Devotions By Jan

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Marine Layer

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

It’s coming.  I am seeing that marine layer roll in a bit more often as we approach summer.  In our area of Southern California we are nearing “May gray,” and “June gloom.”  At least that dense wet fog coming from the ocean does not hang around all day just yet.  But when it does, the temperature drops and out come the sweaters.  The thick fog envelopes the landscape and hides the normally beautiful views.

Today’s verse is a very clear definition of the word, “faith.”  It is confidence in our hope and assurance of what is there even though we cannot see it.  We cannot see with our physical eyes what we can see with our spiritual ones!  Thomas would not believe the Lord had risen until he could actually physically see and touch Him.  But we are in that special group that are blessed for believing without seeing! (John 20:29)

Most of the time my spiritual eyes are seeing His beauty, His power and His grace towards me.  But there are days when my spiritual vision seems clouded.  Just as the marine layer blurs the landscape, so my view of spiritual truth can seem blurred.  I know He is still there but my perspective has changed.  It usually happens when I neglect His Word.  It is sure to happen when I am not speaking with Him.  And that fog can become quite thick and suffocating the longer I doubt or ignore Him.  But I am amazed at how quickly that fog can lift when I turn back to Him, His promises and His whispers of love!

Lord, lift that fog so I see You clearly today!

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Knee Jerk Reaction

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

No one enjoys this part of a physical exam!  When that reflex hammer strikes just below the patella, the leg is supposed to extend as an automatic reflex.  This reaction is what helps maintain balance and posture without conscious thought.  But the term has also come to mean an immediate unthinking and emotional response.

Today’s verse addresses the problem of worry, which for me tends to be my knee jerk reaction!  Worry just seems to come naturally as a first response.  Sometimes my worries do not even have a basis in reality but arise from my imagination!  But Paul, who had plenty to worry about as a prisoner, gives us the solution.  Paul could experience God’s peace even when in chains.  And that is because He gave over his worrisome thoughts to the Lord in prayer.

Worrying changes nothing, but praying can.  Talking to the Lord and unburdening myself to Him helps my heart to trust Him.  He already knows what worries are running through my head.  But He asks me to name those worries in the form of petitions.  What freedom can be mine when I give it all to Him!  He replaces that worry with His peace that guards my heart and mind.  Instead of being consumed with worry, I can get some distance from that problem.  And in faith I can thank Him in advance for His answers.  My mind and heart can be at rest, knowing I can trust His hand to work.

Lord, keep me from that knee jerk reaction of worry.  Help me turn every anxious thought into heartfelt prayer.

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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.


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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!


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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!