Devotions By Jan

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Toward the Light

Scripture for Today: Psalm 97:11 “Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.”

How often I have read novels or seen movies where at the end of  life, one moves toward a light!  In these stories the light represents eternity and the presence of God.  The light is bright and welcoming.  We associate light with warmth and goodness, whereas darkness can represent something cold and evil.  Even just a small pinpoint of light is powerful, dispelling darkness and chasing away shadows.  The light has a direct affect on our sense of well-being.  Without enough light, we can easily become depressed and negative.  Light has a way of lifting our spirits and giving us hope.

Today’s verse describes another blessing for the believer.  Light and joy shine on those whose heart is in right standing with God.  There may be darkness all around but “even in darkness, light dawns for the upright.” (Psalm 112:4)  When our hearts are right with the Source of light and joy, then it stands to reason that we can experience that light and joy ourselves, regardless of our circumstances.

I cannot drum up light and joy on my own for any length of time.  It is too easy to allow negative guilty thoughts darken my mind, robbing me of joy.  Light and joy are directly linked to my relationship to Him.  They are a natural outgrowth of a close relationship with my Creator.  He has made His righteousness mine through His Son, and with that clean heart comes the light and joy I so need!  How wonderful the benefits of forgiveness and grace!  In a world of pessimism and darkness, I can share that light and joy with others!

Thank you Lord, for being my light and my joy today!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 13:4-5 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

In Southern California we are a bit mixed up.  The seasons are not so readily identifiable.  Our weather is so warm all year long that we continue to enjoy the summer fruits, including watermelon, even in the early days of autumn.  Thankfully, the display of pumpkins is a good reminder of what the calendar says.  However, calling pumpkins, “watermelons,” is a great example of a misnomer.  They may both be round and heavy but there the resemblance ends.  It is obviously the wrong label.

There are a million misnomers in our world but one that stands out is the use of the word, “love.”  We name many different emotions as love when they are not.  The description in today’s verse makes that obvious.  It might look like love.  It might feel like love, but many times it falls short of what true love is all about.  Of course, there are different kinds of love, whether they be brotherly or romantic.  But whatever we name “love” needs to resemble the qualities listed in I Corinthians 13, including the important quality of love never failing.

It is easy to be swayed into thinking that love means good feelings.  It is such a lovely experience when it does.  But the essence of love involves a committed decision to faithfully seek the best for the other person.  For me, that decision takes work and determination.  Oh, but the benefits are worth it!

Thank you Lord, for showing me what true love looks like and giving me the power to do it!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Truth or Consequences

Scripture for Today: Romans 2:7-8 “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”

At the risk of sounding ancient, I will admit to remembering this old television show!  It originated on radio in 1940 and became popular on television in the 50’s.  It had quite a run broadcasting its last show in 1988.  The idea was to pick contestants from the audience, ask a question impossible to answer, then require a stunt to perform as the “consequence.”  But really the only consequence to not knowing the truth was looking silly.

Today’s verse describes those who have heard the truth but reject it.  They are characterized by selfish lifestyles and evil choices.  This passage describes them as having stubborn and unrepentant hearts.  That indicates that they have experienced conviction and guilt, but have chosen to ignore it.  There does not seem to be any immediate consequence to their rejection, but the context talks about storing up God’s righteous wrath and anger.  In His grace, He holds off the consequences which must surely come.  But eventually, “trouble and distress” are in store for those who continue to do evil (verse 9).

Those are pretty negative consequences.  But for the believer, glory, honor and peace are promised for those who do good! (verse 10)  Knowing and believing His absolute truth is motivating.  Being convinced of the truth of His Word motivates me to persevere, regardless of the fluctuating ideas of “truth” around me.  It is not “a truth” by which I live my life but “the truth” in the person of Jesus Christ! (John 14:6)

Thank you Lord, for the wonderful positive consequences of embracing Your truth!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Scripture for Today: Proverbs 12:16 “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.”

There is nothing that annoys more quickly than stepping on a piece of gum.  It stubbornly sticks to the shoe and resists most efforts at cleaning.  There is lots of advice out there on how to remove that nasty gum, including ice cubes, WD 40 motor oil, peanut butter, and freezing the shoe in a plastic bag.  But those methods do not help when I am out and about.  I end up walking on that foot gingerly, smelling like mint until I can get back home!

Insults can stick like gum to the shoe.  We remember every harsh or unkind word.  The more publicly it is uttered, the more it sticks to our memories.  But showing annoyance at the time it is said puts us at a disadvantage.  We are called, “foolish,” when we show that the insult of another annoys us.  However, we are viewed as prudent when we can immediately overlook that insult.  When we can manage to overlook it, it will not stick to us.  Not only will others not remember it, but we ourselves have a better chance of forgetting it as well.

It is such a wonderful quality to be able to shrug off an insult.  It is even “to our glory” to overlook an offense (Prov. 19:11).  We are viewed as the better person for taking this high road.  But quite frankly, I find it very difficult to do.  It helps me to look to the model of Jesus who was insulted, reviled, mocked and misunderstood.  Yet, He did not reply in kind or hold a grudge.  He responded with an offer of forgiveness.  It did not stick!

Lord, give me the wisdom and prudence to overlook insults.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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State of Mind

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things above and not on earthly things.”

In returning from Massachusetts to California I feel as if I am not only changing a state but a state of mind.  It is amazing to me the variety of lifestyle and outlook within our own borders.  The mind set here includes influences from a longer more visible history.  Tradition, long-standing families, old money and historic buildings are all factors that have more importance here than in California.  There is a different mind set in the “sunshine state” where free spirits may feel more comfortable.  I am perhaps overgeneralizing but each state does seem to have an identifiable mind set.

The believer is to have an identifiable mind set as well.  Today’s verse tells us to set our minds on things above.  We are to have a different optic in seeing our world.  Our point of view is affected by what is eternal rather than temporal.  Our values are based on what will last.  Our decisions are directed by what is unseen rather than what is perceived by the senses.  It is a totally different state of mind.

It is too easy to forget that our citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:19).  The mind set of those around us is set on earthly things (verse 18).  But those with that state of mind are called, “enemies of the cross.”  I do not want to be in their number!  My state of mind needs to be one that is transformed and renewed by God’s Word.  And my state of mind will be obvious by the way I live.  I do not think I risk being so heavenly minded that I am of no earthly value.  Quite the opposite!

Lord, keep my mind set on You today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Rearranging the Furniture

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:26 “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

I am one of those people who love to rearrange the furniture!  The new configuration may not even be better than the previous one, but it makes me feel better.  I enjoy the change and the fresh look.  My husband is not always of the same opinion, especially when he stubs his toe!  Where before he could walk through the living room without any thought, he now has to be intentional about where he steps!  Habits die hard!

Today’s verse is a caution about our steps.  We are to give careful thought to what paths we follow.  Routine and habit can dull the senses and make us unaware.  We are to be intentional in evaluating our direction and walk in a way that is consistent with our beliefs.  The following verse tells us to avoid turning to the right or to the left, but to stay the course of what we know is right.  Verse 25 tells us to fix our gaze straight ahead.

It is easy to be distracted rather than resolute.  But inattention can get me in trouble with evil.  It lies on either side of that righteous path.  The path for the believer is narrow but it leads to life and immortality (Prov. 12:28) so it is well worth following!  I do not have to fear that evil regardless of how close it may seem.  I have Someone who as my Shepherd guides me along the right path (Psalm 23:3-4).  There may be unexpected obstacles, but He is always there to guide and protect.  He helps me to think through that next step!

Lord, help me to give careful thought to where I am stepping!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Follow Me!

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 1:12 “….One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.'”

It was easy following Paul.  He was driving a comfortable pace in the commuter lane.  We kept right up with him regardless of the boisterous noise of six French teens seated behind us.  It took the stress out of driving to have someone in the lead.  But when it looked as if Paul missed our exit, I was not too worried.  I just figured he knew a different way to our destination.  But when another exit flew by, I was worried enough to call him on my cell.  He had already arrived!  We were following the wrong car!

Today’s verse was written by the apostle Paul to the church at Corinth.  The believers there were dividing themselves into factions.  Each group followed a different church leader.  Paul turns their thoughts and loyalties to the One who could bring them together in unity.  After all, it was not Paul crucified.  They were not baptized in his name but in the name of Jesus (verse 13).  When we all have our eyes fixed on Jesus, following Him, we will remain united.

It seems to be part of human nature to split up into separate groups.  Somehow, pride gets in the way of fostering unity.  I often major on our differences rather than celebrating our common ground.  And there is danger in placing the group or the leader above Christ, making my allegiance to that leader the most important one.  But in following Jesus Christ above all else, I find I can bond with others who do the same, regardless of church affiliation, regardless of race, age or locale.

Thank you Lord, that following You above anyone else brings sweet unity with others!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)