Devotions By Jan

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Solar Eclipse

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:5 “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”

How eerie to see the sun completely covered by the moon today!  The total solar eclipse was oohed and awed by many along its trajectory.  Those not in its path still had the opportunity to see the sun partially covered with their special glasses.  For many of a certain age it may very well be their last opportunity to experience the celestial show as the next one does not occur until 2024.  It was odd to see crowds of people clapping and cheering as the sky became completely darkened.  The return of the sun did not get the same response.  As nature’s spectacle came to en end, I do not think there were many that doubted that the sun would reappear.

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance about something that is warm and full of life-giving energy that is never eclipsed.  God’s love can never be darkened.  Nothing can thwart or obstruct His faithful love for His own.  His love reaches to the heavens and there are no shifting shadows that can change it (James 1:17).  He is faithful to His Word and to His promises.

It can feel dark.  It can feel as though He has abandoned me when things are not going my way.  When my doubts obscure His love there is only one solution: I need to turn back again to His love letter to me.  There I am reminded of His faithfulness.  His love has not changed.  His love and compassion are renewed every morning (Lam. 3:22-23).  Though I may not see the light of His love, it is still there.  He lifts my head to see His faithfulness reaching to the skies!

Thank you Lord, that Your love for me never fails!


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Brand Names

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:16 “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

I am not sure that Nike is so thrilled that this older lady proudly wears their famous “swoosh.”  Their image is one of athletic excellence, which does not quite fit my reality!  Like many recognizable name brands, there is a certain message to be conveyed by wearing their product.  The message may have to do with chic style, youth, sports or music.  We identify with that message when we proudly display the brand name.  However, I cannot help but feel that they profit from our free advertising!

Our verse for today talks about proudly displaying a name.  It is a name that is above all other names.  But it is also a name that could provoke hostility from others.  The word, “Christian,” was first used in Antioch and was a pejorative term (Acts 11:26).  Being a Christ follower carries the risk of being scorned, mocked and even persecuted.  How polarizing the name of Jesus is!  The names of other religious leaders do not get the same reaction.

We wear the name of Jesus when we live like He did.  We wear the name of Jesus when we speak of Him to others.  And we wear His name when we exemplify His character through His Spirit.  Wearing His name identifies us as belonging to Him.  Even if it draws negative attention, we are not to be ashamed.  Suffering for His name is a privilege.  I wonder if my label is showing?  I wonder if I am identified so closely with Christ that people see a difference in me.  I hope so.  I pray so.

Thank you Lord, for the privilege of bearing Your name!

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

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Butterfly Collection

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:24 “How many living things You have made, O Lord! You have exhibited great skill in making all of them; the earth is full of the living things You have made.”

The closet was full of at least thirty display boxes like the one pictured here.  Each one was filled with an amazing variety of butterflies.  The colors of the differently-sized butterflies were brilliant and each had a different pattern.  My elderly friend’s husband had died many years before.  But his butterfly collection remained.  I imagine it will soon be split up among her children and grandchildren.  I was struck with the same wonder this gentleman must have felt in gazing at their detailed beauty.

Today’s verse extols the creativity of our God.  The living things that He has made far outshine man’s creativity.  The most impressive man-made work of art pales in comparison to His creation.  The tallest building or newest technology does not even come close to the amazing skill God exhibited in making a single short-lived butterfly.  Every wonderful thing that man has made is but a poor shadow of what God has fashioned.

We understand just how powerful God is by contemplating what He has created (Romans 1:20).  It is obvious that there is intelligent and thoughtful design by Someone when we see the intricacies of a single butterfly wing.  Seeking to attribute the wonder of His works to lucky chance cheapens all of life and creation.  How does anyone really appreciate the beauty of creation without acknowledging the beauty of the Creator?!  I am humbled to think that this same powerful Creator loves me and wants a close intimate relationship with me!  What a privilege to know and love the Creator!

Lord, may the wonder of Your creation bring me closer to You!

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

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Apples and Oranges

Scripture for Today: II Samuel 7:22 “How great You are, Sovereign Lord!  There is no one like You, and there is no God but You, as we have heard with our own ears.”

“It’s like comparing apples and oranges.”  The expression has been around a long time to mean that two items are incomparable, being so different.  But in fact, the expression does not hold up too well as both the apple and the orange are sweet.  Both are similar in size, weight and shape.  Either fruit can be eaten or juiced.

Today’s verse points out that no one can compare to our unique God.  It goes further to say that there is no God but Him!  In today’s pluralistic society, this is not a popular thought.  It is a much more comfortable thought that each person can worship their own God, whoever he may be.  In allowing for this we can agree that our gods may be different and we can choose the one that most fits our style.  We can even be content in comparing apples and oranges, not being concerned with the slight differences.

How can we say there is only one God and that there is no one like Him?  We do not say this, He does!  His greatness and power are incomparable!  He is sovereign and in complete control, able with His power to keep all His promises.  No one else is worthy of my praise.  No one else is worthy of my trust.  In contemplating His beauty and power I am overwhelmed with the truth that He is also personal, knowing me and loving me!  No, there is no other god that is comparable and I am humbled to think that I belong to Him!  I never want to take Him and His greatness for granted!

Thank you Lord, for being the only Sovereign incomparable God.

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

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Table Settings

Scripture for Today: Psalm 78:19 “They spoke against God; they said, ‘Can God really spread a table in the wilderness?'”

I love a pretty table setting!  Somehow, all that attention to detail makes the food taste better.  When I have company over they may ask to help set my table.  But that is something I always reserve for myself.  However, this  outlet for creativity can be overdone.  This table looks a bit crowded as there seems to be no place for the dishes.  The flowers are perhaps too tall to see other table guests!

Today’s verse talks about the Lord Himself spreading a table.  It was no picnic being in the wilderness year after year.  The Israelites complained and repeatedly put God to the test.  How gracious He was to rain down manna, called the “grain of heaven” and the “bread of angels” (verse 24-25).  They gorged themselves on meat that He provided.  Yet, their hearts were not loyal.  Though He provided for their needs again and again, they continually forgot His power (verse 42).  How exasperating it must have been for the Lord to hear the question posed in our verse when He had proven Himself over and over.

I imagine that though the Lord loves me, He must sometimes be exasperated with me!  Can He really meet this need?  Will He come through for me this time?  Can I completely count on Him for that?  To even have such thoughts reveals that I have forgotten His power.  He has already shown Himself faithful time after time.  Yes, He can and does spread a table in the wilderness!  When all seems dry and desolate, He provides above and beyond all we can ask or think! (Eph. 3:20)

Thank you Lord, for spreading a table for me and meeting my every need!

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

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Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 30:19 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live”

There is nothing so frustrating as being behind a driver who is straddling two lanes!  My first inclination is to pass him and get well away.  But I sure would not try to pass in either of the two lanes he is using.  Chances are he would decide on my lane just as I am passing!  Better to bide my time and wait until he makes his intentions clear.

The choice of a traffic lane is one of a myriad of choices we make in a day.  But far more important is our choice of whether we turn toward or away from the Lord.  Today’s verse makes it clear that there is a choice to be made.  There is no possibility of “straddling lanes.”  We either turn our hearts toward God in obedience or we turn away from Him in rebellion.

I love how this verse reveals God’s loving heart as He urges us to choose life and blessing.  He reassures us that what He asks is not too difficult or beyond reach (verse11-14).  He promised life, blessing, and protection for the Israelites ready to cross over into the Promise Land.  And today He promises an abundant life for all those who belong to Him (John 10:10).  Choosing Him is choosing a life consumed with loving Him, listening to His voice and holding fast to Him (verse 20).  Choosing Him is living a life that is worth living.  The Lord is my life.  I cannot even imagine living life without Him!

Thank you Lord, for giving me a choice and the privilege of choosing You!

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

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Open Hands

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:28 “When You give to them, they gather it up; when You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good things.”

Hands can be so expressive.  When curled up they indicate tension.  When folded they can communicate a readiness to listen.  When their palms are lifted, the hands express bafflement or confusion.  Anger is expressed when they form a fist.  But the open hand is a giving hand.  I remember when our children were small.  We tried to avoid spanking with our hand.  We never wanted our hands to be feared.  How terrible when children cringe from a helping hand!  We wanted our hands to have a positive association.

This beautiful verse for today mentions God’s hands.  They are open in a giving gesture to provide for His creation.  Although God is spirit (John 4:24) it is helpful to have this image of His hands.  He reigns, delivers and does mighty works with His powerful right hand.  His hands are like no others and when He opens them, it is with loving provision.  All that is good in our lives comes from those open hands.

I never need to cringe from His hands lifted in anger and punishment.  Although wrath and judgement do come from His righteous hands I do not fear them.  That is because I have placed my trust in Christ.  By faith I have received His righteousness as a gift and I am no longer under any condemnation (Rom. 8;1).  His nail-pierced hands are full of mercy and grace.  I do not fear those hands as His perfect love has cast out all fear. (I John 4:18)  I can trust His outstretched hands as they offer forgiveness and peace.  His hands provide for me what truly satisfies that deep longing in my soul.

Thank you Lord, for opening Your hands to me.

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