Devotions By Jan

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Looking Behind

Scripture 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.”

Today is the last weekday 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.

Today’s verse 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.  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 means we can count on His Word and His promises.  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 being faithful to me!


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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 be thinking, “It isn’t fair.”

Today’s verse 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 was  unfair.  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 just unfair.

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 unfair as I have not earned it.  I am so thankful that He gives me His mercy and not what is fair.

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

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Just a Mirage?

Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

It is amazing how the eye can be fooled.  This desert mirage looks as if there is water in the distance reflecting the landscape.  I can imagine the weary traveler hurrying his steps in thirsty anticipation.  What a disappointment to finally arrive and find nothing!  The light passes from colder to warmer air, bending the rays and mirroring the sky above.  The result is what looks to be a pool of water on the pavement.  The word “mirage” comes from Latin and means “to look at” or “to wonder at.”  We get our word”mirror” from this same root.  This makes sense as the reflected image is not real.

Today’s verse reminded me of a mirage when I read the words, “empty deception.”  Like a shimmering pool of water in the distance, the world’s philosophies promise much but deliver nothing.  When we base our thinking on what the world says is truth, we are deceived.  This verse says we can even be bound and captive to a system of thinking.  We are to be careful and see to it that we are not fooled.

My days make no sense to me without the Author and Source of life.  He calls Himself “Light.”  This Light is not the distorted rays that fool the eye.  He calls Himself, “Living Water,” and He does not disappoint me.  He quenches my thirst.  He calls Himself, “Truth,” and His truth is absolute and never-changing!

Thank you, Lord, that You are no mirage of wishful thinking!

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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 the Canadians.  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!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post from December 2016)

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No Room

Scripture for Today: Luke 2:7 “And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

It was an unusual nativity scene there on the corner of Eighth and D Street in Richmond, Indiana.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus today.  But as King of Kings and Lord of Lords it was a very humble beginning.  The town of Bethlehem was overrun with people as it was the time for census taking.  Everyone was required to register in their town of origin.  I can just imagine the panic Joseph and Mary must have felt when they realized there was no room available at the very moment she was to give birth.  The manger in a cave-like outbuilding would have to suffice.  What a missed opportunity for those who had turned away this special couple!

Today, there continues to be no room for Jesus.  He does not force entry into one’s heart.  He knocks at the door of our lives (Rev. 3:20) and awaits our response.  His desire is to take up residence and begin a life-long close relationship.  What a missed opportunity for those who turn Him away.

If I am honest, there are times when there is no room for Jesus in my affections or thoughts.  But when I give Him the room He deserves, He fills up my heart with Himself.  He brings with Him forgiveness and cleansing from all my guilt and sin.  He fills me up with His peace and love.  Nothing else and no one else can do that for me.

“O come to my heart, Lord Jesus.  There is room in my heart for Thee.”



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Red and Green

Scripture for Today: Psalm 108:4-5 “For great is Your love, higher than the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth.”

Christmas season is all about the red and green.  Anytime I wear these two colors during the year I may hear the comment that I am wearing Christmas colors.  Nature has no such seasonal restrictions!  Red and green are part of the skies as seen in this photo of the “green flash” at sunset.  It is a rare event that few have the privilege of seeing.  This flash of green above the upper rim of the sun’s disk only lasts a few seconds.  Refraction bends the light, the atmosphere working like a weak prism.  I look for it but have yet to see this colorful display.

Today’s verse exalts and praises God for His love, faithfulness and glory.  They are seen in the beauty of the heavens.  From all over the earth one can look up and see His glory in the expanse and resplendence of the sky!  The red and green sky is one more reminder of His faithfulness at Christmas time.  He was faithful to His promise to send salvation in the person of Jesus.  He proved His love in putting on flesh to walk among us.  Jesus is now exalted to the highest place at the right hand of God (Acts 5:31 and Phil. 2:9).  He is higher than the heavens!

His faithful love was shown all over the skies, in the star of Bethlehem and in the appearance of the angels.  He continues to remind me when I am not feeling it.  He lifts my head to look up!  He is faithful and He is love.

Lord, remind me again today.

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, to seek Him in His temple.”

Is there anyone out there who is experiencing “Christmas fatigue” before the 25th has even arrived?  The whirlwind of shopping, parties, events, and concerts can leave one feeling weary and yes, a little deflated!  It is not easy living up to expectations for the holiday.  Trying to get the decorations just right and even counting down to the “big day” can zap me of the wonder of it all!  I know I am in this state of mind when the Christmas music sounds tinny and fake.

Today’s verse speaks of a place where we can constantly dwell, where expectations are never too high and there is no “let-down.”  To be in the Lord’s presence and gaze upon His beauty is an experience that never has to end.  The warmth and comfort of His love rivals any warm and fuzzy feeling from holidays, music and decorations.  His presence and care never disappoint.  There is joy in His presence!  He has granted unending blessings and made us glad with the joy of His presence (Psalm 21:6).

My Christmas tree is beautiful!  The lights in the neighborhood twinkle and shine.  But how odd that after awhile it can become mundane and I walk right past, not noticing.  The joy of gift-giving is lovely.  But I would be hard pressed to name every gift I received last year.  Everything will eventually lose its shine and luster.  But the beauty of the Lord is forever and He invites me to continually gaze on Him!

Lord, keep me seeking You above all else.