Devotions By Jan


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Seeing is Believing?

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

While living in Grenoble, France, we would often have foggy socked-in days.  Nestled in the valley with the Alps soaring above, we knew sun was shining on those peaks.  We knew because as often as schedule would allow, we would drive up the mountain to see the sun.  We would look down on that blanket of fog covering everything and revel in the sun’s warmth.  But life awaited below so back down into the fog we would drive, remembering the sun but no longer seeing it.

Today’s verse is a very clear definition of the word, “faith.”  It is confidence in our hope and assurance of what is there even though we cannot see it.  We cannot see with our physical eyes what we can see with our spiritual ones!  Thomas would not believe the Lord had risen until he could actually physically see and touch Him.  But we are in that special group that are blessed for believing without seeing! (John 20:29)

Most of the time my spiritual eyes are seeing His beauty, His power and His grace towards me.  But there are days when my spiritual vision seems clouded.  Just as the fog blurs the landscape, so my view of spiritual truth can seem blurred.  I know He is still there but my perspective has changed.  It usually happens when I neglect His Word.  It is sure to happen when I am not speaking with Him.  And that fog can become quite thick the longer I doubt or ignore Him.  But I am amazed at how quickly that fog can lift when I turn back to Him, His promises and His whispers of love!

Lord, lift that fog today!


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Litter Bug

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 10:35-36 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

What a shame to see trash spoiling this beautiful scene!  I still remember that old slogan, “Every litter bit hurts.”  It was part of the campaign begun in the early 50’s called, “Keep America Beautiful.”  Its aim was to end littering and to beautify our environment.  And they did raise awareness through education, public service advertising, mapping of “litter hotspots” and organized cleanup activities.  Much of these values are seen today in other efforts such as Earth Day and “plogging” or picking up litter while jogging.

Today’s verse tells us about something believers should never throw away; our confidence!  That confidence allows us to persevere in doing what God wants.  The believers addressed had suffered through being thrown in prison and through having property confiscated.  Their treatment was unfair but they were told to stay confident that God would richly reward them for their sacrifice and perseverance.  Those who have thrown away their confidence are those who no longer believe the suffering is worth it.  Abandoning the faith for an easier life, they forgo the reward that would have been theirs.

I can respond in one of two ways to a life-changing crisis.  I can either blame God and run away from Him, or I can run to Him for the comfort and encouragement that only He can give.  My faith and confidence, rather than being thrown away, grows and strengthens when I choose that second response.  I do not know what hard thing may await me.  But I pray that I will never throw away my confidence.

Lord, help me to persevere no matter what!

 


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Cliques

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household.”

I love seeing the joy on the faces of these Filipino children!  When being part of a circle of friends, there is a wonderful feeling of belonging!  We all need to feel accepted and valued by others.  It is even better when that happens with a group that shares some common bonds and interests.  And there is quite a bit of angst if we are not part of such a group.  The French word, “clique,” is one we use for a group that is closed to outsiders.  What heartache there can be when we are the one excluded!

In today’s verse there is quite a large group that is by far the most inclusive one.  In this group, no one is a foreigner as it is  made up of members of every tribe and nation!  Our allegiance to God transcends earthly divisions.  There are no strangers as we will have eternity to get to know one another.  Being part of God’s household means that we have the same Father and that we are brothers and sisters.  No believer will feel like an outsider.

I am part of God’s household but I can sometimes feel like an outsider.  I see so many different groups and divisions within God’s family.  I may not fit in because of the racial, economic or theological divisions we create.  I cannot help but think that this is not God’s intent.  He means for us to be one in Christ; no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female (Gal. 3:28).  Our oneness through our diversity is what glorifies Him!

Lord, help me to be lovingly inclusive with ALL my brothers and sisters.


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Military ID

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:12  “The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.  Never again will they leave it.  I will write on them the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem……and I will also write on them My new name.”

On the dog tags worn by the military we honor today, there is marked the name, the identification number, the blood type and the religion of the soldier.  This one is special, marking the date when the soldier went missing in action in Vietnam in 1972.  How special for the family to be presented with these replacement dog tags as the originals were never found!  This brave soldier was honored with a medal having given his life to save others.  Although the family is happy to have these, they continue to look for the originals, hoping to hang them on their tree this Christmas.

Today’s verse teaches that one day, believers will be “wearing” three names that will identify us.  The meaning here seems to be symbolic.  Those who are victorious and enduring to the very end will bear three names.  The name of God will show that we belong to Him forever.  The name of God’s city will show that we are citizens.  And His own new name will indicate our special relationship with Christ.

How reassuring to know that I will remain in His presence forever!  There is no way to misplace this “tag” and be lost.  Christ has marked me as His very own forever!  Because of Him there is victory in this spiritual battle and sin will never separate me from His presence ever again!

Thank you Lord, for loving me enough to identify me as Your very own for all eternity!


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Storage Units

Scripture for Today: Luke 12:15 “Then He said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'”

When I saw this storage unit at night the name of it was brightly lit up.  It made me reflect on the role the storage unit plays in our materially blessed culture.  So often, a life is marked and identified by its acquisitions.  So often a life is judged by the accumulation of possessions.  For some, the essence of their life is found within the four walls of a storage unit.

Today’s verse is a loving warning from the Lord.  He understands how easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking that our possessions define us.  If we measure our self-worth by what we own, then it would make sense to want more and more.  But that is not where life is found.  Jesus called Himself, “the life” (John 14:6).  Greed whispers in our ear that life is found in the things we can touch.  How else can we measure our failure and success?

Greed is sneaky and insidious.  It is something that I need to guard against or it will influence my thoughts and my behavior.  Regardless of how much I have, the world tells me that more is better.  But in God’s economy, I am to be, “rich towards God.” (verse 21)  And the only way I know to be on guard against greed is by being in His Word and reminding myself of what really constitutes life; a loving trusting relationship with my Creator.  If I am greedy for anything, may it be more of Him, more of His love and beauty in my life!

Lord, be my defense against greed today.


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Heartfelt Worship

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 29:13 “The Lord says, ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.'”

Styles of worship vary so much, especially internationally.  Our French church would often begin the service with complete silence and the expectation was to spend time in prayer and reflection.  For other churches, the music is upbeat and loud to begin things, gradually toning down to the message.  There are churches that feel any instrument except the human voice is out of place.  And the volume, rhythm, and style can all be a subject of debate .

In today’s verse none of these considerations are addressed.  The essential component of true worship has nothing to do with style, traditions or even what is considered more spiritual.  What matters to the Lord is the attitude and intent of the heart.  One can mouth the right phrases and the right notes with a heart that is very far from Him.  Jesus taught that true worship will involve His Spirit and will use the truth of His Word (John 4:24).

I know the Lord wants my worship of Him to be sincere and from the heart.  The worship He desires not only comes from my mouth in song but also from my thoughts and daily actions.  When I read God’s Word it can be worship.  When I remember, meditate or share a verse it can be an act of worship.  When I praise Him to others in testimony it is worship.  Even when I am trying to hear and obey His voice, that is worship.

Lord, may my worship of You be daily and heartfelt.  You are worthy!


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Stupid Directions!

Scripture for Today: James 4:6 “But He gives us more grace. That is why the Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'”

The other day while finding our way in the mountains, our GPS got totally confused.  Her voice stayed confident as she told us take the second exit at the round point where there was none!  There were several times that had we obeyed her, we would have turned right into the mountainside!  After listening to her continue to give us outrageous directions, we finally just turned her off!  Thankfully, we had an old fashioned map as a back up.  But not once did she apologize!  She never said, “I was wrong and you were right!”

Today’s verse talks about more grace that is given to the humble.  As undeserving as we are, those who can come clean with the Lord about their failures experience His favor.  But there is something in all of us that bristles at the thought of admitting our errors.  Sometimes, the only way it can happen is if we can point to extenuating circumstances!  Or we can maybe admit we were wrong if someone can share our chagrin.  It is never a comfortable experience.

As uncomfortable as it is to be humbled, His grace makes it worth it!  I would much rather live in His favor than have Him be opposed to me.  But each time I allow pride, stubbornness and determined independence from Him to creep into my day, I am foregoing His desire to bless me.  Half the time I do not even realize it is happening as I am so full of it!  How good of Him to bring me to my knees!

Forgive me my pride, Lord.  Oh how I need your grace today!