Devotions By Jan


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Cable Car Caroling

Scripture for Today: Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him.”

It was 1969 and our church youth choir had to get special permission from the city of San Francisco to reserve two cable cars.  I have sung in choirs at lots of different venues over the years including; street corners, European cathedrals, grottos, and the Rose Bowl.  But I will never forget singing my heart out up and down those steep streets!  Today, there are many different fundraisers and community groups who carol on these cars.  But in the 60’s it was not so common.  We got lots of funny looks, but we also got passerby’s joining in!

Today’s verse encourages us to praise the Lord through song.  It is fitting because it is His due and He deserves it.  But in addition, it is a good and pleasant experience.  Christmas time is the perfect opportunity to praise Him as so many of the older carols spell out who He is and why He came!  Thankfully, there are no restrictions in this verse that the singing needs to be on key or pleasant to hear!

I sing to and for Him.  But what is so incredible is that it does me so much good as well.  Praising God in prayer and listening to sacred music turns my heart toward Him.  But nothing lifts my spirits more than singing His praise!  It brings me closer to Him as I know He always listens.  Not only is my spirit involved but so is His Spirit as songs prompted by Him help me make music from the heart (Eph. 5:18-19)

Today Lord, “tune my heart to sing Thy grace.”

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Thirsty Kittens

Scripture for Today: I Peter 2:2-3  “…like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the Word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

These sweet kittens seem pretty motivated to reach that pail of milk!  It cannot be too comfortable for them to stand on their hind legs and fully extend them.  I wonder what they did when the level of milk dropped so that they could no longer reach it.  I imagine that either one or more fell in or perhaps in their eagerness the pail tipped over!

Today’s verse describes that same longing.  A new believer will show enthusiasm for reading and learning from God’s Word.  It is not something a believer ever need deny himself.  Although a mature believer will gradually add the meatier doctrines of the Bible, one never outgrows the need to review and appreciate the foundational truths, or milk.

The milk of God’s Word is described as pure.  Hearing others preach and comment on God’s Word is important and valuable.  But my own personal feeding is essential for my faith to grow.  Nothing can take the place of His personal message.  Having that sweet communion leaves me wanting more.  And it is when I read His Word for myself that I taste His kindness for me!

I need that close quality time with the Lord for my faith to grow.  Through His written Word He reassures me of His love and presence, His control and care!  It is wonderful to grow in knowledge.  But my deepest desire is to grow closer to Him!

Thank you Lord, that You nourish my soul!


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Let Us Adore Him!

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 45:23 “By Myself I have sworn, My mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before Me every knee will bow; by Me every tongue will swear.”

J’Adore perfume by Christian Dior was first launched in 1999 and had incredible success, even legendary status.  In English we use the word, “adore” to indicate strong passion.  But the meaning of  “adore” in French is not as strong as the word for “love,” and it is used lightly to mean a strong preference.  One can just as easily say that they adore chocolate.  But for French language purists, the word “adore” is used exclusively for God and means to worship.

Today’s verse is a declaration or vow of the Lord.  His word will never change or be revoked.  Everything He says is entirely true and will never change just as He will never change.  And what He says is that every knee will one day bow before Him.  The doubters and the mockers, the arrogant and the rebellious will one day kneel in absolute humility before Him, verbally acknowledging the truth of who He is! (Phil. 2:10-11).  The shepherds understood.  And when seeing the baby Jesus, even in humble circumstances, they adored Him and worshipped Him.

I love the carol that says, “O come let us adore Him.”  Adoring Him can be lost in all the activity and busyness of the Christmas season.  Everything, although good and happy, can distract me from the adoration and worship that is His due!  And there is enough going on every day to distract me from adoring Him!  But adoring Him is not only the best part of Christmas, it is the best part of any day!

Lord, You are worthy of all my worship and adoration.

 


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A Squirrel and his Nut

Scripture for Today: Psalm 77:11-12 “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will consider Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds.”

I am not the only one who forgets where I have put things!  The University of Richmond did a study and found that squirrels fail to recover up to 74% of the nuts they bury!  Even so, they do have a strategy.  They do what’s called, “spatial chunking” sorting their nuts by size, type and taste and then burying them in groups.  Even more surprising are the grey squirrels who frequently dig up and then rebury the same nut, a behavior perhaps to refresh their memories!

Today’s verse comes from a psalm of Asaph, King David’s music director.  In his depression he is wondering if God is going to keep His promises.  He wonders if God’s love for him has vanished (verse 8).  He doubts and wonders but then he answers his own questions with these two verses.  He resolves to remember all of what the Lord has done in the past for him and his people.  He replaces his troubling thoughts with memories of God’s miracles and mighty deeds.

I have seen the Lord do so many miracles in my life!  He has provided and proved Himself faithful.  But those memories are so often buried.  I easily forget when I am struggling with a new difficulty.  I need to go back and dig it up to refresh my memory of His faithfulness!  Thoughts of His “mighty deeds” in the past restore my confidence and trust in Him!  Not only my memories do this but the testimony of others too!  He has done it in the past and He will do it again!

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible faithfulness.


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Poinsettia

Scripture for Today: Psalm 112:4 “Even in darkness, light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and  compassionate and righteous.” 

I love seeing the red and green of the poinsettia at Christmas time!  This native flower to Mexico is referred to as, “Flower of the Good Night.”  The reason for this term is the way the poinsettia becomes so colorful.  It is only after twelve to fifteen hours of darkness a day for a period of three months that the leaves (or bracts) become a vibrant red.

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance that the darkness the believer experiences will not be indefinite.  Those who belong to the Lord are upright because of Christ’s righteousness.  And we are assured that eventually there will be a dawn.  Often in Scripture darkness represents calamity and light represents well being.  No one is exempt from dark times.  Regardless of education, wealth, health or status, we all face some kind of crisis or suffering.  But for the believer, there is a dawn coming!  For the one made righteous through Christ, there is hope.

What is amazing to me is that even in the darkness, there is blessing.  The Lord is actively at work in that darkness.  He is using all the negative in my life to test and refine my faith.  Every hurt and disappointment, He uses to grow me more like Him.  He does not waste any pain or difficulty but He utilizes it all to change me.  What a comfort to know He is in control!  When I finally exit that time of darkness, I am different.  Because of His work and grace I can emerge more colorful.  Perseverance, endurance and stronger faith are the colors He produces through that dark time.

Thank you Lord, that you know what You are doing and I can trust You.

 

 


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Misfits

Scripture For Today:  Hebrews 11:13b and 14 …”and they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.”

Do you remember the old song on Sesame Street that says, “One of these things is not like the other.  One of these things just doesn’t belong…”  It is obvious from this photo which of these petals does not belong.  Living as a foreigner in France meant that I often felt like a misfit.  After almost thirty years of living in France I am still dumbfounded by newly discovered differences in their thinking!

What is even more surprising to me is having this same out-of-place feeling when in the USA.  My frame of reference has changed and I have grown comfortable with what previously was strange to me.  I find it difficult to change again to the American way of thinking.  So in fact, I consider myself a misfit on both sides of the ocean.

Today’s verse is part of a chapter listing  great men and women of faith.  What is true of all of them is that they were looking for a country of their own.  They were not comfortable in their culture.  They were longing for a better country, a heavenly one (vs 16).  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.  So in one sense, we are ALL called to be misfits.  As believers, our citizenship is in heaven so we do not feel too comfortable in whatever country we live.  We are not home yet.

I love living in France and I love living in the States.  But in fact, there is a restlessness inside of me.  I want a better country.  And He is preparing it for me!

Lord, keep me looking toward that country to come!

 


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Pearl Harbor

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Today is “a date that will live in infamy.”  On December 7th, 1941 the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaii Territory.  We have visited this war memorial placed on the hull of the sunken Arizona battleship.  How sobering to think of the 2,433 servicemen who lost their lives on that day.  The Japanese chose to attack on a Sunday as they surmised that everyone would be more relaxed.  And they were correct!  Most men were still in their pajamas or eating breakfast and were caught totally off guard!

Today’s verse describes being off guard as well.  We can be surprised by the negative reactions, the loss of employment, or the social shunning that could come from our testimony.  These “fiery ordeals” or tests to our faith are a result of being a Christian.  The opposition we may face for standing up for our beliefs should be expected.  Instead of surprise, we are to react with joy at the prospect of sharing in the same kind of suffering the Lord Himself faced!  He promises special blessing if we endure insult because of His name (vs. 14).

Even knowing this, I am still surprised at the vehemence and outright hostility to the name of Jesus Christ.  As His own, I understand that it is directed at Him in me.  And He took on such suffering for me that I have no reason to complain!  But in facing opposition, it helps to expect it.  To have joy through it is absolutely a gift from Him!

Lord, may I be faithful to Your name no matter what!