Devotions By Jan


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You Are Invited!

Scripture for Today: Revelation 22:17  “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”  And let the one who hears say, “Come.”  And let the one who is thirsty come;  let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”

Everyone likes to receive invitations, to know that our presence is wanted.  The invitation pictured here (click to enlarge) is for women in Orange County, California who enjoy a fabulous Christmas Brunch and are interested in hearing me speak!

In today’s verse there is a very special invitation given in the very last chapter of God’s Word.  It is extended by two different sources: the Holy Spirit, and the Bride who is the Church.  We have the privilege of cooperating with Him in getting out this invitation.  It is given to those who recognize their thirst and the need to satisfy it with the Living Water, Jesus Christ.  Although there is no cost to us, it cost Jesus everything to extend it.

Normally, an invitation includes a date, a time and a place.  The fact that this invitation is issued at the very end of time is another example of God’s patience and desire that ALL come to repentance (II Peter 3:9)  The time?  II Corinthians 6:2 says that NOW is the time of salvation.  There is no ending time listed as eternity has no end.  The place is His presence.  It is amazing that He wants me in His presence forever.

Like all good invitations, this has an RSVP.  He awaits our response.  Some invitations say, “regrets only.”  The regret that comes from refusing to come is a regret that will be eternal.  I am so thankful to have heard Him say, “Come.”

Thank you Lord, for inviting me.  Help me be faithful in inviting others.


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A California Christmas!

Scripture for Today: Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

In Southern California, our “white” Christmas was only white because of the sand!  This manger scene built on the beach is about as “Christmassy” as we can manage close to the waves of the ocean.  Perhaps it will last a bit longer being put together with stones.  However, it is a sure thing that it will disappear.  Perhaps, two days after Christmas, the feelings of peace and joy have already disappeared as well.

Today’s verse says that our hearts can be made of stone.  Hearts made of stone are stubborn, resistant and unresponsive to God’s voice.  This heart may occasionally feel a taste of that peace and joy at Christmas time.  But it is generally hard with self-protection.  Having a heart of flesh can make one vulnerable to hurt.  However, a heart of stone can carry one through life without being broken.  A heart of stone will not feel guilt or conviction either.  A hard heart made of stone can be proudly self-sufficient.

Every time I move away from the Lord by neglecting His Word and prayer, I feel my heart start to harden around the edges.  The longer I allow this to continue, the more difficult it is to get back to that soft heart of flesh that listens and obeys.  It is with a heart of flesh that I can experience the peace and joy He offers.  It is His new spirit within me that makes me open to His love.  Living with a stone heart is not life at all.

Lord, keep my heart soft towards You today.


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The Day After

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.”

The Christmas tree stripped of its presents can seem a little forlorn.  The leftovers in foil and plastic wrap don’t look quite as inviting as they did the day before.  The Christmas Carols suddenly sound a bit worn out and “tinny.”  There is definitely something missing.  The anticipation is gone.  And one wonders where that warm fuzzy feeling ran off to.  In its place there seems to be not only exhaustion but a certain let-down.  If we could just hang on to that feeling of beauty and contentment!

Today’s verse speaks of a place where we can constantly dwell.  There is no day after.  One never needs to leave.  There is beauty in this place.    To be in the Lord’s presence and gaze upon His beauty is an experience that never gets old and never has to end.  The warmth and comfort of His love rivals any warm and fuzzy feeling from holidays, music and decorations.

There are many things I could have requested for Christmas.  But I have lived long enough to know that any item will eventually lose its shine and luster.  But the beauty of the Lord is forever and He invites me to continually gaze on Him!  In His presence I can sing and make music to Him (verse 6).  He will always receive me (verse 10) and I never have to worry about Him rejecting or forsaking me (verse 9).  Regardless of what is happening around me, it is there that I want to stay!

Lord, keep me seeking You above all else.


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A Child is Born

Scripture for Today: Luke 2:11 “Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.”

It is all about HIM!  We celebrate lots of things today; family, friends, and reunions.  We celebrate with lights, music, decorations and food.  But in all the good things, we can neglect the whole point of today.  Today, God became man to save us.  He not only was but IS the Messiah.  He not only was but IS the Lord!

He is my “Wonderful Counselor,” giving me the wisdom and guidance I so desperately need each day.  He is my “Mighty God,” and He displays His power everyday in my life.  He is my “Everlasting Father,” caring for me now and for eternity.  He is my “Prince of Peace,” as I can now have peace with God because of His sacrifice for me.  I am HIs and He is mine.

This baby was born “to you.”  He was born to make possible a personal and intimate relationship with each one of us.  He was born “to you” and not just for someone else.

Do you know Him?

May you experience His love and presence in a new and special way today!

And have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 


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It’s a Wonderful Life

Scripture for Today: John 10:10 “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

What was originally considered a flop and put on the shelf for years has now become a Christmas classic!  It’s a Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey (James Stewart) whose dreams for himself have never been realized.  It wasn’t until an angel shows him what life would have been like had he never lived, that George sees just how wonderful his life has been!  In the words of one of the cast’s few surviving actors, Karolyn Grimes (little ZuZu) “As long as we have faith, family and friends – you know what – we’re good.”

Today’s verse is a promise from Jesus, our Good Shepherd.  He came to give to His followers a life that is wonderful and full.  That does not mean that it is a life without difficulty.  We have plenty of trouble in this world but we can also experience peace as He has overcome it (John 16:33).  The richness and fulness come from our relationship with Him.  Any other kind of life is missing that spiritual dimension for which we are made.  It is only with the Giver of life that we can experience life as it was meant to be.

I do not want to be distracted by what the world says is a wonderful life.  Of course I enjoy lights and glitter, presents and life’s comfort.  I enjoy friends and family, even and despite the occasional discord.  But Jesus says HE is the Life.  Everything else pales in comparison!  When I experience that intimate daily relationship with my Creator, I experience life as it is meant to be lived.  He makes my life full by His very presence!

Thank you Lord, for the wonderful life You give.


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A Christmas Carol

Scripture for Today: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

This particular version of the classic tale by Charles Dickens was filmed in 1938 and stars Reginald Owen as the unloveable Scrooge.  It was the first major adaptation of a Dicken’s novel and it took some liberties with the story, having each Christmas spirit appear in one night rather than in three.  But the message of Christmas being a time to give liberally to others finally gets through to the stingy Scrooge.  He begins to care.  He begins to love.  And so he begins to give.

Today’s often-quoted and beloved verse explains the reason for God offering His Son.  He gives because He loves.  He loves all of mankind, regardless of race, religion or culture.  The offer of His Son was to give us a way to spend all eternity with Him.  It was His love that motivated such a sacrifice of His one and only Son.  And it is only through faith in His sacrifice for sin that eternal life can be ours.

The birth of Christ was a gift for everyone because our need for a Savior is universal.  We all need Him.  No one is exempt from their need of a Savior to forgive and give life. One day I invited Him to be mine and it was the best and most important decision I have ever made!  And because He loved me first, I can love Him in return.  One of the best ways I can love Him is by showing His love to others.  He loves so He gives.  I want my love for others to show itself in selfless giving.  Not only at Christmas but everyday!

Thank you Lord, that You gave.

 


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White Christmas Movie

Scripture for Today: John 15:15 “I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

This 1954 musical with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye is a feel-good movie about friendship.  The plot begins with Danny’s character, Phil, saving the life of Bing’s character, Bob during World War II.  This begins a long friendship of performing together.  After throwing in some love interests and lots of miscommunications, they help out their former commanding officer who owns a lodge but has no clients as there is no snow.  Their performance brings them in and of course, the story ends with snow falling.

Today’s verse is surprising!  Jesus is calling His disciples friends rather than servants.  His relationship with them is closer than a master/servant one.  There is closeness because there is meaningful communication.  Jesus shares His heart, His plans and all that He knows from God the Father.  But even though they are friends, there are still commands to be obeyed (verse 14).  And the greatest love possible is when one lays down their life for a friend (verse 13).

To be friends with Jesus is an amazing thought!  But what a unique friendship it is.  There is no other like it.  First of all, I obey Him.  I show my love for Him by acknowledging HIs authority.  My life is lived for this friend!  And He reveals to me what He has planned in His Word.  Jesus is that friend that “sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).  He  will never leave me or forsake me (Deut. 31:8).  No other friend can promise that!  And this friend has laid down His life for me!

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible friendship!