Devotions By Jan


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Fear of Holes

Scripture for Today: Haggai 1:6 “You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put clothes on, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

These lotus seed pods do not mean to be frightening.  But for those who suffer from “trypophobia” or a fear of holes, the sight of them can trigger all kinds of symptoms including: discomfort, goosebumps, eye strain, distress, crawling skin, panic attacks, sweats, nausea, and body shakes.  This is not a phobia that is officially recognized.  But as with other phobias, the preferred treatment is exposure therapy in an attempt to change one’s response.

There was a response that needed changing in today’s verse.  The  returned exiles were to rebuild their temple.  But instead of making this a priority, they concentrated on building up their own homes.  Somehow, the time was never right to work on God’s house (verse 2).  There was always something more to do for themselves.  The prophet, Haggai, spoke to them God’s word; “Give careful thought to your ways.”  Because of their selfish living, they were not experiencing God’s blessing!  They could never have their fill.  There were holes in their purses.

I can fall into this same way of thinking.  How easy it is to put myself and my own comfort and convenience first!  But when I do, that elusive contentment with what I have is no where to be found!  “Holes in my purse” drain away any sense of fulfillment.  The Lord calls me to put Him first (Matt. 6:33).  Living for Him brings such blessing that everything He gives me can be enough.  I want Him and His incredible love to be my “enough.”

Lord, help me to put You first today.


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Doomsday Clock

Scripture for Today: Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

The time left on the “doomsday clock” is not very encouraging.  This symbolic clock reads 2 minutes to midnight, or 2 minutes to a global man-made catastrophe!  The members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists started the doomsday clock in 1947.  Since then, it has read as much as 17 minutes to midnight (1991).  This year marks the third time it has shown 2 minutes remaining.  Nuclear risk and climate change are the factors that influence the clock.

Today’s verse talks about an hour that has already come; the hour to wake up from spiritual slumber.  The night is almost over and the day is about to arrive.  This is not a doomsday clock for the believer, but it is something for which we need to be prepared.  We are to understand our times, the present time and the time that is to come.  God’s Word gives us signs for what is coming.  Although there are lots of different ideas about how to interpret them, one thing is sure; our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed!

It is easy for me to be sleepy and to believe that things will always continue as they are.  I need to “wake up” and realize that my time is limited.  Knowing that Christ’s return could happen at any moment changes my priorities and how I live.  When I live with this certainty, it makes me want to live a pure life that pleases Him (I John 3:2-3).  I want to live wisely, making the most of every opportunity the Lord offers me (Eph. 5:15-16).

Lord, wake me up today!

 


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Closing Bell

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 15:52 “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed.”

When that bell peals its piercing note and the sound of it drifts away, all the frantic activity comes to an abrupt halt.  Everything stops.  At least until the next day there are no more opportunities for trade on the New York Stock Exchange.  Everyone carefully listens for it as the timing can change priorities for those traders on the floor.

In today’s verse is the sound, not of a bell but of a trumpet.  It is the last trumpet and signals a stop as well to all frantic activity.  It is a sound that will signal the end of all time as we know it.  This trumpet announces the resurrection and it will be heard all over the world.  When it is blown, those believers who have died will receive their new incorruptible bodies.  Those believers still living at the time will also be changed.  Death will forever be swallowed up in victory!  What a day that will be!

Reading about this future event affects me TODAY.  Knowing this truth helps me stay steadfast, immoveable, and prioritizing my service to Him (verse 58).  Looking towards the resurrection and eternity convinces me that my work for the Lord is never futile or in vain.  I want to be listening for and anticipating this sound.  It closes the opportunity to serve Him here on earth.  But look what it opens!  An eternity of rest and reward with the Lover of my soul!

Thank you Lord, for the change that is coming!

 


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The Dung Beetle

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 6:10 “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.” 

There is good reason why this is called a “dung beetle” as these little guys feed on feces!  They can be seen rolling balls of it bigger than themselves.  They will roll it long distances to bury them for the eggs they will hatch.  Seeing one of these struggling uphill reminds me of the Greek mythological figure, Sisyphus.  His punishment in Hades was to roll a large boulder uphill.  At the summit it would repeatedly roll back down so that the struggle begins again.

Today’s verse is an encouragement to keep on keeping on!  God sees and takes note of every work done to help other believers.  These good works are in response to the needs around us.  But they are done with a motivation that is pure and unsullied.  They are done to show the Lord how much we love Him.  Believers are to be diligent (verse 11) and not give in to the temptation of letting go (verse 12).  These verses remind us that there is reward for our diligence (verse 12).

It can be discouraging to feel that we are not seeing any result for our work.  It can feel like pushing that boulder uphill.  But God is not unjust.  He sees and remembers each and every act of service I do out of love for Him.  It may not be recognized or appreciated here.  Regardless of people’s response, my motivation is to please and honor Him out of my love for Him.  Meeting the needs of others is a concrete way I can show the Lord my love.

Thank you Lord that You see, You remember, and You reward.


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Free $100K!!

Scripture for Today:Ephesians 5:15-16 “Be very careful, then , how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

Imagine receiving $100K just for putting down your smartphone!  Vitaminwater is offering $100K to abandon your smartphone for one full year.  At the end of the year, a lie detector test is taken.  Not so easy as 92% of millennials use a smartphone and 43% check it at least every twenty minutes!  For those ages 18-34, using their smartphone for entertainment eats up over two hours a day!  The participant will be chosen based on how they say they will use the extra time in their day without all the scrolling and swiping!

Today’s verse stresses the importance of making the most of every opportunity.  Doing so makes us wise.  When we fritter away the day or the week, we assume there will be many more ahead of us.  But the days are evil and life can be cut short.  However, missed opportunities are not an issue for the believer who is carefully living to please Him and do His will (verse 17).  In being filled with His Spirit (verse 18) we can make the most of our days.

I probably miss opportunities to serve Him all the time.  My mind and spiritual senses can be dulled by any number of activities, none of which are negative in themselves.  Wise living is intentional living and I need to always remind myself of the purpose of my life.  When I am wise, I am looking for those opportunities He places squarely in my path.  He gives me the energy and the motivation to, “fulfill His good purpose.” (Phil. 2:13)  I only have this one life to offer Him and I do not want to have any regrets over missed opportunities.

Help me Lord, to live wisely today.


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100 Years

Scripture for Today: Psalm 77:11 “I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely, I will remember Your wonders of old.”

Meet Joseph Ambrose, a veteran of World War I.  At age 86 he was honored at a Veteran’s Day parade in 1982.  His old-fashioned uniform is surprising and the emotion etched on his face is touching.  He served in a war that was supposed to be the “war to end all wars.”  Sadly, that has not been the case.  Veteran’s Day this year marks the one hundred year anniversary of this war.  Memories fade as those who fought disappear with age.  But although we do not always have the details of these war stories, we can still appreciate the sacrifice their service represents.

In today’s verse Asaph declares that he will remember what the Lord has done.  And His wonders include miraculous exploits in battle!  From the drowning of Pharaoh’s army to the walls coming down at Jericho, the Lord has done battle for His own!  And He continues to do battle for us, equipping us with spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-17) and helping us to stand firm.  He makes us more than conquerors as He is on our side (Rom. 8:31).

My life is to testify to others just how great and awesome my God is!  I am to sing His praises, give credit and glory to Him by my life and praise Him in prayer.  When I do, I myself become a “wonder and surprise” to many! (Psalm 71:7)  But so often, it is through the heat of battle that others take note.  It is through the difficulty that He shows Himself strong and powerful.  When others see me rise above a horrible situation, I gain credibility and a voice.

Lord, may my life remind others of all Your wonders and incredible deeds!


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Puppet Strings

Scripture for Today: Joshua 24:15 “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

I was surprised to learn that Punch and Judy have been around since the 1600’s!  These marionettes  as part of British culture were originally intended for adult entertainment.  It was not until the Victorian era that the stories were changed for children.  Each story had common themes including: Punch’s bad behavior, struggles with Judy, his wife and the baby, victory over run-ins with the law, and plenty of songs and jokes mixed in.  Of course, Punch and Judy had no say in the story line!

Today’s verse is part of a charge Joshua gave the Israelites just before his death.  He admonished the people to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully by throwing out the gods of their ancestors.  Joshua challenged them to choose!  Then comes the often-quoted declaration that he and his household choose to serve the Lord.  Our Creator has given us choice.  How it works with His sovereignty is a mystery but true nonetheless.  There are no puppet strings however.  God wants our love and service to be sincere and come from our hearts.

Every day there lies before me a choice in how I will spend those next 24 hours.  I can choose to live them for my own selfish pleasure or I can choose to find my pleasure in service to Him!  When I choose my own interests over His, it is as if I am choosing the same false gods of those Israelites.  But when I choose to serve Him, I feel His pleasure and experience His gracious blessing!

Lord, today I choose You!