Devotions By Jan


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The Boysenberry

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 1:10  “I appeal to you brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

The Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm is in full swing.  This delicious berry is celebrated with 75 one-of-a-kind boysenberry inspired dishes and drinks.  Walter Knott was gifted six hybrid plants developed by Rudolph Boysen in the 1920’s.  Boysen  created this berry by crossing the European raspberry and blackberry with the American dewberry and loganberry.  The result is a wonderful sweet and tangy flavor and is great for canning, cobblers and pies.

Today’s verse admonishes believers to get along with one another.  There were reports of quarrels in the church in Corinth damaging their reputation or “fruit.”  The local church brings together such a diversity of people that there are bound to be differences of opinion.  Even though different varieties are thrown together there is to be fruit from our unity and cooperation.  Of course there are differences in our politics, education, preferences and backgrounds but they are not to divide us.

When believers can actually work together, we enjoy a wonderful yield.  The world sits up and takes notice when we can show respect and love to one another (John 17:23).  We live up to being associated with the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!  Standing close and united, our differences make our fruit beautiful and delicious!  I can be perfectly united with others so much different than myself when I consider His name as more important than my own!

Lord, regardless of our differences, keep me one with other believers for Your name’s sake!

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Sour Grapes

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Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 31:29 “In those days people will no longer say, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are on edge.'”

Eating sour grapes would not be something I would do on purpose.  And I would hope that people would not characterize my attitude as “sour grapes.”  This expression is thought to come from a fable of Aesop about a fox.  He could not reach some grapes high above him so he declared them sour.  Sour grapes has come to describe someone who disdains something just because they cannot have it.

Today’s verse comes from a proverb also using this expression.  The Israelites were using the term differently to acquit themselves of any wrong doing.  The exiles’ children born in captivity in Babylon felt they were unjustly suffering consequences of their fathers’ sin. This was just another version of the “blame game.”  They were excusing their own sin as if they had no choice for their behavior.  The Lord explains in Ezekiel 18 why they should no longer quote this proverb as each person is responsible for themselves.

Things have not changed much as it is so easy to blame others!  Of course, there are hereditary influences that can put me at risk for some behaviors.  No family is perfect.  But I am responsible for my own choices and I am not obligated to continue what was modeled.  Because of God’s power and grace there is hope that cycles can be broken.  No family influence is stronger than the power God gives me to live differently.  There ought not to be sour grapes with me as the Lord has given me every spiritual blessing and all that I need to live a godly life (II Peter 1:3).

Thank you Lord, for Your power and grace!

 


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My Heart’s Desire

Scripture for Today:  Isaiah 26:8 “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of Your laws, we wait for You; Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”

I am amazed to see the variety and quantity of heart shaped boxes of chocolate displayed on the shelves for Valentine’s day!  I am a recovering “chocoholic” so I dare not linger long in front of those tempting displays!  If addiction means intense craving, loss of control, or continued use despite negative consequences, than that could be me if I am not careful!  According to the Nielsen consumer study group, in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, 58 million pounds of chocolate are sold!  There is something about that “dark master…the cocoa bean” that creates strong desire!

Today’s verse mentions a desire of the heart.  It is much deeper than any other desire.  A desire for God’s glory completely changes a life.  Wanting His name to be known means saying,”Yes, Lord,” to what He asks of us.  Wanting His name to be more prominent than our own means we will follow Him.  His glory in our lives will be evident by the way we walk, following His commandments.

The best way my husband loves me is when he praises me to others!  In turn, I honor him at every opportunity.  I want him to be recognized for all his hard work and sacrifice.  It is the same principle with our Lord.  We show Him that we love Him when we praise Him to others!  We show we are jealous for His name and glory when we walk in a way that honors Him.  It is the best way I can love my Lord.

Lord, You are the desire of my heart!  Help me to live that truth today!


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The Super Bowl of Food!

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Did you know that the biggest diet day for men is the day after the Super Bowl?  That makes sense as Super Bowl Sunday is the second most eating day behind Thanksgiving!  In fact, the average football fan gains ten pounds during the entire season!  There is something about couch time that encourages snacking.  And the more crunch there is, the more the chewing can release pent up tension as that player tries for the field goal!  And of course there are extra bites to celebrate…or to commiserate!

There is hunger and thirst in today’s verse for something much more satisfying than football snacks.  Those that hunger and thirst for righteousness will be full and satisfied.  With His righteousness we do not pine for something more.  There is no feeling of missing out on something better.  A righteous life is the best kind of life.  Doing the right thing, following His way, and experiencing right standing with our Creator gives a sense of well-being that is complete.  No other kind of life can be quite as full or satisfying!

My problem is that I hunger and thirst for other things, good things, that give only temporary satisfaction.  And of course, I hunger and thirst again.  But I do not want my life to be characterized by always wanting.  I desperately want to experience that contentment and satisfaction He offers.  If I make the Lord the object of my longing, He will satisfy me.  He has promised life to the full (John 10:10).  This “blessedness” means that I can overflow with hope (Rom. 15:13) and with joy (II Cor. 8:2).  I want to be able to say with the Psalmist, “my cup overflows!” (Psalm 23:5)

Fill me up with You, Lord.


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Rainbow Cake

Scripture for Today: Romans 16:19 “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil.”

There is a twist in the new season of the television show, The Bachelor.  Everyone is talking about his complete inexperience.  Some think it wonderful.  Others are scratching their heads.  The young woman interviewed before meeting him had her doubts.  She felt that no one could know if a person was the right one without a trial run.  She described her life as a “rainbow cake,” having tried many colors and flavors!

Today’s verse flies in the face of that kind of thinking.  Wisdom comes from knowing and practicing what is good according to God’s standards.  Believers are to be totally innocent and even naive when it comes to evil.  Unlike Eve, we do not have to touch or eat evil to recognize it (Genesis 3).  God has made His laws clear and they are established, not to ruin our fun but to protect our vulnerable hearts and give us the best life possible.  There is even delight in the path of His commands (Ps. 119:35)

The only thing I miss out on when saying, “no,” to temptation is the heartache that can come with it.  The prevailing thought changes with the times but His standards are eternal.  What the world says is wise is absolute foolishness in God’s eyes when it deviates from His law (I Cor. 1:20)  How is it that the creature thinks he knows better than the Creator?  I do not want my life to be a rainbow cupcake.  I want it to be the pure unsullied white of His righteousness.  I want to be sweet, naive and innocent.

Thank you Lord, that Your forgiveness makes that possible!

 

 


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Chocolate River!

Scripture for Today:  Romans 5:15 “But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died by the trespass of one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many.”

This looks like a dream come true….a river of chocolate!  About a ton of liquid chocolate recently escaped its storage tank near Werl, Germany, flowing out to the street!  When it hit the chilly sidewalks it solidified, making clean-up difficult.  Even so, 25 firefighters were able to scoop up the mess with their shovels.  I wonder if any of it ended up in mouths as well!

Today’s verse talks about an overflow that is even better than chocolate!  Paul is teaching that even though the consequences of Adam’s sin are far reaching and for all time, God’s grace and salvation overflows to the many.  His grace or unmerited favor is greater than all our sin (Romans 5:20).  There is not a single sin that is not covered by God’s grace when confessed.  The gift of His grace is much greater than the judgement that followed that one sin of Adam’s.  Christ’s gift of grace covers all sin and provides right standing with God (verse 16).

God’s abundant supply of grace is overflowing.  He never stops it up and says, “that’s enough!”  His grace never runs dry.  It continually flows bringing forgiveness and righteousness!  As I continually sin, I need His grace to be overflowing.  Everyday I need to feel His love and forgiveness wash over me, giving me a new start.  Everyday I can count on His grace as it has nothing to do with me earning it and everything to do with His incredible love.

Thank you Lord, for Your overflowing grace to me!

 


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Hawker Centers

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”

This young man looks confused as to which food stand to choose.  He is standing in a “Hawker Center,” in Singapore where he can find many different inexpensive hot foods.  These centers are the government’s solution to the mobile food carts on the streets.  The street hawkers would often attract customers with loud cries, chants or banter.  Of course, this practice is not unique to Singapore.  I have heard “hawkers” even in the Latin Quarter of Paris!

Today’s verse is an invitation to eat and drink but with no monetary gain the one offering.  This is an invitation to come quench one’s thirst and satisfy one’s hunger without any cost!  But somehow, we miss this invitation.  Instead of being satisfied with no cost, we spend money on what does not satisfy (verse 2).  Instead of listening for the invitation, we fill ourselves with what is not good.  Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life.  And to the woman at the well, Jesus offered a water that would end thirst!

The noise of other offers drown out this invitation.  Too often I am distracted by the world’s ideas of what will satisfy.  I am duped into spending money, time and energy on what in the end brings no satisfaction at all.  Even though I know better, I am lured into mainstream thinking and carried away by consumerism.  Instead of meeting the deepest needs of my soul, I content myself with the trappings of success.  Then I wonder why I feel so impoverished.  My God and Creator is the only One who truly satisfies.

Lord, may I respond to Your gracious invitation today.