Devotions By Jan


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Half Full

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 39:7  “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in You.”

Are you a person who sees this glass on the left as half full or half empty?  The glass on the right has exactly the same quantity (although in a different form) but is more likely to be seen as half full.  Personalities surely differ but it seems to me it is all a matter of perspective.  There are two ways to look at it and I can choose which it is to be.

Today’s verse speaks of hope, which more than anything can change how we look at reality.  David had just described seeing people as phantoms, running around amassing wealth (verse 6).  They have put their hope in their wealth.  He turns His gaze from them toward the Lord.  He has changed his perspective, focusing on the Lord.  It is in Him that David finds hope and not in his possessions.

The world can only offer false hope, and “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” (Prov. 13:12)  Sadly, there are so many heartsick people around me.  They have placed their hope in something or someone other than Christ.  If I were to put my hope in material wealth, I would be just as heartsick.  But my hope is in the Person of Jesus Christ!  My hope is not wishful thinking or having my head in the clouds.  The “object” of my hope is sure and rock solid!  Because HE is faithful to His promises, there is hope for my future.  My hope allows me to see that glass as half full.  Of course I see the empty part but rather than focusing on that I choose to see His love, His compassion and His faithfulness to me.

Thank you Lord, that You are my hope!

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Warming Up

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 9:26 “Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.”

Being that I am not so athletic, the warm-up before exercise usually does it for me!  But in the event that I keep going, it does help to have those muscles warmed up and ready for action.  Without those gentle stretches, I am more likely to pull something and be done for the day (or the week).

Today’s verse likens our Christian daily growth to running or boxing with purpose.  To win the prize in an athletic competition, strict training and self discipline are usually required.  Paul even says that he makes his body a slave so as to control it.  None of this work is for his own glory, but for the sake of sharing the Gospel and not disqualifying himself.

The Lord knows where I need work on my faith and on my obedience.  In His loving plan to make me more like Him, He has made the race more like an obstacle course.  Those difficulties I will face tomorrow are there to strengthen my faith and trust in Him.  But it would be foolish of me not to warm up.  When I spend time in His Word and in prayer, my spiritual muscles are stretched and ready for action!

I cannot know what tomorrow may bring.  But I can at least be as prepared as I can be.  In the middle of a crisis is not the time to be looking for that verse.  I want to shore up His Word in my heart and mind today.  I want my daily conversations with Him to be so close and encouraging that I can face the unexpected with confidence.

Lord, keep me warmed up.

 


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Chinese Stamp

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 3:14-15 “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”

The Chinese characters that make up my name define me as a forest, as successful and intelligent, and as a precious rare gem!  My husband had this Chinese stamp made for me during our tour of China at the start of our marriage.  It seemed appropriate as I was marrying into a family giving me a Chinese mother-in-law.  I am not sure how accurate it is or why a forest has anything to do with me.  But it is fun to think about the meaning of our names.

Today’s verse points out a commonality in all of our names.  Because God is the Father who created each and every family and its members, we all derive our name from Him.  God is “Jehovah-Ab” the Lord our Father (Isaiah 64:8).  We are all the work of His hands.  But to become a child of God, redeemed and inhabited by his Spirit, takes a step of faith and repentance (Eph. 3:16-17).  At that point there is no separation but only unity as His family.  Whether those already in heaven or those on earth, His children are part of one family.  There is no more Jew or Gentile, slave or free, or even male or female (Gal. 3:28).

Only the God of the universe could succeed in making such diverse people one family.  But because He can and does, I have brothers and sisters not only worldwide but across time!  That strong desire to belong is completely satisfied.  Every time I worship with others so different than myself, I get a small inkling of this incredible truth!  And like Paul, I kneel before the Father in gratitude!

Thank you Lord, for making me part of Your family!

 


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Samples

Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:8-9 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. Fear the Lord, you His holy people, for those who fear Him lack nothing.”

It is a marketing ploy that works!  True, I usually grab and go without buying.  But there is the rare time I actually pick up and purchase the product being sampled.  I have my little rules though.  If the employee is not ready, I do not wait there feeling foolish but will circle around.  I always limit myself to just one sample only because I do not want anyone looking at me aghast!  I did break my rule recently when the sample was chocolate!  It was worth the risk!

Today’s verse is an invitation to “taste and see.”  Unlike the temporary good feeling of eating something tasty, His goodness and blessing keep me satisfied in the deepest part of me.  He knows exactly what I am craving as He made me to feel that lack.  However, when I fear and respect Him, I will lack nothing.  He is that good!  Every spiritual blessing is already mine (Eph. 1:3) and He satisfies my deepest desires for love, peace, beauty, and significance!  How amazing He is!

There are those who say they have tried God or tried religion.  And perhaps they have in some manner.  But to “taste and see” means coming to the Lord in humble fear, recognizing who He is.  We realize just how good He is when we throw ourselves on His mercy and take refuge in His love and power.  I am blessed when I make Him my refuge.  And what is so amazing is that He becomes sweeter as the years go by!

Lord, thank you for the satisfaction You give me!


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Silk Floss Tree

Scripture for Today:  Col. 3:12-13  “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else.  Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.”

We have one of these silk floss trees growing right down the street from us.  Their blooms are beautiful and inviting, resembling the hibiscus.  And their pods are full of a cotton-like fiber that some use in making upholstery.  But their trunks and branches are covered with these thorn-like growths.  Some tree owners even put a barrier up so the passerby does not inadvertently knock into it.

Today’s verse reminded me of this tree.  A believer can seem pleasant and inviting by wearing mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and even patience.  But without the grace to bear with each other’s faults we become harsh.  Without forgiveness, we are like those prickly thorns and people keep their distance.  Our motivation to forgive others is the realization of how much the Lord has forgiven us.

Forgiveness has got to be one of the hardest things the Lord asks of me.  When I have been wronged, I feel it is my right to harbor ill will, at least until that person shows some remorse.  But letting go of the hurt seems nearly impossible until I am able to forgive the one who caused it.  True healing can only happen when I let that person off the hook, regardless of their attitude about it.  Jesus died for my sins while I was still His enemy (Romans 5:6-8).  If I am to forgive like He forgave, then I need to extend forgiveness whether deserved or not!

Lord, I need Your help to forgive.

 

 


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Fly Casting

Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”

It looks complicated.  I cannot imagine the skill and dexterity it must take to fly cast correctly.  If it were me, I would have that line wrapped around me and everyone else!  Fortunately, there are lessons, classes and YouTube video instruction available.  Among the basic principles is the idea that every casting stroke is a smooth acceleration followed by an abrupt stop.  The better the “stop” the better the transfer of energy and the more efficient the cast.

Today’s verse describes a different kind of cast.  The form is not so important but we do want to get those cares and worries as far away as possible from us!  The Lord invites us to cast all of our care on to Him.  When we do, He will strengthen and sustain us.  Casting all our cares on to Him means an abrupt stop to those worrying thoughts and imaginings.  Leaving them with Him means that we can stand firm in our faith, regardless of the shaky ground.  He will never let the righteous, or those in right standing with Him, be shaken.

What a beautiful promise to claim when it seems like my world is falling apart!  He is there, waiting and willing to takes those cares off my shoulders. It is through prayer that I do the casting (Phil. 4:6).  I do not need to carry them.  Those worries do not have to weigh me down.  He invites me to give them all to Him.  No, He asks me to stop and throw them on Him!  And what sweet relief comes when I do!

Lord, keep me casting every one of my worries and cares on to You

 


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Vortex Street?

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 4:30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

This repeated pattern of swirling vortices looks pretty from the sky.  It is called a Von Karman Street, named after the Hungarian-American physicist.  He studied how it forms when the flow of fluid or air is separated around a blunt body, in this case the island pictured.  Of course, nature is full of vortex examples, including tornadoes, hurricanes, in rivers or even the bathtub and sink.  But what interested me was seeing a “street” of them repeating a pattern.

Today’s verse explains that though the believer is sealed by the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption, it is possible to grieve Him.  When we grieve Him we are like that blunt unmoving body impeding His work and movement in our lives.  We grieve Him with unwholesome talk (verse 29) that is not helpful to others.  And He is grieved with all forms of malice (verse 31) including bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, and slander.  All of this grieves His heart and blocks His freedom to move and use us.  This is especially true when it becomes a repeating pattern.

Grieving Him is disappointing Him.  Growing up, I had a horror of disappointing my parents only because I loved them so much.  The same is true with the Lord.  I love Him with all my heart but I know I disappoint Him and often let Him down.  I am not proud of what comes out of my mouth sometimes.  And as long as I stay in that habit of ugly speech, His movement and power can bypass me.  But thankfully, His love will never change or waver.  His forgiveness is never withheld.

Lord, help me not to grieve You today.