Devotions By Jan


2 Comments

Wash Your Hands!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 26:6 “I shall wash my hands in innocence, and I will go about Your altar, O Lord.”

It is an endearing scene when a raccoon looks to be washing his hands!  Perhaps the raccoon has better hygiene than some humans!  Does he care that his hands (and food) are clean?  One would not think so when seeing him rummage through filthy garbage.  In fact, this little guy has poor eyesight and needs to wet his food in order to “see” it better.  What is so surprising is that even without water they mimic washing in the air!

Today, we are reminded constantly to do what we should have been doing all along; wash our hands.  Today’s verse also speaks of washing the hands, not in water but in innocence.  The hands washed in innocence are contrasted to the hands of the sinners (verse 10).  Their hands are full of bribes and wicked schemes.  But the hands washed in innocence belong to the one whose heart is pure (Psalm 73:13).  And these hands can be innocent because of God’s gift of grace through His Son’s sacrifice.  Once our hands were dirty, but now we are washed by Christ (I Cor. 6:11).

It is only because of His washing that I can approach God’s altar or presence.  My feeble attempts to clean myself up first have no affect.  The stain of sin is too deep and pervasive.  But because of Jesus I can be viewed in God’s eyes as innocent.  He took on Himself all the guilt of my dirty hands.  My hands can now be lifted up in praise, folded together in prayer and open to give and to serve Him.

Thank you Lord, for hands cleansed of wrong doing.

 

 


2 Comments

Social Distancing

Scripture for Today: Psalm 26:5 “I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked.”

A very recognizable trait in most any cat is their aloof behavior!  The idea of “social distancing” would not pose a problem for most cats.  They love their niche on the cat tree and their space for an undisturbed cat nap.  Calling for a cat to come often produces a cold shoulder and or a blank stare.  How different from the enthusiastic response of the dog!  But that aloofness disappears when they hear that can open or smell fish or chicken cooking.

In this era of “social distancing” to avoid contagion, today’s verse speaks of a more serious contagion.  We are told to actually hate associating with a group of wicked people!  David refused to even sit with them.  The very beginning of Psalms describes the one who is happy or blessed as the one who will not walk, stand or sit with the wicked (Psalm 1:1).  A close association with those who mock God can have a negative influence on our behavior.  To be seen aligning ourselves too closely with the wicked can also ruin our reputation as one belonging to the Lord.

I need to take seriously this kind of “social distancing.”  I would like to think that my faith is too strong to be weakened by anybody.  But I know myself and so does He or He would not warn me.  It is already too easy to compromise my standards or rationalize my wrong behavior.  I do not need to go looking for a group of people doing the same thing!  Where I want to walk, stand, or sit is with other believers who also want to please God.

Lord, keep me from evil influence!

Photo by Nick Chalkiadakis on Unsplash


Leave a comment

Martens in the House!

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:6 “The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.”

The cute and furry martens in our area of France were a real problem.  Because we had a car port rather than a garage, they would burrow up into the car carriage for warmth and chew on the wires!  A devise with an electrical shock discouraged them.  But the parties they would have in our attic were quite another challenge!  The only solution was trapping them and letting them go as they were protected.  Thankfully, our landlord took care of them with boiled eggs luring them into cages.

Today’s verse talks about what will trap those who feel no allegiance to the Lord; their evil desires.  What looks innocuous and tasty turns out to be dangerous.  Their evil desires promise comfort and warmth but instead deliver a nasty shock.  Those who are in right standing with God are delivered from even wanting what is evil and wicked.  Their righteous living keeps them away from entrapment.  When the one who is righteous delights in the Lord, his desires change and are no longer evil, aligning with His desires (Psalm 37:4).

It is not always easy for me to determine if my desires are evil and self-serving.  My heart can deceive me and my rational can be flawed.  Sin can be sneaky and alluring and temptation can be very strong.  It is only in submitting my desires to Him that I can have any confidence that my desires are lining up with His.  He will shine the light of His Word and expose the thoughts and attitudes of my heart. (Heb. 4:12)  The discomfort of conviction is a whole lot better than becoming trapped!

Lord, change my desires to be like Yours.

Photo Credit: Thomas Broxton Jr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/133339206@N03/17344629244


Leave a comment

Scribbly Gum Tree

Scripture for Today: Acts 4:13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

This Scribbly Gum tree gets its name from the unusual markings all over its bark.  Each tree will have its own unique pattern of scribbles and they are put there by a small moth larvae.  Living in the bark throughout the winter, the moth will move around just under the surface, feeding on the tree’s tissue and leaving its distinctive marks.

Today’s verse describes two unschooled and ordinary men; Peter and John.  These men were ordered to give an account of themselves before the rulers and elders.   With boldness and clarity they declared the name of Jesus as being the only Source of their power and of salvation (verse 12).  They lived their lives in such a way as to leave a definite trace.  The time they had spent with Jesus showed in their lives.  There was not much to recommend them in the eyes of the world.  They were just ordinary men without even a higher education.  Yet, their time with Jesus had marked them.

I wonder how much my time with Jesus marks me.  Do people see traces of the Divine in me?  It cannot happen through my own efforts.  I know my heart and that there is nothing to recommend me.  But I have His Spirit living inside and with His movements to shape and mold me like Christ, He is slowly making changes.  They may just seem like little scribbles, but He sees the big picture of what He is producing in me!

Lord, may my time spent with You be evident in my life!

Photo credit: Ian Sutter https://www.flickr.com/photos/22616984@N07/3274188822/


Leave a comment

Stubborn as a Donkey

Scripture for Today: Nehemiah 9:17a “They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles You performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery.”

When a donkey refuses to budge, it might as well stick out his tongue at you!  Donkeys have the reputation of being strong willed and obstinate.  But in their donkey brains they are stubborn for a reason.  No matter how hard one pulls on a donkey, he will not move if he feels in danger or if he feels he is being overworked.  Sometimes a donkey just has to stop and think whether he wants to obey or not.  And if not, they will plant their hooves and refuse to move.

Today’s verse describes the Israelites as stubborn and stiff-necked.  God had made His commandments very clear, but they refused to listen to His voice.  They also chose not to remember all His miracles in leading them out of slavery in Egypt.  The result was a stubborn conviction that their way was best, even if it meant returning to that slavery!  They planted their feet and refused to go on.  Perhaps they felt it was just too hard to obey.  Thankfully, God did not give up on them (verse 17b).  Because He is gracious and compassionate, He forgave them.

It is easy to see their stubbornness but I tend to gloss over this trait in myself.  Any time I refuse to listen to God’s voice of conviction, I am at risk of stubbornly returning to sin’s slavery.  Any time I forget all of what He has done for me, I am likely to stubbornly do what seems best to me.

Thank you, Lord that You do not give up on me.  Help me to listen and remember today!


Leave a comment

On the Move

Scripture for Today:  Jeremiah 8:7  “Even the stork in the sky knows when it is time to move on.  The turtledove, swallow and the crane recognize the normal times for their migration.  But My people pay no attention to what I, the Lord, require of them.”

I am fortunate to have lived in an area known for its stork population.  I so enjoyed watching them fly past our windows.  The cranes around there were almost as big but do not have the same “wow” effect for me.  Every year I watched for them to return with the warmer weather.  They would spend the winter in Sub-Saharan Africa, something I wished I could do in the middle of those long cold months!  And they often returned to the exact same nest.

Today’s verse talks about four different kinds of birds but with one thing in common; they all migrate.  Their little bird brains know instinctively when it is time to move on so as to avoid the freezing temperatures.  Jeremiah mentions these birds as a contrast to the Israelites.  The people prided themselves in possessing the Law of God.  But they continually turned to their own individual course, rather than following God’s way.  The Law, instead of being written in their hearts, became a mere code or outward ceremony.

I wish obeying God was as instinctive for me as migration is for the birds.  But then it would not mean as much.  God wants my obedience to be an intentional choice.  Knowing what God expects of me is a good thing.  But I do not want to make the same mistake as the Israelites.  The point is not how many Bible verses I can recite by heart.  He is more interested in how many I obey!

Help me, Lord, to be obedient.


Leave a comment

Too Close?

Scripture for Today:  Phil. 2:3  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”

I cannot imagine that these parakeets are too happy!  Hopefully, the crowding is only temporary at this bird market in South Jakarta.  Perhaps birds have a different perception of personal space.  But even among us, our comfort level in a crowded space can differ according to culture.  Some people are fine getting right up to your face to speak with you.  Most Americans would back up.  Two spaces free on a three-seat sofa?  It’s obvious to the American that the space in the middle should be empty.  Not so with other cultures.

Today’s verse has a direct effect on the rights to personal space that we feel are ours.  Whether the issue is space, right-of-way on the road, or living with a “morning person” when one is a “night owl” we are challenged to respond in a way that pleases the Lord.  Our world encourages us to insist on our rights.  Yet today’s verse talks about responding with humility and even seeing the other as more important than oneself!

It goes against my nature to give precedence to another.  I do not want to be viewed as a push-over.  I certainly do not want people walking all over me and ignoring my rights.  But I cannot be peaceable and considerate to all men (Titus 3:2) if I insist on my own way with others.  For me to obey this verse takes faith.  It means trusting the Lord to take care of my wants and needs.  Christ is more than able to take care of “rights” or to help me let them go if that is what He wants.

Lord, I need Your help to have this attitude.

Photo credit: Krotz at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wildlife_trade_-_crowded_birds.jpg