Devotions By Jan


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Roasting Coffee

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.”

That small coffee bean goes through quite a long involved process before it finally makes it into my cup!  But towards the end, just before the grinding and the brewing, there is that all-important step of roasting.  The green bean is kept moving to avoid burning and turns brown at 400 degrees.  At that point a fragrant oil is released producing that wonderful aroma and flavor.

Today’s verse is an encouragement to believers who are suffering for the name of Christ.   Rather than be surprised by the intensity of the heat, we are to see it as normal.  Suffering abuse and rejection for Him makes us participants in the suffering He endured for us! (verse 13)  The Lord promises special blessing and an evidence of His presence (verse 14).  The heat of the trial tests our faith and produces in us a stronger flavor and aroma of testimony.  There is no shame in being insulted, rejected or marginalized.  Instead, there can be praise and joy at this privilege!

The hostility I encounter at the name of Jesus Christ is surprising.  The reaction seems so unwarranted and sometimes out of character from the person I thought I knew.  The name of Jesus is a polarizing one.  There may be additional difficulties in my life for proclaiming His name, but there is also additional blessing!  The heat of the testing can make my faith stronger.  Rather than discourage me, it can make firm my resolve to live for Him.  My piddly little problems of being misunderstood do not even compare to what Jesus went through for me!

Thank you Lord, that You know and You understand.


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Chinese Lantern Festival

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.”

Today is the date for the Chinese Lantern Festival.  This time for food and family marks the end of the Chinese New Year and is also considered the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day.  This festival of flying paper lanterns began over 2000 years ago!  It is a time for moon gazing, lighting lanterns, riddles, dances, and eating rice balls. However, its origins were tied to the worship of the gods with the lit lantern representing a god’s seat.

Today’s verse tells us that God who created light, also made light to shine within the heart of the follower of Christ.  As we learn more and more of the glory of His face and presence, we begin to reflect some of His light.  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, His light shines in and through us.

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.  But even a small chink of light can make a world of difference in finding my way or helping others find theirs.  Knowing Him is knowing light.  And the light of the knowledge of Him keeps me warm and loved in a world that can be so cold and dark.  How reassuring it is to live in the light of His wonderful presence!

Thank you Lord, for Your life-giving light!

 


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S & H Green Stamps

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:4 “who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”

Collecting these green stamps was part of my everyday life growing up.  The disagreeable part was licking the back of them to put in the collector’s book!  These stamps were one of the first loyalty programs.  From 1930 to the late 80’s, Sperry and Hutchinson rewarded customers with stamps at grocery stores, department stores and gas stations.  They could be redeemed for a variety of products from their catalog.  I remember dreaming over certain products but my Mother redeemed them for more practical choices.

Today’s verse redeems something infinitely more important than stamps!  God redeems our lives.  He brings us up from the pit and restores dignity with the gift of His unconditional love and compassion.  He redeems us from the “realm of the dead” and takes us to Himself (Ps.49:15).  And He didi it at an enormous cost to Himself!  Not with gold or silver but with the precious blood of Christ (I Peter 1:18-19).  He gave Himself to redeem us (Titus 2:14).  No one can redeem the life of another (Ps. 49:7-9)  He did for us what none of us could do for ourselves!

The only reasonable response to being redeemed is praise!  And part of expressing that praise is for the redeemed to say so!! (Psalm 107:2)  He is my personal Redeemer!  Nothing obligated Him to pull me up from that pit.  His love and compassion for me are completely unearned!  Not only does He give me what I do not deserve but He does not treat me as my sins do deserve (Psalm 103:10).  What amazing love, what incredible compassion that He would give His life in exchange for mine!

I am redeemed and how I do love to proclaim it!


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Together

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 12:26 “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

How heart warming it is to see people come together in times of grief!  This picture however, is not of a funeral but a wedding.  There is joy for the newly married couple but also grief at the imminent passing of the bride’s father.  This group of believers may be very different from one another.  But what unites them is their shared joy and pain.  Not only is each individual helped but the one they are surrounding is uplifted by this show of oneness and support.

In today’s verse there is both suffering and joy.  Both emotions can be shared within Christ’s body, the Church even though we show and experience emotion in different ways.  The weight of emotion is not quite as heavy when it is shared.  That sharing brings us together and emphasizes our oneness.  We are to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).  Doing so makes our unity that much stronger.  And when we are one, people can see Christ in us (John 17:20-23).

There is nothing worse than feeling strong emotions and having no one with which to share them.  Both intense joy and grief can increase feelings of isolation when they are not shared.  But when I can relate in this way with other believers, I connect on another level.  My little part of the body feels more integrated.  And what is really amazing is that this connection between believers somehow glorifies Christ and He is seen more clearly in me and in all of us!

Thank you Lord, for the connection I can have with other believers.


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100 Years

Scripture for Today: Psalm 77:11 “I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely, I will remember Your wonders of old.”

Meet Joseph Ambrose, a veteran of World War I.  At age 86 he was honored at a Veteran’s Day parade in 1982.  His old-fashioned uniform is surprising and the emotion etched on his face is touching.  He served in a war that was supposed to be the “war to end all wars.”  Sadly, that has not been the case.  Veteran’s Day this year marks the one hundred year anniversary of this war.  Memories fade as those who fought disappear with age.  But although we do not always have the details of these war stories, we can still appreciate the sacrifice their service represents.

In today’s verse Asaph declares that he will remember what the Lord has done.  And His wonders include miraculous exploits in battle!  From the drowning of Pharaoh’s army to the walls coming down at Jericho, the Lord has done battle for His own!  And He continues to do battle for us, equipping us with spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-17) and helping us to stand firm.  He makes us more than conquerors as He is on our side (Rom. 8:31).

My life is to testify to others just how great and awesome my God is!  I am to sing His praises, give credit and glory to Him by my life and praise Him in prayer.  When I do, I myself become a “wonder and surprise” to many! (Psalm 71:7)  But so often, it is through the heat of battle that others take note.  It is through the difficulty that He shows Himself strong and powerful.  When others see me rise above a horrible situation, I gain credibility and a voice.

Lord, may my life remind others of all Your wonders and incredible deeds!


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Clams

Scripture for Today: I Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Sometimes, even in death, a clam will not open up!  The advice is to refrain from eating any clam that does not open during the steaming process.  That adductor muscle is awfully strong, holding the two shell halves together.  This is how they protect themselves from their predators; the fish, eel, snail or starfish.  The expression, “to clam up” comes from the idea of a clam shutting down at the approach of danger.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to open up to others about the hope that is in them.  Part of revering Christ as Lord is being willing and prepared to answer questions from others about our faith.  Rather than “clamming up,” we are to be vulnerable and transparent with people that are interested.  There is always the danger of being misunderstood or even rejected.  But as long as communication is done with gentleness and respect for the viewpoint of the listener, than God is glorified.

When I speak to others of Christ, there is always the potential to encounter hostility, even with those who ask.  Dealing with hostile reactions requires His wisdom which is pure, peaceable and gentle(James 3:17).  I am told to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  I am also told to bless others when I am reviled and mocked (I Corinthians 4:12).  But what I do not want to do is clam up, just because I may be ridiculed.  I want to be bold, to declare out loud the very best thing that has ever happened to me…His love and salvation!

Lord, help me to be open about my faith today!

 

 


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A One-Hit Wonder

Scripture for Today: Job 5:9 & Job 9:10 “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”

A “one-hit wonder” is something that achieves mainstream popularity and success for a very short time.  It is usually for only one piece of work, whether it be in the area of music or sports.  A good example of a one-hit wonder is the song, “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by the Baha Men back in 2000.  In fact, this song made it into the top ten list of one-hit wonders (making it even more wonderful?)

What a contrast with the wonders God performs!  Today’s verse explains how unfathomable and numerous are God’s wonders!  This verse is even repeated in the book of Job for emphasis.  His wonders are awe inspiring and remind us just how big He is and just how small we are.  David states that God’s wonders are too many to declare (Psalm 40:5).  Everything He does is a wonder of love and grace towards us.  Whether it be His incredible creation, a miraculous healing, or a changed heart, it is all “wonderful” in the true sense of the word!

I sometimes think I get used to His wonders and even take them for granted.  When that happens I lose the awe and worship that is due Him.  He deserves all the glory, credit and recognition for the sun coming up this morning.  The Lord wants me to tell the next generation of His praiseworthy deeds, His power and the wonders He has done in my life (Psalm 78:4).  But how can I proclaim aloud His praises and tell of all His wonderful deeds if I do not even recognize them?

Lord, open my eyes today to Your wonders and the wonder of who You are!