Devotions By Jan


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Delicate Arch

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”

The Delicate Arch is one of the over 2,000 found in Arches National Park in Utah.  Other notable arches have names like Landscape Arch, Double Arch and Broken Arch.  Their odd formations are the result of centuries of erosion carving layer and layer of rock away.  They look like they could last forever with their impressive height, this one standing 46 feet tall.  But in fact, each arch is fated to one day fall as did the Wall Arch in 2008.

There is another Rock that will never fall or face erosion.  Today’s verse describes our God as a Rock.  His perfection will never change.  Everything He does is perfect and just.  Most of all, this Rock is faithful and can be counted on to always and forever be there, strong and solid.  He will never do wrong as He is upright and just.  He is THE Rock and there is no one like Him (Ps. 18:31).  Because He is my rock, “I will never be shaken.” (Ps. 62:2)  “He is my rock of refuge to which I can always go.” (Ps. 71:3)  And most of all, God is the “Rock of my salvation.” (Ps. 95:1)

How reassuring to be reminded of His permanence.  Nothing will ever change Him or His promises to me.  Even when I am unfaithful, He will always remain faithful and true to Himself.  In a world where everything is in a constant state of change, He continues perfectly unchanged.  I can run to Him for everything I need.  Being a rock, He gives me the stability I need.

Thank you Lord, that I can always count on You!

 

 

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Prairie Dog

Scripture for Today: Psalm 1:3 “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.”

Although the prairie dog is just a burrowing rodent, I find them adorable when they stand up on their hind legs to look around.  I have seen them do just that in a large grassy field in Colorado, several popping up to check out their surroundings.  They gain a little extra height at the raised entrances of their burrows.  And when standing up they can watch for signs of danger and bark at the others when feeling threatened.

Today’s verse talks about where the wicked cannot stand.  At the judgement, those who have not received Christ’s righteousness through faith will not be able to stand before a holy righteous God.  The judgement will be a time of stripping away all pretense of goodness.  Only those who have already humbled themselves in confessing their sin will be able to stand before Him.  God will Himself humble the wicked as He “casts the wicked to the ground.” (Ps. 147:6)

It is a sobering thought which reminds me just how holy and righteous God is.  Without the grace of His Son I would have no leg to stand on in His presence.  I can only stand on His righteousness and not on my own merit.  But those who reject Him and stand in defiance on this earth, will one day be unable to continue standing.

I am told not to stand in the way of sinners (vs 1-2) but instead to find delight in following God’s Law.  If I am really conscious of His holiness I will “stand in awe of Your Laws.” (Ps.119:120).  I may be surrounded by the wicked but I don’t have to stand with them.

Lord, keep me aware of where I am standing!


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Giant Sequoia

Scripture for Today:Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

The “General Sherman” sequoia is by volume the largest known living single-stem tree on earth.  It stands proudly at 275 feet tall and is 36 feet in diameter.  Those standing at its base must feel completely awed by its grandeur.  One would think this giant of a tree impervious to the footsteps of us mere mortals.  But in fact, a fence is built around the base.  It is there to protect its shallow roots from being stepped on and trampled!  Damage to its roots could have serious consequences!

Today’s verse talks about where we place our roots.  We have a choice.  We put down roots in the nourishing soil of Christ’s love and so be built up and strengthened (Eph. 3:17).  Or we can plant ourselves in the toxic soil of hollow and deceptive philosophies, based on human tradition (verse 8).  Strong deep roots in Him will take no account of human foot traffic!  Faith remains strong and vibrant when Christ is the object of that faith.

I will not grow strong and firmly planted when I read, see or listen to prevailing thought that discounts God and His Word.  I am surrounded by godless philosophy and it is a struggle to be intentional about what I allow to influence me.  The more I compromise, the more shallow and vulnerable my convictions become.  Shallow roots mean I am swaying with the next wind storm of trial.  I want to stay strong and continue growing deep roots in Him.

Lord, keep me in You and in Your Word.

 


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Silkworms

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

We had the privilege of visiting a silk-making factory in Taiwan and seeing all those larvae in their cocoons.  The process has been around for almost 5 thousand years in China.  The resulting silk is not only beautiful but soft and silky to the touch.  But how strange to think it all starts with worm spit!  The unwrapping of each cocoon supplies one long strand of 1000 feet, three of which are needed for a single thread.  In fact, it takes 2,500 cocoons to make one pound of silk.  No wonder silk is thought to be such a luxury.

Today’s verse points out that believers, though being many, form one body.  Christ is our head and as the Church we are the body (I Cor. 12:12-13).  Just as there are many cocoons and strands of thread to make up silk, so we as Christ-followers form together just one entity.  This does not happen outside of the supernatural peace Christ gives.  When we allow that peace to rule and govern attitudes and actions, we can enjoy not only our unity but the beautiful results!

My little strand I add to the whole may not seem like anything.  On my own I do not amount to much.  But added together with all the other strands I become part of that one beautiful body giving glory to Jesus!  I am called to peace by the very One who provides it.  And that peace is a direct result of loving and forgiving others (verse 13-14).  Loving and forgiving can sometimes seem impossible, but “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” (Ps. 133:1)

Lord, help me live this peace.


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Paradise

Scripture for Today: Luke 23:42-43 “Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'”

The word, “paradise” conjures up so many lovely mental images.  For me, paradise would be someplace quiet and calm with plenty of places to relax and enjoy sunshine and a stunning view.  Paradise would be a place where stress would not exist and troubles would float away with each receding wave.  It would not be too hot or too cold.  Sand would stay where it belonged.  Throw in a personal servant seeing to my every need and I will have arrived!

In today’s verse an entirely different place is meant by Paradise.  The thief on the cross came to believe that Jesus is God in the last moment of his life.  Jesus assures him that he will be with Him in Paradise that very day.  His sincere faith in Jesus as the Son of God was all that was needed to save his soul.  Paradise is His Kingdom and nothing can adequately describe what we will find there.  What is prepared for those who love Him is beyond what eye can see or ear hear, or even what minds can imagine (I Cor. 2:9).

My ideas of Paradise fall so short of the incredible and indescribable reality!  When I allow myself to dream of what awaits, I see my circumstances a little differently!  But Paradise would not be worth much without His presence.  Jesus promised this forgiven thief that he would be with Him.  He is LOVE and His presence will be the paradise for which every human heart has longed.

Thank you Lord, for giving me just a taste of Paradise with Your love here and now.


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Sheepish

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

What was that racket?  My husband was in the middle of his shower when he heard some bizarre noises!  It sounded as if someone was rearranging the furniture, but there was also loud bleating, shouting and running footsteps.  How bizarre to see this sheep in the living room knocking into things with a crazed look in his eyes!  He had run in from our rural French street into the open doors, with his handlers in hot pursuit!  It took three of them to hold him down and get him under control!

What a perfect way to illustrate the truth of today’s verse!  This sheep was not where he was supposed to be.  He had certainly gone his own way, ignoring his keepers and the other sheep.  His headlong movements could have hurt him and it took some pretty drastic measures to correct him.  I am sure he was none too happy to be bound with that rope.  And we are just like that sheep.  We turn our back on the Shepherd thinking we know better.

How loving and gracious God is to take on Himself the punishment of my silly rebellion.  Jesus paid the ultimate price of my sin, giving me peace with God (verse 5).  And as a forgiven “sheep” I have the enormous privilege of following my Shepherd.  His way is so much better than my own.  He does not lead by prodding me from behind and I don’t just see His back ahead of me.  No, He walks beside me.

Thank you Lord, for turning me back to You and Your way.


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Comforters

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 7:5b-6 “…we had no rest, but were harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,”

I look at this bed as having two comforters!  Burying a tearful face in the fur of a cat can be a comfort.  Or just that down-filled comforter to snuggle in can bring a measure of comfort.  There is something about that softness that can soothe the tension away.  What can be comfort for the body can sometimes then be transferred to the spirit.  The French word for this bed covering is “duvet” but I prefer our word for what it suggests; comfort.

Today’s verse gives a more reliable source for comfort.  Paul and Timothy had been having a rough time in their travels preaching the Gospel.  He described it as great pressure, hardship, and even deadly peril (II Cor. 1:8-10).  And now Paul is affirming that even though there was no rest and continual harassment, he could experience God’s comfort.  In the middle of conflict and fear, God reached out to comfort Paul by the coming of Titus who Paul loved like a son.

God comforts the downcast.  He sees when I am overwhelmed with fear and worry.  He cares when I am feeling too sad to get up from bed   Better than physical comfort, He gives me the amazing comfort of His love and goodness.  He brings to mind a song lyric.  He uses a long-forgotten verse.   And so often, He gives comfort through the encouragement of other believers as he did for Paul.  He is the “God of all comfort” (I Cor. 1:3-4) and knows better than anyone else how to lift my head and my spirits.

Lord, thank you for Your comfort and help me to share it.