and clench them into fists to shake in the face of God when the gifts of grace, health, wealth, and happiness were withheld. After all, the Giver of gifts has a perfect right to give or to withhold. He is under no obligation to us whatsoever. Having been a truly thankful man all his life helped Job when he had nothing to be thankful about. Praise prepares us for problems. It doesn’t keep trouble away, but it gets us ready for trouble when it comes.
Are you a negative or a positive person? Even if your personality or circumstance leads you to live in the shadows rather than the light, you can begin to discipline yourself to think about the good, not the evil, side of life. Paul enjoins us to do just that. “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about” (Phil 4:8).
A dear friend stricken with terminal cancer wrote to me along these very lines. She said, “I have existed in a healthy body for so many years, this is all so new to me. Oh yes, I do clench my fists at times. It’s still difficult to accept and understand since there is no history of cancer in my family and I have practiced all the healthy habits all of these years. But again and again, prayer and thanksgiving bring me back to an understanding and to an attitude of gratitude. I’ve been blessed in so many ways.” How is your attitude?

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, August 24, 2017

His Plan for Your Life

Dear Friends,
I did not experience faith that works until I understood that God had a plan for my life. Not just a general plan to help me finish school, get a job, marry the man of my dreams, and have kids—but a specific plan. A plan that He planned for me before I was even conceived.
I understood that my parents had a plan for my life. They carefully planned for my schooling.  They did the very best they could in postwar Britain to be thinking ahead and saving for my education.
The idea that God also had a plan and that His was the master plan for my life never occurred to me. Unlike my parents, teachers, and boyfriends, I couldn’t see God, didn’t know Him, and was not remotely interested in Him or His plans. I had absolutely no idea that God had any personal interest in me at all. I considered it responsible behavior to take charge of my own affairs. I was an eighteen-year-old college student, intent on making my own plans for my own life. I appreciated all that the adults in my life had done for me up to that time, but I thought “growing up” meant relieving them of their responsibility and charting my own course. It was going to be my own business to choose my path, partner, and philosophy of living. I had never opened a Bible so had never read any biblical concepts on the subject.
But one day all that changed. God told Jeremiah that He had a plan for his life when Jeremiah was young and inexperienced, and He told me the same when I was young and inexperienced, too. One day I met a girl who was marching to the beat of another drummer. She told me I would never be happy until I connected with God. She had a meaningful life, a sense of purpose, and an unshakable faith in a higher being. She told me that God in love had a plan for her—and that He had done the same for me. I was fascinated, not least because of her vibrant personality that I knew was somehow connected with her faith.
Compared to hers, my own life with all my plans appeared colorless and insipid. Could it be that God was a personal God who cared about me and planned for me in love? Step-by-step my new friend led me to the Cross of Christ and a Savior who died for me in order that I might live with Him forever.
When I asked Him to forgive my sin, my arrogant self-reliance, and my godless independence, I found myself at the beginning of a great adventure—living life according to the grand cosmic plan of God. It’s a wonderful thing to find the Lord in your youth. I thank God for His grace that found me while I still had a lifetime to love and serve Him.
Who is making the plans for your life? You? Your parents, teachers, or friends? Do you know that God has a wonderful plan for your life and that you will never be satisfied until you find that plan by submitting your whole self to Him?
God told Jeremiah that before He even formed Him in his mother’s body He had already figured out the master plan for his life. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” He told him (Jer. 1:5). Think about it. Before Jeremiah existed for anyone else to know, God knew him. And before I was me to know, God knew me. He as surely has plans for you and me as He has for Jeremiah. Before we were conceived in the womb, He knew us! In fact, this knowing and purposeful choosing of God predates our conception.
Like any loving father, our heavenly Father has a plan and purpose for all of His children. In fact, the Bible says, “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future’” (Jer. 29:11). God was talking to Israel, but He wants to give all of His children, including you, hope and a future.

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, August 17, 2017

It's "Not Fair"!

Dear Friends,
In Ecclesiastes 3:16, the Teacher says “And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there.” Later the Teacher comments, “There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve” (Eccl. 8:14).  What’s more, he warns, “God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked” (Eccl. 3:17).
Have you ever said, “It’s not fair?” You’re right, life isn’t always fair. It stopped being fair in the garden the day of the Fall. Yet God has put a sense of what is right and what is wrong—what is fair—deep down in our being. What’s fair and unfair raises its voice inside us, so even a small child will appeal to some unseen yet known standard of right and wrong.
When our two children Judy and David were in kindergarten, David hated to sing. One day their teacher in the small one-room schoolhouse asked the children if they would like to sing. Most responded “Yes!”
“Put your hand up if you don’t want to,” the teacher demanded. David put his little hand up.  “Good,” he thought, “she’s going to tell me it’s all right if I don’t join in.”
“Go and stand in the corner!” the teacher thundered at David. He did, and stayed there throughout the class. Judy was horrified. Watching her brother standing there, his little face to the wall, her five-year-old mind saw the injustice of it. She got to her feet, the tears running down her face. It’s no fair! It’s no fair!” The teacher turned a wrathful eye upon David’s little sister and said, “What’s not fair?”
“You asked him if he wanted to,” the little girl replied. “You asked him if he wanted to sing, and he told you!”
Good point, Judy. She was still sobbing when I picked the kids up that afternoon. We all need to do a little more sobbing, I think. There is injustice in the world at every level and we need to address it at every level.
Why does God allow it when He has the power to stop it? You may ask. Finding myself facing that question like so many others on 9/11, I resorted to a verse in Deuteronomy: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (29:29).
One thing He has revealed is that life here on earth will be full of injustice and sorrow until He has made a new earth where righteousness reigns. Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We who profess to know the Lord are to live rightly in a “wrongly” world! To shine as lights in the darkness and do our level best to point out inequities.
“Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen.18:25). Yes indeed, He will! He will bring everything to judgment. Meanwhile, we need to do right too.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Is God Governor of Your Marriage?

Dear Friends,
There is a story in John 2 about Jesus going to the wedding in Cana. You know the story—He was invited as a guest, and He went graciously and sat beside all the other guests. As custom would have it, the governor of the feast sat between the bride and groom at the head table. He was in charge of the wedding; he gave the orders.
During the feast, a serious thing happened—the wine ran out. Instead of going to the governor (whom they should have gone to) the servants went to Mary. They said, “The wine’s run out.” It doesn’t say why they went to Mary. Maybe they went to her because she was in charge of the food and the wine. They didn’t know what they were going to do. It would have been a disgrace in that culture to run out of food or drink. They certainly didn’t look to Jesus for a miracle because He hadn’t done any yet. But still, when Mary told them to, they approached Jesus and told Him, “The wine’s run out.”
Jesus said, “Fill the jars with water…Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet” (John 2:7-8). And the servants obeyed, even though they were risking their jobs by doing what He told them to do. As far as they knew, they believed they would be serving water, but they poured the drink anyway—and the miracle happened. The governor was very surprised and exclaimed, “This wine is better than any we’ve had before!” In fact, he said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2:10).
Jesus turned the water into wine when He took over and gave the orders.
Let’s take that story and use it as a picture of marriage for a minute. So many people I know want Jesus as a guest at their wedding, but they do not want Him as the governor of their marriage. And I believe that both spouses have to make sure that Jesus is the governor of their marriage. First, He must be governor of their lives individually. How do you know if He’s the governor? As Mary said to the servants in the story, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). What about you? Are you doing what He’s telling you to do? Are you being obedient? Is He governor?

When Jesus quit being the guest in that marriage and that wedding and became the governor, He turned the water into wine, and the Bible tells us it was better than anything they’d had before. In the same way, I believe marriage can be incredibly exciting, better than anything that has gone before. He, as the Scripture says, has “saved the best wine till now.” All the problems that show up on surveys do not need to be if the principle of Christian partnership is right, if God is the God of your individual life, and if God is the governor of your relationship with your husband.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine