Devotions By Jan


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Zen

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.”

The other day while exploring the tide pools of Cabrillo National Park with my grandsons, I saw an older man sitting crosslegged.  He had built three stacks of stones just like the one pictured.  His eyes were closed and he looked peaceful.  This rock configuration brings to mind the idea of “Zen.”  This Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism asserts that enlightenment can come through meditation and intuition rather than faith.

Today’s verse gives us the true Source of enlightenment.  It is God’s light that gives us enlightenment.  No matter how long or how well we meditate, our own ideas of truth are subjective and without Him, fall short of His objective truth.  It is His light that gives us the knowledge of God’s glory in Jesus, His Son.  If He had not revealed the truth with His light, we would still be in the dark.  And when believers meditate, it is on His truth that we meditate.

In this busy season full of so many distractions, it takes an effort of the will to turn my mind to spiritual things and meditate on His truth.  But what a blessing when I do! There are no loftier thoughts than thoughts of Him.  And meditating on His love and all that He has done for me encourages my heart.  His light and His Word reveals to me so many worthy subjects of meditation, all of them centered on Him!

Lord, keep me meditating on You and Your truth throughout the day.


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Sticker Shock

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 6:19-20  “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

If the idea of “sticker shock” is to be shocked at a price, then this menu item fits the bill!  What makes the $247.95 price so very shocking is that it is listed with reasonably priced offerings!  When looking closely one can see why the price is so high.  But at the risk of sounding like a food snob, I cannot imagine pairing such a high end drink with the lowly hamburger!

Today’s verse talks about a price that God paid.  The price He paid was enormously high and shocking!  On that cross He shed blood and died.  He paid the debt that we owe for our own sin.  And it cost Him everything.  The only reasonable response is to honor Him with the body He has transformed into a temple for His Spirit.  As a temple, we are to be holy and set apart for Him.

My body rightfully belongs to Him.  I am not my own.  Because of His sacrifice I am His.  So then, I am to honor Him in all I do.  I am to keep this body pure and in good shape.  But frankly, I do not always do a good job of it.  Thankfully, He does not go to “Returns” because I am defective!  He did not purchase me because I was worth it.  He purchased me to give me worth.  It is amazing that He would think I could be worth loving, worth holding.  But He does.  He created me to be His.

Thank you Lord, that I am forever Yours!


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Plane Trees

Scripture for Today:  John 15:2  “He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

These plane trees are a common sight in France, often lining a country road.  They do not look like much here, however when they leaf out they are beautiful and give welcomed shade.  But during the pruning season they are cut back so far they look as if they may not survive.  The knobby ends to those branches make the tree look so strange and forlorn.  Yet if they were not cut back so aggressively, they would become thin and scraggily with their old growth.

Today’s verse refers to the pruning of vine branches to produce more and better fruit.  But the idea is the same; that old growth needs to be removed before new growth can happen.  The one who does the pruning is the Father or the gardener.  He does not want me to be content with the fruit He has already produced.  He wants me to cooperate with His pruning shears in order to produce more fruit that is richer and more excellent.

Pruning does not feel so good.  It is a painful process.  Just after pruning the plant does not look so good either. But when the Lord allows the hard times in my life, He has in mind to produce new growth in me.  Every painful circumstance He can use.  There is new dependance on Him with every failure, with every disappointment.  I may not see the new growth for awhile, but He has promised a beautiful result; a fruitful life.

Help me, Lord, not to question your pruning shears.  Help me to trust what You are doing in my life.

 


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Bonded Leather

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

I was horrified to pull back my couch cover and see how the bonded leather was “unbonding!”  After just two years the couch was showing signs of this kind of wear.  It was my own fault for not researching the meaning of “bonded leather” before buying it.  But because the price was hefty and it was from a reputable well-known brand, I did not think it through.  This kind of leather is made up of many small pieces bonded or glued together.  Those that sell it admit that it will only hold up three to five years.  What a disappointment!

Today’s verse talks about a supernatural bond of peace that is the work of the Holy Spirit in believers.  Those belonging to Jesus come in all shapes and sizes, different races and cultures, social standings, income and education.  We are little pieces bonded together making a whole.  We are part of one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father! (verses 4-6).  And this peace is something we are to strive to keep.

The Lord knows me.  He knows how easily I can nitpick and criticize.  I so easily focus on differences rather than recognize what unites me with my brothers and sisters.  The Lord has shown me incredible grace, and yet I am slow to show that same grace to others.  Our unity is more important than me being right, recognized or visible.  Our unity can be a powerful draw to the world.  And oh how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! (Ps. 133:1)

Thank you Lord, that You make possible this bond of peace.  Help me to keep it!

 

 


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Jerusalem Cricket

Photo by Jeff Turner

Scripture for Today: I John 3:1 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.”

Legend has it that a priest while living among the Navajo misinterpreted their name for this big-headed insect.  They called it “Skull Head” but he heard “Skull Hill.”  This put in mind the name, Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified.  But this cricket is also called Red Skull, Old Bald-Headed Man and Child of the Earth.

Today’s verse speaks of the Father’s great love for His own.  It is a love that He lavished on us to the extent that He even calls us, “children of God.”  No longer do we belong to the world.  Our identity has been changed forever as His children.  We call Him Father and we call other believers in this worldwide family, brothers and sisters.  The world often fails to recognize this family as they do not know the Father.  And it is only through faith in Christ, His Son that we can belong to this family (Gal. 3:26).

I am a child of God.  What an amazing humbling truth!  As His child I no longer belong to the world or conform to it (Romans 12:2).  No longer am I led by the current thinking or fad but instead I am led by His Spirit (Romans 8:14).  Because I have received Him and believed on His name, He has graciously made me His (John 1:12).  I am not always such an obedient child.  There are times each day when I let down my Father.  But unlike any human family relationship, I can always count on His love and forgiveness.

Thanks you Lord, for making me Your child.

 


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Soft Candlelight

Scripture for Today:  Psalms 90:8  “You have placed our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence.”

I love candlelight.  I love the way it adds ambiance to a special dinner.  One of the reasons I like candlelight so well is that it softens hard realities.  I just look better in the low light.  One does not see my wrinkles, my blemishes or the bags under my eyes.  All the defects are hidden in the soft flattering light.  My husband even looks better!

Today’s verse talks about another kind of light; the light of His countenance.  This light is brighter and much more revealing.  It does not soften anything but brings to light some hard realities.  I do not look so good in this light as it exposes the truth.  The light of His face exposes all the sins I have ever tried to cover up, even from myself.  But those secret sins that no one else knows about are not hidden from Him.  His light reveals what I am hiding even from myself.

I may feel more comfortable in low candlelight, but He will have none of it!  His light exposes the problem out of love for me, so that it can be confessed and forgiven.  I need to agree with God about my secret sin so that He can deal with it.  In doing so, I can actually enjoy His light.  This same Psalm ends with a prayer, “and let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us…”  When I am honest with Him about those secret sins and confess them, I become more beautiful as I reflect His beauty!  No more need for candlelight!

Thank you Lord, for Your beautiful light and the forgiveness You offer.


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Moonlight

Scripture for Today:  Isaiah 42:8  “I am the Lord: that is My name; and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images.”

Often when my children were young we would see a big bright moon in the sky and chant the little ditty, “I see the moon and the moon sees me.  God bless the moon and God bless me!”  The moon can be so beautiful and it inspires so many romantic scenarios!  But what is interesting about the moon is that it has no light of its own.  The light that it shines is of course the reflected light from the sun.  In fact, the side of the moon that is not facing the sun is always cold and dark.

Today’s verse teaches that there is only one Source of glory and that is the Lord.  We can not claim any glory as originating in ourselves.   The Lord does not share His glory.  But He does want us to reflect it.  It is our purpose here on earth to shine in this darkness and point others to Him.  But it is HIS glory and light that we are reflecting.

Unfortunately just like the moon, when I am not facing the Light I cannot reflect it.  I can not reflect His glory when I claim that glory for myself.  The dark side is the part of me that takes credit when it rightfully belongs to His work in me.  But I do not want any cold or dark sides to me.  I want all of me to shine!  I want to give Him the glory for any and all accomplishments.  I want Him to have the credit for anything that is good in my life.

Lord, may I reflect Your glory today!