Devotions By Jan


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Satisfaction Guaranteed?

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 55:2 “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”

It happened again.  A news report described the chagrin of a customer buying online what she thought was a great deal on a chair.  The chair looked study enough being made of wood.  And at 5$ what could go wrong?  Apparently, she did not read the fine print describing the dimensions of what was in fact a dollhouse item.  She could have sent it back for reimbursement but instead kept it on her desk as a reminder to always read the fine print!

Today’s verse could be like that fine print that we forget to heed.  Satisfaction is not guaranteed for any of our purchases except for bread.  Bread here is a symbol for what is daily essential for life.  Jesus declared Himself the “bread of life” (John 6:35).  He satisfies the hunger of our souls and He does this daily.  Trying to find that satisfaction in anything else just does not work!  But listening to Him and His Word is a food worth any price.  And what is so amazing is that we are invited to come and buy without money and without cost! (vs. 1)

I often do not recognize my hunger.  There are days when I am soul sick because I am feeding on what does not satisfy.  Those fancy pastries the world offers are a big distraction.  But instead of feeling full and satisfied, I am left feeling a little queasy.  However when I go to Jesus, He more than satisfies what my soul craves.  He offers Himself: His love, His peace, His joy.

Thank you Lord, that You satisfy!

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Kintsugi

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:49-50 “Remember Your word to Your servant, for You have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

This bowl went from broken to beautiful!  The art of golden joinery is the definition of the Japanese word, “kintsugi.”  Fragmented and broken pottery or ceramics are repaired in this process by filling the holes and cracks with a resin mixed with gold, silver or platinum.  What used to be broken pieces thought to be worthless become a thing of beauty!  The very brokenness makes the item become more precious and valuable!

Today’s verse is a comfort and reassurance when going through suffering.  There is hope.  The author of this psalm was experiencing ridicule (vs. 51).  There was intense pressure from the wicked and perhaps he felt himself cracking from it. He vows to stay faithful to the Lord through it all.  In the night he reminds himself of who God is (vs. 55) and he resolves to stay the course.  Through all the pain he remains hopeful because of God’s promises.

It is hope that brings me through the darkest times of my life.  I can feel forgotten, rotten and dead inside just like David did when he described himself as “broken pottery” (Ps. 31:12).  But then, there are the promises of God.  Whatever feels broken He can repair.  More than that, He transforms our very brokenness into something useful and a thing of beauty.  Nothing is too hard for Him or beyond the skill of His capable hands.  He works in the good where everything went bad.  That stupid decision, that utter failure or that shame at letting Him down is all part of a pattern that He redeems and makes beautiful.  This is my hope.

Thank you Lord, that Your promises give me hope.

 

 


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Death Zone

Scripture for Today: Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

What an awe-inspiring scene this is on Mount Everest!  The grandeur and magnificence of these mountains have drawn many experienced climbers to its heights.  But unfortunately, ten climbers have already died this year alone.  They were found in what is called the “death zone” where oxygen is scarce.  Anywhere above 26,000 feet is part of that zone where the air is so thin that even supplemental oxygen is sometimes not enough.  The human body is just not made to function at the cruising altitude of a 747!

Today’s verse recognizes the source of life and breath.  It is the Spirit of God who created us.  It is the breath of the Almighty that gives us life.  At the very dawn of mankind, it was God who breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life (Gen. 2:7).  There is no life apart from His breath.  And just as this is true in the physical sense, so it is true spiritually  The Spirit of God breathes life to our souls.  Where before we were dead, He has made us alive (Eph. 2:5).

My relationship with Christ is as necessary to me as the air I breathe!  But frankly, I do not always feel His presence.  Perhaps there are “death zones” for me where the spiritual air is scarce.  He promises to never leave me (Heb.13:5) but I can be indifferent to Him.  I can be gasping for breath when I immerse myself in the world and its values.  But when I turn back to Him, He breathes into me renewed love and forgiveness.  “This is the air I breathe, Your holy presence living in me.”

Come Holy Spirit and breathe on me today.


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A Dog Who Prays

Scripture for Today: Psalm 84:2 “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

What restraint!  What discipline!  And what training for a dog to pray before his meal!  How cute to see him balance on his haunches with his little paws together!  However, it does seem like he is peeking longingly at his food.  He can only hope that the signal to dig in comes quickly.  Of course, this little pooch has no idea what he is doing.  Like Pavlov’s dogs his sweet posture is part of “classical conditioning” with no true reverence for God involved.

Today’s verse puts a finger on exactly what separates us from animals.  An animal, even if one argued that he had a soul, does not yearn for the Lord.  His heart and flesh do not cry out to the living God.   The longing for a relationship with the God of the universe is something beyond their capacity.  But for man, it is exactly why we were created.  God Himself put the idea and longing for eternity in the human heart (Eccl. 3:11).  We are made to cry out for Him in our innermost being.  Even just one day in His presence is better than one thousand days elsewhere (verse 10).

The Lord fills and completes me.  When my relationship with Him is interrupted by my own wandering or indifference, it does not take long to feel something is missing.  Feeling that lack I cry out to Him for that reassurance that He is there and that He still loves me.  He always answers.  And somehow, I am more human when I am connected to my Creator.  The yearning is satisfied and it is “well with my soul.”

Thank you Lord, for completing me.

 


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Missing!

Scripture for Today: Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

I remember seeing these milk cartons with the faces of missing children plastered all over them.  The program started in 1982 in Des Moines, Iowa as a result of two child abductions.  By 1985 the program had spread nationwide.  Although a number of children were returned to their homes, the idea was short-lived.  One of the problems was the complaints from parents that the pictures were frightening their own children.  But the campaign did raise awareness and now, the spirit of it lives on in the electronic version, Amber Alert.

Today’s verse is all about being lost.  It comes after three parables describing a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son.  Jesus came to this earth to seek out the lost ones.  Those lost do not understand where they are nor where they are going.  What is worse is not realizing one is lost!  Being lost in Luke’s three parables meant separation from one’s owner or one’s Father.  It is the same for us.  When we live a life separate from our Creator, we lose the sense of who we are, where we are and where we are going!

How incredible that the Lord takes the initiative!  He actively seeks me as I am too lost to find the way to Him on my own.  He loves me enough to go out of His way and extract me from the mess of my own making.  He left Heaven to come after me!  I am no longer confused and lost, fearful or panicked.  I am found now and I am His.  I know where I am and to whom I belong.  What security that is!

Thank you Lord, for seeking after me.


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Hungry Bear

Scripture for Today: I Peter 2:2-3 “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

The news recently reported on this would-be-intruder.  The voracious appetite of this bear pushed him to try all the windows and doors of this home in Avon, Connecticut.  He must have smelled the brownies baking inside, but thankfully was unable to gain entry!  While hibernating he felt no hunger or thirst, but as soon as he emerges from his den, his craving for food is all-consuming!  And no wonder after losing up to 33% of his body weight!

Today’s verse speaks of another kind of craving.  Just as newborn babies crave milk, the believer is to feel that same pressing need for God’s Word.  Before placing our faith in Christ, our souls feel no hunger or thirst for spiritual things.  But when coming to Christ we come out of that hibernation and stupor with an appetite!  We have tasted how good the Lord is and nothing else will satisfy!  The milk represents basic truths.  After growing on this the believer moves on to the solid food of teaching on righteousness (Hebrews 5:13-14).  With solid food we can better distinguish good from evil.

The less I avail myself of God’s Word, the more I feel like a hibernating bear.  It is so easy for me to slip into that comfortable non-challenging stupor.  God’s Word awakens me and keeps me sober and alert (I Thes. 5:6).  Reading His love letter to me keeps me craving more.  The more I read and study, the more I can taste His goodness in my life!  And conversely, the less I am into His Word, the less I feel His presence.

Lord, create in me a craving for Your Word today.


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Snatched!!

Scripture for Today: John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”

The sea lion looked cute and adorable, enjoying the breadcrumbs tossed in by a family vacationing at a fisherman’s wharf in Canada.   This little girl squealed with delight as he approached.  But moments later a terrifying scene saw him snapping at her dress and snatching her into the water when her back was turned!  In a matter of seconds she was pulled from the water by her Grandfather who had immediately jumped in after her.  Thankfully, she emerged unharmed but in total shock.

Today’s verse serves as a reassuring promise and a sobering reminder of danger.  The danger comes from Satan who is like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (I Peter 5:8).  He would like nothing better than to snatch and destroy the unaware.  But those who belong to Jesus are in His hand.  Nothing and no one can ever snatch us out of that hand.  The Father is greater and more powerful than any foe and we are secure and protected.  If God is for us, who can be against us ? (Romans 8:31).

He has promised that I will never perish and what God says is always true.  Every sin is covered by His sacrifice when I turn to Him in faith.  Regardless of doubts or feelings He has given me eternal life.  No other sacrifice is required.  I am secure and peaceful in His wonderful grip.  No circumstance will ever pry those fingers open.  His power and promise means I can trust those hands.

Thank you Lord, that I can never be snatched away from You!