Devotions By Jan

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Plymouth Rock

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 61:2 “From the ends of the earth will I cry to You. When my heart is overwhelmed and fainting, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”

My daughter warned me that I would be “underwhelmed” when viewing Plymouth Rock on our visit there in Massachusetts.  And she was right.  Legend has made this purported site of the Pilgrim’s landing into something large and looming.  In reality, this rock is quite small and unimpressive, being only one third to one half of its original size.

Today’s verse talks about another Rock that will not disappoint.  It is not made smaller by erosion and the passage of time.  This image of a rock speaks to our fatigue and weakness.  The prayer of the Psalmist is that he would be led to the Rock.  That tells me that the Rock is not necessarily in my line of vision during those times when I am overwhelmed.  When my heart is fainting within me, I am not seeing too clearly.  The Rock is even higher than I am, and yet I need to be led to it.

My first inclination when overwhelmed is not always to cry out to the Lord.  But what a wonderful promise is written here that when I do, He comes to my aid.  He leads me to a place of strength and refreshment for my spirit.  This Rock is higher, bigger and better than any of my feeble attempts to tough it out on my own.  His strength is constant and constantly available.  He is not only the Rock but He is my Rock. (Psalm 18:46)  With His strength I can be strong, firm and steadfast! (I Peter 5:10)

Lord, please be my Rock today.

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Something Missing!

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 1:8 “All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.”

These bizarre bronze statues were created by Bruno Catalano and can be seen at the port of Marseilles, France.  The artist, having been a sailor for twenty years, created his idea of a world citizen.  Every time he personally left a place, he felt he left pieces of himself behind.  Perhaps most everyone can relate as, “Everyone has missing pieces in his life that he won’t find again.”  This is a much more artistic way of expressing the lyrics of, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco!”

Today’s verse is something a world traveler may eventually feel.  In the beginning of exploring our world, there is much to see, hear and experience.  King Solomon had all the resources needed to experience life to the fullest.  Every desire to see and hear was fulfilled.  And yet those experiences did not fulfill him.  The desire to see more is always there.  The longing to hear more is never satisfied.  There is something missing.  The search for something new exotic and different becomes wearisome.  It does not fulfill something deep within.  There is still an emptiness.

I suppose one could call me a world traveler after having visited close to twenty-five countries.  I am privileged to have seen and heard a lot!  I know a number of people who are “minimalists” decrying the accumulation of things and instead filling their lives with seeing and hearing experiences.  But eventually it all becomes wearisome without that relationship with the Creator.  He is the One who fulfills my life, filling in all the empty places.

Thank you Lord that Your love and presence is more satisfying than anything I can see or hear!




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Scattered Leaves

Scripture for Today: I Chronicles 29:18 “Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of Your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to You.”

I love the colors of fall.  But seeing leaves scattered all over the place, not so much.  When they become wet, those leaves are more difficult to gather, sticking to the ground and becoming slippery.  Soon they lose their pretty color and become a soggy brown mess.  But even when conditions are dry, raking and gathering them become quite a chore.  One good gust of wind is all that is needed to send them scurrying away from the rake.

Today’s verse is a prayer of David’s at the occasion of gifts given for the building of the temple.  After David gave liberally of his gold and silver to its construction, he encouraged the people to do the same.  They responded generously and together they praised the Lord.  Their generous giving revealed the thoughts and desires of their hearts.  David prays that their thoughts and desires continue to be loyal to the Lord.

Just as those leaves, my thoughts and desires can be scattered all over the place.  When I spend time in God’s Word, it is as if the verses serve as a big rake, gathering my thoughts to a place they should be.  Love of the world and consumerism can quickly blow my thoughts and desires into corners they do not belong.  Spending time with Him lines up my priorities and keeps my loyalty to Him undivided.  I want to keep those God-honoring thoughts and desires in my heart where they belong.  And I want to express them by generous giving.

Lord, keep my thoughts and desires from wandering away from complete loyalty to You!

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Salmon Run

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:8-9 “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”

It is an incredibly strong instinct that drives the salmon to swim upstream to spawn.  After a few years in the ocean, the urge to lay its eggs in the exact fresh water stream where they were born drives them to make the long and arduous journey.  The salmon are so intent on their goal, they do not even stop to eat on the way.  They are so exhausted when arriving “home” that after laying their eggs, most do not survive.

Today’s verse refers to an eternal home with the Lord.  As long as we are in these earthly bodies we are not completely “at home.”  How surprising that Paul would rather be away from his body in order to be completely at home with his Lord! He not only says this but he says it with confidence.  In these bodies we groan and are burdened.  But when we are finally home, we will be clothed with a new body.  In the meantime we swim upstream.  As believers, we swim against the current as our life’s goal is to please Him.

I am often distracted from my heart’s desire to please Him.  If to please Him is the all-consuming goal of my life, then I can persevere when life gets difficult.  Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6) but I can feel His pleasure when I turn to Him in absolute trust and confidence.  Pleasing Him gives purpose to my day, even a mundane one.

Lord, there is no higher goal than pleasing You today!

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Remembering Veterans

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:12  “The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.  Never again will they leave it.  I will write on them the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem……and I will also write on them My new name.”

Today we honor all of our war veterans.  For many soldiers the memories of their service remain poignant and mark them for life.  But for the rest of the family, we often need help in remembering.  War memorabilia helps  to keep those memories alive.  This is especially true of a soldier’s dog tags that record his name, blood type, identification number and religion.  It is unfortunate that many of these dog tags are lost on the battleground.  How touching it is to hear stories of them being found and returned years later by caring strangers!

Our verse for today teaches that one day, believers will be “wearing” three names that will identify us.  The meaning here seems to be symbolic.  Those who are victorious and enduring to the very end will bear three names.  The name of God will show that we belong to Him forever.  The name of God’s city will show that we are citizens.  And His own new name will indicate our special relationship with Christ.

Our war is a spiritual one.  And although it may seem that a battle is lost here and there, the overall outcome of the war has already been established!  I am victorious because of Christ!  How reassuring to know that I will remain in His presence forever!  There is no way to misplace this “tag” and be lost.

Thank you Lord, for loving me enough to identify me as Your very own for all eternity!