Devotions By Jan


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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!


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Immigrant Fruit

Scripture for Today:  Galatians 5:22-23a  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

I was surprised to learn that almost every food we eat is an “immigrant!”  The plant explorer or food spy, David Fairchild, introduced more than 200,000 exotic plants and crops to the USA over 37 years.  He traveled to over 50 countries bringing us apples from Kahzakstan, bananas from New Guinea, oranges and limes from China and new strains of avocados from Chili!

Today’s verse describes another kind of fruit which is not native or natural to us!  It is the fruit or evidence of the one who is filled with and walking by the Spirit of God.  The results of being in close communion with Him are evident in one’s behavior and attitude.  The fruit comes from Him and not from ourselves.  It is not natural to react to stress with calm confidence.  It is not even normal to respond with kindness to someone who intentionally hurts us!  To have deep seated joy in the midst of crisis is certainly other-worldly.

I have none of these qualities on my own, especially in tense stressed moments.  But as a believer the Spirit of God resides in me.  That means that I have the potential to respond with these beautiful characteristics when it does not seem natural.  When I see that they are lacking, it is not a matter of “self-help” but turning to Him for His help.  The more I confess my inadequacies and turn to Him, the more He responds with this beautiful fruit.  These qualities describe to perfection the One I serve.  He is slowly (some days very slowly) producing His character or image in me!

Lord, please show Your fruit in me today.


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Water Filters

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

I am not usually a fan of drinking tap water.  It’s not that I am a “water snob” but I can often detect a funny taste and odor to it.  Some locations are worse than others and the difference lies in how the water is treated and how much chlorine is left after disinfecting it.  I am fairly confident of the bacteria, viruses or parasites having been killed by the chlorine.  But I sure do not like to taste it.  These charcoal filters do a pretty good job of filtering out that funny taste.

In today’s verse we are to filter out what is evil and only allow in what is good.  In that way our love for others is sincere.  Calling something “love” that is tainted with self-interest is an insincere love, allowing evil to cloud it.  Recognizing sincere love can only happen when I filter out what the world defines as love.  The love portrayed in novels and films can parade as real but when evil and disobedience to God’s standard are mixed in, it falls short and often leads to hurt and disappointment.

A love that is sincere and without evil is described in I Corinthians 13:4-7.  This picture of sincere love has little resemblance to what is around me.  I need to filter out impatience, selfishness, pride, envy and an unforgiving spirit.  For my love to be sincere, I want to cling to faithfulness, speaking truth and showing honor.  God’s Word tells me how to view love.  God’s Word tells me when love is sincere.  Without His Word, I would not be able to discern what is truly good and sincere.

Lord, make my love sincere and good today.


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Ruby Red

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 20:15. “Gold there is and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.”

This is called the “Carmen Lucia ruby” and has been on display at the Smithsonian Museum since 2004.  It was mined in 1930 in Burma, known for the most vibrant rubies in the world.  This 23 carat-faceted stone was in the collection of Carmen Lucia, purchased for her by her loving husband in anticipation of her recovery from cancer.  Sadly, she died and her husband donated it to the museum to honor her memory.  Of course this ruby is valuable but what makes it stand out even more is the story behind it.

As beautiful and rare as some rubies are, there is something that is described in today’s verse as a “rare jewel;” lips that speak knowledge.  We value gold and rubies for their beauty, rarity and worth.  Yet, lips that speak knowledge are even more rare and beautiful.  Knowing what to say and when to say it is invaluable!  It is the Lord that gives wisdom and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding (Prov. 2:6)  He is the source and it is when we fear, respect and show the awe due Him that we can possess this rare jewel. (Prov. 1:7)

I enjoy beautiful gems and jewelry, especially when the light catches them just right.  But there is nothing so off-putting as a woman bedecked in gold and rubies that opens her mouth and spoils the effect!  Knowledge, wisdom and understanding attract others.  More than a recitation of factual information, the knowledge and wisdom He gives allows me to use the right words to build up others (Eph. 4:29) benefitting those who listen.  His knowledge and wisdom coming out of my mouth will point others to Him.

Lord, make my lips a rare jewel today!