Devotions By Jan


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Coxswain Rowing

Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:19  “They have lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.”

As I look out the window at Buzzard’s Bay I see the rowing teams practicing from the nearby private academy.  The only one who seems to know where the boat is going is the coxswain who sits in the stern facing the bow.  This member of the team does not row but his role is crucial.  It is only with his specific calls that the rowers can make any progress.  He is responsible for steering the boat and for coordinating the power and rhythm of the rowers.  Without him, there is no unity.

Today’s verse speaks of the Church as a body with a head.  That Head is Christ (Col. 1:18).  If we lose our connection with Him we have lost the ability to work together.  We each have a role to play as members of this body, and there is no growth without Him.  He is the One who directs and leads.  He is the One who steers us in the right direction.  He has the same call for all of us and that is to glorify Him.

There is a temptation to think I am really something!  I may think I know a better way to move forward.  But with this attitude I lose connection with the Lord and I lose connection with other members.  That is because it is Christ who holds us together.  He sees where I am going but asks me to operate by faith and trust Him.  When I am listening for His calls I find unity with other believers doing the same thing!

Thank you Lord, for the progress You make possible!

 

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Measuring Tape

Scripture for Today:  I John 2:21  “I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth.”

We have several measuring tapes around the house.  They never seem to be at hand when needed.  Instead they are hiding out in the most inconvenient place in the house.  They must change places behind my back.  In my Sunday School class I handed out home-made rulers.  One was correct, but the others were off in some small way.  When I asked the children to measure the same object, they each came up with different results.  The arguments that followed were lively and comical!  Before they came to blows I stepped in to explain how the measures they used were different from each other.

Today’s verse talks about truth as if it were indeed an absolute and not up for individual interpretation.  One can know and discern what is true and what is not true.  Just as there was only one ruler with a true standard, so there is objective truth and not contradictory ones, even in the spiritual realm.  This way of thinking is so contrary to today’s prevailing thought where what is true depends on one’s point of view and experience.

“What is truth?” was the question Pilate posed to Jesus.  And His response?  “Everyone who is of the Truth hears My voice.”  (John 18:38)  I can be confident that hearing His voice is hearing truth.  The lies of the Deceiver are designed to restrict and bind me but His truth, found in His Word, sets me free (John 8:32).  I am to intentionally set my mind on truth. (Phil.4:8).  I do not want to waste mental energy on anything less!

Thank you Lord, that You are truth.


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Eating Alone

Scripture for Today:  Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

I wonder if this man feels a bit conspicuous eating all alone.  Having a meal by one’s self in public can feel lonely.  The same thought must have occurred to three young twenty-somethings in Oxford, Alabama.  One of them approached an older widow eating on her own in a coffee shop and struck up a conversation.  They made such a connection that they invited her to their table and had a great time talking over their meals!  This simple act of kindness blossomed into an unlikely friendship.

Today’s verse uses the image of standing at the door,  knocking and dining.  These words are said by Jesus to the church at Laodicea.  His message is full of warmth and makes clear His desire for relationship.  What better way to become close than to share a meal around the table!  He awaits our arrival at the door.  He does not come in until we hear His voice and open that door.  We open it to show our same desire for relationship.  I am sure His knock and His voice are loud enough to hear.  But I can see how one might miss it.  The distractions of life can drown out the sound.

I am amazed that He wants to dine with me!  What a warm intimate thought!  All the good conversations happen around a meal.  And He is the Bread of life and the water that satisfies my thirst.  I do not want to miss out by being too busy.  He is waiting for me on my doorstep.

Lord, may I listen for your knock and open the door today!

 


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Administrative Professionals Day

Scripture for Today: Psalm 62:6-7 “Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God.  He is my mighty rock, my refuge.”

Today is a day that honors all secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists and other support professionals.  It was formerly called Secretaries Day and was begun by the National Secretaries Association founded in 1942.  The name changed in 2000 to reflect the diversity of roles and to make it more inclusive, but maybe not so much as to include the cat!  What a great idea it is to honor those who so faithfully work behind the scenes!

Today’s verse reminds us that our salvation depends on God.  We cannot save ourselves from our sin.  He is the One who in His grace bends down to extract us from the messiness our sin creates.  But our honor also depends on Him.  In addition to redeeming our lives, He crowns us with love and compassion (Psalm 103:4).  David even talks about how God increases honor for him in Psalm 71:21!  If believers live an honorable life, this is also due to His grace.

We all need to be appreciated and honored.  I know that when I am, those thoughtful words spur me on and motivate me to do better.  But whatever honor I receive ultimately can be attributed to God as its source.  He has created me with my talents and abilities.  He has given me opportunities and education.  He is the One who has opened up doors and placed me where I am.  If I receive any honor, it absolutely depends on Him and His grace to me.  And if I receive any honor, may it be redirected to Him!

Thank you Lord, that You create honorable lives  May my life honor You today.


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Notre Dame

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 3:15 “If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”

How heartbreaking to see Notre Dame of Paris engulfed in flames!  People in the streets sobbed. sang, and prayed as they watched the 250 feet flames rise in the skies.  This iconic historical landmark meant so much to so many.  It seems inconceivable that something that has solidly stood for almost nine centuries could fall prey to fire.  This image of the cathedral no longer represents reality as the spire has toppled.  The news story is so recent at this writing that the extent of the damage is not yet known.

Today’s verse is an incredible reassurance in the face of this bad news.  The church of the living God does not consist of man-made materials.  The structure is not the church.  Though roofs, walls and spires may fall, the church continues.  Truth continues.  And the universal church is a pillar and buttress of truth.  The pillars on the inside hold up the truth.  The buttress jutting out on the exterior also support truth on the outside.  Jesus said that the gates of hell will never prevail against the church He has built (Matt. 16:18).

God’s Church is where He resides and He has taken up residence in the hearts of believers (I Cor. 6:19).  The church is made up of a believers in the past, present and future.  Together, we are to stand for the truth in a world where the Deceiver is actively at work.  The permanence of a building pales in comparison to the fact that God’s truth will prevail in the end!

Lord, keep me standing for the truth of Your Word.


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A Champion

Scripture For Today: Matthew 22:17b & 21b …Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? …give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

Joe Louis has been called the greatest prize fighter of all time and for good reason.  He reigned as heavyweight champion from 1937-1949, the longest span of any titleholder.  When asked by a reporter who hit him the hardest Joe Louis replied, “Uncle Sam’s taxes.”  He had raised $90,000 by charitable fights, personally seeing none of it.  The IRS later credited these amounts as taxable income.  Although most proceeds went directly to his handlers, he owed over one million in taxes and interest by 1950.  Hit hard indeed!

Today’s verse is appropriate on the deadline for filing taxes.  The Pharisees were looking to trap Jesus with His words.  As the Romans were an occupying force, they asked if it was right to pay taxes to them.  These self-righteous religious leaders called Jesus a “man of integrity” but Jesus understood the evil intent of their hearts.  He asked whose image was on the coin and when they answered Caesar’s, Jesus responded with this familiar verse.

The question for me is never if I agree with the government’s policies.  If I only paid taxes to a government I agreed with then my bill would be significantly reduced!  But my obligation to the government pales in comparison to what I owe the Lord.  His image is not on my coin but on my heart.  I bear His image as His child and I owe Him everything; my whole heart, soul, strength and mind (Luke 10:27).  I cannot ever repay Him for what He did for me on that cross.  He bought me with an incredible price (I Cor. 6:20).  I owe Him everything.

Thank you Lord, for paying the price I could not.


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The Border Collie

Scripture for Today:  John 16:8   “When He  comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement……”

This beautiful border collie has everyone’s rapt attention!  Unlike the “heeler” dogs who nip at heels, this breed is called a “header.”  He goes to the front of the animal to turn or stop its movement.  It is common for a border collie to stand in front of a large group and use what is called a “strong eye” to stare them down into submission!

Today’s verse talks about the role of the Holy Spirit.  Like the header dog that nudges the sheep in the right direction, so we need Him to direct and lead.  We are like sheep and left to ourselves would go astray (Is. 53:6).  We all need the Shepherd’s rod and staff for correction and for getting us out of danger!  His Spirit brings the conviction of what is wrong, what is right and the consequences a behavior brings.  The Spirit incites the positive godly guilt that leads to repentance (II Cor. 7:9.)

The Lord is my Shepherd but the Holy Spirit is like that border collie.  I love that the indwelling Holy Spirit brings comfort, power and His fruit in my life (Gal. 5:22-23).  However, the guilt and conviction from Him is not a comfortable experience.  The quicker I listen and obey, changing direction, the sooner the experience is over.  But that temporary discomfort is well worth avoiding that fall over a cliff!  His desire is always for my good.  As my Shepherd He leads me in the paths of righteousness where I can find quiet waters to refresh my soul (Psalm 23).  That is why His conviction as a rod and staff can actually bring me comfort!

Lord, help me see Your correction as proof of Your love..