Devotions By Jan


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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.)


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Commitment

Scripture for Today: Psalm 26:3 “For I have always been mindful of Your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on Your faithfulness.”

Today marks forty one years with this guy!  The furniture has changed, as well as the carpet below us and the technology behind us!  But one thing that has not changed is our commitment to one another.  Because of signing on that dotted line, we have given our love the best chance to grow and mature.  Our marriage is not perfect (ahem….).  But because of all the confines and restrictions of commitment, we have seen that elusive quality of faithfulness develop over the years.

Today’s verse describes a faithfulness that has no equal.  The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  His love for His own never fails and is perfectly expressed in His unending faithful commitment.  There is no waning.  There are no breaks or interruptions.  His faithfulness has no end as He is eternal and unchanging.  We are to be mindful of this love as well as live in reliance on it.

There is nothing a marriage can rely on as sure, steady and consistent as His love.  As much as I love my husband my love for him can fluctuate.  But God’s faithfulness and commitment are solid.  It is the foundation to our marriage and without it we would be utterly lost.  His love gives me motivation to love each day like He does, sacrificially.  And God’s love is my support through the good and the bad, the highs and the lows!  Thankfully, His love is faithful and will never change.

Happy 41st to my wonderful husband!  And thank you Lord, that I can count on Your faithful love today, and tomorrow.


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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.