Devotions By Jan


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GQ Magazine’s Recommendation

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 4:12  “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart.”

The Gentlemen’s Quarterly, a fashion magazine for men, just published an article putting the Bible on a list of 21 classics not worth reading!  The Bible was called foolish, repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, and ill-intentioned.  The novelist, Jesse Ball, conceded that there were some interesting parts but that, “overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced.”

Somehow, someone has missed the point!  Today’s verse describes the Bible as having a very piercing point as it is sharper than a two-edged sword.  Unlike any other book in history, the Bible is living and active as it is the very Word of God.  It is unique in that man did not produce it.  Although human writers were used, it is “God-breathed” and Spirit-inspired.  No other book can make that claim.  Because the Bible judges our deepest desires and thoughts, it often comes under attack.

Dividing soul from spirit and joints from marrow is an image that makes me shudder.  And yet, it is the kind of action needed to get through to my deceitful heart (Jer.17:9).  The Word exposes what to me is comfortably hidden.  I do not want to be uncomfortable reading His Word.  But so many times it is necessary to feel His conviction and be shown the truth about myself.  Thankfully, His Word does not leave me bruised and bleeding.  His Word also comforts, heals and encourages.  By reading His Word I can enjoy a restored relationship with the Divine Author.

Create in me a clean heart, O God……even when it hurts!

 

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Water Filters

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

I am not usually a fan of drinking tap water.  It’s not that I am a “water snob” but I can often detect a funny taste and odor to it.  Some locations are worse than others and the difference lies in how the water is treated and how much chlorine is left after disinfecting it.  I am fairly confident of the bacteria, viruses or parasites having been killed by the chlorine.  But I sure do not like to taste it.  These charcoal filters do a pretty good job of filtering out that funny taste.

In today’s verse we are to filter out what is evil and only allow in what is good.  In that way our love for others is sincere.  Calling something “love” that is tainted with self-interest is an insincere love, allowing evil to cloud it.  Recognizing sincere love can only happen when I filter out what the world defines as love.  The love portrayed in novels and films can parade as real but when evil and disobedience to God’s standard are mixed in, it falls short and often leads to hurt and disappointment.

A love that is sincere and without evil is described in I Corinthians 13:4-7.  This picture of sincere love has little resemblance to what is around me.  I need to filter out impatience, selfishness, pride, envy and an unforgiving spirit.  For my love to be sincere, I want to cling to faithfulness, speaking truth and showing honor.  God’s Word tells me how to view love.  God’s Word tells me when love is sincere.  Without His Word, I would not be able to discern what is truly good and sincere.

Lord, make my love sincere and good today.


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Willow Leaves

Scripture for Today: Colossians 1:11 “being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.”

Patience is a virtue that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe likened to the willow leaf.  This 17th century German writer and statesman said, “A leaf that is destined to grow large is full of grooves and wrinkles at the start.  Now if one has no patience and wants it smooth offhand like a willow leaf, there is trouble ahead.”  These leaves are shiny, thin and 2-4 inches long.  But of course, they do not start off so large and smooth.  It will take lots of sunshine, water and time to get to this stage.

Today’s verse is an encouragement.  That elusive quality of patience is something that comes, not from ourselves, but from His power.  The believer is strengthened with power from His glorious might to have great endurance and patience.  It is not something we can naturally muster up on our own.  Over time, He develops it in us as we become more like Him.  It is part of the work He does in us (Phil. 1:6).  And more often than not, this quality of patience grows out of living through difficulties.

In the space of three days, I had ample opportunity to show patience.  After experiencing jet lag, toilet emergencies, roof leaks, and a power outage, it was almost comical….almost.  My leaves are still not so large and smooth.  There are still plenty of rough edges!  But God’s reassurance of His control calmed me down.  I am thankful that being in His Word has encouraged me and helped me stay in that place of quiet confidence (Rom. 15:4).  Things may fall apart around me, but I don’t want to fall apart too!

Lord, thank you for Your strength and patience!


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Bread Box

Scripture for Today:  Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.”

This ornate bread box served such a humble purpose, keeping rats and pests from entering and munching its contents.  It is called a “panetière” and it comes from Arles, France.  It now graces a corner of a museum in Massachusetts.  When it was used in the 18th century, it hung on the wall and added to the elegance of a room.  The rich walnut wood and the carving elevated something that was a daily necessity into a treasure!

Today’s verse gives a glimpse of the closeness and intimacy Job enjoyed with the Lord.  Job was an upright man who carefully obeyed and feared God.  But even more than that Job hung on God’s every word.  To Job, the words of God’s mouth were not only a daily necessity like bread, but a treasure!  Job had the same regard for God’s decrees as David had years later when he said they were more precious than gold (Psalm 19:10).

I want to esteem God’s Word as just this precious!  I do not want it to be just ornamental but something I use daily.  His Word is a treasure because in keeping it, “there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:11)  No other book on earth is as true, practical, or uplifting!  And His Word will never pass away as it is eternal (Matt. 24:35).  What other book could ever make that claim?  But I can be cavalier about this treasure, forgetting its Author and its import.  I have been spoiled by its ready availability and sometimes desensitized by familiarity.

Lord, don’t let me lose the wonder and awe of what I hold in my hands!


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Sound Wave Tattoos

Scripture for Today: Jude 21 “keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”

How amazing that an image tattooed on a body can be translated into sound!  The idea is to wear on your skin a snippet of your favorite music or a recorded message from a loved one.  With an app one can read it and play it anytime by scanning that unique sound wave image.  A young woman recently had her dead grandmother’s last voice message tattooed on her chest.  She will forever have her grandmother’s voice over her heart!  How sweet to be able to access that message of love anytime and anywhere.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to keep one’s self in God’s love.  His love does not change but our perceptions sure can!  When He brings us into eternal life there will never again be the smallest whisper of doubt that He loves us.  But today, rather than needing a voice tattoo, we can hear and be reassured of His love through His Word.  Psalm 143:8 say that the morning brings us “word of Your unfailing love.”  But not only then.  He reassures our hearts all day long!

Surprisingly, it is not in the difficult times that I doubt His love.  I am most prone to forget or question His love when I am not in His Word, actively listening.  God’s Word is His love letter to me.  It is full of His declarations of love.  He uses that written word to reassure my heart and build me up.  His voice is the one I need to be listening for and not all the other negative ones in my head.

Lord, remind me and keep me in Your love today!


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Mudslide!

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 11:7 “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”

The recent mudslides in California have been devastating!  The rainfall was short lived, but because of the lack of vegetation due to recent fires, whole hillsides were swept away.  At this writing, 17 are dead and 48 are missing.  The images of homes swallowed up in mud are heartbreaking.  I do wonder why some people did not heed the ample warnings and evacuate.  I am sure there were  extenuating circumstances for some.  And  I can imagine that others had difficulty grasping the seriousness of the danger they faced.

Today’s verse describes the faith Noah demonstrated when he built that ark.  Although Noah was warned, it must have been difficult for him to believe in something that had never been seen before.  Yet, in faith, he heeded the warnings and obeyed God’s instructions.  Not only was he and his family saved from those rising waters, but he was saved spiritually as his faith was counted to him as righteousness (Romans 3:22).

What a loving gracious God He is!  He warns of danger and judgement.  He is not obliged to do so, but waits and pleads, not willing to see anyone perish but to come to Him for salvation (II Peter 3:9).  He is my “Savior” because I needed saving from the just punishment for my own wrong-doing.  Not only has He saved me for all eternity, but His commandments preserve my life here as well (Psalm 119:93).  His warnings keep me from needless heartbreak.  What a wonderful expression of His love for me!

Help me Lord, to listen for Your warnings and follow You today.


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Stingray Shuffle

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:15  “Look carefully then how you walk!  Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people).”

There have been numerous stories lately about stingrays on the California beaches.  All records were broken when 156 stingray injuries were reported in just three days!  Normally, I think of this problem as only being on the Atlantic side.  But apparently, the low tides and warm water have brought these unwanted visitors close enough to be a problem.  The prevailing wisdom is to shuffle your feet when entering the water.  The sand kicked up when walking this way will alert and scatter them.

Today’s verse tells us to be wise by walking carefully.  We walk through life with a purpose.  We walk in a manner that is worthy of our calling, pleasing the Lord (Col. 1:10).  We do not walk courting disaster as the unwise would do.  Rather than wondering just how far one can go in a particular behavior before it becomes sin, we need to walk with a healthy fear of danger.  So much heartache can be avoided when we walk through this life the way the Lord has prescribed.  Walking carefully is walking within His will, making the most every day (verses 16-17).

Walking my way instead of His does not seem so bad.  Mt problem is that I do not see that stingray in my path as it can blend in with the sand.  The only way I can be confident of my next step, and the one after that, is to know I am walking to please Him.  No decision is too small or unimportant to bring to Him for counsel (Psalm 73:24).  He guides me through His Word which touches every area of my life.

Lord, show me how to walk today.