Devotions By Jan


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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!


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My Virtual Reality

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 6:19 “In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation to the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

I do not think I have ever had such a bizarre experience as seeing a virtual world with this 3D software!  Here I am learning the controls through a tutorial game and you can see in my son’s hand what I am seeing.  Creating this artificial environment makes it possible to experience anything anywhere!  How wonderful it was to walk the streets of Guebwiller, France and cross the river’s bridge and see the flowers of a place so dear to my heart!

Today’s verse alludes to a possible confusion between what is considered life and what is “truly life.”  This passage is encouraging those who are well-off to be rich in good works and generous in their giving.  Being willing to share is what lays up treasure in heaven where moth, rust and thieves will not touch it (Matt. 6;20).  But leading a life that is generous does something for us here on earth as well.  It allows us to experience a life that is truly life or “life indeed.”  There is another dimension to life that one can miss.

Living solely for selfish gain is not true life.  But when I live for others, life becomes richer.  I so need to remember this when tempted to envy.  True life is not found in what I possess.  True life is found in what I can give away.  I find that true life when I give and serve others.  Anything else is a life but without that dimension, not a true one.

Lord, do not let me miss out on true life 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.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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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.