Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

Arundel Tomb

Scripture for Today: Psalm 100:5 “For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

I walked right past these amazing effigies at the Chichester Cathedral in England, not realizing I was related!  Meet Eleanor of Lancaster, my 18th Great Grand Aunt!  She was the great granddaughter of King Henry the III and is dressed as a noblewoman with gown, veil and wimple.  Beside her lies her husband Richard Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, dressed in the armor of a knight.  They have been holding hands since 1376!  Their sweet posture inspired a poem by Philip Larkin called, “An Arundel Tomb” in which the poet declares, “What will survive of us is love.”

Today’s verse describes a love that will truly endure forever.  The Lord is good which means His love is a faithful love unlike any other; a love that will endure the test of time.  His love continues through all generations and into eternity!  It does not stop at the grave.  As beautiful as romantic love can be, it does not even compare to His incredible unconditional love for us!  No other love is as wide, long, high or deep as His love (Eph.3:18).

My problem is believing it.  Oh, I believe God’s love is true in principle.  But to really grasp that His love is always there, always deep, and always faithful can be a struggle.  The failings of human love cloud my understanding.  But His love never disappoints.  Its intensity never fluctuates.  When I am just not feeling it, He waits to reassure me through His Word.  He cared enough to write it down.  And He reassures my heart by pouring into it His love through His Spirit (Rom. 5:5).

Lord, reassure me of Your love today.

 


Leave a comment

Taxed

Scripture for Today: Mark 12:17 “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’ And they were amazed at Him.”

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” (Benjamin Franklin 1789)  Both are thought to be inevitable.  Paying taxes has even crept into our Monopoly game!  But it is no game to wade through our extensive tax law.  The Gettysburg address has 269 words.  The Declaration of Independence contains 1,337 words.  The Bible numbers only 773,000 words.  But our American tax law has grown from 11,400 words in 1913 to 7 million words today!!

Today’s verse is the Lord’s response to a trick question from the Pharisees and Herodians.  They were trying to catch Him in His words (verse 13).  Jesus, knowing their hearts and thoughts, knew their question was insincere and full of hypocrisy.  They had asked if one should pay the imperial tax or not?  Jesus recognizes our obligations to the governing authorities.  At the same time He challenges His listeners with another more lofty obligation; to give to God what is rightfully His.  The simplicity and wisdom in His answer astounded them!

What do I owe God?  His salvation is a gift with no strings attached (Eph. 2:8-9).  But when I accept His gift I want to give to Him.  A tithe is too small.  No amount of money can repay Him for His incredible sacrifice.  A good work here and there at my convenience somehow does not answer.  What I can give back to Him is a love involving my whole heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30).  He has bought all of me at a huge cost to Himself (I Cor. 6:20).  “Jesus paid it all,” and all to Him I owe!

Lord, may I love You today with every fiber of my being!

 


Leave a comment

Easter Egg Hunt

Scripture for Today: Psalm 9:10 “Those who know Your name trust in You, for You Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.”

I love the expression on the face of this little boy at the very moment when he discovers that the egg opens and there is something inside!  Egg hunts add such excitement to Easter.  It takes awhile for young toddlers to understand what they are to do.  A family member sometimes needs to model how to search and gather the eggs, although they are often “hidden” in plain sight.  There is excitement as baskets begin to fill.  But oh how enthusiasm mounts when the egg contents are discovered!

Today’s verse talks about seeking for the Lord.  It is not that He is hiding.  It is just that it takes eyes of faith to see Him.  And He wants to be discovered.  He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6). But it is a search that requires faith and trust.  Knowing His name, who He is and His incredible character helps us trust Him.  His faithfulness and that empty tomb help us to continue seeking Him.  He promises never to leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5).

He is ready to be sought and found.  He waits for me to turn to Him when I am in trouble.  He promises to be my refuge and stronghold (verse 9).  And just like those eggs scattered for the youngest searchers, He is there is plain sight.  When I seek Him He is ready to reveal Himself and deepen our relationship.  But so often I am too busy, distracted or full of doubts to do the seeking.  I need to slow down and listen to my heart say, “Seek His face!” (Psalm 27:8) as David’s heart told him.

Thank you Lord, for allowing me to find You!


Leave a comment

Passion Fruit Flower

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 12:2b “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I have always wondered why this flower is called the “passion flower.”  But it seems obvious when seeing the original Latin genus name of “passiflora,”  However, there is another explanation.  In the early 1700’s missionaries in Brazil used this flower as a teaching aid to explain the crucifixion.  They called it the “flower of 5 wounds” referring to the nail wounds in the hands and feet of Jesus and the lance wound in His side.

We are nearing the end of “Passion Week” which refers to the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.  Passion motivated the Lord to endure great suffering out of His love for us.  The word, “passion” or “passio” in Latin originally meant to endure suffering.  Later it came to mean any intense emotion.

Today’s verse gives us a glimpse into the passion Jesus felt as He hung on that cross.  He endured the pain, the humiliation and the shame.  He endured the scorn and the excruciating separation from His Father for the first time in all eternity.  He did it all for the joy set before Him.

Why was He so passionate?  What was the joy set before Him?  Could it have been me?  He rescued me because He delighted in me (Psalm 18:19).  He takes great delight in me and in His love will no longer rebuke me but rejoices over me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)  Because of His sacrifice an eternal love relationship is now possible.  It has always been a joy for me.  How amazing that I am a joy to Him as well!

Thank you Lord, for being a passionate God!

 


1 Comment

The Sting of the Scorpion

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

I hope I am never stung by this disgusting creature!  The Indian Red Scorpion is said to have the most lethal sting.  One could die if not treated within 72 hours of being stung.  They are quite hardy and can live up to a year without food or water.  Because they are very sensitive to light, they stay hidden during the day and only come out at night.  One good thing about them is that they can glow in the dark!

Today’s verse describes death as a “sting.”  Death will no longer have the victory when the mortal is changed into immortality (verse 54) and the perishable becomes imperishable.  Death seems to have the victory for now, but in fact, Christ’s empty grave means that death has been swallowed up in victory!  The venom of that heart-rendering grief is no longer lethal as we look to the life to come.  We share in Christ’s victory over death.  We have hope that death is not the end as we look to the One who conquered and defeated death forever!

The news is disturbing as I hear of senseless and violent death.  I can feel overwhelmed with news of terminal cancer in friends and loved ones.  Yet, as much as I grieve, I can grieve with hope, knowing that for the believer, He has promised that the very best is ahead of me.  Because of what Christ did on the cross, death and evil do not win.  No despair can erase this truth.  No tragedy nullifies my hope.  In Christ alone, there is “No guilt in life, no fear in death; This is the power of Christ in me.”

Thank you Lord, that death no longer stings.


1 Comment

Yield Sign

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”

It looks complicated.  I would have to stop a minute to figure out who would have to yield to whom!  It looks as if the bike has to yield to everyone and the horse and rider to no one!  But I do not suppose there are many intersections to worry about on this trail.  If there were confusion I would think common sense and common courtesy would go a long way.  In any case, yielding is often the safest choice.  When maneuvering through those huge traffic circles in Europe, I do not argue with a yield sign!

Today’s verse tells us we are to yield or submit to the Lord in each and every way we choose to take.  By acknowledging His control, His superior knowledge and His goodness, we travel a path much less complicated by twists and turns.  He makes our paths straight, unencumbered by lengthy unnecessary detours.  We reach our destination in good time, or in His time.  When we give way to Him rather than insisting on our own plan, we find He had a better idea all along!

Yielding my will to His is so often a struggle.  Even knowing that my own understanding is limited, I stubbornly resist.  I like being the one who makes the decisions.  Trusting Him with all my heart is scary without having some measure of control.  But He promises that when I do, He will make my paths straight, choosing the best way.  No time will be lost in making U turns or encountering dead ends.

Thank you Lord, that I can fully trust Your heart of love for me!


Leave a comment

Back Scratcher

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:46a-47a “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?”

This cat and cat owner have learned how to live out the saying, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours!”  The owner scratches the cat’s back first and then the cat obligingly does the same for her!  What could be better than having your own in-house masseur?  This saying came from sailors in the 17th century.  When crew members were told to flog one another for an offense, they would sometimes do it lightly, only “scratching” the back, in hopes of being treated the same way.

Today’s verse points out that only loving those who will love you in return is not so admirable.  Greeting only those who will greet you back is no big risk.  Even those who do not follow Christ do as much.  The believer is held to a higher standard.  Jesus tells us to love our enemies (verse 44) which means loving those who will not respond in kind.  We are not to do for others in order to receive something in return.  We are to love and even pray for those who treat us poorly.

Our world does not work this way.  There are expectations and obligations that come from gifts and favors.  But as a believer I am to show love that is unconditional and not dependent on someone’s response.  It is not always easy to ignore the lack of a thank-you note or a return dinner invitation.  However, the Lord delights in rewarding and blessing my obedience.  Knowing this frees me up to give and give again without any strings attached.

Lord, make my love for others like Yours is for me!