Devotions By Jan


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Barbie’s Last Name

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:16 “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

Who would have thought it, that the Barbie doll has a last name!  Apparently, Barbie herself recently tweeted out the big revelation.  She and her two sisters wished everyone a Happy Siblings Day from the Roberts sisters.  According to novels published by Random House in the 60’s, Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.  The Ken doll’s full name is Kenneth Carson.  I, for one, will sleep better tonight having that mystery cleared up for me.

Today’s verse talks about proudly bearing a name.  It is a name that is above all other names.  But it is also a name that could provoke hostility from others.  Being a Christ follower carries the risk of being scorned, mocked and even persecuted.  But there is special blessing promised for those who are insulted because of the name of Christ (verse 14).  How polarizing the name of Jesus is!  The names of other religious leaders do not get the same reaction.

I wear the name of Jesus when I live like He did.  I wear the name of Jesus when I speak of Him to others.  And I wear His name when I exemplify His character through His Spirit.  Wearing His name identifies me as belonging to Him.  Even if it draws negative attention, I am not to be ashamed.  Suffering for His name is a privilege.  I wonder if I am identified so closely with Christ that people see a difference in me.  I hope so.  I pray so.

Thank you Lord, for the privilege of bearing Your name!

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Table Runners

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

No one would know.  The damage to my table top and buffet is extensive as it dates back to the 1920’s.  I keep meaning to get it refinished but I know that each new move will add new nicks and scratches.  My solution is to cover over all the imperfections with table runners or table scarves.  I have quite a collection from all over the world and for every season.  The only way to see the problems would be to uncover the furniture to the light of day.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to love his brothers and sisters in Christ with a deep love.  Love covers over a multitude of sins.  And a deep love will require extending forgiveness.  This is a love that covers all wrongs suffered (Prov. 10:12).  Fostering this kind of love covers over an offense done to us, but repeating a matter can separate even close friends (Prov. 17:9).  This is no light-hearted superficial love.  For this, one has to dig down deep!  The hurt is still there and we bear the marks.  But we cover it with love and forgiveness. And in loving deeply, a relationship can be restored.

The only possible way to love in spite of hurts done to me is to look at what Christ did.  My sin hurt Him to the point of death.  He has the scars on His hands and side to prove it!  There is no deeper love than His for me.  If He could cover me with grace and forgiveness, than I need to do the same.  Surely, what has been done to me cannot compare to my sin and rebellion against Him.

Lord, help me to love others deeply and with forgiveness.

 


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Easter Bonnet Violets

Scripture for Today: II Thessalonians 1:11 “With this in mind we  constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.”

These beautiful clusters of fragrant violets reminded someone of an Easter bonnet to have given it this name!  These dainty deep purple flowers attract bees and butterflies with their strong fragrance of honey.  They flower very early in the spring and although they look delicate, they are quite hardy and frost resistant.

Today’s verse is in a passage that commends the believers for their growing faith and perseverance in the face of persecution and trials (verse 3-4).  Paul reassures them that God will deal with those that oppose them.  He prays that God will continue His work in them by making them worthy of His calling.  But what caught my attention was the reminder that it is God’s power that allows them to realize their desires for goodness and good deeds done in faith.  It does not matter how small and unimportant a believer may feel.  Appearances are deceiving because just as a delicate flower can resist frost, so the seemingly weak individual can resist and stand up under trial.

I know this is true because the Lord has been faithful to me time after time!  It is God’s power that works in me giving me unexpected resolve.  As a believer, I do not just survive but thrive because of His strength!  Like Paul, I can even look at my weaknesses as a positive thing (II Cor. 12:9) knowing that God’s power will be recognized!  As a result of His power, He fulfills my desire to live for Him a life that is significant!

Thank you Lord, for making me strong!


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Willow Leaves

Scripture for Today: Colossians 1:11 “being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.”

Patience is a virtue that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe likened to the willow leaf.  This 17th century German writer and statesman said, “A leaf that is destined to grow large is full of grooves and wrinkles at the start.  Now if one has no patience and wants it smooth offhand like a willow leaf, there is trouble ahead.”  These leaves are shiny, thin and 2-4 inches long.  But of course, they do not start off so large and smooth.  It will take lots of sunshine, water and time to get to this stage.

Today’s verse is an encouragement.  That elusive quality of patience is something that comes, not from ourselves, but from His power.  The believer is strengthened with power from His glorious might to have great endurance and patience.  It is not something we can naturally muster up on our own.  Over time, He develops it in us as we become more like Him.  It is part of the work He does in us (Phil. 1:6).  And more often than not, this quality of patience grows out of living through difficulties.

In the space of three days, I had ample opportunity to show patience.  After experiencing jet lag, toilet emergencies, roof leaks, and a power outage, it was almost comical….almost.  My leaves are still not so large and smooth.  There are still plenty of rough edges!  But God’s reassurance of His control calmed me down.  I am thankful that being in His Word has encouraged me and helped me stay in that place of quiet confidence (Rom. 15:4).  Things may fall apart around me, but I don’t want to fall apart too!

Lord, thank you for Your strength and patience!


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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.


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Leaky Roof

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 27:15-16 “A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.”

This happened!  After a month-long absence I woke up to the sound of raining in my closet!  It is not that it was such a strong storm but our flat roof would not drain properly.  I called on God first.  Wailed, if truth be told.  Then I called my husband, a roofer and our insurance company.  Thankfully, the drips did not reach my clothes.  But it was maddening to hear the slow and constant dripping well after the rain had finished.

Today’s verse describes a quarrelsome wife like that constant drip.  Each complaint from her lips and each nagging session can be as annoying as those continual drops of water.  Because the verse is speaking of a wife, one can assume the description comes from the husband.  In contrast to the Proverbs 31 wife who speaks with wisdom (Prov. 31:26), this wife provokes argument with what comes out of her mouth.  She speaks her mind without any self-restraint.  Any attempt at correcting her is as futile as restraining wind or grasping slippery oil.

Being quarrelsome can seem quite reasonable and even expected after a hard day.  When taking care of the needs of others means lost sleep or when the toilet backs up, a bit of nasty temper seems just the thing to blow off steam.  When pressure builds, it is often on those closest to me that I unload.  The danger for me is that being contentious can too easily become a habit.  I would much rather be characterized by a quiet gentle spirit, making me consistently approachable!

Lord, keep me sweet and peaceable despite my circumstances.

 


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Glass Harmonica

Scripture for Today:Romans 5:3-4 “Not only so but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope.”

Who hasn’t rubbed their fingers around the rim of a crystal wine glass to produce that ringing sound?  That is the principle behind this glass harmonica, made of a series of glass bowls or goblets in varying sizes spinning  on a single shaft.  The haunting ethereal sound of the notes are produced by moistened fingers and the friction they create.  The pressure of the fingers can change the volume and duration of a note.  The “incomparably sweet” sound of the glass harmonica is really due to friction and pressure.

Paul makes an incredible statement in today’s verse.  He can glory or revel in his sufferings because he understands what it will develop in him!  Perseverance, character and hope are those harmonious notes his sufferings will produce.  But these characteristics do not show themselves except through the friction and pressure of suffering.  He knows and is confident of this positive outcome, affirming that this hope is sure.  This hope will not ever put him to shame because of the love that God has poured out into his heart (verse 5).

How amazing it is that in the middle of suffering Paul can keenly feel God’s love for him!  When things go wrong and I am hurting, I am tempted to think that God may not love me quite so much.  If He really loved me would He make me go through this?  Couldn’t I just have that perseverance, character and hope without all that suffering?  I have to trust that He knows what He is doing.  His love never changes and He is making me more like Him!

Lord, help me never to doubt your love for me.