Devotions By Jan


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Magic Mushrooms

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:6 “The mind governed by the flesh is death – but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

These mushrooms look innocent enough.  But the psilocybin in them can alter the mind just as LSD does.  A recent book by Michael Pollan explores the testing of psychedelics as a treatment for depression, fear and anxiety, especially as a result of a terminal cancer diagnosis.  He even went so far as to experiment on himself!  His conclusion was that these psychedelics appear to help with what he calls a “psycho-spiritual distress.”  He also believes that there really is nothing else for people in that situation.

Today’s verse talks about two states of mind.  One mind is governed by the flesh and one is governed by the Spirit of God.  The mind that is governed or controlled by the flesh is the mind without God and without the peace of God.  There is not only physical death but spiritual death in store.  In contrast, the mind governed by the Spirit is life both here and eternally after death because there is peace with God through His Son, Jesus.

I cannot speak personally about facing death.  And I do not want to minimize what that suffering may be like.  But it is often in the sobering moments facing one’s own mortality that there is a last chance for establishing peace with God through the forgiveness offered by His Son.  To take away that last opportunity by altering one’s state of mind seems cruel.  I know there is peace and assurance facing death.  I have seen it.  And when it is my turn, I am confident because He has promised a perfect peace for a mind that is steadfast, trusting in Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Thank you Lord, that I can live and die without fear.

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Justify, the Racehorse

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 6:11 “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

The horse racing world is all abuzz with the newcomer named, Justify.  This three-year-old colt just won two of the three Triple Crown races; the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.  He is now in a good position to win all three when he competes at the Belmont Stakes in June.  As is the custom, he has only had his name since the age of two.  Perhaps the owner feels that the $500,000 paid for this horse is completely justified!

Today’s verse tells us that we were justified, as well as washed and sanctified by the Lord.  After having been found guilty of a whole list of wrongdoing, God would have been justified to mete out immediate judgement.  Instead, He washed us clean of all the filth, set us apart for Himself, and justified us.  He sees us through the righteousness of His Son, just as if we had never sinned.  We are justified through our faith in what He did on that cross for us.

I cannot justify myself.  I have tried and it does not work.  I may be able to justify my behavior to others.  But before God who sees my heart, there is no justification for what I do.  I am without excuse before a holy and righteous Judge.  If I were to continue in my denial of guilt, there could be no forgiveness.  All He asks is that I come clean with Him.  When I do, that guilt is erased and I am justified before Him.

Thank you Lord, for doing what I could never do.


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The Mandarin Duck

Scripture for Today: Matthew 19:5 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

The male species of this duck originating in China and Japan is considered the world’s most beautiful.  Pairs of these birds are sometimes given at the occasion of a marriage as they are symbols of fidelity.  The thought that these ducks promote love and marriage is a centuries-old idea.  Perhaps it came about as they swim in pairs so close together.  And they do return to the same mate in the next mating season rather than establishing a new bond.

Today’s verse is the answer Jesus gave to the Pharisees seeking to trap Him with questions on marriage.  He quotes what God established in the beginning in Genesis 2:24.  The step of marriage is to be a binding commitment.  The original and best plan for marriage is that it be exclusive and permanent.  One new flesh is created from two.  Tearing apart the two can cause excruciating pain.  The Lord in His love and compassion gives us the best plan to avoid that kind of pain.

God’s plan for marriage can seem restrictive to some.  But to give love the best chance to flower and last is within that safe place of total commitment.  It shows that we are serious to stay together.  The world says that one is somehow missing out.  But I know differently.  It is through many years of ups and downs, trials and joys that my love for my husband grows.  Short term love cannot even be compared to the depths of love that commitment can foster.  God’s plan, though sometimes difficult, is the best plan there is!

Thank you Lord, for creating the best opportunity to grow my love.


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The Gift of Life

Scripture for Today: I John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Donating blood is not something I enjoy doing!  That is why I am so impressed by James Harrison, an Australian man who has been donating blood every week for the last 60 years!  At 81 he has decided to stop, but not until he had saved the lives of 2.4 million babies!  No wonder he is called the “Man with the Golden Arm.”  His blood has unique disease-fighting anti-bodies that have helped pregnant women.  These were women with a condition where their blood attacked their unborn baby’s blood cells.  His blood was truly a gift of life!

Today’s verse talks about the blood freely given by Another.  This blood also saves lives and was given out of love and compassion for our condition.  The blood of Christ saves us once for all from the eternal punishment for our sin.  His blood makes it possible to walk in light rather than darkness.  His blood makes it possible to walk with others in sweet fellowship, rather than discord.  His blood cleanses and purifies us from sin and its consequences.

He shed His blood so I would not have to.  His blood saved my life.  My faith in His blood pays for all of my ugly sin (Romans 3:25).  More than just a needle in the arm, His gift of blood cost Him everything; separation from the Father, the mockery and violence of others, and His life.  How amazing and deep the love that motivated Him!  And how unworthy I am to be a recipient of such a precious life-changing gift!

Lord, how grateful I am for Your gift of life!

 


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Two Plants

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Recently, a popular Swedish furniture chain used a clever marketing ploy to promote an anti-bullying campaign.  They conducted a (non-scientific) experiment of two identical plants given the same care over thirty days.  However, one plant was played a pre-recorded loop of negative, bullying comments while the other was played a loop of positive encouraging words.  These messages were recorded by school children and the results were nothing short of amazing!  One plant wilted and the other thrived!  Although the experiment perhaps lacked scientific controls, I can certainly get behind the message!

Today’s verse tells us that what comes out of our mouths matters.  Unwholesome talk is talk that is also rotten and useless.  Not only do these words fail to build someone up, but they have no benefit at all.  However, our words can have tremendous value in helping another to grow and thrive.  Our words have the potential to meet the need we all have for encouragement and affirmation.  Even just one word spoken at the time of greatest need can lift someone up and keep them falling into a pit of depression.

How much does it really cost me to compliment or encourage?  I want my words to be gracious, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Prov. 16:24).  I want my words to be like His; kind, compassionate and forgiving (verse 32).  But that cannot happen without a heart that is changed by Him.  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45b).  My words will always reflect what is in my heart!

Lord, change my heart and so change my words!

 


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Driftwood

Scripture for Today:  Philippians 3:12  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

There is no mystery at all to why driftwood is called driftwood.  It is simply wood that has drifted.  The wood comes to be in the water through flooding or storms breaking off tree branches.  Or it could be there as a result of logging.  In any case, the wood drifts aimlessly at the whim of the waves.  When and where it washes up on to shore seems completely arbitrary.  Just like for some people, circumstances push and prod to move a body from here to there with no clear goal in mind.

In today’s verse, Paul lives his life with a specific goal in mind.  He wants to gain Christ (verse 8) be found in Christ (verse 9) and to know Christ (verse 10).  Paul not only wanted to know Jesus and His power, he was ready to suffer for His sake.  He was willing to completely deny himself and take up his cross to follow Him (Luke 9:23).  His goals would last a lifetime and make his life significant.  There would be no aimless drifting through life for him!

What is my purpose?  Because I belong to Him, I want the goals in my life to match up with His for me.  Knowing Him is the most worthwhile purpose there is!  And God prepared in advance a whole plan of good works for me to accomplish. (Eph. 2:10)  I, like every believer, have a purpose.  I do not want to waste time and just drift through life!  And I am confident He will give me what it takes to “press on.”

Lord, keep me from drifting today.


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Mother’s Day

Scripture for Today:  Luke 11:27-28   While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.”  But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it.”

This is a special Mother’s Day for me as it is the first one without my Mom.  I cannot complain as having died at 95 we have had many wonderful years together.  Not everyone can say that their relationship with their Mother was or is so positive.  There are those who are reminded only of pain each Mother’s Day.  I realize that I am so very blessed, which makes her absence that much more bittersweet.

God’s Word exalts and honors motherhood.  However, in today’s verse, Jesus calls something even more blessed than being a mother.  Someone in the crowd of listeners spoke a blessing on the mother of Jesus.  And in doing so, the speaker was also blessing Jesus.  But Jesus responded with something that was a bigger blessing that everyone can experience; hearing and obeying God’s Word.

I tend to look at my roles as wife and mother as the most exalted and fulfilling roles I could possibly have on this earth.  Certainly, I do not want to take anything away from this.  But the relationship I have with the Lord is always the most intimate one possible.  My role as a follower of Christ far outweighs my role as anything else.  My relationship with Him never disappoints.  It is deeper, more faithful and more satisfying than any human relationship.  He fills in all the emotional holes in my heart when losing one so dear.

Thank you Lord, for the blessing of knowing You.