Devotions By Jan


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Stingray Shuffle

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:15  “Look carefully then how you walk!  Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people).”

There have been numerous stories lately about stingrays on the California beaches.  All records were broken when 156 stingray injuries were reported in just three days!  Normally, I think of this problem as only being on the Atlantic side.  But apparently, the low tides and warm water have brought these unwanted visitors close enough to be a problem.  The prevailing wisdom is to shuffle your feet when entering the water.  The sand kicked up when walking this way will alert and scatter them.

Today’s verse tells us to be wise by walking carefully.  We walk through life with a purpose.  We walk in a manner that is worthy of our calling, pleasing the Lord (Col. 1:10).  We do not walk courting disaster as the unwise would do.  Rather than wondering just how far one can go in a particular behavior before it becomes sin, we need to walk with a healthy fear of danger.  So much heartache can be avoided when we walk through this life the way the Lord has prescribed.  Walking carefully is walking within His will, making the most every day (verses 16-17).

Walking my way instead of His does not seem so bad.  Mt problem is that I do not see that stingray in my path as it can blend in with the sand.  The only way I can be confident of my next step, and the one after that, is to know I am walking to please Him.  No decision is too small or unimportant to bring to Him for counsel (Psalm 73:24).  He guides me through His Word which touches every area of my life.

Lord, show me how to walk today.

 

 

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A Little Kindness

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Did you know that kindness has side effects?  Dr. David Hamilton describes five: Kindness can make us happier.  Kindness can be good for the heart.  Acts of kindness are many times accompanied by emotional warmth.  Kindness also slows aging.  And kindness improves relationships.  Finally, kindness is contagious.  But I especially like the idea that showing kindness slows down the aging process!  I know some very kind folk that are advanced in years but I had never thought the two connected!

Today’s verse describes those that belong to the Lord as being holy and set apart.  The believer is dearly loved.  Knowing this, we are to clothe ourselves with the qualities that He has.  The Lord is full of compassion (Ex. 34:6).  He is the embodiment of kindness (Is. 63:7).  He is humble of heart and gentle (Matt. 11:29).  And He is patient (II Peter 3:9).  Each of these beautiful qualities can be ours because of Him and His Spirit in us (Gal. 5:22-23).  Acts of kindness to family, friends and strangers ought to be second nature to the believer.

Showing kindness takes time and effort.  It means putting the needs of someone else ahead of my own and sometimes I am just too selfish and prideful to show kindness.  Waving in that driver ahead of me means slowing down.  When someone forgot again and puts me out, it can be an effort to be kind.  When someone is struggling to balance their load and open a door, kindness lends a helping hand.  But what motivates me is more than experiencing these five positive side effects.  My deepest desire is that others will see the Source of kindness in me!

Lord, give me opportunities to show kindness today!


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Gingerbread House

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14:1 “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

I have seen lots of gingerbread house creations over the years, including those of my grandsons.  But I have never seen such attention to detail as these houses on display at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, Napa Valley.  It took lots of self control on the part of my husband to not indulge in just one roof tile.  That is because not only are they elaborately constructed, but they were done by budding chefs, making them delicious too!

Today’s verse describes the wise woman as someone who knows how to build her own house.  By contrast, the foolish woman will tear hers down.  It is in the power of the woman to do either.  So much of a family’s emotional health and well-being are dependent on the wife and mother.  She has the potential to build up the members of her household with words of love, acceptance and encouragement.  What comes out of her mouth is to build others up according to their needs (Eph. 4:22).  The home where this is true is a safe and peaceful place.

It is a sobering thought to realize the potential of my words.  I do not always see the damage I am doing to the walls and floors with my complaints and negativity.  There may be tiles missing from my roof as a result of my criticism and nagging.  It is a daily challenge to bite my tongue.  But I have seen too the benefits when the Lord answers my prayers to “set a guard over my mouth.” (Psalm 141:3).  It is only with His help that I can be that wise woman with a house still standing!

Lord, help me control my mouth today.


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Steam Radiators

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

Our century-old house in France was heated by steam radiators in every room.  I was not too thrilled with them but Tiger, our cat, thought they were the perfect place to  curl up and have a nap!  Central heat may not be so quaint but it is sure more effective.  Air would get inside those valves, causing an annoying dripping sound and block the heat.  Every so often, my husband would use a special turn key to purge the radiators and evacuate the air.

Today’s verse speaks of our conscience being purged.  The Old Testament system of animal sacrifice served its purpose of symbolizing Christ’s death.  But how much more perfect was the sacrifice Jesus made, once for all!  His sacrifice not only cleanses us from our sin, but purges our consciences as well.  His forgiveness is complete.

Satan would like me to think otherwise.  He whispers in my ear his accusations.  He reminds me of times when I really blew it and let the Lord down.  Satan would like nothing better than to take me out of the game and put me on the sidelines.  How thankful I am that he is wrong!  I do not need to live with that constant annoying dripping sound.  My conscience has been purged.  I am a new creation in Him.  No accusation from the enemy can change this truth.  When I lay my head on the pillow at night I can sleep easy knowing that Christ has taken care of every sin and failure.

Thank you, Lord, that You have purged my conscience once for all!


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Watch Where You Sit!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:105 “Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.”

I will never forget the story.  A friend of mine grew up in some rustic conditions in Papua New Guinea.  She was used to getting up in the night to find her way half asleep to the outhouse.  Of course she carried her flashlight.  On this particular night she just happened to shine her light on the toilet opening before sitting.  Unlike the spider pictured, this nighttime visitor completely spanned the opening!  How relieved she was for the light!

Today’s verse describes the Word of God as a lamp and a light by which we find our way.  Without that light we would still be stumbling around in the darkness with no way to find God.  His Word lights the way to Him, to His holy mountain or dwelling place (Psalm 43:3).  But even after finding Him and enjoying a relationship with Him, we continue to need that light.  His Word warns of danger, snares and pitfalls (Ps. 19:11).  Following His commands even preserves our lives! (Ps. 199:93)  His Word keeps us on that path of righteousness where we can enjoy walking in the light of His presence (Ps. 89:15).

I am amazed how easy it is for me to get off track!  When I am not in His Word, I start to doubt His love and control.  When I neglect reading His love letter to me, I begin to rationalize behavior that I know deep down does not please Him.  But staying in His Word keeps me holding on tight to what I know is true (Ps. 33:4).  His Word keeps my heart  flooded with the warmth and light of His guiding presence!

Thank you Lord, for lighting the way to Your presence!

 

 


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Mulled Spiced Drinks

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:8 “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” 

Some smells transport me back in time.  This is one of them.  Every outdoor Christmas Market in our area of France sold hot spiced wine or hot spiced apple juice.   The smell of it would waft up and down the rows of stands.  People would wrap their frozen fingers around that mug for warmth.  And for those indulging in the alcohol version, the warmth radiated within as well.  Those spices of allspice, cloves, cinnamon, orange zest, ginger and anise would be mulled for hours, the flavors intermingling.  The result was pure delight!

Today’s verse encourages the believer to think about a list of things that are excellent or praiseworthy.  Just as a variety of spices are mulled and mixed over time, so we too are to reflect, ponder or ruminate over the truth.  Truth is the starting point for all of our thoughts.  And when we start there, we find ourselves thinking of all the rest.  The truth is noble and right.  The truth is pure, lovely and admirable.  The Truth is Jesus Himself (John 14:6).

My thoughts can be all over the place.  So many times, it takes a conscious effort to reign them in and focus on truth.  So many things clamor for my attention.  So many things distract me and often those very things are the opposite of this list!  But there is a wonderful result when I mull over truth.  I will experience the peace of God guarding my heart and mind (verse 7) and the peace of God will be with me (verse 9).

Thank you Lord, that thinking on You is worth the effort.

 


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Steamroller

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

It’s coming.  In fact, even though it is still November, I hear the Christmas music and see the lights and trees set up in the anticipation of Christmas.  I may be alone in this, but it does not make my heart feel happy to see this so soon.  I almost feel that a steamroller is coming at me, and will soon flatten all my enthusiasm.  I cannot keep it at a fever pitch for over a month.  In my house at least, I can keep Christmas at bay a little longer.

Today’s verse tells us that we do not have to follow the pattern the world has of doing things.  We have the choice and the freedom to do things differently, to do things God’s way.  And His way is far better.  It is good, pleasing and perfect.  In belonging to Him, our minds can be renewed through His Word to know and appreciate what His way is.

I want to be intentional this Christmas.  I do not want to overcommit and get stressed out.  I do not want to feel the pressure to have everything decorated Pinterest style or impress people with my cookie baking skills.  I want to slow down enough to ponder and reflect like Mary did at the birth of her Son.  I want to turn my thoughts toward Him of whom the angels sang, and sing to Him myself!  And I want to love sacrificially as He did in coming to this earth.

Lord, help me celebrate Your birth in a way that pleases You.