Devotions By Jan


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Noël Bleu

Scripture for Today: I John 2:10 “Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.”

Our home town of Guebwiller in France transforms itself every Christmas into a sea of blue!  The normally unremarkable downtown streets dress themselves in blue light and the result is magical!  The light is soft enough to enchant but bright enough to walk confidently in the darkness.  That blue light shines just enough to light the way while at the same time beautifying what in the daytime can be  mundane.  It is truly a Nöel Bleu or Blue Christmas!

Today’s verse talks about how to live in beautiful  light.  Jesus calls Himself the Light of the World ( John 8:12).  He illuminates the path of obedience we are to walk.  By obeying Him we remain within the beam of that light.  It is easier to talk about obedience in general terms, but here the verse is very specific about one particular commandment; loving our brother and sister in Christ.  Loving other believers keeps me in His light and on the right path.

I never realized before how closely love and light are linked.  The amount of light I live with is dependent on how much I love my brother.  Quite frankly, I get used to my way being dimly lit.  My eyes adjust to the lack of light due to my lack of love.  I do not think to do anything about it…….until I stumble.  I trip on my lack of love.  How much better it is to make the effort to love!  My walk is so much more pleasant in the light.  Thankfully, I do not have to muster up that love on my own.  His Spirit’s indwelling provides that love.

Lord, fill me with Your love and light today!


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Sticking My Neck Out

Scripture for Today: Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.”

It is obvious how this Eastern Snake-Necked turtle got its name.  The neck on this common Australian turtle can be as long as his body!  When it feels threatened it can emit a strong musky liquid from the armpits and groin area.  Of course, its best protection is his shell.  But for this species, to fit that long neck into his carapace he has to bend his head sideways and make it go in sideways.  Retreating into his shell may take some extra maneuvering but worth the protection it gives.

Today’s verse talks about the Lord being our refuge in times of trouble.  He is good and He cares when we have stuck our necks out too far!  The refuge He offers is His presence and is always available.  There is no situation that is too difficult for Him regardless of how vulnerable and exposed we feel.  By hiding in Him we can wait out whatever is making us feel threatened.  He is our refuge, our fortress and our hiding place.  In His loving and protecting presence we can patiently wait out any pressure, stress or assault.  It is God who gives perseverance and encouragement (Rom.15:5).

I do not know what tomorrow may bring.  But I do know that He is already there and He will give me what I need to persevere.  At the first sign of trouble, He wants me to hide myself in Him.  He cares for me because I trust in Him.  He responds to my trust by being exactly what I need when the hard times come.  What a comfort that He is good and ready to hide me!

Thank you Lord, that You care.

 


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Sticker Shock

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 6:19-20  “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

If the idea of “sticker shock” is to be shocked at a price, then this menu item fits the bill!  What makes the $247.95 price so very shocking is that it is listed with reasonably priced offerings!  When looking closely one can see why the price is so high.  But at the risk of sounding like a food snob, I cannot imagine pairing such a high end drink with the lowly hamburger!

Today’s verse talks about a price that God paid.  The price He paid was enormously high and shocking!  On that cross He shed blood and died.  He paid the debt that we owe for our own sin.  And it cost Him everything.  The only reasonable response is to honor Him with the body He has transformed into a temple for His Spirit.  As a temple, we are to be holy and set apart for Him.

My body rightfully belongs to Him.  I am not my own.  Because of His sacrifice I am His.  So then, I am to honor Him in all I do.  I am to keep this body pure and in good shape.  But frankly, I do not always do a good job of it.  Thankfully, He does not go to “Returns” because I am defective!  He did not purchase me because I was worth it.  He purchased me to give me worth.  It is amazing that He would think I could be worth loving, worth holding.  But He does.  He created me to be His.

Thank you Lord, that I am forever Yours!


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Jerusalem Cricket

Photo by Jeff Turner

Scripture for Today: I John 3:1 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.”

Legend has it that a priest while living among the Navajo misinterpreted their name for this big-headed insect.  They called it “Skull Head” but he heard “Skull Hill.”  This put in mind the name, Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified.  But this cricket is also called Red Skull, Old Bald-Headed Man and Child of the Earth.

Today’s verse speaks of the Father’s great love for His own.  It is a love that He lavished on us to the extent that He even calls us, “children of God.”  No longer do we belong to the world.  Our identity has been changed forever as His children.  We call Him Father and we call other believers in this worldwide family, brothers and sisters.  The world often fails to recognize this family as they do not know the Father.  And it is only through faith in Christ, His Son that we can belong to this family (Gal. 3:26).

I am a child of God.  What an amazing humbling truth!  As His child I no longer belong to the world or conform to it (Romans 12:2).  No longer am I led by the current thinking or fad but instead I am led by His Spirit (Romans 8:14).  Because I have received Him and believed on His name, He has graciously made me His (John 1:12).  I am not always such an obedient child.  There are times each day when I let down my Father.  But unlike any human family relationship, I can always count on His love and forgiveness.

Thanks you Lord, for making me Your child.

 


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Soft Candlelight

Scripture for Today:  Psalms 90:8  “You have placed our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence.”

I love candlelight.  I love the way it adds ambiance to a special dinner.  One of the reasons I like candlelight so well is that it softens hard realities.  I just look better in the low light.  One does not see my wrinkles, my blemishes or the bags under my eyes.  All the defects are hidden in the soft flattering light.  My husband even looks better!

Today’s verse talks about another kind of light; the light of His countenance.  This light is brighter and much more revealing.  It does not soften anything but brings to light some hard realities.  I do not look so good in this light as it exposes the truth.  The light of His face exposes all the sins I have ever tried to cover up, even from myself.  But those secret sins that no one else knows about are not hidden from Him.  His light reveals what I am hiding even from myself.

I may feel more comfortable in low candlelight, but He will have none of it!  His light exposes the problem out of love for me, so that it can be confessed and forgiven.  I need to agree with God about my secret sin so that He can deal with it.  In doing so, I can actually enjoy His light.  This same Psalm ends with a prayer, “and let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us…”  When I am honest with Him about those secret sins and confess them, I become more beautiful as I reflect His beauty!  No more need for candlelight!

Thank you Lord, for Your beautiful light and the forgiveness You offer.


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Little Grasshopper

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 40:22 “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.”

Of all the insects I can run into, I am the least threatened by the grasshopper.  Perhaps the delight of seeing them jumping in the grass when I was a child has stayed with me.  According to the Urban Dictionary, calling someone a “grasshopper,” is to refer to someone as a novice, a student, a subordinate or to someone who is just ignorant.  This use of the word was made popular by the Kung Fu television series in the seventies.  “Patience, my little grasshopper.”

Today’s verse refers to all of mankind as grasshoppers when compared to the God of the universe.  God’s creativity, His sovereignty and His incomparable power are so far above man’s experience and capabilities.  We are only small insignificant grasshoppers next to such greatness!  If God had not revealed Himself to us we could never have had any relationship with HIm.  There are no limits to His knowledge and understanding.  When communicating with us I can just imagine Him saying, “patience, my little grasshopper.”

How ludicrous of any “grasshopper” to say there is no God!  But even though I love Him and belong to Him I can act as though He is not there.  I get so busy jumping from one thing to the next that the whole day can pass without even a thought of Him.  Yes, He sits enthroned above but He is also intimately involved in every detail of my puny insignificant life!  His love and faithfulness are as high as those heavens He spread out.  What an amazing thought that He could care for me!

Lord, thank you for loving this grasshopper!


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Military ID

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:12  “The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.  Never again will they leave it.  I will write on them the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem……and I will also write on them My new name.”

On the dog tags worn by the military we honor today, there is marked the name, the identification number, the blood type and the religion of the soldier.  This one is special, marking the date when the soldier went missing in action in Vietnam in 1972.  How special for the family to be presented with these replacement dog tags as the originals were never found!  This brave soldier was honored with a medal having given his life to save others.  Although the family is happy to have these, they continue to look for the originals, hoping to hang them on their tree this Christmas.

Today’s verse teaches that one day, believers will be “wearing” three names that will identify us.  The meaning here seems to be symbolic.  Those who are victorious and enduring to the very end will bear three names.  The name of God will show that we belong to Him forever.  The name of God’s city will show that we are citizens.  And His own new name will indicate our special relationship with Christ.

How reassuring to know that I will remain in His presence forever!  There is no way to misplace this “tag” and be lost.  Christ has marked me as His very own forever!  Because of Him there is victory in this spiritual battle and sin will never separate me from His presence ever again!

Thank you Lord, for loving me enough to identify me as Your very own for all eternity!