Devotions By Jan


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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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Flying in Formation

Scripture for Today:  Philippians 2:1-2  “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and consolation, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”

This image of perfect synchronized flying is amazing!  These birds must have the same destination in their little bird brains!  But more than that, they are flying at the same height and the same speed to get there!  No one is jostling for position or lagging behind the others.  Their united purpose brings them together and keeps them together.

In today’s verse, Paul seems to think that Christians can be united in spirit.  Not only that but he appears to be saying that believers can be in agreement, loving one another and intent on going in the same direction!  How does that happen?  When there is encouragement.  When there is consolation.  When there is fellowship and affection for one another.  We not only need the love and encouragement of other believers to keep going , but “flying together” brings honor to Christ!  It is what signals to the world that we are His disciples (John 13:35).

I am going in the same direction as so many other believers.  Like them, my desire is to grow in faith and be more like Jesus.  It is a long life-time purpose.  But going it alone is not what the Lord wants.  Just as I take notice of these three birds flying in perfect harmony, so the world sits up and takes notice of believers that are showing love and unity.  Being united and showing love to one another is something supernatural but He makes it possible!

Thank you Lord, that I do not have to do this alone!

 

Photo credit: David Joyce at https://www.flickr.com/photos/deapeajay/2694162918


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The Magic of Fireflies

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 5:16  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Fireflies are so intriguing!  When they light up a tree it is magical and looks like a fairyland.  The chemical reaction of these ugly winged beetles produces light but not heat.  They glow without wasting any energy.  All one hundred percent of their energy goes into making their light.  The purpose of their glow is to attract, either a mate or their prey.  Their light attracts me too although I do not fit either category!

Today’s verse talks about the attractive light of our good deeds.  When our kindness to others is done to give honor to the Heavenly Father, we shine as lights.  In a dark and selfish world our lives stand out and shine. The purpose of our light is not to attract people to ourselves, but to our Lord.  We are to be open about the reasons behind our giving to others.  It is not about me.  It is about Him.

I often feel that my acts of love and kindness towards others do not make much difference.  But even a pinpoint of light in the darkness is noticed.  When He is given the recognition He deserves than my little light has a huge purpose.  My focus should not be praise and recognition for myself but for Him!  My light is to pierce the darkness and point others to Jesus who Himself is the Light of the world!  And of course, when a group of flickering lights are together (as in the Church) the impact is that much more remarkable and beautiful!

Lord, show me how to shine for You today!


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Bonded Leather

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

I was horrified to pull back my couch cover and see how the bonded leather was “unbonding!”  After just two years the couch was showing signs of this kind of wear.  It was my own fault for not researching the meaning of “bonded leather” before buying it.  But because the price was hefty and it was from a reputable well-known brand, I did not think it through.  This kind of leather is made up of many small pieces bonded or glued together.  Those that sell it admit that it will only hold up three to five years.  What a disappointment!

Today’s verse talks about a supernatural bond of peace that is the work of the Holy Spirit in believers.  Those belonging to Jesus come in all shapes and sizes, different races and cultures, social standings, income and education.  We are little pieces bonded together making a whole.  We are part of one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father! (verses 4-6).  And this peace is something we are to strive to keep.

The Lord knows me.  He knows how easily I can nitpick and criticize.  I so easily focus on differences rather than recognize what unites me with my brothers and sisters.  The Lord has shown me incredible grace, and yet I am slow to show that same grace to others.  Our unity is more important than me being right, recognized or visible.  Our unity can be a powerful draw to the world.  And oh how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! (Ps. 133:1)

Thank you Lord, that You make possible this bond of peace.  Help me to keep it!

 

 


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Cliques

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household.”

I love seeing the joy on the faces of these Filipino children!  When being part of a circle of friends, there is a wonderful feeling of belonging!  We all need to feel accepted and valued by others.  It is even better when that happens with a group that shares some common bonds and interests.  And there is quite a bit of angst if we are not part of such a group.  The French word, “clique,” is one we use for a group that is closed to outsiders.  What heartache there can be when we are the one excluded!

In today’s verse there is quite a large group that is by far the most inclusive one.  In this group, no one is a foreigner as it is  made up of members of every tribe and nation!  Our allegiance to God transcends earthly divisions.  There are no strangers as we will have eternity to get to know one another.  Being part of God’s household means that we have the same Father and that we are brothers and sisters.  No believer will feel like an outsider.

I am part of God’s household but I can sometimes feel like an outsider.  I see so many different groups and divisions within God’s family.  I may not fit in because of the racial, economic or theological divisions we create.  I cannot help but think that this is not God’s intent.  He means for us to be one in Christ; no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female (Gal. 3:28).  Our oneness through our diversity is what glorifies Him!

Lord, help me to be lovingly inclusive with ALL my brothers and sisters.


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Heartfelt Worship

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 29:13 “The Lord says, ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.'”

Styles of worship vary so much, especially internationally.  Our French church would often begin the service with complete silence and the expectation was to spend time in prayer and reflection.  For other churches, the music is upbeat and loud to begin things, gradually toning down to the message.  There are churches that feel any instrument except the human voice is out of place.  And the volume, rhythm, and style can all be a subject of debate .

In today’s verse none of these considerations are addressed.  The essential component of true worship has nothing to do with style, traditions or even what is considered more spiritual.  What matters to the Lord is the attitude and intent of the heart.  One can mouth the right phrases and the right notes with a heart that is very far from Him.  Jesus taught that true worship will involve His Spirit and will use the truth of His Word (John 4:24).

I know the Lord wants my worship of Him to be sincere and from the heart.  The worship He desires not only comes from my mouth in song but also from my thoughts and daily actions.  When I read God’s Word it can be worship.  When I remember, meditate or share a verse it can be an act of worship.  When I praise Him to others in testimony it is worship.  Even when I am trying to hear and obey His voice, that is worship.

Lord, may my worship of You be daily and heartfelt.  You are worthy!


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Pregnant Male

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:2  “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

This creature is unlike any other in nature.  It is the male sea-horse who carries the eggs for the female!  The female will deposit her eggs in a special pouch he carries.  There, he fertilizes the eggs with his sperm, and carries them for two to four weeks until he gives birth.  Their babies are called “fry” and there can be as many as 1000 at a time  The female has it easy.  Her part is to swim up to the male each morning during gestation  and give him a special greeting!

Today’s verse talks about helping each other to carry our burdens.  Doing so fulfills the law of Christ which is to love one another.  These burdens are the unfortunate result of our sin (verse 1).  They are different from His  burden which is light (Matt.11:30).  Rather than look askance at the one fallen in sin thinking we would never do that, we are to do all we can to lift him up and lighten his burden.  We all carry around the memories of past failures.  Understanding how the Lord has forgiven us helps us extend that same grace.  In love, we want to help with words of encouragement and affirmation.

It costs me something to help carry the burden of another.  It means that I take time out to pray, give godly counsel and practical help.  It might mean hours on the phone.  Sin can complicate a life.  The consequences can be very burdensome with broken relationships and poor self-image.  But that burden can be lighter when I come along side.  It is one of the best ways to show love!

Lord, help me be willing to carry another’s burden.

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