Devotions By Jan


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Reflected Color

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:18-20  “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Our area of Alsace, France is known worldwide for its white wine.  We lived in the middle of extensive vineyards and our landlords had their own winery.  Not only are the white wines renown but they have their own special wine glasses.  Because the whites are so light in color, the wine glasses have green stems to add reflected color.  Without the green color of those stems, the glass looks as if it contains only water.

Today’s verse speaks of the danger of drunkenness and of the loss of control.  Rather than being filled with wine, we are to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit.  Rather than losing control with wine, we are to be controlled by His Spirit.  The evidence of being filled is the “green stem.”  That reflected color of being filled is the joy, the singing and the praise to God.  Praise for God’s blessings are shared with others and expressed to the Lord with a heart overflowing with thankfulness.  Gratitude is the attitude of the one who is filled.

Sometimes, I am colorless.  He is there but I am not filled with Him as my discontent is taking up so much space.  It is easy to compare my situation with others and focus on what I do not have.  On those days there is no joyful color.  I certainly do not feel like singing or praising Him.  But it all can change the minute I confess my ungrateful heart.

Lord, fill me with Yourself and make my heart sing!

 


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Reply or Reply All

Scripture for Today: Romans 11:4 “And what was God’s answer to him? (Elijah) ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'”

In my haste, I have sometimes made the mistake of hitting that “reply all” button on a group email.  Many times it can be appropriate to reply to all.  Normally, it is not a problem but there are times when I want my response to be very personal.  One of my pet peeves is reading responses sent to the whole group when it does not involve me or concern me.

Today’s verse is a very specific answer to a discouraged cry for help.  Elijah ran for his life after death threats from Queen Jezebel.  Strengthened and encouraged with rest and food provided by an angel, he continued to put distance between himself and the threat, traveling 40 days and nights.  Elijah felt totally alone, spent and discouraged.  The Lord never reprimanded him for feeling this way.  The answer to his prayer spoke directly to his need.  Elijah was told to anoint Elisha to help and was told of seven thousand who like Elijah were faithful to God!  He was not alone.

This is no “reply all” response from God.  It was an intensely personal reply.  God’s answer to Elijah was for a certain time and place.  But I learn from it that He hears the individual prayer and provides a specific answer.  And He does the same for me.  He knows exactly what I am feeling and why.  I may not even be able to articulate my need but the Holy Spirit intercedes for me with wordless groans (Romans 8:26).  As my Creator He sees and understands my heart.  When I cry out to Him, He answers with exactly what I need.

Thank you Lord, for Your very personal replies.

 

 


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Tasmanian Devil

Scripture for Today: Galatians 5:15 “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Despite his name I would hate for the Tasmanian Devil to become extinct.  His only natural habitat is the Australian island-state of Tasmania.  Because of his husky snarl and bad temper, he often has what is called a “devilish expression.”  Since 2008 he has been on the endangered list.  The reason?  A cancer called, “devil facial tumor disease,”  which results in grotesque tumors around the head and mouth.  It is thought to be transmitted when they bite each other!

Today’s verse teaches that the words from our mouths can inflict pain and even destroy another.  Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).  So much of what displeases the Lord comes from the mouth, whether it be gossiping, lying, mocking, arguing, criticizing, ….the list goes on.  And each of these has such a devastating effect on the one to whom it is directed.  What is more, the “tit for tat” reciprocity only escalates the problem until both parties are destroyed.

It is only by His Spirit that I can love and forgive the one who has inadvertently or intentionally hurt me.  My memory is long when it comes to hurtful words.  But I have definitely taken things a step further when I want to retaliate.  There might be a momentary feeling of satisfaction but the relationship remains tense and broken.  Forgiveness is so difficult but without it, the relationship is “endangered” and at risk of extinction.  Realizing God’s forgiveness for me helps me get a better perspective on the whole mess.  And His love and His power are there to make forgiveness and restoration possible.  It is just not possible on my own.

Thank you Lord, that You heal those difficult relationships.

 

 


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Hot or Cold?

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other.”

He is adorable but I am confused.  Being that I am not a “dog person” I am unsure if this dog is cold, needing the coat or if he is too warm wearing two coats!  My body today is having the same confusion, unable to decide whether it is hot or cold.  A flu will do that, making me vacillate between fever and chills.

Today’s verse comes from the Lord’s reprimand to the church of Laodicea.  This is a message of hard truths but He reassures that those He loves He disciplines and rebukes (verse 19).  These believers were doing good deeds.  But something was wrong.  They were not done with any kind of passion.  It was as if they were on autopilot, showing kindness and giving to others out of habit or a sense of obligation.  However, the Lord sees the heart and the motivation.  And like the good works that prove to be wood, hay and straw rather than gold, silver and costly stones, there is a marked difference (I Cor. 3:12-13)

The difficult question I ask myself is whether I am lukewarm.  No one else can know the answer as it is a matter of the heart.  Frankly, the good I may do for someone else may be tainted with thoughts of self aggrandizement or reciprocal expectations.  When my thoughts of “I should help” outweigh my thoughts of “I want to help” than perhaps I am being lukewarm.  The only way I know to be passionate is to continually connect to that Vine and have that fruit naturally flow from my relationship with Him!

Lord, keep me from being lukewarm today.


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The Magic of Fireflies

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 5:16  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Fireflies are so intriguing!  When they light up a tree it is magical and looks like a fairyland.  The chemical reaction of these ugly winged beetles produces light but not heat.  They glow without wasting any energy.  All one hundred percent of their energy goes into making their light.  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 attractive 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 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.

I often feel that my acts of love and kindness towards others do not make much difference.  But even a pinpoint of light in the darkness is noticed.  When He is given the recognition He deserves than my little light has a huge purpose.  My focus should not be praise and recognition for myself but for Him!  My light is to pierce the darkness and point others to Jesus who Himself is the Light of the world!  And of course, when a group of flickering lights are together (as in the Church) the impact is that much more remarkable and beautiful!

Lord, show me how to shine for You today!


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Marked with a Seal

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 1:13  “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

The seal pictured here looks like it could be an antique and seems very elaborate.  Today, seals have  a much simpler image or maybe just initials.   They have recently seen a resurgence in popularity, but seals have been around for a very long time.  In biblical times they were common and served several purposes.  First, they kept that document rolled and closed.  They also kept a communication private.  The seal revealed the sender as it was imprinted with an identifying mark.  Of course, the importance of a seal was only as important as the sender.

Today’s verse says that believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  Being sealed by Him means guaranteed security and the reassurance of belonging to Him.  He is the Holy Spirit of promise whose work means the believer is “in Christ.”  Being sealed by Him means that we are His possession.  He cares enough about us to seal us to Himself.  There is a seal over the heart and on the arm between the bride and bridegroom (Song of Solomon 8:6).  It is a seal that pledges fidelity.  In the same way, the Spirit seals us with His presence as a sign of His love.

Because He loves me, He has marked me forever as His own.  The seal of His Holy Spirit is one more way that He speaks love and reassurance to my heart.  The imperfect up-and-down relationship I have with Him now is not to be compared to the closeness we will someday enjoy.  His seal has guaranteed it!

Thank you Lord, that I belong to You!


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Kite Mishap

Scripture for Today: John 3:8 “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

I did not see the beginning of this kite mishap but I can just imagine it!  The wind this day was not so terribly strong but it was capricious.  The dangling string did nothing to help free it from the tree’s clutches and of course climbing the tree proved too difficult.  As far as I know, the kite is still there, victim to the wind’s change of direction.

Today’s verse likens the work of the Spirit to the wind.  Man has learned how to harness the power of the wind, but we still cannot control where it is coming from.  Man has no say in when it will arrive, how strong it will be or when it will abate.  In the same way, we cannot explain the movement of God’s Spirit but we do see the results.  We see His presence by the change affected in hearts and lives.

Just as I cannot control the wind, I cannot control God’s Spirit.  He is a Person, not just a force of nature.  I do not have the power to oblige Him to do anything.  He is God, and it would be presumptuous of me to think that I could control Him!  His power and how He chooses to use it is part of what makes Him God.  But I can be assured through His Word that His movements are not capricious but purposeful and good.  No, I do not control Him.  What I desire most is that His Spirit controls me.

Lord, may Your Spirit empower and direct me today.