Devotions By Jan


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Just a Test?

Scripture for Today: I Peter 1:7 “These (all kinds of trials) have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

This frightening image came up on phones all over Hawaii on January 13th!  Reactions were varied.  Some grabbed the kids and pets and jumped in their cars with no clear destination.  A group of bikers sought shelter at a church being renovated that day.  Others milled in the streets unsure of what to do and panicking as no calls could to go through.  One friend faced what she thought might be the end by calmly going out on her balcony with her bird and coffee in hand.  It was a full 38 minutes of panic before the correction came.

Today’s verse reminds us that life will be full of tests and trials, all kinds.  But they have one thing in common.  The suffering and grief they cause will prove or disprove the genuineness of our faith.  And somehow, the praise, glory and honor to come will overshadow it all.  The genuine faith will emerge from this testing as more valuable than refined gold!

Just because my eternal Home is secure in Him does not mean that I am exempt from suffering here.  He allows me to go through some difficult pain.  Each time another wave of trial hits is another time to turn to Him and hang on with my faith.  And He is always faithful.  He uses it all to grow and deepen my conviction of who He is.  He is my Rock and I will cling to Him.

Lord, may my faith prove genuine and honoring to 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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A Crown

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 2:19 “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?”

The Miss America contest winner gets to wear a crown encrusted with diamonds and worth $200,000.  She only wears it for television broadcasts.  It is too valuable and a security risk to be wearing it out in public.  It stays under lock and key and is heavily guarded.  What one sees in public is pretty but only a copy.

Today’s verse speaks of a crown which is in fact far more valuable than any literal diamond encrusted one.  This crown represents our eternal hope and the joy we will experience in the presence of the Lord.  But even more, the crown represents the people who have come to Christ through one’s testimony and influence.  The crown represents as well those who the believer has encouraged and helped to grow closer to Him, as Paul had for the believers in the church in Thessalonica.  If we “glory” or boast at all, it will not be in our own exploits of faith or our good works.  Our glory will be individuals.

What joy there will be to see in Heaven those for whom we have prayed so diligently!  What a thrill to see someone walk through those gates for whom we had given up hope!  That sacrificial gift made to help the Gospel spread will mean we will see believers from every tribe and nation!  Aspiring to this crown is a worthy goal!  I am my Mother’s crown as she led me to the Lord as a small child.  My crown is made up of individuals I have loved and prayed with over the years.

Lord, keep me faithful.


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In the Limelight

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:9 “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

Before the advent of electricity, theaters would use limelight to illuminate the stage.  A sharp point of oxyhydrogen flame was directed at a cylindrical block of lime, causing a tiny area of it to become incandescent.  The result was a bright white light.  However, it needed almost constant attention.  Someone was needed to continually adjust the block as it burned.  Since the invention of electricity this method is no longer used.  The saying, “being in the limelight,” is usually the only time we hear this word.

Today’s verse speaks of another source of light.  It will never be replaced with something better as this light gives life and enables us to see.  He does not illuminate a stage but a lifetime with the Light of His presence (John 8:12).  God has made His light to shine in our hearts, to give us the knowledge of Him (II Cor. 4:6).  His light not only shows us who He is but it is also an expression of His priceless and unfailing love (Psalm 36:7).

Just like the limelight, the light of His presence needs constant attention.  Being in His Word intensifies that light He gives.  His light is warm and loving, giving me closeness to Him and direction for my day.  Without it, I can easily stumble around and lose my purpose.  I can even get quite accustomed to the dimness and shadows.  But the further I wander from His light, the more negative and discouraged I become.  But oh what a difference when I return to the source of Light!  Not only does His light dispels darkness in my heart and mind but it also draws others to Himself!

Lord, keep me in Your light today.

 

 


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Nurse Log

Scripture for Today: John 12:24 “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

How strange to see a tree growing out of the remains of another!  This tree grows in the Cathedral Grove of Vancouver Island.  But throughout our Pacific Northwest, nurse logs can be seen.  When a whole row of trees are growing in a perfectly straight line , they are probably marking the place where an old tree fell.  These chunks of dead wood become cradles for new life!  That is because they give a head start to young seedlings as they decay, providing water, moss, leaf litter, disease protection and nutrients.

Today’s verse includes the same principle of having more impact dying in the service of others than living for one’s self.  The next verse explains that those who love their lives, lose them.  But the one who hates his life will keep it.  The nurse log has literally died as has the kernel of wheat in our verse.  However, our dying as believers has more to do with giving up rights and privileges in serving others.   Picking up our cross and following Jesus involves the daily denying of ourselves in the interest of others (Mark 8:34).

This is just as hard as it sounds and for me, proves to be a daily struggle.  My needs, my wants, my preferences…. I am not to hold on to them too tightly.  If by putting myself second I can encourage someone else, than I am being a “nurse log.”  Enough of these selfless acts will add up to creating a legacy that lives on even after my actual death!

Lord, make me a servant today!

 


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Sun Dogs

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

I recently saw two sun dogs as the sun was setting over the Puget Sound in Washington.  These rainbow-patches of light will sometimes appear on either side of the sun when it is low in the sky.  The crystals in the cold air act as prisms, bending the rays of light passing through them.  It is thought they are called “sun dogs” as these lights to the left and right of the sun follow it around as a dog follows its master.

Today’s verse tells us that God who created light, also made light to shine within the heart of the follower of Christ.  This light shines as we get to know Him.  As we learn more and more of the glory of His face and presence, we begin to reflect some of that light ourselves.  The light within the believer causes him to shine like stars in contrast to a “warped and crooked generation.” (Phil. 2:15)  As we follow that Giver of light, we reflect Him.

I cannot generate any of this light on my own.  If there is any light at all coming from me it is all a reflection of Him!  It can only happen as I follow Him and stay close, just as those sun dogs do!  But even a small chink of light can make a world of difference to finding my way or helping others find theirs.  And the light of the knowledge of Him keeps me warm and loved in a world that can be cold and dark.

Thank you Lord, for Your life-giving light!


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Lifetime Achievement Award

Scripture for Today: Genesis 15:1 “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision; ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.'”

George Clooney has just been announced as this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute.  He is being honored for his achievements as an actor, writer, producer and director.  He has won two Oscars as well as other honors.  And it cannot hurt that he remains so good looking, although that may not have influenced those bestowing this award!  In any case, this award represents approval from people for noteworthy achievements.

Today we bury my 95 year old Mother.  Her lifetime achievements are not so well-known or noteworthy.  But right now she is enjoying her reward.  This reward lasts for eternity and it does not depend on the approval of men..  Today’s verse explains that Abraham’s reward is God Himself.  Abraham enjoyed an intimate relationship with his Creator.  He was even called, “God’s friend.” (James 2:23).  He, like my Mother, was able to enjoy his reward while here on earth.  But to literally be in His presence is a reward that surpasses any other!

I think the world of my Mother but of course, she was not perfect.  However, I know she is enjoying her “Reward” because of God’s grace and forgiveness.  Although she spent her life following and obeying Him, she did not earn her place in His presence.  She is there because of God’s grace.  And I know, because I have accepted His grace as well, I will one day be able to hug her again.  I know she is hearing God’s approval as He says, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

Thank you Lord, for being our very great reward!