Devotions By Jan


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Jacaranda Tree

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 15:52 “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed.”

I love this time of year when the Jacaranda tree is in bloom.  Their purple color is so vibrant it almost looks unreal, like something out of Dr. Seuss!  When several of these trees line a street, their blooms resemble a sea of lavender.  And when their blossoms drop to the ground, their beauty continues as a lilac carpet.  It seems appropriate that their flowers are in the shape of a trumpet, as they herald the coming of summer!

The trumpet in our verse today has a very special meaning.  Sounding it will signal the resurrection.  It does not say who will blow this trumpet, perhaps an angel, but it will be heard all over the world.  When it is blown, those believers who have died will receive their new incorruptible bodies.  Those believers still living at the time will also be changed.  Death will forever be swallowed up in victory! (verse 54)  What a day that will be!

One future day I will hear a trumpet sound that will announce the end of time.  Death will no longer sting and sin will be powerless.  My body will be changed to be imperishable.  Knowing this helps me to stay steadfast, immoveable and involved in what He wants me to do.  He has promised that my work for Him will never be futile or in vain (verse 58).  Thinking about what is to come keeps me motivated and encouraged!

Lord, keep me listening for that trumpet!

 

 

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Magic Mushrooms

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:6 “The mind governed by the flesh is death – but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

These mushrooms look innocent enough.  But the psilocybin in them can alter the mind just as LSD does.  A recent book by Michael Pollan explores the testing of psychedelics as a treatment for depression, fear and anxiety, especially as a result of a terminal cancer diagnosis.  He even went so far as to experiment on himself!  His conclusion was that these psychedelics appear to help with what he calls a “psycho-spiritual distress.”  He also believes that there really is nothing else for people in that situation.

Today’s verse talks about two states of mind.  One mind is governed by the flesh and one is governed by the Spirit of God.  The mind that is governed or controlled by the flesh is the mind without God and without the peace of God.  There is not only physical death but spiritual death in store.  In contrast, the mind governed by the Spirit is life both here and eternally after death because there is peace with God through His Son, Jesus.

I cannot speak personally about facing death.  And I do not want to minimize what that suffering may be like.  But it is often in the sobering moments facing one’s own mortality that there is a last chance for establishing peace with God through the forgiveness offered by His Son.  To take away that last opportunity by altering one’s state of mind seems cruel.  I know there is peace and assurance facing death.  I have seen it.  And when it is my turn, I am confident because He has promised a perfect peace for a mind that is steadfast, trusting in Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Thank you Lord, that I can live and die without fear.


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A Breath of Fresh Air

Scripture for Today: John 20:21-22 “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.’ And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'”

It started as a bit of a joke.  Two Canadian friends tried selling on e-bay a bag of fresh mountain air.  It only sold for 99 cents but from this humble beginning they have built a reputable business bringing in $230K per year!  Each 20$ can has 160 shots of pure Canadian mountain air.  It is said to smell fresh and clean. For those living in very polluted areas, this must indeed be a breath of fresh air!

Today’s verse describes that first awe-struck moment when Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection.  They were overjoyed but after He breathed on them, they were also empowered with His Holy Spirit!  Because of God’s Spirit breathed on them, these disciples went from timid to tenacious in their testimony to the world!  And as believers we too are given His Spirit as all those who belong to Christ have the Spirit (Rom. 8:9).

In a sense, I am breathing a pure rarified air of a higher altitude with His Spirit living in me.  His Spirit gives me everything I need to live a life that pleases Him including His fruit (Gal. 5:22-23) and the power to hope (Rom. 15:13).  The Spirit does not make me timid but gives me power, love and even self-discipline! (II Tim. 1:7)  It is His Spirit that speaks to my heart and makes God’s Word personal.  And just as air is so necessary to life, so is His Spirit to my spiritual life.  What would I do without Him?  As Marie Barnette puts so beautifully, “This is the air I breathe, Your holy presence living in me.”

Lord, breathe on me today.


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False Ring Tones

Scripture for Today: Psalm 5:3 “In the morning, Lord You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly.”

Imagine, hearing that ring tone sound continuously even though you know your contact is there and waiting for your call.  How frustrating to have pre-arranged a conversation and no one picks up!  T-Mobile deceived millions of their customers by creating false ring tones.  They were used to make customers believe their calls were connecting when in fact they were not.  Rather than hear silence, they were hearing a misleading ringtone.  The company was fined 40 million dollars for this illegal practice.

Today’s verse is an encouragement that the Lord always hears our prayers.  Even when it seems there is only silence, He is there and He hears our every cry.  King David made it a practice to bring his requests to the Lord first thing in the morning.  The Lord knows the moment we are awake and open our eyes (Ps. 139:2).  He knows our thoughts before they are even voiced.  He is attentive and waiting for our thoughts and prayers to turn to Him.  David did not seem bothered by the silence that followed.  Not hearing the answers right away, he would wait with faith and expectation.

God’s silence does not mean that He does not hear or does not care.  His silence is so often the method He uses to grow my faith and trust.  I can “hear” His silence with peace and confidence knowing that He has heard my prayer and is working out His plan.  Like David, I can leave the burden of that request with Him and start my day with a lighter heart.  He is at work even when I do not see it.

Lord, help me to wait expectantly!

 

 

 

 

 


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Bless You!

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” 

Our cat, Tiger, would sometimes have a sneezing fit and would always look very surprised when it happened.  I never felt obligated to say the words, “bless you.”  After all, I figured it was usually the cat making everyone else sneeze.  There are many ideas on the origins of blessing people after a sneeze.  Some believed the sneeze had to do with evil spirits leaving the body.  Others felt it was the soul momentarily escaping the body.  My favorite is the belief that the heart temporarily stopped during a sneeze!

Today’s verse declares that the source of every spiritual blessing is Jesus Christ.  He has blessed every believer with unmerited favor and goodness.  The blessings He gives are not tangible but spiritual.  And because that is true, these blessings are eternal.  They include His choosing us, adopting us, redeeming us and forgiving us (verses 4-7).  He has blessed us by sealing us with His Holy Spirit and has promised us an inheritance (verse 13-14).  These blessings are not seen with our physical eyes but they are more real than things that are!

I need to be reminded of His blessings, especially when I see non-believers seemingly prosper around me.  Like David, I can feel discouraged and tempted to be envious (Psalm 37:1-2).  But their success is temporary and my inheritance is eternal!  Spiritual blessings are the ones that matter.  And the blessing of being His very own outweighs anything else.  I can live this life with faith and love because they spring from the hope stored up for me in Heaven! (Col. 1:5)  How blessed I am!

Lord, open the eyes of my heart to see Your blessings today..


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House of Heads

Scripture for Today: Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

This is just one head on the facade of the “House of Heads” in Colmar, France.  He is surrounded by 105 other heads as neighbors.  This historical monument sits in the heart of the town’s walking section.  Built in 1609 for the mayor, this German renaissance-styled building has served several purposes over the years, including housing the city’s Wine Exchange.  It is now a high end hotel and restaurant.  But passing by all those heads has always given me the creeps!

Today’s verse is a prophecy concerning a particular head that will be crushed.  It is perhaps the first and biggest “spoiler” to the centuries-long story of man.  Yes, evil has had a temporary victory in messing with mankind, but Satan is only able to inflict a strike on the heel.  That pain that Jesus would later endure on the cross is minimal when compared to the crushed head, or fatal blow that the Deceiver will experience.  Satan’s destiny is the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10) and the final victory belongs to the Lord!

How gracious God is to give us the good news at the same time as the curse!  He wasted no time in announcing His promise of a Savior.  And from the very beginning He has established His plan of victory.  When I see evil seemingly gaining the upper hand, this reassures me.  His purposes will prevail.  He has promised.  I can have full confidence in His control and justice, regardless of my circumstances.  I am one whom He has redeemed and made His.  Whatever may happen, I am on the winning side!

Lord, keep me encouraged by looking toward Your final victory.


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Fasting

Scripture for Today:  Mark 9:31 “…He (Jesus) said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him and after three days He will rise.'”

Whether for health or spiritual purposes, I have never been able to fast.  My tummy is so acidic that when too empty, it feels like it is eating itself!  But I know there are benefits so that I can at least like it in principle!  An article in the Telegraph quoted researchers who found that fasting can regenerate one’s entire immune system!  Apparently, fasting prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells in as little as three days.

Three days.  Today’s verse makes reference to three days, the most pivotal in all of human history.  Jesus predicts for His disciples exactly what will happen to Him.  They did not understand what Jesus was saying but were afraid to ask what He meant (verse 32).  For three days it would seem as though evil had won.  The very first to live a perfectly sinless life will be unjustly put to death.  But in three short days, He would rise from the dead and conquer death, not only for Himself, but for anyone who places their faith in Him and His sacrifice.

God keeps His promises.  I can absolutely trust that what He predicts He will bring to pass.  He is called, “Faithful and True” (Rev. 3:14).  Those three days of waiting must have been excruciating as Heaven held its breath.  The disciples felt defeated, not anticipating that earth shattering moment to come.  But Jesus proved that first Easter morning that He is God with power over life and death.  The power demonstrated in that single miraculous event has changed my life forever!

Thank you Lord, for conquering death forever!