Devotions By Jan


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Christmas Preparations

Scripture for Today: Luke 2:7 “And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

We are in the midst of preparing for Christmas.  The tree is up, the house is decorated, and the presents are for the most part wrapped and tagged.  I enjoy making Christmas goodies for the neighbors and that remains to be done.  There are still the menus to decide on and some major cleaning projects nagging at me.  The news reported that Americans on average spend 38 hours preparing for Christmas! And I always tell myself that this year, I will simplify and take things a bit slower.

Today’s verse describes the humble scene of Christ’s birth.  Because of the ordered census, the inns were filled with travelers and there was no room available.  The King of Kings made His entrance into this world in a stable-like setting.  I sometimes wonder about that inn keeper.  Did he later realize who it was that he turned away?

Today, there continues to be no room for Jesus.  He does not force entry into one’s heart.  He knocks at the door of our lives (Rev. 3:20) and awaits our response.  His desire is to take up residence and begin a life-long close relationship.  What a missed opportunity for those who turn Him away!  But amid all the preparations for Christmas, am I making room for Jesus?  Somehow, the very reason for Christmas can be crowded out with all my distractions and frenzied activity.  I want my heart to be wide open to Him.  I want His presence to fill up every nook and cranny.

“O come to my heart, Lord Jesus.  There is room in my heart for Thee.”

 

 

 

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Froggy Atmostphere

Scripture for Today: Psalm 148:13 “Let THEM praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”

We thought when we stopped to eat at this small restaurant in Chenecy-Buillon, France, that the sign pictured the frog because of it being on the menu.  But in fact, their dialect’s word for frog was used to refer to an old town legend.  The story is that the Lords and Ladies of the past were bothered by the noise of the frogs in the local pond.  The frogs were so loud the noble families were unable to sleep.  So the local peasants were prevailed upon to pat and slap at the water all night to quiet them!

Today’s verse is a call to praise the name of the Lord.  His name is higher and more worthy of praise than any other.  His name is to be lifted up as the splendor of the Lord is higher than anything on earth or in the heavens.  Of course, this praise is to come from mankind.  But in addition, creation is to praise Him; sea creatures, the weather, the mountains and hills, wild animals, cattle, small creatures and birds (verses 7-12).  Certainly, the humble frog is included!

All of creation exists in some way to bring glory to the Creator.  If a lowly frog with its incessant croaking can bring praise to Him, then certainly I can as well.  Whether I am in fine voice or have a frog in my throat, His praise is to be on my lips.  We left that restaurant full of rich food.  But I can be just as satisfied when with my mouth I can sing praise to Him! (Psalm 63:5)

Lord, may everything I do and say today give You praise.

 


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Helium Shortage

Scripture for Today: Psalm 21:6 “Surely You have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of Your presence.”

It had never occurred to me that there could be a helium shortage.  However, it cannot be manufactured and there is a limited supply underground.  Five years ago a tank costs 25 dollars.  Today the price tag reads closer to 300 dollars!  The concern of party balloon companies is understandable.  But the implications for the medical field are very troublesome as it is used for MRI’s as well as for research in chemistry and biology.

Today’s verse mentions something that will never run out.  There will never be a shortage of God’s blessings.  They are unending and eternal.  King David, talking about himself in the third person, lists some of the blessings he sees as coming from the Lord: victories, the desire of his heart, a crown, length of days, splendor and majesty.  What a king could understandably take credit for, King David attributes to God.  But it is not only these God-given blessings that make David glad, but more importantly the joy of God’s presence!  He knows and trusts in God’s unfailing love for him (verse 7).

How giving and generous the Lord is!  He liberally gives and gives and sometimes I am not even aware that HE is the Source!  Because of His great love for me, His blessings are unending, continuing on into eternity.  His flow of blessings may not be material.  They may not even be what I think I should have.  But they are always more than I deserve!!  But what surpasses every blessing is the joy of His presence!  Feeling HIs faithful love and presence, especially in the difficult times, is the deepest and most meaningful blessing!

Today may I “praise God from whom all blessings flow!”

 


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Loyal Dog

Scripture for Today: Psalm 117:1-2 “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol Him, all peoples. For great is His steadfast love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.”

Poor Madison.  Because of the Camp Fire in Paradise California, he lost his home, and perhaps his brother Miguel, and maybe even his owner.  Regardless, he waited patiently at the burned out site for almost a month in hopes of something changing.  Although not seeing him, an Animal Rescue Volunteer kept checking the property and leaving food and water.  Finally, the evacuation orders were lifted and the owner and the dog’s brother returned.  What a sweet reunion there was between the owner and this faithful dog!

Today’s verse describes a faithfulness that has no equal.  The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  His love for His own never fails and is perfectly expressed in His unending faithful commitment.  There is no waning.  There are no breaks or interruptions.  His faithfulness has no end as He is eternal and unchanging.  Praising Him is the very least we can do in response to such incredible faithfulness!

There is nothing that I can rely on as sure, steady and consistent as His love.  I waver and I am fickle but His faithfulness and commitment to me are solid.  It is the foundation to my life and without it I would be utterly lost.  I can live in reliance on His faithfulness (Psalm 26:3).  His love gives me purpose.  His love gives motivation to live each day.  His love is my support when everything around me is falling apart.  Thankfully, His love is faithful and will never change.

Thank you Lord, that I can count on Your faithful love today, and tomorrow.


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Christmas Tea

Scripture for Today: James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

I appreciate a lovingly brewed tea. I especially enjoy it when it is accompanied with sweets!   It takes time and some effort to do it correctly.  There are always directions on a box of tea on how long to steep that bag.  But more often than not, I tend to hurry the process along.  For the full flavor to be realized, the bag needs to steep long enough in that hot water.

Today’s verse talks about a process with a very positive outcome.  But like steeping in boiling water, it takes time.  The testing of our faith through trials and difficulties does eventually bring about perseverance.  And this is why one can consider it a joy.  Believers are to look at their problems not as a punishment, a curse or bad luck.  The one belonging to the Lord is to consider or regard each trial as something positive.  There can be joy when we can see past the problem to the perseverance that is being produced in us.

Of course, joy is not my first response to hard times  But after long careful consideration, I can eventually come to it.  It is usually well after that negative experience that I can see how God used it in my life.  I can esteem something as a joy when I see my faith become stronger as a result.  Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Heb. 12:2).  I want to see the joy that is set before me as well and so be able to endure with perseverance whatever He allows.

Lord, help me to trust what You are allowing in my life.

 

 

 

 

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Forever Young

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:5 “…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

This image communicates such a contrast between young and old, vibrant and struggling.  However, for a 60+ year old man from the Netherlands, this was not how he saw himself.  In his head and spirit, if not in his body, he was still young.  On a job application he put his age down as 49.  When he was called on it, he explained that this was how he felt inside!

Today’s verse is a call to praise the Lord for all of His benefits.  David then lists several, ending with this amazing declaration.  God satisfies our desires so that even our youth is renewed like the eagle’s!  There is satisfaction in remembering each of the good things that are already ours.  He forgives, He heals. He redeems, and He crowns us with His love and compassion (verses 3-4).  Those intangible benefits provide a satisfaction that constantly renew the spirit.

If I did not know His love and compassion I would feel prematurely old.  And realizing all His good gifts is a lift and renewal to my spirit!  Focusing on HIs benefits means there is no longer an energy drain fussing about what I do not have or pining away for what I wish I had.  I am freed from discontent when I hand over my desires to Him.  He knows what I really want.  He knows what it is I truly need.  He only gives to me what is good.  I want to relinquish every desire to Him and not be dragged down from the heights where I can be soaring!  Remembering His benefits is the best way I know to feel young!

Thank you Lord, that You satisfy and renew me.


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The Blue Devils


Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Duke is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina.  It has a long history having been founded in 1838 by Methodists and Quakers.  Their motto in English is “Knowledge and Faith.”  Their basketball team, called the Blue Devils, have an eight-episode documentary recently released.  It documents their preparation for their 2018-2019 season.  The title of this documentary is undoubtably meant to be motivational for the players, “Earn Everything.”

Today’s verse teaches an important truth that salvation is something that cannot be earned.  Very clearly it states that salvation does not come through our work or efforts.  We want to think that somehow, something we did contributed to being saved.  But no matter how hard one works to earn Heaven, man will always fall short of the perfect standard of God’s holiness.  And the problem with thinking we can earn it is never knowing if we have done enough!  Salvation is free and a gift from God.  Because this is true, none of us can boast about earning it.

My gratitude towards God grows by leaps and bounds when I grasp this truth.  It is all grace and it is amazing!  There is tremendous freedom in my spirit to be assured that my salvation depends on Him and not my efforts.  In a season of gift-giving, isn’t this the greatest gift of all!  Without this truth, I would always be in a state of fear and worry about my eternal destination.  But I do not have to worry when I place my faith and trust in what HE did on that cross!

Thank you Lord, for such an incredible, unearned gift!