Devotions By Jan


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The Cardinal

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

It is not fair.  The male cardinal gets all the attention with its bright red plumage whereas the female is largely overlooked.  And yet,  although the colors are more subtle, she is beautiful too.  Normally among songbirds, the male is the only one to sing.  He will sing to defend his territory and during courtship.  However, the female cardinal also sings.  She sings mainly during the spring, during courtship and while sitting on her nest.  Her song is a bit longer and more complex than the male’s song.

Today’s verse downplays the differences between races, social status and between the sexes.  These words describe a coming together that is not so natural.  Believers can achieve oneness in Jesus Christ.  Regardless of our differences, followers of the Lord can have a unity that is remarkable!  Unlike the “birds of a feather who flock together,” the body of Christ is incredibly diverse.  People that would not normally come together find themselves sharing a deep bond in our shared love of Jesus!

What a beautiful testimony to find this unity in a world that is so divided!  Love that reaches across generation, gender and race is the mark of a Christian (Mark 13:35).  It is not natural.  I want that mark on my life, but it can only happen with the fruit of the Spirit in me.  It helps to remember that down deep, my soul is exactly the same as my neighbor’s.  I see differences but the Lord looks on the heart (I Sam 16:7).

Lord, thank you that You can bring together what the world does not!

 

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Light and Dark

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 11:7 “Light is sweet and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.”

It is amazing how sunlight, or the lack of it, can affect my mood.  I enjoy living in an area known for its sunshine.  In fact I am a bit spoiled in that I often take it for granted.  I hardly notice the sunlight after a string of sunny days.  But as soon as the clouds or a marine layer obscure the sun, I realize how good I had it.  Having that contrast with the darkness makes me more appreciative.

Today’s verse is written by Solomon in a book filled with references to the sun.  The phrase, “under the sun” is often used when speaking of the futility of life.  All of life is said to be meaningless and vain if not lived in right relationship to God.  Even sweet light and the pleasure of seeing the sun has no real meaning without knowing its Creator.  But one thing that enhances our enjoyment of the sun is remembering the darkness (verse 8).

Today is a dark day.  Who knows but that tomorrow could be another dark day.  But I have hope that the sunlight of His presence will get me through whatever hard times I face.  And even when I am in a season of sunlight, remembering those darks days helps me appreciate every ray of sunshine He gives me.  I am so thankful that He is a loving personal God who gives me just the right amount of darkness and sunlight.  I can trust Him as He gives to each day what He knows is best.  He allows pain and pleasure, and “mingles toil with peace and rest.” (Day By Day)

Thank you Lord, for the sweet light of Your presence.


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Ravenous Ravens

Scripture for Today: Luke 12:24 “Consider the ravens; They do not sow or reap. they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds.”

I don’t appreciate seagulls, but ravens even less so.  They are big, black, shaggy and noisy.  Recently their numbers have increased in California.  They prefer building their nests along sea cliffs, being close to the water and being near a variety of food sources.  When their territory overlaps with the seagull, it can get noisy!  In referring to a group of them, old expressions used the term, “unkindness” or “conspiracy” rather than a flock of ravens.  The raven is known for being intelligent and opportunistic in finding its food

Today’s verse talks about our God being a God who cares for His creation, including the ravens.  Birds do not need to plant for the coming season or hoard their food for the lean times to come.  Yet, they do not go hungry.  God cares for their short little insignificant lives.  By contrast we, being created in God’s image, are of so much more value to the Lord.  He is intimately involved in every little aspect of our lives.

I need to remind myself that God will take care of what I eat, what I drink, what I will wear and every other detail.  For Him it is just small stuff.  Those who do not belong to Him are consumed with these issues.  The food and fashion industries encourage us to “seek after these things.”  But as a believer, I want to have different priorities.  I want my mental energies to be spent on His Kingdom and what is of eternal value!  He has always provided all that I need.

Thank you Lord, that Your care shows me that You value me!


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GQ Magazine’s Recommendation

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 4:12  “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart.”

The Gentlemen’s Quarterly, a fashion magazine for men, just published an article putting the Bible on a list of 21 classics not worth reading!  The Bible was called foolish, repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, and ill-intentioned.  The novelist, Jesse Ball, conceded that there were some interesting parts but that, “overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced.”

Somehow, someone has missed the point!  Today’s verse describes the Bible as having a very piercing point as it is sharper than a two-edged sword.  Unlike any other book in history, the Bible is living and active as it is the very Word of God.  It is unique in that man did not produce it.  Although human writers were used, it is “God-breathed” and Spirit-inspired.  No other book can make that claim.  Because the Bible judges our deepest desires and thoughts, it often comes under attack.

Dividing soul from spirit and joints from marrow is an image that makes me shudder.  And yet, it is the kind of action needed to get through to my deceitful heart (Jer.17:9).  The Word exposes what to me is comfortably hidden.  I do not want to be uncomfortable reading His Word.  But so many times it is necessary to feel His conviction and be shown the truth about myself.  Thankfully, His Word does not leave me bruised and bleeding.  His Word also comforts, heals and encourages.  By reading His Word I can enjoy a restored relationship with the Divine Author.

Create in me a clean heart, O God……even when it hurts!

 


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Coconut Worm Larvae

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” 

Perhaps they taste like chicken.  But is it really necessary to eat them alive?  The coconut worm larvae has a sweet coconut taste and are especially creamy when eaten raw!  This dish is considered a delicacy as street food for the Vietnamese.  I do not feel sorry for these small creatures as they easily bring down a mighty palm tree with their voracious appetite.  With their powerful jaws, they burrow holes up to a meter long in the trunk of a palm, eventually killing their host.

Today’s verse describes sin as “deceitful.”  It can slowly excavate holes in our faith and if left unchecked, can bring down the believer, leading him to a place of unbelief.  The sneaky nature of sin does its work inside where no one sees.  It can eventually hardened a heart.  That is why believers need one another to daily encourage each other to right living.  To delay even a day can put our hearts at risk.

Sometimes my sin can seem so puny and harmless.  There may even be some temporary sweetness that comes from it.  And that’s the deceitful part.  But I know how weak I am and that I am not above participating in any sin, especially in my thought life.  It does help me to be around other believers who can encourage me to stay the course.  And having the opportunity to build up someone else’s resolve serves to bolster my own faith as well.  More than anything, I want my heart to stay soft towards His Spirit.  And I want to stand firm to the very end!

Lord, I need to be encouraged today!

 

 

 


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False Ring Tones

Scripture for Today: Psalm 5:3 “In the morning, Lord You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly.”

Imagine, hearing that ring tone sound continuously even though you know your contact is there and waiting for your call.  How frustrating to have pre-arranged a conversation and no one picks up!  T-Mobile deceived millions of their customers by creating false ring tones.  They were used to make customers believe their calls were connecting when in fact they were not.  Rather than hear silence, they were hearing a misleading ringtone.  The company was fined 40 million dollars for this illegal practice.

Today’s verse is an encouragement that the Lord always hears our prayers.  Even when it seems there is only silence, He is there and He hears our every cry.  King David made it a practice to bring his requests to the Lord first thing in the morning.  The Lord knows the moment we are awake and open our eyes (Ps. 139:2).  He knows our thoughts before they are even voiced.  He is attentive and waiting for our thoughts and prayers to turn to Him.  David did not seem bothered by the silence that followed.  Not hearing the answers right away, he would wait with faith and expectation.

God’s silence does not mean that He does not hear or does not care.  His silence is so often the method He uses to grow my faith and trust.  I can “hear” His silence with peace and confidence knowing that He has heard my prayer and is working out His plan.  Like David, I can leave the burden of that request with Him and start my day with a lighter heart.  He is at work even when I do not see it.

Lord, help me to wait expectantly!

 

 

 

 

 


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Barbie’s Last Name

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:16 “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

Who would have thought it, that the Barbie doll has a last name!  Apparently, Barbie herself recently tweeted out the big revelation.  She and her two sisters wished everyone a Happy Siblings Day from the Roberts sisters.  According to novels published by Random House in the 60’s, Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.  The Ken doll’s full name is Kenneth Carson.  I, for one, will sleep better tonight having that mystery cleared up for me.

Today’s verse talks about proudly bearing a name.  It is a name that is above all other names.  But it is also a name that could provoke hostility from others.  Being a Christ follower carries the risk of being scorned, mocked and even persecuted.  But there is special blessing promised for those who are insulted because of the name of Christ (verse 14).  How polarizing the name of Jesus is!  The names of other religious leaders do not get the same reaction.

I wear the name of Jesus when I live like He did.  I wear the name of Jesus when I speak of Him to others.  And I wear His name when I exemplify His character through His Spirit.  Wearing His name identifies me as belonging to Him.  Even if it draws negative attention, I am not to be ashamed.  Suffering for His name is a privilege.  I wonder if I am identified so closely with Christ that people see a difference in me.  I hope so.  I pray so.

Thank you Lord, for the privilege of bearing Your name!