Devotions By Jan

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Good Oil

Scripture for Today:  Hebrews 1:9  “You have loved righteousness and You have hated lawlessness.  Therefore God, even Your God has anointed You with the oil of exultant joy and gladness above and beyond Your companions.”

There can be lots of confusion about oils; which ones are beneficial and which ones to avoid.  Saturated or unsaturated, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated.  Olive oil is especially lauded for its health benefits.  I only recently learned I should not keep my olive oil near a heat source, and all this time it has been next to the stove top!

Groves of olive trees are a common sight in Israel as they grow so well in a warm arid climate.  In biblical times the olive oil was used for lighting, cooking, personal grooming, sacred offerings, and for medical use.  But what really interests me is its use for anointing prophets and kings.  Oil was poured on the head to set one apart.

Our verse for today refers to Jesus Christ.  In fact, the name, “Christ” in Greek means, “anointed.”  God set apart Jesus and gave Him a position that is above any other.  He not only is worthy of this distinction, but this anointing oil comes with joy and gladness.

I, too, am anointed with oil!  Psalm 23:5 says that the Lord does this for His own.  I am set apart for Him.  The oil also represents His Holy Spirit, who testifies with my spirit that I belong to Him (Romans 8:16)  What a cause for rejoicing!  This oil is surely the “good oil!”

Rather than think about elevated cholesterol levels the next time I pick up that bottle of olive oil, I want to instead remember this image.  I am one of His anointed ones, set apart for Him.  What joy and gladness to belong to Him!

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IMG_20130308_094720Scripture for Today:  Hebrews 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

I always know when our radiators in our old house need purging.  I do not notice the noise during the day, but as soon as I lay my head on my pillow, I hear the drip, drip, drip.  The air inside is blocking the circulation of that hot water.  Not only is the sound annoying, but there is less heat as well.

My husband, Randy, periodically uses the special turn key to open the valve and evacuate the air.  The purged radiator no longer drips and we enjoy better heat.

Our verse for today speaks of our conscience being purged.  The Old Testament system of animal sacrifice served its purpose of symbolizing Christ’s death.  But how much more perfect was the sacrifice Jesus made, once for all!  His sacrifice not only cleanses us from our sin, but purges our consciences as well.  His forgiveness is complete.

Satan would like me to think otherwise.  He whispers in my ear his accusations.  He reminds me of times when I really blew it and let the Lord down.  Satan would like nothing better than to take me out of the game and put me on the sidelines.  How thankful I am that he is wrong!

I do not need to live with that constant annoying dripping sound.  My conscience has been purged.  I am a new creation in Him.  No accusation from the enemy can change this truth.  When I lay my head on the pillow at night I can sleep easy knowing that Christ has taken care of every sin and failure.  Thank you, Lord.


The End

Scripture for Today:  I Peter 4:7 “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore of sound mind and be sober unto prayer.”

Films in France have the same last image but saying, “La Fin.”  The music swells, the lights come up and everyone moves toward the exit.  There is no confusion.  We all recognize the visual prompt on the screen.  It is over.  Some are glad it is over and can not wait to leave.  Others wish the story would go on and on as they enjoyed it so much.

Our verse for today talks about the end of all things.  We are told it will be soon.  And because it will be soon, we are to be clear thinking, self restrained and alert for the purpose of prayer.

It is much easier to live like there is no ending.  I can be lulled into thinking that everything will continue as it always has done.  II Peter 3:4 predicts that there will be scoffers in the last days with exactly this attitude.  I do not scoff at God’s Word saying there will be an end.  But sometimes it is more comfortable not to think about it.

Knowing there is an end to all things should motivate me to consider what is really important.  I love to have fun and distractions in my life.  But there is a time for being serious and reflective.  I do not want to miss the signs that the end is approaching.  Just like the theater has visual cues that the film is over, so Scripture is full of prophetic signs that herald the end of time.

I want to be ready for that ending.  It will usher in a new beginning with my Savior!  And that will have no end!


New Growth

IMG_20130220_161841Scripture for Today:  John 15:2  “Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit He cuts away: and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.”

Our hydrangea flower bush is beautiful in the spring.  The flowers are big and full; some pink some blue on the same bush.  Of course, in this winter season it looks all brown and dead.  But in fact, it is just dormant and it will come back as it does every spring.

These flowers will grow back much better if I get out there and prune away the dead growth.  The fall was too busy and now the temperatures are too freezing to work outside.  But soon, if I want good growth, I need to get out the pruning shears and cut it back before spring arrives.

Our verse today refers to the pruning of vines to produce more and better grapes.  But the idea is the same; that old growth needs to be removed before new growth can happen.  The one who does the pruning in my life is the Lord.  He does not want me to be content with the fruit He has already produced.  He wants me to cooperate with His pruning shears in order to produce more fruit that is richer and more excellent.

Pruning does not feel so good.  It is a painful process.  Just after pruning the plant does not look so good either.  When the Lord allows the hard times to come, He has in mind to produce new growth in me.  He has the end result in view, a beautiful and fruitful life.

Help me, Lord, not to question your pruning shears.  Help me to trust what You are doing in my life.

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On the Throne

Scripture for Today:  Revelation 5:13  “…Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him that sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”

As an American I am not so familiar with royalty and throne rooms.  But living in Europe I have had opportunities to see a few palaces of former kings.  But I don’t think I have ever seen a throne as opulent as the one pictured here!

The throne for me is an image of absolute authority.  It is from the throne that edicts and commands are issued.  The throne is the seat of control, benevolent or not.  The one seated there commands respect and obedience.

As a teenager I was taught that there is a throne in my heart, the seat of control.  I was challenged to look at that throne and determine who or what was seated there.  If one is a non-christian there is no question but that on the throne is seated one’s self.  But as a Christian, Someone else is to occupy that throne.

As a believer and Christ follower, the One seated on the throne of my heart is Jesus.  Rather than following my own will, I strive to follow His.  He has redeemed my life and He has every right in the world to be on my throne.  He is my Savior and my King.

It is a daily choice to allow Him to reign in me.  The French say, “Je suis Dieu” meaning “I am God.”  But the verb “suivre” means “follow” looking identical conjugated in the first person.  So the same phrase, “Je suis Dieu,” can also mean, “I follow God.”

I pray there will be no confusion about who is God in my life!  He deserves all honor glory and power from my obedience!