Devotions By Jan


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Saying Thank You

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Somehow, that small addition of “thank you” at the bottom of this sign makes the message more tolerable and a little softer.  There have actually been studies on the effect “thank you” has on relationships.  Using the “find-remind-bind” idea, gratitude helps find new contacts, remind old contacts of friendship and binds active friendships.  An attitude of gratitude can go a long way in making one happier and positive, generous and compassionate, as well as healthier with a lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system!

Today’s verse is more than a suggestion.  It is a command to give thanks in any and all circumstances.  Our thanks in this passage are directed to the Lord in prayer (verse 17).  Quite clearly, it is what God wants from His children.  And when we withhold our thanks, we are somehow quenching His Spirit in us (verse 19).  Thanking God for what just happened is a recognition of His control over the situation.  It is a reminder that He has a plan that is good in allowing that circumstance, good or bad.

When I thank Him, I am reaffirming my faith that He knows what He is doing.  Even when I am pleading with Him for action or change, I am told to include thanksgiving in my prayer as an expression of trust (Phil. 4:6).  Just as thanking others can improve a friendship, so thanking the Lord brings me closer to Him.  As I thank Him, I can feel the tension in me dissipate.  He knows and He cares.  Whatever I am facing He has a plan in it and He is using it.  A heart-felt “thank you” completely changes my attitude.

Lord, remind me to thank You today.

 

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Pack Your Patience

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

Today we leave for France.  With long lines, security hassles, and tired feet the thrill of travel is definitely lacking!  I cannot think of a better training ground for practicing patience than when flying.  I am so careful in my packing but I am not sure I always pack patience!  Flight delays and missed connections strain my patience to the very limit.  And showing patience is especially difficult when fatigue is added to the mix.  I easily take offense at the slightest provocation, whether it be someone knocking into me or cutting in line.

Today’s verse tells us from where patience comes.  It comes from wisdom.  Showing patience is always the wiser course.  Blowing up or throwing a tantrum never changes anything.  Wisdom determines when to grin and bear it when nothing else can be done.  Overlooking that rude remark or crying baby not only is the wiser more patient response but it makes one a better person.  Any other reaction risks being “inglorious.”  Wisdom is the source of patience and the fear of the Lord is the source and beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).

I have been told (tongue in cheek) never to actually pray for patience as it always seems to come as a result of testing (James 1:3).  But I am encouraged to learn that patience can be a by-product of wisdom as well.  Fearing and respecting God’s power and control of my circumstances calms me down and helps me keep my emotional balance.  So whether I am waiting in long lines or learning that my suitcase did not make it, I can be confident that He knows and He has my back.

Lord, make me wise today especially!


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Sea Glass

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

I feel as if I have found treasure when I see that gleaming colorful piece of glass nestled in the sand!  The beaches of California are especially good for their discovery.  In their original form, I would not look at them twice.  After all, they are just shards of glass bottles or tableware.  But after years and years of being broken up and tumbled by the waves, they lose their rough edges and become smooth.  Gone is the normal sheen of glass as it is replaced by a frosty appearance.  Now they are worthy of being a piece of art or jewelry!

Today’s verse describes the life of Paul.  He was persecuted, thrown in jail, shipwrecked, and beaten.  Through all of this he was never crushed, in despair, abandoned or destroyed.  He calls his experiences, “light momentary troubles” (verse 17).  He does not lose heart because he believes they are achieving for him “an eternal glory.”  Rather than focusing on what he is going through, he sees what God is producing in him.

Whoever said that life was easy has not lived very long!  Being a follower of Christ does not guarantee me a smooth ride.  I am tossed around and pounded by the waves just as much as everyone else.  My sure hope is that He is producing something meaningful and beautiful through all the negative.  Knowing He is in control and that His control is good, keeps me from despair.  There will be no punishing pounding waves in Heaven.  All my rough edges will be gone and I will be complete!

Thank you Lord, that I can trust what You are doing in my life.


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Driftwood

Scripture for Today:  Philippians 3:12  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

There is no mystery at all to why driftwood is called driftwood.  It is simply wood that has drifted.  The wood comes to be in the water through flooding or storms breaking off tree branches.  Or it could be there as a result of logging.  In any case, the wood drifts aimlessly at the whim of the waves.  When and where it washes up on to shore seems completely arbitrary.  Just like for some people, circumstances push and prod to move a body from here to there with no clear goal in mind.

In today’s verse, Paul lives his life with a specific goal in mind.  He wants to gain Christ (verse 8) be found in Christ (verse 9) and to know Christ (verse 10).  Paul not only wanted to know Jesus and His power, he was ready to suffer for His sake.  He was willing to completely deny himself and take up his cross to follow Him (Luke 9:23).  His goals would last a lifetime and make his life significant.  There would be no aimless drifting through life for him!

What is my purpose?  Because I belong to Him, I want the goals in my life to match up with His for me.  Knowing Him is the most worthwhile purpose there is!  And God prepared in advance a whole plan of good works for me to accomplish. (Eph. 2:10)  I, like every believer, have a purpose.  I do not want to waste time and just drift through life!  And I am confident He will give me what it takes to “press on.”

Lord, keep me from drifting today.


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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!