Devotions By Jan


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Justify, the Racehorse

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 6:11 “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

The horse racing world is all abuzz with the newcomer named, Justify.  This three-year-old colt just won two of the three Triple Crown races; the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.  He is now in a good position to win all three when he competes at the Belmont Stakes in June.  As is the custom, he has only had his name since the age of two.  Perhaps the owner feels that the $500,000 paid for this horse is completely justified!

Today’s verse tells us that we were justified, as well as washed and sanctified by the Lord.  After having been found guilty of a whole list of wrongdoing, God would have been justified to mete out immediate judgement.  Instead, He washed us clean of all the filth, set us apart for Himself, and justified us.  He sees us through the righteousness of His Son, just as if we had never sinned.  We are justified through our faith in what He did on that cross for us.

I cannot justify myself.  I have tried and it does not work.  I may be able to justify my behavior to others.  But before God who sees my heart, there is no justification for what I do.  I am without excuse before a holy and righteous Judge.  If I were to continue in my denial of guilt, there could be no forgiveness.  All He asks is that I come clean with Him.  When I do, that guilt is erased and I am justified before Him.

Thank you Lord, for doing what I could never do.

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The Mandarin Duck

Scripture for Today: Matthew 19:5 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

The male species of this duck originating in China and Japan is considered the world’s most beautiful.  Pairs of these birds are sometimes given at the occasion of a marriage as they are symbols of fidelity.  The thought that these ducks promote love and marriage is a centuries-old idea.  Perhaps it came about as they swim in pairs so close together.  And they do return to the same mate in the next mating season rather than establishing a new bond.

Today’s verse is the answer Jesus gave to the Pharisees seeking to trap Him with questions on marriage.  He quotes what God established in the beginning in Genesis 2:24.  The step of marriage is to be a binding commitment.  The original and best plan for marriage is that it be exclusive and permanent.  One new flesh is created from two.  Tearing apart the two can cause excruciating pain.  The Lord in His love and compassion gives us the best plan to avoid that kind of pain.

God’s plan for marriage can seem restrictive to some.  But to give love the best chance to flower and last is within that safe place of total commitment.  It shows that we are serious to stay together.  The world says that one is somehow missing out.  But I know differently.  It is through many years of ups and downs, trials and joys that my love for my husband grows.  Short term love cannot even be compared to the depths of love that commitment can foster.  God’s plan, though sometimes difficult, is the best plan there is!

Thank you Lord, for creating the best opportunity to grow my love.


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Two Plants

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Recently, a popular Swedish furniture chain used a clever marketing ploy to promote an anti-bullying campaign.  They conducted a (non-scientific) experiment of two identical plants given the same care over thirty days.  However, one plant was played a pre-recorded loop of negative, bullying comments while the other was played a loop of positive encouraging words.  These messages were recorded by school children and the results were nothing short of amazing!  One plant wilted and the other thrived!  Although the experiment perhaps lacked scientific controls, I can certainly get behind the message!

Today’s verse tells us that what comes out of our mouths matters.  Unwholesome talk is talk that is also rotten and useless.  Not only do these words fail to build someone up, but they have no benefit at all.  However, our words can have tremendous value in helping another to grow and thrive.  Our words have the potential to meet the need we all have for encouragement and affirmation.  Even just one word spoken at the time of greatest need can lift someone up and keep them falling into a pit of depression.

How much does it really cost me to compliment or encourage?  I want my words to be gracious, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Prov. 16:24).  I want my words to be like His; kind, compassionate and forgiving (verse 32).  But that cannot happen without a heart that is changed by Him.  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45b).  My words will always reflect what is in my heart!

Lord, change my heart and so change my words!

 


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Driftwood

Scripture for Today:  Philippians 3:12  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

There is no mystery at all to why driftwood is called driftwood.  It is simply wood that has drifted.  The wood comes to be in the water through flooding or storms breaking off tree branches.  Or it could be there as a result of logging.  In any case, the wood drifts aimlessly at the whim of the waves.  When and where it washes up on to shore seems completely arbitrary.  Just like for some people, circumstances push and prod to move a body from here to there with no clear goal in mind.

In today’s verse, Paul lives his life with a specific goal in mind.  He wants to gain Christ (verse 8) be found in Christ (verse 9) and to know Christ (verse 10).  Paul not only wanted to know Jesus and His power, he was ready to suffer for His sake.  He was willing to completely deny himself and take up his cross to follow Him (Luke 9:23).  His goals would last a lifetime and make his life significant.  There would be no aimless drifting through life for him!

What is my purpose?  Because I belong to Him, I want the goals in my life to match up with His for me.  Knowing Him is the most worthwhile purpose there is!  And God prepared in advance a whole plan of good works for me to accomplish. (Eph. 2:10)  I, like every believer, have a purpose.  I do not want to waste time and just drift through life!  And I am confident He will give me what it takes to “press on.”

Lord, keep me from drifting today.


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Red Tide

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 5:16  “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.”

This beautiful light show is happening right now in San Diego, California!  It is called a “red tide” because the water can appear red or golden, although here one sees eerie blue neon waves.  It is produced by algae filled with phytoplankton called “dinoflagellates.”  The algae is said to bloom during the warm months, rolling off the waves near the  shoreline.  This bioluminescence is the same kind of light made by fireflies.  The purpose of their glow is to attract either a mate or their prey.  Their light attracts me too although I do not fit either category!

Today’s verse talks about the light of our good deeds.  When our kindness to others is done to give honor to the Heavenly Father, we shine as lights.  In a dark and selfish world our lives can stand out and shine. The purpose of our light is not to attract people to ourselves, but to our Lord.  We are to be open about the reasons behind our giving to others.  It is not about me.  It is about Him.  It is not about my goodness but His!

People can see a difference in me when I do not look to be thanked or recompensed for what I do for others.  I want my motives to be pure and have no personal agenda behind my actions.  Public accolades are always nice to receive but I never want that to be the goal.  I feel pretty insignificant sometimes, but even a small light can pierce that darkness and point others to Christ.

Lord, show me how to shine for You today!

 


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Volcanic Fissures

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

This long crack in the ground is spewing out hot molten lava, burning everything in its path.  The recent 6.9 earthquake on the Big Island of Hawaii near the Kilauea volcano caused new fissures to be formed.  For those living close by in this rural area, there was no choice but to evacuate.  These fissures can spew lava more than 200 feet into the air.  Although the lava is slow moving, it cannot be stopped.  However, it can be diverted as was done with pumped sea water in 1973 on a small island in Iceland!

Today’s verse tells us that a gentle or soft answer can divert or turn away something just as seemingly unstoppable as molten lava; anger.  And just as easily, that flow of hot burning anger can be worsened by a harsh word given in response.  Without a calm controlled response, anger so easily can escalate, spewing up into the air and destroying a relationship.  However, anger can quickly dissipate and lose its momentum with a soft, gentle response.

I have been on the giving and receiving end of that soft gentle response.  The effect seems to be immediate, as if a wet blanket was thrown on a spark just ignited.  Yet it is hard to respond with gentleness when feeling under attack.  And anger seems to be almost contagious but rather than responding in kind, I can be kind.  The anger may continue or flare up again, but at least I can do my part to turn the tide.  However, it is not natural for me.  I need His Spirit to calm me down and help me to calm the one who is so angry.

Lord, make my words gentle and soft today.


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Antique Buttons

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

These beautiful lazurite buttons were made by Faberge.  They not only did the job of fastening one’s clothes but were a fashion statement as well, shouting to the world that one was part of the upper class.  The earliest buttons were made of stone, flint or animal bone.  They became more decorative by the 14th century as merchants were able to procure ivory, gold and precious stones from around the world.  The buttons pictured here date back to the early 1900’s.  That was also the time when the saying, “button your lip,” came to be.  It was considered a polite way of telling someone to keep quiet!

Today’s verse is a prayer of David.  He asks the Lord to keep his heart from being drawn towards evil.  He also asks for help with what comes out of his mouth.  In a sense he is asking God to help him button his lip.  Without the Lord’s help to control our tongues, we can do tremendous damage to others.  This small member of our bodies can act as a spark, setting on fire an entire forest (James 3:6).

The problem with what comes out of my mouth is that I cannot call it back.  Those hurtful words just seem to hang in the air.  My mouth get me in all kinds of trouble!  What seems reasonable and necessary to say can wreak havoc on relationships.  There is no way to erase or delete my hasty words.  But with God’s help, I can stop those words from ever exiting my mouth.  His power can give me control long enough to pause and measure my words.

Lord, thank you that with Your power I can button it!