Devotions By Jan


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The Magic of Fireflies

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 5:16  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Fireflies are so intriguing!  When they light up a tree it is magical and looks like a fairyland.  The chemical reaction of these ugly winged beetles produces light but not heat.  They glow without wasting any energy.  All one hundred percent of their energy goes into making their light.  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 attractive 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 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.

I often feel that my acts of love and kindness towards others do not make much difference.  But even a pinpoint of light in the darkness is noticed.  When He is given the recognition He deserves than my little light has a huge purpose.  My focus should not be praise and recognition for myself but for Him!  My light is to pierce the darkness and point others to Jesus who Himself is the Light of the world!  And of course, when a group of flickering lights are together (as in the Church) the impact is that much more remarkable and beautiful!

Lord, show me how to shine for You today!


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Yuletide Log

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 2:14 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere.”

Christmas is not just about the pretty lights and decorations.  Just as important to that “Chrismassy” feeling are the aromas!  Whether it is hot cocoa, peppermint or gingerbread, the smells can make one feel the magic of the season.  As wonderful as the aromas of cooking can be, some of us use shortcuts!  One can now buy a yuletide log for the fire that gives off the odor of fried chicken!

Today’s verse brings to mind a victory march after a battle.  Christ is at the head of this processional and we are the spoils of war.  Being His captives means we are subjects of a new King.  He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son (Col.1:13).  No longer are we slaves to sin.  And one of our identifying marks is our “smell.”  Believers are to be an aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere we go.

For some, my aroma is not so pleasant.  In fact, I even stink to people who are rejecting the Savior.  But for the one being drawn to Him, I am a pleasing aroma (verses 15-16).  He has promised to use me to spread the aroma of Him.  When I praise Him to others, I smell good.  When I encourage someone to trust Him, I smell good. And when I stay faithful to Him even in the midst of horrible circumstances, I smell good.  Knowing Him is an aroma and influence that can go a long way.

Lord, may I smell good for You today!

 

 


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Bonded Leather

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

I was horrified to pull back my couch cover and see how the bonded leather was “unbonding!”  After just two years the couch was showing signs of this kind of wear.  It was my own fault for not researching the meaning of “bonded leather” before buying it.  But because the price was hefty and it was from a reputable well-known brand, I did not think it through.  This kind of leather is made up of many small pieces bonded or glued together.  Those that sell it admit that it will only hold up three to five years.  What a disappointment!

Today’s verse talks about a supernatural bond of peace that is the work of the Holy Spirit in believers.  Those belonging to Jesus come in all shapes and sizes, different races and cultures, social standings, income and education.  We are little pieces bonded together making a whole.  We are part of one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father! (verses 4-6).  And this peace is something we are to strive to keep.

The Lord knows me.  He knows how easily I can nitpick and criticize.  I so easily focus on differences rather than recognize what unites me with my brothers and sisters.  The Lord has shown me incredible grace, and yet I am slow to show that same grace to others.  Our unity is more important than me being right, recognized or visible.  Our unity can be a powerful draw to the world.  And oh how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! (Ps. 133:1)

Thank you Lord, that You make possible this bond of peace.  Help me to keep it!

 

 


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Moonlight

Scripture for Today:  Isaiah 42:8  “I am the Lord: that is My name; and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images.”

Often when my children were young we would see a big bright moon in the sky and chant the little ditty, “I see the moon and the moon sees me.  God bless the moon and God bless me!”  The moon can be so beautiful and it inspires so many romantic scenarios!  But what is interesting about the moon is that it has no light of its own.  The light that it shines is of course the reflected light from the sun.  In fact, the side of the moon that is not facing the sun is always cold and dark.

Today’s verse teaches that there is only one Source of glory and that is the Lord.  We can not claim any glory as originating in ourselves.   The Lord does not share His glory.  But He does want us to reflect it.  It is our purpose here on earth to shine in this darkness and point others to Him.  But it is HIS glory and light that we are reflecting.

Unfortunately just like the moon, when I am not facing the Light I cannot reflect it.  I can not reflect His glory when I claim that glory for myself.  The dark side is the part of me that takes credit when it rightfully belongs to His work in me.  But I do not want any cold or dark sides to me.  I want all of me to shine!  I want to give Him the glory for any and all accomplishments.  I want Him to have the credit for anything that is good in my life.

Lord, may I reflect Your glory today!


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Cliques

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household.”

I love seeing the joy on the faces of these Filipino children!  When being part of a circle of friends, there is a wonderful feeling of belonging!  We all need to feel accepted and valued by others.  It is even better when that happens with a group that shares some common bonds and interests.  And there is quite a bit of angst if we are not part of such a group.  The French word, “clique,” is one we use for a group that is closed to outsiders.  What heartache there can be when we are the one excluded!

In today’s verse there is quite a large group that is by far the most inclusive one.  In this group, no one is a foreigner as it is  made up of members of every tribe and nation!  Our allegiance to God transcends earthly divisions.  There are no strangers as we will have eternity to get to know one another.  Being part of God’s household means that we have the same Father and that we are brothers and sisters.  No believer will feel like an outsider.

I am part of God’s household but I can sometimes feel like an outsider.  I see so many different groups and divisions within God’s family.  I may not fit in because of the racial, economic or theological divisions we create.  I cannot help but think that this is not God’s intent.  He means for us to be one in Christ; no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female (Gal. 3:28).  Our oneness through our diversity is what glorifies Him!

Lord, help me to be lovingly inclusive with ALL my brothers and sisters.


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Heartfelt Worship

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 29:13 “The Lord says, ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.'”

Styles of worship vary so much, especially internationally.  Our French church would often begin the service with complete silence and the expectation was to spend time in prayer and reflection.  For other churches, the music is upbeat and loud to begin things, gradually toning down to the message.  There are churches that feel any instrument except the human voice is out of place.  And the volume, rhythm, and style can all be a subject of debate .

In today’s verse none of these considerations are addressed.  The essential component of true worship has nothing to do with style, traditions or even what is considered more spiritual.  What matters to the Lord is the attitude and intent of the heart.  One can mouth the right phrases and the right notes with a heart that is very far from Him.  Jesus taught that true worship will involve His Spirit and will use the truth of His Word (John 4:24).

I know the Lord wants my worship of Him to be sincere and from the heart.  The worship He desires not only comes from my mouth in song but also from my thoughts and daily actions.  When I read God’s Word it can be worship.  When I remember, meditate or share a verse it can be an act of worship.  When I praise Him to others in testimony it is worship.  Even when I am trying to hear and obey His voice, that is worship.

Lord, may my worship of You be daily and heartfelt.  You are worthy!


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Lion or Kitten?

Scripture for Today: Acts 4:13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

The Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite characters from this 1939 film!  Even though he is the “King of the Forest” he does not think he is courageous.  He wants courage from the great Oz, not realizing that he already has it!  He mistakens his fear for lack of courage.  But courage can be defined as acting in the face of fear!

In today’s verse, Peter and John are showing courage.  They had been seized and thrown in prison by the rulers, elders and teachers of the law.  When appearing before them to give a defense, Peter, filled with the Spirit, stood fearlessly and preached Jesus.  Their accusers watching them were not only surprised but astonished that such unschooled and ordinary men would be showing such courage.  And they rightly concluded that these men had been with Jesus!  The Spirit God gives does not make us timid! (II Tim. 1:7)

I have not been called before the law to defend my faith in Christ.  But if it should ever happen, I believe God through His Spirit would give me the courage I need.  I may tremble inside but He would help me face my fears.  When I show courage in the face of any opposition, it is a sure sign that I have spent time with Jesus!  I am told to wait on the Lord and be of good courage (Psalm 27:14) because He is the One who will strengthen my heart!  Any courage I show would not come from me but from Him.

Thank you Lord, that you can make a lion out of this kitten!