Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 147:5 “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”

Today, the last day of the year 2020, it seems appropriate to look back and remember all that has passed. The saying, “Hindsight is 20/20,” is from the mid 1900’s and combines the idea of understanding a past event with good vision. It describes that clarity in regarding our past choices and contrasts it with the uncertainty felt when the choice was made. Often it is only in looking back that we understand an outcome with information not formerly available to us.

Today’s verse reveals that hindsight is never needed by our God. He is great and mighty in power. And there are no limits to His understanding. He does not need to look back over 2020 to make plans for 2021! He never wishes He could change an action taken in the past as all His ways are perfect. (Deut. 32:4) He would never regret His own perfect decisions nor would He be surprised at their outcomes. There is no need for God to look back to improve His understanding of events. He is all-knowing and eternal, seeing all from outside the confines of time.

What a mighty God I serve! There is nothing He does not understand. He is aware of every thought, every motive and every circumstance. How unsearchable is the depths of the riches of His wisdom! (Rom. 11:33) And this is why I can trust Him for 2021. He not only completely understands the past but He already sees what is ahead. There is a plan already in place, globally and personally. (Jer. 29:11) My understanding will always be limited. But I can trust my All-Knowing Father and face the future with confidence.

Thank you Lord, for everything ahead in this new year.

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Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

My grandson practically trembles in anticipation as he stands ready to whack! The game “whack-a-mole” can use moles, sharks or anything else that can pop up and defy being bonked. But in fact, there is little anyone can do to be really ready. That is because the sharks are ready as well and their sequence is random and unpredictable. By the time the mallet comes down, the moment has passed and up pops a new challenge!

Today’s verse tells believers not to be surprised at the hard times we suffer. They are not the exception but the norm. We are not exempt from difficulties, although sometimes we think we should be. It is easy to be lulled into thinking that an easy life is our right and privilege as God’s own. Then something suddenly happens and we are surprised! And as soon as we feel we have mastered a situation, up pops something else. Nothing strange is happening. God uses it all to test our faith.  

This testing of my faith is never very comfortable. When am I ever ready for multiple troubles to arrive? But I can be sure that the hard times are never random, even in their timing. When I feel that I just can’t anymore, that is when I learn dependence on the Lord. He does not ask me to face life in my own strength. Instead, He shows Himself strong and able through my weakness. Whatever threatens to defeat me, He has already conquered! I can share in His victory as I place my trust in His powerful arm.

Thank you Lord, that You help me pass these tests of faith.

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Star Gazing

Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”

It was amazing to see Jupiter and Saturn lining up, something that has not occurred at such proximity since 1623! The fact that it happened near Christmas gave it special meaning for believers. It brought to mind the miraculous Christmas star guiding the Magi to the Savior’s birth. However, the reaction of some was much different as this photo shows, taken on Balboa Island. There seems to be a religious observance going on but I am not sure it has anything to do with the star’s Creator.

Today’s verse reminds us of what we instinctively know when we look up. The heavens declare loud and clear that they have a Creator! More important than Jupiter and Saturn lining up is mankind’s lining up their thinking to this incredible truth! God’s eternal power and divinity are clearly seen and understood from what has been created. (Romans 1:20) The skies proclaim that this magnificent awesome beauty is the work of His hands! How incredible it is that the Creator of this star and the entire universe is the same One who wants to create a personal relationship with each of us through His Son.

How is it that we can discount and minimize the wonder of the skies! I am dumbfounded by those who take gorgeous pictures of our world but do not give recognition to its Maker. The more science reveals the amazing details of nature, the more my heart sings in praise to the creative genius of Christ! It is through the Son that all things are created and are held together. (Col.1:16-17) And He continues to create in me the praise that is due Him!

Thank you Lord, that our world reveals You!

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The Aftermath

Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, to seek Him in His temple.”

The Christmas tree stripped of its presents can seem a little forlorn.  The leftovers in foil and plastic wrap don’t look quite as inviting as they did the day before.  The Christmas Carols suddenly sound a bit worn out and “tinny.”  There is definitely something missing.  The anticipation is gone.  And one wonders what happened to that warm fuzzy feeling.  In its place there seems to be not only exhaustion but a certain let-down.  If we could just hang on to that feeling of beauty and contentment!

Today’s verse speaks of a place where we can constantly dwell.  There is no day after.  One never needs to leave.  There is beauty in this place.    To be in the Lord’s presence and gaze upon His beauty is an experience that never gets old and never has to end.  The warmth and comfort of His love rivals any warm and fuzzy feeling from holidays, music and decorations.

There are many things I could have requested for Christmas.  But I have lived long enough to know that any item will eventually lose its shine and luster.  But the beauty of the Lord is forever and He invites me to continually gaze on Him!  In His presence I can sing and make music to Him (verse 6).  He will always receive me (verse 10) and I never have to worry about Him rejecting or forsaking me (verse 9).  Regardless of what is happening around me, it is there that I want to stay!

Lord, keep me seeking You above all else.

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The Moravian Star

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:19 “And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”

This star of Bethlehem is called a Moravian star. It began as a simple craft project by a geometry teacher in Germany back in the 1830’s. He was teaching a polyhedron design to his students and illustrated it with this paper and glue star. It was eventually adopted by the Moravian Church to represent the star of Bethlehem. The first documented Christmas tree at Williamsburg, Virginia used this star to decorate its branches in 1842.

Today’s verse speaks of a star that far outshines any other. It is the “morning star” and appears when the day is dawning. It signals to all that the dark night is finished. This is a star that arises, not in the heavens but in hearts. God’s prophetic Word is the shining lamp that points us to the coming dawn and to this life-giving Star. Jesus himself is identified as this morning star. (Rev. 22:16) How appropriate it was then, that Christ’s birth was heralded by a guiding star.

Until the dawn arrives, I continue to live in a dark world. But this Star gives me hope in an increasingly somber world where evil seems to have the upper hand. However, the darkness cannot overwhelm this “Light of the world.” (John 8:12) His light and presence warms my heart and assures me of the coming dawn. And one day, there will be no need for stars (or sun and moon) as His presence will be all the Light I need! (Rev. 21:23)

Thank you Lord, that soon there will be no more night.