Devotions By Jan

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No Room!

Cat-Asleep-in-DollhouseScripture for Today: Ephesians 3:16-17 “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

We have just moved into a very small house and I feel much like the cat pictured here.  There just doesn’t seem to be enough room.  Trying to fit as much furniture as possible into a tight space makes the house seem even smaller.  The question keeps resurfacing, “Where am I going to put this?”  The answer is too often “in the garage” and I am wondering if there will be enough space for the cars.  There is just no room!

In our verse for today Paul prays that the believers in Ephesus will be strengthened by God’s power so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith.  It is in having Christ dwell in them that they can realize personally the amazing love He has for them.  His love is so wide, long, high and deep that they are completely filled (verses 18-20).

When I fill my heart with something other than Christ and His love, I find I have lots of room leftover.  There seem to be many nooks and crannies that look empty and bare.  And no matter how much I try to fill it with all the world feels is important, the more empty it can seem.  But what a difference with Christ dwelling in me!  There is no room for anything else when His love is so wide, long, high and deep.

My prayer is that the presence and love of Christ will be felt not only in this small house but in my heart as well.  May I be so filled with His love, that it spills out the windows and doors and touches others!


Ripe Plantain

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

My husband wanted to help so I sent him out for some groceries, including bananas.  He mistakenly came home with these.  I do not have much experience with fresh plantains.  They did not look so good with their big black spots.  After looking at some recipes on line, I learned that the blacker they become on the outside, the more edible and sweet they were on the inside.  I let them get completely black and then opened them with some misgiving.  Sure enough, their flesh was beautiful on the inside and as sweet as could be!

I could not help but think of this verse.  Outwardly and with enough time, we are all wasting away.  We do what we can to minimize the effects of age, but eventually we look more and more beat up!  Our bodies break down but that does not have to be true for the inside.

Life can be full of hardship and struggle.  Like Paul we may feel that we are “hard pressed on every side” (verse 8) but that does not mean we despair.  We may feel crushed by the weight of our trials but we have hope.  I do not want to lose heart because God is at work creating me beautiful on the inside.  Within I am becoming more mature.  Inside I am becoming sweeter as I respond to the Lord in faith and perseverance.

Despite all the bruising, I can be confident that God is using it all to make me more like His Son.  Thank you Lord for this hope!  Keep me focused on what You are accomplishing on the inside.

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Not Fair!

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 20:15 “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous.”

Whether it is pizza, cake or pie it is important to cut those pieces evenly!  Those who get the larger pieces feel special but the one with that skinny piece may feel a bit slighted.  If my hostess is the one doing the paying, the cutting and the serving I certainly cannot say anything.  But I may fume inside with the thought, “It isn’t fair.”

Our verse for today comes from a parable Jesus told about workers who had come in early in the day.  They had made a contract with their employer to work for a certain sum of money.  Then at the very last hour of the day a second group begins work and they are paid the same amount.  Understandably, the first group was unhappy.  It is not fair.  The employer reminds these disgruntled workers it is his money and he can be generous if he chooses.

It is not uncommon to have the same thoughts about God.  It seems there are times He is generous with someone so much less deserving than ourselves.  Perhaps we have worked harder and longer and feel we should be compensated differently.  Rather than rejoice at the generous blessings given to another, we grumble that we deserve more.  It is not fair.

I am so glad God does not listen to this.  If I got what was fair I would be completely lost.  The wages of my sin is death (Romans 6:23) and I cannot say I deserve anything else.  Eternal life is not fair.

Thank you Lord, that Your grace is better than fair!


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Thank You Notes

1079966Scripture for Today: Revelation 5:12 “In a loud voice they were saying, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.'”

It seems everyone enjoys receiving a thank you note.  It feels nice to be appreciated for a service rendered or a gift offered.  Of course, we tell ourselves we do not do something in order to be thanked, but it certainly does not hurt to be acknowledged.  However, sometimes a “thank you” can feel uncomfortable.  Someone who gushes or repeatedly brings up their gratitude can make us squirm.  It can feel uncomfortable or embarrassing when someone goes on and on with their thanks.  Why is that?  Probably because we know we do not deserve all that praise.

Our verse for today describes the scene in Heaven where Jesus as the Lamb of God is given all the honor, glory and praise that is His due.  There is no One who is more deserving.  The phrase, “I cannot thank you enough,” will for the first time be absolutely true!  We can never thank Him enough for our salvation and what it cost Him.  We will spend all eternity praising Him and even then, it will never be enough.

The Lord does not engage in false humility as we do saying, “Oh, don’t mention it.”  He accepts our continual praise and gratitude because He deserves it.  I can never come to the end of thanking Him because He continually gives.  I can never thank Him too much because I am so undeserving.  I do not merit any of what He so graciously gives me.

Lord, may my life be a continual thank you for all that You do for me!

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TV Remote

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

This cat does not look so happy!  If he could, he looks like he would like to point that remote control at his owner and turn him off!  There are times I am unhappy as well, usually because someone else has the remote in their possession and is controlling the television.  My tastes in programming are usually different than those of my husband, but whoever has it, has the control.

Our verse for today encourages peace.  What we do to achieve it depends not on the other person but on one’s self.  As much as we would like to control the behavior and words of others, we cannot.  We can however, control how we react when provoked.  As much as it depends on us, we are to choose the response that keeps the peace.

There is a lot that can depend on me in keeping the peace.  I am responsible for how I react.  A gentle answer can turn away wrath (Prov. 15:1).  Kindness, compassion, and forgiveness can diffuse a volatile situation and soften another’s heart. (Eph. 4:32)  No, I cannot control someone else, but with the help of God’s Spirit, I can respond in a way that makes peace possible.

This verse is so realistic when it says,”if it is possible.”  When only one of two disputing people are interested in peace, it is not likely to happen (4:32).  But having done all that depends on me, I can pray and trust God to work.  Perhaps one day there will be peace.  In an impossible situation, I have a God who does the impossible!

Thank you Lord, that Your Spirit can help me live peacefully.