Devotions By Jan


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The Hope Chest

chest-open_0Scripture for Today:Romans 5:5 “And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

I never owned a hope chest, although I hoped!  It was a tradition that was already obsolete by the 1950’s.  The practice of filling a hope chest with items useful in setting up house came from Europe around the 18th century.  A young girl’s “trousseau” consisted of handmade bed linens, table linens and embroidered items.  I often wondered what happened to that hope chest and its contents when it was clear that marriage had passed one by.  Perhaps giving it away signaled the end of hope.

Today speaks of a hope that never puts us to shame.  Unlike unfulfilled hope in a human love, our hope is placed in a love that has already been poured into the heart of a believer.  The Holy Spirit is our seal of ownership, guaranteeing what is to come! (II Cor. 1:22).  Hope in this sense is a sure thing with no possibility of disappointment or shame.  This hope grows stronger and stronger as we see the Lord come through for us when experiencing suffering (verse 3).  Hope grows by persevering through that impossible situation.  Our hope is obvious to everyone through the strength of character that comes from hanging in there (verse 4).

Hope that is based on the wrong thing can be wishful thinking that makes the heart sick when unfulfilled (Prov. 13:12).  My hope is sure being based on God’s faithful promises.  My longing for love is absolutely fulfilled in my relationship with my Creator.  He never disappoints and I am never put to shame.  He always comes through and someday I will see the glory of God up close and personal!

My hope will forever be in You, Lord.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.

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Another World

img_20161001_112154Scripture for Today: John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I wish this man would turn around so I could see the shock on his face when he realizes that not all is as it appears!  This image reminds me of the movie, “The Truman Show” with Jim Carey where he unknowingly lives in an artificial domed world.  The man in this image would never have known there was another world had he not been curious and courageous enough to lift that curtain!

Today’s verse is spoken by the Lord, our Good Shepherd.  Those who belong to Him are pictured as sheep who enter only through Jesus, the Gate.  They have freedom to go in and out and find green pasture.  But there is another group who do not belong to Him and are fooled by the “thief,” or Satan.  They are fooled into thinking that this life and what we see is the only reality, when in fact there is another whole world.

Satan does not want anyone lifting that curtain and seeing the spiritual realm.  By hiding the reality of the abundant life Jesus offers, he steals from men their capacity to enjoy their days to the fullest!  With eyes blinded we miss out on what is real and eternal, until the Lord opens our eyes (Acts 26:18).  Without realizing it, so many are content to live with the pigs and eat their scraps rather than feasting and partying at the Father’s table! (Luke 15:11-25)

I am so grateful for Jesus giving me a life that includes that other unseen world.  This world is just not enough.  But He is!

Thank you Lord, for the full abundant life You give me!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Majority Rules

majorityrulesScripture for Today: Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”

This looks like an interesting game.  The winner is the one with the most points, earned by voting in the same way as the majority does on various questions.  There is ample opportunity for lots of debate and laughter, especially when it is obvious that the one losing vote is clearly correct but the majority carry the day!  The reasoning behind one’s vote does not change the outcome.  The important thing is to be part of the ruling majority!

Today’s verse describes a majority of people who enter through a wide gate and follow a broad path.  It is perhaps an easier choice and one is certainly in good company with so may others making this same choice.  It is easy in life to be lulled into a false sense of security when surrounded by so many others of the same opinion.  What is so sad is that the majority does not rule in this case and is not right in their choice.  The consequences of following the majority could not be more serious as this path leads to destruction.

The good news is that there is a small gate and a narrow road that leads to life (verse 14).  Jesus has said clearly that He is the gate by which we enter (John 10:7).  He is also the one and only way (John 14:6).  But the ones who follow this way will always be in the minority.  It is not a comfortable position to be different than the majority around us.  But how much better it is to be uncomfortable and on the right path.

Lord, thank you for showing me the way to life through You.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Red Tide

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 5:16  “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.”

This beautiful light show is happening right now in San Diego, California!  It is called a “red tide” because the water can appear red or golden, although here one sees eerie blue neon waves.  It is produced by algae filled with phytoplankton called “dinoflagellates.”  The algae is said to bloom during the warm months, rolling off the waves near the  shoreline.  This bioluminescence is the same kind of light made by fireflies.  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 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 can 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.  It is not about my goodness but His!

People can see a difference in me when I do not look to be thanked or recompensed for what I do for others.  I want my motives to be pure and have no personal agenda behind my actions.  Public accolades are always nice to receive but I never want that to be the goal.  I feel pretty insignificant sometimes, but even a small light can pierce that darkness and point others to Christ.

Lord, show me how to shine for You today!

 


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A Breath of Fresh Air

Scripture for Today: John 20:21-22 “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.’ And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'”

It started as a bit of a joke.  Two Canadian friends tried selling on e-bay a bag of fresh mountain air.  It only sold for 99 cents but from this humble beginning they have built a reputable business bringing in $230K per year!  Each 20$ can has 160 shots of pure Canadian mountain air.  It is said to smell fresh and clean. For those living in very polluted areas, this must indeed be a breath of fresh air!

Today’s verse describes that first awe-struck moment when Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection.  They were overjoyed but after He breathed on them, they were also empowered with His Holy Spirit!  Because of God’s Spirit breathed on them, these disciples went from timid to tenacious in their testimony to the world!  And as believers we too are given His Spirit as all those who belong to Christ have the Spirit (Rom. 8:9).

In a sense, I am breathing a pure rarified air of a higher altitude with His Spirit living in me.  His Spirit gives me everything I need to live a life that pleases Him including His fruit (Gal. 5:22-23) and the power to hope (Rom. 15:13).  The Spirit does not make me timid but gives me power, love and even self-discipline! (II Tim. 1:7)  It is His Spirit that speaks to my heart and makes God’s Word personal.  And just as air is so necessary to life, so is His Spirit to my spiritual life.  What would I do without Him?  As Marie Barnette puts so beautifully, “This is the air I breathe, Your holy presence living in me.”

Lord, breathe on me today.


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The Cardinal

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

It is not fair.  The male cardinal gets all the attention with its bright red plumage whereas the female is largely overlooked.  And yet,  although the colors are more subtle, she is beautiful too.  Normally among songbirds, the male is the only one to sing.  He will sing to defend his territory and during courtship.  However, the female cardinal also sings.  She sings mainly during the spring, during courtship and while sitting on her nest.  Her song is a bit longer and more complex than the male’s song.

Today’s verse downplays the differences between races, social status and between the sexes.  These words describe a coming together that is not so natural.  Believers can achieve oneness in Jesus Christ.  Regardless of our differences, followers of the Lord can have a unity that is remarkable!  Unlike the “birds of a feather who flock together,” the body of Christ is incredibly diverse.  People that would not normally come together find themselves sharing a deep bond in our shared love of Jesus!

What a beautiful testimony to find this unity in a world that is so divided!  Love that reaches across generation, gender and race is the mark of a Christian (Mark 13:35).  It is not natural.  I want that mark on my life, but it can only happen with the fruit of the Spirit in me.  It helps to remember that down deep, my soul is exactly the same as my neighbor’s.  I see differences but the Lord looks on the heart (I Sam 16:7).

Lord, thank you that You can bring together what the world does not!

 


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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!