Devotions By Jan


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A Christmas Story

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”

Little Ralphie dreams of receiving his heart’s desire for Christmas; a Red Ryder Air Rifle.  This low budget comedy filmed in 1983 has become a Christmas staple.  It stood out among all the other saccharin-sweet Christmas movies as it brought in a note of realism.  What parent has not experienced the unbridled avarice of their sweet children!  Commercialism, anticipation, disappointment and hurt feelings are all part of real Christmas in real families!  And of course, the warnings about his perfect gift came close to being realized, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

Today’s verse is about another gift that cannot ever be adequately described!  It is a gift that cannot be purchased and it will never be deserved.  It is a gift that is eternal and totally without equal.  There is no question of returning it as it goes beyond every expectation!  This gift is God’s surpassing grace in the Person of His Son, Jesus (verse 14).  His unmerited favor is a gift that continues giving throughout our earthly life and into eternity!

Words cannot adequately convey how life-changing His grace is towards me.  It is indescribable!  This grace was given to me in Jesus before the beginning of time (II Tim. 1:9) and by this grace I am saved.  His grace allows me to live beyond the limits of my weaknesses (II Cor. 12:9).  And it is by His grace that He gives me eternal encouragement and good hope (II Thes. 2:16).   There are so many layers of wrapping to this gift of grace that it takes a lifetime to experience it fully.  I am so humbled by the enormity of this gift and the cost the Lord paid to offer it to me.

Thank you Lord, for this incredible gift of Your favor to me!

 

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Miracle on 34th Street

Scripture for Today:  Mark 8:29 “‘But what about you?’ He asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah.'”

This heartwarming story, released in 1947, has become a classic.  The story is all about the true identity of Kris Kringle who becomes a substitute Santa at Macy’s.  Little Susan (Nathalie Wood) has been taught by her disillusioned Mother not to believe in Santa.  There is a psychological evaluation and a court case, all in the attempt to discount Kris and his claims.  The story ends with Susan becoming a true believer after her desire for a house seems to magically come about.

In today’s verse, Jesus challenges the thinking of the disciples.  They were walking with Jesus to the villages around Caesarea, Philippi.  Jesus had just healed a blind man and asks them the question, “Who do people say I am?”  Their response was John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the prophets (verses 27-28).  Then Jesus gets personal.  But what about you?  Peter, as a spokesman for the group responds with this true and life-changing statement; “You are the Messiah.”

Mistaken identity about any individual can have serious consequences, but to miss who Jesus is has implications not only for this life but for eternity!  Jesus continues to ask each of us, “Who do you say I am?”  My answer to that question has been life-changing.  He is my Lord and my God.  Jesus coming down to earth as a baby is the most pivotal moment in history!  He became human to share His heart with me.  He became as one of us to offer His love and salvation.  His birth was a miracle that not only changed history but continues to change hearts.

May each of my readers respond with faith when Jesus asks this same question of you.

 

 

 


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FastPass to Santa

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

There is nothing worse for a mom of young children than standing in a long line to see Santa!  What starts out with happy anticipation quickly turns into whining and complaining.  Feet hurt, tummies rumble and the need for a  bathroom trip is desperately trying to be ignored!  Thankfully with the FastPass, made with a simple on-line appointment, one can sail past all those waiting to the head of the line!

There is a throne that we can approach any time.  Today’s verse describes our access to the throne of Heaven.  It can be approached with confidence for those that belong to Him.  There is never any waiting as He is always available.  His ears are attentive to our cries (Ps. 34:15).  His throne is a throne of grace, ready to give us what we do not deserve.  And His mercy and grace are given at exactly the right time when we most need it!  He will never turn us away or redirect us to the end of the line!

How amazing that He is the God of the universe and yet so approachable!  I am so glad He does not wait until I am worthy before I approach, or I could never be near Him.  He responds my cries for help.  He understands when I feel like giving up.  When all I want to do is cry in His presence, He understands that too.  He empathizes with everything I feel because He experienced weakness as well (verse 15).  And He responds with amazing grace and mercy!  What a wonderful God we serve!

Thank you Lord, for allowing me in Your presence anytime, anywhere!

 


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Christmas Preparations

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.”

We are in the midst of preparing for Christmas.  The tree is up, the house is decorated, and the presents are for the most part wrapped and tagged.  I enjoy making Christmas goodies for the neighbors and that remains to be done.  There are still the menus to decide on and some major cleaning projects nagging at me.  The news reported that Americans on average spend 38 hours preparing for Christmas! And I always tell myself that this year, I will simplify and take things a bit slower.

Today’s verse describes the humble scene of Christ’s birth.  Because of the ordered census, the inns were filled with travelers and there was no room available.  The King of Kings made His entrance into this world in a stable-like setting.  I sometimes wonder about that inn keeper.  Did he later realize who it was that he turned away?

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!  But amid all the preparations for Christmas, am I making room for Jesus?  Somehow, the very reason for Christmas can be crowded out with all my distractions and frenzied activity.  I want my heart to be wide open to Him.  I want His presence to fill up every nook and cranny.

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

 

 

 


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Froggy Atmostphere

Scripture for Today: Psalm 148:13 “Let THEM praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”

We thought when we stopped to eat at this small restaurant in Chenecy-Buillon, France, that the sign pictured the frog because of it being on the menu.  But in fact, their dialect’s word for frog was used to refer to an old town legend.  The story is that the Lords and Ladies of the past were bothered by the noise of the frogs in the local pond.  The frogs were so loud the noble families were unable to sleep.  So the local peasants were prevailed upon to pat and slap at the water all night to quiet them!

Today’s verse is a call to praise the name of the Lord.  His name is higher and more worthy of praise than any other.  His name is to be lifted up as the splendor of the Lord is higher than anything on earth or in the heavens.  Of course, this praise is to come from mankind.  But in addition, creation is to praise Him; sea creatures, the weather, the mountains and hills, wild animals, cattle, small creatures and birds (verses 7-12).  Certainly, the humble frog is included!

All of creation exists in some way to bring glory to the Creator.  If a lowly frog with its incessant croaking can bring praise to Him, then certainly I can as well.  Whether I am in fine voice or have a frog in my throat, His praise is to be on my lips.  We left that restaurant full of rich food.  But I can be just as satisfied when with my mouth I can sing praise to Him! (Psalm 63:5)

Lord, may everything I do and say today give You praise.

 


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Helium Shortage

Scripture for Today: Psalm 21:6 “Surely You have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of Your presence.”

It had never occurred to me that there could be a helium shortage.  However, it cannot be manufactured and there is a limited supply underground.  Five years ago a tank costs 25 dollars.  Today the price tag reads closer to 300 dollars!  The concern of party balloon companies is understandable.  But the implications for the medical field are very troublesome as it is used for MRI’s as well as for research in chemistry and biology.

Today’s verse mentions something that will never run out.  There will never be a shortage of God’s blessings.  They are unending and eternal.  King David, talking about himself in the third person, lists some of the blessings he sees as coming from the Lord: victories, the desire of his heart, a crown, length of days, splendor and majesty.  What a king could understandably take credit for, King David attributes to God.  But it is not only these God-given blessings that make David glad, but more importantly the joy of God’s presence!  He knows and trusts in God’s unfailing love for him (verse 7).

How giving and generous the Lord is!  He liberally gives and gives and sometimes I am not even aware that HE is the Source!  Because of His great love for me, His blessings are unending, continuing on into eternity.  His flow of blessings may not be material.  They may not even be what I think I should have.  But they are always more than I deserve!!  But what surpasses every blessing is the joy of His presence!  Feeling HIs faithful love and presence, especially in the difficult times, is the deepest and most meaningful blessing!

Today may I “praise God from whom all blessings flow!”

 


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Loyal Dog

Scripture for Today: Psalm 117:1-2 “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol Him, all peoples. For great is His steadfast love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.”

Poor Madison.  Because of the Camp Fire in Paradise California, he lost his home, and perhaps his brother Miguel, and maybe even his owner.  Regardless, he waited patiently at the burned out site for almost a month in hopes of something changing.  Although not seeing him, an Animal Rescue Volunteer kept checking the property and leaving food and water.  Finally, the evacuation orders were lifted and the owner and the dog’s brother returned.  What a sweet reunion there was between the owner and this faithful dog!

Today’s verse describes a faithfulness that has no equal.  The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  His love for His own never fails and is perfectly expressed in His unending faithful commitment.  There is no waning.  There are no breaks or interruptions.  His faithfulness has no end as He is eternal and unchanging.  Praising Him is the very least we can do in response to such incredible faithfulness!

There is nothing that I can rely on as sure, steady and consistent as His love.  I waver and I am fickle but His faithfulness and commitment to me are solid.  It is the foundation to my life and without it I would be utterly lost.  I can live in reliance on His faithfulness (Psalm 26:3).  His love gives me purpose.  His love gives motivation to live each day.  His love is my support when everything around me is falling apart.  Thankfully, His love is faithful and will never change.

Thank you Lord, that I can count on Your faithful love today, and tomorrow.