Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Jesus Has Forbidden Me to Worry

Dear Friends,
It really helps me to know that anxiety is forbidden. “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1), counseled Jesus. I have noticed that worry and fear are near allies. Jesus tells us not to let worry dominate our lives. Don’t let it? That means we can do something to stop it—and that something is trust. The act of not letting worry dominate us but rather letting the peace of God dominate us is a learned art—a spiritual art.
Fearing for your life is forbidden by Jesus. In Matthew 6:27, Jesus asks, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” You can go to the grave having worried about all the days you weren’t going to live and have the opportunity to worry about! In fact, some of us will go to the grave having worried about keeping ourselves alive until the moment comes. It’s such a freeing thing to trust God with that. Put it in His backpack.
To the people of His day—and to us today—Jesus declared, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matt. 6:34).  If you trust, you do not worry; if you worry, you do not trust. Ask the Lord for the grace to trust Him.
When Stuart and I travel, particularly in England, we love to wander through English graveyards. Epitaphs are a source of interest and wonder to us. Just a line or two on a gravestone sets you wondering why that sentence was chosen to summarize the life of the one in the grave.  Here are a couple of my favorites: “Here lies a man who went out of the world without ever knowing why he came into it!” That’s sad. And another: “Here lies the Reverend so-and-so, who served God without enthusiasm—a Puritan’s grave! I have often wondered about my own gravestone. I don’t want someone to sum up my life with, “Here lies Jill Briscoe, who worried herself to death.”
We know that worry is a precursor of many physical problems. It is also evidence of all sorts of spiritual problems. For whatever is a lack of faith is sin. I would like to have my epitaph read, “Here lies Jill Briscoe, who overcame worry and fear with faith and helped others to do the same.” I’m working on making this statement true in my life.

Blessings,
Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Being Teachable

Dear Friends,
Learning new disciplines requires planning and setting aside time to submit to whatever it is these practices may require of us. In fact, a good first step is to take some time away to think about it. You might say, “But, Jill, I need God to teach me humility. How do I put that on my schedule?” Well, perhaps you could plan a mission trip where you get your hands dirty in a challenging project that requires compassion. This may mean setting aside other pursuits, such as learning to water-ski or taking a course to gain new skills in your vocation. Or it could be that you go to your pastor or other church leaders and ask that you be empowered to exchange leadership or teaching opportunities for following and serving opportunities for a period of time.  It may mean you take a self-learning theological study on the internet that will require submitting your life to some additional stress for a time. It is important that those who teach others also teach themselves. I don’t know what it will require in your case, but carefully consider the art you need to learn, and then submit to whatever time it takes to learn it.
It may be a matter of learning a skill or a character trait—gentleness, for example. Can you learn how to be gentle? Yes, you can learn how to be anything God wants you to be if you are teachable. Ask yourself, “How can I practice this character trait in my life?” Well, look around for a difficult person in your life. Most of us don’t have to look far. Think of your past dealings with this person. Have you been harsh, loud, or bossy? Have you been inflexible and unwilling to change tactics? Try gentleness. How? Submit to the Spirit’s working in you. Next time you talk to your difficult person, remember the Scripture that says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). It doesn’t mean that you allow this person to run all over you; it means you gently and firmly hold your ground, smile, and lovingly see that you are heard. That takes practice. But gentleness is a learned art.
They say old dogs can’t learn new tricks. Well, I am an old dog, and I’m still learning new tricks—but only insofar as I submit myself to the learning process, admit that I need to learn whatever is necessary to make me more mature in Christ, and make sure that I learn the how-tos as well as the principles of daily Christian living.

Blessings,
Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage

Dear Friends, 
What do you do when you’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’ in your marriage? Maybe you truly adored your husband in the beginning, but now you can’t remember why. Maybe you honestly admired his finer qualities, but now you can’t remember what they were. You once appreciated his wonderful attributes, but now you take them for granted.
Between taking out the garbage, paying the bills, running the car pool, mowing the lawn, disciplining the kids and folding the laundry, sometimes the passion of marriage gets lost. It happens to all of us at one time or another. We can get so busy taking care of life that we forget to take care of love.
No one gets married to have a long list of chores.
If you’re like me, you got married because you were madly in love and couldn’t imagine life without your man! You were passionately stirred beyond belief and couldn’t wait to tie the knot and spend the rest of your days with this incredible person God had miraculously brought into your life. Maybe you still feel that way. But maybe you could use a little reminder—a re-stoking of that passion.
In the book of Revelation, God had this to say to the church at Ephesus: I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first (Rev. 2:4). Ephesus was one of the most loving churches in the New Testament, and yet somewhere along the way they lost that initial thrill of knowing Christ. Their love for each other and for God had grown cold.
So how do you get that lovin’ feelin’ back? God gave the church two simple steps in Revelations 2:5a, and I believe we can apply them to our marriages as well: Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
  1. Remember how it was in the beginning.
  2. Return and do the things you did at first.
For most of us, the accumulation of small struggles can nibble like termites to undermine the foundation of what appears to be a healthy structure as surely as the unexpected, earth-shaking rumble of sudden disaster. And routine, even good routine, can rob us of the joy and passion of marriage … if we let it.
One day I took John’s words in Revelation to heart, and decided to “remember and return” by romancing my husband. One day I simply put a sticky note on his bathroom mirror that said, “I love you.” Another day I placed a box of Red Hot candy on his car seat with a note that said, “You’re a hottie.”
And you know what happened? Steve had a skip in his step and smile on his face. And what happened in me? I can hardly describe the love that welled up in me, as I loved my man well. Hear this … I changed. The passion was re-ignited.
I don’t have a personal story of how God took our marriage and miraculously transformed it into a storybook romance filled with white-knight rescues, relentless romance and rides into the sunset leaving all danger and darkness behind. Although our marriage has been all that at one time or another, it’s no fairy tale.
Our marriage is like a daily journal, one page after another, one day after another. I’m guessing just like yours. Some entries are smudged with tears; others are dog-eared as favorites. Some days are marred by unsuccessful erasures that couldn’t quite rub away the hurtful words said; others are finger-worn by the reading of precious events time and time again.
But on those days when I see my marriage slipping into the mundane cadence of passionless routine, I pull out my list of ideas, and put a smile on Steve’s face.
Lord, may that be my challenge today. When I see the fire needs stoking, help me remember and return. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Leave a comment and share one thing that drew you to your husband in the early days. We’ll randomly pick one comment and send a free copy of Sharon’s new book, A 14-Day Romance Challenge: Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage. 

Blessings,
Sharon Jaynes
Author
Guest Blogger

Sharon Jaynes is a conference speaker and author of 21 books. Her latest release, A 14-Day Romance Challenge is filled over 250 ways to reignite passion in your marriage and captivate your husband all over again. Learn more about Sharon’s resources at sharonjaynes.com

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Forgiving Yourself

Dear Friends,
When I first became a Christian, I had trouble believing that I was forgiven. It was hard for me to believe that God had forgotten what I couldn’t help but remember. God had forgiven me, but I couldn’t forgive myself.
It was a long time before I could trust what the Bible said about the forgiveness of God. What love and patience it took for Him to show me such mercy and grace.
I realized that one day every human being will stand before God. To each one He will say either, “I forgive you” or “I forget you.” There is no middle ground, no partial forgiveness. God has forgiven you completely. Those who learn how much they have been forgiven can also know that they will never be forgotten.
The problem is staying still enough and silent enough long enough to allow God the chance to do His renewing work. Staying still until the focus of your heart shifts from you to Him takes tenacity and discipline. The effort, however, is so worthwhile! You will know when that takes place. You will stop thinking about yourself. What a novel thought!
I never realized how self-centered I was until I began to practice being still and quiet. There I was, filling the center of my thinking. I couldn’t escape from my horrible self-absorption. I was everywhere. I found that if I asked God to help me to change my self-absorption to God-absorption and sat there long enough for Him to do that renewing work within me, it actually began to happen!
If I waited stubbornly and patiently, but with confidence, until His work was done in me and for me I found that He recreated spiritual life, and perspective in my heart. It is good to wait with quietness and confidence for the good being done in you and through you. When you have truly experienced God’s forgiveness yourself, then you are ready for God to take your faith and display it to the world.

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine