Devotions By Jan


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Heartfelt Worship

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 29:13 “The Lord says, ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.'”

Styles of worship vary so much, especially internationally.  Our French church would often begin the service with complete silence and the expectation was to spend time in prayer and reflection.  For other churches, the music is upbeat and loud to begin things, gradually toning down to the message.  There are churches that feel any instrument except the human voice is out of place.  And the volume, rhythm, and style can all be a subject of debate .

In today’s verse none of these considerations are addressed.  The essential component of true worship has nothing to do with style, traditions or even what is considered more spiritual.  What matters to the Lord is the attitude and intent of the heart.  One can mouth the right phrases and the right notes with a heart that is very far from Him.  Jesus taught that true worship will involve His Spirit and will use the truth of His Word (John 4:24).

I know the Lord wants my worship of Him to be sincere and from the heart.  The worship He desires not only comes from my mouth in song but also from my thoughts and daily actions.  When I read God’s Word it can be worship.  When I remember, meditate or share a verse it can be an act of worship.  When I praise Him to others in testimony it is worship.  Even when I am trying to hear and obey His voice, that is worship.

Lord, may my worship of You be daily and heartfelt.  You are worthy!


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Candy Haul

Scripture for Today:   Proverbs 27:7  “A sated man loathes honey, But to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet.”

This is a day when many are feeling the effects of too much sugar!  We say that the candy haul is not for us but for the kids.  But somehow and in some mysterious way, some of the candy finds its way into our own mouths!  Perhaps it was a result of “testing” it to make sure all was safe and as it should be.  When I was a little girl I had a very strong taste for sugar.  Thankfully, I do not crave sugar quite as much today.  Perhaps I got to that sated stage mentioned in today’s verse.  I reached a “sugar overload” that diminished my cravings. Now, the more I abstain from sugar the less I crave it.  I find a little sweetness goes a long way!

There is a profound truth in today’s verse.  One can quickly become sated and spoiled by all the good things this life has to offer.  But what is new and exciting today can become old and mundane when always available.  I may be initially thrilled with something that later loses its appeal.  By contrast, those less fortunate than I am are perhaps more appreciative.  A little hunger can sure change one’s perspective!

The Lord knows how to make my life sweet without any overindulgence.  He puts into life a mix of pain and pleasure.  He does not want me sated or famished but in an attitude of trust.  He cares not only about my needs but my desires and cravings!  Overindulgence usually sounds so good at the time, but in the end, satisfaction does not come with “more.”

Thank you Lord, that it is You who makes my life sweet!


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Safety Systems

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:11 “Do not withhold Your mercy from me, Lord; may Your love and faithfulness always protect me.”

I wonder if I would feel more safe in a “safety car.”  Today’s models come with so many safety systems that perhaps I would.  There are visible or audible warnings to alert the driver and avoid a collision.  There is automatic braking available to prevent collision as well.  Sensors can detect passing pedestrians and there are blind spot warnings too.  There are now rear cross-traffic warnings and lane centering assistance.  With all these helps, surely I would feel some confidence about my safety!

Today’s verse talks about another source of protection.  The mercy of the Lord can intervene to avoid a collision.  His love and His faithfulness can protect a driver not only behind the wheel but also when he steps from the car.  The one who loves the Lord God and acknowledges His name is the one who is rescued and protected by His hand (Psalm 91:14).  Whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe (Prov. 29:25).  The righteous, or those in right standing with the Lord, are feeling this security as a result of trusting Him.

I feel like it is an exercise of trust every time I climb in to the car!  The crowded freeways of Southern California give me lots of opportunity to trust Him.  Sure, it is great to have extra safety features but in fact, His protection covers so much more.  I do not deserve His mercy, love and faithfulness as I can be just as impatient or careless as the driver next to me.  And if there is a breakdown or collision I can continue to trust His loving control of the situation.

Thank you Lord, that You are my best protection.  Help me to fully trust You today.


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Fall Colors

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 2:9 “However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ – the things God has prepared for those who love Him.'”

The colors of fall can be breathtaking!  And the colors in God’s pallet continually amaze me.  His use of color is bold and startling.  I have trouble putting red and orange together but not Him!   Our God is creative and masterful with color.  And how amazing it is that He should take such creative care in something so temporal.  It makes me wonder about the colors that are eternal in Heaven.  As He will be the only source of light there, it’s difficult to imagine what different hues and new colors He will create!

Today’s verse speaks of our limitations in understanding what is prepared for us in Heaven.  Our earthly senses and even our imaginations cannot fully grasp the colors, light and sounds of our eternal home.  But the passage goes on to say that believers can have some spiritual understanding because we have residing in us God’s Spirit.  Our physical senses and our mental imaginings can only go so far in understanding spiritual truth.  We need the revelation of His Spirit.  It is because of His Spirit we can understand what He has so freely given us (verse 12).

So much of what He has so freely given to me is in my future.  But He has painted my world with the beautiful colors of His love now!  I see that color with spiritual eyes.  Surely, the color of His faithfulness is a bright cobalt blue.  And the color of His forgiveness?  It must be dazzling white!

Lord, heighten my spiritual senses to see and hear and feel all You have given to me today!


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Turkish Coffee

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:11 “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

It is a careful multi-step process to make an authentic cup of Turkish coffee.  If there are not at least a few grounds in the bottom of the cup I would be suspicious!  The coffee is very finely ground, preferably in a brass grinder.  The cevre or metal long-handled pot can be brass or copper.  But just as important as the equipment is the process of boiling the coffee twice, building a foam and allowing the powder to settle before serving.  All I know is that the resulting caffeine high can last me the entire day!

Would that spiritual energy could be found in a simple drink!  Today’s verse encourages believers to be zealous in their service to the Lord.  We are to keep our spiritual fervor so as to persevere and not give up when the hard times come.  We are to keep fueled, tanked up, or aflame, not burning out.  That enthusiasm we started with is to continue pushing us forward.

How do I keep to that level of zeal?  When I do not see results from my service, I lose my enthusiasm.  When I do not see that it makes much difference, I can easily lose heart.  There is only one way to be refueled and rediscover that joy and motivation to serve Him.  And that is by the Spirit’s filling (Eph. 5:18).  His filling gives me strength to keep on keeping on!  His power provides that excitement and motivation to advance His agenda today.  His filling even helps me to face a mundane routine.  I do not need to fill up with coffee.  I need to fill up with His Spirit!

Thank you Lord, for being the Source of my zeal and fervor.

 


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“Jesus Shoes”

Scripture For Today: Matthew 14:28-29 “‘Lord, if it’s You,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to You on the water.’ ‘Come,’ He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”

Would you pay 3 thousand dollars for these Jesus shoes?  Only two dozen were made and they sold out within minutes.  Even though they are Nike Air Max 97s, they are distinctive for a very special reason.  They have been injected with holy water from the Jordan River and blessed by a priest!  Their production was in response to ridiculous brand collaborations.  But for some, the idea of walking on water was too good to pass up!

Today’s verse refers to the only two people who have ever truly walked on water; Jesus and Peter.  The disciples were in their boat on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus approached them, walking on the water.  Seeing their fear He reassured them that He was not a ghost.  Peter speaks up wanting further proof and figures that if it were really Jesus He could allow him to walk on water as well.  What faith to step out of that boat!  What confidence in the miraculous power of Jesus!

Jesus does not invite me to walk on water.  But He does often ask some very hard things.  He asks me to trust Him when all I can see is troubled water.  He desires me to come closer to Him when all I can see are reasons to panic.  Just as Jesus told the disciples not to fear, so He encourages me to have courage.  He asks me to come closer even when it is scary and I get a little wet.  His closeness makes all the difference!

Thank you, Lord, for the confidence Your presence gives me.

 


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“Catfishing”

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 11:14 “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”

These two innocent baby catfish are getting a very bad reputation!  Their name is used as a verb to mean scamming others through a fictional on-line persona.  Dating sites unfortunately are the playground of these scammers.  The “catfish” posts stolen fake photos.  He (or she) describes himself with stories of their background and accomplishments that are too good to be true.  He tries to win your sympathy and your love, usually in an effort to extort money.  Anyone can fall victim as the one seeking love online is sometimes vulnerable and operating from hope.

Today’s verse describes the biggest scammer of all; Satan.  He pretends to be an angel of light.  It is the old,”bait and switch.”  He reels the unsuspecting in with promises of love and happiness when all he really wants is to destroy (I Peter 5:8).  He is the master of convincing people that they can ignore God who IS love and find love their own way.  Many victims of catfishing reported that the scammer said all the right things.  Satan knows where we are vulnerable and just what to promise.

Satan has been at this scheme of his for centuries.  I dare not underestimate him.  Yet, God’s Word says that when I am submitted to God and resisting the devil, Satan will flee from me! (James 4:7)  I can spot his lies when I know and study God’s truth in His Word.  The best way to combat a lie is with the Truth and Jesus declares that He Himself is truth (John 14:6).  I can unmask Satan and his lies when I am submitted to the One who shows me true love!

Thank you Lord, that Your truth is all the light I need!