Devotions By Jan


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Fulfillment Centers

Scripture for Today: Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The Amazon distribution warehouses are called, “Fulfillment Centers.”  There are over eighty of these enormous centers worldwide.  Some of them are as large as twenty eight football fields!  During their last cyber Monday, 426 orders a second came in!  The employees pick, pack and ship with the help of robotic carts, conveyor belts, and automatic sorting systems.  One can even take tours as it is truly a sight to behold!  However, I am not sure about it being the fulfillment of all my hopes and dreams!

Today’s verse talks about being filled to the point of overflowing.  Rather than being momentarily fulfilled with the arrival of that package at the door, this verse tells us we can be filled with something much more long lasting; joy, peace and hope.  This filling comes from the God of hope and it happens when we trust Him completely.  The fulfillment He offers reaches every nook and cranny of our being.  We are not left wanting as He makes it possible to be totally satisfied as we trust Him.

I know when I am on empty.  When hope, joy and peace are just flowery words and not a reality it means I am not in a place of trust.  Or when I am filled with worry and fear, there is no place for them.  But when I turn back to Him, He is ready to fill me with Himself.  He is hope.  He is joy.  He is peace.  He embodies each of these qualities that fulfill me and make life worth living.

Lord, fill me with Yourself today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 

 


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Feng Shui

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:1 “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

The principles of “feng shui” have been around for centuries with a  history covering more than 3,500 years.  The words translate as, “wind – water.”  This philosophy believes that there are mystical energies that need to flow unimpeded.  Whether it be a building, a grave, or the placement of furniture, it is thought that their orientation affects one’s feeling of well-being and energy, producing positive vibes and even attracting wealth!

Today’s verse tells us where Christ is seated.  His place is on the right hand of God interceding for us.  This verse gives us an orientation for our minds and hearts.  Being raised with Christ, we are dead to what is earthly and alive to what is spiritual.  Our minds and hearts can now focus on Christ and what is eternal.  The result is not a positive vibe or a fluctuating sense of well-being.  The result of this new orientation toward Christ is a whole list of Christ-like characteristics; compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness. patience, forgiveness and love (verses 12-14).  Rather than some mystic flow of energy, there can be peace in the home.

It is hard to direct my thoughts towards what is unseen.  The “seen” offers too many distractions!  But there are many moments of “dead air” throughout my day.  I may be waiting in line, driving the car, or doing any mindless task and lose an opportunity to think on Him.  But a line of Scripture, the lyrics of a song or the beauty of nature can redirect my thoughts back to Him.  And He is always there.  He always welcomes me.

Thank you Lord, that thinking on You is the best part of my day.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Public Punching Bags

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:26 “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

Now the people walking the streets of Manhattan can vent their anger and stress right there on a corner.  Recently, a US Design Studio installed several public punching bags to give New Yorkers an outlet for their emotions.  These square yellow bags include a quote; “a healthy place for frustration.”  The New York Times reported what a Gallup Poll discovered last month, that Americans are the most stressed people in the world!  Anger, stress and worry are all at a ten year high.

Dealing with anger before it explodes is always a good idea!  Today’s verse recognizes an anger that is justifiably felt.  But that anger, if left to fester untreated, can easily turn into sin.  And even anger that is justified “does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)  Eventually, unresolved anger will rear its ugly head in relationships.  When left to boil over, marriages and families, friendships and business partnerships can become broken beyond repair.  Punching a bag (or pillow) may give temporary relief, but how much better to resolve it completely.

I am unable to resolve any kind of anger on my own.  I have a terrific memory for hurts and slights.  That sound bite in my head keeps playing over and over again.  But I can release and express that anger to the Lord in prayer.  Giving it over to Him does not shock Him.  He knows exactly what I am feeling and why.  Releasing it to Him is the only completely safe place to do it.  The Lord is powerful enough to diffuse my anger and help me to leave it behind.  To replace that anger with forgiveness is a true miracle!

Lord, thank you for diffusing my anger.


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A Peaceful Commute

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 32:17 “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness: quietness and assurance forever.”

I feel anything but peaceful while driving the crowded freeways of Southern California.  Seeing a license plate like this one might just calm me down.  But if it were on the car that just cut me off, maybe not!  There would be more chance of a peaceful commute if everyone (including myself) obeyed the rules of the road.  Peace is not what I am feeling when my hands tighten on that wheel!

Today’s verse associates peace with righteousness.  It is not normally the first place we look for peace.  But the result of following God’s commandments is peace with Him and peace with others.  There is quietness and calm confidence when we are obedient to Him.  When we pay attention to His commands our peace is described as a river (Is. 48:18).  But this righteousness is not possible without God’s Spirit (verse 15).  God gives His righteousness to those who have faith in His Son, Jesus (Rom. 3:22).  The peace that comes from righteousness is nothing we can manufacture on our own.  And this beautiful peace is seen in a quiet calm confidence.

There is tremendous peace in knowing that I am right with Him.  And there can be no peace with others until I have that vertical relationship.  When I am rebelling against Him, all of my relationships are at risk to suffer.  I cannot be loving, kind and forgiving towards others when I ignore the Source of those fruits (Gal. 5:22-23).  There is no peace without loving and obeying Him.  But when I am close to Him, there is assurance and quiet confidence regardless of my circumstances.  By submitting to His authority I have the best chance at peace with others.

Lord, may I feel Your peace today.


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Sleeping Whales

Scripture for Today: Psalm 121:2-3 “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber.”

The blowhole of this Blue Whale can be clearly seen on the top of his head.  As a mammal, he needs to periodically surface to fill his huge lungs with air so he can breathe underwater.  This means that a whale can never fall fully asleep!  Instead, they only allow half of their brain to sleep at a time.  The other half of their brain stays awake in order to come up for air when needed.

Today’s verse reminds us of how constant God’s care is of His own.  As the Maker of heaven and earth, He is all- powerful and has no need of sleep.  During the contest between God and Baal, Elijah taunted the false prophets when their god did not answer.  Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened! (I Kings 18:27)  The frantic dancing, shouting, and cutting of their bodies did not awaken a god that did not exist.  By contrast, our God is a faithful Source of help, always attentive to our cry day or night.

What a reassuring thought that He watches over me day or night!  There is never a time when I need to get His attention.  He is always thinking of me as His thoughts toward me are more numerous than the grains of sand (Psalm 139:18).  His watch over me means that He knows and He cares.  Nothing gets past Him.  What He allows to happen will be used to strengthen my faith and deepen our love relationship.  Whatever I am facing today, I can trust that He knows what He is doing.

Thank you Lord, for Your faithful watch over me.

 

 

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Building Forts

Scripture for Today: Psalm 59:16 “But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love, for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”

Kids can make a fort out of just about anything!  All that is needed is a little imagination and a few props.  There was not only room enough in this fort for my two grandsons but their mother as well.  Surprisingly, she stayed in there after the boys lost interest.  Maybe not so surprisingly!  It was quiet and peaceful there.  It was even warm with the protection from drafts.  After even just a few minutes inside, she came out looking happily refreshed!

Today’s verse describes God as a fortress and refuge.  David’s house was being watched by Saul’s men as they laid in wait to ambush and kill him.  David prays for deliverance not only from his enemies (verse 1), but from their slander, curses and lies (verses 10 & 12).  He recognizes that God is his strength and that he can rely on Him (verse 10).  David’s confidence in God being his strength, fortress and refuge is so strong that he can sing!  He praises God in song for His strength and His love.

In times of trouble, I need the warmth and protection of HIs strength and love.  Actually, I just need Him all the time.  But it is when faced with hard times that I realize my need.  His presence fortifies and strengthens my resolve to stand firm and resolute.  His love reminds me that He is in control and will not allow me to be overwhelmed.  His strength can be mine when I run to Him for shelter.  I am His.  I belong to Him and whatever I am facing, nothing is too hard for HIm.

Lord, I will sing today of Your strength and love!


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A California Christmas!

Scripture for Today: Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

In Southern California, our “white” Christmas was only white because of the sand!  This manger scene built on the beach is about as “Christmassy” as we can manage close to the waves of the ocean.  Perhaps it will last a bit longer being put together with stones.  However, it is a sure thing that it will disappear.  Perhaps, two days after Christmas, the feelings of peace and joy have already disappeared as well.

Today’s verse says that our hearts can be made of stone.  Hearts made of stone are stubborn, resistant and unresponsive to God’s voice.  This heart may occasionally feel a taste of that peace and joy at Christmas time.  But it is generally hard with self-protection.  Having a heart of flesh can make one vulnerable to hurt.  However, a heart of stone can carry one through life without being broken.  A heart of stone will not feel guilt or conviction either.  A hard heart made of stone can be proudly self-sufficient.

Every time I move away from the Lord by neglecting His Word and prayer, I feel my heart start to harden around the edges.  The longer I allow this to continue, the more difficult it is to get back to that soft heart of flesh that listens and obeys.  It is with a heart of flesh that I can experience the peace and joy He offers.  It is His new spirit within me that makes me open to His love.  Living with a stone heart is not life at all.

Lord, keep my heart soft towards You today.