Devotions By Jan


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Play Doh

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 29:16 “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter, ‘You know nothing’?”

There is nothing better than a brand new set of play doh!  At least that is how my grandsons think.  It must feel good to start fresh with unmixed colors and clay that has not dried out to be rock hard.  The shapes my young grandsons form take some imagination to identify.  But in their funny creative minds they see a masterpiece worthy of the Louvre.  Grandma is obliged to ooh and ahh!

Today’s verse reminds us that there is a Potter who has formed and fashioned us, His clay, for His purposes.  God, as our Creator, has the right to form and mold us as He desires.  His reasons for how He has made us are well beyond our understanding.  But His creation has no right to challenge Him as if He did not have absolute knowledge and authority.  That is upside down thinking!

What a ludicrous scenario to imagine clay talking back to the potter!  But that is just what happens when a nonbeliever denies God’s existence.  He shakes his fist and declares that God did not create him and that he knows better than the omniscient One.  What a display of ridiculous pride!

It takes humility to submit to the Potter’s hand and become all that I am meant to be.  Pride makes me dry and hard in His hands.  Thankfully, He is patient and continually works in me with creative hands, making me like His Son.

Lord, while I am waiting yielded and still, mold me to be like You.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Nesting Dolls

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:3 “…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Although the nesting dolls or “matryoska” dolls originated in Russia, the ones pictured here are Alsacian.  We see them all year long in France, but they are especially popular at the Christmas markets.  The number of dolls in a set can vary anywhere from five to several dozen.  A number of different themes are used including fairy tale figures, animals, and religious or political figures.  I am partial to the traditional “little matrons.”  But they all show beautiful artistry in the elaborate and detailed painting.

Today’s verse came to mind in thinking of the different sizes of these dolls.  Each one has its place in the set.  Each one belongs to the other and is needed to be complete.  Paul encourages his readers not to think of themselves more highly than they should.  Whatever size we think we are, we are not to look down on someone else.  Whatever talents we have are a gift from our Creator.  Each capability is a grace from Him.

Each believer has received a special talent or gift to serve Him.  When we think about ourselves with sober judgement we realize that any success in life ultimately comes from Him.  It is all grace.  Like Paul said, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  I do not want to disqualify myself from serving Him by allowing pride to poison my thinking.  But, it is always a sneaky temptation.

Lord, thank you for all your gifts to me!  Keep me from taking any credit.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Texting

Scripture for Today: Psalm 3:3 “But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

I hurt just looking at her!  This hunched-over position while texting can have some serious consequences.  With the head weighing 10-12 pounds, bending over our phones increases the force, pulling on those neck muscles and joints.  Not only can our poor posture lead to headaches and spine problems, some researchers have even made a connection with depression!  The idea is that the relationship between mind and body can run both ways.  We slump over because we are sad or we are sad because we slump over!

Today’s verse tells us that the Lord’s presence in our lives is a protective shield.  He looks out for His own.  Nothing and no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28).   And as  believers, He is our glory.  Our lives are to progressively reflect His glory as He creates Christ’s character in us (II Cor. 3:18).  But in addition to all of this, He lifts our heads!  And not just a little bit.  He lifts our heads high!  We no longer hang our heads in shame and disgrace.  We do not have to look down in humiliation and guilt.  Because of His love and forgiveness He lifts our heads high!  What an amazing thought!

When He lifts my head, I have the advantage of seeing more of His wonders in my life!  With the perspective that comes with grace and forgiveness, I can see just how much He has blessed me!  Like Mary in her song, I can say that I am blessed, “for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name.” (Luke 1:49)

Lord, help me to live this day with my head lifted up high with the assurance of Your love.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Under Armour Brand

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

The Under Armour brand name was more a result of trial and error in the search for trademark approval than anything else.  The founder of the company stumbled on the name through an off-hand comment from his brother.  But the name makes sense as the first products making this business successful were the undershirts made of material that wicked away moisture from the skin.

Today’s verse describes an armor that protects us from something much more important than a little sweat.  This armor cannot possibly be hidden under our clothes as we are told to stand firm and ready for attack.  Not only is it to be visible to others but easily accessible when needed.  This is spiritual armor for our struggle against what we cannot see (vs. 12).  It helps us to stand against the devil’s schemes (vs.11).  With it in place we are strong, not in ourselves but in His mighty power (vs 10).  We as believers never need to fear any evil day as He has given us the ultimate victory in Christ Jesus (I Cor. 15:57).

What an encouragement to know that I am not without defense!  Against the Father of lies I am on the side of Truth.  I can stand firm in His righteousness against the accusations of the enemy.  My faith protects my heart from wavering and doubt.  My salvation is secure because of Him.  God’s Word will defeat the enemy every time.  And He has even given me the privilege of brokering peace through the Gospel!

Thank you Lord, that sin will not win and evil will not prevail!!


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Kintsugi

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:49-50 “Remember Your word to Your servant, for You have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

This bowl went from broken to beautiful!  The art of golden joinery is the definition of the Japanese word, “kintsugi.”  Fragmented and broken pottery or ceramics are repaired in this process by filling the holes and cracks with a resin mixed with gold, silver or platinum.  What used to be broken pieces thought to be worthless become a thing of beauty!  The very brokenness makes the item become more precious and valuable!

Today’s verse is a comfort and reassurance when going through suffering.  There is hope.  The author of this psalm was experiencing ridicule (vs. 51).  There was intense pressure from the wicked and perhaps he felt himself cracking from it. He vows to stay faithful to the Lord through it all.  In the night he reminds himself of who God is (vs. 55) and he resolves to stay the course.  Through all the pain he remains hopeful because of God’s promises.

It is hope that brings me through the darkest times of my life.  I can feel forgotten, rotten and dead inside just like David did when he described himself as “broken pottery” (Ps. 31:12).  But then, there are the promises of God.  Whatever feels broken He can repair.  More than that, He transforms our very brokenness into something useful and a thing of beauty.  Nothing is too hard for Him or beyond the skill of His capable hands.  He works in the good where everything went bad.  That stupid decision, that utter failure or that shame at letting Him down is all part of a pattern that He redeems and makes beautiful.  This is my hope.

Thank you Lord, that Your promises give me hope.

 

 


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A Dog Who Prays

Scripture for Today: Psalm 84:2 “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

What restraint!  What discipline!  And what training for a dog to pray before his meal!  How cute to see him balance on his haunches with his little paws together!  However, it does seem like he is peeking longingly at his food.  He can only hope that the signal to dig in comes quickly.  Of course, this little pooch has no idea what he is doing.  Like Pavlov’s dogs his sweet posture is part of “classical conditioning” with no true reverence for God involved.

Today’s verse puts a finger on exactly what separates us from animals.  An animal, even if one argued that he had a soul, does not yearn for the Lord.  His heart and flesh do not cry out to the living God.   The longing for a relationship with the God of the universe is something beyond their capacity.  But for man, it is exactly why we were created.  God Himself put the idea and longing for eternity in the human heart (Eccl. 3:11).  We are made to cry out for Him in our innermost being.  Even just one day in His presence is better than one thousand days elsewhere (verse 10).

The Lord fills and completes me.  When my relationship with Him is interrupted by my own wandering or indifference, it does not take long to feel something is missing.  Feeling that lack I cry out to Him for that reassurance that He is there and that He still loves me.  He always answers.  And somehow, I am more human when I am connected to my Creator.  The yearning is satisfied and it is “well with my soul.”

Thank you Lord, for completing me.

 


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Missing!

Scripture for Today: Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

I remember seeing these milk cartons with the faces of missing children plastered all over them.  The program started in 1982 in Des Moines, Iowa as a result of two child abductions.  By 1985 the program had spread nationwide.  Although a number of children were returned to their homes, the idea was short-lived.  One of the problems was the complaints from parents that the pictures were frightening their own children.  But the campaign did raise awareness and now, the spirit of it lives on in the electronic version, Amber Alert.

Today’s verse is all about being lost.  It comes after three parables describing a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son.  Jesus came to this earth to seek out the lost ones.  Those lost do not understand where they are nor where they are going.  What is worse is not realizing one is lost!  Being lost in Luke’s three parables meant separation from one’s owner or one’s Father.  It is the same for us.  When we live a life separate from our Creator, we lose the sense of who we are, where we are and where we are going!

How incredible that the Lord takes the initiative!  He actively seeks me as I am too lost to find the way to Him on my own.  He loves me enough to go out of His way and extract me from the mess of my own making.  He left Heaven to come after me!  I am no longer confused and lost, fearful or panicked.  I am found now and I am His.  I know where I am and to whom I belong.  What security that is!

Thank you Lord, for seeking after me.