Devotions By Jan

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A Look Behind

rear-view-mirrorScripture for Today: Psalm 89:1  “I will sing of the loving kindness of the Lord forever.  To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.”

This is the last weekend of the year.  Every year seems to pass by more and more quickly!  The television channels often have programs that summarize the entire year.  Each time I view these I am surprised at how much I have forgotten.  There are reminders of which celebrities have died.  There are the highs and lows of big news events.  And there are reports of new records set throughout the year.

Not everyone enjoys looking back.  Some things are better forgotten.  Reliving some of the negatives can be very depressing.  But looking back can help change our perspective.  With hind sight comes some understanding.  Problems that seemed insurmountable while living them take on a completely different light after some time has passed.

Our verse for today proclaims the faithfulness of the Lord.  This beautiful characteristic of our God is best seen when looking back.  Many times it is not until the trial is over that we see the positives.  The view in that rear view mirror is much clearer than what lies ahead.  It is often after the fact that we see God’s hand.  His faithfulness brings us through, developing patience, making us more like Him.  His faithfulness brings about that “good” that Romans 8:28 describes.

This past year He has been faithful.  He has been faithful every year.  I am confident He will be faithful next year!  It is His nature.  I can look back these last twelve months and pinpoint all the ways He has shown His faithfulness, not only to me but to my family and my friends.  Regardless of any negatives, He makes looking back a joy!

Thank you Lord, for Your faithfulness this past year!

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Throwing out the Old

snake-florida-flea-market-shopper-finds-8-foot-python-old-clothes-2015-09-29_15-36-54-880x586Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 4:22  “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.”

What a nasty surprise to find this Burmese python in a pile of old clothes at a Florida flea market!  Being nocturnal he probably caught something yummy to eat during the night and was using this dark soft spot to slowly digest his prey and nap the day away.  If I were the woman startled by this eight foot long snake slithering out of a pile of clothes, my scream would likely be heard miles away!

Today’s verse is about putting off our old self.  Like a piece of old clothing we are to take it off.  The old self or old nature is who we were before Christ changed us and gave us a new nature, resembling Him.  The old self is as disgusting as that snake, characterized by lies, sinful anger, stealing, unwholesome talk, bitterness, rage, brawling, slander and all malice.  But now with the new self we can be clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, patience and over all, love (Col.3:12 & 14).

If you are like me, some of the old items are still hanging out in your closet!  Like a ratty comfortable robe, I slip back into habits that should not be a part of my wardrobe any longer.  I am often unaware of what I am wearing.  But those old clothes are NOT pretty.  I do have a choice.  Nothing obligates me to put my hand on that old worn out sin and wear it again today.  Because of Christ, I can be new.  I can have a whole new look, a look that resembles Him.

Help me Lord, to recognize the old and throw it out!

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No Longer New

wrapping-paper-messScripture for Today: Lamentations 3:22-23  “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are NEW every morning: great is Your faithfulness.”

I am not sure that any Christmas present can live up to the hype we give it.  The surprise and thrill of something new is great!  The problem is that newness can quickly wear off and become mundane, leaving us dissatisfied and bored.  Old news, old hat, been there, done that.  We feel compelled to search again for the next new thing!  How long until the next Christmas or birthday?

Our Creator God understands our need for the new!  His promises of new are not found “under the sun” where King Solomon searched.  Rather they are found in the spiritual realm.  Today’s verse tells us that His compassions are new every morning.  He continually reveals something new about Himself.  His compassion today is not leftovers from yesterday.  His relationship with me is new and fresh and timely every morning.  In fact, His renewed compassion for me is the reason I get up in the morning!

Perhaps you are like me.  Even as a child of God I can sometimes be bored.  Desiring something new in my day is fine.  But when I look for satisfaction in the new, I find it a quick but temporary fix as the new eventually becomes old.  However, experiencing His compassions never gets old!   Discovering something new in His nature is a discovery that begins now and lasts for all eternity!  Every morning I can look forward to something NEW!  And this “new” will never grow old!

Thank you Lord, for renewing Your love for me this morning.


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Is Christmas Over?

Scripture for Today:  Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance. kindness, goodness, faithfulness. gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Christmas is over.  That warm fuzzy feeling of “goodwill toward men,” seems to be over a bit too quickly as well.  The extra attention given and received by family and friends has been wonderful and affirming.  But now the tendency is back to business as usual.  The routine and obligations of life reassert themselves and somehow the “love, joy and peace” of the season is forgotten.

We tend to associate these three words with Christmas and for good reason.  It was for love that the Son of God came to earth.  His coming means that peace is now possible between God and man.  Could there ever be a more important reason for joy?  But the words on this Christmas picture are not only for December 25th.

These same words are part of today’s verse.  Love joy and peace are just three of the nine aspects of the fruit of God’s Spirit living in the believer.  These are to characterize the life of the one who follows Jesus.  The love I have for the Lord is extended to others all year long.  The peace I enjoy as a result of my communion with Christ is the same peace that carries me throughout the year.  And the joy that He gives in knowing my sins are forgiven is a joy that does not falter in the face of trouble.

The ornament pictured says to “believe Christmas.”  It is a nice sentiment but the truth is that belief in the Christ of Christmas is what gives us love, joy and peace all the year long!

Thank you Lord, that though Christmas might be over, Your love, joy and peace remain!

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Boxing Day

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 28:27 “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.”

Today is Boxing Day, celebrated every December 26th by the British and by those with ties to Britain.  And no, it has nothing to do with actual boxing!  These days it has lots to do with shopping and finding the best deals, much like the American Black Friday.

There are many ideas about its origins but most agree that it began as St. Stephen’s Day when gifts were given to the poor.  Its name could have something to do with the Alms Box at the back of churches, emptied and distributed on this day.  The carol, Good King Wenceslas, was written by John Mason Neale in 1853 about a King in the 10th century who gives food to a poor family on St. Stephen’s Day.  The song concludes with, “Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.”

This same idea is found in today’s verse.  Those who are generous find themselves lacking nothing.  Conversely, those who are stingy and do not share their wealth with the poor can find themselves in need.  Not only before the holidays begin but also the day after Christmas is an opportune moment to be thinking about those who are less fortunate.  After opening the huge pile of presents, there is often the problem of where to put it all!  We find that cupboards, closets, and garages are already full.

There is so much joy in giving!  And what I have experienced over the years is that God always provides for my needs.  The more I give to others, the more I experience His blessing!  The Lord continually surprises me!

Thank you Lord, that there is no “outgiving” You!