Devotions By Jan


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Sandbar

Scripture for Today: Matthew 7:26 “But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”  

It must be odd to walk on a sandbar, surrounded by water and yet staying dry.  There are many famous sandbars in our world, many of which are found in the Philippines.  But the Haulover Sandbar in Biscayne Bay, Florida, enjoyed some notoriety when a baby grand piano suddenly made its appearance!  It was a true mystery how it got there.  It turns out that it was an artistic photo shoot done by a young man for his school application!  Had the piano stayed there, it would have eventually sunk or been overtaken by water.

Today’s verse describes something just as ludicrous; constructing a house on sand.  Hearing God’s Word but not applying it makes the foundation of our lives as precarious as sand.  Jesus assures the listeners that the crash of that house is inevitable.  In contrast, those that DO put into practice God’s Word will enjoy stability as their foundation is solid Rock.

The sand can represent words of shifting cultural norms.  They are easier to follow but the result is ruin.  God’s Word is true and eternal, unaffected by what is modern or popular (Ps. 119:160).  Building my life on the objective truth of His Words does not happen just by knowing and quoting it.  I can study those words for a lifetime but if I do not obey them as authoritative, then that next storm may just bring me down.  His words are practical and speak to every area of my life.  Applying them is a question of humility to do things His way and not my own!

Lord, keep me off that sand!


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Winchester Mystery House

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:6 “But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are His house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”

Poor Mrs. Sarah Winchester.  Her San Jose home was always under construction as she was told that evil spirits would leave her alone if she never stopped building.  After the untimely death of her daughter and husband, she felt that she could be next.  This sprawling mansion at the time of her death in 1922 boasted 160 rooms, 2,000 doors (some leading nowhere) and 10,000 windows, 47 stairways (a few climbing to nothing), 47 fireplaces, 6 kitchens, and 13 bathrooms!

Today’s verse describes believers as God’s house.  This house is solid being held together not with stone and mortar but with confidence and hope.  It is held up with the truth, acting as pillars (I Tim. 3:15) and as a foundation.  God’s house or “household” is the church.  In this building there are no staircases or doors leading nowhere.  Every component has a purpose to bring glory and honor to the Builder.  The honor is not so much in the building itself but in the Builder.  And Christ, as the building manager is faithful over all and trustworthy.

Holding firmly to His plan for this building is not always easy.  Losing confidence and hope is a real temptation when because of conflict, cracks seem to appear in the walls.  But Christ is faithful even when I am not!  He continues to work on me to make me more like Him.  He strengthens my weaknesses and fills me with the fruit of His Spirit.  Where discord reigned, I can with His help respond with love and patience.  We need each other to collectively bring glory to Him who is worthy!

Help me Lord, to honor You today.

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

 

 


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Widow’s Walk

Scripture for Today: Mark 13:35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.”

While visiting our daughter in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts, I have seen a number of these widow’s walks perched on the top of older homes, facing the water.  These structures are also called widow’s watch, roofwalk, or Captain’s walk.  In former times the men would leave for years at a time working aboard ships at sea.  The wives would use this viewing platform to scan the horizon, waiting for their mens’ return.  Unfortunately, some men lost their lives at sea and never came home.

Today’s verse comes from a parable recounted by Jesus.  We are like the servants of a house, not knowing when the owner will return.  But there is no question that he will return.  We are told to be alert and to be watching (verse 33) and not to fall asleep (verse 37).  The Lord Jesus will one day return and those who belong to Him are to be expecting Him.  No one knows the hour except the Father, not even His angels (verse 32).

To be honest, I do not often think about Jesus returning.  But when I do, it makes a difference to how I live.  I shudder to think of Him returning at a moment of disobedience on my  part.  When He returns I want to be ready.  That readiness is not found in trying to figure out the timing or in being the first to spot Him.  Being ready is a daily decision to please Him in all I do.

Lord, help me be that good and faithful servant, looking for Your return.

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


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Famous Builder

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:3 “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.”

This is a very recognizable house!  It was many years ago that we made a visit to the White House and I remember feeling the history of the place.  But to my chagrin I did not remember who built it!  The architect, James Hoban, not only built it originally in 1792 but he also rebuilt it after the British set fire to it in 1814.  One would think that such a recognizable landmark with such history would have brought the builder more name recognition!

Today’s verse points out that the builder of a house would normally have more honor than the actual building.  The Jews being addressed were honoring Moses more than Jesus.  Moses was very important as a faithful servant in God’s house, however Jesus is the Son over God’s house (verse 5-6).  Jesus Christ as God’s Son and the Builder of the house deserves all the honor.  And the “house” are all those, Jews and Gentiles alike, who have trusted in Christ’s sacrifice for their sin.

So God is the Architect and Builder of my life.  Sometimes, I do not understand the building plans at all.  There seem to be some wide open places that I wish He would close in and make more intimate.  There are way too many doors when as an introvert I would prefer to be quiet and alone.  But He is the Builder of my life and I can trust what He is creating.  In any case, all the honor for any success and accomplishment belongs to Him!  When others see my “house” may they see the Builder.

Lord, what an honor it is to honor You!


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Coffin Homes

Scripture for Today: John 14:2 “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”

I cannot imagine living in such cramped conditions!  The housing crisis in Hong Kong is so dire that it has been ranked the least affordable housing market in the world for seven years.  More than 200,000 residents live in subdivided units.  And some of them are so small that they are called, “coffin homes.”  In some shoebox spaces there is no place to step and one cannot stretch out legs for sleep.

Today’s verse speaks of rooms that are being readied for the arrival of God’s children.  Each is being especially prepared by our loving Father.  The number of rooms in His house are too numerous to even be counted!  Yet, I imagine that each one is stamped with the personality of the one who is to live there.  The space will be all we would ever want.  The rooms will be perfect.  The style will suit us.  The comforts will be exactly right.  But the best part is that there will be uninterrupted time with the Owner of the house!

I love that the Lord uses this image of a house.  It will feel more like home than anything we have ever experienced on earth.  The idea of a perfect home is not the size or the number of rooms but the love and warmth that this place can encompass.  Just because it is perfect does not mean that it is cold or impersonal.  It will be filled with love and laughter and eternal joy in His presence!  There will be music and running and skipping on those golden sidewalks!

Thank you Lord, for the room You are preparing for me!

 


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DIY Fail!

Scripture for Today:  Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” 

What happened here?!  This do-it-yourself tile job has a serious flaw.  Someone was not paying attention!  There is no question that there is a clear pattern to follow.  Perhaps the worker laying the tile was not paid and this was the way he sought revenge.  Or perhaps there was drinking on the job and vision was impaired.  Or maybe it was just a style choice, although I find that last explanation hard to believe!  All that is needed to fix this is for that one tile to be turned.

Today’s verse was part of a sermon given by Peter to the Israelites.  They had been living a pattern of behavior shared by their ancestors.  After enjoying a time of blessing, they would rebel and ignore the prophets.  When punishment followed, they would cry to God in repentance.  He would forgive and restore them and renew His blessings.  Then, before too long the pattern would be repeated.  Peter pointed out how God fulfilled everything foretold through the prophets when He sent His Son, Jesus. (verse 18)

I am so grateful for Christ’s incredible patience with me!  I find myself following this same pattern of turning away from Him.  In my pride and self-sufficiency, I think I know better how to live my own life.  When things start following apart, and they do, I finally turn back to Him in humility and cry for help.  He is always there.  He is always ready to forgive and restore.  His love is unconditional and unchanging and He waits for me to turn to Him.  Then I can enjoy once again that “time of refreshing.”

Refresh me today, Lord.


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“Smart” Home

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 24:3-4  “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

I am afraid my home is not too smart according to the accepted definition.  A “smart home” is a residence that is equipped with network-connected products.  The lighting, temperature, appliances, security and entertainment can all be monitored and managed through internet connected devices.  Having a smart home may make it safer, more energy efficient or just make for a more entertaining  environment.

Today’s verse talks about a home that is not only smart but built by wisdom and established by understanding. The rooms of this home are filled with precious and pleasant riches because the residents are living according to the knowledge of who He is and how He wants us to live.  Wisdom and understanding are not found at the local Home Depot.  There is only one true source.  Psalm 111:10 says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and those who do His commandments have understanding.  A house built on these principles is a home where peace can endure.

I do not know of a single Christian home without conflict.  Put two family members in the same room and there will be two very divergent points of view.  Keeping the peace and reacting with wisdom and understanding is an impossible challenge without the Lord’s help.  I would rather my home be a pleasant peaceful place than have the latest technology.  I want my home to be a safe place where one can express oneself without fear of rejection.  His love is unconditional and my desire is to show that same quality of love.  It is never easy, but it is wise.

Lord, may my home be built with Your wisdom and understanding.