Devotions By Jan


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Baring Teeth

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

This normally sweet fluffy Pomeranian bares his teeth to warn off any advance.  Baring teeth is a clear indication that attack is imminent.  Teeth have long been a symbol of aggression.  That must be the idea behind the old expression, “fighting tooth and nail.”  In French, “to have a tooth against someone” is their way of expressing the idea of holding a grudge.

Today’s verse teaches that it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense rather than hold a grudge.  To overlook an offense takes patience and it is a sign of one’s wisdom.  But to overlook something hurtful does not mean having no memory of it.  Sometimes, the memory stays.  But rather than it being at the forefront of our minds, we let it go and show grace.  It is a gracious behavior and one that is to our glory.  Holding a grudge makes us small and petty.  There is no glory in that!

I am so grateful for the people in my life that have overlooked my offenses.  They have been many, some intentional and some not.  When I realize the grace extended to me, than I can more easily extend that same grace to others.  And the supreme model of total and complete forgiveness is the Lord who does not treat me as my sins deserve (Psalm 103:10).  I am forever grateful that Christ does not hold a grudge or where would I be?  Even so, I do have trouble letting go and it is inglorious!  I need the help of His Spirit to truly forgive from the heart.

Lord, make me wise enough to show patience and not hold grudges!

 


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Dandelion Seed

Scripture for Today: Psalm 66:16 “Come and hear all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me.”

Pictured here is the bane of anyone trying to grow their lawn!  I am sure my parents were not too thrilled with me when as a child I would blow on the dandelion seedhead!  After the dandelion flowers, the head, petals and stamen dry up and fall off.  The bracts curve backwards and a parachute ball opens into a sphere.  The mature seeds attach to white fluffy “parachutes”.  A bit of wind or the breath of a child is all that is needed to send the seeds flying!

Today’s verse encourages using our breath to tell of all God has done for us!  Just as the dandelion spreads its seed, so the believer can influence others to praise and worship the Lord.  But also like the dandelion, dispersing that seed comes after dying.  The believer has died and his life is now hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).  We no longer live for self but for Him (II Cor. 5:15).  And it is often after a strong wind of adversity that our praise and faithfulness to Christ is clearly seen.

I want to make a difference.  I want to leave a legacy.  I want to have an influence in this world for the Lord.  But the dying to self is the part that is oh so difficult.  The accolades and recognition of man are often times too important.  And that wind can be plenty uncomfortable.  However, it is my faithfulness to Him in the hard times that validates my faith and makes it credible to others.  Regardless of very negative circumstances, I can always tell others of His love and goodness.

Thank you Lord, for all You have done for me!

 


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Flippers

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:7 “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.”

I can relate to this boy who had some trouble walking in those flippers.  There is nothing so comical as watching someone trying to walk forward in flippers, high stepping in an effort not to trip!  The ends of those flippers curl up or under and make tripping inevitable.  A simple solution would be to put them on at water’s edge.  But if that is not possible than there is another solution that avoids looking like a clown and tripping.  And that is to walk backwards!

Today’s verse talks about our lives being a walk.  Paul is pointing out the difference between our former way of walking and our walk now that we are made new.  The old way of walking was characterized by tripping up on anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language (verse 8).  This way of walking in our earthly nature included sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (verse 5).  No wonder there was tripping and stumbling!  But with being made new, we are walking backwards, sure-footed.  We may be walking differently than everyone else, but we are upright!

It is not always easy to be walking differently through life than everyone around me.  Even though I am not tripping, I am in the minority.  I am walking backwards compared to everyone else and it is an uncomfortable feeling to be mocked or misunderstood.  But this is the walk the Lord has called me to.  Thankfully, I am not alone.  His Spirit keeps me walking in a way that pleases Him.  And there are other believers doing this same walk with me.  Walking His way is so much more pleasant when I can avoid tripping and stumbling!

Lord, keep me walking Your way.

 


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Forever 21

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:96“To all perfection I see a limit but Your commands are boundless.” 

I have always been intrigued by the name of this store.  Would I want to be 21 forever?  Who does not want to turn back the clock and “re-do” the past, perhaps appreciating what once we took for granted?  But to be stuck at 21 without any chance at change or growth does not appeal.  To be any age forever would be to stagnate.  And of course this store is not forever, especially as they are considering filing for bankruptcy.

Of course, there are very few things in life that are forever.  But today’s verse tells us that God’s Word is eternal, not having the boundaries of time.  Everything else we can name has a limit and an end.  What man can come up with may seem perfect and complete.  But it will end.  In contrast, God’s Word has no limits.  It is broad, boundless and viable for every age.  And it is without end.  It will continue into eternity.  Not one letter or stroke of the pen will disappear before heaven and earth do! (Matt. 5:18)  God’s Word is forever, unlike anything we can touch on this earth.

Because His commands are boundless, they will always speak to my circumstances.  I cannot say that God’s Word does not have the answer in whatever dilemma I face.  His words are not bound by time OR by scope!  His words give wisdom, comfort and guidance to every challenge in my life.  No other book can do what God’s eternal word claims to do.  But how easily I am distracted by other voices.  Or I do not give His Word the time and study to find those answers.

Lord, keep me in Your boundless, relevant and eternal Word.

 

 

 


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Polaroid Photos

Scripture for Today: I John 3:2 “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

I am so glad that the polaroid instant photos have made a comeback!  Of course, with digital cameras one sees the picture immediately.  But there is something special about seeing the image slowly develop right before the eyes!  The anticipation is part of the fun and the convenient hard copy makes sharing easy.

Today’s verse tells us that we are slowly changing and developing.  Those who belong to God have Him as our Photographer.  He is slowly developing in us the image of His Son.  It is a long process lasting a lifetime.  But one day, the photograph will be completed and the clear image of Jesus will be seen in us.  We are not sure what that will look like but at the moment we see Jesus, the work will be finished!

I sometimes get impatient with this very slow process.  There are days where His image in me is clearer than in others.  But some days, the photograph is dark and fuzzy.  Those are the days I am not walking with Him.  He does not continue His developing work in me without my cooperation and obedience.  However, regardless of the rate of development, He has promised that one day His work will be complete (Phil. 1:6) and I will be like Him!  A more beautiful image will just not be possible!  What a fantastic hope this is!  When I think on this truth I am more motivated to cooperate with Him in obedience.

Lord, make me more like You today!


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Sandbar

Scripture for Today: Matthew 7:26 “But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”  

It must be odd to walk on a sandbar, surrounded by water and yet staying dry.  There are many famous sandbars in our world, many of which are found in the Philippines.  But the Haulover Sandbar in Biscayne Bay, Florida, enjoyed some notoriety when a baby grand piano suddenly made its appearance!  It was a true mystery how it got there.  It turns out that it was an artistic photo shoot done by a young man for his school application!  Had the piano stayed there, it would have eventually sunk or been overtaken by water.

Today’s verse describes something just as ludicrous; constructing a house on sand.  Hearing God’s Word but not applying it makes the foundation of our lives as precarious as sand.  Jesus assures the listeners that the crash of that house is inevitable.  In contrast, those that DO put into practice God’s Word will enjoy stability as their foundation is solid Rock.

The sand can represent words of shifting cultural norms.  They are easier to follow but the result is ruin.  God’s Word is true and eternal, unaffected by what is modern or popular (Ps. 119:160).  Building my life on the objective truth of His Words does not happen just by knowing and quoting it.  I can study those words for a lifetime but if I do not obey them as authoritative, then that next storm may just bring me down.  His words are practical and speak to every area of my life.  Applying them is a question of humility to do things His way and not my own!

Lord, keep me off that sand!


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Pyramid at the Louvre

Scripture for Today:  Genesis 2:24  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

The pyramid at the Louvre is breathtaking, especially at night when it mirrors soft lights from inside.  Since 1989, the very year we moved to France, the largest of the five pyramids has served as a spectacular entrance to the Louvre museum.  It is made up entirely of 673 diamond and triangular shaped glass panes and metal poles.  At 71 feet high and 11,000 square feet, its 95 tons of steel and 105 tons of aluminum have made this an impressive landmark!

Today’s verse teaches that God can take two entirely different people and make them one.  As the sides of a pyramid come from different directions but are joined at the top, so marriage is to unite a man and a woman, making them one. That line at the base represents our shared life.  Every marriage has that connecting line.  But for a marriage of two believers, there is the advantage of another path to closeness.  At the apex of the triangle is the Lord.  As each of us move closer to Him, we can grow closer to each other at the same time.

I never feel closer to my husband than when I hear him pouring out his heart to the Lord when we pray together.  I feel our oneness when we serve Him together in some way.  When we share our struggles with trusting Him, I feel this oneness.  When we admit our failures and together ask Him for forgiveness, I feel this oneness.  Over the last forty years I have seen us move up and down on that line towards the Lord.  But I can say with conviction that it is worth the effort!

Thank you, Lord, for making us one!