Devotions By Jan


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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!

silver-d05bc60ed8ac25c2cb0bc9f7d3413550Scripture 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.


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The Kiln

kiln inside-wood-fired-kiln1Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:12 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you…”

I learned so much going through a pottery factory in Poland.  The kiln fascinated me.  In it the clay becomes strong and durable and ready for use.  The first firing is set for about 1400 degrees and there are hotter ones that follow!  These firings harden the clay into a pink bisque, readying it for the paint and decoration.  We, as clay, are not only getting stronger with heat but more beautiful too!  It is in enduring these kiln experiences that we become vessels the Potter can use for His glory.

For some, the heat seems to be more intense.  For others, the time spent in the kiln seems longer.  For still others, the kiln experiences seem to be more frequent.  The Potter deals differently with each of us.  However, NO believer is exempt from pain and suffering on this earth.  But as believers we can be sure that the Lord uses our pain.  It is not wasted.

As we ended our pottery factory tour I saw a large dumpster full of broken pieces of bisque.  This pottery did not survive the firing process.  I asked our guide if they were to be thrown out.  “Oh no,” she answered.  “They are all melted down and used again!”  What wonderful hope we have that the Lord in His GRACE picks up those broken pieces and continues His work in us!!

I am thankful that flawed as I am, I am never beyond hope!  The past and its mistakes never mean that the Potter cannot use me!

Thank you Lord, that You transform even my failures into something to use for Your glory.


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Pottery Seconds

IMG_20140324_150035Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:9  “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.”

One of the great things about living in Europe is being fairly close to Poland and their wonderful pottery!  I have visited their pottery factories on two occasions.  Their hand stamped blue patterns are my favorites.  Most all of my purchases have been seconds, as they are so much cheaper.  But this particular bowl is technically a “fifth!”  It cannot go in the microwave, the dishwasher, or the oven.  It has one small place where the glazing is not even and one very unnoticeable flaw in the pattern.  Even though it is not of the best quality, at only five dollars it has been worth every penny!

Our verse for today teaches that we honor the Lord by giving Him the best.  Seconds or substandard quality does not honor Him.  He is worthy of the very best we can offer Him.  In the Old Testament, sacrifices were offered of the best of the fruit, the vegetables, the grain and the animals.

James 1:8 teaches that we ourselves are a kind of firstfruit of all He has created!  In Him we are the best of His creation!  We are not only to honor Him with the best of what we possess but the best of our very lives.  Leftovers are not worthy of Him.  Giving the Lord a few moments of consideration at the end of a long day, or what we feel we can spare of our money does not honor Him.  He is worthy of our absolute best service!  No seconds for Him!

“Give of your best to the Master, Give Him first place in your heart, Give Him first place in your service, Consecrate every part.”  Lord, help me to honor You with the best!