Devotions By Jan


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Just a Test?

Scripture for Today: I Peter 1:7 “These (all kinds of trials) have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

This frightening image came up on phones all over Hawaii on January 13th!  Reactions were varied.  Some grabbed the kids and pets and jumped in their cars with no clear destination.  A group of bikers sought shelter at a church being renovated that day.  Others milled in the streets unsure of what to do and panicking as no calls could to go through.  One friend faced what she thought might be the end by calmly going out on her balcony with her bird and coffee in hand.  It was a full 38 minutes of panic before the correction came.

Today’s verse reminds us that life will be full of tests and trials, all kinds.  But they have one thing in common.  The suffering and grief they cause will prove or disprove the genuineness of our faith.  And somehow, the praise, glory and honor to come will overshadow it all.  The genuine faith will emerge from this testing as more valuable than refined gold!

Just because my eternal Home is secure in Him does not mean that I am exempt from suffering here.  He allows me to go through some difficult pain.  Each time another wave of trial hits is another time to turn to Him and hang on with my faith.  And He is always faithful.  He uses it all to grow and deepen my conviction of who He is.  He is my Rock and I will cling to Him.

Lord, may my faith prove genuine and honoring to You.

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Belly Laugh

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

They say that,”laughter is the best medicine.”  And apparently, science confirms this idea.  Giggles and guffaws both can reduce stress by stimulating heart, lungs and muscles.  A hearty laugh can increase endorphins released by your brain, giving you that “feel-good feeling.”  Have you ever noticed that good relaxed feeling after a big belly laugh?  That is because the stress response is fired up then cooled down, increasing heart rate and blood pressure.  A good laugh can completely turn around my mood.

Today’s verse is about a woman who laughs at the future.  This woman is clothed with strength and dignity as she lives her life with wisdom (vs.26).  She works vigorously (vs. 17) and she is not idle (vs. 27).  The public praises her because of her works (vs. 31) and more importantly she is praised by her children and husband (vs. 28).  But what is most surprising about this “super woman” is that she laughs at the days to come.  Her heart is light because she fears the Lord (vs. 30).

My tendency is to fear rather than laugh at the future.  I do not know what changes may be in store for our country or personally for my life.  Rather than have a light heart, I sometimes have this vague disquiet about what lies ahead.  But when my heart is steadfast and trusting in His power and sovereignty, than I do not fear bad news (Ps. 112:7).  How much better to laugh at the future and fear God than to fear the future and laugh at the idea of God’s control!  He is directing it all and because that is true, I can be glad.

Thank you Lord, for Your loving control of my future!


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Mudslide!

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 11:7 “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”

The recent mudslides in California have been devastating!  The rainfall was short lived, but because of the lack of vegetation due to recent fires, whole hillsides were swept away.  At this writing, 17 are dead and 48 are missing.  The images of homes swallowed up in mud are heartbreaking.  I do wonder why some people did not heed the ample warnings and evacuate.  I am sure there were  extenuating circumstances for some.  And  I can imagine that others had difficulty grasping the seriousness of the danger they faced.

Today’s verse describes the faith Noah demonstrated when he built that ark.  Although Noah was warned, it must have been difficult for him to believe in something that had never been seen before.  Yet, in faith, he heeded the warnings and obeyed God’s instructions.  Not only was he and his family saved from those rising waters, but he was saved spiritually as his faith was counted to him as righteousness (Romans 3:22).

What a loving gracious God He is!  He warns of danger and judgement.  He is not obliged to do so, but waits and pleads, not willing to see anyone perish but to come to Him for salvation (II Peter 3:9).  He is my “Savior” because I needed saving from the just punishment for my own wrong-doing.  Not only has He saved me for all eternity, but His commandments preserve my life here as well (Psalm 119:93).  His warnings keep me from needless heartbreak.  What a wonderful expression of His love for me!

Help me Lord, to listen for Your warnings and follow You today.


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Screaming Baby

Scripture for Today: Psalm 131:2 “But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.”

We had a young family with three children over for dinner.  Everything was calm, quiet and smooth.  Then something changed.  The two-month-old baby decided he was hungry and wanted his Mother.  The noise emitting from his mouth put all of our teeth on edge!  Gone were my impressions of a relaxed “chill” baby.  He wanted to nurse and he wanted to now!  His Mother could not move fast enough!

Today’s verse describes contentment.  One would think that the picture of contentment would be the nursing baby as he is immediately calmed and quiet.  But true contentment is the older child.  He stays close to his mother but he is not worried or agitated.  He knows from experience that his mother is there and aware.  He is peaceful and calm knowing she will meet his need.  His need does not overwhelm him and he can patiently wait.  There is confidence and trust instead of a lot of noise.

This definition of contentment recognizes needs and wants and even desires.  Regardless of my circumstances, there is no way I can live life without them.  There is so much more I want in my life and those desires may not be wrong at all.  Contentment is not the absence of desires but a desire for His presence and love over-riding them all.  At the end of the day, my contentment is not found in changed circumstances but in a Person.  I can calm and quiet myself too, knowing He is there and will meet my needs.  I can trust that He “gives unto each day what He deems best.”

Lord, help me to live that contentment today.

 

 

 

 


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Magic or Miracle?

Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.”

Our grandson on his fourth birthday was front and center with that magician, mesmerized by the seemingly impossible feats performed.  Lately, he has been drawn to all things magic, including hats, capes and wands.  But the awe on all of their sweet faces was priceless.  These little boys were properly amazed but the parents were impressed as well with the slight of hand.  Who doesn’t like to be astonished by what looks to be impossible?

Today’s verse describes not magic, but the miraculous.  God’s power is evident in the creation of the heavens and the earth.  No tricks or slight of hand were needed, only His incredible outstretched arm.  The heavens and earth testify to His great miraculous power.  By seeing and appreciating His power in creation, we can be assured that absolutely nothing is too hard for Him!

I have evidence of God’s power all around me.  And yet, I am sometimes so accustomed to it that it no longer seems miraculous.  Sure the sun will rise tomorrow morning.  Of course, principles of gravity will continue to hold true.  However, everything that God does is miraculous.  Anything that is caused by the power of God is a “miracle.”  But when His miracles become commonplace to me, than I can find myself wondering if something could be too hard for Him.  I need to have that child-like wonder when seeing a caterpillar or gazing at the stars.  When I do then my faith grows as I realize that NOTHING is too hard for Him to accomplish in my life!

Lord, help me to trust that nothing is too hard for You.

 

 


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Wake Up Words

Scripture for Today: Mark 9:7 “Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: ‘This is My Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!'”

This Echo Dot speaker is connected to the voice-activated personal assistant, Alexa.  It can perform a number of tasks including: weather and news reports, music, alarms and timers, shopping lists and to-do lists,, reminders from the calendar, access to Wikipedia and more.  Other skills are constantly being added.  But all requests start with a trigger word or wake-up word.  It can be Alexa, Amazon, Echo, or Computer.  However, it can be disconcerting that in the default mode, Echo is always listening for the wake-up word to be spoken.

Today’s verse describes in part the scene when Jesus was transfigured before the eyes of Peter, James and John.  The Jesus they thought they knew was transformed, wearing dazzling white and speaking to Moses and Elijah. Rather than shocking Peter into respectful silence and an attitude of listening, this miracle loosened Peter’s tongue.  In his excitement and fear, he made some suggestions to Jesus.  Just before things returned to normal, God’s voice told them to “Listen to Him.”

This command to Peter is just as much for me today.  I need to simply listen to Him.  There are so many distractions in my life, even good ones. that pull my attention away from hearing what He wants to say.  His message can be heard through good preaching, through devotionals and through wonderful Christian articles.  But He wants to talk to me personally with that morsel of truth that needs to be applied to my life today!  He wants to impress on me the truth needed for this moment.  I cannot discern His voice unless I am quiet and actively listening.

Wake me up, Lord, to listen to You.

 


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Birthdays in Heaven

Scripture for Today: Luke 15:10 “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Today my Mother celebrates her birthday in Heaven for the first time.  If there are candles on her cake they would number 96!  I am not sure that she is having a party.  I imagine that if everyone there is daily celebrating birthdays, eternal life would be one big continual party!  The cake would be delicious but with no calories.  The gifts would need no exchanging.  And there would be no let-down the following day!  I cannot imagine a cake big enough to hold all the candles as each century is added!

Today’s verse describes a time of rejoicing in Heaven.  It is not for the first birthday but for the second; the spiritual one when one is born again.  There is rejoicing and somehow the angels even get into the act.  When even just one sinner repents and comes to Jesus for salvation, there is celebration and joy!  The noise of it would echo down those streets of gold.  This verse follows the parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep that were found.  Following this verse is the parable of the lost son whose return was celebrated with a party.  In each case there was enthusiastic joy and celebration!

Her joy is complete.  Mine, not so much.  She is enjoying her reward, whatever form it takes.  But I can recapture some of my joy when reminding myself of where she is and what she is experiencing today.  There are no more tears, pain or suffering and she is surrounded with incredible beauty and splendor.  She is enjoying “face-to-face” the Love of her life; her Savior.

Thank you Lord, for what You have prepared for all who love You.