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: