A Great Gift

sewing machine

The pungent smell of mothballs coming from the small wooden drawers in the old Singer sewing machine cabinet always reminds me of my grandmother. Sitting with her next to the machine, watching her foot move the pedal up and down while guiding the fabric, I learned tricks and shortcuts to sewing. When my grandmother moved from her house to a retirement home, she gave me the sewing machine as a special gift. I’ve kept her thimbles, thread and machine attachments in the drawers to remind me of our times together. Now that she is gone, that old machine brings back wonderful memories of times together and what I learned.

As Jesus prepared the disciples for His death and departure from this world, He promised them a great gift too. This great gift would remind them of what Jesus taught them, give them strength and power to live on this earth and direct them in understanding truth. Jesus told them:

“…it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you…when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16: 7, 13-14

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…you know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you…but the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:16-17, 25

Paul wrote to the Galatians that the fruits in our lives comes through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in the life of the believer. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23)

The Holy Spirit was given by Jesus as a gift to us so that we can live a fruitful life abiding with Him. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit, the Helper, the great gift given to believers who teaches us, helps us, guides us and reminds us of all Jesus taught.

Am I listening to the Holy Spirit in my life today? Do I see His fruits in my life? Am I asking for His help to live like Jesus? Thank you, Jesus, for leaving your believers and followers with such a great gift!

 

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Mind Control

The mind is a powerhouse of thoughts, feelings, memories and judgments influencing our daily choices. With our minds we choose words to speak, make judgments about people and situations and decide how we will act or behave. That is why I need to make daily decisions about how I feed my mind.

Too many times I let others choose what I should think, how to use my mind. My culture constantly bombards me with information. As a follower of Jesus, walking and abiding with Him and filling my mind with His truth are imperative to having a fruitful life.

The Psalmist understood this importance as he wrote:

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers. But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think about his law. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.”   (Psalm 1:1-3 NLT)

Jesus said the greatest commandment of all is to “’…love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37)

How can we love the Lord our God with all our mind? By choosing what we think about. We replace the thinking of this world with His Word. It might mean turning away from a conversation, choosing what to watch or not watch on television, what books to read, what music to listen to and how much social media influences our thinking. These are hard choices when so many “voices” speak to us daily.

Paul, a follower of Jesus and highly educated man knew the importance of the mind as he told the Romans:

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.” (Romans 12:2 NLT)

What am I filling my mind with today? Am I controlling my mind, thinking about God’s Word “day and night”? As I abide with Jesus and fill my mind with His words I will be like a tree that bears fruit “each season without fail.” Jesus said, “…you cannot be fruitful apart from me.” (John 15:3 NLT) I need Him to control my mind and the way I think. What are you thinking about today?

 clouds

Thinking about God’s amazing creation as I watch the evening sky.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

Loving Commandments

jefferson memorialWhile visiting the Jefferson Memorial this past weekend, I saw words etched in stone for generations to see. Celebrating July 4th in Washington D.C., my husband and I with our daughter and friends wanted to see the statue of Jefferson which was sculpted by my husband’s great great uncle, Rudolph Evans. As I looked around the massive structure, I noticed words like – “Creator”, “Almighty God”, “God who gave”, “gift of God”, and “God is just”. As I read these words, I wondered if those around me knew of God’s own Words once etched in stone. Could anyone there recite God’s powerful Words of guidance written for His people in the Ten Commandments? Commands to worship only God, honor your parents, do not kill, do not steal, and do not give false witness.

We often think of commands as only rules we need to keep. Most people loathe any rules or commands in their lives. But commands are like boundaries; they protect us from harm. In following them we experience peace and joy in our relationships with God and people. When Jesus told His followers to keep his commandments, he placed it right next to a powerful word – love:

“. ..Abide in My love…If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15:9, 11) “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

As we grow in our love and appreciation for all that Jesus has done for us we are happy to keep His commandments. As we walk with Him we know the commandments are for our good since they are given with love. God’s commandments are given from a heart of love; He wants the best for our lives. That is why the Psalmist wrote:

“I find my delight in your commandments, which I love… I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.” (Psalm 119:47, 127)

How do we know that we are abiding with Jesus and walking with Him? How do we show our love for Him and others? It shows in a life that obeys His commandments.

“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments… By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:3, 5-6)

Do I love God’s commands? Do I take time to see what He has “etched in stone” in His Word for all generations to read? As I abide with Jesus He gives me the power to keep His commands because He loves me. I will show Jesus how much I love Him by abiding in His love and keeping His commands.

Family Love

Facebook is full of what else? – faces. It is an online “book” of faces. Many of the faces are of family and family members. There are pictures of weddings, births, graduations, vacations and events of the past. Some pictures are funny and some serious. Every day, even every hour, people share their love for their families by posting pictures and writing comments. Then those of us who are their friends get to “like” what we see and comment ourselves. Really, to me, Facebook is a family of friends sharing our love for others and each other.

Family love is powerful. A picture of family love whether on Facebook, in a frame, or in person can have an amazing influence in other lives, especially if those lives don’t have family love. Many people in the world would love to have a family or at least a family that loves each other.

When Jesus was eating the last supper with his best friends, his disciples, he shared what was on his heart. He loved these disciples; they had become his family. He told them of his coming death but then gave them a command. One simple command, yet it wouldn’t be easy to follow.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Luke 13:34-35)

And how were they to love each other? Just like Jesus had loved them – He was their example, their picture. Talk about an amazing picture of love. Jesus had just washed their feet, humbly serving them. He fed them with loaves and fish, He taught them God’s Words and Truth, and He was about to die for them so that they could live.

When we come to trust in Jesus and know God’s forgiveness we enter a family – a family of believers all over the world. We may look different, speak a different language, and may never meet, but we are family. Jesus told us that our love for each other would be a testimony for others that we are His followers. The world would know we are Christians – Christ followers – by our love for one another. This is our witness. How are we doing? What does our picture look like? Do we tear each other down; ignore our brothers and sisters who are suffering? Or do we humbly lay down our lives for them in love as Jesus loved us?

I am going to take some extra time this week to pray for my family in my church, community and around the world. I will support them financially where there is a need. I will seek ways to serve them and “wash their feet” as Jesus did? What will you do to show your love for your family?

 

Praying for these and other family members who are persecuted for believing in Jesus.