Devotions By Jan


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Unexpected!

cigarette2Scripture for Today: Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Looking closely at this image, one sees discarded cigarettes doing something very unexpected.  They are sprouting!  Something as dirty and off-putting as litter is actually transforming itself into something positive.  These cigarettes were invented by a creative British man, tired of ugly litter.  He decided to make biodegradable filters that contain wild flower seeds and called them, “Cigg Seeds.”  What a clever idea!  Who would have thought that something thrown away and trampled on could turn into something beautiful!

Today’s often quoted verse came to mind.  I have heard it said so many times it tends to lose its impact.  But this is a beautiful truth that gives the believer hope.  We are not spared the ugliness and heartaches in life.  Despite the fact that the wicked seem to prosper (Jer. 12:1) they are not spared either as their final destiny is destruction (Ps. 73:17).  Even so, following the Lord never insures a trouble-free life. However, there is a difference.  God takes those awful negative circumstances and miraculously brings about something worthwhile.

Because of this promise, I have hope.  I may feel cast aside, dirty, and trampled on but God is not done yet.  He can and He does transform me and cause new and beautiful growth in my soul.  He is good and everything He does is right and good.  I can trust that His purpose for me is good as well, even and especially when I cannot see it.  The good He is producing is something that lasts into eternity; becoming like His Son.  There is nothing more beautiful or worthwhile.

Thank you Lord, for the unexpected ways You create the good in my life!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.

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Jacaranda Tree

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 15:52 “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed.”

I love this time of year when the Jacaranda tree is in bloom.  Their purple color is so vibrant it almost looks unreal, like something out of Dr. Seuss!  When several of these trees line a street, their blooms resemble a sea of lavender.  And when their blossoms drop to the ground, their beauty continues as a lilac carpet.  It seems appropriate that their flowers are in the shape of a trumpet, as they herald the coming of summer!

The trumpet in our verse today has a very special meaning.  Sounding it will signal the resurrection.  It does not say who will blow this trumpet, perhaps an angel, but it will be heard all over the world.  When it is blown, those believers who have died will receive their new incorruptible bodies.  Those believers still living at the time will also be changed.  Death will forever be swallowed up in victory! (verse 54)  What a day that will be!

One future day I will hear a trumpet sound that will announce the end of time.  Death will no longer sting and sin will be powerless.  My body will be changed to be imperishable.  Knowing this helps me to stay steadfast, immoveable and involved in what He wants me to do.  He has promised that my work for Him will never be futile or in vain (verse 58).  Thinking about what is to come keeps me motivated and encouraged!

Lord, keep me listening for that trumpet!

 

 


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May Day Basket

Scripture for Today:  I Peter 1:24 “All people are like grass, all all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

It’s too bad that this tradition seems to be lost.  I still remember as a young girl distributing May Day baskets on the doorknobs of our neighbors with my Mother on May 1st.  Unlike some observances, we did not knock on the door and run!  But we did leave the baskets without alerting the homeowner.  The origin of this tradition dates back to Roman times and the worship of Flora, the goddess of flowers.  But no such idea was in our heads.  We just wanted to be kind and welcome the spring.  After all, April showers are supposed to bring May flowers!

Today’s verse describes man’s glory like the flowers of the field.  With these fragile flowers, there is a burst of color and life and then they are gone.  In the same way, grass  can come up overnight after a good rain, but disappear just as quickly in a dry spell.  Both examples show how fleeting are our lives in the grand scheme of things.  However, the glory, truth and beauty of God’s Word has no such lifespan.  His words are eternal.

Because His words are eternal, they are always relevant and true.  What He said in the first century does not change and morph into something else in the 21st century.  In a world that is constantly changing its ideas on what is morally acceptable, I find this a comfort.  What is true is not subject to a vote!  His truth is my anchor, helping me stay firmly rooted in my faith.

Thank you Lord, that Your words are as faithful and true as You are!


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Blooming Joshua Tree

Scripture for Today:  Psalms 28:2 “Hear my cry for mercy as I call to You for help, as I lift up my hands toward Your Most holy Place.”

Looking like hands reaching up to the sky, the Joshua tree appears as if it praying!  This strange looking plant is native to the dry southwestern states but grows mostly in the Mojave Desert.  I have seen these odd looking trees but have never seen one in bloom.  They do not grow these white clusters every year as their appearance depends on the amount of rainfall.  Not only is rain a factor, but these flowers need a winter freeze before they will bloom!

Today’s verse is David’s cry for help in dealing with the wicked who surround him.  He lifts his hands for mercy, pleading with God not to turn a deaf ear or be silent (verse 1).  Like so many of the psalms written by David, it starts out with discouragement and even despair, but then finishes with praise!  What starts out as worry over God being silent, ends with recognition of His strength and salvation (verse 8).  David renews his trust and his heart even leaps for joy! (verse 7)

That beautiful cluster of blooms on the Joshua tree can only come after being frozen and seemingly dormant.  Many times, I feel as if life has stopped, waiting for that answer to prayer.  When the Lord answers, “wait,” to the cry of my heart, it seems as if He has turned a deaf ear.  But He is working.  I can trust that He has a plan even though I do not see it.  He wants me to remain quiet and calm as I anticipate His solution.  He can do so much more than I can ask or even imagine! (Eph. 3:20)

Lord, help me trust that You hear my cry.


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Easter Bonnet Violets

Scripture for Today: II Thessalonians 1:11 “With this in mind we  constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.”

These beautiful clusters of fragrant violets reminded someone of an Easter bonnet to have given it this name!  These dainty deep purple flowers attract bees and butterflies with their strong fragrance of honey.  They flower very early in the spring and although they look delicate, they are quite hardy and frost resistant.

Today’s verse is in a passage that commends the believers for their growing faith and perseverance in the face of persecution and trials (verse 3-4).  Paul reassures them that God will deal with those that oppose them.  He prays that God will continue His work in them by making them worthy of His calling.  But what caught my attention was the reminder that it is God’s power that allows them to realize their desires for goodness and good deeds done in faith.  It does not matter how small and unimportant a believer may feel.  Appearances are deceiving because just as a delicate flower can resist frost, so the seemingly weak individual can resist and stand up under trial.

I know this is true because the Lord has been faithful to me time after time!  It is God’s power that works in me giving me unexpected resolve.  As a believer, I do not just survive but thrive because of His strength!  Like Paul, I can even look at my weaknesses as a positive thing (II Cor. 12:9) knowing that God’s power will be recognized!  As a result of His power, He fulfills my desire to live for Him a life that is significant!

Thank you Lord, for making me strong!


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Dove Flower

Scripture for Today: Song of Songs 21:11-12 “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”

Happy first day of Spring!  I would love to celebrate the advent of this  season with this stunning flower.  However, this elegant plant is more often found in South America, Panama, Costa Rica and Trinidad.  The orchid has several names including Flying Egret, Holy Ghost or Dove orchid.  This beautiful white flower does look very much like a dove in flight with its fringed petals.

Today’s verse celebrates the exit of winter and the entrance of Spring.  The winter rains are finished and the brown drab earth erupts in lovely flowers.  Moods change and singing is heard as well as the cooing of doves.  Spring is a time of new beginnings, new growth and hope!  God shows His kindness to all men by sending rain, crops in their seasons, plenty of food and joy to our hearts (Acts 14:16-17).  To believers and scoffers alike, He is faithful in doing this as a testimony to who He is.

It would never even occur to me to doubt the coming of Spring, or the sun rising and setting, or the gravitational pull on our earth.  These are all things I tend to take for granted.  But that does not make them any less miraculous!  In recognizing His creative hand I can “join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”  He allows me to see His invisible qualities through what He has created (Rom.1:20).  My enjoyment of the seasonal changes is heightened when I realize the Source!  Rather than attributing nature to impersonal science, I can respond in praise to my Maker!

Thank you Lord for Spring!


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Poinsettia

Scripture for Today: Psalm 112:4 “Even in darkness, light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and  compassionate and righteous.” 

I love seeing the red and green of the poinsettia at Christmas time!  This native flower to Mexico is referred to as, “Flower of the Good Night.”  The reason for this term is the way the poinsettia becomes so colorful.  It is only after twelve to fifteen hours of darkness a day for a period of three months that the leaves (or bracts) become a vibrant red.

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance that the darkness the believer experiences will not be indefinite.  Those who belong to the Lord are upright because of Christ’s righteousness.  And we are assured that eventually there will be a dawn.  Often in Scripture darkness represents calamity and light represents well being.  No one is exempt from dark times.  Regardless of education, wealth, health or status, we all face some kind of crisis or suffering.  But for the believer, there is a dawn coming!  For the one made righteous through Christ, there is hope.

What is amazing to me is that even in the darkness, there is blessing.  The Lord is actively at work in that darkness.  He is using all the negative in my life to test and refine my faith.  Every hurt and disappointment, He uses to grow me more like Him.  He does not waste any pain or difficulty but He utilizes it all to change me.  What a comfort to know He is in control!  When I finally exit that time of darkness, I am different.  Because of His work and grace I can emerge more colorful.  Perseverance, endurance and stronger faith are the colors He produces through that dark time.

Thank you Lord, that you know what You are doing and I can trust You.