Devotions By Jan


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Mommy-isms

Scripture for Today: Psalm 86:16 “Turn to me and have mercy on me; show Your strength on behalf of Your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did.”

It is practically inevitable!  Those “mommy-isms” uttered by Mom so many years ago come back mysteriously to my own lips in raising my children.  And now I hear my children repeating them to their children!  “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”  “Who said life was fair?”  “How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tried it yet?”  “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  And my personal favorite; “Go ask your Father.”

Today’s verse is part of David’s prayer for deliverance from attacking enemies.  He appeals to God’s mercy, compassion, love and faithfulness (verse 15).  David acknowledges his need for God’s strength as His servant and begs God to save him.  At this dangerous time of personal peril, David remembers his mother.  It is her example of service to God that David follows.  Because he serves God as his own mother did, David feels confident that God will answer his prayer and deliver him.  We do not know her name, but whoever she was, she had an amazing influence on David.

I am very different from my Mother, and yet I sometimes feel as though I sound just like her!  Her imprint on me is deep and lasting.  I remember her words of advice but more importantly, she is an example.  Her biggest influence is the way she lives her life.  Like David’s mother, she too serves the Lord.  She models that service to me.  My deepest desire is that I can somehow model that same service to my children and grandchildren!

Thank you Lord, that despite my failings You can use a mother’s influence!

 


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My Carrot

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:23-24  “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

I am not sure this little one can handle such a challenging food!  But perhaps it is never too soon to introduce carrots with their sweet taste, crunchiness and health benefits.  The mule is certainly motivated to reach that “carrot on a stick.”  Dangling the carrot just out of reach keeps that mule moving forward.  This expression has come to mean being motivated to persevere, knowing that eventually there will be a reward.

Today’s verse is quite clear about linking reward to our motivation to work hard.  It is for Him that we  work and not for the approval and recognition of men.  It is always nice, of course, to have that pat on the back from men too.  But it does not always come.  The Lord understands our need for recognition and reward and how they help to motivate us.  But there is a reluctance to talk about rewards.  It is like we are embarrassed that we need them.  There is the idea that somehow working for reward is a motive that is suspect.  And yet, the teaching of rewards is found throughout Scripture.

There are many times that others do not see what I do, or in seeing, say nothing in the way of thanks or appreciation.  Those words of approval are important to keep me going.  I am just made that way.  I need to be reminded of God’s rewards.  He sees.  He knows.  He is pleased with my service to Him and His rewards can keep me going.

Please Lord, may I one day hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”


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Autographed

Scripture for Today: Revelation 22:3-4 “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face and His name will be written on their foreheads.”

What devotion!  This girl has the names of thirteen celebrities written on her body!  She asks her idols to sign somewhere on her arms or on her back in marker.  She then goes to her local tattooist to make her souvenir permanent.  Apparently she is choosy, allowing only those who she deems an icon to have this privilege.  The autographs she wears include Angelina Jolie, Celine Dion and Lionel Richie!

Today’s verse describes a time in eternity when those who belong to the Lord will wear His name.  And the privilege will be all ours!  We, as His servants, will have a closeness to His throne and will daily see His face.  His name will be on our foreheads, figuratively or literally.  More than an autograph, His name will mark us for all eternity as His very own.  And our service to Him will include forever reigning with Him (verse 5).

I may not have His name on my forehead now.  But hopefully, I am so closely identified with Him that I and others know that I belong to Him and He is mine!  His is a name that is above every other name (Phil. 2:9).  So exalted is this name that one day every knee will bow at even the sound of it!  He is the One who lifts my head high with His forgiveness (Ps 3:3).  When I look to Him I can be “radiant” and my face is not covered with shame (Ps. 34:5).

Lord, how unworthy I am.  Thank you for the incredible privilege of bearing Your name!

 


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Sandcastles

Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” 

I doubt that this sandcastle was built by a small child.  It seems too involved and complicated, perhaps needing some special molds and skills.  Sandcastle-building has become quite the art form with annual competitions all over Southern California.  Corona Del Mar is celebrating its 56th annual competition this October.  The entries are elaborate and take painstaking precision.  The results are impressive but no longer there.  These fantasy castles and kingdoms are eventually reclaimed by the ocean.  What a shame to see all that creative work washed away!

Today’s verse speaks of a kingdom that is eternal.  It does not erode with time.  What effort is invested in this kingdom will endure.  We are promised that when spending our lives living for God’s kingdom, we will be able to live our lives without worrying about tomorrow (verse 34).  The  mundane pursuits of food and clothing become less important.   Life is more than food and the body more than clothes (verse 25).  Seeking His kingdom means living for Him and for values that are eternal.

The most important component of any kingdom is its king.  Seeking God’s kingdom is to live as His subject and submit to His rule.  When I live for Him and His purposes, this gracious King takes care of the details.  But I sometimes get distracted by building my own little sandcastles.  I want my own kingdom, however small, in the hopes of having some say and control.  I want to be the one in charge!  But my pathetic kingdom is never as good as His.  And I do not want to waste my time on what will not last!

Lord, keep me focused on living for You.


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Tatting Lace

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

In going through my Mother’s things my sister and I found some beautiful tatting.  As I am not talented in this area, I did not realize the effort that goes into creating this handiwork.  This method of making lace dates back to the early 19th century.  It seems a complicated and detailed process of forming a pattern of rings and chains.  There are gaps left between stitches that form “picots” along the outer edges.  All these knots and loops make for an intricate pattern of beautiful lace.

Today’s verse calls us God’s handiwork.  We are created for a very specific purpose.  God has prepared in advance the good works we are to do.  All those knots in our physical make-up, and all those loops in our personality and skill set are there for a purpose.  Nothing is by chance.  The works we are to do are matched up to the way He made us.  He knit us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).  He wove us together before we ever saw the light of day (Psalm 139:15).  Each of us are uniquely made for Him.

As a believer, this verse gives purpose to my life.  I never have to wonder why I am on this earth.  My salvation is a gift (verses 8-9) and not earned by my works.  But my purpose in life is also a gift, and an incredible privilege.  He created me with everything I need to spend my life in service to Him.  He uses all my imperfections, my background, my family advantages and disadvantages.  He uses my talents and weaknesses.  He uses it all to serve Him.

Lord, show me how to serve You today.


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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.


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Boxing Day

Hiboxing-dayScripture for Today: Proverbs 28:27 “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.”

Today is Boxing Day, celebrated every December 26th by the British and by those with ties to Britain.  And no, it has nothing to do with actual boxing!  These days it has lots to do with shopping and finding the best deals, much like the American Black Friday.

There are many ideas about its origins but most agree that it began as St. Stephen’s Day when gifts were given to the poor.  Its name could have something to do with the Alms Box at the back of churches, emptied and distributed on this day.  The carol, Good King Wenceslas, was written by John Mason Neale in 1853 about a King in the 10th century who gives food to a poor family on St. Stephen’s Day.  The song concludes with, “Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.”

This same idea is found in today’s verse.  Those who are generous find themselves lacking nothing.  Conversely, those who are stingy and do not share their wealth with the poor can find themselves in need.  Not only before the holidays begin but also the day after Christmas is an opportune moment to be thinking about those who are less fortunate.  After opening the huge pile of presents, there is often the problem of where to put it all!  We find that cupboards, closets, and garages are already full.

There is so much joy in giving!  And what I have experienced over the years is that God always provides for my needs.  The more I give to others, the more I experience His blessing!  The Lord continually surprises me!

Thank you Lord, that there is no “outgiving” You!