Devotions By Jan

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Harvest Time

Scripture for Today:  Philippians 1:11  “May you abound in and be filled with the fruits of righteousness (right standing with God and right doing) which come through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One), to the honor and praise of God….”

It’s harvest time!  The vineyards above our house are filled with workers, tractors and even horses and carts for the steep places.  The “vendange” or grape harvest is a happy exciting time around here.  After months of hard work tending the vines, the fruit of all that labor appears.  Not only are there migrant workers picking the grapes but students earning extra cash, retired folk, and even whole families enjoying the experience together!  Many of the small villages in Alsace have festivals to celebrate the harvest.

Fruit that is harvested legitimately is fruit enjoyed for more than just one season.  The grapes are not only enjoyed fresh but also transformed into juice, wine, jams and raisins.  When I think about “forbidden fruit” or sin, it is pleasurable only for a season (Heb.11:25).  Our verse for today talks about another kind of fruit; the fruit of righteousness.  It is described as behavior that honors God.  Paul’s prayer is that we are filled with this kind of fruit which comes directly from our relationship to Jesus, the Vine (John 15:1).  The fruit of righteousness will be fruit that is lasting (verse 16).

When I consider what I can pass on to my children and grandchildren, there does not seem to be much that can last.  There is not much that can stand the test of time.  But a life marked by doing the right thing is a life that can touch others for eternity.  It is fruit that will remain.

Thank you, Lord, that Your fruit remains so that my life can make a difference!

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Scripture for Today:  Psalms 112:7  “He will not fear evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

Almost the first thing I do upon waking is check for news on the computer, personal and otherwise.  Being nine hours ahead of the States, I sometimes feel that I am the last to know about whatever happened the day before.  (Of course, I am among the first to know what is happening on my side of the ocean.)  I am quick to check my phone too, in case any news came during the night.

It is not that I am expecting bad news.  But there is a small sigh of relief to know that nothing catastrophic happened while I was sleeping!  However, there is always the potential of hearing bad news concerning family members or friends.

Our verse for today describes the heart of the righteous.  It is a trusting heart that remains steadfast, regardless of the news.  There is no fear of evil tidings.  Worry and fear of what the news might bring has no place for the one who is confident in the Lord.

There will be times when the news is bad.  But it can have no power to shake my trust in Him.  Why?  Because He is the source of Good News.  The Gospel of salvation gives me hope.  Regardless of what I may be asked to endure, it is called a “light momentary affliction when compared to the eternal weight of glory to come” (II Corinthians 4:17).

Like David, my heart can be firmly fixed and established in the assurance of His love and care.  I will not be moved, regardless of tidings good or evil.  I am so grateful that my life is in His gracious and capable hands.  Thank you, Lord, for a life without fear.

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Magnifying Glass

Scripture for Today:  Psalms 69:30  “I will praise the name of God with song, And magnify Him with thanksgiving.”

My eyes do not see so well.  I wear glasses and contacts but I sometimes need a magnifying glass.  From time to time I come across stubborn tiny print that frustrates me.  Out comes the magnifying glass from the drawer.  I am careful to keep it there when not in use.  The sun pours in the window and I have a secret fear that the glass could start a fire!  I am always happy to see the symbol of the magnifying glass on my computer.  I can make print bigger and can even control how much something is magnified.

Our verse for today talks about magnifying the Lord.  He is magnified and more clearly seen by others when I am thankful.  Attributing every success to Him is what magnifies Him.  Recognizing that every thing positive in life is due to Him is what magnifies Him.  To magnify the Lord is to verbally give Him the credit He rightfully deserves.

I cannot help but think of John the Baptist’s statement in John 3:30; “He must increase but I must decrease.”  For Him to increase, I need to stop taking the credit for my blessings!  For Him to increase, I need to get myself out of the way.  Drawing attention to myself gets in the way of the Lord being magnified!  And being silent about His goodness also keeps Him from being magnified.

I want His goodness and grace to be clearly seen in my life!  He is worthy to be magnified!  After all He has done for me, it is the least I can do!  “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!”

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God is Not a Genie!

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 27:4  “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, to seek Him in His temple.”

As a child I was always drawn to stories of fairies or genies who could grant wishes.  Disney stories and television actress Barbara Eden fired the imagination of what I would ask for given that opportunity.  I knew that in addition to untold riches there would somehow be chocolate involved!  But it would annoy me no end if I had to limit myself to just three requests!

In no way is the God of the Bible a genie who grants wishes.  Unfortunately, there are those who have that erroneous idea and are quickly disappointed.  In His grace, God does give good gifts to His children through which He can be glorified.  In fact, for the believer, everything good in one’s life comes from Him (James 1:17).  But His gifts are unmerited and beyond any attempt to manipulate.

If I could ask only one thing of the Lord, what would it be?  In our verse for today, David (thought to be the author) asks for just one thing.  Most important to him was to stay in God’s presence.  It was his one burning desire to gaze on the beauty of the Lord each day of his life.

I cannot help but think that God was pleased with David’s request.   David asked something that God wanted too; close personal relationship.  Seeking His presence above all else puts all my other needs and wants in perspective.  This is a prayer I want to echo and I know He will answer, “Yes.”

( a re-post from October 18, 2013)

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Scripture for Today:  Psalm 37:5  “Commit your way to the Lord.  Trust also in Him, and He will do it.”

This array of remote controls is impressive!  I cannot imagine trying to keep them all straight.  Seriously, I would probably mix them up to the point of inadvertently turning on or off the wrong thing.  As it is,  I pointed our phone at the television the other day and wondered why nothing happened!  Maybe that is better than trying to make a phone call from the television remote!

All these controls must give one a sense of command.  I imagine that homes in the future may become more and more automated.  With voice recognition we can tell lights to come on or heating to turn off.  It must be a powerful feeling to have one’s environment obey one’s every command!

Our verse for today teaches believers to give up control of our lives to the Lord.  There are plenty of things over which we have no control.  But for those things we do, we are to entrust even those to Him.  This is not a natural reaction to a problem.  In fact, in facing a difficulty beyond one’s control, the first inclination is to somehow find a sense of control.  But committing one’s way to the Lord is yielding it all to Him.  It is an intentional decision to allow the Lord His perfect way and to relinquish control.

My basic problem in relinquishing those controls is a lack of trust.  Why ever do I think I can do a better job of it than He can?  Trusting in myself and my own limited understanding may keep control in my feeble hands but His way is always better.  Thank you, Lord, that You are trustworthy and Your control is always loving.