Devotions By Jan


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Mustard Flower Field

mustard flower4Scripture for Today: Luke 17:5-6 “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ He replied, If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

When I was little, a friend and I would play in a field of mustard flowers  behind our school during recess.  We loved playing pretend games there and hiding from the teachers when they called us in.  We were sad to see the flowering season end, not realizing what the harvest of that tiny seed could bring.  It is called the least of all seeds (Matt. 13:31) but some varieties can grow to the size of a tree in the Mediterranean climate.

Today’s verse is a very familiar one.  The disciples had just heard Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness and it prompted this request to increase their faith.  Jesus responds by addressing the kind of faith needed rather than the size.  The faith they needed was fast growing and prolific, just as the mustard seed.  After they received the Holy Spirit, these men did exemplify this kind of faith in establishing the early Church with miracles.

This kind of faith, even when tiny, is powerful!  My faith can be size extra small, but if it is placed in One who is all powerful, than it can accomplish His purposes!  He can do above and beyond all I could ask, think or imagine (Eph. 3:20).  It is a tremendous relief to me that true unwavering faith can be tiny and yet bring about His will..  Do I really believe that if I ask anything according to His will, He will answer? (I John 5:14)  I want this kind of faith!

Lord, make my faith like the mustard seed, aligned with Your will.

 

 


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Flip Flops

flip flopIMG_20160519_085943Scripture for Today: Numbers 23:19 “God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?”

I would never have thought to use flip flops as a table centerpiece!  Thankfully, the flip flops were new and not used!  Living in this beach culture, I see this footwear in most any social setting imaginable.  Our local mall has a store exclusively dedicated to flip flops.  But the name of this footwear also calls to mind the idea of changing one’s mind or position.  In this presidential election year, flip flopping seems to be common on both sides of the political aisle!

Today’s verse reassures us that God will not flip flop.  He is not like us but always says what He means.  He never says He will do something and not come through.  When He speaks, He acts.  When He makes a promise, it will happen.  He can back His word with the power to do it.  Being all knowing, God would never say that He was unaware of the extenuating or changing circumstances.  No matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ (II Cor. 1:20a).

Living in a world of broken promises, it is sometimes hard for me to really take the Lord at His word.  Too many times it is easier to doubt than to believe that He means what He says.  He says He loves me.  He says He will care for me and cause all things to work for good.  He does not disappoint.  I cannot think of even one time that He has proved Himself unfaithful.  Yet, I still hesitate to live like I really believe it!

Give me grace Lord, to trust You more.


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The Acorn

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 61:3b “…They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”

It is pretty amazing that this small acorn can grow to be a mighty oak.  It seems such a small insignificant beginning to this towering tree which has so long been a symbol of strength and endurance.  I do not give much thought to those acorns littering the ground although people do eat them.  They are eaten as nuts after leeching out the bitter tannins.  They are also used to make flour and oil.  But if the acorns are correctly planted and cared for, some species will produce an oak measuring as high as ninety-eight feet!

Toady’s verse uses the oak tree as an image of the righteous, displaying the splendor of God.  He is the One who plants that acorn to become the mighty oak.  He chooses the best spot for good soil and sun exposure.  He plants that small acorn at the right depth in the soil and watches over it, guarding it from pests.  He displays His righteousness through His followers so the planting is exactly right.

The only way to become that oak is by His righteousness.  On my own, I stay as little and insignificant as the small acorn.  I know myself.  I cannot produce righteousness.  “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22a).  I have right standing with God because of Christ.  My position is secure in Him.  But I want my daily walk to reflect right living too.  Right choices and obedience will make me stand tall, firm and fruitful.  He has planted me exactly where He wants me to display the splendor of His righteousness!

Lord, may Your splendor be seen in my life.


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Vintage Clothing

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

I am and have long been inexplicably drawn to thrift stores.  Long before it became popular, I was there.  The best places are the ones with no special sorting.  That way, one is more likely to find some unrecognized treasure.  But many of them do have a special rack labelled, “Vintage.”  I am not sure what qualifies for this category.  To me, the term usually just means outdated.  What is especially annoying is to find something hanging there that is suspiciously like what is currently hanging in my closet!

Toady’s verse talks about some spiritual clothing that is never vintage and never outdated.  We are to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Each of these clothing pieces have to do with how we treat others.  And each of these beautiful qualities are expressions of the Spirit residing in the believer.  They are not clothing for special occasions but are to characterize our every-day look.  Wearing these clothes sets us apart from others as belonging to the Lord.

Knowing that I am “dearly loved” by the Lord makes all the difference in how I dress.  I do not have anything to prove to myself or others.  I am secure and held up by His love, making it possible to take the humble position with people.  I can forget about myself and focus on the needs of others when I really understand and live out that love.  Because He loves me, I have something to share. None of these qualities come from me, but from His love for me!

Thank you Lord, for changing my clothes to reflect Your love.


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Just a Kernel

Scripture for Today: John 12;24 “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

I am a city girl so I am proud of myself if I can even identify what is growing in that passing field as wheat!  And the whole process of turning that wheat into something edible seems involved to me, from the threshing and winnowing to the milling.  But none of this happens until a seed gives up its life and is buried in the soil.

Today’s verse uses the kernel of wheat as an image of what an unselfish giving life can produce.  Jesus is predicting His own death and challenging the disciples to be willing to lose their lives (verse 24).  The one who loves his own life and lives only for himself will not experience the honor promised to those who serve Him (verse 26).  Even though His soul was troubled (verse 27) Jesus was resolute to sacrifice His life as payment for sin.

My soul is troubled too with this thought.  Unlike Jesus, I am selfish to the core and grasp tightly my rights, dreams and desires.  Living for Him is fine in theory as long as it does not interfere with what I want!  Surrendering to Him my goals, my time and everything I own is what dying to self may mean.  I am to be a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2) and I struggle with this every day.  However, it is the only way to make my life really count.  There is so much truth in what C.T. Studd wrote, “Only one life will soon be past.  Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Lord, help me to live for You and not myself.