Demo of Julie's Bible Reference Library

Friday, July 29, 2016

True Friend

“Do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared” (Proverbs 22:24-25).

It stands to reason that those whose counsel we seek, those whose opinions we value, will shape the person we become. If we're bosom-buddies with someone who makes poor choices, who lets anger cloud good judgment, who flies into a rage over trivial infractions, we will become like that person—in the worst possible ways.
Conversely in 3 John 11, the apostle writes, “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”
It all boils down to knowing where to go for friends, and choosing those friends wisely. For whomever we choose to let past the pleasantries and into our hearts' confidence will influence who we become—for good or for bad.
When I ask you to name a Bible pair who modeled friendship, you'll probably come up with two obvious teams: David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi. Certainly a study of either pair of intertwined lives would yield a bushel of advice on friendship.
I challenge you to read the book of the Bible that bears Ruth's name, prayerfully, looking for ways God would prick your heart on how to be the kind of friend who will challenge others toward godliness.
I'd challenge you, too, to read every passage you can find about David and Jonathan (beginning in 1 Samuel 18:1). In their example you'll find a selfless, sacrificial love that always sought the best of the other, not allowing circumstances, jealousy, or other people's vendettas to get between them.
There is one line in the last scene between David and Jonathan, that stands out. Jonathan has gone to visit David in the wilderness, where the soon-to-be-king is in hiding from Jonathan's murderous-threat-breathing father, King Saul. “And Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God” (1 Samuel 23:16).
Another translation says Jonathan “strengthened his hand in God” (NKJV); another says, “encouraged him [in his faith] in God” (HCSB).
Like Jonathan can we find (and be) a friend who, at the risk of his own life, meets us in the wilderness and helps us find strength in God—encouraging us in our faith and reminding us of God's track record of faithfulness?

Excerpted by permission from Staying True in a World of Lies, ©2002, 2010 Julie-Allyson Ieron; all rights reserved. If you like what you read, check out the ebook edition (with study guide) at: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-True-World-Study-Guide-ebook/dp/B003VD1E4E/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8#navbar 


Blessings and prayers, Julie © 2015, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

True Grace

 


In light of all the news that's bombarding us this week, I thought a revisit to my book, Staying True in a World of Lies would be most timely. This entry is about exhibiting grace under pressure.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, 
so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)


We may say that a beautiful woman is graceful, but do we really mean that she is “full of grace?” More often, we mean she moves smoothly and elegantly; her gestures are agile and flowing; she is pleasant to behold.

Esther's manner and conduct in the king's court, both before and after she became queen, exuded a quiet grace in abundance. One line in the biblical account, in particular, bears this out. When Esther was entrusted to Hegai, the keeper of the king's harem, the Scripture says, “The girl pleased him and won his favor” (Esther 2:9). Esther's inner beauty, coupled with her humility and grace, were the magnetic charges that drew Hegai's (and soon the king's) favor. These set her apart from the rest of the beautiful women. It's likely that many of the other women were vain, enamored with their own loveliness, preoccupied with an external, eye-catching brand of beauty.

Esther, instead, seems to have exuded a gentle gracefulness. She didn't spend time bemoaning her fate—a young captive woman taken (whether willingly or unwillingly, we do not know) to spend the rest of her life confined to the king's harem; a Hebrew woman forevermore at the mercy of a capricious pagan king. Instead, Esther was pleasing to be around. In fact, the king's servant was so delighted with the graceful girl that he was pleased to serve her—even before she became queen.

Grace contributed greatly to Esther's successful foray into the king's court. Similarly, grace is a trait our post-modern marketplace is dying to experience—it's up to us as God's representatives to this culture to lavish His grace on our worlds.

And yet, just as every virtuous character quality of the Christ-follower, grace will not be met with favor by everyone in the marketplace. In fact, those we encounter may not even know that it's grace they really long to experience.

To those in the world, we who seek to exude a godly brand of grace seem to be living life upside down. Our entire mind-set and way of life is diametrically opposed to theirs. Jesus told us to expect as much. He warned His followers that they would be misunderstood, as aliens in a foreign land (John 17:14). And so we are, even today.

True grace that plays out in kindness and gentleness is not weakness (as the world often believes), but it's strength. Think of the grace Jesus Christ exhibited (John 1:14), and yet He was strong. He turned over tables in the temple when injustice had so obviously invaded the most sacred place on earth that bore the name of His Father. He didn't just invite demons to please remove themselves, rather He cast them out (Matthew 12:28). And yet He was equally full of grace—willingly laying down His own rights and privileges (Philippians 2) for the sake of our forgiveness.

Excerpted by permission from Staying True in a World of Lies, ©2002, 2010 Julie-Allyson Ieron; all rights reserved. Here's a link to the ebook if you like what you've read so far: 



Monday, March 28, 2016

Help!

Treasured friend,

Mom and I were going to visit a friend who’d been placed on hospice. As I got physically ready, I realized I needed to be spiritually ready to offer a word of hope, of encouragement. I know this sweet friend has a firm assurance on where she’ll spend eternity. Yet, there is sadness about leaving loved ones, about leaving this world.

After my makeup and hair were done, I sat at my desk and turned to the Psalms. Where else? I flipped backward through the book. 

150, 149, 148, 147, 146: all beautiful songs of joyful praise. Not quite right.

143, maybe. Begging God to answer our prayers and deliver us. But, it’s talking about reviving. That’s not likely for this sister in Christ. 

139. Nope. She’s certainly not running from Him—more like stumbling toward Him. 

Keep looking, Julie. 136, 135, 134, more praise songs. Not resonating today.

I skipped down a few. 125, 124, 123 too much about wicked scoffers. That’s not where we want our thoughts to rest. 

122. So sad—the reminder she’s no longer able to go into the house of the Lord. Definitely not.

Then my eyes lit on 121:

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night.
The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.
The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever. (NASB)

That’s the one!

Hours later, as I held her hand and read Psalm 121, her lips moved and her tears flowed in joyful recognition. I noticed Mom and our other companions tearing. After all, this passage holds as much value to us—as we face the land of the living. Look to the Lord—expect help from Him. (This reminds me of Jesus’ description of the Holy Spirit as Parakletos, which can translate as “the Helper.”)

He cares. He keeps. He guards and protects our going out, like He has protected our coming in. He’s able to keep each of us now and forever. In this world and the next. He’s faithful in life, and He’s faithful as we pass from death to life (Philippians 1:20-21). That’s the help that bolstered my friend—and each of us—in the hospice room. I pray, my treasured friend, that it bolsters your faith today, as well.

Blessings and prayers, 

Julie 

© 2016, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Entrusted

Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.
(1 Thessalonians 2:4)

When we’re not a monolithic club to be courted and manipulated by those seeking not our God but only our vote (in other words, anytime other than a presidential election year), few outside the faith give much credence to Christians. In fact, truth be told, in greater society it’s rather an embarrassment to be a Christian. Add the label evangelical or the term born again, and most of our contemporaries consider us out of step at best and intolerant at worst.

I can’t count the times I’ve been on a plane or train en route to a speaking engagement when my seatmate has struck up a conversation.

“Where are you heading?”
“I’m the speaker at a conference in Dallas (or San Diego or Denver or whatever venue).”
“Oh, I hate public speaking. What do you talk about?”
“I’m also an author, and I’m talking from one of my books.”
“People tell me I should write a book. I’ll do it some day! Yes I will. By the way, what do you write about?”

Now is the moment I feared would come. What do I say?

Everything I write centers around Jesus Christ and how He is not only relevant but absolutely essential to life on this planet and safe passage into heaven. As Paul would tell the Thessalonian Christians, that’s the message with which we believers in Christ are entrusted. Notice another key phrase in the opening Scripture verse. “Approved by God.” God has vetted us and equipped us to represent the message. We have received His stamp of approval to carry the life-changing message.

When you put it that way … There really is no way to explain what I do and leave Christ out of the discussion. (Actually, whether we work in secular or religious occupations, there’s no way to explain who we are and leave Christ out of the discussion.)

But then there’s that rule about avoiding politics and religion in polite society. And there’s the real possibility that the word Christian will shut down the connection we were building and slam the door on warm conversation for the remainder of the journey.

So, will I mumble with my head down hoping my companion will just drop the issue? Will I appear to be ashamed of the gospel that brings me life and could bring it to my companion, too? Or will I take my chances and speak clearly, “not as pleasing men, but God”?

I know what the apostle Paul’s answer would be. In fact, the way the good news of Jesus reached those Thessalonians was a testament to how bold Paul was to speak the gospel without apology. The greater population of Thessalonica was so hostile to the message that the group of believers there had to sneak Paul and his preaching companion Silas out of the city under the cover of night. (For that harrowing story, Acts 17 is a must-read!)

And yet, later Paul was able to write to the church in that city and to say with the utmost truthfulness that he spoke “the message” with “full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5) among them.

The challenge for us is to speak with full conviction and then to live out the truth in a winsome way among our contemporaries. There, too, Paul and Silas had no reason to be ashamed. In fact, he mentioned to the believers that they knew “what kind of men we proved to be among you.” Then he commended them for following his example by becoming imitators of the Lord. He knew this because from them the gospel was going out and touching the surrounding culture (1: 8).

See, it’s really not about us. It’s about the message sounding across the world. The message that’s entrusted to us. The message we’re approved by God to carry. He entrusted it to many generations before us. And in each generation, there were those who were unashamed to claim the name of Christ, even to the point of facing death or torture.

The opportunity may come to us in a checkout line or a commuter seat, on a park bench or at a sporting venue, in a hospital elevator or at the graveside of a friend. The choice will stand before us—if not today, then certainly tomorrow. In that moment of decision, will I—will you—be unashamed to speak the Truth with full conviction—not as pleasing men, but God?

Blessings and prayers, 

Julie 

 © 2016, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com