Devotions By Jan

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Falling in Love

chocolate-a19de532014ed9ad141b3e71154e499eScripture for Today: Psalm 89:2 “I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You have established Your faithfulness in heaven itself.”

I had to chuckle when I saw this same saying inscribed over the doorway of a cafe!  I admit that I am a “chocoholic” but I do have my standards.  I am most tempted with the dark and only in certain forms.  Indulging in that creamy satisfying taste never lets me down.  Chocolate always lives up to my expectation.  But before long, I would have to “fall” into it again to have that same satisfying experience.  The expression, “falling in love,” makes love seem haphazard and unintentional.  If we can fall in, perhaps we can climb out as well.

Today’s verse speaks of a love that stands firm forever.  It is a love that is constant and true because of the One who is doing the loving!  Beginning this relationship does not involve falling into it, unless we are falling to our knees in repentance and humility!

It is understandable that love can disappoint.  Love between flawed humans is in a constant state of flux.  Our ever-changing emotions make our love unreliable.  But there is a love that does not change.  God’s love is so great that it reaches to the skies! (Ps. 57:10)  He will never disappoint.  That is because His love does not depend on me but on His faithful promise.  His faithfulness to His Word is untouchable there in Heaven itself!

What a huge comfort to know that the Lord is never going to give up on me!  Nothing is going to change His love.  God is Love in its most beautiful and purest form.

How amazing it is that You can love me, Lord!  Help me believe it on this Valentine’s Day!

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Globe Skimmer Dragonfly

dragonfly-species-may-be-the-longest-distance-flier-out-thereScripture for Today: Ephesians 4:3 “Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of the Spirit in the binding power of peace.”

Who would have thought that this one and a half inch insect could travel non-stop between India and Africa?  For some of these globe skimmer dragonflies, their transcontinental flight is a “suicide mission.”  What could possibly motivate them to make such an arduous journey of 4,400 miles?  They migrate from the dry season to a wet one in order to mate.  The large surface of their wings allows them to glide and conserve energy.  And having two sets of wings working independently means they do not have to beat them as often.

Today’s verse tells us that believers have harmony and oneness because of God’s Spirit.  He provides peace and that peace gives us power to accomplish much!  Just as those two independent sets of wings work together to cover long distances, so believers need one another.  Through the power of the Spirit, we have the same mind and the same love.  We can be united and intent on one purpose (Phil. 2:2).  But this unity is something we strive to keep and it is something to be preciously guarded.  It is not our natural tendency to work together.

Which wing is the most important of those four?  Which one is in the front and which in the rear?  Working together can only happen when we are humble, gentle, patient and loving (verse 2).  When I worry about who gets the credit then I am out of sync.  When I am easily annoyed with someone else’s lapse, or am harsh in correcting another, than I lose ground.  I might be content with the result but maybe we could have gone much much further.

Lord, keep us together!



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Delete Button

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

I am very glad for that delete button when I make some silly mistake or when I just need to start all over.  And there are times when I would like to press a button and just delete the last twenty four hours!  Sometimes I look back on a day that was completely busy and yet wonder how nothing on my list was accomplished.  I can be working hard all day and still feel that my day was not well-spent.

Today’s verse tells us our labor is not in vain if it is “in the Lord.”  Being convinced of this truth motivates us to stand firm.  We can give ourselves fully to the “work of the Lord,” knowing that what is done for Him is never in vain.  But it seems there is plenty of work in the day that doesn’t fit that category, plenty of work that is mundane or even trivial.  However, the work of the Lord can be anything that is done in His name (Col. 3:17).  Every activity of the day then can be dedicated to Him.  Every chore can be an act of service and praise directed to Him!

What a difference when I have this mindset.  Suddenly, my insignificant work becomes significant.  Its value comes from Him and it is lifted to a higher plane.  It is no longer vain or meaningless.  The line blurs between the secular and the sacred.  When the day is dedicated to Him, it becomes a day well-spent!

Lord, keep me motivated knowing that my work for You is never in vain.


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Snow Covered Palms

Scripture for Today: Psalms 92:12  “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree.  He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”

This is not normally how I think of a palm tree!  Palm trees are usually associated with warm balmy climates.  Seeing a palm tree often brings to mind vacation spots where life is relaxed.  These palm trees in Saudi Arabia were likely surprised to find themselves covered in snow!  But they weathered the cold wet stuff with no problem.

Today’s verse describes the righteous as flourishing like a palm tree.  And flourish is a great description of what these stately trees do as some species grow to 60 meters high.!  Their leaves are said to be the largest of any plant at 25 meters long and 3 meters wide.  And some of their species have the largest seeds of any plant weighing 15-30 kilos each.

The righteous one when planted in the house of the Lord, can expect this kind of growth, flourishing in the courts of our God (verse 13).  But we do not grow like the palm tree when we are planted in the world.  The soil there is toxic.  We need to be rooted and grounded in His love and grace because we are not righteous on our own.  Our righteousness comes from faith in Christ.

That crisis in my life can feel just like a cold shock.  My body stiffens and my eyes grow wide with it.  But even when that unexpected cold front dumps snow on me I can still flourish because of Him.  He keeps me strong and rooted.  I am in His courts and there is no better place to be!  Better is one day there than a thousand elsewhere! (Psalm 84:10)

Keep me flourishing, Lord.  Keep me near You.

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Emotional Support Animal

Scripture for Today: Psalm 46:1-2a “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear…”

You see them more and more.  The “emotional support animal” is often a dog but can really be any animal.  They are allowed anywhere the public is but only with a doctor’s prescription.  They differ from service animals as there is no special training to do any work or task.  All that is required is that the animal provide a calming effect for the owner suffering from mental, emotional or psychiatric disabilities.  Their very presence is meant to bring comfort.

The truth of today’s verse brings a comfort far greater than any animal can give.  God Himself is our refuge and strength.  Regardless of the trouble faced, He is there to help.  His very presence is the source of protection, strength and comfort.  Realizing His presence keeps us from giving in to fear.  He is bigger and more powerful than any challenge.

When tragedy strikes someone close, I often do not know what to say.  But it is not what we say that brings comfort but the fact that we show up.  Our presence is what counts.  The person in crisis draws strength just from us being there.  How much more true is this principle with God’s presence.  Burrowing my head in an animal’s fur can only console me so much.  Crying on the shoulder of a friend or family member is important but does not go deep enough.  But when it is my Heavenly Father there, He can and does touch my soul with His loving presence.  He reassures me of His love and control.  He gives me hope.

Thank you Lord, that when troubles loom large, You are there.

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clapScripture for Today: Psalm 98:8 “Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy.”

We are clapping a lot these days.  Because our bed sits up high, the headboard shelf even higher and the lamps on top higher still, we broke down.  We bought one of those “clap on clap off” devises to turn on and off the lights.  It works really well, too well.  Anytime we open and close drawers the light turn off.  Even the door opening and closing can activate it.  We enjoy not having to turn around and reach for that switch even so.  With the “clap on clap off’ we feel a bit lazy.  But we will get over that in time, just as we did for the television remote!

Today’s verse mentions clapping from a very unlikely source, as well as singing.  The rivers are clapping and the mountains are singing.  This psalm is describing the joy expressed when something long-awaited finally appears.  Joining in the clapping and singing are the trees and the hills (Isaiah 55:12).  Creation waits in eager expectation, looking forward to being “liberated from its bondage to decay” (Romans 8:21).  One day, everything will be put to rights when He comes to judge the earth (verse 9).

We are encouraged to clap our hands as well with cries of joy to our God (Psalm 47:1).  He is coming and He will judge the world with righteousness.  I know every wrong will be addressed.  Every miscarriage of justice will be corrected.  Everyone suffering at the hands of evil will be recompensed.  His faithful ones will be rewarded.  What an enormous reason for joy!  This day is coming and it is why I can listen to the news and yet not lose heart.

Thank you Lord, for being my hope and my joy!

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debt-collectionsScripture for Today: Matthew 6:11-12 “Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors.”

Only 12 percent of Americans believe they will die in debt (according to a phone interview done by Princeton).  This is actually down from 21 percent a year ago!  Perhaps we are less concerned about “keeping up with the Joneses.”  It is great we are feeling more optimistic but the Federal Reserve tells another story.  According to them, credit card debt has been steadily rising over the last five years and is now close to one trillion!

Today’s verse is a familiar one being part of the Lord’s Prayer.  We are all indebted to the Lord for forgiving our sins and erasing the payment for them.  He forgave sin at great cost to Himself on that cross.  He took on Himself the awful payment sin deserves.  We could never pay it ourselves and if not for Him, would still carry the heavy burden of guilt.  Because the debt of our sin has been paid, we are to show that same forgiveness towards others who have wronged us.

If God were really to forgive me only as much as I forgive others, I would be in big trouble!  Thankfully, His forgiveness is based on His unconditional love.  The payment for my sins comes from His mercy and His grace.  But when I refuse to forgive the one who wronged me, I conveniently forget how much of a debt the Lord paid in my case!  Somehow, pride is at the root of my failure to forgive when thinking I deserve forgiveness, but they do not!

“Jesus paid it all.  All to Him I owe.”  Surely the price He paid for me was so much higher than any price I pay in forgiving others.

Lord, help me to forgive.