Devotions By Jan


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Blessed Thistle

Scripture for Today: Luke 6:27-28 “But to you who are listening I say, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Being that this flower is surrounded by sharp pointy leaves and considered a bitter herb, how is this plant blessed?  As pretty as the flower is, the plant is a “blessing” for its medicinal properties.  Blessed Thistle contains tannins which might help with diarrhea, coughs and inflammation.  It was used to treat bubonic plague during the Middle Ages and as a tonic for monks.

In today’s verse Jesus is speaking specifically to all “who are listening.”  He was addressing a large crowd including His disciples.  But as in any audience there are those who are tracking and those who are distracted.  These words are for those whose intention is to be a blessing.  Being a blessing to enemies that curse, hate and mistreat you is done by showing love in two ways; doing good for them and praying for them.  Those willing to obey will experience great reward (verse 35).  And they will be recognizable as His children, being kind to the ungrateful and wicked, just as He is.

Being a blessing to enemies is not usually something very high on my to-do list!  I have a hard enough time being a blessing to those who love me!  But doing good to my enemies and praying for them is modeled by Jesus and He asks the same of me.  I cannot expect any accolades or return from obeying.  But there will be great reward one day for this hard thing He asks of me.  And behaving as one of His children brings glory and recognition to Him! (vs. 35)

Thank you Lord, that in being a blessing to enemies, I too am blessed!

 


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Inside Out Flower

Scripture for Today: Mark 7:15 “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

If one were to take a walk in the coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest right now, this delicate wildflower might be seen.  It is a wildflower with petal-like sepals that being swept back make it look as if the flower were inside out!  Its official name is, “Vancouveria Hexandra,” named after the British explorer, Captain George Vancouver.  But I prefer the more creative name of “Inside Out.”

Today’s verse has an inside and an outside.  The Lord is speaking to the Pharisees who challenged Him about following their ceremonial laws.  These religious leaders had burdened the people with a crippling weight of laws.  Jesus pointed out that laws and policies do not have the power to change what is on the inside.  What sullies and makes one dirty is not anything on the outside of man.  It is the evil that comes from inside (verse 23).  One can change laws, leaders or levels of education and privilege but none of this will change the core problem; an unclean heart.

In a troubled world where social injustice is on everyone’s mind, I do not want to be “inside out.”  The core problem is not on the outside but on the inside of all of us.  Lasting change is only possible when Christ makes us a “new creation” in Him (II Cor. 5:17).  My most loving unselfish response is to point others to the One who can change a heart for all eternity.  What an incredible shame if in addressing the outside of man I miss the inside!  What good would it be to gain the whole world but lose one’s soul? (Mark 8:36)

Thank you Lord, for changing me on the inside.    


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Yesterday Today and Tomorrow Plant

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever.”

If you do not like a particular color of this flower, all that is needed is to wait a day!  The flowers on the Yesterday Today and Tomorrow plant are unique in that they change color.  They first bloom as a purple or violet.  The next day, that same bloom becomes a pale lavender.  The following day, its color changes to white!

In a world where everything seems to be in a constant state of change, it is comforting to know that our Savior does not change.  Today’s verse teaches that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  These flowers may experience changes that are beautiful but Jesus is perfectly beautiful and needs no improvement!  Everything that we need to know about the Lord is revealed in His Word.  He does not change nor does His revelation.  His message transcends time and is always current.  The God in the Old testament is the same God as in the New.  His faithfulness and power shown then is the same faithfulness and power He shows today.

I need Him to be constant and not capricious.  I need Him to be faithful to His Word and unchangeable.  What was proven true in times past continues to be true today and will be true tomorrow.  He is perfect and perfection has no need of change.  There is no reason for me to worry that a promise will no longer be valid.  His compassion is daily renewed because He will always be faithful to who He is and to His Word (Lam. 3:23).  He never changes and I can build my life on this rock-hard solid truth!

Thank you Lord, that You do not change and I can always count on You.


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Rosa Carte Blanche

Scripture for Today: Titus 2:12 “It (grace) teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,”

This beautiful rose did not grace our earth until its creation in 1982.  The rose begins as a dark pink bud, opening as a pale pink bloom and then fading to near white.  Its name, “Carte blanche” (blank page) was an idiom attributed to King Charles II of France.  He gave his workers a blank page with his signature, allowing them freedom as to how a task was completed.

Some may believe that grace gives us “carte blanche” to do what we please.  But today’s verse gives insight into the role grace plays in the life of a believer.  At the start, grace, or God’s unmerited favor, is how we are saved (Eph. 2:8-9).  But it does not stop there.  Grace continues to impact our lives, teaching us to say no to what is ungodly and worldly.  Grace, rather than give us carte blanche to do whatever we like, teaches us to be self-controlled.  Grace motivates believers to lead godly upright lives.  It is God’s favor that provides a way out of temptation (I Cor. 10:13).

His grace is greater than all my sin.  There is not a single sin that He is not willing to forgive!  But rather than presume on His grace, I want to live up to it.  I do not want His grace for me to be in vain.  He knows I blew it yesterday.  He knows I will blow it today.  His grace means that my relationship with Him continues.  I want to grow in grace (II Peter 3:18) and understand God’s grace (Col. 1:6) but I know it will be a life-long process.

Thank you Lord, that You show grace to me.

Photo Credit: Anna reg/CC BY-SA https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rosa_Carte_Blanche.jpg

 

 

 

 

 


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The Easter Lily

Scripture for Today: Matthew 12:40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Growing up, my Mother’s Easter table was often graced with this lily.  This beautiful flower is also called, “white-robed apostles of hope.”  There is symbolism in the white color representing the purity of Christ.  The trumpet shape of the flower brings to mind the trumpeting of the message of resurrection.  But what impressed me was that all this beauty could come from a dirty unremarkable bulb.  For at least three years its bulb stays underground in the dark before bursting forth to flower.

Today’s verse comes from a discussion Jesus had with the Pharisees asking for a sign.  Here, Jesus predicts the three days He will spend in the heart of the earth following His death.  Those three days were not unlike what Jonah experienced.  It was during those three days that despair was so keenly felt by all who had hoped in Christ.  It looked as if Satan had won.  All who had looked to Jesus to be their deliverer must have felt betrayed and defeated.

What a comfort to know that the darkest days I could ever experience are only a “momentary affliction” compared to the glorious future He has prepared for me! (II Cor. 4:17) Whether it is three dark days, three years or thirty, it is a time of waiting until I burst forth, flowering for an eternity because of His resurrection!  How amazing it is that because of His victory over death,  I can wait patiently with hope.  His resurrection changes me giving me new life, eternal life and life that can be abundant!

Lord, because of You I have hope!