Devotions By Jan


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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.

 

 


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A Walking Stick Bug

Scripture for Today: Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes….”

My niece is a brave soul to put her hand next to this huge walking stick bug there in Costa Rica!  It is true that they do not bite, but the idea of it crawling over me does not appeal!  There are over three thousand species worldwide and all differ according to their habitat.  Each species has evolved to resemble the plant material in their area.  They escape notice so well that they can hide in plain sight and blend in perfectly.

Today’s verse is a bold statement of Paul’s that is the very opposite of blending in to one’s surroundings.  Paul wants to be detected.  He wants to be noticed and to stand out from the crowd.  And believing in the Gospel of Christ in the midst of a non-believing world will do just that!  But there is no shame in standing out for something so powerful.  There is no shame in being different from others when it can mean the salvation of a soul.  It is worth any discomfort to draw attention to the amazing power of the Gospel!

It is a strong inclination of mine to blend in and belong.  It is uncomfortable for me to draw the eye or incite the comments of others.  Worry over what others think can sometimes nullify my testimony.  But rather than the approval of men, my overriding desire is the approbation of the Lord.  He scorned the shame to hang naked on a cross for me (Heb. 12:2).  How could I possibly be ashamed of a few odd looks or comments?

Lord, may I scorn shame in any form.  Keep me bold with the Truth!

 


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Pickleball Ball

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

Pickleball has become more and more popular, using elements from tennis, badminton  and ping-pong.  But who knew there could be so many choices with the pickleball ball?  There are indoor or outdoor ones.  The weights and colors can be different. But they all have to have  26-40 round holes.  If this ball had no holes, there would be problems in playing the game.  Without the holes the ball would not travel in a true line but would fly upward, downward or sideways.

Today’s verse explains that every believer has been given a gift for the service of others.  More than a natural talent, these spiritual gifts are supernaturally infused with God’s strength (verse 11) and He uses them uniquely for His glory.  The gifts come in various forms and God uses them in different ways.  But like the pickleball ball, we are imperfect and full of holes.  This is no problem for the Lord as He uses even our weaknesses to show His strength (II Cor. 12:9).  What He looks for is our availability and faithfulness.

I keenly feel my imperfections.  Dwelling too much on them can completely block me from any kind of service for Him!  But it is those very “holes” that He uses to point us in the right direction.  Thankfully, I do not need to be perfect before He can use me.  I do not have to have all the answers before I open my mouth.  I do not have to have my life completely together before I can help someone else.  He uses every weakness and covers it with the strength to serve Him!

Thank you Lord, for the privilege of serving You.


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My Hamster

Scripture for Today: Psalm 31:7 “I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.”

This sweet hamster is called a “Dwarf Hamster.”  They are different from the larger more territorial ones as they are social and thrive in pairs.  That did not seem like reason enough to call the love of my life, my “hamster!”  But to my untrained ear, it seemed as if couples on French television were calling each other “hamster.”  In fact, they were saying, “âme soeur” meaning “soul sister” or loosely translated, “soulmate.”  But somehow it stuck and that is our English term of endearment in our marriage!

Today’s verse tells us there is Someone who knows our soul more than any lover could.  The Lord not only sees our physical afflictions but He goes deeper and He knows and understands the anguish of the soul.  Not knowing what to pray, His Spirit intercedes with wordless groans expressing our anguish (Romans 8:26).  The Lord sees and understands what we are feeling far better than we understand ourselves.  He knows when we are loving Him with all our soul (Deut. 13:3).  And in His love He knows when to restore and refresh our souls (Psalm 23:3).

I can trust this Lover of my soul.  He will never betray my confidences.  He will never renege on His promises.  What’s more, nothing in my soul shocks and dismays Him.  After all, He does not love my soul because it is worthy of love.  He loves me inspite of myself.  God not only shows me love, He IS love.  And it is a love that knows all the ugliness inside.  How amazing that He could love me!  And it is even more amazing that nothing will change that love.

Thank you, Lord, for being the Lover of my soul.

 

 


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Bookworm

Scripture for Today: Revelation 20:12 “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”

An avid reader is often called a “bookworm” and the idea is sweet.  But the other meaning of this word is pretty disgusting!  The term refers to any insect that bores or tunnels through a book, leaving behind some pretty serious damage.  They can range from silverfish to termites, although most of these insects are beetles.  Oddly enough, none of the culprits are worms!  Sometimes it is not the paper that they are after but rather the leather or the glue in the binding.

It is odd to think that there will be books in heaven, but according to today’s verse there are.  One book is singled out as incredibly important; the book of life.  It will be used at the Great White Throne Judgement and will determine one’s eternity!  Being judged according to one’s deeds is the future of those who reject salvation through Jesus.  There is nothing worse.  No one will be able to stand on their own merit.  “There is none righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10)  And the deed that condemns is choosing one’s own way of “good deeds” over the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

It is because of God’s promise that my name is written in the book of life.  Praise God there is no condemnation for me because I have accepted His sacrifice! (Romans 8:1).  What amazing love!  I am so thankful that there is no fear of judgement because of His saving grace!

Lord, thank you for writing my name in Your book.

Photo credit: Dominic Mason https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bookworm_Grub_and_the_damage_done.jpg


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Reply or Reply All

Scripture for Today: Romans 11:4 “And what was God’s answer to him? (Elijah) ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'”

In my haste, I have sometimes made the mistake of hitting that “reply all” button on a group email.  Many times it can be appropriate to reply to all.  Normally, it is not a problem but there are times when I want my response to be very personal.  One of my pet peeves is reading responses sent to the whole group when it does not involve me or concern me.

Today’s verse is a very specific answer to a discouraged cry for help.  Elijah ran for his life after death threats from Queen Jezebel.  Strengthened and encouraged with rest and food provided by an angel, he continued to put distance between himself and the threat, traveling 40 days and nights.  Elijah felt totally alone, spent and discouraged.  The Lord never reprimanded him for feeling this way.  The answer to his prayer spoke directly to his need.  Elijah was told to anoint Elisha to help and was told of seven thousand who like Elijah were faithful to God!  He was not alone.

This is no “reply all” response from God.  It was an intensely personal reply.  God’s answer to Elijah was for a certain time and place.  But I learn from it that He hears the individual prayer and provides a specific answer.  And He does the same for me.  He knows exactly what I am feeling and why.  I may not even be able to articulate my need but the Holy Spirit intercedes for me with wordless groans (Romans 8:26).  As my Creator He sees and understands my heart.  When I cry out to Him, He answers with exactly what I need.

Thank you Lord, for Your very personal replies.

 

 


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Marked with a Seal

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 1:13  “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

The seal pictured here looks like it could be an antique and seems very elaborate.  Today, seals have  a much simpler image or maybe just initials.   They have recently seen a resurgence in popularity, but seals have been around for a very long time.  In biblical times they were common and served several purposes.  First, they kept that document rolled and closed.  They also kept a communication private.  The seal revealed the sender as it was imprinted with an identifying mark.  Of course, the importance of a seal was only as important as the sender.

Today’s verse says that believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  Being sealed by Him means guaranteed security and the reassurance of belonging to Him.  He is the Holy Spirit of promise whose work means the believer is “in Christ.”  Being sealed by Him means that we are His possession.  He cares enough about us to seal us to Himself.  There is a seal over the heart and on the arm between the bride and bridegroom (Song of Solomon 8:6).  It is a seal that pledges fidelity.  In the same way, the Spirit seals us with His presence as a sign of His love.

Because He loves me, He has marked me forever as His own.  The seal of His Holy Spirit is one more way that He speaks love and reassurance to my heart.  The imperfect up-and-down relationship I have with Him now is not to be compared to the closeness we will someday enjoy.  His seal has guaranteed it!

Thank you Lord, that I belong to You!