Devotions By Jan


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Black or White?

Scripture for Today: I Peter 2:24 “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.”

Is the zebra an animal wearing a white coat with black stripes?  Or is he an animal with a black coat striped white?  Does it matter?  All I can see are their remarkable stripes!  They are wonderful protection as it can be difficult for a predator to single out from a herd just one zebra to chase.  The zebras know to stay together against their common enemy.  There is strength and security in their unity.

Today’s verse talks about stripes that offer healing.  These stripes are much more remarkable but are anything but beautiful (Isaiah 53:2).  The stripes are the wounds Jesus suffered for our sake.  Before being put on that tree or cross,  He was beaten.  Those stripes made it possible for us to die to sin and live for righteousness.  Before Jesus took our punishment, we were soul-sick from our sin and in dire need of healing.  He accomplished by His sacrifice a healing that gives us a hope and a future!

His healing of my soul means that I am no longer powerless against the enemy of sin.  Not only am I spared the righteous judgement my sin deserves, but I am also freed from sin’s hold on me!  Because of His healing stripes, I can live a life that is righteous and pleasing to Him.  Included in that healing is the opportunity to find unity with those of a different stripe. Together in the body of Christ, we can encourage one another to stand against our common enemy.

Thank you Lord, for healing my soul.


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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 made some wrong assumptions.  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!