Devotions By Jan


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The Toadfish

Scripture for Today: I Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things that man looks at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”

We saw some interesting fish at the Wood Hole Aquarium in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, this Oyster Toadfish among them.  He was so ugly that he fascinated me!  He had a face only a mother could love!  But these fish have proven quite useful.  Biologists have sent the oyster toadfish into space to study the effects of gravity on our balance system!  These experiments were part of an effort to understand motion sickness, important for the astronaut.  And one benefit of their grotesque appearance is the fact that humans do not readily eat them, although they taste good!

Today’s verse reminds us that outward appearance is not the most important value.  Samuel was to choose the first king for the Israelites under God’s direction.  Samuel was naturally drawn to the tallest most handsome son of Jesse.  But the Lord reminds Samuel that appearance is not everything but the heart is.  As with many of the Lord’s principles, we get this one totally backwards.  The appearance and image is everything whereas the hidden unseen heart takes second place.

I am so influenced by what is on the outside.  If someone has their hair, make-up and clothes together, I automatically think that everything is in order on the inside.  I can easily adopt this attitude towards myself as well.  Then comes the surprise of conviction when the Lord taps me on the shoulder and tells me that my heart is ugly with sin.

Lord, make me beautiful on the inside where You are looking.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 


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Winchester Mystery House

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:6 “But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are His house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”

Poor Mrs. Sarah Winchester.  Her San Jose home was always under construction as she was told that evil spirits would leave her alone if she never stopped building.  After the untimely death of her daughter and husband, she felt that she could be next.  This sprawling mansion at the time of her death in 1922 boasted 160 rooms, 2,000 doors (some leading nowhere) and 10,000 windows, 47 stairways (a few climbing to nothing), 47 fireplaces, 6 kitchens, and 13 bathrooms!

Today’s verse describes believers as God’s house.  This house is solid being held together not with stone and mortar but with confidence and hope.  It is held up with the truth, acting as pillars (I Tim. 3:15) and as a foundation.  God’s house or “household” is the church.  In this building there are no staircases or doors leading nowhere.  Every component has a purpose to bring glory and honor to the Builder.  The honor is not so much in the building itself but in the Builder.  And Christ, as the building manager is faithful over all and trustworthy.

Holding firmly to His plan for this building is not always easy.  Losing confidence and hope is a real temptation when because of conflict, cracks seem to appear in the walls.  But Christ is faithful even when I am not!  He continues to work on me to make me more like Him.  He strengthens my weaknesses and fills me with the fruit of His Spirit.  Where discord reigned, I can with His help respond with love and patience.  We need each other to collectively bring glory to Him who is worthy!

Help me Lord, to honor You today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 

 


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Penguin Cries

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:7-8a  “So, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.'”

The courtship rituals of the Emperor penguin are fascinating!  I find it sweet that they bow to one another before mating.  But what is really interesting are their cries.  In large nesting colonies, the male will call out to his female partner from the previous year.  If she is there at the same time they will find each other in this huge sea of black and white.  They are able to reunite as each cry is distinctive and recognizable.

Today’s verse speaks of a voice that is also distinctive and recognizable.  It was a voice heard and ignored by the Israelites in the wilderness, wandering for forty years.  They rebelled against that voice and their hearts became hardened with sin (verse 13).  It is not that they could not hear His voice or recognize it.  It was that they did not want to obey it.  Hearing His voice is not always a comfortable experience.  His voice sometimes nudges believers when we are disobedient.  His voice calls for deeper commitment and faith.  But His voice also speaks words of love and encouragement, hope and reassurance of His control.

I want my heart to stay soft and responsive towards Him.  And I want to be able to recognize which voice is His.  There are so many conflicting voices vying for my attention.  But I know it is His voice when He speaks to me through prayer and the reading of His Word.  His voice spurs me on to greater trust and obedience.  Condemnation is not heard but rather forgiveness and love.  That is a voice I want to hear.  That is a voice I need to hear!

Please Lord, let me hear Your voice today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Hourglass

Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

My parents were pretty smart after all.  As a teen, they limited my phone calls to the time it took for all those grains of sand to fall through the hourglass.  Of course, the size they gave me was not any where close to an hour!  I seem to recall it being only ten minutes.  I remember feeling panicked as I saw my time running out with too much left to say.  And being my devious self, I would try to get away with turning it upside down again.  Sometimes it worked!

Today’s verse reminds us that time is limited.  It is usually not something we like to think about.  But when we live with the end in sight, we live wisely.  Watching the “sands of time” nearing their end makes us re-evaluate what is really important.  Priorities are reassessed.  Some long-ignored goals take on a new urgency.  Numbering our days means we sort through what is most important and let go what is not.  Knowing which is which takes wisdom or “skillful living.”

Nothing sharpens my sense of the brevity of life like attending a funeral.  It is always a good reminder that life will not last forever.  David asks the Lord to show him how fleeting his life is (Psalm 39:4-5).  Rather than considering it a morose thought, numbering our days can lead to a sharper more poignant enjoyment of life!  I want to live intentionally and with passion, making the most of my time.  I want to be wise with how I invest my time, living for what will last into eternity!

Lord, teach me how to number my days and live them for You!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Lost Luggage

Scripture for Today:  Philippians 3:8 “What is more I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

There was a time when our eldest daughter had the worst luck with lost luggage!  For at least three consecutive flights overseas the airlines lost her suitcase.  To be fair, the luggage was delivered to our door in the first few days.  But on one occasion, it took weeks and she was reimbursed for the contents and her trouble.  Seeing this room full of lost luggage makes me cringe for their owners.  What a hassle!

Today’s verse describes a loss that Paul does not consider so important.  Paul’s background was stellar as a righteous, educated and privileged pharisee.  He was full of religious zeal and entrusted with a mission.  He had the admiration and respect of the world of his day.  Yet, all that he had gained he considered garbage.  The surpassing value of knowing and loving Jesus had given Paul a different perspective.  This beautiful and satisfying relationship with Christ made all his past accomplishments seem worthless.

I tend to base my self worth and importance on past diplomas, accomplishments and recognition from others.  But gaining Christ far outweighs their importance.  If renouncing the accolades of men helps me gain Christ, then it is well worth it!  My relationship with Him is what makes my life sweet and meaningful.  It is no loss to turn my back on the world’s idea of value when I can enjoy the surpassing worth of knowing Him!  “You can have all this world.  Just give me Jesus.”

Lord, give me more of You today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 


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Widow’s Walk

Scripture for Today: Mark 13:35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.”

While visiting our daughter in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts, I have seen a number of these widow’s walks perched on the top of older homes, facing the water.  These structures are also called widow’s watch, roofwalk, or Captain’s walk.  In former times the men would leave for years at a time working aboard ships at sea.  The wives would use this viewing platform to scan the horizon, waiting for their mens’ return.  Unfortunately, some men lost their lives at sea and never came home.

Today’s verse comes from a parable recounted by Jesus.  We are like the servants of a house, not knowing when the owner will return.  But there is no question that he will return.  We are told to be alert and to be watching (verse 33) and not to fall asleep (verse 37).  The Lord Jesus will one day return and those who belong to Him are to be expecting Him.  No one knows the hour except the Father, not even His angels (verse 32).

To be honest, I do not often think about Jesus returning.  But when I do, it makes a difference to how I live.  I shudder to think of Him returning at a moment of disobedience on my  part.  When He returns I want to be ready.  That readiness is not found in trying to figure out the timing or in being the first to spot Him.  Being ready is a daily decision to please Him in all I do.

Lord, help me be that good and faithful servant, looking for Your return.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Ducks in a Row

ducks-in-a-row-webScripture for Today: I Corinthians 1:12 “….One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.'” 

These ducks seem to have it figured out who the leader is and who will bring up the rear.  No one seems to be jostling for position.  None of the followers look as if they are trying to redirect the line.  When flying in a formation or swimming in a line, I can understand that progress forward is easier with the lead doing all the work.  But by waddling on the ground there does not seem to be an advantage to being in a line.

Today’s verse was written by the apostle Paul to the church at Corinth.  The believers there were dividing themselves into factions.  Each group followed a different church leader.  Paul turns their thoughts and loyalties to the One who could bring them together in unity.  After all, it was not Paul crucified.  They were not baptized in his name but in the name of Jesus (verse 13).  When we all have our eyes fixed on Jesus, following Him, we will remain united.

Splitting up into separate groups seems like the natural thing to do.  Somehow, my pride gets in the way of unity.  It is too easy for me to major on differences rather than celebrating common ground with other believers.  But I do want my allegiance to be to Christ first.  I find that in following Jesus Christ above all else, I bond with others who do the same, regardless of church affiliation, regardless of race, age or locale.  Lines of division disappear and we are united in the same line.

Thank you Lord, that following You above anyone else brings sweet unity with others!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.