Devotions By Jan


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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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Christmas Tea

Scripture for Today: James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

I appreciate a lovingly brewed tea. I especially enjoy it when it is accompanied with sweets!   It takes time and some effort to do it correctly.  There are always directions on a box of tea on how long to steep that bag.  But more often than not, I tend to hurry the process along.  For the full flavor to be realized, the bag needs to steep long enough in that hot water.

Today’s verse talks about a process with a very positive outcome.  But like steeping in boiling water, it takes time.  The testing of our faith through trials and difficulties does eventually bring about perseverance.  And this is why one can consider it a joy.  Believers are to look at their problems not as a punishment, a curse or bad luck.  The one belonging to the Lord is to consider or regard each trial as something positive.  There can be joy when we can see past the problem to the perseverance that is being produced in us.

Of course, joy is not my first response to hard times  But after long careful consideration, I can eventually come to it.  It is usually well after that negative experience that I can see how God used it in my life.  I can esteem something as a joy when I see my faith become stronger as a result.  Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Heb. 12:2).  I want to see the joy that is set before me as well and so be able to endure with perseverance whatever He allows.

Lord, help me to trust what You are allowing in my life.

 

 

 

 

!


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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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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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Deflated?

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.