Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

Mixed Up!

img_20161016_171121Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

While taking a power walk at the harbor I came across this car looking totally mixed up!  From one angle it looks white but from another perspective it looks black.  I am not sure what the point of painting it like this was but it did make me pause and think.  Maybe the wife wanted it white and the husband preferred black.  Perhaps the only way to keep the peace was to compromise and have it both ways!

Today’s verse says what we all realize.  Keeping any group of two or more unified takes effort.  What I like about this car image is that unity is preserved without being uniform.  Diversity does not negate unity.  And the unity through the Spirit of God encompasses all kinds of differences in color, custom, gender, social status, and education.  It is God’s peace through His Spirit that creates a supernatural bond that holds us together.

Maintaining this unity is sure not easy.  How easy it is to think that my way of living and doing things is the best way!  I cannot possibly keep any sort of unity unless I can “bear with one another in love.” (verse 2)  I know I am loving in the way that preserves unity when I am humble, gentle and patient towards the one who is different (verse 2).  So what if one side is white and one side is black?  It is still one car.  How boring it would be if we were all the same!  And what other group on this earth can be so diverse and at the same time be one?

Lord, keep me loving, patient, gentle and humble to preserve this precious unity in You.

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

Advertisements


Leave a comment

The Praying Mantis

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

This mantis looks to have been interrupted in his prayers!  These alien-looking insects got their name from their prayer-like stance.  These strange creatures are the only insects that can turn their heads 180 degrees!  They may look like they are praying but in fact they are very alert and highly visual, noticing any disturbance in their environment.  Even when flying at night some are able to avoid bats, detecting their echolocation sounds.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to pray on any and every occasion.  This verse closes out the passage talking about how to fight the spiritual war.  The battle we wage is not fought individually but in concert with others.  Of course we pray for ourselves.  We want strength, protection, and greater faith.  But we are also to be praying for all of the Lord’s people facing the same challenges we do.

We are told to be alert.  We need to have our “antennae” up and sensitive to needs around us.  All it takes is to turn our head in a half circle to see someone who needs prayer.  Our prayers lift up and encourage a fallen soldier.  Praying for another encourages them to get back in the battle and to persevere.

I sometimes feel that praying for others is not as important as some of the other ways we serve Him.  How often I have heard, (or said) “Well, I guess all I can really do is pray for her.”  Are not our prayers the most important thing we can do?

Lord, make me a faithful prayer warrior today!

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


Leave a comment

Locked Antlers

Scripture for Today: James 4:1 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

The bull moose antlers are impressive with a spread of up to 6 feet!  They can weigh as much as 40 pounds.  Each year they are shed and grown anew until old age.  Their size shows their status and strength, especially during mating season.  They are made of bone and are one single structure.  Two bull moose with similar sized antlers will face off and lock antlers over a female.  It is really sad when two moose get their antlers so entangled that they are unable to free themselves and they die!

Today’s verse was addressed to believers in the church.  These early Christians struggled with the very same thing we do today.  Desires battling within eventually show themselves in tensions and quarrels without.  The desires mentioned here are probably the result of “friendship with the world” (verse 4).  They desired what they did not have.  Praying for their desires would not have resolved the situation.  That is because they were asking with wrong motives and would spend what they received on themselves (verses 2-3).  There is only one solution and that is for our desires to change.

Most of my desires would probably fall into this same category.  I wish I could say differently.  The pull of the world is strong and so is envying what others have.  In my heart of hearts I know that possessions do not bring me true joy but it sure is easy to be distracted!  And when my selfish desires get in the way of a relationship I know it has gone too far.  I want those secret desires in my heart to be God-honoring and to be centered on Him.

Lord, help me to keep my desires in check.

 


Leave a comment

Caring Dolphins

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:1-2  “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.  But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Awhile back I took my daughter whale watching but all we saw were dolphins.  Neither of us were disappointed though.  They are so much fun to watch, jumping, frolicking and following our boat.  Dolphins are such intelligent mammals and often will “bow-ride,” swimming alongside a ship to conserve energy.  But what is really surprising is their altruism!  A dolphin will stay by another ill or injured dolphin, even helping them to the surface to breathe!

Today’s verse is addressed to those who are living and walking by the Spirit.  Restoring a fellow believer who is broken with sin is more than just altruism but a command. This act of love and caring is done with kindness, tenderness and a gentle spirit.  When we restore someone to a close relationship with the Lord, we listen, we cry, we share, we pray together and we encourage confession.  How amazing it is to see God’s forgiveness make one whole again!

There are really two prerequisites to restoring a believer caught in sin.  The first is to be in right relationship with the Lord myself.  The second is to care, to care and love so much that I am willing to be involved, even long term.  To care that much means being a servant with my time.  It also means caring enough to risk misunderstanding and perhaps a broken relationship as a result of speaking truth.  But what a privilege to be used by Him to bring someone back!

Lord, make me willing to care that much!


1 Comment

The Cardinal

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

It is not fair.  The male cardinal gets all the attention with its bright red plumage whereas the female is largely overlooked.  And yet,  although the colors are more subtle, she is beautiful too.  Normally among songbirds, the male is the only one to sing.  He will sing to defend his territory and during courtship.  However, the female cardinal also sings.  She sings mainly during the spring, during courtship and while sitting on her nest.  Her song is a bit longer and more complex than the male’s song.

Today’s verse downplays the differences between races, social status and between the sexes.  These words describe a coming together that is not so natural.  Believers can achieve oneness in Jesus Christ.  Regardless of our differences, followers of the Lord can have a unity that is remarkable!  Unlike the “birds of a feather who flock together,” the body of Christ is incredibly diverse.  People that would not normally come together find themselves sharing a deep bond in our shared love of Jesus!

What a beautiful testimony to find this unity in a world that is so divided!  Love that reaches across generation, gender and race is the mark of a Christian (Mark 13:35).  It is not natural.  I want that mark on my life, but it can only happen with the fruit of the Spirit in me.  It helps to remember that down deep, my soul is exactly the same as my neighbor’s.  I see differences but the Lord looks on the heart (I Sam 16:7).

Lord, thank you that You can bring together what the world does not!

 


2 Comments

Coconut Worm Larvae

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” 

Perhaps they taste like chicken.  But is it really necessary to eat them alive?  The coconut worm larvae has a sweet coconut taste and are especially creamy when eaten raw!  This dish is considered a delicacy as street food for the Vietnamese.  I do not feel sorry for these small creatures as they easily bring down a mighty palm tree with their voracious appetite.  With their powerful jaws, they burrow holes up to a meter long in the trunk of a palm, eventually killing their host.

Today’s verse describes sin as “deceitful.”  It can slowly excavate holes in our faith and if left unchecked, can bring down the believer, leading him to a place of unbelief.  The sneaky nature of sin does its work inside where no one sees.  It can eventually hardened a heart.  That is why believers need one another to daily encourage each other to right living.  To delay even a day can put our hearts at risk.

Sometimes my sin can seem so puny and harmless.  There may even be some temporary sweetness that comes from it.  And that’s the deceitful part.  But I know how weak I am and that I am not above participating in any sin, especially in my thought life.  It does help me to be around other believers who can encourage me to stay the course.  And having the opportunity to build up someone else’s resolve serves to bolster my own faith as well.  More than anything, I want my heart to stay soft towards His Spirit.  And I want to stand firm to the very end!

Lord, I need to be encouraged today!

 

 

 


Leave a comment

“Tree of 40 Fruit”

Scripture for Today: Romans 11:18 “Do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: you do not support the root – but the root supports you.”

This tree looks completely mixed up!  Several different colors are blooming and in the summer it will bear several different kinds of fruit in sequence!  It is called the “Tree of 40 Fruit.”  Aken, an artist and professor at Syracuse University, put this strange tree together using a process called, “chip grafting.”  By doing this he has created a tree that bears forty different varieties of fruit with pits!

Today’s verse uses the imagery of grafting branches into an olive tree to describe how salvation was offered to the Gentile, or non-Jewish world.  Salvation was brought first to the Jewish race (Rom.1:16).  It was not until they rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah that the Gentiles as a group were included in God’s plan of salvation.  This is illustrated by some branches being cut off and others being grafted in.  In either case, all the branches are on the same footing as all of us are connected to the same Root.  Salvation does not depend on ourselves, our works, or our ethnicity.  It all depends on faith in Christ and His saving work on the cross.

Feeling superior to other races is a deplorable thing and yet, I will admit that I have had thoughts that are not too God-honoring.  Even though God’s love is constant and unconditional, I know that my pride saddens and disappoints Him.  How human it is to believe that one group is better and more deserving of God’s grace than another!  But grace is never deserved.  To be grafted in to the Source of life is an immense privilege and I am so grateful.

Thank you Lord, for including me!