Devotions By Jan


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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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Migration

Scripture for Today:  Jeremiah 8:7  “Even the stork in the sky knows when it is time to move on.  The turtledove, swallow and the crane recognize the normal times for their migration.  But My people pay no attention to what I, the Lord, require of them.”

This young man is going places!  Our son loves to travel and experience different cultures.  It comes, I am sure, from being raised overseas and appreciating other world views.  From time to time, like many third-culture-kids, he gets itchy feet and wants to hit the road!  He seems to have visited everywhere but there are still corners of the earth left to explore.  I am proud of who he has become and his enlarged vision of our world!

Today’s verse talks about four different kinds of birds but with one thing in common; they all migrate.  Their little bird brains know instinctively when it is time to move on so as to avoid the freezing temperatures.  Jeremiah mentions these birds as a contrast to the Israelites.  The people prided themselves in possessing the Law of God.  But they continually turned to their own individual course, rather than following God’s way.  The Law, instead of being written in their hearts, became a mere code or outward ceremony.

I wish obeying God was as instinctive for me as migration is for the birds.  But then it would not mean as much.  God wants my obedience to be an intentional choice.  Knowing what God expects of me is a good thing.  But I do not want to make the same mistake as the Israelites.  The point is not how many Bible verses I can recite by heart.  He is more interested in how many I obey!

Help me, Lord, to be obedient.


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Steamroller

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

It’s coming.  In fact, even though it is still November, I hear the Christmas music and see the lights and trees set up in the anticipation of Christmas.  I may be alone in this, but it does not make my heart feel happy to see this so soon.  I almost feel that a steamroller is coming at me, and will soon flatten all my enthusiasm.  I cannot keep it at a fever pitch for over a month.  In my house at least, I can keep Christmas at bay a little longer.

Today’s verse tells us that we do not have to follow the pattern the world has of doing things.  We have the choice and the freedom to do things differently, to do things God’s way.  And His way is far better.  It is good, pleasing and perfect.  In belonging to Him, our minds can be renewed through His Word to know and appreciate what His way is.

I want to be intentional this Christmas.  I do not want to overcommit and get stressed out.  I do not want to feel the pressure to have everything decorated Pinterest style or impress people with my cookie baking skills.  I want to slow down enough to ponder and reflect like Mary did at the birth of her Son.  I want to turn my thoughts toward Him of whom the angels sang, and sing to Him myself!  And I want to love sacrificially as He did in coming to this earth.

Lord, help me celebrate Your birth in a way that pleases You.


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The Bod Pod

Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 4:17  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

No, this does not come from the set of the Mork and Mindy television set, although it looks like it could have!  The Bod Pod is another way to measure body composition.  It measures the amount of fat weight as opposed to the amount of fat-free weight.   The Bod Pod  can even measure fat around organs.  It’s all about the quality of the weight, whether lean muscle mass or body fat.  I think I would rather tell myself that the weight gain after the holiday is from muscle mass!

Today mentions another kind of weight and it is all good; the weight of glory!  This is a weight one would like to see increase.  But the weight of glory in Heaven grows in direct relation to our afflictions here on earth.  The hard times are working for us.  Life’s sorrows are achieving that weight of glory!

All the trials and difficult times I experience are but for a moment  They are a temporary condition.  And as hard as they feel, they are considered  “light” in comparison to the eternal glory that awaits.  My pain is never wasted.  My sorrow is not for nothing.  This truth keeps me from “losing heart”(verse 16).  Remembering this keeps me looking forward to what is unseen and eternal.  Being convinced keeps me renewed on the inside when I am falling apart on the outside (verse 16).  One day everything will be glorious.  One day there will be only recompense and joy!

Thank you Lord, that life’s trials can seem small when compared to You and eternity!

 

 


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Leftovers

Scripture for Today:  Lamentations 3:22-23  “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are NEW every morning: great is Your faithfulness.”

I love leftovers.  I especially love what is left the next day after a delicious Thanksgiving meal!  The flavors have had a chance to really mingle and often the taste is better the day after.  However, sometimes there is too much of a good thing and the Mother is stuck with trying to find creative ways of making that turkey taste original and new!

Thankfully, in the spiritual realm there are no leftovers when it comes to God’s compassion!  Today’s verse declares that His compassions are new every morning!  They are new because each day presents a new need for them.  And because He is forgiving, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love, He renews His compassion every day.  He crowns us with love and compassion (Ps. 103:4) and has compassion on us just as a Father does for his children (Ps. 103:13).  It is because He is compassionate that we are not punished as we deserve.  It is because of His love that He took that punishment for our sin on Himself.

Every day I can have a new start.  The disappointments and failures of yesterday are covered by His forgiveness and grace.  I can wake up with hope and expectation only because He is faithful to His promises.  His compassion does not wear out or run out.  He does not put a limit on His compassion for me or His forgiveness.  This renewal of His abounding love for me makes the new day one of possibility and hope!

Lord, thank you for a new start today!


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Well Done?

Scripture for Today: Matthew 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come share your master’s happiness!'”

My biggest fear in baking a turkey is bringing it out underdone and killing all my guests and family!  I have learned from painful experience that just because my turkey is nicely browned does not mean that it is cooked all the way through!  Believing the charts and knowing my oven helps me gauge doneness but the best way to avoid food poisoning is using a meat thermometer.  By the way, that is not my oven.  It has never been that clean!

Today’s verse has nothing to do with cooking or doneness.  These words are from a parable about a master and his servants who were to invest his money for him.  Two of the servants made his money grow and were commended for their work.   They were faithful to obey and do what they were told.  These two servants were rewarded for their faithfulness with more responsibility, an invitation to share in his happiness, and with words of commendation, “well done.”

It is my goal to one day hear those words from my Savior on entering Heaven.  On my own it is impossible.  But He has through His power given me everything I need to live the godly life He requires (II Peter 1:3).  Because of His nature in me, I can be productive and effective for Him (verse 8).  I can be a “good and faithful servant” only because He gives me what I need to live for Him!

Today, I am especially thankful that He has given me faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, affection and love!

Thank you Lord, for giving me Yourself!


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Cornucopia

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 13:15 “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.”

Is there a more fitting symbol of plenty than the cornucopia?  The original idea was to have an abundance of flowers, fruit and corn overflowing from a goat’s horn.  Today, we are happy with just a basket in the shape of a horn!  According to legend, the origin of the “horn of plenty” is said to be Greek mythology.  But now, it is associated with Thanksgiving and an abundant harvest.

In today’s verse the “fruit” is flowing out of lips that openly profess the name of Jesus.  As believers who bear His name, we are to continually praise God for all He has done for us.  Our praise and thankfulness characterizes our lives.  And it is only through Jesus that we worship God with our praise.  He gives us the ability to see, understand, and appreciate His working in our lives.  But sometimes, to thank Him is a sacrifice.  Professing His name and living a godly life means there will be suffering for doing what is right (II Tim. 3:12).  It is fairly easy to thank Him when all is well.  It takes more faith to praise when going through hard times.

When I can thank God in the middle of difficult heart-wrenching times, I know I bring Him pleasure.  Not only does it please Him, but thanking Him changes my perspective and strengthens my faith!  I want my heart to be grateful so I can recognize His control and His goodness to me.  I want to see beyond my problems to all that He has done for me!  He has proved His faithfulness over and over!

Lord, may my lips continually praise You.