Devotions By Jan


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Reply or Reply All

Scripture for Today: Romans 11:4 “And what was God’s answer to him? (Elijah) ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'”

In my haste, I have sometimes made the mistake of hitting that “reply all” button on a group email.  Many times it can be appropriate to reply to all.  Normally, it is not a problem but there are times when I want my response to be very personal.  One of my pet peeves is reading responses sent to the whole group when it does not involve me or concern me.

Today’s verse is a very specific answer to a discouraged cry for help.  Elijah ran for his life after death threats from Queen Jezebel.  Strengthened and encouraged with rest and food provided by an angel, he continued to put distance between himself and the threat, traveling 40 days and nights.  Elijah felt totally alone, spent and discouraged.  The Lord never reprimanded him for feeling this way.  The answer to his prayer spoke directly to his need.  Elijah was told to anoint Elisha to help and was told of seven thousand who like Elijah were faithful to God!  He was not alone.

This is no “reply all” response from God.  It was an intensely personal reply.  God’s answer to Elijah was for a certain time and place.  But I learn from it that He hears the individual prayer and provides a specific answer.  And He does the same for me.  He knows exactly what I am feeling and why.  I may not even be able to articulate my need but the Holy Spirit intercedes for me with wordless groans (Romans 8:26).  As my Creator He sees and understands my heart.  When I cry out to Him, He answers with exactly what I need.

Thank you Lord, for Your very personal replies.

 

 


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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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Old or New?

Scripture for Today:  Colossians 3:9-10  “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

I loved living in France and seeing the old next to the new.  Side by side the old looks older and the new looks newer.  Pictured here is the beautiful Louvre in Paris, built in the late 12th century.  The pyramid looks much more modern and new having been built in 1989.  For me the contrast is striking!  But in fact, the pyramid has started to show signs of aging as well and the French government has had to do some renovations to keep it looking new.

Today’s verse talks about the old and the new for the believer.  We have both going on at the same time.  Although we are a new creature in Christ (II Cor. 5:17) the old self is still hanging around.  As long as we live on this earth in the flesh, we will always need the reminder in these verses to “lay aside” or “put off” that old self.  And as for our new self, we can count on a continual renewal.  Our new spiritual selves are continually being renewed by Christ Himself though His Word.

As I look towards this new year, I can be confident that my new self is being restored and renewed by Him.  Every time I lay aside that old self, I am cooperating with Christ’s renewal in me.  Every time I choose to obey Him rather than having my own way, He is bringing me closer to His image.  Slowly, He is renewing and transforming me to be more like Him!

Thank you Lord, for Your patient steady work in me!


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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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Christmas Colors

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.”

Credit to G. Lombardi https://www.eso.org/public/images/potw1147a/

The 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.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2017.)


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Commitment

Scripture for Today: Psalm 26:3 “For I have always been mindful of Your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on Your faithfulness.”

Today marks forty one years with this guy!  The furniture has changed, as well as the carpet below us and the technology behind us!  But one thing that has not changed is our commitment to one another.  Because of signing on that dotted line, we have given our love the best chance to grow and mature.  Our marriage is not perfect (ahem….).  But because of all the confines and restrictions of commitment, we have seen that elusive quality of faithfulness develop over the years.

Today’s verse describes a faithfulness that has no equal.  The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  His love for His own never fails and is perfectly expressed in His unending faithful commitment.  There is no waning.  There are no breaks or interruptions.  His faithfulness has no end as He is eternal and unchanging.  We are to be mindful of this love as well as live in reliance on it.

There is nothing a marriage can rely on as sure, steady and consistent as His love.  As much as I love my husband my love for him can fluctuate.  But God’s faithfulness and commitment are solid.  It is the foundation to our marriage and without it we would be utterly lost.  His love gives me motivation to love each day like He does, sacrificially.  And God’s love is my support through the good and the bad, the highs and the lows!  Thankfully, His love is faithful and will never change.

Happy 41st to my wonderful husband!  And thank you Lord, that I can count on Your faithful love today, and tomorrow.


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Electric Eel

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”

You may be shocked to learn that an electric eel much like this one has been delighting spectators at an aquarium in Tennessee!  He even has a name, Miguel Watson.  A system was connected to his tank that enables his shocks to power a strand of lights on a nearby Christmas tree!  When trying to find food Miguel will emit low-voltage blips that cause a rapid dim blinking of lights.  But when he is actually eating or gets excited he releases higher-voltage shocks that result in bigger flashes!

Today’s verse talks about the divine power that God uses to give the believer everything needed to live a godly life.  His power creates a life that man cannot achieve on his own.  Godliness means to resemble Him and it can only happen through our knowledge of Him.  His power enables us to have faith, goodness, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, affection and love (verses 6-7).  And when these qualities increase over time we become more effective and productive in our knowledge of Him (verse 8).

In looking at this list I am convinced that showing these qualities can only happen through His power!  Quite frankly, my light is sometimes just a dim flash.  Without being connected to His power I can do nothing (John 15: 5).  But when I am abiding and connecting with Him, He produces a godly life that not only pleases Him but is a light to others.  And just as the eel produces more power when eating and excited, I need to be feeding on God’s Word!  His Word motivates and encourages me to be more like Him.

Thank you Lord, for empowering me!