Devotions By Jan

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Pyramid at the Louvre

Scripture for Today:  Genesis 2:24  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

The pyramid at the Louvre is breathtaking, especially at night when it mirrors soft lights from inside.  Since 1989, the very year we moved to France, the largest of the five pyramids has served as a spectacular entrance to the Louvre museum.  It is made up entirely of 673 diamond and triangular shaped glass panes and metal poles.  At 71 feet high and 11,000 square feet, its 95 tons of steel and 105 tons of aluminum have made this an impressive landmark!

Today’s verse teaches that God can take two entirely different people and make them one.  As the sides of a pyramid come from different directions but are joined at the top, so marriage is to unite a man and a woman, making them one. That line at the base represents our shared life.  Every marriage has that connecting line.  But for a marriage of two believers, there is the advantage of another path to closeness.  At the apex of the triangle is the Lord.  As each of us move closer to Him, we can grow closer to each other at the same time.

I never feel closer to my husband than when I hear him pouring out his heart to the Lord when we pray together.  I feel our oneness when we serve Him together in some way.  When we share our struggles with trusting Him, I feel this oneness.  When we admit our failures and together ask Him for forgiveness, I feel this oneness.  Over the last forty years I have seen us move up and down on that line towards the Lord.  But I can say with conviction that it is worth the effort!

Thank you, Lord, for making us one!

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Miracle Baby

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.”

You may wonder why this sweet baby boy has dirt under his fingernails.  No, he was not playing in the dirt, but in the dirt is where authorities found him, loosely buried with sticks and soil in the forest.  The man who put him there was tripped out on drugs and felt the baby was too heavy to carry.  Thankfully, he was apprehended and the baby saved.  It was a true miracle that the baby was found and survived 40 degree temperatures for nine hours!

Today’s verse tells us that nothing is too hard for the Lord.  The great power of His outstretched arm has brought into existence the heavens and the earth.  Anything else would seem to take less effort!  Surely, if He can blanket our sky with stars and shake our earth at will, than there is no problem beyond His reach.  By seeing and appreciating His power in creation, we can be assured that absolutely nothing is too hard for Him!

Anything that is caused by the power of God is a “miracle.”  Sometimes, I put my own definition to the word.  Often I think of miracles only in terms of the visible and spectacular.  But even more astonishing than a healing that confounds doctors, or an accident that should have taken a life is the heart that is changed.  His power creates new clean hearts that love and obey Him.  To be able to let go and forgive someone who has done the unthinkable is a miracle!  His power has and continues to change me and it is all His doing!

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


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The Manatee

Scripture for Today:Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

Who would ever want to harm this gentle creature?  The Florida manatee, or sea cow, measures up to 13 feet and 1,300 pounds.  Their slow lolling nature make this large marine mammal a favorite of tourists.  But there are Manatee Zone signs saying “Slow Speed” and “Minimal Wake” in an effort to protect them.  Even so, the manatee is classed as “vulnerable.”  Their greatest threat is human as they are hunted, drown in fishing nets, face habitat degradation or collide with fishing boats.

Today’s verse reminds us that our greatest enemy is not human.  Our biggest threat is spiritual against our souls.  We protect ourselves from evil by the different pieces of God’s armor: truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. (verses 10-19)  We can stand firm against evil with the protection He provides.  We can stand with confidence as well, knowing that He not only has determined the outcome of this war, but He fights with and for us!

My courage is so non-existent that I need to enlist my husband when in combat with a spider!  There is nothing in me to inspire fear in those dark forces of evil.  Yet, the Devil will flee from me when I am wholly submitted to God (James 4:7).  I can face the dark and stand strong, never with  my puny efforts but in the power of His might!  Although this is a subject that can illicit fear, God reassures my heart.  If God is for me, who can be against me? (Romans 8:31)

Thank you Lord, that my heart, mind and soul belong to You.

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Guarding the Queen

Scripture for Today: II Timothy 1:12 “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”  

Did you know that those guards at Buckingham Palace are actual soldiers in the British army carrying real guns?  There are four sentry guards when the Queen is in residence and only two when she is elsewhere.  In addition there are five regiments of foot guards: Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh.  Although their uniforms differ subtly, they all have the same charge to guard and protect.

Today’s verse is Paul’s declaration of faith in God’s power to guard what he has entrusted to Him, namely his soul.  During a time of discouraging imprisonment, Paul stays confident of God’s control.  He is suffering but does not feel shame for being in prison.  He shares in the sufferings of Christ but is also experiencing Christ’s abundant comfort (II Cor.1:5).  Paul knows that his soul will live on even if he does not survive.  God has promised and He is all -powerful and able to keep His word.

Knowing and being convinced of God’s power to guard my soul makes all the difference to how I live.  And it will make just as big a difference to how I die.  My eternal security rests on His finished work of perfect sacrifice.  It does not rest on me, my laundry list of good works or how I am feeling.  My soul is in His powerful hands and nothing and no one can pluck me out of there! (John 10:28).  I have no power to guard anything.  But He does.

Lord, I trust that You guard my soul!

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Candle in the Wind

Scripture for Today:II Timothy 1:6 a “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you….” 

The original lyrics of “Candle in the Wind” referred to Marilyn Monroe.  The song was written by Bernie Taupin who was inspired by the words of the title, referring to Janis Joplin.  He saw Marilyn as a metaphor for all those who enjoy fame but then die young.  More familiar is the later version by Elton John, done as a tribute to Princess Diana.  But both versions have the same concluding lines: “Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did.”

Today’s verse reminds the believer that residing in him is the Holy Spirit (verse 7).  He Himself is an undeserved gift as are His fruit and His spiritual gifts for service.  The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was likened to tongues of fire coming to rest on each of the believers (Acts 2:3).  Paul encourages Timothy to fan the flame of this gift of the Spirit.  We know this flame is being fanned when we are not timid about our faith.  We know this flame is burning brighter when we see power, love and self-disciple in our lives (verse 7).

These legendary icons will live on for a time but eventually burn out.  What an assurance to know that there is no such fate for the Spirit of God in me!  His flame is eternal and He has given me eternal life as well.  But while here, I want my light to shine, not for my own glory but for His!  I need His power to be bold for Him.  I need His love when loving is difficult.  And I need His help with self-discipline when I feel out of control!

Thank you Lord, for the flame of Your Spirit.

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Pelican Flower

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.”

This Pelican Flower on the streets of Ocean Beach, CA.  looked so unusual with its brown color and huge size!  These heart-shaped flowers only live TWO days!  On day one they attract bees and flies by their stench to enter the tunnel shape in the middle.  The little hair-like growths inside guide them along until they are stuck with no way out!  On day two the insect is covered in pollen and they are let out as the flower slowly withers and dies.

Today’s verse presents a true paradox.  Jesus is saying that those who are intent on saving their lives at any cost will end up paying in other ways.  Lives that are selfishly lived will in the end be lost.  Even if a person should gain the world world: riches, honor, health and ease, they can still lose their soul (verse 26).  Whereas, those who pour out and sacrifice their lives for others as a service to the Lord will have meaning and purpose.  They will in fact find their lives and the soul will not be lost for eternity.

Losing my life for the One I love is the best way I know to demonstrate that love.  I lose my life each time I choose to obey God’s way rather than my own.  I lose my life every time I put His agenda of good works ahead of my own selfish plan.  When I desire Christ’s love above and beyond any human love then my life is spent serving Him.  In losing my life to Him, He fills it and makes it meaningful!

Thank you Lord, that in You I have found my life!

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Patient Dumping

Scripture for Today: John 6:37 “All those the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never drive away.”

Patient dumping is not new but recently there has been more attention given the problem.  The term refers to the premature discharge of Medicare or indigent patients for economic reasons.  It usually happens to a homeless or mentally ill person who is uninsured or unable to pay for treatment.  They are discharged to the streets, to a bus stop, to a homeless shelter or to another hospital.  There have been fines leveled at hospitals and corrective measures taken.  But too often, the problem continues.

Today’s verse tells us that the Lord will not turn anyone away who comes to Him!  He does not deny access.  He does not abandon or turn away anyone who comes to Him in faith.  No one is denied forgiveness because they are “too far gone” or guilty of some terrible sin.  No money is no problem as we come freely at His invitation to come (Isaiah 55:1).  He is faithful to forgive those who come to Him in confession (I John 1:9).  He forgives and gives us a new clean heart and it is all undeserved.

I may not be homeless or mentally ill but I am undeserving.  I come to Him with no merit of my own.  I do not deserve even a glance from Him let alone His favor!  But He welcomes me with open arms because of His incredible grace!  Regardless of my emotional state, regardless of the shame I feel, He is there and invites me to come.  Even when it has been awhile since I last came, He will always welcome me and will never turn me away!

Thank you Lord for Your faithful constant love.