Devotions By Jan


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Silkworms

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

We had the privilege of visiting a silk-making factory in Taiwan and seeing all those larvae in their cocoons.  The process has been around for almost 5 thousand years in China.  The resulting silk is not only beautiful but soft and silky to the touch.  But how strange to think it all starts with worm spit!  The unwrapping of each cocoon supplies one long strand of 1000 feet, three of which are needed for a single thread.  In fact, it takes 2,500 cocoons to make one pound of silk.  No wonder silk is thought to be such a luxury.

Today’s verse points out that believers, though being many, form one body.  Christ is our head and as the Church we are the body (I Cor. 12:12-13).  Just as there are many cocoons and strands of thread to make up silk, so we as Christ-followers form together just one entity.  This does not happen outside of the supernatural peace Christ gives.  When we allow that peace to rule and govern attitudes and actions, we can enjoy not only our unity but the beautiful results!

My little strand I add to the whole may not seem like anything.  On my own I do not amount to much.  But added together with all the other strands I become part of that one beautiful body giving glory to Jesus!  I am called to peace by the very One who provides it.  And that peace is a direct result of loving and forgiving others (verse 13-14).  Loving and forgiving can sometimes seem impossible, but “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” (Ps. 133:1)

Lord, help me live this peace.

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Follow Me!

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 1:12 “….One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.'”

It was easy following Paul.  He was driving a comfortable pace in the commuter lane.  We kept right up with him regardless of the boisterous noise of six French teens seated behind us.  It took the stress out of driving to have someone in the lead.  But when it looked as if Paul missed our exit, I was not too worried.  I just figured he knew a different way to our destination.  But when another exit flew by, I was worried enough to call him on my cell.  He had already arrived!  We were following the wrong car!

Today’s verse was written by the apostle Paul to the church at Corinth.  The believers there were dividing themselves into factions.  Each group followed a different church leader.  Paul turns their thoughts and loyalties to the One who could bring them together in unity.  After all, it was not Paul crucified.  They were not baptized in his name but in the name of Jesus (verse 13).  When we all have our eyes fixed on Jesus, following Him, we will remain united.

It seems to be part of human nature to split up into separate groups.  Somehow, pride gets in the way of fostering unity.  I often major on our differences rather than celebrating our common ground.  And there is danger in placing the group or the leader above Christ, making my allegiance to that leader the most important one.  But in following Jesus Christ above all else, I find I can bond with others who do the same, regardless of church affiliation, regardless of race, age or locale.

Thank you Lord, that following You above anyone else brings sweet unity with others!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Nesting Dolls

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:3 “…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Although the nesting dolls or “matryoska” dolls originated in Russia, the ones pictured here are Alsacian.  We see them all year long in France, but they are especially popular at the Christmas markets.  The number of dolls in a set can vary anywhere from five to several dozen.  A number of different themes are used including fairy tale figures, animals, and religious or political figures.  I am partial to the traditional “little matrons.”  But they all show beautiful artistry in the elaborate and detailed painting.

Today’s verse came to mind in thinking of the different sizes of these dolls.  Each one has its place in the set.  Each one belongs to the other and is needed to be complete.  Paul encourages his readers not to think of themselves more highly than they should.  Whatever size we think we are, we are not to look down on someone else.  Whatever talents we have are a gift from our Creator.  Each capability is a grace from Him.

Each believer has received a special talent or gift to serve Him.  When we think about ourselves with sober judgement we realize that any success in life ultimately comes from Him.  It is all grace.  Like Paul said, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  I do not want to disqualify myself from serving Him by allowing pride to poison my thinking.  But, it is always a sneaky temptation.

Lord, thank you for all your gifts to me!  Keep me from taking any credit.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Bougainvillea

Scripture for Today: Romans 15:5-6 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Our bougainvillea is climbing all over our back fence and its vibrant red color is a gorgeous!  There are equally vibrant colors of orange, fuchsia, pink and yellow, but my favorite has always been the red.  There are over 300 varieties worldwide and they can grow from 3 to 40 feet tall.  But what is surprising is that the actual flower is a small white blossom one sees in the center.  The bright colors actually come from the surrounding bracts, which are modified or specialized leaves.  Because they are positioned below the flower, I mistake it for the actual flower.

Today’s verse talks about collectively glorifying God.  The point of the believer’s life is not to draw attention to one’s self but to Him.  We are that small insignificant white flower.  But because of pointing people to Him, there is vibrant color in our lives.  He makes us beautiful because He is beautiful.  And together with other believers we can be united with one mind and one voice in this purpose of glorifying and praising Him.

Drawing attention to myself, taking credit for what God has done in my life or wanting to take center stage keeps me like that small insignificant white flower.  It takes a humble heart to be more about His glory and His name.  But I can have that same attitude Christ did (Phil. 2:5).  Along with encouragement and endurance, He gives me the desire to give all praise and glory to Him.  He is worthy!

Lord, may today be all about giving You the glory You deserve.


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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 couple 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 their 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.


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Winchester Mystery House

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:6 “But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are His house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”

Poor Mrs. Sarah Winchester.  Her San Jose home was always under construction as she was told that evil spirits would leave her alone if she never stopped building.  After the untimely death of her daughter and husband, she felt that she could be next.  This sprawling mansion at the time of her death in 1922 boasted 160 rooms, 2,000 doors (some leading nowhere) and 10,000 windows, 47 stairways (a few climbing to nothing), 47 fireplaces, 6 kitchens, and 13 bathrooms!

Today’s verse describes believers as God’s house.  This house is solid being held together not with stone and mortar but with confidence and hope.  It is held up with the truth, acting as pillars (I Tim. 3:15) and as a foundation.  God’s house or “household” is the church.  In this building there are no staircases or doors leading nowhere.  Every component has a purpose to bring glory and honor to the Builder.  The honor is not so much in the building itself but in the Builder.  And Christ, as the building manager is faithful over all and trustworthy.

Holding firmly to His plan for this building is not always easy.  Losing confidence and hope is a real temptation when because of conflict, cracks seem to appear in the walls.  But Christ is faithful even when I am not!  He continues to work on me to make me more like Him.  He strengthens my weaknesses and fills me with the fruit of His Spirit.  Where discord reigned, I can with His help respond with love and patience.  We need each other to collectively bring glory to Him who is worthy!

Help me Lord, to honor You today.

 

 


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Ducks in a Row

ducks-in-a-row-webScripture for Today: I Corinthians 1:12 “….One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.'” 

These ducks seem to have it figured out who the leader is and who will bring up the rear.  No one seems to be jostling for position.  None of the followers look as if they are trying to redirect the line.  When flying in a formation or swimming in a line, I can understand that progress forward is easier with the lead doing all the work.  But by waddling on the ground there does not seem to be an advantage to being in a line.

Today’s verse was written by the apostle Paul to the church at Corinth.  The believers there were dividing themselves into factions.  Each group followed a different church leader.  Paul turns their thoughts and loyalties to the One who could bring them together in unity.  After all, it was not Paul crucified.  They were not baptized in his name but in the name of Jesus (verse 13).  When we all have our eyes fixed on Jesus, following Him, we will remain united.

Splitting up into separate groups seems like the natural thing to do.  Somehow, my pride gets in the way of unity.  It is too easy for me to major on differences rather than celebrating common ground with other believers.  But I do want my allegiance to be to Christ first.  I find that in following Jesus Christ above all else, I bond with others who do the same, regardless of church affiliation, regardless of race, age or locale.  Lines of division disappear and we are united in the same line.

Thank you Lord, that following You above anyone else brings sweet unity with others!