Devotions By Jan


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Green Gold

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

No wonder the pistachio is referred to by the name, “green gold.”  This nut is prized not only for its taste but appreciated for all the intensive labor needed to harvest it!  It is true that the partially-opened shells are hard and sometimes uncooperative, but at harvest time there is also a hull that needs to be removed from the seed.  Some small growers put the pistachios in a sack and roll it around with their feet to loosen that hull!

Today’s verse speaks of the fruit of righteousness and peace.  It comes as a result of painful discipline.  Every believer goes through it from time to time.  The Lord disciplines those He loves.  And He does it for our good so that we can share in His holiness (Heb. 12:6 &10).  We can be sure that He is not exacting punishment as He took that on Himself at the cross.  But discipline is proof that He loves us and that we belong to Him (Heb. 12:8).  Out of love He uses it to correct and teach.  Nevertheless, it hurts.

Tumbling around in that sack, I can trust Him that He knows what it will take for me to have this fruit.  It is such a long process of removing that “hull” of sin.   And I do not want to prolong it further by not responding the way He intends.  I want to be “trained by it” and see the good result.  When He uses the hard times to mature me and produce fruit, He also graciously reassures me of His love.

Thank you Lord, that You love me enough to discipline me.

 


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Reply or Reply All

Scripture for Today: Romans 11:4 “And what was God’s answer to him? (Elijah) ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'”

In my haste, I have sometimes made the mistake of hitting that “reply all” button on a group email.  Many times it can be appropriate to reply to all.  Normally, it is not a problem but there are times when I want my response to be very personal.  One of my pet peeves is reading responses sent to the whole group when it does not involve me or concern me.

Today’s verse is a very specific answer to a discouraged cry for help.  Elijah ran for his life after death threats from Queen Jezebel.  Strengthened and encouraged with rest and food provided by an angel, he continued to put distance between himself and the threat, traveling 40 days and nights.  Elijah felt totally alone, spent and discouraged.  The Lord never reprimanded him for feeling this way.  The answer to his prayer spoke directly to his need.  Elijah was told to anoint Elisha to help and was told of seven thousand who like Elijah were faithful to God!  He was not alone.

This is no “reply all” response from God.  It was an intensely personal reply.  God’s answer to Elijah was for a certain time and place.  But I learn from it that He hears the individual prayer and provides a specific answer.  And He does the same for me.  He knows exactly what I am feeling and why.  I may not even be able to articulate my need but the Holy Spirit intercedes for me with wordless groans (Romans 8:26).  As my Creator He sees and understands my heart.  When I cry out to Him, He answers with exactly what I need.

Thank you Lord, for Your very personal replies.

 

 


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Marked with a Seal

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 1:13  “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

The seal pictured here looks like it could be an antique and seems very elaborate.  Today, seals have  a much simpler image or maybe just initials.   They have recently seen a resurgence in popularity, but seals have been around for a very long time.  In biblical times they were common and served several purposes.  First, they kept that document rolled and closed.  They also kept a communication private.  The seal revealed the sender as it was imprinted with an identifying mark.  Of course, the importance of a seal was only as important as the sender.

Today’s verse says that believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  Being sealed by Him means guaranteed security and the reassurance of belonging to Him.  He is the Holy Spirit of promise whose work means the believer is “in Christ.”  Being sealed by Him means that we are His possession.  He cares enough about us to seal us to Himself.  There is a seal over the heart and on the arm between the bride and bridegroom (Song of Solomon 8:6).  It is a seal that pledges fidelity.  In the same way, the Spirit seals us with His presence as a sign of His love.

Because He loves me, He has marked me forever as His own.  The seal of His Holy Spirit is one more way that He speaks love and reassurance to my heart.  The imperfect up-and-down relationship I have with Him now is not to be compared to the closeness we will someday enjoy.  His seal has guaranteed it!

Thank you Lord, that I belong to You!


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Galette des Rois

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 103:4 “Who redeems your life from the  pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”

Just when you thought the  holidays were over….they’re not!  Today is the Epiphany, commemorating the visit of the Magi-Kings to the baby Jesus.  The date of January 6th closes the period of the twelve days since Christmas.  In France it is called Fête des Rois or Festival of the Kings.  It is celebrated by eating a special galette cake made of puff pastry, almond paste, and baked with a hidden fève or figurine inside.  Whoever has this coveted tiny figure in their slice has the right to wear the gold paper crown!

In today’s verse God’s love and compassion are depicted as a crown that gives us value and honor.  The context is forgiveness of sin and healing.  In His love He lifts us up from the pit of guilt and condemnation.  We were unable to crawl out of that pit on our own.  But He had compassion on us and redeemed us at a great price to Himself.  He wore a humiliating and painful crown of thorns in order to crown us with love and compassion!

The fact that He knows every dirty little secret and still loves me is an incredible thought!  He has lifted me up from the depths of my own sin and guilt and made me precious with this crown!  His love and compassion make me valuable.  I had no value of my own to claim in that muddy slimy pit.  He has set me apart with His crowning distinction.  I can have no other response than to praise Him with my whole life and my entire being!

Thank you Lord, for Your love and compassion crowning this undeserving head!

.

 

 


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Old Father Time

Scripture for Today: John 14:17 “the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”

I like this whimsical depiction of Old Father Time on the Bakers clock in Gloucester, England.  This winged and robed old man standing in the middle carries a scythe and an hourglass and was thought to reveal or unveil truth.  This idea was related to the Latin saying, “Time is the Father of Truth.”  Perhaps this is the origin of our expression, “time will tell.”

Today’s verse explains the source of truth for the believer; the Holy Spirit.  He is the Spirit of truth residing in all those who have put their trust in Jesus as the ultimate truth (John 14:6).  The world does not see Him or know Him and so does not accept Him as truth.  In fact, the world would say that the whole idea of truth is a relative and subjective concept.  But we have an objective truth in Him that never varies or changes.  His truthful word is eternal and stands firm in the heavens (Ps. 119:89).  And He Himself is faithful and true (Rev. 19:11).

Time will tell.  This new year brings all of us a bit closer to the Day when His truth will be evident in His return!  In the meantime, I have His truth residing in my heart.  It reassures me of the veracity of His Word and the sure fulfillment of all His promises!  His truth is the only sure foundation worth anything in facing this new year.  And the most incredible truth is that He loves me even though He knows me!  What a liberating truth that is!

Thank you Lord, for giving me Your truth!

(photo by James Clark, flickr.com/photos/cathedralcityguide/6447335635)

 


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A French Medal

Scripture for Today:  Romans 15:4  “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

This French medal is awarded by the “Société Nationale d’Encouragement Au Bien.”  The goal of this group, founded in 1862, is to encourage acts of dedication and courage to society.  Their premise is that we all need encouragement and hope.  And because society needs good examples, recognizing an individual’s acts of service will be an encouragement for others.

Today’s verse gives us another source of encouragement; Scripture.  We need its encouragement to hold on to our hope.  We need the encouragement of Scripture to endure.  His Word teaches us of His faithfulness and love.  In reading of how He has come through for others, we ourselves can take heart.  His promises reassure and His intimate knowledge of our struggles calms our doubts and fears.  His Word gives us hope in what is certain, true and unchangeable.  His Word motivates us to persevere when we are tempted to give up.

My spirit sometimes lags.  I get discouraged waiting for that answer to prayer or His promise to be fulfilled.  But God’s Word is so much more than a pep talk.  His Word is a love letter where the Lord reveals His heart as well as His plan for me.  He so often points me to just the right passage to encourage me when I am down.  He speaks to me through His Word when I am tired and weighed down.  He knows just what I am feeling.  Nothing in this world can give me the same kind of encouragement to hope that God’s Word does.

Thank you Lord, that Your Word lifts my heart with hope.

 


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Christmas Colors

Scripture for Today: Psalm 108:4-5 “For great is Your love, higher than the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth.”

Credit to G. Lombardi https://www.eso.org/public/images/potw1147a/

The Christmas season is all about the red and green.  Anytime I wear these two colors during the year I may hear the comment that I am wearing Christmas colors.  Nature has no such seasonal restrictions!  Red and green are part of the skies as seen in this photo of the “green flash” at sunset.  It is a rare event that few have the privilege of seeing.  This flash of green above the upper rim of the sun’s disk only lasts a few seconds.  Refraction bends the light, the atmosphere working like a weak prism.  I look for it but have yet to see this colorful display.

Today’s verse exalts and praises God for His love, faithfulness and glory.  They are seen in the beauty of the heavens.  From all over the earth one can look up and see His glory in the expanse and resplendence of the sky!  The red and green sky is one more reminder of His faithfulness at Christmas time.  He was faithful to His promise to send salvation in the person of Jesus.  He proved His love in putting on flesh to walk among us.  Jesus is now exalted to the highest place at the right hand of God (Acts 5:31 and Phil. 2:9).  He is higher than the heavens!

His faithful love was shown all over the skies, in the star of Bethlehem and in the appearance of the angels.  He continues to remind me when I am not feeling it.  He lifts my head to look up!  He is faithful and He is love.

Lord, remind me again today.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2017.)