Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:17 “But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; You are my God, do not delay.”

This happened.  Actually, experiencing flight delays happens pretty regularly.  I try to stay calm, but when a connecting flight is affected I tend to panic.  No one likes running frantically to a gate.  Being delayed because of my own lack of organization is one thing, but when the airlines delay me for whatever reason, I feel intense frustration.  I have no control and that is an uncomfortable feeling!

David was concerned about delays for a much better reason.  He was waiting for the Lord to act on his behalf in the face of enemies!  Today’s verse is a cry for help and deliverance.  David saw that he had no control in the situation.  In fact, he was humble enough to see his poor and needy state.  He was totally dependent on God’s response.  How odd that a king would say that he is poor and needy.  Yet David felt that way when overwhelmed with his troubles and sin, as well as his enemies (verse 12).

When I am feeling rich and confident in my own resources I am less likely to call out to the Lord for help.  I am tempted to feel smug and complacent when all is going well.  It is when I am surrounded by troubles, feeling the weight of my sin and feeling opposed by unbelievers that I realize just how poor and needy I am!  Perhaps, that is why God sometimes delays.  He waits for humility.  He opposes the proud but gives so much timely grace to the humble.

Thank you Lord, that Your help is never too late when I cry out to You.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Flying Buttress

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 3:15 “If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”

The flying buttress pictured here is part of the Notre Dame of Paris.  In the 1100’s the architects built these supports for many of the Gothic cathedrals.  Normally, a buttress was built as an integral part of the side walls for additional support.  The flying buttress not only supported the heavy stone roof but also allowed for more light.  With the supports arching away from the building, more of the walls could be made of windows, making the interior lighter and brighter.

Today’s verse describes the Church as a pillar and buttress of truth.  Both of these structures serve as an image of support and reinforcement for the truth of God’s Word.  Truth has the strength and power to sustain and strengthen.  Being bolstered by the truth allows believers to bear up against the lies of the Deceiver.

The support of a pillar can be found on the interior or exterior of a building.  But the buttress is clearly on the exterior.  It is more vulnerable to the elements and more easily seen.  Standing for the truth out in the world can make one a target for persecution.  But in the end, the truth does stand.  Jesus said that the gates of Hell will never prevail against the Church that He has built (Matt. 16:18).

The structure is not the Church.  The pillars or the buttresses are not the Church.  The roof and walls may fall down over time.  But still His Church overcomes because He resides in believers (I Cor. 6:19).

Lord, keep me standing for the truth of Your Word.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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False Advertising

Scripture for Today: I John 2:17 “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

This sign made me smile!  Strictly speaking, it is not “false advertising” as it is completely true!  But the unsuspecting passer-by is lulled into thinking there is something special about this offer.  I am always disappointed with sales that offer a discount “up to” a certain percentage.  Those two little words, often in smaller print, mean that most items can be normally priced.  One is lured inside with high expectations of a good deal.  But blatant examples of false advertising abound with some leading to lawsuits.

There is someone who is an expert at false advertising.  He offers the world in exchange for the soul.  Satan is the master deceiver who pretends that this world is all there is.  He advertises with glitz and glamour and the promise of something for nothing.  He convinces people that the greatest and best goal in life is to fulfill each and every desire.  We have earned it.  We deserve it.  We can have it all and there is no cost!

Today’s verse tells the truth.  The world and all its desires will not last forever.  This is not it.  There is something more and it is infinitely better.  The world is only temporary and gaining all of it means nothing if I forfeit my soul (Mark 8:36).  It is so easy to be distracted by the “here and now” and lose that eternal perspective.  What awaits me defies my imagination!  What the Lord has prepared for His own makes this world, as beautiful as it is, a poor shadowy substitute.  Every desire in Heaven will be pure, satisfied and fulfilled!

Help me Lord, to see this world as temporary and live my life for You.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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What Not To Pack!

Scripture for Today: John 14:6 “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a  place for you?”

Regardless of my destination, I invariably pack more than I need!  I like having choice.  Plus, I like being prepared for several possible scenarios.  And so often the weather predictions are not quite right.  So, I over pack and find myself sitting on the suitcase to get it to close completely.  Sometimes as much as half of what I packed I did not use.  Each time this happens I vow I will pack more reasonably next time!

Today’s verse is about a destination where no packing will be involved!  Everything will be provided as Jesus has gone ahead of us to prepare the perfect place.  What is amazing to me are not the things that are needed.  Those will be provided for and beyond our wildest expectations.  What amazes me are rather the things we will not need!  No pocket flashlights are required as the Lord Himself will be our everlasting light (Isaiah 60:19).  Forget the sunscreen as I can bask safely in His presence.  Those small packets of tissue can be left behind as God will personally wipe away every tear.  In fact, I can leave behind my water bottle as Jesus will provide wonderful springs of living water (Rev. 7:17).  The first aid kit will not be needed as there will be no more sickness of death.  And my wardrobe choices will be taken care of in those beautiful white robes! (Rev.7:9)

His preparations are perfect and complete.  Am I prepared to meet Him?   Because of His grace and with a heart that is cleansed with His forgiveness I can say, “Yes.”

Thank you Lord, for meeting every need today and for eternity!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Scripture for Today: Romans 8:31b-32 “…If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”

This poor dog is clearly in a position of defeat, although he does not seem to be bothered by it!  Being underneath he is literally the “underdog!”  We often like to cheer the underdog or the one who seems to be facing insurmountable odds.  There is something about the weaker one carrying the victory that encourages us to hope and to greater effort in our own circumstances.

Feeling like the “underdog” as a believer is all too common.  Those who follow Christ are more often outnumbered and in the minority.  This can lead us to think that we are in the weaker position and cannot expect to have victory.  But nothing is further from the truth!  Today’s verse encourages the heart of every underdog.  God sees our predicament.  He understands that we are limited and often powerless to stand firm in our faith.  We are mocked and maligned, misunderstood and marginalized.  But we are on the right side and that changes everything!

God is for His own.  He has sacrificed His dearest Son to have this relationship with me.  No one can snatch me out of His hand (John 10:28).  No one can separate me from His love (Rom. 8:38-39).  No one.  He has won the victory for me (I Cor. 15:57) and I can hold my head up!  I may feel outnumbered and insignificant, but with God on my side, suddenly the playing field changes.

How could I live this life without You being for me?  Thank you that I do not have to!


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Giving Up

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

I can relate to the frustration this man must be feeling.  I can guess at the pressure he is feeling to meet a deadline.  Perhaps he is irritated at a failed communication or the lack of any response at all.  I wonder if he feels that his work will never produce the desired effect.  In any case, this image suggests a discouragement and weariness we all sometimes feel.

Today’s verse lets us know that though we do not see an immediate result to our good works, there will be a future time when we will see the fruit of our labor.  The “proper time” for seeing results may not be the present.  But eventually, God brings about results.  The harvest we reap is in His timing and control.  Our part is to keep on keeping on, regardless of the results.

It is easy for me to feel weary and wonder if God is really using me.  I do not want to give up serving Him, but it can be discouraging to wonder if I am making a difference.  Is He hearing my prayers for my loved ones?  Is He using my story to draw others to Himself?  God’s work of changing hearts is often initially unseen.  But the promise of reaping a harvest is only for those who do not give up!  I have to trust that His Word does not return void but accomplishes what He intends (Isaiah 55:11).  Yes, there are moments of weariness, but in His grace He gives strength and motivation to continue!

Help me Lord, to never give up serving You!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Plumped Lips

Scripture for Today: Psalm 12:3-4 “May the Lord cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue that says, “We will triumph with our tongues; we own our lips – who is our master?”

Who is it that decided that plump overly large lips are sexy?  That pouty look is all the rage and whole industries have been created to make those lips look more kissable.  There are lots of make-up tricks to achieve the look.  There are also methods using cinnamon oils and other natural ingredients.  For the truly courageous there is the option of collagen injections.  For my daughter, full lips were discovered accidentally as a result of an allergy to fresh plums!

Today’s verse describes the flattering lips.  These are lips that use words to manipulate and gain power.  What these lips say is pleasant to hear.  Truth plays no part.  Boasting and arrogance are communicated with these lips.  They answer to no one and they are their own master.  No one has the right to tell them what to say or refrain from saying.  They can use the truth when convenient, or not.  These lips use words like, “misrepresent” rather than “lie.”  Instead of apologizing, these lips will say, “it was regrettable.”

What a contrast these lips are to the words of the Lord.  They are described as “flawless” (verse 6).  God’s words are like silver refined in a furnace and purified seven times.  I would much rather my lips resembled His.  But I am unable to attain that standard on my own.  He alone is capable of controlling what comes out of my mouth. (James 3:7).  Through His Spirit, He provides that self-control.  My lips may not look like the photo, but “an honest answer is like a kiss on the lips!” (Prov. 24:26)

Lord, please be the Master of my lips today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)