Devotions By Jan


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Hope

Scripture for Today: Lamentations 3:25-26 “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him.  It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

How does one picture “hope?”  The image of this barren ground calls to mind the idea of grief and despair.  It is dry, cracked and hard.  There is no expectation of growth or new life.  But somehow, hope springs up in the form of this tiny green plant.  There is a tomorrow after all.  What looks completely dead comes to life!

Today’s verse made me think of the sadness and confusion of the disciples.  They huddled together in fear and despair for three long days following Christ’s crucifixion.  They must have felt lost and abandoned.  Their hearts and spirits must have felt as dry as the ground pictured here.  Perhaps they felt their hope in Jesus as the Messiah was ill placed.  But it was not.  The Lord was good to those men crushed with grief.  However, they had to wait three days to see His salvation.

The whole concept of hope involves waiting for a promise to be fulfilled.  The word, “hope,” in Scripture denotes confident expectation of what is sure to come.  There are many promises in my life that are yet to come.  The Lord wants to shower His goodness on me when I wait quietly and with confidence.  The Lord is especially good to me as I earnestly seek His face in those hard times of waiting.  I am not sure if the disciples waited quietly and confidently during those three days.  But then again, I have trouble with waiting as well.

Lord, thank you for the sure hope I have in You!  Help me to wait patiently for Your help and salvation!


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Papyrus

Scripture for Today:  Job 8:11-13 “Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh?  Can reeds thrive where there is no water?  While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass.  Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless.”

The papyrus reed had an important place in ancient cultures.  It was used to make a primitive form of paper.  Papyrus was used as early as 4000BC for writing.  Wherever the soil was damp, this reed could grow.  However, when the rains did not come, the soil would dry up and the reed would quickly die.  Without that water-soaked soil, the papyrus reed could not continue to thrive.

Our verse for today is spoken to Job by his friend, Bildad.  Job is experiencing acute suffering and he and his three friends are trying to understand the reason for it.  Bildad suggests that Job’s pain is the result of sin in his life.  That conclusion was incorrect, but Bildad’s description of the destiny of the godless is repeated throughout Scripture.  Those without the Lord have a hope that perishes.  It will not last as it is a flimsy hope without the Source of life-giving water.  The wicked thrive for a time, but forgetting God means their hope will perish with them.

Those who place their faith in Christ have a living hope that does not perish!  Unlike the wicked who forget God, believers do not rely on themselves, their riches or their own devises.  It is on Him and on Him only that we have set our hope! (II Cor. 1:9-10)

My hope will never perish because He has given me a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! (I Peter 1:3)  I could not live without hope, and praise God, I do not have to!


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Wisteria

IMG_20140413_123137Scripture for Today: Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Our neighbor’s wisteria below our Alsacian home is at its peak.  I can hardly tear my eyes away from it as it is so full.  It practically bends the fence with the weight of its blooms.  I do not remember it being quite this spectacular other years.  But I do remember seeing our neighbor pruning it, and this is the beautiful result.  However, not all wisteria vines flower well.  There is the story of a lady who after twenty years of fertilizing and pruning finally gave up on her wisteria.  She cut off the branches, poured gasoline on the trunk and burned it.  The plant started blooming the next spring and every year since!

I could not read that story without thinking of today’s verse.  The Lord does discipline and train His children.  Our Heavenly Father is perfect and so is His correction.  For the believer, judgement and punishment have been taken care of on the cross.  But we do need His loving discipline.  Although it is painful, it is always done for the goal of producing in us the beautiful blossoms of righteousness and peace.

Discipline can last a long time when I do not respond to His correction.  Thankfully, He never gives up on me, as did the woman in the story.  Of course, not all the suffering in my life is discipline.  But when repentance is called for, how much better that I quickly fall to my knees in humble confession!  What hope to know that what follows may be the most productive time of my life!

Thank you Lord, for producing in me Your peace and righteousness.

 


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Tenacious Ivy

IMG_20140414_150502Scripture for Today: Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

I have lots and lots of ivy in my yard.  When we first moved here I thought it was so pretty.  When I saw my landlord ripping out big chunks of it I was horrified!  Years later I understood.  Give ivy an inch it will take a mile.  If I do not hack it back, it takes over these retaining walls.  With enough neglect it would eventually take over our sitting area.

No matter how thorough I am in ripping it out, it always comes back.  It is tenacious and determined.  After working on it my hands are sore as I type.  It clings so tightly.  In fact, the word, “tenacious” means “to cling tightly.”

Our verse for today tells us we are to hate what is evil and cling to what is good.  The context is sincere love for other believers.  We are to be tenacious and cling tightly to doing what is good towards God’s family.  A sincere love for other believers will not tolerate any evil or compromise.  This is a love that does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (I Cor. 13:6).  It is a love that forgives.  It is good and entirely pure, never false or hypocritical.

The world’s idea of love is polluted with evil.  We are tempted to show that kind of love as it is easier.  But instead of letting go of God’s standard, we are to be tenacious and cling to what is good and pure.  Oh how I need His help.  It is too easy to compromise and let go of the good.

Make me tenacious, Lord.  May I cling to You and to what is  truly good.

 


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Precious Cargo

sling shelterScripture for Today: Isaiah 46:4 “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you.  I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

My sweet grandson sleeps best when carried by his mother!  My daughter has several styles of carriers and they all seem different from what I used.  I still remember the hike to Nevada Falls when my husband carried both of our daughters at once.  He had our eldest in a back carrier and our youngest in a carrier on his chest.  They were happy to be close and cuddled by their daddy and we were all able to enjoy the hike together.  Of course, eventually they both outgrew their carriers.

Our verse for today is about being carried and sustained by the One who has created us.  Unlike the gods of Babylon who were utterly helpless, our God has upheld us from the moment we were conceived! (verse 3)  His care continues throughout life, even and especially when we are older and feeble.  He is the One who sustains.  We never outgrow this carrier!  It is on His chest that we are calm and can rest.  We are safe and secure when He holds us close.  His sustaining power rescues us from any potential danger.

My rebellious spirit makes me squirm.  To be carried means relinquishing any control I think I have.  My little grandson cannot decide where he is going.  We however, try to climb down from His arms.  We think we know where we are going and what we are doing.  But in fact, His way is always better.

Stress and fatigue cause me to climb back up where I belong.  Thank you Lord, for carrying me.