Devotions By Jan


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Hot or Cold?

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other.”

He is adorable but I am confused.  Being that I am not a “dog person” I am unsure if this dog is cold, needing the coat or if he is too warm wearing two coats!  My body today is having the same confusion, unable to decide whether it is hot or cold.  A flu will do that, making me vacillate between fever and chills.

Today’s verse comes from the Lord’s reprimand to the church of Laodicea.  This is a message of hard truths but He reassures that those He loves He disciplines and rebukes (verse 19).  These believers were doing good deeds.  But something was wrong.  They were not done with any kind of passion.  It was as if they were on autopilot, showing kindness and giving to others out of habit or a sense of obligation.  However, the Lord sees the heart and the motivation.  And like the good works that prove to be wood, hay and straw rather than gold, silver and costly stones, there is a marked difference (I Cor. 3:12-13)

The difficult question I ask myself is whether I am lukewarm.  No one else can know the answer as it is a matter of the heart.  Frankly, the good I may do for someone else may be tainted with thoughts of self aggrandizement or reciprocal expectations.  When my thoughts of “I should help” outweigh my thoughts of “I want to help” than perhaps I am being lukewarm.  The only way I know to be passionate is to continually connect to that Vine and have that fruit naturally flow from my relationship with Him!

Lord, keep me from being lukewarm today.


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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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Unlikely Friends

Scripture for Today: “You are My friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you.”

Meet Bella, the Black Labrador and Bubbles, the African Elephant.  They are practically inseparable taking walks and swims together at the Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina.  Bella was abandoned there as a puppy and this unlikely friendship developed over a shared love of the water.  Bubbles could throw his considerable weight around and crush Bella if he had a mind to.  Instead, he enjoys frolicking with Bella and allowing her to use him as a diving board!

Today’s verse describes another unlikely friendship.  Jesus calls those who trust Him friends.  Unlike human friendship where the footing is on an equal basis, Jesus still commands in this relationship and we still obey.  But it is a much richer relationship than just master and servant.  He has chosen to reveal to us what the Father wants to accomplish.  We are part of His plan.

Jesus calls us His friends because He has openly shared with us His business.  God’s plan and will are clearly spelled out in His Word.  I wish I knew more details, but it is amazing that He lets me know anything at all!  He daily communicates His love to me and I have the freedom to tell Him absolutely anything.  Sometimes my friendship with Jesus seems one-sided as I do lots and lots of talking but maybe not so much listening!  Thankfully, He is a patient faithful Friend!  And unlike any human friendship, His love is steadfast and enduring (Psalm 57:10).

What a friend I have in You, Lord!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Fido

Scripture for Today: Psalm 117:1-2 “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol Him, all peoples. For great is His steadfast love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.”

In the town of Borgo San Lorenzo, Italy, this monument stands  as a silent tribute to the faithfulness of one called, Fido, meaning “faithful one,” in Latin.  Each day this dog would accompany his owner to the bus stop and then meet him there again at its close.  But everything changed in 1945 when the owner died in a city-wide bombing.  Even so, Fido would faithfully continue his trips to the bus stop.  This continued for the next fourteen years until the day he died, waiting at that bus stop.

Today’s verse describes a faithfulness that has no equal.  The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  His love for His own never fails and is perfectly expressed in His unending faithful commitment.  There is no waning.  There are no breaks or interruptions.  His faithfulness has no end as He is eternal and unchanging.  Praising Him is the very least we can do in response to such incredible faithfulness!

There is nothing that I can rely on as sure, steady and consistent as His love.  I waver and I am fickle but His faithfulness and commitment to me are solid.  It is the foundation to my life and without it I would be utterly lost.  I can live in reliance on His faithfulness (Psalm 26:3).  His love gives me purpose.  His love gives motivation to live each day.  His love is my support when everything around me is falling apart.  Thankfully, His love is faithful and will never change.

Thank you Lord, that I can count on Your faithful love today, and tomorrow.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 


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Playing Possum

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

This dog looks a bit confused.  The opossum is “playing dead,” a common behavior when stressed by an imminent attack.  A predator will leave this bizarre-looking marsupial alone when he sees it limp, drooling, stiff and exuding a smell of decay.  The state of shock producing this comatose state can last up to four hours!  The opossum is a peaceful creature intent on avoiding confrontation.  But “playing dead” presents other risks, especially when involving an approaching car!

Today’s verse explains that before being saved from the penalty of our sin, we were dead in our transgressions or sins.  It took the love and mercy of God Himself to quicken us and make us alive.  Being dead spiritually means that there is no possibility of any self-help.  Being dead means not even being able to respond.  Being dead, we cannot save ourselves.  And dead people cannot “earn points” with God.  What the Lord did to make us alive He did out of grace or unmerited favor.

I am so thankful that my Savior took the initiative to begin this relationship we have.  We love because He first loved us (I John 4:19).  I could not love Him first as I was dead in my sin.  I could not listen, feel or respond to His love.  In His incredible mercy He took pity on me.  He removed my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).  He has awakened me to a whole other dimension to life; the spiritual dimension.  Knowing Him and loving Him makes my life always worth the living!

Thank you Lord, for true life!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Walking Partners

Scripture for Today: Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

These look like unlikely walking partners!  But apparently, they don’t know that!  Walking is great exercise but with a partner it can enrich the experience.  There are digital platforms that connect people.  The People Walker is one that provides safe reliable walking partners for a fee.  They advertise that with a partner, it becomes more than just a mere walk.  There is conversation, accountability, motivation, exploration, sightseeing and new experiences!

Today’s well-known verse simplifies what the Lord requires of us.  It simplifies but it is not simple!  His standard for what is truly good and necessary is to always live a life that is just and to love and show mercy.  The life of a believer is a lifelong journey walking humbly with God.  Walking with God humbly would be to stay by His side, allowing Him to set the pace and direction.  It is also more than a mere walk, providing conversation, accountability, motivation, exploration, sightseeing and new experiences!

There is no possibility of me acting justly or loving mercy were it not for my Walking Partner.  His presence and power give me the desire and the ability to do what He asks of me (Phil. 2:13).  Walking with Him keeps me out of a whole mess of trouble, be it unnecessary detours or tripping over rocks.  He keeps me in that path of righteousness.  But He keeps me there by His very presence at my side.  And because He sets the pace, He knows when I need to slow down and rest.  And when the path becomes difficult, He is there to get me through.

Thank you Lord, for walking with me.


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Sinkhole Rescue

Scripture for Today:   Psalms 40:2 “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Poor Ruby.  They say curiosity kills the cat, but dogs are curious too!  This sweet Golden Retriever was on a walk with her owner and seeing something new, a sinkhole, she approached to check it out.  Ruby fell in and spent several unhappy hours there before being rescued.  Thankfully, she was not injured and was happily reunited with his worried owner.

Today’s verse describes depression like a horrible pit.  The floor of that pit is a miry clay where one cannot get any traction.  The only escape is for the Lord to lift David out in answer to his cry.  It did not happen immediately.  David had to wait patiently for God to act (verse 1).  And the pit did not disappear.  It still exists as there is always the temptation to climb back in o that pit of sadness and self-pity.  But God set David’s feet on the Rock of Himself, giving him a sure standing on His faithfulness.

That slippery clay of emotion keeps me from a firm footing.  I want to stand on the truth of God’s Word and His character.  Regardless of how I feel, He does not change nor do His promises.  Sometimes, when the miry clay is especially thick, I cannot even pray or read His Word.  When I am in the pit of despair, the only solution is to cry out to Him for help.  I cannot pull myself up by self-talk.  How gracious He is to hear my cry and to “put a new song in my mouth.” (verse 3)  He changes my pit into praise!

Thank you Lord, for not leaving me in the pits.