Devotions By Jan


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Cat Grooming

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 7:1  “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

If it seems that cats are always licking themselves, you are right as they spend fifty percent of their awake time in some form of grooming!  Their rough tongues and teeth are used to maintain healthy skin, remove loose hair, dirt and parasites.  They learn this behavior very early and are often self grooming by the time they are weaned.  But in addition to the obvious benefits, this daily ritual is also, “an emotional feel good behavior.”

Today’s verse talks about the effort we are to make in being uncontaminated, not only in the body but in the spirit too.  Our motivation to keep ourselves morally pure is a special one as our bodies are the temple of God (6:16).  His desire is to live with us, walk among us and be a Father to us.  Because of these promises, He wants us to keep ourselves holy or set apart for Him.  We keep ourselves pure and uncontaminated from the world by being completely separate from its morals and values.  There is no fellowship between light and darkness (verse 14).

Although I am pretty good at noticing dirt on someone else, I do not always see the dirt on myself!  My less-than-clean spirit is so well hidden from others that it is easy for me to ignore.  I can be asymptomatic but still be contaminated and contaminate others!  Keeping myself pure comes as a result of that daily examination and confession.  He brings to light those dark places I have swept to the corners.  And He so freely and lovingly restores me that this can also be an “emotional feel good behavior!”

Lord, purify my heart today.

 


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Safety Gloves

Scripture for Today: Revelation 21:27  Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

These disposable safety gloves are so important in keeping our health professionals free of contamination.  But there is another pair of gloves on display at the Ghetto Fighters’ House museum in Israel.  They are the gloves worn by an Israel Security Service Agent when grabbing Adolf Eichmann off the streets of Argentina in 1960.  This Nazi criminal was brought back to Jerusalem to stand trial for his barbaric role in the massacre of Jews and was hung for his crimes.  Although Eichmann looked so unassuming and ordinary, the agent used gloves rather than touch pure evil.

Today’s verse declares that nothing evil will ever enter Heaven.  No one who has ever done anything impure, shameful or deceitful will be able to gain access to God’s presence.  The Almighty One is so holy that His eyes are too pure to even look on evil (Hab. 1:13).  The perverse person is an abomination to the Lord, not only by his actions but also by his thoughts (Prov. 15:26).  But being that there is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10) how can anyone enter?  The Lamb’s Book of Life contains the names of those who have placed their faith in Christ’s righteousness and His sacrifice for their sin.

Nothing I could ever do would qualify me to enter Heaven apart from trusting Him.  The ground in front of the cross is level and I stand just as guilty as the most deplorable Nazi.  But thankfully because of Jesus, the Lamb of God, I can boldly approach His throne and find mercy and grace (Heb. 4:16).

Thank you Lord, that Your mercy and grace made a way for me!

Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018.


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The Whimbrel

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 2:10 “these are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

Half the fun of walking close to the water on Southern California beaches is watching the Whimbrel.  He is very recognizable with his striped head and long curved bill.  When he flies it will be just over the water or ground.  More often I see him running near the water’s edge.  He uses that long bill to pick and probe in the sand, finding crustaceans, insects and worms.  He will dig deep in the wet sand to reach his dinner.

Today’s verse teaches that there are deep things of God that His Spirit searches and reveals to us.  These things cannot be physically seen, heard or even imagined (verse 9).  These are things that God has prepared for those who love Him and can only be known through His revelation.  No one can know the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God (verse 11).  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts ( Isaiah 55:8) yet His Spirit resides in the believer.  And it is only through God’s Spirit that we can have even a small inkling of all that God has prepared for us.

When the Spirit reveals the deep things of God it is through His written Word.  I need to dig deeper to know Him more.  I do not want to be satisfied with surface knowledge.  His Spirit wants to reveal more of Himself to me.  But too often I am rushed or distracted and do not take the time to dig deeper or listen to that still small voice.  The deep things of God are so deep it will take all of eternity to know Him.  But how incredible to start now!

Lord, keep me going deeper.


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Hair Color Reveal!

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:36-37 “And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

During these strange times of self-isolation, we hair-coloring women will soon be facing a big “reveal!”  Some may even feel that covering one’s face during a pandemic is secondary to covering emerging roots!  In a pinch we can go to the do-it-yourself boxed method.  Somehow, the results are never the same as the salon.  But of course, these problems are minor compared to the bigger ones of infection.

Today’s verse tells us not to swear by our heads.  It was a common practice in Matthew’s day to include oaths to add credibility to statements or promises made to one another.  But to swear to something puts us in a vulnerable position.  Just as one cannot change the true color of hair, so we are unable to change circumstances out of one’s control.  To the Lord, not fulfilling a vow is something very serious.  In essence it is like lying to Him.  Rather than risk that we are told to avoid making oaths at all.

I would like for my words to be able to stand on their own.  Rather than making myself more believable, speaking an oath tends to cheapen my words.  That is because I do not have complete control in my life.  There will always be a possibility that I will not be able to come through.  If I want to be taken seriously my “yes” should always be truthful, as well as my “no.”  Thankfully, God’s words are always trustworthy (I Cor.1:20) as every promise is a “Yes” in Christ!

Lord, make me a person of integrity.


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Sunk!

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 10:12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”

Two weeks ago, it never occurred to us that this would be our last view of the Pilgrim in all its grandeur.  After forty years at the Dana Point Harbor, it sunk.  What a heartache!  This tall-masted ship was a full sized replica of the merchantman brig from the novel, “Two Years Before the Mast” by Richard Henry Dana.  The Ocean Institute there had been battling a slow leak but thought it was under control with regular maintenance of the hull (recently postponed) and with a pump.

Today’s verse is a loving warning.  After describing the failures of the Israelites in the wilderness, Paul cautions that falling is a real possibility.  We can think that we are standing firm while at the same time being slowly weakened by compromise.  Like the small leaks in the hull of a ship, our resolve can slowly erode leaving us vulnerable.  No one wakes up in the morning and decides to give in to temptation.  Being drawn away from Him is usually a slow sneaky process.

Thankfully, standing firm does not depend entirely on me.  The Lord is faithful to always provide a way out of temptation (verse 13).  But I need to be humble enough to realize that I cannot handle it on my own and look for that escape route!  Like David I want to regularly ask the Lord to examine my heart and my mind (Ps.26:2).  This is an uncomfortable prayer but I can pray this with confidence, being convinced of His unfailing love and faithfulness (verse 3).   There are times when I feel overwhelmed.  But because of His love, His strength and His faithfulness I will not sink!

Thank you Lord, that You are my confidence.

 


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Relieved

Scripture for Today: Psalm 4:1 “Answer me when I call to You, my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.”

Being relieved of duty is not always something negative.  It can simply mean a change of command.  One person relieves the other of duty and then takes it on themselves, as in someone taking over a shift.  Pictured here is a change of command ceremony for the Blue crew of the USS Nebraska submarine.

Today’s verse is a cry of David for relief.   He ends the psalm with lying down in peace and sleep (verse 8).  David has found relief in his confident trust in the Lord.  His circumstances had not changed at all.  What changed was his focus.  And his focus changed as a result of his prayer.  Prayer does that.  It relieves a heart bowed down with worry.  Prayer relieves the heavy burden of sadness.  Prayer reminds us that we are not alone or forgotten.  He is there to relieve us from any distress we feel.  That is true relief.

My problems can seem insignificant compared to those of David.  But I do need relief during this unique time of pandemic.  There needs to be a “change of command” as I give everything over to the Lord.  He never means for me to have the “duty” of keeping it all together.  And just like David I can experience peaceful sleep.  He gives a peace that defies explanation (Phil. 4:7) and that guards my heart and mind.  I am relieved of duty as HE takes over the job Himself of creating peace in my heart.  He is willing and waiting to relieve me.

May my prayer to Him today end with a sigh of relief.


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“Yoke’s on You!”

Scripture for today: Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Today is April Fools Day and for some the joke or “yoke” is on them!  I wonder if during these days of social distancing there will be the same level of frivolity!  I hope so.  We could all use a laugh!  France has its own version of this day.  They observe this silliness by taping a paper fish on someone’s back without their knowledge.

Today’s verse mentions a yoke that is no laughing matter.  This is a yoke of slavery from which Christ has set us free.  The believers in the churches in Galatia were being influenced to put back on a heavy yoke.  That yoke was the belief that they could be justified by following the Law (verse 4).  Christ came to fulfill the Law and free us from this heavy impossible burden.  We have exchanged this yoke for an easy one, shared with Jesus.  His burden is light because He carries it with us and gives rest to our souls (Matt. 11:28-30).

How wonderful to know that He cares about what is burdening me!  Whatever is weighing me down does not come from Him.  He does not want me to go through life feeling that I must always do more to be accepted by Him.  That would be an unbearable weight!  He has done it all.  He is sufficient.  And the commands He has given me are not burdensome (I John 5:3).  It is in keeping them that I show my love for Him.  This love relationship is what gives me rest.  Despite the unease of risk and of the unknown, I can rest yoked to Him.

Thank you Lord, for Your reassurance.