Devotions By Jan


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The Abacus

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 130:3-4 “If You, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness so that we can with reverence serve You.”

Counting on an abacus looks complicated and time consuming.  But in fact, the merchants we saw in Hong Kong and Taiwan seemed to have no trouble at all.  Their fingers would fly over the beads faster than a calculator!  The Chinese abacus dates back to the 2nd century BC.  Variations of it were used as well by the Greeks and Romans in ancient times to keep an accurate record.

Today’s verse mentions keeping an account.  If the Lord were to keep a record of our sins, the small abacus would not be able to keep up!  If He were to treat us according to our sins, we would be crushed.  We would not be able to stand or even to lift our head.  Thankfully, with His forgiveness the record is swept clean.  Because of His forgiveness, we can serve Him with reverence and a grateful heart.  He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  Because of the loving sacrifice of Christ, He chooses not to remember our sin (Heb. 10:17).

His undeserved forgiveness is so amazing!  There is no other response I can make but to serve Him.  He does not forgive and forget my sin so that I can keep sinning.  He does it so that I can have the privilege of serving Him.  It is in this grateful service that I find purpose and significance in life.  He is worthy of all my praise, fear and obedience.  Not only does He forgive me but He allows me to stand in His incredible presence and enjoy Him forever!

Lord, where would I be without Your forgiveness?


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Standoff!

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5;13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

This State Trooper in Western New York had quite the story to tell!  There on a snow covered road in a small town, this horse blocked his way and would not move!  He had wandered away yet again from his owners.  The trooper tried to lure him off the road with a hand full of alfalfa.  But the horse would not budge, preferring instead to lick the salt off the hood of the car!  Horses required two to four tablespoons of salt per day but that would normally come from a salt block.

Today’s verse tells us that as believers we are called the salt of the earth.  We are to have an influence on those around us.  Our tasty contribution to this world is to draw attention to the Father and His glory (verse 16).  We sprinkle our surroundings with acts of love and kindness that point to Him.  But we can lose that saltiness by living for our own comfort and pleasure.  We can become tasteless by taking credit for the good things we have done rather than giving Him the praise that is due Him.

For me to be salt and an influence for Christ, I need to be out there in the world.   Salt does no good sitting on the shelf with all the other salt shakers.  But there is always the risk of losing my saltiness.  Living to serve others is often not a comfortable way to live.  I am faced everyday with the temptation to live entirely for myself.

Lord, keep me salty for You.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/khq.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/80/48054c2a-5041-11ea-afad-fb2b43d6d280/5e486e97f1de1.image.png?resize=750%2C412


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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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Hot or Cold?

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other.”

He is adorable but I am confused.  Being that I am not a “dog person” I am unsure if this dog is cold, needing the coat or if he is too warm wearing two coats!  My body today is having the same confusion, unable to decide whether it is hot or cold.  A flu will do that, making me vacillate between fever and chills.

Today’s verse comes from the Lord’s reprimand to the church of Laodicea.  This is a message of hard truths but He reassures that those He loves He disciplines and rebukes (verse 19).  These believers were doing good deeds.  But something was wrong.  They were not done with any kind of passion.  It was as if they were on autopilot, showing kindness and giving to others out of habit or a sense of obligation.  However, the Lord sees the heart and the motivation.  And like the good works that prove to be wood, hay and straw rather than gold, silver and costly stones, there is a marked difference (I Cor. 3:12-13)

The difficult question I ask myself is whether I am lukewarm.  No one else can know the answer as it is a matter of the heart.  Frankly, the good I may do for someone else may be tainted with thoughts of self aggrandizement or reciprocal expectations.  When my thoughts of “I should help” outweigh my thoughts of “I want to help” than perhaps I am being lukewarm.  The only way I know to be passionate is to continually connect to that Vine and have that fruit naturally flow from my relationship with Him!

Lord, keep me from being lukewarm today.


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Shoe Dog

Scripture for Today:  John 13:3-4a  “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so…”

The term, “shoe dog,” brings to mind what is pictured here.  There is something about that soft leather and trailing shoelace that invites dogs to be naughty and chew.  But in fact, “shoe dog,” refers to a shoe salesman.  In hearing about the history of the Nordstrom department stores, I learned that each of the three sons had to be a shoe dog as part of their training before their father allowed them to rise in the ranks.  The idea was to teach them humility and service.

In today’s verse, Jesus is preparing to get down on His knees and wash His disciples’ feet.  This was a service normally done by servants.  It was considered a demeaning task but a necessary one that was expected from the host.  Christ knew He would soon be leaving His disciples and did this out of His love for them.  This service did not threaten His identity and He was unconcerned about how it may make Him look.  He knew who He was, where He came from and where He was going.

Service is often not glamorous.  It can be dirty and stinky and even misunderstood.  But motivated by love for Him and love for others, I can disregard how it may make me look to others.  My service to others can be done without thought as to how I am viewed.  I know where I came from and where I am going as well!  And serving others is the best way I know to love Him!

Help me Lord, to get my mind off myself and serve those around me today!

 

 


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Pickle Fork

Scripture for Today: John 15:4 “Remain in Me, as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit of itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”

I love looking out the window of an airplane, even if I am over a wing.  I don’t normally think about how that wing is attached to the plane.  But if I did, I would just assume the connection was good at what is called the “Pickle Fork.”  That is the name of the juncture between the wings and fuselage.  Lately, the new generation of the Boeing 737 has been showing cracks in exactly that spot!

Today’s verse teaches how vital our connection is with the Lord.  Just as there can be no fruit in a branch separated from the vine, so there can be no good result when a wing detaches from the fuselage.  This verse tells us to remain in Him, meaning that sometimes we do not.  Our independent spirit and sense of self-sufficiency can create some serious cracks!  The separated branch or wing can look good to others but without that essential connection, there is no purpose to it being there.

To remain in constant communication with the Lord takes focus.  To always be aware of His presence and love takes deliberate effort.  But when I spend time in His Word and my thoughts are directed toward Him, I see my day take on purpose as He works through me.  Nothing I can accomplish will have any eternal significance without His amazing productive power.  I can almost feel those cracks forming when I do not spend time with Him.  But when I stay connected I see results that I know do not come from me alone.

Lord, keep me connected and crack free!

 

 

 

 


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Pelican Flower

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.”

This Pelican Flower on the streets of Ocean Beach, CA.  looked so unusual with its brown color and huge size!  These heart-shaped flowers only live TWO days!  On day one they attract bees and flies by their stench to enter the tunnel shape in the middle.  The little hair-like growths inside guide them along until they are stuck with no way out!  On day two the insect is covered in pollen and they are let out as the flower slowly withers and dies.

Today’s verse presents a true paradox.  Jesus is saying that those who are intent on saving their lives at any cost will end up paying in other ways.  Lives that are selfishly lived will in the end be lost.  Even if a person should gain the world world: riches, honor, health and ease, they can still lose their soul (verse 26).  Whereas, those who pour out and sacrifice their lives for others as a service to the Lord will have meaning and purpose.  They will in fact find their lives and the soul will not be lost for eternity.

Losing my life for the One I love is the best way I know to demonstrate that love.  I lose my life each time I choose to obey God’s way rather than my own.  I lose my life every time I put His agenda of good works ahead of my own selfish plan.  When I desire Christ’s love above and beyond any human love then my life is spent serving Him.  In losing my life to Him, He fills it and makes it meaningful!

Thank you Lord, that in You I have found my life!