Devotions By Jan


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Poinsettia

Scripture for Today: Psalm 112:4 “Even in darkness, light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and  compassionate and righteous.” 

I love seeing the red and green of the poinsettia at Christmas time!  This native flower to Mexico is referred to as, “Flower of the Good Night.”  The reason for this term is the way the poinsettia becomes so colorful.  It is only after twelve to fifteen hours of darkness a day for a period of three months that the leaves (or bracts) become a vibrant red.

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance that the darkness the believer experiences will not be indefinite.  Those who belong to the Lord are upright because of Christ’s righteousness.  And we are assured that eventually there will be a dawn.  Often in Scripture darkness represents calamity and light represents well being.  No one is exempt from dark times.  Regardless of education, wealth, health or status, we all face some kind of crisis or suffering.  But for the believer, there is a dawn coming!  For the one made righteous through Christ, there is hope.

What is amazing to me is that even in the darkness, there is blessing.  The Lord is actively at work in that darkness.  He is using all the negative in my life to test and refine my faith.  Every hurt and disappointment, He uses to grow me more like Him.  He does not waste any pain or difficulty but He utilizes it all to change me.  What a comfort to know He is in control!  When I finally exit that time of darkness, I am different.  Because of His work and grace I can emerge more colorful.  Perseverance, endurance and stronger faith are the colors He produces through that dark time.

Thank you Lord, that you know what You are doing and I can trust You.

 

 

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Pearl Harbor

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Today is “a date that will live in infamy.”  On December 7th, 1941 the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaii Territory.  We have visited this war memorial placed on the hull of the sunken Arizona battleship.  How sobering to think of the 2,433 servicemen who lost their lives on that day.  The Japanese chose to attack on a Sunday as they surmised that everyone would be more relaxed.  And they were correct!  Most men were still in their pajamas or eating breakfast and were caught totally off guard!

Today’s verse describes being off guard as well.  We can be surprised by the negative reactions, the loss of employment, or the social shunning that could come from our testimony.  These “fiery ordeals” or tests to our faith are a result of being a Christian.  The opposition we may face for standing up for our beliefs should be expected.  Instead of surprise, we are to react with joy at the prospect of sharing in the same kind of suffering the Lord Himself faced!  He promises special blessing if we endure insult because of His name (vs. 14).

Even knowing this, I am still surprised at the vehemence and outright hostility to the name of Jesus Christ.  As His own, I understand that it is directed at Him in me.  And He took on such suffering for me that I have no reason to complain!  But in facing opposition, it helps to expect it.  To have joy through it is absolutely a gift from Him!

Lord, may I be faithful to Your name no matter what!

 


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The Bod Pod

Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 4:17  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

No, this does not come from the set of the Mork and Mindy television set, although it looks like it could have!  The Bod Pod is another way to measure body composition.  It measures the amount of fat weight as opposed to the amount of fat-free weight.   The Bod Pod  can even measure fat around organs.  It’s all about the quality of the weight, whether lean muscle mass or body fat.  I think I would rather tell myself that the weight gain after the holiday is from muscle mass!

Today mentions another kind of weight and it is all good; the weight of glory!  This is a weight one would like to see increase.  But the weight of glory in Heaven grows in direct relation to our afflictions here on earth.  The hard times are working for us.  Life’s sorrows are achieving that weight of glory!

All the trials and difficult times I experience are but for a moment  They are a temporary condition.  And as hard as they feel, they are considered  “light” in comparison to the eternal glory that awaits.  My pain is never wasted.  My sorrow is not for nothing.  This truth keeps me from “losing heart”(verse 16).  Remembering this keeps me looking forward to what is unseen and eternal.  Being convinced keeps me renewed on the inside when I am falling apart on the outside (verse 16).  One day everything will be glorious.  One day there will be only recompense and joy!

Thank you Lord, that life’s trials can seem small when compared to You and eternity!

 

 


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Seasickness

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107: 28-29 “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.”

These poor men!  This photo is from a postcard of American soldiers suffering from seasickness on the deck of the USS Powhatan during World War I.  The misery on their faces says it all!  Not all of them seem to be affected.  And the waves cannot be too awfully strong as the deck remains level.  But it does not take much motion for the sensitive stomach to churn.

Today’s verse talks of merchants who were used to life on the sea.  But this time, the Lord Himself stirred up a tempest that created huge waves (verse 25).  Their courage melted away as they staggered around like drunkards.  This was outside their normal area of expertise.  Even so, it was not until they were at their “wits’ end” (verse 27) that they cried out to the Lord.  And when they did, He brought them out of their distress, stilling that storm and hushing the waves.  Coming out of it, they were thankful for the calm.

I take the calm in my life for granted, that is just until the waves grow large!  I am like these sea merchants in thinking I can handle the sudden storm.  But I quickly realize that I cannot.  What starts as a queasy stomach can turn into full grown panic as my small efforts do not seem to amount to much.  How good and faithful He is to respond to my cry!  Whether that storm is of my own making or a test from Him, my first thought should always be to humbly ask for His help.

Thank you Lord, that You can still my storm.

 


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Coconut Oil

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 1:9  “You have loved righteousness and You have hated lawlessness.  Therefore God, even Your God has anointed You with the oil of exultant joy and gladness above and beyond Your companions.”

When I smell coconut oil, it transports me back to younger days at the beach!  I associate the smell with a tropical vacation and in fact, one of its claims is that it reduces stress.  Coconut oil is called, “the wonder oil.”  I can understand calling it that if even half its claims are true.  Coconut oil is purported to be good for skin and hair.  It is supposed to improve digestion and increase immunity.  They say it speeds up healing, keeps organs healthy and boosts heart health.  I have no idea how much of this is actually true.  I just know I like the smell and taste!

Today’s verse refers to Jesus Christ.  In fact the name, “Christ” in Greek means, “anointed one.”  God set apart and anointed Jesus in giving Him a position that is above any other.  He not only is worthy of this distinction, but this anointing oil comes with joy and gladness.  Despite awful betrayal and death, Jesus experienced exultant joy and gladness.

I, too, am anointed with oil!  Psalm 23:5 says that the Lord does this for His own.  I am set apart for Him.  The oil also represents His Holy Spirit, who testifies with my spirit that I belong to Him (Romans 8:16).  This oil is surely the “wonder oil!”  His Holy Spirt is the Source of joy in my life as part of His fruit (Gal. 5:22).  And like Christ, I can experience joy and gladness despite my circumstances.  His joy is deep down in my heart where nothing can touch it!

Lord, I want to feel that joy today!


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Squeaky Wheel

Scripture for Today: Psalm 142:1-2 “I cry aloud to the Lord, I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I will pour out before Him my complaint; before Him I tell my trouble.”

I am not so sure that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” at my grocery store.  Too many times I have inadvertently pulled out a cart with that annoying noise.  A poem entitled, “The Kicker” first used this saying in 1870.  This American proverb affirms that the one who complains the loudest attracts the most attention and service.  The Chinese have a similar saying, “The crying baby gets the  milk.”

In today’s verse, David cries aloud to the Lord for mercy.  He lifts up his voice, pouring out his complaint and telling Him about all his troubles.  He is complaining to the Lord, and not in some quiet whispering voice.  He is loud and noisy about it.  This entire psalm is a cry of complaint about his enemies.  His prayer is open and honest and God does not reproach him for it.

Out of His grace and mercy God hears the cries of His children.  But the “squeaky wheel” idea does not work with Him.  I do not manipulate Him with the emotion and fervor I add to my prayers.  His will and plan are already determined.  However, pouring out my complaints to Him is such a release.  I can unburden my heart in prayers like this.  He understands and He can take it.  He would much rather I complain to Him rather than murmur and complain to those around me (Phil. 2:14-15).  Not only that, He is the One who can best resolve the problem.  Often, even before my prayer finishes, He changes that complaint into praise for what He will do!

Thank you Lord, for listening to my complaint.


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No Fear

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I do not normally think of myself as a fearful person, but then I am not trying to do what this woman is doing, hanging over the Hong Kong skyline!  She is either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid to take such a risk!  The hammock seems to suggest ease and relaxation, which has got to be far from what she is feeling!  Even so, it is a sure bet that she does not suffer from acrophobia!

Today’s verse is an encouragement to not fear.  I am to put my trust in God.  His presence keeps me from being dismayed at dizzying heights.  He strengthens.  He helps.  And most importantly, He upholds me with His righteous right hand!  Whether I am facing insurmountable odds, or the presence of evil, I do not have to give in to fear.

The stronger my faith is in Him, the less problem I will have with fear.  In Matthew 8:26 Jesus challenges His disciples with the question, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  Their boat being pummeled by a storm seemed reason enough.  But had they had more trust in Him, fear would not have been an issue.  I do the same thing when faced with scary circumstances.  The level of fear I am feeling is a barometer of just how much I am trusting Him.  But with God for us – who (or what) can be against us? (Rom. 8:31)  Through Him, we are more than conquerors, even over our own fears!

Thank you Lord, that because of You, I do not have to fear.