Thursday, September 14, 2017

Persisting Through the Pain

Dear Friends,
When you can’t praise God for what He allows, try praising Him for who He is in the middle of what He allows. The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and He is the Spirit of perseverance. A friend who serves the Lord in France and has seen her hard-won converts falling by the wayside, moving out of the area, or just becoming so discouraged they stopped coming to the mission altogether, keeps on keeping on. “So who is He for you, Cathy?” I asked her. “He’s wonderful,” she replied, her eyes shining. “He’s so wonderful it doesn’t even matter that everything is so dreadful. I can praise Him for who He is even in this mess!” If we are oriented to performance and results, it’s hard to remember that obedience—faithfulness and persistence—is all He asks of us. Praise helps us remember that.
Praise helps us to stop worrying so much about the outcome. It helps us trust Him more. It reminds us God is big enough, strong enough, and loving enough to sustain and help—even when we feel useless. Praise lifts our lagging spirits. In fact, Isaiah tells us God will give us “the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isa. 61:3).
Chuck Swindoll writes about pain being “one of the few things we all have in common.” “Maybe,” he says, “You are the one with the crushed spirit right now—the hidden heartache that is too deep for words and too private for prayer chains.” If this is so, ask God to use pain positively in your life to grow the beautiful and fragrant flower of persistence.
Spend time in James 5:10-12 and ask God to work in your heart a mighty enabling to endure.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Friday, September 8, 2017

Believing God Can

Dear Friends,
Remember Martha, Mary, and Lazarus? When Lazarus died, Martha was hurt that Jesus had not come and healed Him. After all, she and Mary had sent Him an urgent message, telling Him their brother was very ill. Jesus asked Martha if she believed He was the resurrection and the life. She replied that she did. She stood in front of friends and foe alike and testified that Jesus was able to raise the dead (John 11:24). “Then take away the stone from his grave,” said Jesus. “Lord,” Martha replied at once, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been dead for four days.”
That’s Martha—ever the practical thinker! But you see, she hadn’t applied the truth to her own heart. She had been taught by Jesus enough to believe He was God and He could indeed raise the dead. But she had not stayed still long enough to believe He was her God and would raise her dead! She could not roll away the stone.
The last glimpse we get of Martha is in John, chapter 12, where we read that “Martha served.”  The occasion was another gathering of Jesus and the disciples; it was in fact a dinner in Jesus’ honor given in the house of Simon the Leper. This time, however, Martha received no rebuke from her Lord. Martha was doing what she did best. As was Mary, who offered Jesus her little alabaster box of ointment. The house was filled with the fragrance of Martha’s cooking, her gift of practicality, and with the fragrance of Mary’s perfume, her gift of praise. Both aromas alerted everyone to the fact that Christ was present.

There are two sorts of believers; those who believe He “could”—like Martha, and those who believe He “would”—like Mary. The difference lies in the choice we make: the choice to serve Him first. This choice will certainly not mean we will be any less busy! But our busyness will be Christ-directed, Christ-honoring, and Christ-empowered. We will be running, but never running on empty!
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine