Devotions By Jan


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Bald is Beautiful

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:12 “For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head and my heart fails within me.”

This man is getting his head shaved for a very special reason.  He along with 119 other Airmen went bald to support a little boy who had cancer.  As a fashion statement, not everyone can pull it off but this kind of bald is always beautiful!  For those who are battling cancer, losing one’s hair can be a terrible blow to one’s self-esteem and make their treatment that much harder.  I am glad society is more accepting of the bald look if only to make it easier for those who have no choice.

Today’s verse is a heartfelt admission of guilt.  David is feeling overwhelmed by his sin likening their number to the hairs on his head.  His sins have created immeasurable troubles for him and his heart drops at just the thought of them.  Perhaps he cannot see for the tears he sheds as he realizes his guilt.  David turns to the Lord for mercy (verse 11).

I confess that I do not often have this kind of awareness about my own sin.  I am a master at minimizing their gravity.  I am very good at rationalizing them.  My sin is never as serious as someone else’s!  But when I examine my heart in the light of God’s holiness I become just as overwhelmed.  It is when I see how black my sin is that I can appreciate His grace and forgiveness!  He is merciful to me over and over.  Whatever sadness I feel over my sin He replaces with joy and a light heart with His forgiveness!

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible mercy to me!

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Little Heart Cockle

Scripture for Today: Mark 12:30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The scientific name for this shell is “corculum cardissa” but I prefer the common name, “little heart cockle” as it certainly resembles a heart!  This mollusk lives in the Indio-Pacific region which is why I have never seen one.  The shells vary in color but they have a pattern formed from transparent mass and nontransparent mass.  Much of their shell is thin and translucent making them fragile. Yet they are often found intact on the surface of the sand among coral debris and broken shells.

Today’s verse is the response Jesus gave to a teacher of the law who asked Him which is the greatest commandment.  Following this commandment would make all other commandments a non-issue.  When the Lord has all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, then He also has our obedience to all other commands.

The tendency though is to keep parts of our hearts separate.  It is difficult to give Him all of ourselves.  There is fear for what He may ask of us.  There is selfishness in wanting to go our own way.  What if He asks us to give something or someone up?  My goals, my desires, my hopes and dreams are in that part of the heart that is difficult to relinquish.  However, giving Him all of my heart poses no risk at all.  I can trust Him with the deepest part of myself.  He does not hurt my heart and He never disappoints.  He has already given all He could for me.  My only reasonable response is to give everything back to Him!

Lord, take all of my heart and make it Yours today.


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The Gift of Life

Scripture for Today: I John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Donating blood is not something I enjoy doing!  That is why I am so impressed by James Harrison, an Australian man who has been donating blood every week for the last 60 years!  At 81 he has decided to stop, but not until he had saved the lives of 2.4 million babies!  No wonder he is called the “Man with the Golden Arm.”  His blood has unique disease-fighting anti-bodies that have helped pregnant women.  These were women with a condition where their blood attacked their unborn baby’s blood cells.  His blood was truly a gift of life!

Today’s verse talks about the blood freely given by Another.  This blood also saves lives and was given out of love and compassion for our condition.  The blood of Christ saves us once for all from the eternal punishment for our sin.  His blood makes it possible to walk in light rather than darkness.  His blood makes it possible to walk with others in sweet fellowship, rather than discord.  His blood cleanses and purifies us from sin and its consequences.

He shed His blood so I would not have to.  His blood saved my life.  My faith in His blood pays for all of my ugly sin (Romans 3:25).  More than just a needle in the arm, His gift of blood cost Him everything; separation from the Father, the mockery and violence of others, and His life.  How amazing and deep the love that motivated Him!  And how unworthy I am to be a recipient of such a precious life-changing gift!

Lord, how grateful I am for Your gift of life!

 


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Mother’s Day

Scripture for Today:  Luke 11:27-28   While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.”  But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it.”

This is a special Mother’s Day for me as it is the first one without my Mom.  I cannot complain as having died at 95 we have had many wonderful years together.  Not everyone can say that their relationship with their Mother was or is so positive.  There are those who are reminded only of pain each Mother’s Day.  I realize that I am so very blessed, which makes her absence that much more bittersweet.

God’s Word exalts and honors motherhood.  However, in today’s verse, Jesus calls something even more blessed than being a mother.  Someone in the crowd of listeners spoke a blessing on the mother of Jesus.  And in doing so, the speaker was also blessing Jesus.  But Jesus responded with something that was a bigger blessing that everyone can experience; hearing and obeying God’s Word.

I tend to look at my roles as wife and mother as the most exalted and fulfilling roles I could possibly have on this earth.  Certainly, I do not want to take anything away from this.  But the relationship I have with the Lord is always the most intimate one possible.  My role as a follower of Christ far outweighs my role as anything else.  My relationship with Him never disappoints.  It is deeper, more faithful and more satisfying than any human relationship.  He fills in all the emotional holes in my heart when losing one so dear.

Thank you Lord, for the blessing of knowing You.


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Ravenous Ravens

Scripture for Today: Luke 12:24 “Consider the ravens; They do not sow or reap. they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds.”

I don’t appreciate seagulls, but ravens even less so.  They are big, black, shaggy and noisy.  Recently their numbers have increased in California.  They prefer building their nests along sea cliffs, being close to the water and being near a variety of food sources.  When their territory overlaps with the seagull, it can get noisy!  In referring to a group of them, old expressions used the term, “unkindness” or “conspiracy” rather than a flock of ravens.  The raven is known for being intelligent and opportunistic in finding its food

Today’s verse talks about our God being a God who cares for His creation, including the ravens.  Birds do not need to plant for the coming season or hoard their food for the lean times to come.  Yet, they do not go hungry.  God cares for their short little insignificant lives.  By contrast we, being created in God’s image, are of so much more value to the Lord.  He is intimately involved in every little aspect of our lives.

I need to remind myself that God will take care of what I eat, what I drink, what I will wear and every other detail.  For Him it is just small stuff.  Those who do not belong to Him are consumed with these issues.  The food and fashion industries encourage us to “seek after these things.”  But as a believer, I want to have different priorities.  I want my mental energies to be spent on His Kingdom and what is of eternal value!  He has always provided all that I need.

Thank you Lord, that Your care shows me that You value me!


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Flying High

Scripture for Today: I John 4:18  “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

My grandson is flying high but his Nana has her heart in her throat even watching this scene!  There is absolute confidence here and no shred of fear.  My son-in-law is not about to let my little guy drop.  His arms are strong and he is ready to catch him no matter what.  My grandson has absolute confidence and trust, not only in his Daddy’s strength but also in his love.  I can just hear him calling out to go higher!

Today’s verse talks about a perfect love.  It is described as a love that drives out fear.  The one who struggles with fear of punishment does not have that complete and perfect love.  Because God showed His love by sending His Son to die in our place (verse 9-10) we can know and rely on the love God has for us (verse 16).  The punishment for sin has already taken place for those who place their faith in Christ.  Now, a loving relationship of absolute confidence is possible!

How awful it would be to try to love and serve the Lord out of fear of punishment!  That is not love at all but obligation and coercion.  But because He took the initiative and paid for my sin, I can enjoy a complete, undivided and sincere love for Him.  I am not weighed down with guilt and shame.  There is no doubt that He loves me and will catch me no matter what!  He has paid the price for my sin and guilt forever!  I am free to love Him completely with all of my being!

Thank you Lord, for love without fear.

 


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Table Runners

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

No one would know.  The damage to my table top and buffet is extensive as it dates back to the 1920’s.  I keep meaning to get it refinished but I know that each new move will add new nicks and scratches.  My solution is to cover over all the imperfections with table runners or table scarves.  I have quite a collection from all over the world and for every season.  The only way to see the problems would be to uncover the furniture to the light of day.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to love his brothers and sisters in Christ with a deep love.  Love covers over a multitude of sins.  And a deep love will require extending forgiveness.  This is a love that covers all wrongs suffered (Prov. 10:12).  Fostering this kind of love covers over an offense done to us, but repeating a matter can separate even close friends (Prov. 17:9).  This is no light-hearted superficial love.  For this, one has to dig down deep!  The hurt is still there and we bear the marks.  But we cover it with love and forgiveness. And in loving deeply, a relationship can be restored.

The only possible way to love in spite of hurts done to me is to look at what Christ did.  My sin hurt Him to the point of death.  He has the scars on His hands and side to prove it!  There is no deeper love than His for me.  If He could cover me with grace and forgiveness, than I need to do the same.  Surely, what has been done to me cannot compare to my sin and rebellion against Him.

Lord, help me to love others deeply and with forgiveness.