And Then He Speaks Peace

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It had been a rough few days.

They were cowering behind locked doors.

They couldn’t wrap their minds around what happened.

Broken hearts.

Trying to comprehend.

But it was incomprehensible.

Afraid.

Afraid to move.

Afraid of the future.

Afraid to hope again.

Then he came.

The one they followed.

Their leader.

He could have said:

  • “Thanks guys.” (sarcastically)
  • “Why did you leave me”
  • “Why did you run?”
  • “Where were you when I needed you?”
  • “After all I’ve done, this is how you treat me?”
  • “Where is your respect?”
  • “When I spoke, were you even listening to me?”

He could have.

But he didn’t.

Instead he said:

“Peace be with you!”

And when we’re afraid.

When we’ve been hurt.

When we feel that we can’t go on.

When life is hard.

When burdens are heavy.

When friends leave.

When family is distant.

When life hurts.

When we don’t understand.

When tragedy strikes.

When illness invades.

When life gets messy.

When hope seems gone.

He comes.

And He speaks to us.

He speaks into our circumstances.

“Peace be with you!”

(Based on John 20:19-23)  To read the story click here ->Peace

Blessings,

Nancy

It’s the little things

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Christmas is over but there’s still remnants left.  There’s a bag of crumpled wrapping paper tucked behind a stool in my living room.  The lights still twinkle on my decorated tree and there’s a few cookie crumbs on a plate sitting next to me on my dining room table.

My fingers click away on my laptop amid all the signs of the Holiday and my thoughts drift back to when my living room was full of chatter and laughter just days before.

Family gathered around our decorated home on Christmas to share a meal, share gifts and share memories of years past.  Lots of the memories hang from the branches of our Christmas tree.  It’s always fun to look at the ornaments and recall the memory attached to each one.  And finally we shared an indoor snowball fight with a pail of forty synthetic snowballs.

I think the best purchase, hands down, that I made this year was that pail of indoor snowballs.  They actually feel like the real deal minus the cold.  I grabbed one and threw it at my son.  Startled he sat back in his chair, smiled and said, “What?  Are those snowballs?”  Then came the laughter while snowballs, being tossed at one another, filled our living room.

In those moments, watching, listening, observing nothing was wrong and all was right in the world.

A few days before Christmas, I was making my mom’s traditional date nut bread–a recipe that she handed down to me.  As I mixed the batter, I watched a couple of neighbor boys, through my kitchen window, playing catch in the street.  As they threw the ball their dog ran along side it trying catch it in his mouth.  The sun was shining, it was 45 degrees and they didn’t have jackets on.  It’s unusual in this area to have such mild temps at this time of year.  What’s even more unusual is seeing kids running and playing outside at anytime of the year in this electronic age.

As I watched the game outside and prepared the nut bread, my thoughts went back in time–a time that seemed a little simpler–with my mom baking the bread and the streets filled with kids throughout the neighborhood and usually in the snow at this time of year.  Being inside the house for too long, wasn’t that common back then for kids.

Then I burst into song.  A song that I wouldn’t ordinarily think of.  I can’t carry a tune and you won’t catch me singing out loud in front of you but alone I’ll belt out anything…

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you.

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

Louis Armstrong ©1967

…and I think to myself it’s a wonderful world… and I hummed it for the rest of the day.

The hum carried on through Christmas and there was nothing wrong in my world.

But we all know there is something wrong.  We read the headlines, listen to the news, hear the stories, hear the cries, see the suffering, hearts get broken, tears flow…

We’d like it to stop.  We’d like to see peace on earth and good will toward men.

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Christmas began in the manger but it didn’t end there.  When we put away Christmas, let’s not put away Jesus.  That’s where hope starts.  That’s where love begins.  That’s where joy originates and that’s where peace flows.

Among the chaos of the world, that little child in the little manger brought us God. And He brought us the potential, through our dependence on Him, to have peace on earth and extend good will toward men and women.  It can only begin one heart at a time.

May we embrace it.  Embrace Him.  And in the midst of it all find joy in the little things in life–like those blessings mentioned in the song, “It’s a wonderful world” because the little pockets of joy that we find in the chaos of life are really the big things.

Written by Nancy Janiga @2014

Spreading the Kingdom

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So I was reading the Lord’s prayer today.  You know the one that Jesus taught his disciples.

“This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…

Then I stopped.  What caught my attention is the part that says ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’.

If Christians throughout history have prayed those words and we have prayed those words, you wouldn’t know it by the headlines.  I don’t see it in the news.  If his kingdom is coming and his will, at this time in history, is being done where is it?

I see war, talk of more war, prejudice, hate, violence, heartache, shootings, looting, abuse and the repeat button gets pushed daily.

Our Prince of Peace, more than likely, is weeping over all we hear and see in the news.

Hatred starts in the hearts of people.  People start wars.  People hate.  People become violent.  People cause heartache.  People are their own worst enemy.  The enemy lies within.

Where is the remedy?  Where is the peace?  It comes through the Prince of Peace and that is a heart issue.

We can’t legislate it, push it, create a law to follow it or demand it.   Even God had laws…the Ten Commandments.  They were all broken.  They were broken not only by them but by us–each one of us.  Maybe we didn’t break all of them but, I can pretty much guarantee, that we each have broken some of them.

Following rules are things that we do outwardly.  It’s a good thing to have a plumb line and boundaries but it’s not what changes us from the inside out.  Before real beauty, love, peace, community, and a ‘one another’ living together in perfect unity can ultimately be brought into the world, it has to come from REAL beauty, love, peace–all that and not only that.  It’s so much more.

It’s a person.  It’s not a religion, a program, a method.  It’s not morality, good behavior, a good example, a good message.  It’s a person.

Once that person…God himself through Christ occupies a person’s heart (the core of his being) then and only then, can the Kingdom come and his will be done.  It happens one person at a time and then has the potential to spread.

When Jesus’ light breaks through the fog of someone’s earthly existence, rest is found and peace follows.

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I needed a ‘Kingdom Come’ person–someone to point me to the truth.  We all do.  We all need truth.  It’s only truth that will set us free from ourselves and that is the only power that can ultimately change our headlines, one headline at a time.

Think about the person who was your ‘Kingdom Come’ person.

Who told you about God’s love?

Who told you that you could never pay the debt or work off your sin?

Who told you that it’s been paid in full?

Who told you that you can live in joy and freedom?

Who told you that you can’t change yourself and being moral isn’t the answer?

Who told you what Jesus’ death on the cross was about?

Who told you that because he is alive and because he lives forever you will too?

Who? What? When?

And if someone never told you then I am.  It’s simple. It’s Jesus.

When Jesus walked the earth, he spoke to two groups of people.  He spoke to the sinners and the self-righteous religious people ( who, by the way, were sinners but they didn’t think they were).  They thought that following the law could save them and make them righteous in God’s eyes.  The religious people hated Jesus, because he loved ‘sinners’ and spent time with them.

The truth is both groups needed Jesus then and they need Him now.

Once we get this straight, we can become ‘Kingdom Come People.’

There’s a world out there who needs Jesus through us–me, you, us!  It needs Christians to spread His LOVE.  One person at a time.

Then we must pray that the seeds of love that we sow will germinate, root, and grow deep into the soil of the hearts whom we share it with so His Kingdom Can Come On Earth As It Is In Heaven.

Written by: Nancy ©pensandjournals.com

New Every Morning

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Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  (Lamentations 3:22-24)  I’ve read and focused on this comforting verse recently and even shared it in my last post.

Another version of the same verse states:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

God’s love never ceases, his mercies never end, they are new every morning, because he is faithful.

His mercies come in different ways — like gifts to unwrap.

Sometimes the gift I want isn’t the package that I receive.

A phone call with unsettling news came yesterday.

It was an ordinary day.  A day when my Iris’ were in full bloom and my peony buds were getting ready to open. All things were good.

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peony-bud - CopyThen the phone call.  In the late afternoon as the call came in, storm clouds rolled over my house and the world around me and inside of me changed.  No longer did it seem good.  If God’s mercy is new every morning, I’d like the mercy to come packaged in a change in circumstances.  For now, that isn’t the gift that I’m receiving.

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 One friend said, “You’ve got this.”  My thought was, I know she loves me, means well and I appreciate her confidence in me, but there is no way that I have this under controlOr in my control

Then the words from my sister, “God’s got this.”  Yep, now those are words I can count on and believe in.  Sometimes I unpack mercy through the words of encouragement that are spoken to me through others.

There are times when God’s mercy shows up in a visit or a phone call from a friend who just happened to have me on their mind.

It can come through the words of a card, a blog, a book, a sermon and especially the Bible–comforting words that warm my heart and carry me through the day.

Other times it’s unwrapped in quiet reflection as I remember how mercy was given to me in the past and it will come again.

One day at a time his mercy comes.  It’s new and different everyday but from the same God.  A God who never changes and promises me that his mercy will be new every morning.

Today it came in the symbol of peace.  A dove.  A dove on the bird bath in my yard at dawn.

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A dove brought an olive branch to Noah to signal new life.  A dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, descended on Jesus as he was baptized by John the Baptist.

The dove; a symbol of peace and a symbol of the Holy Spirit sat before me on my bird bath.  It reminded me that I cannot manufacture peace.  It comes, like a dove, descending on me and through me by the Holy Spirit as I trust in God.  In the remembering, I received the gift.

The Holy Spirit will see me through all things and I will be presented with gifts of mercy daily and I will untie the ribbons and accept the gift with a thankful heart.

This morning the gift I unwrapped was PEACE.  All things are good again–within me.

Written by: Nancy Janiga ©2014