Devotions By Jan


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Stupid Directions!

Scripture for Today: James 4:6 “But He gives us more grace. That is why the Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'”

The other day while finding our way in the mountains, our GPS got totally confused.  Her voice stayed confident as she told us take the second exit at the round point where there was none!  There were several times that had we obeyed her, we would have turned right into the mountainside!  After listening to her continue to give us outrageous directions, we finally just turned her off!  Thankfully, we had an old fashioned map as a back up.  But not once did she apologize!  She never said, “I was wrong and you were right!”

Today’s verse talks about more grace that is given to the humble.  As undeserving as we are, those who can come clean with the Lord about their failures experience His favor.  But there is something in all of us that bristles at the thought of admitting our errors.  Sometimes, the only way it can happen is if we can point to extenuating circumstances!  Or we can maybe admit we were wrong if someone can share our chagrin.  It is never a comfortable experience.

As uncomfortable as it is to be humbled, His grace makes it worth it!  I would much rather live in His favor than have Him be opposed to me.  But each time I allow pride, stubbornness and determined independence from Him to creep into my day, I am foregoing His desire to bless me.  Half the time I do not even realize it is happening as I am so full of it!  How good of Him to bring me to my knees!

Forgive me my pride, Lord.  Oh how I need your grace today!


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Co-Parenting App

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”

These two sheep seem to be communicating just fine.  But for many divorced parents, the communication between Mom and Dad continues to be as explosive as when married.  In an effort to stay out of court, some judges mandate that the parents try a co-parenting application.  The idea is to reduce conflict and improve communication through custody calendars, records for shared expenses and a private messaging center.  A warning appears when the app senses abusive language or sarcasm.  The application is sometimes called a “robot mediator.”

Today’s verse talks about the only mediator needed between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.  He is the only One who is uniquely qualified as both fully man and fully God to be that mediator.  Jesus as the sinless Great High Priest, ever lives to make intercession for us to the Father.  He is there at the right hand of God for that very purpose (Romans 8:34).  Every time Satan accuses us, Jesus intercedes.  Every time we feel unworthy because of our sin, Jesus intercedes with the reminder that He paid for that sin.

Jesus, being my mediator, assures me that I can enter that heavenly throne room and approach with confidence (Hebrews 4:16).  Because of the blood of Jesus I can receive mercy and find grace for every need (Hebrews 10:19).  No one else can do that for me!  How incredible it is that I can draw near to the God of the universe because of my faithful Mediator!  He is the bridge that spans the chasm of sin that once separated us.  Because of Jesus, I can enjoy a communication and closeness unparalleled.

Thank you Lord, for being my perfect loving Mediator.


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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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Patient Dumping

Scripture for Today: John 6:37 “All those the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never drive away.”

Patient dumping is not new but recently there has been more attention given the problem.  The term refers to the premature discharge of Medicare or indigent patients for economic reasons.  It usually happens to a homeless or mentally ill person who is uninsured or unable to pay for treatment.  They are discharged to the streets, to a bus stop, to a homeless shelter or to another hospital.  There have been fines leveled at hospitals and corrective measures taken.  But too often, the problem continues.

Today’s verse tells us that the Lord will not turn anyone away who comes to Him!  He does not deny access.  He does not abandon or turn away anyone who comes to Him in faith.  No one is denied forgiveness because they are “too far gone” or guilty of some terrible sin.  No money is no problem as we come freely at His invitation to come (Isaiah 55:1).  He is faithful to forgive those who come to Him in confession (I John 1:9).  He forgives and gives us a new clean heart and it is all undeserved.

I may not be homeless or mentally ill but I am undeserving.  I come to Him with no merit of my own.  I do not deserve even a glance from Him let alone His favor!  But He welcomes me with open arms because of His incredible grace!  Regardless of my emotional state, regardless of the shame I feel, He is there and invites me to come.  Even when it has been awhile since I last came, He will always welcome me and will never turn me away!

Thank you Lord for Your faithful constant love.


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Pregnant Male

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:2  “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

This creature is unlike any other in nature.  It is the male sea-horse who carries the eggs for the female!  The female will deposit her eggs in a special pouch he carries.  There, he fertilizes the eggs with his sperm, and carries them for two to four weeks until he gives birth.  Their babies are called “fry” and there can be as many as 1000 at a time  The female has it easy.  Her part is to swim up to the male each morning during gestation  and give him a special greeting!

Today’s verse talks about helping each other to carry our burdens.  Doing so fulfills the law of Christ which is to love one another.  These burdens are the unfortunate result of our sin (verse 1).  They are different from His  burden which is light (Matt.11:30).  Rather than look askance at the one fallen in sin thinking we would never do that, we are to do all we can to lift him up and lighten his burden.  We all carry around the memories of past failures.  Understanding how the Lord has forgiven us helps us extend that same grace.  In love, we want to help with words of encouragement and affirmation.

It costs me something to help carry the burden of another.  It means that I take time out to pray, give godly counsel and practical help.  It might mean hours on the phone.  Sin can complicate a life.  The consequences can be very burdensome with broken relationships and poor self-image.  But that burden can be lighter when I come along side.  It is one of the best ways to show love!

Lord, help me be willing to carry another’s burden.

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


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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.

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


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Penguin Cries

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:7-8a  “So, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.'”

The courtship rituals of the Emperor penguin are fascinating!  I find it sweet that they bow to one another before mating.  But what is really interesting are their cries.  In large nesting colonies, the male will call out to his female partner from the previous year.  If she is there at the same time they will find each other in this huge sea of black and white.  They are able to reunite as each cry is distinctive and recognizable.

Today’s verse speaks of a voice that is also distinctive and recognizable.  It was a voice heard and ignored by the Israelites in the wilderness, wandering for forty years.  They rebelled against that voice and their hearts became hardened with sin (verse 13).  It is not that they could not hear His voice or recognize it.  It was that they did not want to obey it.  Hearing His voice is not always a comfortable experience.  His voice sometimes nudges believers when we are disobedient.  His voice calls for deeper commitment and faith.  But His voice also speaks words of love and encouragement, hope and reassurance of His control.

I want my heart to stay soft and responsive towards Him.  And I want to be able to recognize which voice is His.  There are so many conflicting voices vying for my attention.  But I know it is His voice when He speaks to me through prayer and the reading of His Word.  His voice spurs me on to greater trust and obedience.  Condemnation is not heard but rather forgiveness and love.  That is a voice I want to hear.  That is a voice I need to hear!

Please Lord, let me hear Your voice today.

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