Peace for the Day

Devotions for our daily angst.


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Easter Garden

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“Jesus, having prayed this prayer, left with his disciples and crossed over the brook Kidron at a place where there was a garden. He and his disciples entered it.” John 18:1 MSG

“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb…” John 19:41 RSV

When I consider God, I am awed. Get this. The fall of mankind occurred in a garden. Most of us have heard of the Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve, and the serpent. But did we ever tie this together with the fact that in a perfect counterbalance to the fall, the physical redemption of mankind also took place in a garden? Selah – pause and think carefully.

That rocks my world. So I started researching Biblical gardens. Until recently, I don’t think I recognized how many gardens God intertwined in his book. Sometimes I read the words of the Bible without really, well, reading the words of the Bible. How many times have I read about the crucifixion and the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid without seeing the words “in the garden”?

Then there’s Gethsemane, the Olive Garden. Per the National Research Council of Italy, the olive trees in what is considered to be the Garden of Gethsemane, are some of the oldest trees known to science. (Reuters (October 20, 2012)) The name itself speaks to what happened to Jesus while he was there prior to being arrested. Gethsemane translates “olive press”. In ancient times, the oil was pressed out of olives by a large millstone. It rolled over and over them breaking down the olive flesh to extract the precious oil.

Jesus understood the agony of a Roman crucifixion. The Romans made sure the executions occurred in a very public place, like the main road in and out of town, where all could see as the passed by. When he entered the garden, Jesus knew exactly what he was about to face. Each Gospel writer explained the event from a unique perspective but the point was the same. Compiled they provide insight into the pressure Jesus must have felt. He plunged into an agonizing sorrow, a sinkhole of dreadful agony. He said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out.” He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.[1]

That the stress and weight – pressure – of what he was about to endure occurred in a garden called The Olive Press was no coincidence. It was, simply put, God.

[1] Matthew 26:38, Mark 14:32-34, Luke 22:41-44 The Message


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Lavish Love

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In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. (Ephesians 1:7, 8 NAS)

Lavish. Expending or bestowing profusely, expended or produced in abundance, sumptuous, luxurious, unrestrained, extravagant, or grand. What an extraordinary word. One I don’t usually associate with God. Righteous, holy, stern even, but lavish? Never. Yet the Bible says he lavished the riches of his grace on us.

That’s what I love about God. He doesn’t just love. He loves lavishly.

In the physical world, I see it everywhere I look. When I contemplate spring, which I’m doing a lot as unseasonably late snow and ice storms hit, I think of clear blue skies, sun, and warmth. Which leads me to flowers, trees, and birds. Beauty. Zest. The world teeming with life. And God. The God who made this world in all its breathtaking glory and abundance.

My favorite flower is the daffodil. Each and every spring, I stand amazed as I watch the plants in my garden come up. The standard single yellow cup resting on a yellow plate to stems covered in small clusters of creamy white with bright orange centers that smell deliciously sweet. Plain to lacy. Short to tall. Large. Tiny. Grouped together or singly, they color the yard with graceful beauty. There are 25 different species with 13,000 different hybrid varieties of the Narcissus plant. WhDafodilsy? I mean wouldn’t one do?

Then there’s the color green. I think sometimes as I walk through the neighborhood in May and June oohing over all the shades of green that the Lord would get tired of hearing me. Between leaves, stems, and grass, the color ranges from almost black to just about white. From the rich dewy green of grass to the bright light-green of newly fringed fir trees to the multitude of greens seen in leaves on a variety of trees.

I don’t think it was a mistake when David wrote Psalm 23: 2 “He makes me to lie down in green pastures”. The color green soothes, calms, and refreshes the soul. In spring, the green spectrum is revealed in all its glory. It’s a natural color balm for the eyes and spirit. But really, isn’t one shade of basic green enough?

Take Hawaii. Is there any place on Earth more stunningly beautiful than the Hawaiian Islands? Set out there in the Pacific Ocean, the colors are crisper and more vibrant than on the mainland.

I could go on to discuss the countless stars, galaxies, cells, atoms, and quarks in the universe. I’m not a scientist. I don’t know if there was an explosion, big bang, boom, or a pop. What I do know is this – there is a God who created this incredible world for us. I can’t look at it without thinking of him and his love. His lavish love. I think it makes him smile when we enjoy it just like we’re tickled when our children or grandchildren play with the presents we give them. daffodil 2

Father – Thank you for beauty and for the senses you gave us to enjoy your creation. You are truly amazing and this world is awesome. Help me to see it through your eyes and with your heart.