Monday, December 22, 2014

Going to Bethlehem

Dear Friends,
It was the Christmas season and I was thinking about all the tinsel triviality around me.  The Grinch was winning big time!  I had been frantically rushing around my world in ever-decreasing circles.  Have you ever been like this at Christmas?  So hectic that you miss what it’s all about?  I was sitting on The Front Door step at last, when it opened and He whom my soul loves joined me.
“Lord,” I began as my soul stopped rushing around inside me and sat down for a few saving moments – “Speak to me.  Do whatever it takes to touch the quiet place within me where You live. Whatever it takes, Lord, do what it takes to renew my faith and set my spirit dancing, so I can do whatever it takes to tell my world why You came at Christmas.”  He smiled at me thoughtfully as if remembering something.  Then He spoke.
“One day I said to my Father, ‘Whatever it takes Father, I’ll do it.  Whatever it takes to bring them all home to our house.’  And my Father said to me:  ‘Go to Bethlehem!  That’s what it takes!’  And so I came!  As a baby, born to a woman who barely counted her age in double figures.  Go to Bethlehem, Jill.”
I knew at once what He was telling me.  I needed to go to Bethlehem. 
Lord, I worship You, I am in awe!  I am reduced in spirit, Lord, overcome with remorse that I have for far too long allowed my faith to lie low at Christmas of all times!  I have allowed the Grinch to steal my Christmas.  Forgive me!
I had been to the mall, to the outlets, to visit the family, but I hadn’t been to Bethlehem!  I had fallen foul of the Christmas rush.  I went – right then and there.  You can too, you know.  It changed my Christmas.  It will change yours!
Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Life that Bears Much Fruit

Dear Friends,
Jeremiah spoke of a stream from God that gives nourishment to our life (our “tree”) in times of drought (Jer. 17:7,8).  He tells us that that a life rooted in God’s stream “never fails to bear fruit.”

There are many varieties of trees.  But the Lord’s trees are fruit trees.  As if it is not enough to have your roots in the river and your leaves ever green, the trees of the Lord described here have their branches laden with fruit.  Life in the Spirit is healing life, green life, and fruitful life. It is the life of the Spirit as described in Gal. 5:22-23:  “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  Paul had already told the Galatians, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal. 5:6).  Love is being primarily concerned with others’ well-being, regardless of the cost to yourself.  Love shows itself in service.

At a Bible conference the guests were asked to help with the chores.  They were paying guests, but the school was short on staff.  As the guests arrived, they were asked to sign up for a chore to do.  The chores ranged from serving at tables to cleaning or vacuuming the rooms to helping in the kitchen.  These chores were called “privileges.”  I was fascinated to watch this play out.  We were served with love, care, and big smiles by staff and guests alike.  Everyone’s leaves shone, and the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, patience, and kindness – were evident.

A Christian counts service a privilege.  It is the fruit of the Spirit!  To become a person who lives a life totally focused on God is to become a person who “has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit,” the fruit of the Spirit (Jer. 17:8).  This will manifest itself in serving others – even strangers – instead of being served oneself.

When you are bearing the fruit of the Spirit, you will express love in action to a spouse who doesn’t “love” you anymore, or a child who doesn’t “like” you anymore, or a mother-in-law who doesn’t talk to you anymore, or a workmate who doesn’t respect you anymore.  And all this because your branches are laden with the fruit of the Spirit.  You can be patient with the impatient, kind to the cruel, good to the bad, consistent with the unfaithful, gentle to the rough, forgiving to the ones who have hurt you, and able to control your temper when all of those around you have lost theirs.

In John’s grand vision of the trees in heaven he notes that these trees are “bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month” (Rev. 22:2).  This is a picture of God’s everlasting, constant presence.

Has there been a new crop of fresh fruit growing in your life?

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine