Devotions By Jan


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Inside a Whale!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 69:15 “Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me.”

Described as a modern-day Jonah, life for this wildlife photographer looked as if it might be cut short!  Filming a sardine run off the coast of South Africa, the water began to churn and before he knew it, Rainer Schimpf was swallowed up into total darkness.  But unlike the fish that swallowed Jonah for three days and three nights, this Bryde’s whale has an esophagus too small to completely swallow him.  He was spat out and lived to tell the tale!

Today’s verse expresses the sentiments perhaps felt  by this man and certainly by Jonah inside that fish.  But it is a cry for help from David as he was scared and depressed by the continual attacks of his enemies.  What he was experiencing did not last for just a moment or for three days.  What David endured continued for years.  It felt to David as if the depths of his despair would swallow him up.

Today marks the beginning of three long days of total despair as Jesus dies on the cross.  The whole land went dark as the Light of the world hung there for you and me.  But death could not swallow Him up for long.  Instead, “He will swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:8).  These three days until the resurrection represent all the waiting I do.  But I wait with hope for that time when all tears, sadness and death will be swallowed up in victory.  I wait with hope because I will one day be resurrected as well!  He is MY resurrection and MY life!

Help me Lord, to wait with joyful expectation and hope.


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Mountain Lion Attack

Scripture for Today: I John 4:10 “This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

I cannot imagine the horror a mother felt when seeing her seven-year-old son pinned to the ground by a mountain lion!  Her son was playing in the yard of their home on Vancouver Island in British Columbia when she heard the commotion.  Like any loving mother, she rushed out to save him, throwing herself on the lion.  She vainly tried to pry open his jaws clamped firmly on her son’s arm.  Thankfully, her screams for help caused the young famished lion to run.  Because of her willingness to sacrifice herself, her son emerged needing only some stitches on his arm and head.

Today’s verse speaks of another sacrifice also motivated by love.  God loved us so much that He gave His Son to die in our place (John 3:16).  There is no greater love than this; than to lay down one’s life for another (John 15:13) and that is what the Lord did for us.  Jesus not only paid the price for sin by enduring physical pain but also the pain of separation from the Father.  He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.  What an incredible price He paid to demonstrate His love!

When I think of the cost of His sacrifice I am humbled and overwhelmed that He could love me this much!  God so loved me that He gave.  He gave to save me from certain and eternal death.  He gave in order to begin a love relationship that will last into all eternity.  He gave, not because I deserve Him but because of His amazing grace!

Lord, thank you for reminding me of Your incredible love, especially today.

 


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New Found Family!

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 2:11 “Both the One who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”

How very strange!  A California woman had thought she was an only child.  As a teenager she learned she was “donor-conceived” but it was not until recently that her curiosity about the donor father motivated her to take a DNA test.  To her surprise she found she had 22 half brothers and sisters!  She no longer feels like she does not fit in.  She feels she belongs after meeting up with her siblings and discovering her smile on the face of others.

As different as this donor family is, today’s verse speaks of a family that is even more unique.  It is made up of spiritual brothers and sisters of all tribes and nations.  It is a spiritual family that spans centuries.  And more are being added each day.  Our backgrounds often have little in common.  Our world views, political views, or our education can all be radically different.  Like our own families, this spiritual family is made up of imperfect people.  But the one thing that unites us is that we have the same Heavenly Father who has set us apart as His own.

The Lord has created me with a strong need to belong.  I do not feel that I fit in with those who are indifferent to Christ or mock His name.  But I need to belong somewhere.  That is why God’s family is so important to me.  I have brothers and sisters around the world.  All the things that would normally separate us are overcome by the uniting bond of Christ’s love.  And when there is unity, “how good and pleasant it is…” (Psalm 133:1).

Thank you Lord, for Your family.

 


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Notre Dame

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 3:15 “If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”

How heartbreaking to see Notre Dame of Paris engulfed in flames!  People in the streets sobbed. sang, and prayed as they watched the 250 feet flames rise in the skies.  This iconic historical landmark meant so much to so many.  It seems inconceivable that something that has solidly stood for almost nine centuries could fall prey to fire.  This image of the cathedral no longer represents reality as the spire has toppled.  The news story is so recent at this writing that the extent of the damage is not yet known.

Today’s verse is an incredible reassurance in the face of this bad news.  The church of the living God does not consist of man-made materials.  The structure is not the church.  Though roofs, walls and spires may fall, the church continues.  Truth continues.  And the universal church is a pillar and buttress of truth.  The pillars on the inside hold up the truth.  The buttress jutting out on the exterior also support truth on the outside.  Jesus said that the gates of hell will never prevail against the church He has built (Matt. 16:18).

God’s Church is where He resides and He has taken up residence in the hearts of believers (I Cor. 6:19).  The church is made up of a believers in the past, present and future.  Together, we are to stand for the truth in a world where the Deceiver is actively at work.  The permanence of a building pales in comparison to the fact that God’s truth will prevail in the end!

Lord, keep me standing for the truth of Your Word.


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A Champion

Scripture For Today: Matthew 22:17b & 21b …Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? …give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

Joe Louis has been called the greatest prize fighter of all time and for good reason.  He reigned as heavyweight champion from 1937-1949, the longest span of any titleholder.  When asked by a reporter who hit him the hardest Joe Louis replied, “Uncle Sam’s taxes.”  He had raised $90,000 by charitable fights, personally seeing none of it.  The IRS later credited these amounts as taxable income.  Although most proceeds went directly to his handlers, he owed over one million in taxes and interest by 1950.  Hit hard indeed!

Today’s verse is appropriate on the deadline for filing taxes.  The Pharisees were looking to trap Jesus with His words.  As the Romans were an occupying force, they asked if it was right to pay taxes to them.  These self-righteous religious leaders called Jesus a “man of integrity” but Jesus understood the evil intent of their hearts.  He asked whose image was on the coin and when they answered Caesar’s, Jesus responded with this familiar verse.

The question for me is never if I agree with the government’s policies.  If I only paid taxes to a government I agreed with then my bill would be significantly reduced!  But my obligation to the government pales in comparison to what I owe the Lord.  His image is not on my coin but on my heart.  I bear His image as His child and I owe Him everything; my whole heart, soul, strength and mind (Luke 10:27).  I cannot ever repay Him for what He did for me on that cross.  He bought me with an incredible price (I Cor. 6:20).  I owe Him everything.

Thank you Lord, for paying the price I could not.


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The Border Collie

Scripture for Today:  John 16:8   “When He  comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement……”

This beautiful border collie has everyone’s rapt attention!  Unlike the “heeler” dogs who nip at heels, this breed is called a “header.”  He goes to the front of the animal to turn or stop its movement.  It is common for a border collie to stand in front of a large group and use what is called a “strong eye” to stare them down into submission!

Today’s verse talks about the role of the Holy Spirit.  Like the header dog that nudges the sheep in the right direction, so we need Him to direct and lead.  We are like sheep and left to ourselves would go astray (Is. 53:6).  We all need the Shepherd’s rod and staff for correction and for getting us out of danger!  His Spirit brings the conviction of what is wrong, what is right and the consequences a behavior brings.  The Spirit incites the positive godly guilt that leads to repentance (II Cor. 7:9.)

The Lord is my Shepherd but the Holy Spirit is like that border collie.  I love that the indwelling Holy Spirit brings comfort, power and His fruit in my life (Gal. 5:22-23).  However, the guilt and conviction from Him is not a comfortable experience.  The quicker I listen and obey, changing direction, the sooner the experience is over.  But that temporary discomfort is well worth avoiding that fall over a cliff!  His desire is always for my good.  As my Shepherd He leads me in the paths of righteousness where I can find quiet waters to refresh my soul (Psalm 23).  That is why His conviction as a rod and staff can actually bring me comfort!

Lord, help me see Your correction as proof of Your love..


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Air Bag Fail?

Scripture for Today: Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.”

No, my Mother-in-law’s air bag did not deploy.  Her 1991 car had only frontal air bags in any case and none on the sides.  But we do what we can to protect ourselves in the event of a crash.  We wear our seat belts and obey the rules.  We often depend on those air bags even though there have been recalls and even though there are counterfeits out there that malfunction.  And not every airbag is even supposed to deploy in some circumstances.  But we do try to take every precaution.

Today’s verse tells us that God’s protection belongs to those who love His name.  We can rejoice because He is all-knowing and all-powerful.  Knowing that He is in control means that we can have a light heart and even sing for joy.  His love and protection is always trustworthy as He has a plan for what He allows to happen.

I wish belonging to the Lord meant that I or my loved ones are never touched by evil, sickness or accident.  We live in a fallen world and it is not Paradise!  But God’s Word reassures me that He is in control.  The pain and suffering He allows is always used for His higher purposes.  None of it is “bad luck” or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I am fragile.  Life is fragile.  But I belong to the God of the universe and that calms me down.  He has already taken care of my eternity.  I can trust Him for every detail of this life.

Thank you Lord, that Your loving kindness protects me.