Devotions By Jan


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Unique

Scripture fro Today: I Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can bear it.”

Having visited the pottery  factories in Poland has given me a true appreciation for their products.  It was fascinating to see each artist bent over their work, hand painting or stamping their pieces with intense concentration.  Each piece is signed by the artist as well as stamped with the Polish word for “unique.”  It is true that each piece is unique.  But all the pottery went through the same process of being fired in the kiln.

Today’s verse recognizes that each believer faces the same kinds of trials and tests.  The details may vary.  The timing and even the intensity may differ.  But there is a commonality to all of the trials God allows us to face.  They are never intended to weaken us but to strengthen our faith.  In each trial we see God’s hand and His faithfulness.  And we have His promise that it will never be more than we can bear.

What I am facing is never unique.  Somewhere, someone in the world has faced nearly the same thing.  Knowing that helps me to not feel so alone.  Not only can I draw strength from the stories of others, but I can be encouraged knowing what Christ faced.  He experienced every kind of temptation and yet did not sin. (Heb. 4:15)  And because He Himself suffered when tempted, He is there to help (Heb. 2:18)  He Himself is my “way out.”  Depending on His strength and help makes all the difference.

Thank you Lord, that I do not need to do this alone.

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Covering My Cracks

Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And You forgave the guilt of  my sin.”

All is not lost with a cracked bowl.  The hairline crack on this one was deftly hidden by the painted design incorporating it.  An honest pottery merchant would label this piece as a “second” or “third”  because of the defect.  An unscrupulous pottery merchant might fill in the crack with wax, paint over it and try to pass it off as perfect.  The customer would be none the wiser, at least at first.  Eventually, the defect would be apparent.

Today’s verse is a great example of coming clean with the Lord.  King David recognized that some of his physical ailments could be attributed to keeping silent about his sin (verses 3-4).  When he acknowledged and confessed his wrongdoing he experienced God’s forgiveness, not only for his sin but also for his sense of guilt.  David understood that by having a deceitful spirit with God one would be forfeiting His blessing (verse 2).  He ends this psalm in joy and singing having reestablished his relationship with God.

When I am not honest with God, I am like that cracked pottery trying to pass myself off as perfect!  But the healing of those cracks can only come when I come clean with Him.  What keeps me from  humbling myself is my own stubborn pride.  It is much easier to ignore my sin and pretend everything is fine.  But before long, the cracks become apparent and my excuses no longer hold water.  I know He will restore to me that joy of salvation if I own up instead of cover up!

Lord, thank you for the forgiveness You so freely give!


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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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Disguised!

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 26:23 “Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart.” 

In a modern household, it is no longer the style to have much silver plated items in drawers or on tables.  I was offered my Mother’s silver plated dessert tray but turned it down.  I knew that there would be lots of maintenance to keep it clean and shiny.  Silver can so easily become tarnished and dark, losing its shine.  But with proper care, silver can be an eye-catching piece of decor.  However, I could not see myself buying special cleaning products and taking time to polish the silver!

Today’s verse talks about a different kind of silver.  Not only is it of inferior quality but it is covering something mundane and of little value.  Silver dross is used as a symbol in Scripture for what is base and worthless.  This silver includes impurities that float to the surface in the melting process.  It catches one’s attention but flaws are seen on closer examination.  Fervent or smooth talking lips are just like that silver.  Flattering words and warm expressions of friendship can hide an evil heart.

A vow of friendship.  A declaration of love.  A promise made.  Or a pretense of good will.  It can all be “silver dross” hiding a much different agenda.  The hurt caused by this kind of duplicity can be life changing.  We all have stories.  We have all been victims.  But there is One who will never be untrue.  His Word is always trustworthy.  He calls me His friend (John 15:15).  He affirms for me an unending love (Psalm 103:17).  He keeps every promise (II Cor. 1:20).  And His plans for me are good (Jer. 29:11).

Thank you Lord, that Your Word is pure silver and always trustworthy.

 

 


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Broken Bisque

Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

These broken pieces of bisque look pretty pathetic.  For whatever reason they did not survive their first firing during the process of becoming beautiful pottery.  The first firing is to strengthen the clay.  Their glazing, unique colors and design can only be applied after this important step.  When touring a Polish pottery factory I remember seeing a huge bin full of broken bisque pieces.  Our guide explained that rather than throw them out, they would melt them all down to start again.

When hearing this explanation, I could not help but think of today’s verse.  Paul is confident that God will continue His work in the hearts of believers.  He has a goal for each of us to grow more and more like His Son.  And even though the process is life-long, what He starts, He promises to finish.

Just as pottery needs firing to be strengthened, so our faith is built up by the “fiery trials” we experience (I Peter 4:12).  When life heats up with impossible situations or insurmountable obstacles, it becomes clear just where we are weak. With each testing of our faith, we ideally become more confident of His control and goodness.

I wish it were always true that I come through those trials without cracking or breaking.  But I certainly cannot say that.  Thankfully, my failures do not change the plan or the eventual outcome.  I can be confident too that the Lord will use it all and He knows what He is doing with me.  One day, I will be like Him! (I John 3:2)

Lord, keep me trusting You, especially in the hard times.


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Broken Pottery

unnamedScripture for Today: Psalm 31:12 “I am forgotten as though I were dead.  I have become like broken pottery.”

This happened.  I do not want to name names.  It was just one of those unfortunate freak accidents.  My Polish pottery is not only beautiful but special as it reminds me of trips to Poland with friends.  I doubt I will ever have the chance to replace it.  I had to bite my tongue so as not to make the culprit feel worse.  It is only an inanimate object and relationship is certainly more important.  There is not much use for it now unless I want half portions, which I do not!

In our verse for today David feels like broken pottery.  He feels the utter contempt of his enemies.  He is shunned by his neighbors and becomes an object of dread.  It is as though he were useless and of no importance.  David feels himself slipping into depression and views his life as falling apart.  The psalm turns around in verse 14 when he says, “But I trust in You, Lord.”  He begins to see the abundance of good things God has done and ends the psalm addressing all who hope in the Lord to be strong and take heart!

There are times I can relate to these feelings of loneliness and brokenness.  But like David, I can turn to the only One who can pick up those broken pieces and make something new and useful from them.  It is never too late to trust Him because in His capable hands, nothing is beyond repair.  It is because of His grace that I can take heart, regardless of my circumstances, regardless of my failures and regardless of broken relationships.

I am never forgotten or defeated because of His incredible healing love!  Thank you, Lord.

Look familiar?  This is a summer re-post due to ministry schedule.


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Artistic Hands

IMG_20140623_161520Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 1:8 “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.”

This beautiful painting of a potter fashioning a vase was done by our daughter, Rebekah, in high school.  It hangs proudly in our entryway and reminds me that we are all a work in progress.  The potter looks so involved and attentive to his work.  He seems to be handling the vase with special care.  It looks to be almost completed with just a few finishing touches.

The image of God as our Potter is found throughout Scripture.  We are the clay and He fashions us according to His purposes.  But as with any pottery making process, pressure is needed on that clay to create.  On the wheel, artistic hands press and push to form the shape wanted.  The result is beautiful but the process looks arduous!

In our verse for today, Paul is feeling great pressure.  Troubles in his life were so difficult that he did not know if he could survive.  He feared that they were beyond his ability to endure.  Yet he recognized that there was a purpose behind them.  Paul saw that his Potter was using the pressure to encourage him to rely on God’s strength (verse 9).

I know my Potter uses some of those same methods in fashioning me into a vase He can use.  He allows pressures and difficulties in my life to sculpt and teach me dependence on Him.  It is not at all comfortable, but I know it is necessary.

Thank you Lord, that I can trust the pressure of Your hands to make something beautiful of my life!

Look familiar?  This is a summer re-post due to ministry schedule.