Devotions By Jan


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Sea Salt

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:7-8 “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”

How odd to see this pile of salt on the shores of the Dead Sea!  Sea salt has enjoyed much popularity with its different taste and texture.  Depending on the water source there are different levels of trace minerals and elements left behind in the processing, changing the flavor and color.  It is thought by some to restore one’s skin, fight aging and support one’s health in general.

Today’s verse has a different notion entirely for what brings health to the body and nourishment to the bones.  Pride in our own wisdom is not part of this prescription.  But when one fears the Lord and turns their back on evil then there is a positive physical result!  So much of poor health can be the result of poor life choices.  And flirting with sin can have some dire consequences.  But it is always a good choice to fear and obey the Lord and stay away from all that is evil.

I love that the Lord shows concern for our whole being.  He is not only interested in the spiritual but in the physical too.  He cares when I run down my body with too little sleep.  He is not indifferent to the problems I face with weight gain.  He desires that I live a healthy lifestyle as a believer as my body is His temple (I Cor. 6:19).  Fearing and obeying His commands can keep me out of a world of danger as well.  His warnings against evil are not to spoil my fun but because He wants the very best for me.

Thank you Lord, for loving all of me!


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Kintsugi

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:49-50 “Remember Your word to Your servant, for You have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

This bowl went from broken to beautiful!  The art of golden joinery is the definition of the Japanese word, “kintsugi.”  Fragmented and broken pottery or ceramics are repaired in this process by filling the holes and cracks with a resin mixed with gold, silver or platinum.  What used to be broken pieces thought to be worthless become a thing of beauty!  The very brokenness makes the item become more precious and valuable!

Today’s verse is a comfort and reassurance when going through suffering.  There is hope.  The author of this psalm was experiencing ridicule (vs. 51).  There was intense pressure from the wicked and perhaps he felt himself cracking from it. He vows to stay faithful to the Lord through it all.  In the night he reminds himself of who God is (vs. 55) and he resolves to stay the course.  Through all the pain he remains hopeful because of God’s promises.

It is hope that brings me through the darkest times of my life.  I can feel forgotten, rotten and dead inside just like David did when he described himself as “broken pottery” (Ps. 31:12).  But then, there are the promises of God.  Whatever feels broken He can repair.  More than that, He transforms our very brokenness into something useful and a thing of beauty.  Nothing is too hard for Him or beyond the skill of His capable hands.  He works in the good where everything went bad.  That stupid decision, that utter failure or that shame at letting Him down is all part of a pattern that He redeems and makes beautiful.  This is my hope.

Thank you Lord, that Your promises give me hope.

 

 


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Death Zone

Scripture for Today: Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

What an awe-inspiring scene this is on Mount Everest!  The grandeur and magnificence of these mountains have drawn many experienced climbers to its heights.  But unfortunately, ten climbers have already died this year alone.  They were found in what is called the “death zone” where oxygen is scarce.  Anywhere above 26,000 feet is part of that zone where the air is so thin that even supplemental oxygen is sometimes not enough.  The human body is just not made to function at the cruising altitude of a 747!

Today’s verse recognizes the source of life and breath.  It is the Spirit of God who created us.  It is the breath of the Almighty that gives us life.  At the very dawn of mankind, it was God who breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life (Gen. 2:7).  There is no life apart from His breath.  And just as this is true in the physical sense, so it is true spiritually  The Spirit of God breathes life to our souls.  Where before we were dead, He has made us alive (Eph. 2:5).

My relationship with Christ is as necessary to me as the air I breathe!  But frankly, I do not always feel His presence.  Perhaps there are “death zones” for me where the spiritual air is scarce.  He promises to never leave me (Heb.13:5) but I can be indifferent to Him.  I can be gasping for breath when I immerse myself in the world and its values.  But when I turn back to Him, He breathes into me renewed love and forgiveness.  “This is the air I breathe, Your holy presence living in me.”

Come Holy Spirit and breathe on me today.


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Checkers

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

The game of Checkers has been around a lot longer than the 1950’s pictured here.  Checkers is thought to be the oldest game in the world dating back over 4,000 years!  According to inscriptions found in the temple of Thebes, Egyptian kings took time out from overseeing the construction of the pyramids to play checkers!  Lots of famous people have since had a fondness for the game including past presidents, noted scientists and popular sport heroes.  Whoever the player may be however, it is certain that they have a “checkered past.”

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance for all of us who regret those black squares that mark our past.   No one is immune from having that checkered past as all have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23).  But the Lord has promised a forgiveness and pardon that is complete.  He blots out every sin and chooses to not remember them.  He no longer holds against us all of our failures and disobedience.  Jesus took on Himself the punishment for each of those sins.

I would love to be able to “remember my sins no longer.”  But the memories remain.  And Satan loves to whisper in my ears his accusations.  Thankfully, God’s Word is full of reassurances of unconditional love and complete pardon.  The Lord graciously softens and blurs memories of past failures.  If guilty memories occasionally do reappear, He is there to build me back up.  If nothing else, those memories remind me that I am not perfect, but His forgiveness is!  When I remember a checkered past I can also remember that His grace is greater than all my sin!

Thank you Lord, for wiping out and forgetting my sin forever!

 

 

 


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Doing the Splits

Scripture for Today: I John 2:15 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”

Jean-Claude Van Damme’s amazing split between two trucks has been seen on YouTube by 68 million people!  This stunt, performed for a commercial, was done in only one take.  Although there was a safety line and two platforms for his feet, this incredible feat could not have succeeded had Jean-Claude not been in amazing physical shape.  Even so, the splits done between two moving trucks over hard pavement was risky.  The drivers had to be attentive to keep the distance constant.  A small difference in direction on the part of one truck would see Jean-Claude likely injured on the ground.

Today’s verse talks about two choices available; loving the world or loving the Father.  These two options are diametrically opposed.  Straddling the two is not even possible as they go in different directions.  Loving the world means being consumed by all that feels good, all that looks good and all that will feed our pride (verse 16).  Loving the world is adopting its value system.  But all of these desires as well as the world will one day be gone.  However, those who love the Father and live for Him will live forever (verse 17).

I do not want to love something that is here today and gone tomorrow.  I want to love and be loved and have it last.  The world offers everything but delivers nothing.  How easy it is to be swept up in the pursuits of gratifying myself.  But there is no satisfaction found in any worldly desire.  That is because I am made for the Father’s love.  He fills me and completes me, making life full! (John 10:10)

Lord, I choose Your love above all!

 

 


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Graduation Time

IMG_20140519_172411Scripture for Today: Job 28:20-21a “Where then does wisdom come from?  Where does understanding dwell?  It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing…”

It is that time of year again when many families celebrate the graduation of one of their members.  Our first daughter’s high school graduation was memorable for several reasons.  The graduates of this European Christian school surprised their parents with a rose when leaving the stage.  I was doing great keeping a check on my emotions until then!  After that, the tears flowed.  She was our first to leave the nest and move to the other side of the ocean.

But there was another reason why I remember this graduation from so long ago.  The speaker repeated a phrase over and over; “If you want knowledge, go to college.  If you want wisdom, go to God.”  This simple but profound statement has stayed with me.  In our verse for today Job poses the question as to where wisdom can be found.  This beautiful poetic passage explores the different possibilities.  Job concludes that only God understands the way to wisdom (verse 23).  He ends the discussion with the often repeated truth, “the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.” (verse 28, Psalm 111:10, Prov. 1:7)

Both my husband and I come from families where higher education is a valued priority.  But as impressive as four doctorates may sound, it all pales in comparison with God’s wisdom.  To know how to choose well and live life with skill is not something learned in a university.  It is learned from God.  It is learned through intentional obedience to His commands and precepts.  David understood that it is God who teaches wisdom (Psalm 51:6).

May I sit at Your feet and learn from You today, Lord.  Make me obedient and wise.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post from 2014)


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The Sea Cucumber

Scripture for Today: Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

They really do look like cucumbers!  And in Asia, some species are farmed and enjoyed as a delicacy.  But what is really amazing about these funny ocean creatures is their ability to regenerate their own organs!  When in a tight spot they will mutilate their own bodies as a defense mechanism.  They will violently contract their muscles and jettison out of their anus some of their internal organs!  Fortunately, the missing body parts are quickly regenerated!

Today’s verse talks about the washing of regeneration.  Being in Christ makes us a “new creature” (II Cor. 5:17)  The old has passed away and is replaced by the new!  It is due to the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit.  It is all His work in us and has nothing to do with our own good works.  He saw our predicament, desperately needing to be saved from the judgement our sins warranted.  Rather than giving us what we rightly deserve, the Lord acted out of His infinite mercy.  He changes the heart and makes us new.

Self help and good intentions will not make me new.  Strong resolve or publicly-made resolutions will not change my heart.  I may succeed in changing my behavior for a time but I am still the same inside.  On my own, real heart change is not possible and I only end up frustrated.  I need His power to work in me.  His supernatural regeneration is the only way I can truly be made new.

I am tired of the old me.  Thank you Lord, for making me new!