Devotions By Jan


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Coxswain Rowing

Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:19  “They have lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.”

As I look out the window at Buzzard’s Bay I see the rowing teams practicing from the nearby private academy.  The only one who seems to know where the boat is going is the coxswain who sits in the stern facing the bow.  This member of the team does not row but his role is crucial.  It is only with his specific calls that the rowers can make any progress.  He is responsible for steering the boat and for coordinating the power and rhythm of the rowers.  Without him, there is no unity.

Today’s verse speaks of the Church as a body with a head.  That Head is Christ (Col. 1:18).  If we lose our connection with Him we have lost the ability to work together.  We each have a role to play as members of this body, and there is no growth without Him.  He is the One who directs and leads.  He is the One who steers us in the right direction.  He has the same call for all of us and that is to glorify Him.

There is a temptation to think I am really something!  I may think I know a better way to move forward.  But with this attitude I lose connection with the Lord and I lose connection with other members.  That is because it is Christ who holds us together.  He sees where I am going but asks me to operate by faith and trust Him.  When I am listening for His calls I find unity with other believers doing the same thing!

Thank you Lord, for the progress You make possible!

 

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New Found Family!

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 2:11 “Both the One who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”

How very strange!  A California woman had thought she was an only child.  As a teenager she learned she was “donor-conceived” but it was not until recently that her curiosity about the donor father motivated her to take a DNA test.  To her surprise she found she had 22 half brothers and sisters!  She no longer feels like she does not fit in.  She feels she belongs after meeting up with her siblings and discovering her smile on other’s faces.

As different as this donor family is, today’s verse speaks of a family that is even more unique.  It is made up of spiritual brothers and sisters of all tribes and nations.  It is a spiritual family that spans centuries.  And more are being added each day.  Our backgrounds often have little in common.  Our world views, political views, or our education can all be radically different.  Like our own families, this spiritual family is made up of imperfect people.  But the one thing that unites us is that we have the same Heavenly Father who has set us apart as His own.

The Lord has created me with a strong need to belong.  I do not feel that I fit in with those who are indifferent to Christ or mock His name.  But I need to belong somewhere.  That is why God’s family is so important to me.  I have brothers and sisters around the world.  All the things that would normally separate us are overcome by the uniting bond of Christ’s love.  And when there is unity, “how good and pleasant it is…” (Psalm 133:1).

Thank you Lord, for Your family.

 


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The Boysenberry

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 1:10  “I appeal to you brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

The Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm is in full swing.  This delicious berry is celebrated with 75 one-of-a-kind boysenberry inspired dishes and drinks.  Walter Knott was gifted six hybrid plants developed by Rudolph Boysen in the 1920’s.  Boysen  created this berry by crossing the European raspberry and blackberry with the American dewberry and loganberry.  The result is a wonderful sweet and tangy flavor and is great for canning, cobblers and pies.

Today’s verse admonishes believers to get along with one another.  There were reports of quarrels in the church in Corinth damaging their reputation or “fruit.”  The local church brings together such a diversity of people that there are bound to be differences of opinion.  Even though different varieties are thrown together there is to be fruit from our unity and cooperation.  Of course there are differences in our politics, education, preferences and backgrounds but they are not to divide us.

When believers can actually work together, we enjoy a wonderful yield.  The world sits up and takes notice when we can show respect and love to one another (John 17:23).  We live up to being associated with the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!  Standing close and united, our differences make our fruit beautiful and delicious!  I can be perfectly united with others so much different than myself when I consider His name as more important than my own!

Lord, regardless of our differences, keep me one with other believers for Your name’s sake!


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Bedazzled!

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 61:10 “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Each year at the Oscars, the red carpet showcases women decked out in their finery and in their dazzling jewelry.  This particular necklace, worn by Nicole Kidman at the 2008 Oscars, is made up of 1,399 carats of rough diamonds!  The jewels worn this year have been valued at as much as 20 million dollars a person!  For the most part, these pieces are only borrowed luxury from their jewelers.

Today’s verse brings all kinds of images to mind.  As believers we are clothed in the Lord’s righteousness.  The material is pure dazzling white because of the forgiveness we receive by faith.  As the Church, we are the Bride of Christ.  We are purified and presented to Him without spot or wrinkle.  We are glorious, set apart in a love relationship with Him (Eph. 5:27).  As if that were not enough, it will be as if we are adorned with jewelry on that beautiful day that begins our eternity with Him!

I would love to wear dazzling show-stopping jewelry.  But the adornment I have to look forward to makes the finery on this earth look like cheap plastic imitations.  His righteousness makes me beautiful.  And the gentle and quiet spirit He makes possible is worth so much more in His sight (I Peter 3:4).  His garments of salvation are in such contrast to the “filthy rags” of my own efforts (Isaiah 64:6).  There is delight and joy at the thought of being adorned with His beauty!

Lord, may Your beauty be seen in me today!

 

 


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Singing Stress Away

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:4-5 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith and one baptism.”

Have you ever noticed how singing with others can lift a mood?  A study was recently done saying 96% of those participating in singing groups felt less stress in their lives.  Singing releases endorphins and oxytocin, relieving anxiety and stress.  And this wonderful effect is amplified in a group.  In fact, music vibrations can be felt by each member, moving through bodies simultaneously.  When this happens, everyone’s heart beats can even become synchronized!

Today’s verse stresses oneness and unity.  With all the possible divisions between believers, it is good to be reminded that our hope and faith make us one.  When we meet together for corporate worship rather than worshipping on our own, we can sense this unity through song.  Singing together brings us together, getting our minds off our differences and turning our thoughts toward the Savior we have in common.  Together, we are to hold unswervingly to that “one hope” we profess (Heb. 10:23).  Meeting together and singing together encourages our faith and spurs us on to love and good works (Heb. 10:25).

Discouragement can so easily overtake me when I give up meeting together.  I need to be stimulated and strengthened in my faith.  We all need to lift one another up and give one another support.  I need that deeper connection that comes from being with people of like mind.  Lifting my voice up in song with other believers makes, “having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind,” a reality! (Phil. 2:2)  Although every tongue and nation will sing with one voice in Heaven, I need those moments of “oneness” today.

Thank you Lord, for those precious moments of unity!

 

 


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Together

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 12:26 “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

How heart warming it is to see people come together in times of grief!  This picture however, is not of a funeral but a wedding.  There is joy for the newly married couple but also grief at the imminent passing of the bride’s father.  This group of believers may be very different from one another.  But what unites them is their shared joy and pain.  Not only is each individual helped but the one they are surrounding is uplifted by this show of oneness and support.

In today’s verse there is both suffering and joy.  Both emotions can be shared within Christ’s body, the Church even though we show and experience emotion in different ways.  The weight of emotion is not quite as heavy when it is shared.  That sharing brings us together and emphasizes our oneness.  We are to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).  Doing so makes our unity that much stronger.  And when we are one, people can see Christ in us (John 17:20-23).

There is nothing worse than feeling strong emotions and having no one with which to share them.  Both intense joy and grief can increase feelings of isolation when they are not shared.  But when I can relate in this way with other believers, I connect on another level.  My little part of the body feels more integrated.  And what is really amazing is that this connection between believers somehow glorifies Christ and He is seen more clearly in me and in all of us!

Thank you Lord, for the connection I can have with other believers.


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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.