Devotions By Jan


1 Comment

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.


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

The Toadfish

Scripture for Today: I Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things that man looks at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”

We saw some interesting fish at the Wood Hole Aquarium in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, this Oyster Toadfish among them.  He was so ugly that he fascinated me!  He had a face only a mother could love!  But these fish have proven quite useful.  Biologists have sent the oyster toadfish into space to study the effects of gravity on our balance system!  These experiments were part of an effort to understand motion sickness, important for the astronaut.  And one benefit of their grotesque appearance is the fact that humans do not readily eat them, although they taste good!

Today’s verse reminds us that outward appearance is not the most important value.  Samuel was to choose the first king for the Israelites under God’s direction.  Samuel was naturally drawn to the tallest most handsome son of Jesse.  But the Lord reminds Samuel that appearance is not everything but the heart is.  As with many of the Lord’s principles, we get this one totally backwards.  The appearance and image is everything whereas the hidden unseen heart takes second place.

I am so influenced by what is on the outside.  If someone has their hair, make-up and clothes together, I automatically think that everything is in order on the inside.  I can easily adopt this attitude towards myself as well.  Then comes the surprise of conviction when the Lord taps me on the shoulder and tells me that my heart is ugly with sin.

Lord, make me beautiful on the inside where You are looking.

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

 


Leave a comment

Lost Luggage

Scripture for Today:  Philippians 3:8 “What is more I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

There was a time when our eldest daughter had the worst luck with lost luggage!  For at least three consecutive flights overseas the airlines lost her suitcase.  To be fair, the luggage was delivered to our door in the first few days.  But on one occasion, it took weeks and she was reimbursed for the contents and her trouble.  Seeing this room full of lost luggage makes me cringe for their owners.  What a hassle!

Today’s verse describes a loss that Paul does not consider so important.  Paul’s background was stellar as a righteous, educated and privileged pharisee.  He was full of religious zeal and entrusted with a mission.  He had the admiration and respect of the world of his day.  Yet, all that he had gained he considered garbage.  The surpassing value of knowing and loving Jesus had given Paul a different perspective.  This beautiful and satisfying relationship with Christ made all his past accomplishments seem worthless.

I tend to base my self worth and importance on past diplomas, accomplishments and recognition from others.  But gaining Christ far outweighs their importance.  If renouncing the accolades of men helps me gain Christ, then it is well worth it!  My relationship with Him is what makes my life sweet and meaningful.  It is no loss to turn my back on the world’s idea of value when I can enjoy the surpassing worth of knowing Him!  “You can have all this world.  Just give me Jesus.”

Lord, give me more of You today.

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

 


Leave a comment

The Elephant Seal

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 8:1  “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge.  Knowledge puffs up but love edifies.”

This seal looks as if he has an oblong balloon attached to his face!  He is called an “elephant seal” as his snout can inflate and resemble a trunk.  When putting on a mating display, the male will inflate his nose with lots of air and then compete with other males in a snorting contest!  For some northern species, the trunk can extend as much as a foot.  I am not too sure why snorting attracts the female!

Today’s verse describes a knowledge that can puff us up.  Knowledge can make us arrogant.  Knowledge can make us so prideful that we end up tearing others down.  Usually, knowledge in Scripture is presented in a positive light.  It is often mentioned with wisdom and understanding.  All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Jesus Christ (Col. 2:3).  But this knowledge is one without love.  That kind of knowledge makes us ugly.  Someone who is puffed up with knowledge always has to be right and everyone has to know about it.  The person puffed up with their knowledge makes others feel small and foolish.  It is a poisonous attitude that isolates us.

My own spiritual pride says that this is a real problem in OTHER people!  I never see myself as puffed up.  The following verse says, ” If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know.”  No one has a corner on knowledge except God Himself.  Rather than focusing on how knowledgeable I am, my concern ought to be loving others.  If that is my focus, my size stays the same!

Lord, forgive my pride and make me loving.

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

 


Leave a comment

Forget-Me-Nots

forget-me-notScripture for Today: Psalm 103:2 “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

This sweet blue flower was described by Henry Thoreau as “unpretending” and “modest.”  Their name is said to come from an old German legend where God named all the plants.  But this tiny one cried out, “Forget me not, O Lord!”  So God replied, “That shall be your name.”  They are small being only one centimeter or less in diameter.  King Henry IV used this flower as a symbol during his exile in 1398.   And ladies in medieval times wore this flower as a sign of faithful love.

Today’s verse tells us to “forget not” all His benefits.  This passage goes on to list just a few including forgiveness, healing, redemption, love, compassion and satisfaction.  David is reminding his soul to praise the Lord for what He has done for him and to remember.  David knew of God’s ways with Moses and His miraculous deeds with the people of Israel.  He also experienced God’s grace in his own life.  But like so many of us, his soul was forgetful and needed reminding.

How could I forget these incredible benefits in my own life?  It is really very easy.  I forget His forgiveness when I am plagued with guilt.  I forget His healing when doubt clouds my prayers.  When I feel worthless I forget that He thought enough of me to redeem my soul.  I forget His love when I beat myself up.  When I wonder if He cares what I am going through I am forgetting His compassion.  I forget that only He satisfies the deepest longings of my soul when I look for that satisfaction elsewhere.

Lord, do not let me forget today.

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


Leave a comment

Unlikely Friends

Scripture for Today: “You are My friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you.”

Meet Bella, the Black Labrador and Bubbles, the African Elephant.  They are practically inseparable taking walks and swims together at the Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina.  Bella was abandoned there as a puppy and this unlikely friendship developed over a shared love of the water.  Bubbles could throw his considerable weight around and crush Bella if he had a mind to.  Instead, he enjoys frolicking with Bella and allowing her to use him as a diving board!

Today’s verse describes another unlikely friendship.  Jesus calls those who trust Him friends.  Unlike human friendship where the footing is on an equal basis, Jesus still commands in this relationship and we still obey.  But it is a much richer relationship than just master and servant.  He has chosen to reveal to us what the Father wants to accomplish.  We are part of His plan.

Jesus calls us His friends because He has openly shared with us His business.  God’s plan and will are clearly spelled out in His Word.  I wish I knew more details, but it is amazing that He lets me know anything at all!  He daily communicates His love to me and I have the freedom to tell Him absolutely anything.  Sometimes my friendship with Jesus seems one-sided as I do lots and lots of talking but maybe not so much listening!  Thankfully, He is a patient faithful Friend!  And unlike any human friendship, His love is steadfast and enduring (Psalm 57:10).

What a friend I have in You, Lord!

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