Devotions By Jan


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Elephants Never Forget

Scripture for Today:  Phil. 3:13b-14 “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

It is a common adage that, “elephants never forget.”  There have been many scientific studies done and it has been established that although they don’t remember every little thing, elephants do have remarkable memories.  The older females leading a herd are especially likely to remember previous watering holes.  They remember the urine smells of up to 30 other elephants in their herd, distinguishing friend from foe.

Today’s verse talks about the value of forgetting something very specific.  Paul is saying that to make any progress in our Christian growth, we are to FORGET what is behind.  I always assumed, knowing Paul’s past of persecuting the Church, that he meant his past sins.  However, the context of the passage speaks of his Jewish lineage, his zeal and his righteousness.  He counted his religiosity and good works as rubbish in order to know Christ and to have the righteousness which comes from faith in Him.

What does this mean for me?  Do I pride myself in past accomplishments in the realm of good works?  Am I on  “cruise control” in my spiritual journey, thinking what I’ve already done for the Lord can somehow carry me along?  Or am I motivated to keep on keeping on?  It is a sobering thought to realize that any spiritual pride or SELF righteousness will keep me from moving forward.  Better to forget even the good things in my past if they cause me to be complacent in the present.  The Lord does not want me to relax but to keep pressing on to a deeper and more satisfying relationship with HIm.

Lord, keep me motivated to press on.

 

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Grandfather Clocks

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

These beautiful Grandfather clocks stand proudly in the World Museum in Liverpool, England.  The first Grandfather clock (or Longcase clock) was produced around 1680 by a British clockmaker, William Clement.  The name “Grandfather” clock is thought to be the result of a song written in 1876 entitled, “My Grandfather’s Clock.”  Our modern ones have an eight day movement.  But earlier less expensive models had only a thirty hour movement.  In either case, time would run out if not wound by a key or if the chains were not pulled.

Today’s verse is another reminder that time is the great equalizer.  We all have the same daily twenty four hours handed to us.  But what is so amazing is that our God is in control of time.  Not only is my time in His hands but all time is.  He is eternal and outside of time.  His kingdom is an eternal one and His dominion endures forever (Dan. 4:3).  Here on earth we are frustrated with time constraints.  But time and seasons will only exist “under Heaven.”

Imagine having time for everything!  Someday it will be true, but today I need to trust the Lord to provide the time needed for what He thinks is important.  I love the song lyrics that say, “He is able, more than able, to accomplish what concerns me today…” He is in control of time, and He is the source.  The Lord is more than able to free up minutes I did not know I had!  As a result of trusting Him I find comfort that there is more than enough time for His plans.

Lord, help me to trust You, even when I seem to be running out of time.


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The Silverback Gorilla

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 12:9 “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

The Silverback gorilla is the strongest and most experienced male leader of his “troop.”  He is the one who decides where the others will travel, forage and sleep.  He is responsible for the safety of the group.  When challenged by interlopers he will beat his chest, scream, bare his teeth and charge, sometimes shaking a branch broken off from a tree!  What an amazing show of strength!

Today’s verse talks about a different Source of strength that empowers the believer to accomplish more than what was thought possible.  It seems so paradoxical but to experience His power and strength, we admit and even boast about our weaknesses!  There is no “show of strength” on our part.  For the believer, all the power and strength has Christ as its source.  It is through our weakness that God has the opportunity to manifest His strength.  And when this happens He gets all the praise, glory and recognition.

My pride keeps me from admitting to weakness.  No one wants to appear weak.  In fact, “The biggest weakness of all is the fear of appearing weak.”  But the more I admit to my weaknesses, my limitations and my failings, the more He can and does use me when I turn to Him.  He is so good to take that weakness and transform it into something strong.  He is so loving to ask me to be strong and then give me His strength!

Lord, make me strong today.

 

 

 


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Jump for Joy

Scripture for Today: John 21:7b “…As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped in the water.”

I used to think that when fish jumped out of the water they were jumping for joy!  I have learned otherwise and yet still prefer to think it could be true.  Fish may jump to feed on flying insects, to propel themselves upstream for spawning, to escape predators or to rid themselves of sea-lice.  We jump at the chance.  We jump down one’s throat or jump ship.  We may jump on the bandwagon or in our family, jump in the shower.  But the best jumping is when we jump for joy!

Today’s verse has someone jumping into the water, and it certainly seems as if there were joy involved!  Not surprisingly, the disciples did not immediately recognize the resurrected Jesus after a fruitless night of fishing.  But when the Lord  miraculously filled their net, they knew who it was.  Peter could not wait to get to Jesus.  Rather than row the boat with the disciples that last one hundred yards to shore, he jumped in!

Would that I would jump at the chance to meet with the Lord with that much enthusiasm!  Can I say with David that He fills me with joy in His presence? (Psalm 16:11)  To be honest, not always.  But when I recognize His miraculous hand in my life, I do jump up and run to Him with a grateful heart.  It may not be a net full of fish, but His miracles are everywhere in my life; the miracle of His love and grace, His forgiveness and protection, and too many more to list!

Lord, may I jump at the chance to meet You today!

 


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Block Chain

Psalm 55:19 “God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change – He will hear them and humble them because they have no fear of God.”

You can try but you cannot change it!  That is the idea behind the “block chain.”  It is a digital ledger that is designed so that transactions made with bit coin and other cryptocurrency are meddle-proof and unable to be deleted.  The block chain is an accounting method that verifies transactions and creates a record that cannot be changed.  Because everything is unique and traceable, it cannot be copied.  Because this system is “immutable”, it generates trust and truth.

Today’s verse tells us that God does not change.  He is “immutable” and this attribute also generates trust and truth!  His character is irrevocable.  Who He was in times long past is who He still is today!  He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb.13:8).  He does not need to change, grow, mature or self-correct because He is perfect.  His Word and promises are binding and permanent!  He hears the cries of the righteous because He has promised and He will humble those who have no fear of God, because He has promised.

I never have to worry that God will change His mind about me.  I never have to doubt His unfailing love that does not change.  He has promised His presence for “always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)  I do not have to question whether He is going to show up or not!  The fact that He does not change strengthens my trust in Him.  How relieved I am that I do not have a God who is capricious and unpredictable!  He is my solid, immoveable and immutable rock and I can trust Him completely.

Lord, strengthen my trust in You today.


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Digging in the Dirt

Scripture for Today:  Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;”

Roots are a good thing normally.  They are what support and sustain the plant.  But then there are those roots that support and sustain what is unwanted; those nasty weeds.  I can be quite proud of myself when I have cleared a large area of weeds in a short time.  But if I have not gone deeper, digging after those roots, then of course it all needs redoing very quickly.  Those roots are tenacious.  A weed can seem deceptively small but the root can go on and on.  There is a such satisfaction in getting to the hidden root and pulling it all up.

Today’s verse speaks of the damage that is done by a root of bitterness.  It can spring up out of nowhere.  It is a surprise when it surfaces as normally it is well hidden.  And of course, the longer it has been hidden below the surface, the longer and more entrenched it becomes!  The problem of an unforgiving spirit can seem like that deceptively small weed.  In pulling it out all seems resolved on the surface.  But the Holy Spirit wants to dig deeper and reveal the problem of bitterness underneath.

Digging hurts.  The conviction of the Spirit can be excruciating.  Oh, but the relief to have that long root pulled up and out!  There is freedom in having that bitterness eradicated.  Often, the offending party is not even aware.  But the whole process is heart wrenching as I give up the hurt and the any thought of revenge.  There is freedom in giving the whole mess over to the Lord.

Thank you Lord, that You can take that bitterness away.


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Lightening Rod

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him and by His wounds we are healed.”

What a spectacular sight when it happens!  But in fact, the Eiffel Tower  is struck by lightening about ten times a year.  It happened again just recently on May 30th at 2:00am.  Around that time, France experienced a few days with record rainfall and lots of storms throughout the country.  (We were affected being stuck 3 days, trying to fly in!) The tower has lightening rods at the top, so it attracts the lightening and protects quite a large space around it.  The Parisians are safer with that large hunk of metal absorbing the electricity.

Today’s verse reminded me of a lightening rod or conductor.  The cross absorbed all of God’s wrath against sin.  Jesus, who was sinless, took the punishment on Himself that was rightfully ours to bear.  He was pierced, crushed and wounded, all in our place.  Because of His sacrifice, He was able to absorb all of God’s righteous anger against sin.  To talk about God’s wrath is not a comfortable topic.  Yet, without realizing God’s hatred against all wrong-doing, we do not understand how deep is His grace in taking our place!

I am guilty of sometimes treating sin lightly.  I have an amazing ability to minimize its seriousness, at least when it comes to me!  My sin is never as serious as someone else’s!  But when I examine my heart in the light of God’s holiness I become overwhelmed.  When I realize the pain and agony He suffered, then I understand how unworthy I am to have His mercy and grace poured out on me!

I am forever grateful to You Lord, for taking my place.