Devotions By Jan


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Pancake Tortoise

Scripture for Today: Psalm 31:20 “In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from all human intrigues; You keep them safe in Your dwelling from accusing tongues.”

We had trouble actually seeing this Pancake Tortoise at the San Diego Zoo as he was so completely flattened and wedged in the rock.  I had never heard of a tortoise that can run but this one does!  That is because his shell is lightweight and full of small holes.  The fact that his shell is thin, flat and flexible means that he can flatten himself like a pancake and hide in narrow rock crevices.  So rather than retreat into his shell like most, this guy runs to the rocks until the danger is past.

Today’s verse tells us where to hide when we feel threatened.  David was constantly under attack from within and from without.  He was the object of evil plots and slanderous tongues.  In his anguish and distress he runs to the only One who can give him shelter and safety; the presence of the Lord.  David did not withdraw into his own shell or resources.  He ran to His presence and there God hid him.

There are times to stand and face the enemy.  But there are also times to retreat and run to Him and His presence.  He has promised shelter and safety when we are just too tired and discouraged.  He protects us when we are fearful and overwhelmed.  The unkind  remarks of others can create deep wounds.  Fighting against malicious gossip that damages a reputation is practically impossible.  The only solution is to run to His presence and allow Him to take care of those “human intrigues.”  He is more than able to fight for me!

Thank you Lord, for the safety and shelter of Your presence.

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Washing Lego Pieces

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:9 ” But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”

Here’s an inventive use for a colander!  Washing small Lego pieces would otherwise be a chore with some invariably escaping down the garbage disposal.  But whether one uses a strainer or a colander, those holes are useful for rinsing without losing the contents down the drain.  In French there is a saying using the word, colander.  This kitchen tool is likened to our memories, which can be full of holes.  They will also call a memory lapse a “trou” or hole.

Today’s verse addresses the problem of forgetting.  When we forget that our past sins have been forgiven, we miss out on all that God has given us for life and godliness (verse 3).  He has given us goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love (verse 5-7).  These qualities, which are part of His divine nature, are to be increasingly evident in the life of a believer (verse 8) and they keep us from being ineffective and unproductive for Him.  The problem comes when we are strangled with guilt over what God has already forgiven.

I am so encouraged to see God use imperfect people.  Paul was responsible for the death of many Christians and yet, he grasped the truth of God’s forgiveness.  Peter, after his famous denials of Christ, took hold of God’s grace and went on to accomplish great things for God.  I want to remind myself daily of His full and complete cleansing.  He has removed my sin as far as the east is from the west! (Psalm 103:12).  I do not want to focus on what is no longer an issue for Him.

Thank you Lord, for Your full and complete forgiveness!

 

 


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Tissue Invasion

Scripture for Today: Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

This could be me this past week.  The tears have been flowing freely at the death of my Mother.  With all the tissue I have used, the trash overflows and so do I.  I know she is with the Lord and free from pain, but for me the pain of separation is just beginning.  But despite the tears, my heart is at peace with His promises and reassurances.

Today’s verse describes a day when there will be no more need for tissues.  There will be no illness of any kind.  There will be no pain or death, no separation or sadness.  Anything and everything that provokes tears will be gone forever!  What an incredible thought!

I love this verse as the Lord is intimately involved in erasing our sadness.  He Himself gets close and personal.  He takes it on Himself to wipe those tears from our eyes.  And once His loving powerful hands dry our face, those tears never return.  I can just imagine His look of infinite tenderness as He does this.  He knows all about tears.  His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death in the garden of Gethsemane.  He endured that horrible time of suffering in order to “swallow up death forever” for you and me.

Heaven is going to be a noisy place!  Those who sow a lifetime of tears will reap with songs of joy! (Psalm 126:5)  Cries of anguish will be replaced with melodies of joy.  He has promised.

Thank you Lord, that You will personally dry my tears.


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A Welcome

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:11 ” and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

I love seeing welcome signs at border crossings between cities, counties and states.  This one seems an especially inviting welcome with our name on it in Kent, England!  I remember when our kids were small and we were back in the States for a year.  We were used to crossing borders frequently in Europe so when we made a big deal about crossing a state line, our seven year old son asked, “Is this Portugal?”

Today’s verse is about crossing over the border from an earthly life into the eternal kingdom of God.  I am not so sure there is a sign needed to mark that entrance! However, there will be a “rich welcome” for those who have placed their faith in the saving work of Jesus.  A rich welcome must mean that no one enters quietly or unnoticed.  Each entrance will be a celebrated home-coming and marked with a warm welcome.  The Prodigal Son received a rich welcome when he returned to his Father’s house with his Father running out to greet him.  He welcomes him with the best robe, a ring and sandals.  And there is a feast and celebration all done to welcome him!

I wonder what was done to welcome my Mother into that eternal kingdom just last week.  No way did she slip in unnoticed.  Perhaps her “rich welcome” meant being greeted by her family and friends who arrived before her.  But the richest welcome of all would be to be greeted and held in the warm embrace of the Savior!

“When He takes me by the hand, and leads me through the Promised Land, what a day, glorious day that will be!”


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Lifetime Achievement Award

Scripture for Today: Genesis 15:1 “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision; ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.'”

George Clooney has just been announced as this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute.  He is being honored for his achievements as an actor, writer, producer and director.  He has won two Oscars as well as other honors.  And it cannot hurt that he remains so good looking, although that may not have influenced those bestowing this award!  In any case, this award represents approval from people for noteworthy achievements.

Today we bury my 95 year old Mother.  Her lifetime achievements are not so well-known or noteworthy.  But right now she is enjoying her reward.  This reward lasts for eternity and it does not depend on the approval of men..  Today’s verse explains that Abraham’s reward is God Himself.  Abraham enjoyed an intimate relationship with his Creator.  He was even called, “God’s friend.” (James 2:23).  He, like my Mother, was able to enjoy his reward while here on earth.  But to literally be in His presence is a reward that surpasses any other!

I think the world of my Mother but of course, she was not perfect.  However, I know she is enjoying her “Reward” because of God’s grace and forgiveness.  Although she spent her life following and obeying Him, she did not earn her place in His presence.  She is there because of God’s grace.  And I know, because I have accepted His grace as well, I will one day be able to hug her again.  I know she is hearing God’s approval as He says, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

Thank you Lord, for being our very great reward!

 

 


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Lap Cat

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:12  “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

This is not our cat.  Tiger would never consent to sit in our laps, let alone relax and sleep there.  I tried so hard to make him a lap cat, but he would have none of it!  There is something soothing about having that little heater rest on one’s knees.  But when a cat is that relaxed and contented I feel pinned in place, not wanting to disturb him by getting out of the chair.

Today’s verse is about experiencing contentment regardless of our circumstances.  Having every need and desire fulfilled is no guarantee to having contentment.  Nor is experiencing lack a recipe for discontent.  Paul knew what he was talking about as he lived both of these scenarios.  What is encouraging is that contentment can be learned.  It is not always our first reaction but with enough practice it can be.  There is a secret to learning this contentment and that secret is found in our relationship to Christ.  He gives me the ability to find contentment in Him.

What this suggests to me is that when I am feeling disgruntled and deprived, I just need to crawl back up into His lap!  Rather than focusing on the negatives in my life, I turn to Him.  Reminding myself of who He is and all the blessings He has already given me helps me find that lap of contentment.  For me, it is really a choice as to where I am focusing my thoughts.

Lord, help me to find that elusive contentment in You.


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Thunderstorm!

Scripture for Today: Job 37: 3, 5 “Under the whole heaven He lets it loose, and His lightnings to the ends of the earth.  God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing great things which we cannot comprehend.”

It was quite the show!  The storm woke us with peals of rolling thunder and flashes of light that lit up our room at the Mesa Verde National Park.  We must have watched it for a good hour, marveling at the force and grandeur of that storm!  As it moved overhead, we jumped at the deafening cracks of thunder and the room even seemed to shake!  How thankful we were not to be outside in it.  We felt safe and protected.

Today’s verse likens thunder to God’s mighty voice.  The fear that a clap of thunder can evoke is the fear I ought to feel at God’s powerful Word.  The Law was given to the Israelites in the midst of thunder and lightning.  It inspired such fear in the people that they insisted that Moses approach God in their place.  It is that fear which leads to obedience and wisdom (Psalm 111:10).

There are times that I lose that sense of fear at God’s greatness.  But all it takes to remind me is a huge storm that unleashes its fury!  God is bigger than the biggest storm.  His power transcends everything!  I am so thankful that my fear of Him does not include fear of punishment!  Jesus took on Himself all the condemnation I deserve.  But my fear of Him is one that inspires knee-bending awe of His greatness and power.  His thunderous mighty voice reminds me just how small and powerless I am.  And His voice is accomplishing so much I do not understand.

Thank you Lord, that I can trust Your voice.