Devotions By Jan

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Wake Up Words

Scripture for Today: Mark 9:7 “Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: ‘This is My Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!'”

This Echo Dot speaker is connected to the voice-activated personal assistant, Alexa.  It can perform a number of tasks including: weather and news reports, music, alarms and timers, shopping lists and to-do lists,, reminders from the calendar, access to Wikipedia and more.  Other skills are constantly being added.  But all requests start with a trigger word or wake-up word.  It can be Alexa, Amazon, Echo, or Computer.  However, it can be disconcerting that in the default mode, Echo is always listening for the wake-up word to be spoken.

Today’s verse describes in part the scene when Jesus was transfigured before the eyes of Peter, James and John.  The Jesus they thought they knew was transformed, wearing dazzling white and speaking to Moses and Elijah. Rather than shocking Peter into respectful silence and an attitude of listening, this miracle loosened Peter’s tongue.  In his excitement and fear, he made some suggestions to Jesus.  Just before things returned to normal, God’s voice told them to “Listen to Him.”

This command to Peter is just as much for me today.  I need to simply listen to Him.  There are so many distractions in my life, even good ones. that pull my attention away from hearing what He wants to say.  His message can be heard through good preaching, through devotionals and through wonderful Christian articles.  But He wants to talk to me personally with that morsel of truth that needs to be applied to my life today!  He wants to impress on me the truth needed for this moment.  I cannot discern His voice unless I am quiet and actively listening.

Wake me up, Lord, to listen to You.



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Beginning Again

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:33-34  “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I shall observe it to the end.  Give me understanding, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart.”

Today is a day of new beginnings.  This day gives one the opportunity to start over.  The New Year is full of potential for good things to happen.  It is like a present waiting to be opened.  What will it hold?

For some, it is with a sigh of relief to see the old year come to a close.  After going through huge difficulties, a New Year brings hope that things can only get better.  For others, a New Year is approached with trepidation, questions and what ifs.  But for believers, though the future is unknown, we can know the One who controls that future.

Often, the New Year is a moment to re-evaluate one’s life and decide on some changes.  It is the moment to make resolutions.  New resolve is somehow found concerning exercise, diet, or some other kind of discipline.  For me, I cannot think of a better resolution than to be more diligent to know and follow His Word.

In today’s verse, this is also the desire the psalmist.  Not only does he want to know and follow what God wants, but he wants to be wholly committed with all of his heart.  This is my deepest desire as well, although so often I am distracted with other priorities.  It is also my desire for any one near and dear to me.  Blessing comes with carrying out this resolution!

Happy New Year, Lord.  May I know You, obey You and love You more in this new year!

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Looking Behind

Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:1  “I will sing of the loving kindness of the Lord forever.  To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.”

Today is the last weekday of the year.  Every year seems to pass by more and more quickly!  The television channels often have programs that summarize the entire year.  Each time I view these I am surprised at how much I have forgotten.  There are reminders of which celebrities have died.  There are the highs and lows of big news events.  And there are reports of new records set throughout the year.

Not everyone enjoys looking back.  Some things are better forgotten.  Reliving some of the negatives can be very depressing.  But looking back can help change our perspective.  With hind sight comes some understanding.  Problems that seemed insurmountable while living them take on a completely different light after some time has passed.

Today’s verse proclaims the faithfulness of the Lord.  This beautiful characteristic of our God is best seen when looking back.  Many times it is not until the trial is over that we see the positives.  It is often after the fact that we see God’s hand.  His faithfulness brings us through, developing patience, making us more like Him.  His faithfulness means we can count on His Word and His promises.  His faithfulness brings about that “good” that Romans 8:28 describes.

This past year He has been faithful.  He has been faithful every year.  I am confident He will be faithful next year!  It is His nature.  I can look back these last twelve months and pinpoint all the ways He has shown His faithfulness, not only to me but to my family and my friends.  Regardless of any negatives, He makes looking back a joy!

Thank you Lord, for being faithful to me!

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Just a Mirage?

Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

It is amazing how the eye can be fooled.  This desert mirage looks as if there is water in the distance reflecting the landscape.  I can imagine the weary traveler hurrying his steps in thirsty anticipation.  What a disappointment to finally arrive and find nothing!  The light passes from colder to warmer air, bending the rays and mirroring the sky above.  The result is what looks to be a pool of water on the pavement.  The word “mirage” comes from Latin and means “to look at” or “to wonder at.”  We get our word”mirror” from this same root.  This makes sense as the reflected image is not real.

Today’s verse reminded me of a mirage when I read the words, “empty deception.”  Like a shimmering pool of water in the distance, the world’s philosophies promise much but deliver nothing.  When we base our thinking on what the world says is truth, we are deceived.  This verse says we can even be bound and captive to a system of thinking.  We are to be careful and see to it that we are not fooled.

My days make no sense to me without the Author and Source of life.  He calls Himself “Light.”  This Light is not the distorted rays that fool the eye.  He calls Himself, “Living Water,” and He does not disappoint me.  He quenches my thirst.  He calls Himself, “Truth,” and His truth is absolute and never-changing!

Thank you, Lord, that You are no mirage of wishful thinking!

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No Room

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.”

It was an unusual nativity scene there on the corner of Eighth and D Street in Richmond, Indiana.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus today.  But as King of Kings and Lord of Lords it was a very humble beginning.  The town of Bethlehem was overrun with people as it was the time for census taking.  Everyone was required to register in their town of origin.  I can just imagine the panic Joseph and Mary must have felt when they realized there was no room available at the very moment she was to give birth.  The manger in a cave-like outbuilding would have to suffice.  What a missed opportunity for those who had turned away this special couple!

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.

If I am honest, there are times when there is no room for Jesus in my affections or thoughts.  But when I give Him the room He deserves, He fills up my heart with Himself.  He brings with Him forgiveness and cleansing from all my guilt and sin.  He fills me up with His peace and love.  Nothing else and no one else can do that for me.

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



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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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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.