Devotions By Jan


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Kite Mishap

Scripture for Today: John 3:8 “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

I did not see the beginning of this kite mishap but I can just imagine it!  The wind this day was not so terribly strong but it was capricious.  The dangling string did nothing to help free it from the tree’s clutches and of course climbing the tree proved too difficult.  As far as I know, the kite is still there, victim to the wind’s change of direction.

Today’s verse likens the work of the Spirit to the wind.  Man has learned how to harness the power of the wind, but we still cannot control where it is coming from.  Man has no say in when it will arrive, how strong it will be or when it will abate.  In the same way, we cannot explain the movement of God’s Spirit but we do see the results.  We see His presence by the change affected in hearts and lives.

Just as I cannot control the wind, I cannot control God’s Spirit.  He is a Person, not just a force of nature.  I do not have the power to oblige Him to do anything.  He is God, and it would be presumptuous of me to think that I could control Him!  His power and how He chooses to use it is part of what makes Him God.  But I can be assured through His Word that His movements are not capricious but purposeful and good.  No, I do not control Him.  What I desire most is that His Spirit controls me.

Lord, may Your Spirit empower and direct me today.


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Old Father Time

Scripture for Today: John 14:17 “the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”

I like this whimsical depiction of Old Father Time on the Bakers clock in Gloucester, England.  This winged and robed old man standing in the middle carries a scythe and an hourglass and was thought to reveal or unveil truth.  This idea was related to the Latin saying, “Time is the Father of Truth.”  Perhaps this is the origin of our expression, “time will tell.”

Today’s verse explains the source of truth for the believer; the Holy Spirit.  He is the Spirit of truth residing in all those who have put their trust in Jesus as the ultimate truth (John 14:6).  The world does not see Him or know Him and so does not accept Him as truth.  In fact, the world would say that the whole idea of truth is a relative and subjective concept.  But we have an objective truth in Him that never varies or changes.  His truthful word is eternal and stands firm in the heavens (Ps. 119:89).  And He Himself is faithful and true (Rev. 19:11).

Time will tell.  This new year brings all of us a bit closer to the Day when His truth will be evident in His return!  In the meantime, I have His truth residing in my heart.  It reassures me of the veracity of His Word and the sure fulfillment of all His promises!  His truth is the only sure foundation worth anything in facing this new year.  And the most incredible truth is that He loves me even though He knows me!  What a liberating truth that is!

Thank you Lord, for giving me Your truth!

(photo by James Clark, flickr.com/photos/cathedralcityguide/6447335635)

 


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A Blank Slate

Scripture for today:  Psalm 118:24  “This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Gone are the days when students carried their own small squares of slate to school.  This simple tool of education in the early nineteenth century replaced the need for expensive paper.  It could be wiped clean with a rag and used repeatedly.  I cannot help but think of today as a brand new clean slate being the first day of a brand new year.

Today’s verse teaches that each new day is a day that the Lord has made.  This new day and new year are His creation.  It is blank now but it has the potential to be just about anything!  As our Creator, He continues to create and He has something specific in mind.  We can rejoice and be glad looking at that blank slate.  His plans for us are good and we can trust what He will do.  And He holds not only the chalk but the eraser for those times we get it all smudged with our mistakes!

There may be days this year when I wake up with a less-than-positive attitude.  I may think I know what is ahead for the day and it is not a subject for joy and gladness.  All the obligations facing me can bring me down.  But the message in this verse is that God gave me this new day as well as this new year.  He created it.  He is in control of my day.  He has plans for it that I may know nothing about!  I can face the day with joy regardless of what it might or might not hold.  Why?  Because He is in it, and in His presence is “fulness of joy.”

Happy New Year!!


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Backwards View

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.”

I am a careful driver but I have never been very comfortable using mirrors to drive.  I do not know why.  I just do not trust them as much as seeing something directly.  There is a lot of neck turning when I am at the wheel!  Many side mirrors have the warning; “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”  Perhaps it is this warning that shakes my confidence in the image I am seeing.

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.

Not everyone enjoys looking back.  Quite frankly, some things are best forgotten.  Reliving the negatives can be depressing.  But in looking back I can see that the problem I deemed insurmountable while going through it, was not!  His faithfulness was like that object so much closer than I realized!  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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Yuletide Log

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 2:14 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere.”

Christmas is not just about the pretty lights and decorations.  Just as important to that “Chrismassy” feeling are the aromas!  Whether it is hot cocoa, peppermint or gingerbread, the smells can make one feel the magic of the season.  As wonderful as the aromas of cooking can be, some of us use shortcuts!  One can now buy a yuletide log for the fire that gives off the odor of fried chicken!

Today’s verse brings to mind a victory march after a battle.  Christ is at the head of this processional and we are the spoils of war.  Being His captives means we are subjects of a new King.  He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son (Col.1:13).  No longer are we slaves to sin.  And one of our identifying marks is our “smell.”  Believers are to be an aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere we go.

For some, my aroma is not so pleasant.  In fact, I even stink to people who are rejecting the Savior.  But for the one being drawn to Him, I am a pleasing aroma (verses 15-16).  He has promised to use me to spread the aroma of Him.  When I praise Him to others, I smell good.  When I encourage someone to trust Him, I smell good. And when I stay faithful to Him even in the midst of horrible circumstances, I smell good.  Knowing Him is an aroma and influence that can go a long way.

Lord, may I smell good for You today!

 

 


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Sticking My Neck Out

Scripture for Today: Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.”

It is obvious how this Eastern Snake-Necked turtle got its name.  The neck on this common Australian turtle can be as long as his body!  When it feels threatened it can emit a strong musky liquid from the armpits and groin area.  Of course, its best protection is his shell.  But for this species, to fit that long neck into his carapace he has to bend his head sideways and make it go in sideways.  Retreating into his shell may take some extra maneuvering but worth the protection it gives.

Today’s verse talks about the Lord being our refuge in times of trouble.  He is good and He cares when we have stuck our necks out too far!  The refuge He offers is His presence and is always available.  There is no situation that is too difficult for Him regardless of how vulnerable and exposed we feel.  By hiding in Him we can wait out whatever is making us feel threatened.  He is our refuge, our fortress and our hiding place.  In His loving and protecting presence we can patiently wait out any pressure, stress or assault.  It is God who gives perseverance and encouragement (Rom.15:5).

I do not know what tomorrow may bring.  But I do know that He is already there and He will give me what I need to persevere.  At the first sign of trouble, He wants me to hide myself in Him.  He cares for me because I trust in Him.  He responds to my trust by being exactly what I need when the hard times come.  What a comfort that He is good and ready to hide me!

Thank you Lord, that You care.

 


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The Horn of Plenty

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 4:15 “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”

The cornucopia or horn of plenty has long been a symbol of overflowing harvest especially on Thanksgiving.  The original idea was to have an abundance of flowers, fruit and corn overflowing from a goat’s horn.  Today, we are happy with just a basket in the shape of a horn!  But the symbolism is lost if the contents are not spilling out beyond the confines of the horn.  When it overflows we know we are blessed!

Today’s verse speaks of a thanksgiving that overflows!  The circumstances Paul was facing would normally not call for thanksgiving as he was repeatedly imprisoned and persecuted.  Yet, he understood that through his faithfulness, the grace of Christ was reaching more and more people.  It was that grace which was producing an overflow of thanksgiving.  Paul could see the undeserved favor and blessing that is grace, even in the middle of hard times.  Realizing God’s grace created in him a thankfulness that overflowed and gave glory to God.

It is easy to give thanks to God when everything is going smoothly and life is good.  It is quite another thing to be overflowing with thanksgiving when life is tough and there is hurt and disappointment.  And yet, when I look to the unseen (verse 17) I can overflow with thanksgiving!  I do not deserve even one tiny blessing from Him.  How amazing He is to have given me new birth, a living hope and an eternal inheritance! (I Peter 1:3-6)  Regardless of life’s ups and downs, I can always overflow with thanksgiving for His incredible grace to me!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!