His Peace

The old sewing machine brings back memories. Sitting with my grandmother, I watched her move the pedal up and down with her foot, faster and faster, as she sewed pieces of fabric together. Smelling the mothball scented drawers reminds me of those times together as she taught me some shortcuts as I was learning to sew on my own. When my grandmother moved out of her home to stay in a retirement center she left the sewing machine to me. I never actually learned how to use it but I keep it in a prominent place, remembering her and her gift of sewing. She left her love for sewing with me in that sewing machine.

As Jesus was preparing to leave this world, about to die on the cross, fulfilling God’s plan to rise again and conquer sin and death, He told His followers that He would leave some things with them.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

Peace – tranquility, stability, calm, serenity. Jesus had experienced the world we live in. A world full of fear, hatred, wars, injustice, poverty, broken lives, evil leaders, sickness, pain, suffering and abuse. But Jesus said we didn’t have to be afraid or have troubled hearts if we had Him. He would give us His Peace.

His followers remembered His peace. The disciples had been in a boat during a storm, a deadly storm. They were afraid for their lives. In panic and fear they called out to Jesus, who was asleep and at peace. “Do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38-39) Jesus called out, “Peace, be still!” The wind stopped and there was great peace and calm.

Paul, a follower of Jesus, had been beaten, left for dead, and was imprisoned. Yet, he knew His peace. While in prison he wrote to the believers in Philippi, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything…then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Jesus left us with His peace. He has the power to call out to the storms in our lives – “Peace, be still.” He gives us peace that will guard our hearts and minds as we abide and live in Him. Are you fearful, feel imprisoned, beaten down, distressed by the waves around you? Call out to the One who left us His peace. My peace I give to you.”

 

calm storm

New Life

It was amazing. Last year the young tree in our front yard had seemingly died. There were no leaves on the branches all summer and twigs were falling off. We had planned to have it cut down this year. As spring arrived this year I looked at the “dying” tree and saw something green. There were small buds on the twigs! It’s like it came back to life. The leaves have all come out now and the birds are making their nests in its branches.

There is something amazing about seeing new life from something that was dying or dead. Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus had died. Lazarus’ family was mourning when Jesus arrived. Out of love and compassion, Jesus miraculously brought Lazarus back to life from the dead. He then told His followers:

“”I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” John 11: 25-26

Jesus also said of Himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6

New life is found in One person, Jesus. That is the Easter celebration! He, the Son of God, died so we wouldn’t have to die and pay the penalty for our disobedience to a holy God. He came back to life, conquering death so we can live again also. Rejoice!! Celebrate!! We can have new life through Jesus!

“God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life”. 1 John 5:11-12

I look at the tree from our window and rejoice in new life. Rejoice that we didn’t have to cut down the tree after all. But most of all I am thankful that I can know and experience new life because of Jesus. Do you know and believe in Jesus? Then rejoice – you have new life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fullness of Joy

“Wishing you a future filled with happiness”. “You are special, hope you find the perfect plan for your life.” While looking for graduation cards in the store, these were some of the greetings. After all the hard work of finishing high school and especially college, do I really just want to wish someone happiness? How about “Hope you find joy in whatever the future holds for you.” As graduates look to the future and dream of things to come, there is an excitement about life. The future path is full of twists and turns, a thrilling adventure.

At every age life is a journey. Sometimes the way is slow and full of waiting and other times it is running to keep up. For some it is a short journey but for others it can last for over eight decades. Sometimes the days are long and other times the years fly by so fast. Dreams come and go, some are realized, some are not. Plans are rewritten and some come to be. It’s not where the journey takes you but who walks the journey with you.

At the end of his life, Jesus was preparing his disciples and followers for the journey ahead without him. They were graduating, in a way, from the personal schooling of Jesus on earth. He had spoken many things to them. And his desire was for them to experience His joy.

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

Jesus’s words, his teachings, were meant to bring joy to those who follow him and obey His words. Walking with Him on the journey brings joy to those who know Him intimately and share their life with him. No matter where the journey takes us as followers of Jesus, abiding in him daily brings fullness of joy.

King David experienced this joy as he walked with God and trusted in God for his journey.

“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Psalm 4:7

“You make him glad with the joy of your presence.” Psalm 21:6

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11

There is a joy in the journey for those who know Jesus as their Lord, the One who has come to provide Life. And the Journey never ends with Him, for we will be with Him forever. An everlasting Joy in His presence. I hope you experience joy in your journey in life through Jesus.

 

Clean out Clutter

Spring has finally arrived. So has the cleaning. I took flannel sheets off the beds and put away winter coats, worked in the yard to clear the way for new growth and am now tackling each room in the house. My desk needs it the most. As I clear away the clutter, organize papers, and throw away unnecessary things, I feel a sense of peace and relief to see a clean desk. Without the extra clutter and stacks of paper, I can be more focused on what I use the desk for anyway. I can sit and write notes to others who need encouragement or write in my journal what is happening in my life. With a cup of tea or coffee nearby I can read a devotional and write down ideas for blogs to encourage others.

And isn’t the same true for my own personal life as a believer? After we come to believe in Jesus and begin to follow Him we begin to clutter our lives with things of this world that don’t really matter. Over time, they stay in my life like those things on my desk. Religious rules that others place on me, desires to please others instead of God, worry and fear that God is not in control and much more. Soon, my focus is clouded and I can’t see clearly the One who is my life, Jesus.

Jesus said to focus on Him. Five times in John 15 He mentions to His disciples “abide in Me”. When Jesus called His followers, He made it simple – “come follow Me.” Nothing added, no clutter, just Me.

“After this He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And He said to him, “Follow Me.And leaving everything, he rose and followed Him”. Luke 5:27-28

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Mark 1:17, 18

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Paul said it so clearly, “So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (GNT)

Is my life so cluttered that I can’t even see Jesus anymore? Or hear His voice? What are the things that clutter my life? What can I throw off, get rid of, or put away so I can keep my eyes “fixed on Jesus”? He is the one whom my faith depends.

When we abandon ourselves to Jesus alone without all the clutter we are free. Free to abide and have his life-giving sap flow through us, producing His fruit in our lives without our realizing it. Are you ready to get rid of the clutter too?

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