Devotions By Jan


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Candle in the Wind

Scripture for Today:II Timothy 1:6 a “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you….” 

The original lyrics of “Candle in the Wind” referred to Marilyn Monroe.  The song was written by Bernie Taupin who was inspired by the words of the title, referring to Janis Joplin.  He saw Marilyn as a metaphor for all those who enjoy fame but then die young.  More familiar is the later version by Elton John, done as a tribute to Princess Diana.  But both versions have the same concluding lines: “Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did.”

Today’s verse reminds the believer that residing in him is the Holy Spirit (verse 7).  He Himself is an undeserved gift as are His fruit and His spiritual gifts for service.  The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was likened to tongues of fire coming to rest on each of the believers (Acts 2:3).  Paul encourages Timothy to fan the flame of this gift of the Spirit.  We know this flame is being fanned when we are not timid about our faith.  We know this flame is burning brighter when we see power, love and self-disciple in our lives (verse 7).

These legendary icons will live on for a time but eventually burn out.  What an assurance to know that there is no such fate for the Spirit of God in me!  His flame is eternal and He has given me eternal life as well.  But while here, I want my light to shine, not for my own glory but for His!  I need His power to be bold for Him.  I need His love when loving is difficult.  And I need His help with self-discipline when I feel out of control!

Thank you Lord, for the flame of Your Spirit.


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Pelican Flower

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.”

This Pelican Flower on the streets of Ocean Beach, CA.  looked so unusual with its brown color and huge size!  These heart-shaped flowers only live TWO days!  On day one they attract bees and flies by their stench to enter the tunnel shape in the middle.  The little hair-like growths inside guide them along until they are stuck with no way out!  On day two the insect is covered in pollen and they are let out as the flower slowly withers and dies.

Today’s verse presents a true paradox.  Jesus is saying that those who are intent on saving their lives at any cost will end up paying in other ways.  Lives that are selfishly lived will in the end be lost.  Even if a person should gain the world world: riches, honor, health and ease, they can still lose their soul (verse 26).  Whereas, those who pour out and sacrifice their lives for others as a service to the Lord will have meaning and purpose.  They will in fact find their lives and the soul will not be lost for eternity.

Losing my life for the One I love is the best way I know to demonstrate that love.  I lose my life each time I choose to obey God’s way rather than my own.  I lose my life every time I put His agenda of good works ahead of my own selfish plan.  When I desire Christ’s love above and beyond any human love then my life is spent serving Him.  In losing my life to Him, He fills it and makes it meaningful!

Thank you Lord, that in You I have found my life!


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Patient Dumping

Scripture for Today: John 6:37 “All those the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never drive away.”

Patient dumping is not new but recently there has been more attention given the problem.  The term refers to the premature discharge of Medicare or indigent patients for economic reasons.  It usually happens to a homeless or mentally ill person who is uninsured or unable to pay for treatment.  They are discharged to the streets, to a bus stop, to a homeless shelter or to another hospital.  There have been fines leveled at hospitals and corrective measures taken.  But too often, the problem continues.

Today’s verse tells us that the Lord will not turn anyone away who comes to Him!  He does not deny access.  He does not abandon or turn away anyone who comes to Him in faith.  No one is denied forgiveness because they are “too far gone” or guilty of some terrible sin.  No money is no problem as we come freely at His invitation to come (Isaiah 55:1).  He is faithful to forgive those who come to Him in confession (I John 1:9).  He forgives and gives us a new clean heart and it is all undeserved.

I may not be homeless or mentally ill but I am undeserving.  I come to Him with no merit of my own.  I do not deserve even a glance from Him let alone His favor!  But He welcomes me with open arms because of His incredible grace!  Regardless of my emotional state, regardless of the shame I feel, He is there and invites me to come.  Even when it has been awhile since I last came, He will always welcome me and will never turn me away!

Thank you Lord for Your faithful constant love.


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Bulletproof Backpacks

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:5 “You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid your hand upon me.”

What a discouraging reality that bulletproof backpacks are part of the back-to-school market!  Whether buying the backpack itself or a bulletproof insert put inside a backpack, the idea is to provide one’s child with an extra layer of protection. This measure only protects from handguns but not from any other kind of firearm.  So perhaps this product does more to ease a parent’s fear than anything else.  I always wonder if the backpack does any good if not positioned in the right direction of the threat!

I love the assurance of today’s verse!  Regardless of the direction of an immediate threat, the Lord has the righteous covered!  With His love and protection He has enclosed one behind and before.  Because He is omnipresent He completely surrounds those who belong to Him.  He has laid His hand upon the believer.  Nothing will ever happen that He does not allow and incorporate into His individual plan.  He does not intend that the righteous live their lives in fear but that their hearts remain secure (Psalm 112:8).

Whatever measures I take for my security are limited and there are never any guarantees.  I live in a fallen, broken world where evil threatens.  My security cannot be found in my environment.  My security is found in the fact that He is before me, behind me, and on all sides of me!  It may be that God would allow violence to touch me as He has allowed it for others.  But nothing can touch my soul and my eternal future with Him! (Matt. 10:28)  I have no reason to fear as He is my ultimate security and He will never disappoint!

Thank you Lord, that You lay your loving hand on me!


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Elvis at the Grand Ole Opry

Scripture for Today:  Romans 5:3-4  “…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope:”

I was surprised to hear about the time Elvis Presley bombed!  We do not often hear of the failures of the greats but only their successes.  A teenage Elvis performed only once at the Opry in 1954.  He vowed never to sing there again.  During that time only country music was featured.  With his rhythm, blues and body gyrations, the reaction of the audience was tepid at best!  The manager advised Elvis to return to his truck driving position in Memphis!  I am so glad he did not listen.

Today’s verse teaches that perseverance can be developed out of hard times and perhaps even failure.  Perseverance is not born out of wishful thinking but out of suffering.  It is the ability to stay the course regardless of the obstacles.  Remaining faithful, keeping that promise or shouldering on with the right choice rather than compromise; it all requires perseverance in the face of hardship.  Out of continuing on, character is built and our hope in eternal reward grows stronger.

I am a wimp when it comes to suffering in any form.  But I know that the Lord does not exempt me from it.  It is so often in the suffering that my faith deepens and my knowledge of His heart grows too.  It is good to know as well that perseverance , character and hope have a fighting chance to develop in me.  But it is all grace.  It is God who is giving me that endurance and encouragement I so need to keep on keeping on (Rom. 15:5).  He is the One who brings positive outcomes out of what can look so hopeless.

Lord, keep me faithful to You no matter what!


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My Virtual Reality

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 6:19 “In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation to the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

I do not think I have ever had such a bizarre experience as seeing a virtual world with this 3D software!  Here I am learning the controls through a tutorial game and you can see in my son’s hand what I am seeing.  Creating this artificial environment makes it possible to experience anything anywhere!  How wonderful it was to walk the streets of Guebwiller, France and cross the river’s bridge and see the flowers of a place so dear to my heart!

Today’s verse alludes to a possible confusion between what is considered life and what is “truly life.”  This passage is encouraging those who are well-off to be rich in good works and generous in their giving.  Being willing to share is what lays up treasure in heaven where moth, rust and thieves will not touch it (Matt. 6;20).  But leading a life that is generous does something for us here on earth as well.  It allows us to experience a life that is truly life or “life indeed.”  There is another dimension to life that one can miss.

Living solely for selfish gain is not true life.  But when I live for others, life becomes richer.  I so need to remember this when tempted to envy.  True life is not found in what I possess.  True life is found in what I can give away.  I find that true life when I give and serve others.  Anything else is a life but without that dimension, not a true one.

Lord, do not let me miss out on true life today!

 


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Bison in the Road!

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”

We have recently learned on the roads in  Yellowstone Park that Bison have the undisputed right of way!  There was no sign saying so.  It was just common sense to stop and make way.  With their huge shaggy heads and their gruff snorting, we did not argue!  There was no going around them or passing cars to get by them.  Everyone just waited until they decided they would clear the road!  Whether waiting took five minutes or ninety, there was nothing else to do!  It was out of our control.

Today’s verse tells us we are to yield or submit to the Lord in each and every way we choose to take.  By acknowledging His control, His superior knowledge and His goodness, we travel a path much less complicated by twists and turns.  He makes our paths straight, unencumbered by lengthy unnecessary detours.  We reach our destination in good time, or in His time (regardless of the bison in the road!)  When we give way to Him rather than insisting on our own plan, we find He had a better idea all along!

Yielding my will to His is so often a struggle.  Even knowing that my own understanding is limited, I stubbornly resist.  I like being the one who makes the decisions.  Trusting Him with all my heart is scary without having some measure of control.  But He promises that when I do, He will make my paths straight, choosing the best way.  No time will be lost as He has a purpose in every delay.

Thank you Lord, that I can fully trust Your heart of love for me!