ALABASTER JARS

Life in Abundance


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Twice Fallen

by Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti

Quickly I picked myself up from the sidewalk and assessed the damage. The sidewalk was fine except for the crack I just tripped over. I, however, was bleeding profusely from my chin and lower lip. Plus my right arm was crooked and my lower jaw was no longer aligned with its upper counterpart.

Fast forward to the emergency room. The bleeding had stopped, but I still looked frightful. My clothes and white walking shoes were stained with blood and my lip was swelling. When will it be our turn? my husband and I wondered out loud several times.

Finally, my name was called and we were escorted to an examining room. We welcomed the relative quiet of this cubicle and the attentiveness of the physician’s assistant and nurse. Calmly they stitched the wounds on my chin and lip. Gently they delivered me to the technicians who did the x-rays and CAT scans. And with just the right measure of sympathy, they gave us the results and told us what we needed to do and who we needed to see the next day. And so with prescriptions for pain meds in hand, my husband and I stood up to leave.

Wait! Wait just a minute! Sit back down! the nurse instructed us as she picked up a towel and basin and went to the sink for water.

Now what? my husband and I both looked at each other, wondering. But we did as we were told.

Balancing the basin in both hands, she walked over to me and knelt at my feet. Slowly, methodically, she began to cleanse my shoes of blood. Slowly they became white again, while the water became red.

My eyes welled up with tears.

We are all twice fallen. We are all born into sin. We cannot escape or deny it. And because we are born into sin, we will think sinful thoughts and commit sinful acts. But at some point, Jesus calls out to us, Wait! Wait just a minute! Then He invites us to sit down. And when we do, He’ll fill a basin with water, kneel at our feet, and with His own garment, He’ll wash us clean, while His own hands and clothes become stained with our blood, our sins.

Yes, we are all twice fallen. But with Jesus there is no waiting in crowded, noisy emergency rooms. Come unto me, He calls (Matt. 11:28, NIV). And when we turn in the direction of His voice, there He stands, holding a basin and a towel, ready and longing to make us clean with His blood.

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.
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The Right Job, The Right Time

Photo: flickr.com/gtmcknight/

Photo: flickr.com/gtmcknight

by Tonya Mechling

You, O God, know every one of us inside and out. Make plain which of these two men you choose to take the place in this ministry. Acts 1:24.

I had just interviewed within a church organization. I really wanted the position. I prayed I’d get the job, if I were meant to have it. Those hiring for the position were also praying; they wanted God’s help in finding the right person.

As I prayed, I was reminded of the 11 in the upper room. The men had just been through a wringer of emotional events: Jesus’ death on the cross, His resurrection from the tomb and then His ascension into heaven. It had been a tumultuous two months.

I imagine the apostles gathered together, confused and overwhelmed. I picture them clinging to Jesus’ words. The fate of Christianity rested upon their shoulders. As they defined apostleship, they knew that it was time to choose a replacement for Judas. Surely, Matthias and Joseph both had worthy attributes. It would have been easy to follow human logic and obvious qualifications as their criteria. Instead, they prayer in earnest and in submission: Make plain which of these two men you choose.

God chose Matthias.

There is great peace in allowing God to lead in our lives. Although I really wanted the job, I wanted even more God’s will to be done. We have a tendency to pray for things that are not in our best interest, and we are devastated when God says No or seemingly fails to answer.

He does see the future, and He knows whether something will bless us or hinder us. Sometimes, as in Matthias’ case, God says Yes. At other times, as in my desire for this certain job, God says No. As we draw close to Him, we are more and more able to accept disappointments.

If today you are awaiting an answer, be comforted knowing God has already answered your prayer—in His perfect time!

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.


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The Horse Before the Cart

by Fylvia Fowler Kline

I am God, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of a life of slavery. Exodus 20:1, 2

By the first chapter of Exodus, several hundred years and a few generations have passed since Israel’s bondage had begun. That’s a long time to be in a foreign land. Strange customs, strange gods; pretty much everything is unfamiliar and different.

After the first couple of decades, the lines were getting blurred—traditions were being forgotten, promises broken and fuzzy compromises made. They were only human, without a leader and probably feeling very detached from a once tangible God.

So when God and Moses paired up to lead them out of bondage and into the Promised Land, I imagine they needed an intense orientation session to rediscover their identity—to figure out who they were, where they were going and what they were called to do. Hence the 40 years of wilderness wanderings were the lessons in I am Your God 101.

The exodus from Egypt to Canaan makes a lot of sense when you look at it from this perspective. Yet what impresses me the most about this story is what happens in chapter 20 when God finally spells out the terms of the contract between His people and Him.

He could have handed out copies of the Ten Commandments the night the people of Israel left Egypt. Perhaps the tablets could have been carved into each dining table as families gathered to eat the meal of unleavened bread. Or maybe He could have inserted a copy into every packed bag that stood in the bloodstained foyer, ready for the journey. Or tattooed it on their forearms. That night of grand departure was the perfect time for God to hand out His policies and procedures, His do’s and don’ts. That would certainly have eliminated the chapter after chapter of bad decisions, misunderstandings and a whole lot of whining.

Yet God waited 19 long chapters before He chiseled His law into stone. This long wait says so much about our God. Before He gave them the Law on Sinai, God rescued them from slavery. Before God expected obedience, God poured out his saving grace.

In God’s order of things, His grace is the horse that comes before the cart. His grace is the force that pulls us into salvation.

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.


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Credit Where Credit is Due

by Fylvia Fowler Kline
Photo: flickr.com/jaroslavd

Photo: flickr.com/jaroslavd

Blessed be God, your God, who took such a liking to you. 1 Kings 10:9, The Message

Like a true press release, I Kings 10 begins with a succinct, one-sentence summary: The Queen of Sheba travels to verify rumors of King Solomon’s success being directly connected to his relationship with his God.

It’s the perfect teaser to pique the reader’s interest. Royalty doesn’t go on fact-finding missions; emissaries, agents and ambassadors do that sort of thing. Queens simply don’t take several months to travel some 1500 miles by camelback through unfriendly weather and terrain just to have tea with other royalty. In the courts of Sheba was a fat file on King Solomon. It covered his territory, his wealth, his government, his leadership style, even the number of wives and concubines. Anything quantifiable and verifiable there was of King Solomon, the Queen had a file on it.

While she had everything on him, she could not buy into all the media hype about his success coming from God. This was something she had to see for herself. Imagine the benefits to her already wealthy nation if this God-connection was real and she could tap into some of it for her own kingdom.

So she arrives with gifts that put all the lobbyists and campaign supporters to shame. From her gifts, her entourage and her beauty, it’s obvious that she’s not looking for favors or services.

She gets the tour of the kingdom–from the palace to the court officials to the dining halls to the temple. Israel simply takes her breath away. Everything she was told, she finds to be true. She acknowledges all this. And then to King Solomon she offers her compliments: ”Blessed be God, your God, who took such a liking to you and made you King.”

When the Queen of Sheba surveys the opulence of Israel, the peace among its people, the prosperity in the homes, the wisdom of the King, she sees nothing save the God of King Solomon. She sees a nation where God sits on the throne. She sees a kingdom and a king who give all the credit and glory to God. She witnesses true stewardship–something missing in the Solomon files back home, something she had to experience first-hand.

You know your life is one of stewardship when people come to you for who you are or what you do, but find God instead.

May you be a portal through which others encounter God.

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.


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A Romp With Sin

Photo: flickr.com/gagilas

Photo: flickr.com/gagilas

by Joy Henry (a pseudonym used to protect my loved ones from pain)

I was a young bride when it happened. The thrill of the honeymoon still brought smiles to my face in the middle of the day. Dreams of growing old with him grew grander with each rising sun. Everything was perfect until I saw him through the window of a coffee shop. There was something about the way he leaned towards her, something about the way their legs almost touched under the table.

He said he was sorry, but I couldn’t trust him again. I simply could not live with him after he cheated on me. With that my marriage ended even before I unwrapped my wedding gifts. Over time, I learned to forgive him. But I was always sure I made the right choice. Any way I looked at it, decision was justified.

Years went by and I finally allowed myself to trust again, to love again. And I met my husband, a wonderful Christian. This year we celebrated 10 years of a strong marriage and two wonderful little girls.

Everything was wonderful until a high school sweetheart found me on Facebook a few months ago. I hadn’t seen him in 30 years and we now lived on opposite sides of the world. What began as friendly emails got out of hand—I was making decisions that contradicted my principles, my beliefs and my life. I was even justifying every wrong turn I made. And eventually I created fake business trip to spend a week with him.

The week was simply bliss. I felt no regret or guilt. I did not think of my husband or my children. Instead, I began to dream of a new life—one more exciting than my stable home and loving family.

But when the week was over and it was time to go home, reality hit me. What had I done? How could I have forgotten the pain I felt standing outside the coffee shop? How could I inflict that same pain on my husband? Where was my sense of right and wrong? In the middle of the busy airport I sobbed uncontrollably. Filled with shame and regret, I prayed for forgiveness and courage to return home.

It’s been three months and I have not told my husband about that week—Not out of fear of losing him, but out of my desire never to cause him pain. Having walked out on my first husband when he cheated on me, I know I what I deserve. You may say my husband deserves to know the truth. But I ask you, Does he deserve to be hurt in the process?

I have taken this to God and feel His forgiveness. But forgiveness does not erase the memory of wrongdoing. I deal with the consequences of my choice every day. Every night I wonder if I should own up to my husband or keep that week just between God and me. I simply do not know.

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.


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Dear Bus Driver #64

Photo credit: flickr.com/bsabarnowl

Photo credit: flickr.com/bsabarnowl

by Ruth-Ann Thompson

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. Hebrews 12:28, New International Version.

“Dear Bus Driver #64,” began the letter. “You made this year a joy for both Alexandra and me. Thank you so much for your love, your faithfulness, your kindness, your patience—the list could go on and on!

“If I were a rich woman, I’d give you and your best friend a weekend at a premier spa with all the massages, manicures, pedicures, facials, make-up, hair-do’s and great food that your heart could hold, plus a shopping spree … plus gas for your tank for a year! But since I’m not rich, just know that this thank you holds that depth of gratitude.”

It was the end of another school year and this was my heartfelt thanks to the person who transported my daughter to and from school through all kinds of weather, traffic, illnesses, etc. Just a thank-you note. Nothing else.

When was the last time that you thanked God for His goodness towards those you love? Just a thank you note. Nothing else. No asking for anything, or

interceding for anyone, or hoping He’ll remember some aforementioned request.

Just thanking Him. Nothing else.

We are sometimes more apt to thank those we barely know than thank our Heavenly Father for His goodness towards us.

Why not spend some time today to offer a simple prayer of thanks?

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read. SaveFrom.net


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Album of Abundance

by Fylvia Fowler Kline

Credit: flickr.com/scarlatti2004_images

Credit: flickr.com/scarlatti2004_images

This is because of what God did for me. Exodus 13:8, The Message

God and I share a photo album. It’s not the digital kind with easy access to random pictures. It’s old school—the kind that grows heavier with every year, the one that weighs a ton and is stored up on the shelf. It has two hard covers that hold the pages together with a ribbon that marks my first memory of Him. Some pages are old; others are new from just last month. Some pictures have faded with time; others vividly clear despite stains from my tears. Some memories I recollect every day, others I save for days like today.

I would not survive today if I could not remember the yesterdays. Memories of overcoming past struggles with an extra portion of God-dependency is the only way to keep shut the doors of disappointment, fear, pain and depression. No one knows this better than God. He has seen every human being from Adam to me face life with the disability of sin. And to each of us He says, “Tap into my strength and you can get through this. And then create a memorial, a memorial of deliverance, grace and love.”

On the eve of deliverance from Egypt and slavery, God said the same thing to His people. Even though the plagues and the drama at Pharaoh’s courts were enough to confirm God’s love, it was important for the people to forever imprint God’s goodness on their memory. To survive the next 40 years in the wilderness, it was crucial for their children and every generation thereafter to look through their album of deliverance and rejoice in God’s leading.

So, in all the mad rush of packing and sloshing blood on the doorpost, God told His people to take the time to begin a photo album. “Tell your child on that day: ’This is because of what God did for me when I came out of Egypt.’”  Holding on to that memory, they survived and claimed the Promised Land.

With my album of deliverance in my hand, I too will survive today.

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.