Devotions By Jan


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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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Red Tide

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 5:16  “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.”

This beautiful light show is happening right now in San Diego, California!  It is called a “red tide” because the water can appear red or golden, although here one sees eerie blue neon waves.  It is produced by algae filled with phytoplankton called “dinoflagellates.”  The algae is said to bloom during the warm months, rolling off the waves near the  shoreline.  This bioluminescence is the same kind of light made by fireflies.  The purpose of their glow is to attract either a mate or their prey.  Their light attracts me too although I do not fit either category!

Today’s verse talks about the light of our good deeds.  When our kindness to others is done to give honor to the Heavenly Father, we shine as lights.  In a dark and selfish world our lives can stand out and shine. The purpose of our light is not to attract people to ourselves, but to our Lord.  We are to be open about the reasons behind our giving to others.  It is not about me.  It is about Him.  It is not about my goodness but His!

People can see a difference in me when I do not look to be thanked or recompensed for what I do for others.  I want my motives to be pure and have no personal agenda behind my actions.  Public accolades are always nice to receive but I never want that to be the goal.  I feel pretty insignificant sometimes, but even a small light can pierce that darkness and point others to Christ.

Lord, show me how to shine for You today!

 


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Twisted Garden Hose

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 44:3 “For I will pour out water upon him who is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.  I will pour out My Spirit upon your offspring, and My blessing upon your descendants;”

Is there anything more frustrating than having to retrace one’s steps and straighten out that hose?  It seems that the longer the hose, the more likely it is to develop a kink and suddenly stop the flow of water.  I hurry to get to the problem because I know that the sudden release of that water when straightening the hose will make the end fly all over the place and spray what it shouldn’t; the window, the car or me!  It is usually a moment I would rather others not see!

Today’s verse talks about God’s Spirit and how He can quench our thirst just as water does.  His presence gives life and health.  With Him and His power, we flourish and grow.  He wants to bless those who belong to Him and even their families!  Without Him we will eventually wilt, dry up, and bear no fruit.  But like a kink in a hose, I can sometimes cut myself off from that source of water; His Spirit.

The flow of water is interrupted through no problem on His part!  The water blockage comes from my own pride.  I see the good things in my life and very quickly take credit for them.  I pat myself on the back for all the good decisions I have made.  Rather than recognize the Source of everything good in my life, I somehow feel I had something to do with it!  My family genes, my financial acumen, or my level of education take center stage rather than His goodness!

Lord, help me see that it is from You that all blessings flow!

 


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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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The Cardinal

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

It is not fair.  The male cardinal gets all the attention with its bright red plumage whereas the female is largely overlooked.  And yet,  although the colors are more subtle, she is beautiful too.  Normally among songbirds, the male is the only one to sing.  He will sing to defend his territory and during courtship.  However, the female cardinal also sings.  She sings mainly during the spring, during courtship and while sitting on her nest.  Her song is a bit longer and more complex than the male’s song.

Today’s verse downplays the differences between races, social status and between the sexes.  These words describe a coming together that is not so natural.  Believers can achieve oneness in Jesus Christ.  Regardless of our differences, followers of the Lord can have a unity that is remarkable!  Unlike the “birds of a feather who flock together,” the body of Christ is incredibly diverse.  People that would not normally come together find themselves sharing a deep bond in our shared love of Jesus!

What a beautiful testimony to find this unity in a world that is so divided!  Love that reaches across generation, gender and race is the mark of a Christian (Mark 13:35).  It is not natural.  I want that mark on my life, but it can only happen with the fruit of the Spirit in me.  It helps to remember that down deep, my soul is exactly the same as my neighbor’s.  I see differences but the Lord looks on the heart (I Sam 16:7).

Lord, thank you that You can bring together what the world does not!

 


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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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Immigrant Fruit

Scripture for Today:  Galatians 5:22-23a  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

I was surprised to learn that almost every food we eat is an “immigrant!”  The plant explorer or food spy, David Fairchild, introduced more than 200,000 exotic plants and crops to the USA over 37 years.  He traveled to over 50 countries bringing us apples from Kahzakstan, bananas from New Guinea, oranges and limes from China and new strains of avocados from Chili!

Today’s verse describes another kind of fruit which is not native or natural to us!  It is the fruit or evidence of the one who is filled with and walking by the Spirit of God.  The results of being in close communion with Him are evident in one’s behavior and attitude.  The fruit comes from Him and not from ourselves.  It is not natural to react to stress with calm confidence.  It is not even normal to respond with kindness to someone who intentionally hurts us!  To have deep seated joy in the midst of crisis is certainly other-worldly.

I have none of these qualities on my own, especially in tense stressed moments.  But as a believer the Spirit of God resides in me.  That means that I have the potential to respond with these beautiful characteristics when it does not seem natural.  When I see that they are lacking, it is not a matter of “self-help” but turning to Him for His help.  The more I confess my inadequacies and turn to Him, the more He responds with this beautiful fruit.  These qualities describe to perfection the One I serve.  He is slowly (some days very slowly) producing His character or image in me!

Lord, please show Your fruit in me today.