Devotions By Jan


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Mixed Up!

img_20161016_171121Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

While taking a power walk at the harbor I came across this car looking totally mixed up!  From one angle it looks white but from another perspective it looks black.  I am not sure what the point of painting it like this was but it did make me pause and think.  Maybe the wife wanted it white and the husband preferred black.  Perhaps the only way to keep the peace was to compromise and have it both ways!

Today’s verse says what we all realize.  Keeping any group of two or more unified takes effort.  What I like about this car image is that unity is preserved without being uniform.  Diversity does not negate unity.  And the unity through the Spirit of God encompasses all kinds of differences in color, custom, gender, social status, and education.  It is God’s peace through His Spirit that creates a supernatural bond that holds us together.

Maintaining this unity is sure not easy.  How easy it is to think that my way of living and doing things is the best way!  I cannot possibly keep any sort of unity unless I can “bear with one another in love.” (verse 2)  I know I am loving in the way that preserves unity when I am humble, gentle and patient towards the one who is different (verse 2).  So what if one side is white and one side is black?  It is still one car.  How boring it would be if we were all the same!  And what other group on this earth can be so diverse and at the same time be one?

Lord, keep me loving, patient, gentle and humble to preserve this precious unity in You.

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

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Black Out Curtains

Scripture for Today: John 1:4-5 “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The black out curtains in my bedroom do a pretty good job of blocking out the morning light.  After living in France for so many years, I have been accustomed to shutters that keep the room entirely dark.  Now, I am much too sensitive to the morning light.  Even with black out curtains, there is always that chink of light that manages to get through and wake me.

Today’s verse describes Jesus as life.  And the life in Him is as a beacon of light illuminating this very dark world.  But no matter how dark and sinful the world is, that darkness will never overcome the light.  Even a tiny pinprick will dispel darkness.  Despite man’s best efforts to block it out, there will always be a chink of light shining through.  In that darkness we remain asleep until that moment Christ shines on us (Eph. 5:14).  And from that time on we are called “children of light” (verse 8).  That is because Christ made His light shine in our hearts, giving us the light of knowing Him! (II Cor. 4:6).

Every time I turn on the news I am reminded that I live in a dark world.  I can get quite depressed thinking about all the evil and injustice.  But these verses give me hope.  It will never be completely black around me.  He illumines my world with the light of His presence and love.  It is said that it is always the darkest before the dawn.  I am so thankful that He has overcome the world and the future is bright with Light!

Lord, I need You to shine on me today!

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


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His Rule

earth-from-issScripture for Today: Psalm 66:7 “He rules forever by His power, His eyes watch the nations – let not the rebellious rise up against Him.”

If one could fly over our planet, this is the very image one would see!  The International Space Station captured a time lapse with their mounted camera as it orbited the Earth at night.  How incredible to be able to see our Earth from above!  I feel small and insignificant enough when looking through the window of an airplane.  I imagine that having this perspective would intensify those feelings.  Seeing our world from space would be such an awesome and humbling experience.

Today’s verse tells us that the Creator of our world is also our Ruler and He is all powerful.  The Maker of Heaven and Earth is the One with absolute control regardless of what nation is the largest or most influential.  He watches the nations and notes who is rebellious.  He is completely just and nothing gets past Him.  People may try to mock Him but in the end, we reap exactly what we sow (Gal. 6:7).

Regardless of what my passport says, my first and most important allegiance is to my God.  I can be proud of my country and its freedoms, and I count it a privilege to be able to vote but at the same time I acknowledge that I am a citizen of Heaven (Phil. 3:20).  He is not only the Ruler of this Earth but also of my heart.  I am to “serve the Lord with fear and celebrate His rule with trembling” (Psalm 2:11).  It is a tremendous comfort for me to know that God still reigns and no political party or politician has the last word.  He will have His will and way and will bring about His purposes.  I can experience peace having the Prince of Peace residing in me!

Lord, help me to trust completely in Your sovereign rule.

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


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Locked Antlers

Scripture for Today: James 4:1 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

The bull moose antlers are impressive with a spread of up to 6 feet!  They can weigh as much as 40 pounds.  Each year they are shed and grown anew until old age.  Their size shows their status and strength, especially during mating season.  They are made of bone and are one single structure.  Two bull moose with similar sized antlers will face off and lock antlers over a female.  It is really sad when two moose get their antlers so entangled that they are unable to free themselves and they die!

Today’s verse was addressed to believers in the church.  These early Christians struggled with the very same thing we do today.  Desires battling within eventually show themselves in tensions and quarrels without.  The desires mentioned here are probably the result of “friendship with the world” (verse 4).  They desired what they did not have.  Praying for their desires would not have resolved the situation.  That is because they were asking with wrong motives and would spend what they received on themselves (verses 2-3).  There is only one solution and that is for our desires to change.

Most of my desires would probably fall into this same category.  I wish I could say differently.  The pull of the world is strong and so is envying what others have.  In my heart of hearts I know that possessions do not bring me true joy but it sure is easy to be distracted!  And when my selfish desires get in the way of a relationship I know it has gone too far.  I want those secret desires in my heart to be God-honoring and to be centered on Him.

Lord, help me to keep my desires in check.

 


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Lawn Bowling

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 59:8 “The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks along them will know peace.”

I have a friend who enjoys lawn bowling and I was interested to learn that the balls they use are “biased.”  There is no way they can roll in a straight line as they are weighted.  The ball is deliberately lopsided so that it always curves toward the flat side as it slows down.  Without taking this into account, it would be doubly difficult to roll the closest to that white ball (or jack) which is the point of the game.

Today’s verse talks about a road that is crooked.  There is no way to walk  straight down this path.  And because the going is crooked there is no justice or peace.  This is a picture of the path of wickedness rather than the path of righteousness.  By ignoring God’s laws and always doing the wrong thing, there is no peace with God or each other.  But just as that lawn bowling ball can look normal, so too we can be unaware of the crooked way we are walking.

My path can only be straight as I submit to His way of doing things (Prov. 3:6).  When He leads along straight paths, my steps will not be hampered and I will not stumble (Prov. 4:12).  I am sure it is the more difficult path however.  He has never promised that it would be easy.  But when I make the effort to walk with integrity, I can enjoy peace with Him and have the best chance at peace with my neighbor.  It is worth the effort.

Lord, keep me walking Your way.


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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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The Big “C”

Scripture for Today: Psalm 112:7 “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.”

Tears flow as I write.  In just one short week my list of friends having to battle cancer has grown by two.  There are already too many on that list.  In this image, a woman remains calm and serene receiving the news from her oncologist.  I do not know her or her story but I am amazed at the thought that a diagnosis of cancer could be received without panic and tears.

Today’s verse is one of my life verses.  I wear it on a custom pendant.  It helps me to face an unknown future with confidence.  This psalm of David’s is in the context of warfare.  The “they” are the righteous or those in right standing with God.  The righteous will not be shaken and God honors them for their trust in Him.  Even in the darkest of times, light dawns on those who belong to Him. (verse 4)  There is no fear of bad news because hearts can remain steadfast and sure, trusting in God’s power and goodness.

The Lord wants me to live confidently, sure of His control in every situation.  If I ever hear the “C” word for myself, I know that in the end I am victorious!  His plans are good because He is good.  I may never understand the “why” behind pain and suffering, but I can always cling to His love and goodness.  “C” may stand for cancer, but it can also stand for “Confidence.”

Lord, keep my heart steadfast and confident in You.