Devotions By Jan


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Coloring Outside Lines

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

One of my earliest memories involved coloring outside the lines of my color page.  I was so impatient to have the praise of my teacher that I raced through to be the first one finished!  But rather than receive praise, I was reminded that it was not a race and that I should color inside those lines.  Perhaps there is less insistence on this point today.  But at least when coloring within the lines, the image is clear.

Today’s verse reminds us that as believers we are to be conformed to the image of God’s Son, Jesus.  All of mankind has been created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27) but when sin entered the world, that image became blurred.  Man has colored outside the lines with his pride and rebellion against God.  The image is not so clear anymore.  But for the one who turns to God in repentance, this image of His Son is slowly being restored.  Just as brothers and sisters can resemble one another, so the believer is to increasingly resemble the character of Jesus.

I have a long way to go!  I pray people realize I am His child but there are definitely days when I am far from being like Him.  Hopefully, there is progress but often it is three steps forward and two steps back.  How infinitely patient He is with me!  And I am so glad His love does not depend on my progress or lack of it.  How reassuring it is that one day, the transformation will be complete when I meet Him face to face! (I John 3:2)

Lord, make me like You today!

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Washing Lego Pieces

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:9 ” But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”

Here’s an inventive use for a colander!  Washing small Lego pieces would otherwise be a chore with some invariably escaping down the garbage disposal.  But whether one uses a strainer or a colander, those holes are useful for rinsing without losing the contents down the drain.  In French there is a saying using the word, colander.  This kitchen tool is likened to our memories, which can be full of holes.  They will also call a memory lapse a “trou” or hole.

Today’s verse addresses the problem of forgetting.  When we forget that our past sins have been forgiven, we miss out on all that God has given us for life and godliness (verse 3).  He has given us goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love (verse 5-7).  These qualities, which are part of His divine nature, are to be increasingly evident in the life of a believer (verse 8) and they keep us from being ineffective and unproductive for Him.  The problem comes when we are strangled with guilt over what God has already forgiven.

I am so encouraged to see God use imperfect people.  Paul was responsible for the death of many Christians and yet, he grasped the truth of God’s forgiveness.  Peter, after his famous denials of Christ, took hold of God’s grace and went on to accomplish great things for God.  I want to remind myself daily of His full and complete cleansing.  He has removed my sin as far as the east is from the west! (Psalm 103:12).  I do not want to focus on what is no longer an issue for Him.

Thank you Lord, for Your full and complete forgiveness!

 

 


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Holes in My Bucket

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:3 “His power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”  

I remember the song, “There’s a Hole in the Bucket,” growing up.  This song is a dialogue between Henry and Liza about the sorry state of their bucket, no longer useful for drawing water from the well.  I would always laugh at the ultimate solution which brings them back to the original problem!  The song in its original version dates back to 1700!  I am sure the bucket pictured has its uses, but carrying water would not be one of them!

Today’s verse reassures the believer that through God’s power we have everything we need to live a godly life.  It is through our knowledge of Him and not our own efforts that this godly life is possible.  He gives to us faith, goodness, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love (verses 5-7).  Those beautiful qualities make us more like Him, but they only become visible as we grow in our knowledge of Him.

Yes, He’s given me all I need but the problem is all the holes in my bucket!  I go to draw from Him as my unending Source, but my sinful pride and self-sufficiency keep me from staying full.  Instead of drawing from Him I make the mistake of drawing away from the Source and depending on myself.  Before long I can feel completely drained.  There is no way to be filled with His godly Spirit when I try to go it alone!  I need Him for absolutely everything.  His power is there, ready to draw from.  And I want to know Him more and more.

Lord, keep me from relying on myself.  Fill me with Yourself!


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Cocoon

Scripture for Today: Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 3:18  “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is Spirit.”

I wonder if this caterpillar knows what is happening to him?   His little life was perfect, happily munching leaves in the sun. But before long he finds himself in the dark and hanging on for dear life!  He only did what was natural, making a silk mat and spinning the silk to attach himself to a branch.  But now, everything seems to have stopped and all that is familiar has disappeared.  Life has not only spun out of control, but he himself is hanging upside down.  Now he waits.

Today’s verse speaks of another transformation.  It is one that is just as spectacular as a caterpillar changing into a butterfly.  We, as believers, are slowly being transformed into the image of the Lord.  Each stage of this process brings ever increasing glory, not to ourselves but to Him.  The glory and beauty come from becoming more like our Creator!  It happens on the inside as a work of His Spirit.  We do not know exactly what we will be, except that we will be like Him as His children. (I John 3:2)

In the meantime it can feel a bit dark and confusing.  This cocoon stage seems to last a lifetime and the waiting all by itself can feel exhausting.  I know He is at work in me, but it is dark and I do not always understand what He is doing and why.  But I do know that He is good and the outcome will be beautiful.  His promises are the branch to which I cling!

Lord, help me be patient for what is to come!!

 

 

 


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Toward the Light

Scripture for Today: Psalm 97:11 “Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.”

How often I have read novels or seen movies where at the end of  life, one moves toward a light!  In these stories the light represents eternity and the presence of God.  The light is bright and welcoming.  We associate light with warmth and goodness, whereas darkness can represent something cold and evil.  Even just a small pinpoint of light is powerful, dispelling darkness and chasing away shadows.  The light has a direct affect on our sense of well-being.  Without enough light, we can easily become depressed and negative.  Light has a way of lifting our spirits and giving us hope.

Today’s verse describes another blessing for the believer.  Light and joy shine on those whose heart is in right standing with God.  There may be darkness all around but “even in darkness, light dawns for the upright.” (Psalm 112:4)  When our hearts are right with the Source of light and joy, then it stands to reason that we can experience that light and joy ourselves, regardless of our circumstances.

I cannot drum up light and joy on my own for any length of time.  It is too easy to allow negative guilty thoughts darken my mind, robbing me of joy.  Light and joy are directly linked to my relationship to Him.  They are a natural outgrowth of a close relationship with my Creator.  He has made His righteousness mine through His Son, and with that clean heart comes the light and joy I so need!  How wonderful the benefits of forgiveness and grace!  In a world of pessimism and darkness, I can share that light and joy with others!

Thank you Lord, for being my light and my joy today!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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State of Mind

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things above and not on earthly things.”

In returning from Massachusetts to California I feel as if I am not only changing a state but a state of mind.  It is amazing to me the variety of lifestyle and outlook within our own borders.  The mind set here includes influences from a longer more visible history.  Tradition, long-standing families, old money and historic buildings are all factors that have more importance here than in California.  There is a different mind set in the “sunshine state” where free spirits may feel more comfortable.  I am perhaps overgeneralizing but each state does seem to have an identifiable mind set.

The believer is to have an identifiable mind set as well.  Today’s verse tells us to set our minds on things above.  We are to have a different optic in seeing our world.  Our point of view is affected by what is eternal rather than temporal.  Our values are based on what will last.  Our decisions are directed by what is unseen rather than what is perceived by the senses.  It is a totally different state of mind.

It is too easy to forget that our citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:19).  The mind set of those around us is set on earthly things (verse 18).  But those with that state of mind are called, “enemies of the cross.”  I do not want to be in their number!  My state of mind needs to be one that is transformed and renewed by God’s Word.  And my state of mind will be obvious by the way I live.  I do not think I risk being so heavenly minded that I am of no earthly value.  Quite the opposite!

Lord, keep my mind set on You today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Solar Eclipse

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:5 “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”

How eerie to see the sun completely covered by the moon today!  The total solar eclipse was oohed and awed by many along its trajectory.  Those not in its path still had the opportunity to see the sun partially covered with their special glasses.  For many of a certain age it may very well be their last opportunity to experience the celestial show as the next one does not occur until 2024.  It was odd to see crowds of people clapping and cheering as the sky became completely darkened.  The return of the sun did not get the same response.  As nature’s spectacle came to en end, I do not think there were many that doubted that the sun would reappear.

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance about something that is warm and full of life-giving energy that is never eclipsed.  God’s love can never be darkened.  Nothing can thwart or obstruct His faithful love for His own.  His love reaches to the heavens and there are no shifting shadows that can change it (James 1:17).  He is faithful to His Word and to His promises.

It can feel dark.  It can feel as though He has abandoned me when things are not going my way.  When my doubts obscure His love there is only one solution: I need to turn back again to His love letter to me.  There I am reminded of His faithfulness.  His love has not changed.  His love and compassion are renewed every morning (Lam. 3:22-23).  Though I may not see the light of His love, it is still there.  He lifts my head to see His faithfulness reaching to the skies!

Thank you Lord, that Your love for me never fails!