Devotions By Jan

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stalagmites12791091_10153848573085115_8988916661256579868_nScripture for Today: James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

What an incredible sight to see these stalactites and stalagmites so far underground in the north of France!  Our tour guide had to constantly prod us to keep moving.  But between the picture taking and the spontaneous singing of our chorale group, we made slow progress!  These magnificent cone-like structures are formed by slowly dripping water that deposit calcite.  They only grow one fourth to one half inch every century!

Today’s verse talks about how important it is to persevere in order to appreciate the compassion and mercy of the Lord.  The one who perseveres is blessed or happy.  Certainly Job did not feel especially blessed when going through all the heartache of loss and calamity.  In fact, he argued with his well-meaning friends and questioned God about what was happening.  But Job did persevere in staying true to his Lord.  Even though he was ignorant of the reasons for his trials, he did not give in to the pressure from his wife to curse God and die.  And in the end Job was blessed!

God finally brought about a positive outcome though it took years and years.  We may also be asked to wait for that “finally” or that positive outcome that the Lord in His mercy and compassion brings about.  Just as those stalagmites take years to form, so God’s plan can take a lifetime to accomplish.  I may never understand it all but I can persevere and be true to Him because He is loving and faithful, no matter what!

Regardless of what this day brings, keep me faithful to You.

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First Responders

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

I am in awe of those first responders rushing into a scene of horror and chaos.  They are pumped with adrenaline and provide that critical care that saves lives.  But those emergency-service-employees are trained to keep emotions in check and respond with cool professionalism.  Even so, the sadness and desperation they see can easily overwhelm even the most seasoned of them.  However, with their training and experience, surprise is probably not part of their first response.

In today’s verse, Peter anticipates that the believers will be surprised at the fiery trials they will face.  He points out that there is something behind the intense crisis they encounter.  The Lord uses every difficulty to test our faith and make us strong.  However, this “fiery ordeal” is not something caused by our own wrong choices.  It is an ordeal that comes from living as a believer in a non believing world.  Rather than reacting with surprise, we are to respond with joy (verse 13) being confident that blessing and future glory are ours (verse 14).

Recently, when faced with a crisis my first response was not only surprise but some doubts as to whether God really knew what He was doing!  Although I eventually came around to a place of trust, it was not my first response!  After so many years as a believer, my knee jerk reaction surprised and humbled me.  What a barometer my response was to the state of my spiritual health!

Lord, grow my faith to respond to any trial with joy.  Keep me confident that You do know what You are doing!

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Even Keeled

Keel RSVentureKeelSailabilitySailing2Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 1:21 “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us…”

There is nothing more unsettling than a boat rocking!  I know from personal experience having taken a sailing class in my college years.  We were all “in the same boat” as novices and there were plenty of nail-biting moments.  The couple pictured here seem experienced and relaxed.  But certainly, the keel has a lot to do with keeping them stable.  That long piece of wood along the bottom of the boat is usually unseen but so important to balance.

Today’s verse is not so much about an object but a Person who helps us stand firmly, balanced and stable.  God does this for the believer.  He does this through our relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ.  But He also does this through His Spirit in our hearts (verse 22).  We bear the seal of His ownership and nothing can shake that!  His Spirit is a guarantee of what is to come.  Being convinced of this truth keeps the boat from rocking.  He keeps the boat from capsizing.

I need to be even keeled.  When I stand firm in my faith I can have that “quiet and gentle spirit” that God values (I Peter 3:4).  It is a matter of trusting Him and what He says.  His Word stands firm in the heavens (Psalm 119:89) and will make me to stand firm as well.  Changes may seem overwhelming and the next crisis daunting, but trusting Him keeps me firm and upright.  When my heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord, then there is no fear of bad news (Psalm 112:7).  Life will always seem unstable but He is not!

Lord, thank you for being my stability.  Keep me trusting You completely.