Devotions By Jan


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Barbie’s Last Name

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:16 “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

Who would have thought it, that the Barbie doll has a last name!  Apparently, Barbie herself recently tweeted out the big revelation.  She and her two sisters wished everyone a Happy Siblings Day from the Roberts sisters.  According to novels published by Random House in the 60’s, Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.  The Ken doll’s full name is Kenneth Carson.  I, for one, will sleep better tonight having that mystery cleared up for me.

Today’s verse talks about proudly bearing a name.  It is a name that is above all other names.  But it is also a name that could provoke hostility from others.  Being a Christ follower carries the risk of being scorned, mocked and even persecuted.  But there is special blessing promised for those who are insulted because of the name of Christ (verse 14).  How polarizing the name of Jesus is!  The names of other religious leaders do not get the same reaction.

I wear the name of Jesus when I live like He did.  I wear the name of Jesus when I speak of Him to others.  And I wear His name when I exemplify His character through His Spirit.  Wearing His name identifies me as belonging to Him.  Even if it draws negative attention, I am not to be ashamed.  Suffering for His name is a privilege.  I wonder if I am identified so closely with Christ that people see a difference in me.  I hope so.  I pray so.

Thank you Lord, for the privilege of bearing Your name!

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Meghan Markle’s Purse

Scripture for Today: Luke 12:33 “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in Heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”

Being the fiancée of Prince Harry, there is a lot of interest in anything Meghan Markle wears or carries.  The purse Meghan carried at their first official royal event following their engagement sold for 675$.  People were so taken with her look that this same purse sold out on the company’s web site in eleven minutes!  But as with any purse, it will eventually show wear and tear or fall out of fashion.  Before long, it will be passed down to someone else or find its way to a thrift shop.

Today’s verse makes reference to a purse that will never wear out.  Jesus uses this image to illustrate our treasure in Heaven.  This treasure is eternal and will never fail or disappoint.  There is no chance of it being stolen or eaten by moths.  Because this is true, we can freely give to the poor from our earthly treasures.  Jesus reminds His disciples that they have already been given the Kingdom of God.  Because He has taken care of our every need, we are not fearful and can be generous in our giving (verse 32).

How I spend my money is a true litmus test of where my heart is and what I value.  I do not want my purse stuffed with what is inconsequential or with what the world says is important.  I want to use my money and influence to grow His Kingdom and please Him.  I already know that I cannot “out-give” the Lord as He provides everything I need.

Lord, may You be the true Treasure of my heart.


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Revolving Door

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:2 “…through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

This resembles very closely the revolving door at my French grocery store.  There seems to be plenty of room to maneuver, that is until a couple of carts and people are added!  Rather than roll into someone or bang the sides, I have on occasion taken one turn too many!  The “revolving door” is used in idiomatic expressions to mean that one can end up inadvertently where one started.

Today’s verse reassures the believer that through His Spirit, God has set us free from the law of sin and death.  Sin no longer has power and authority over the believer.  Where once we were in bondage to repeat over and over the same sin, through Him we can break that cycle.  Of course, temptation is still a struggle.  But the believer has His promise that the temptation will never be more than we can bear and He will provide a way out of it without sinning (I Cor. 10:13).  There is choice and there is power available to do the right thing.

It does seem that I am sometimes covering the same ground over and over.  When my patience is again being tested, I am glad when there is no one near to hear my knee-jerk reaction!  In my own power I am destined to a life of repeating the same mistakes.  But when I stop and look to Him and His power, there is a different outcome.  I can respond to testings and trials in a way that pleases Him.  When through dependance on Him I do it right, I absolutely feel free and I feel His pleasure!

Thank you Lord, for Your life-changing Spirit!


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Bless You!

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” 

Our cat, Tiger, would sometimes have a sneezing fit and would always look very surprised when it happened.  I never felt obligated to say the words, “bless you.”  After all, I figured it was usually the cat making everyone else sneeze.  There are many ideas on the origins of blessing people after a sneeze.  Some believed the sneeze had to do with evil spirits leaving the body.  Others felt it was the soul momentarily escaping the body.  My favorite is the belief that the heart temporarily stopped during a sneeze!

Today’s verse declares that the source of every spiritual blessing is Jesus Christ.  He has blessed every believer with unmerited favor and goodness.  The blessings He gives are not tangible but spiritual.  And because that is true, these blessings are eternal.  They include His choosing us, adopting us, redeeming us and forgiving us (verses 4-7).  He has blessed us by sealing us with His Holy Spirit and has promised us an inheritance (verse 13-14).  These blessings are not seen with our physical eyes but they are more real than things that are!

I need to be reminded of His blessings, especially when I see non-believers seemingly prosper around me.  Like David, I can feel discouraged and tempted to be envious (Psalm 37:1-2).  But their success is temporary and my inheritance is eternal!  Spiritual blessings are the ones that matter.  And the blessing of being His very own outweighs anything else.  I can live this life with faith and love because they spring from the hope stored up for me in Heaven! (Col. 1:5)  How blessed I am!

Lord, open the eyes of my heart to see Your blessings today..


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Free Range

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:45 “And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.”

I like the idea that chickens can roam freely to graze and forage for food.  The label, “Free Range” for poultry implies a freedom of movement in outdoor spaces.  It is said that if they do not have the opportunity to peck at the ground, they will often peck at their own feathers.  Of course, allowing them to freely graze outdoors does not mean they can run around where they like.  They are cage-free but for their own protection they are not barrier-free!

When I think of liberty and being free, I do not normally think of something or someone telling me what to do!  But in today’s verse, walking in liberty is equated with following God’s laws.  It seems a paradox.  How can I walk at liberty and be seeking His Law at the same time?

This liberty is not freedom to do whatever we please.  It is a liberty from the sin that enslaves and entangles us.  It is a liberty that allows us to follow Him.  Sin can have the power to keep us in chains, obligating us to do evil.  But because of what Christ did on the cross, I have a choice to follow His Law.

To be honest I do not always use my liberty like He intends.  The pull of the world, my old habits and just my ugly sin nature  all conspire to convince me that I have no choice!  But as a believer, I have the power of the Holy Spirit living within me.  And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (II Cor. 3:17).  His precepts are the arms that enclose and protect me for my good!

Thank you Lord, for making me free!

 

 

 


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Flying High

Scripture for Today: I John 4:18  “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

My grandson is flying high but his Nana has her heart in her throat even watching this scene!  There is absolute confidence here and no shred of fear.  My son-in-law is not about to let my little guy drop.  His arms are strong and he is ready to catch him no matter what.  My grandson has absolute confidence and trust, not only in his Daddy’s strength but also in his love.  I can just hear him calling out to go higher!

Today’s verse talks about a perfect love.  It is described as a love that drives out fear.  The one who struggles with fear of punishment does not have that complete and perfect love.  Because God showed His love by sending His Son to die in our place (verse 9-10) we can know and rely on the love God has for us (verse 16).  The punishment for sin has already taken place for those who place their faith in Christ.  Now, a loving relationship of absolute confidence is possible!

How awful it would be to try to love and serve the Lord out of fear of punishment!  That is not love at all but obligation and coercion.  But because He took the initiative and paid for my sin, I can enjoy a complete, undivided and sincere love for Him.  I am not weighed down with guilt and shame.  There is no doubt that He loves me and will catch me no matter what!  He has paid the price for my sin and guilt forever!  I am free to love Him completely with all of my being!

Thank you Lord, for love without fear.

 


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Immigrant Fruit

Scripture for Today:  Galatians 5:22-23a  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

I was surprised to learn that almost every food we eat is an “immigrant!”  The plant explorer or food spy, David Fairchild, introduced more than 200,000 exotic plants and crops to the USA over 37 years.  He traveled to over 50 countries bringing us apples from Kahzakstan, bananas from New Guinea, oranges and limes from China and new strains of avocados from Chili!

Today’s verse describes another kind of fruit which is not native or natural to us!  It is the fruit or evidence of the one who is filled with and walking by the Spirit of God.  The results of being in close communion with Him are evident in one’s behavior and attitude.  The fruit comes from Him and not from ourselves.  It is not natural to react to stress with calm confidence.  It is not even normal to respond with kindness to someone who intentionally hurts us!  To have deep seated joy in the midst of crisis is certainly other-worldly.

I have none of these qualities on my own, especially in tense stressed moments.  But as a believer the Spirit of God resides in me.  That means that I have the potential to respond with these beautiful characteristics when it does not seem natural.  When I see that they are lacking, it is not a matter of “self-help” but turning to Him for His help.  The more I confess my inadequacies and turn to Him, the more He responds with this beautiful fruit.  These qualities describe to perfection the One I serve.  He is slowly (some days very slowly) producing His character or image in me!

Lord, please show Your fruit in me today.