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!