Devotions By Jan


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Flying High

Scripture for Today: I John 4:18  “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

My grandson is flying high but his Nana has her heart in her throat even watching this scene!  There is absolute confidence here and no shred of fear.  My son-in-law is not about to let my little guy drop.  His arms are strong and he is ready to catch him no matter what.  My grandson has absolute confidence and trust, not only in his Daddy’s strength but also in his love.  I can just hear him calling out to go higher!

Today’s verse talks about a perfect love.  It is described as a love that drives out fear.  The one who struggles with fear of punishment does not have that complete and perfect love.  Because God showed His love by sending His Son to die in our place (verse 9-10) we can know and rely on the love God has for us (verse 16).  The punishment for sin has already taken place for those who place their faith in Christ.  Now, a loving relationship of absolute confidence is possible!

How awful it would be to try to love and serve the Lord out of fear of punishment!  That is not love at all but obligation and coercion.  But because He took the initiative and paid for my sin, I can enjoy a complete, undivided and sincere love for Him.  I am not weighed down with guilt and shame.  There is no doubt that He loves me and will catch me no matter what!  He has paid the price for my sin and guilt forever!  I am free to love Him completely with all of my being!

Thank you Lord, for love without fear.

 

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Table Runners

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

No one would know.  The damage to my table top and buffet is extensive as it dates back to the 1920’s.  I keep meaning to get it refinished but I know that each new move will add new nicks and scratches.  My solution is to cover over all the imperfections with table runners or table scarves.  I have quite a collection from all over the world and for every season.  The only way to see the problems would be to uncover the furniture to the light of day.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to love his brothers and sisters in Christ with a deep love.  Love covers over a multitude of sins.  And a deep love will require extending forgiveness.  This is a love that covers all wrongs suffered (Prov. 10:12).  Fostering this kind of love covers over an offense done to us, but repeating a matter can separate even close friends (Prov. 17:9).  This is no light-hearted superficial love.  For this, one has to dig down deep!  The hurt is still there and we bear the marks.  But we cover it with love and forgiveness. And in loving deeply, a relationship can be restored.

The only possible way to love in spite of hurts done to me is to look at what Christ did.  My sin hurt Him to the point of death.  He has the scars on His hands and side to prove it!  There is no deeper love than His for me.  If He could cover me with grace and forgiveness, than I need to do the same.  Surely, what has been done to me cannot compare to my sin and rebellion against Him.

Lord, help me to love others deeply and with forgiveness.

 


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Easter Eggs

Scripture for Today: Romans 6:4 “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

I bought beautifully carved real egg shells much like these from a street vendor in Prague.  Because they were so fragile, I carefully wrapped them in my carry-on.  How disappointed I was to have them confiscated as an animal product!  Easter eggs perhaps grew out of the tradition of hard boiling eggs during Lent.  In medieval times, Lent was stricter with prohibitions against eating all animal products.  When Lent was over, people would distribute their stockpiled eggs to the poor, right around the time of Easter.  Of course, eggs have long been considered a symbol of rebirth.

Today’s verse teaches that new life is possible as a result of being buried with Jesus.  Just as Christ was raised from the dead to new life, so we, by our “baptism” or identification with His death, can be raised to live a new life!  When we are in Christ, a new creation has come as the old has gone (II Cor. 5:17).  As a believer, I am dead to what I was and my life is now hidden with Christ in God! (Col. 3:3)

Old habits, old values, and old desires can all be changed!  The new life He gives awakens me to a whole new perspective on what life is all about!  This new life gives me a new purpose in living it for Him.  It is not easier but it is deeper and more satisfying.  I wake up every morning to new love and compassion from Him! (Lam. 3:22-23)  I never want to do life without Him!

Thank you Lord, for the new life You give!


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Rabbit Trails

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:25 “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.”

We have all experienced the chagrin of having to return from a “rabbit trail” while in a group discussion!  Veering off the topic is easy to do when a story or explanation is interjected that goes nowhere.  These mazes of unrelated detail can derail a conversation and be totally frustrating for someone trying to guide a discussion.  These side trips may be interesting but can easily confuse as they add no light or clarity.  It is a confused path that leads nowhere.

Today’s verse could be thought of as a purpose statement to a life.  With a focus like this, there are not as likely to be too many distractions or rabbit trails.  Asaph declares that God holds him with his right hand, (verse 23)  guides him, and will take him one day to glory (verse 24).  He describes God as the strength of his heart (verse 26).  His relationship with God is so intimate and fulfilling that nothing in heaven or earth can compare!

My deepest desire is to have a relationship with the Lord that is just that focused!  Too easily, I get distracted by pretty baubles.  Wonderful relationships and exciting experiences make life rich, but can also draw my attention away from the One who is blessing me!  I do not want to be so diverted by good gifts that I forget the Giver.  Chasing after what the world values is a true rabbit trail leading nowhere.  Of course, I desire lots of things that are truly good.  But above all else, I want to desire Him.  He is the only one who reaches deep within me and fills me with His love!

Lord, keep me close to You today.


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Napoleon’s Banner

Scripture for Today: Psalm 60:4 “But for those who fear You, You have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.”

This elaborate banner was a flag proudly carried by Napoleon Bonaparte’s Imperial Guard foot soldiers in 1813.  It is either an original or a very early reproduction.  Banners like these were normally carried on staffs capped with a  gilt bronze eagle to symbolize divine authority.  Unfortunately, the eagle finial for this one was stolen in 1990 from the museum housing it.  So much for divine authority!  The foot soldier appointed to carry this banner had to be someone recognized for their bravery as he was an obvious target for the enemy.

Today’s verse has a banner that has been raised by our God and does indeed denote divine authority!  It is raised for those that fear and obey Him.  Unlike those who were experiencing discipline in this psalm, God’s  faithful ones could depend on Him to save and help with His powerful right hand (verse 5).  Those who fear, respect and obey the Lord are in a battle for His cause; the cause of truth, justice and righteousness.

God has raised this banner for me.  How amazing for this puny foot soldier to be part of His plan!  Because He has raised it for me,  I know I will be victorious over enemies!  But I do need to unfurl it.  It is my identifying mark.  I want to unfurl His banner with confidence, standing for the truth of who Jesus is and the veracity and authority of His Word.  Regardless of possible negative attention, I never want to be ashamed of my Lord (II Tim. 1:8).  After all, He is not ashamed of me as His banner over me is love (Song of Songs 2:4).

Thank you Lord, for the privilege of standing up for You!

 

 

 

 

 


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Glass Harmonica

Scripture for Today:Romans 5:3-4 “Not only so but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope.”

Who hasn’t rubbed their fingers around the rim of a crystal wine glass to produce that ringing sound?  That is the principle behind this glass harmonica, made of a series of glass bowls or goblets in varying sizes spinning  on a single shaft.  The haunting ethereal sound of the notes are produced by moistened fingers and the friction they create.  The pressure of the fingers can change the volume and duration of a note.  The “incomparably sweet” sound of the glass harmonica is really due to friction and pressure.

Paul makes an incredible statement in today’s verse.  He can glory or revel in his sufferings because he understands what it will develop in him!  Perseverance, character and hope are those harmonious notes his sufferings will produce.  But these characteristics do not show themselves except through the friction and pressure of suffering.  He knows and is confident of this positive outcome, affirming that this hope is sure.  This hope will not ever put him to shame because of the love that God has poured out into his heart (verse 5).

How amazing it is that in the middle of suffering Paul can keenly feel God’s love for him!  When things go wrong and I am hurting, I am tempted to think that God may not love me quite so much.  If He really loved me would He make me go through this?  Couldn’t I just have that perseverance, character and hope without all that suffering?  I have to trust that He knows what He is doing.  His love never changes and He is making me more like Him!

Lord, help me never to doubt your love for me.


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Chinese Stamp

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 3:14-15 “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”

The Chinese characters that make up my name define me as a forest, as successful and intelligent, and as a precious rare gem!  My husband had this Chinese stamp made for me during our tour of China at the start of our marriage.  It seemed appropriate as I was marrying into a family giving me a Chinese mother-in-law.  I am not sure how accurate it is or why a forest has anything to do with me.  But it is fun to think about the meaning of our names.

Today’s verse points out a commonality in all of our names.  Because God is the Father who created each and every family and its members, we all derive our name from Him.  God is “Jehovah-Ab” the Lord our Father (Isaiah 64:8).  We are all the work of His hands.  But to become a child of God, redeemed and inhabited by his Spirit, takes a step of faith and repentance (Eph. 3:16-17).  At that point there is no separation but only unity as His family.  Whether those already in heaven or those on earth, His children are part of one family.  There is no more Jew or Gentile, slave or free, or even male or female (Gal. 3:28).

Only the God of the universe could succeed in making such diverse people one family.  But because He can and does, I have brothers and sisters not only worldwide but across time!  That strong desire to belong is completely satisfied.  Every time I worship with others so different than myself, I get a small inkling of this incredible truth!  And like Paul, I kneel before the Father in gratitude!

Thank you Lord, for making me part of Your family!