Devotions By Jan


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Catching Fire!

m8Scripture for Today: Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

I never learned how to make fire in any badge-earning program or camp.  It seems like such a “macho” activity!  In learning about making fires I was surprised to see so many methods, some of which seem quite unorthodox.  The lens-based methods include the use of flint and steel, fire from ice, a soda can and chocolate bar or batteries and steel wool.  But the friction-based method is the most difficult and what usually comes to mind.  Spinning a spindle against a fireboard creates the friction that produces the ember.

Our verse for today talks about believers gathering together for the purpose of stimulating each other to show love and be involved in good works.  When we rub elbows with other believers, there can be friction.  We can rub each other the wrong way.  There can be personality differences that cause friction.  But there is a positive side to this friction.  We are stimulated and encouraged to do our best for the Lord.

The Lord knew we needed to be around other believers.  On our own we have the tendency to become lax in our Christian walk.  On our own we tend to become self-centered.  Being around believers that are living out their faith is stimulating.   Seeing the enthusiasm of believers to invest in the lives of others serves as a spark to get my fire going!  My spark may seem small and insignificant, but it can be catching.

Thank you Lord, that together we do make a difference for You.

 

 


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Different Vessels

MTS_sunni9676-1182712-Recolors2Scripture for Today: II Timothy 2:20 “Now in a wealthy home there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also ones made of wood and clay, and some are for honorable use, but others for ignoble use.”

At first glance, the items shown on this shelf appear to be mugs with various designs.  They are all made of clay and the shape and colors are inviting.  But in fact, they are chamber pots!  In former times this necessary item of personal hygiene was kept under the bed or in a nightstand cupboard.  They are still commonly used in North Korea and rural China in homes without indoor plumbing.  The best ones of course come with a lid!

Our verse for today describes different vessels made of various materials for different uses.  The clay or wood vessels were for practical but ignoble use.  One would never think to fashion a chamber pot out of gold or silver!  That material was reserved for vessels set apart for special occasions.

The context of our verse goes on to say that the vessels in gold or silver are for honorable use.  They are set apart and useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.  The deciding factor in what kind of vessel I am in the Master’s hand is whether I have been cleansed from evil.  Vessels of gold and silver are those who pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love and peace in the company of others with a pure heart.  Just as the difference is clear between gold and silver compared with wood and clay, so the difference is obvious between those whose lives conform to God’s standards and those who follow the world.

Thank you Lord, for setting me apart for honorable service.  May this vessel be useful to You today.


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New Birth

b84c8481e532e516_babyScripture for Today: John 3:5-6 “Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.'”

I am quite sure that the baby growing in my daughter’s tummy is unaware of the life that awaits him.  As far as he knows, he is experiencing all there is to life now.  He does not realize there is something more.  His little needs are being met.  He feels comfortable and protected being fed without effort.  But there is a whole world out there he is yet to see.  Before long, he will open his eyes to light and sound that he never knew existed.

Our verse for today is in the context of a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.  Jesus is saying one must be born again, born into true life, born into real life!  Jesus says HE is that life (John 14:6)  Those who have not experienced this new birth believe they are living life.  But in fact they are not living true life  which is only found in Christ.

Jesus goes on to say that the Light has come into the world (verse 19).  How marvelous to see a newborn open his eyes for the first time and gaze into the love of his mother!  In the same way, when one is born anew, we can see Him with our spirits and we also see Love.  With this new birth comes hearing new sound; the sound of His voice!  All our spiritual senses are in play.  A whole other dimension in life has opened up to the one who comes to Jesus.  This is living!

Thank you Lord, that Your Spirit gives me true life!


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Landmarks

7590455Scripture for Today: Luke 10:27 “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Driving around Colmar, France can be confusing.  There is a peripheral road that surrounds the older section going one way.  If a turn is missed, then one is obliged to circle again.  The train station pictured here is my landmark.  It marks the exit road I take to leave the city.  And like so many European cities, the train station is always indicated on city signs.  I love the look of this building and learned that its twin is the train station of Gdansk, Poland!

In life we need landmarks as well.  It is easy to get confused and lost.  Our verse for today gives a “landmark” that helps to evaluate if we are going in the right direction.  In this verse is a principle that affects every area of our lives; love.  Loving God with our whole being; heart, soul, strength and mind indicates the direction our lives take.  Loving our neighbor as ourselves keeps us from following the dead ends of our own selfish desires.  In looking for this landmark we keep ourselves from displeasing our Lord.

The context of this verse is a conversation between Jesus and an expert of the Law.  These two commandments sum up all the Law and point out the impossibility of anyone succeeding,  Christ fulfilled the Law for me.  Yet, the principles found there are still a godly standard by which we can measure the direction of our lives.  Every activity, project or thought can be evaluated in the light of this love.

May every day be marked in some way by my love for You, Lord.

 


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Overflow!

Washing-Machine-OverflowScripture for Today:  Romans 5:15 “But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died by the trespass of one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many.”

There are Mondays and then there are Mondays.  Starting the week off with a mishap like the one pictured would exasperate anyone!  We have always made it a rule never to leave the house with the dishwasher or the washing machine running.  That does not stop the possibility of overflow happening while home however.  Thankfully, our current washer has a mechanism that prevents one from opening the door if the water has not properly evacuated.  It is no fun to do all that mop up!

Overflow of water is usually pretty negative.  But our verse for today talks about an overflow that is completely positive!  Paul is teaching that even though the consequences of Adam’s sin are far reaching and for all time, God’s grace and salvation overflows to the many.  His grace or unmerited favor is greater than all our sin (Romans 5:20).

There is not a single sin that is not covered by God’s grace when confessed.  The gift of His grace is much greater than the judgement that followed that one sin of Adam’s.  Christ’s gift of grace covers all sin and provides right standing with God (verse 16).  God’s abundant supply of grace is overflowing.  He never stops it up and says, “that’s enough!”  His grace never runs dry.  It continually flows bringing forgiveness and righteousness!

As I continually sin, I need His grace to be overflowing.  Everyday I need to feel His love and forgiveness wash over me, giving me a new start.  Yes, especially on a Monday.


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Pine Bark

mq_eng_fpb_pk_vert_300pxwide_72dpi_product_big_thumbScripture for Today:  Psalm 103:5  “who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

I had no idea.  I never knew until recently that tree bark was thought to fight the aging process!  And not just any bark!  The Pinus Maritima growing along the Atlantic coast of Southern France is purported to help with the skin’s loss of elasticity.  There are claims it has the same anti-inflammatory properties as many fruits and vegetables in reducing arthritis.  Its extract can be found in powder form in a capsule to swallow or it can be applied directly to the skin.

The advertisements can sound quite convincing.  But in our verse for today is another way to have one’s youth renewed!  This psalm of David is full of praise for all the benefits and good things that God gives His children.  When we remember all of what He has done for us (verse 3-5) our innermost being is built up and renewed.

God’s benefits include His forgiveness.  We are no longer bent over with the weight of our guilt.  It is lifted and He lifts our head (Psalm 3:3).  He heals us of so much hurt and so much baggage from our pasts.  He redeems us from the pit of our own making, rescuing us from impossible situations.  He crowns us with His love and compassion, reassuring us of our value and importance to Him.  He Himself satisfies the deepest longings of our souls.

It is an energy drain to deal with the crushing weight of a guilty conscience or the inability to leave the past in the past.  One is prematurely old when feeling unloved or unwanted.  Remembering His benefits is the best way I know to feel young!

Thank you Lord, for making me young on the inside!!


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Teeter-Totter

iStock_000015396036Small-460x280Scripture for Today:  Psalm 75:6-7 “No one from the east or from the west or from the desert can exalt themselves.  It is God who judges.  He brings one down.  He exalts another.”

It has been a long time since I have seen one of these teeter-totters in a public park.  I remember playing on them as a child and coordinating my movements with a friend so we could enjoy the up and down motion.  More often than not, there were some rough landings.  Not all of them were accidental!  I managed to survive this now outdated playground equipment.  Being that it is considered a safety hazard there are very few still seen today.

Our verse for today teaches that it is our sovereign God who brings down one person and lifts up another.  Regardless of our origin we can not exalt ourselves.  This psalm of Asaph declares that God puts down the wicked and lifts up the righteous.  He has the right to do so and He does it with justice.

When we try to exalt ourselves we can make a mess of things.  That is because all who exalt themselves will be humbled (Luke 14:11).  There is nothing better than hearing compliments and praise from someone else for a job well done.  When one sings their own praises all that is heard is pride.  How much better it is to leave the matter of recognition to the Lord.

God does promise to exalt us in due time.  We are to hope in Him and faithfully keep His way as we wait to see that happen.  Not only will we see ourselves exalted but we will see the wicked destroyed (Psalm 37:34)  It is a comfort to know this.  He is just and I can trust Him.