Devotions By Jan

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Donating Blood

Scripture for Today: I John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”

After the recent horror of this latest mass murder, I was encouraged to see on the news the long lines of people waiting to donate their blood.  Hundreds came out to help the victims and their compassion warmed my heart.  Many of these volunteers were perhaps unaware that yesterday was World Blood Donor Day.  This event highlights the need for donors and is held every year on June 14th.  “Blood connects us all,” is their motto.  And certainly, giving blood saves lives.

Today’s verse talks about the blood freely given by Another.  This blood also saves lives and was given out of love and compassion for our condition.  The blood of Christ saves us once for all from the eternal punishment for our sin.  His blood makes it possible to walk in light rather than darkness.  His blood makes it possible to walk with others in sweet fellowship, rather than discord.  His blood cleanses and purifies us from sin and its consequences, in this life and in the next.

He shed His blood so I would not have to.  His blood saved my life.  My faith in His blood pays for of all my ugly sin (Romans 3:25).  More than just a needle in the arm, His gift of blood cost Him everything; separation from the Father, the mockery and violence of others, and His life.  How amazing and deep the love that motivated Him!  And how unworthy I am to be a recipient of such a precious life-changing gift!

I am so grateful Lord, for that precious flow, “that makes me white as snow.”

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Nibble Fish

Martine 13315582_10154508815284381_162048146630937990_nScripture 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.”

A French friend of mine and her daughter recently sat through this fish spa treatment.  These tanks are filled with small hungry Garra rufa fish who gently suck off the dry and dead skin on the feet.  Although this treatment is popular in Asia and Europe, it is banned in some US states because of concerns over health and safety.  But some say the risks are minimal and the resulting soft smooth skin is worth it.  For my ticklish feet, this is not even an option!

Our verse today refers to the pruning of vines to produce more and better grapes.  But the idea is the same; that old dry dead growth needs to be removed before new growth can be produced.  The One who does the pruning in my life is the Lord.  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 He knows just where to cut and how much.  When the Lord allows the hard times to come, He has in mind to produce new growth in me.  There is purpose in the pain I feel.  It is not for discipline or as a consequence of sin.  Instead He is using all the negatives in my day to produce a beautiful and fruitful life.

Thank you Lord, that I can trust You with those pruning shears.

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The Narrows at Zion

Scripture for Today: Psalm 125:2 “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore.”

The Narrows at Zion National Park are breathtaking!  We approached it from the bottom and only hiked a few miles in along the Virgin River.  The 16 mile hike is a wet one with a third of it done in the 45 degree water.  We were not quite that adventuresome.  But what impresses me most are the vertical sheer canyon walls soaring high above.  Surrounded by these majestic rock faces of the mountains, one cannot help but feel very small.

Our verse for today likens the love and protection of the Lord to surrounding mountains.  Jerusalem is not surrounded by a ring of peaks, but it is situated in a mountainous region.  God’s care is as constant and unmovable as mountains.  Those who trust in Him and His care are not shaken (verse 1) but are themselves like Mount Zion.

What a wonderful assurance to know that I am surrounded by God’s constant faithful love!  There is nowhere that I can turn that I cannot see it and feel it.  Like a ring of mountains, His love surrounds me.  He reminds me with every mountain view just how wide, long, high and deep His love is for me (Eph. 3:18).  He especially reminds me when I read His Word with His promises of love.

There is nothing I can do to remove those mountains far from my presence.  His love is too strong.  Nothing can separate me from that love.  My view of it may be blocked by the fog of my own waywardness and rebellion, but it continues on.  His love continues today, tomorrow and for eternity!

Lord, I need to feel your love surrounding, supporting and reassuring me today.

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The Right to Disconnect

Scripture for Today: Psalm 85:8 “I will listen to what God the Lord says; He promises peace to His people, His faithful servants – but let them not turn to folly.”

France has just passed a labor law that makes sending after-hour emails illegal between employer and employee!  The idea is to minimize work-related stress as technology often blurs the lines between personal and professional life.  Companies of over fifty employees are expected to comply.  I can understand the good intentions behind this law but can envision all kinds of complicated problems it can create too!  But the right to disconnect has its appeal.  When we leave work physically it would be nice to leave behind all thought of work as well.

Today’s verse is a declaration from David to listen to all that God says.  He connects listening to God’s voice with the peace of obedience and right relationship with Him.  This peace is promised to those who are faithful to obey Him.  But turning again to our own foolish ideas destroys that peace.  When we turn a deaf ear to His voice, we act like foolish sheep who get themselves into trouble.  We listen to the voice of our Shepherd so that we can follow His footsteps (John 10:27).

We all have the right to disconnect from God but it can be risky, especially after hours and on the weekends!  His voice keeps me out of trouble.  His voice keeps me from harm of my own making.  And His voice speaks peace to my soul.  He is so hard to hear sometimes with all the other voices clamoring for attention.  He is loud enough.  It is just that I am not quiet enough to wait and expect His voice.

Lord, I need to hear Your voice today.

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Broken Record

Scripture for Today: Luke 17:4 “Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

The phrase, ‘sounding like a broken record,’ probably has lost much of its meaning with the demise of vinyl records.  Of course, the record was not really broken when a word or phrase of a song repeated itself over and over.  It was usually a scratch or piece of debris causing the needle to get stuck.  But the phrase came to mean repeating one’s self.  This repetition devalues whatever is said, making it sound insincere.  The more one repeats one’s self, the more what is said sounds canned or contrived.

Today’s verse describes a similar scenario.  Someone who apologizes seven times within a twenty-four hour period loses credibility.  How could it not seem forced and artificial?  Yet, Jesus is saying that even so, we are to forgive.  Even more difficult is the idea that we are forgiving a brother or sister in the Lord (verse 3).  Our expectations of them are usually higher!  Jesus added to this challenge when He answered Peter’s question with the number 70×7 (Matt. 18:22).  The idea is that we are not even to count but always extend that forgiveness to those who ask.

What Jesus asks elicits the same response as that of His disciples, “Increase our faith!”  How else could I rise to this kind of challenge?  And yet, I so often ask the Lord to forgive me over and over, like that broken record.  And He does, every time.  He never withholds His pardon.  If He is so ready to give grace to me, then I need to extend that same grace to others.

Lord, help me to be as gracious to others as You are to me.