Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:11 “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.”

Pictured here is the Perseid meteor shower over Sieversdorf, Germany. This light show takes place annually between mid July and mid August. This meteor shower is composed of fragments from the comet, Swift Tuttle. These create what is called a “Perseid cloud” as a stream of debris is formed. The unofficial name is, “the tears of Saint Lawrence” as the peak of activity coincides with the date of this saint’s martyrdom. But rather than think of a man when looking up, I cannot help but think of the amazing creativity of our God.

Today’s verse compares the height of the heavens with the size and grandeur of God’s love for us. Meteors burn up just fifty miles above our heads, but the distances when talking about the heavens are mind boggling! How amazing that the vastness of the heavens is a picture of the size of God’s love for us! It is so difficult to grasp how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is (Eph. 3:18). It goes beyond limited knowledge. It eludes finite comprehension. 

Just as distances boggle my mind when gazing at the heavens, so His love for me boggles the mind. How could He love me so much? Does He not see my failings, my weaknesses and my black heart? I am too small and insignificant to deserve this unconditional love. However, that is just the point. He does not love me because of who I am but in spite of who I am. Believing He really loves me changes everything. His love and forgiveness make me the “apple of His eye” (Psalm 17:8) and He makes my life worth living.

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible surprising love. Remind me today as I look up at the sky.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2014)

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Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Jello leaves me feeling ambivalent. On the one hand it is very versatile. Anything and everything can go in it and it can take on so many forms and shapes. On the other hand, it is slimy and unnaturally colored. It wobbles and slithers and is usually too sweet for me. The French as a rule do not want to even try it, so perhaps they have influenced me over the years. Too many times, I have unmolded a jello only to have it not be firm enough to hold the shape!

Today’s verse promises strength, firmness and steadfastness. It is a promise directed to those who are called by God’s grace and belong to Him. This promise is always needed but especially so when going through a time of suffering. We are not firm and steadfast in the middle of trial. We are like that jello, all wobbly and ready to slide off the plate. No one stands strong when their legs feel like jello!

The suffering I go through is usually unexplainable. The only thing I know with certainty is that it is unavoidable.  My comfort is that God uses it. The pain is never wasted. It is through suffering that I draw closer to the Lord and learn to love Him more. Sometimes my suffering is used to encourage others. But in any case, it is to be counted a privilege to suffer for Him as He suffered so much for me! And what comfort to know that He personally restores me and renews my strength! 

Thank You Lord, for personally standing me back up again.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)

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Scripture for Today: Isaiah 26:4 “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal.”

This seaweed looks beautiful waving its fronds in the water. I normally see and smell seaweed washed up on the shore, giving off a terrible odor. But when growing underwater it can be beautiful and mesmerizing in its movement.  It is cultivated for lots of different uses, including medicine, filtration, fertilizer and food. Two important elements are essential for seaweed to grow; seawater and sunlight. But there is something else needed for most species of seaweed to thrive, and that is a rock. They have what is called a “holdfast” which is a basal disk providing attachment to a rock!

Today’s verse praises God for being that faithful and eternal rock. The believer needs the Living Water to grow (John 4:10) as well as the Light of the World (John 8:12). But first we need to be holding fast to our Rock. His stability gives us the best chance to grow when turbulent water tries to dislodge us. Being our Rock means He is our refuge and shelter. Holding fast to Him gives strength to grow and thrive, regardless of the circumstances. 

The Lord Himself is my stability in a world that seems to be in constant motion and change. Because He is my eternal Rock, I know He will always be there for me. He does not move and I know where to find Him. I find Him in the pages of the “love letter” He wrote for me. I find Him in the sweet reassurances He whispers to my heart. His words are eternal and I can trust Him completely! Despite sometimes constant changes around me, He keeps me stable and growing.

Thank you Lord, for being my eternal and trustworthy Rock.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)

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The Hummingbird

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:103-104 “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.”

Paul Bartram from London, England, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I love watching hummingbirds! They are so tiny and colorful and the speed at which they dart around fascinates me! They flap their wings about 50 times a second so that all one sees is a blur. Hummingbirds can fly up to 34 mph and can even fly backwards. Pictured here is the “sword-billed” hummingbird whose bill is longer than its body! In the higher elevations of South America, he can dig deep into the “corollas” of the flower to reach that sweet nectar.  He hovers there until he has had his fill.

Today’s verse describes God’s Word as being sweet to the taste. What the Lord communicates to my heart is sweeter than honey or the nectar from a flower. His Word is His love letter to me. Even the commands and warnings are there because He cares about me and wants the best for me. Loving His Word makes me wary of any wrong path that takes me away from Him. Understanding and wisdom for living are found in its pages. His companionship is felt through those promises and words of love.

Sometimes reading and studying His Word is difficult. Time presses and the day quickly fills with obligations and distractions. Rather than darting off to the next thing, I need to take the time and “hover” there at the source of all that sweetness. Sometimes the meaning of a verse is not so clear. It is at that time I need a longer bill to dig deep. The effort is always worth the sweetness I find!

Lord, keep my mouth full of the sweetness of Your Word.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)


Cat Snake

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”

Meet just one of the 35 different species of the Cat Snake! There is quite a variety among them in both appearance and habitat. Some are black with bright yellow bands. Other species are brown or tan, often with dark mottling. Some species live in tropical rainforest and swamps, while others live in grasslands and woodlands. Like many cats, the Cat Snake likes to hunt at night. But its name comes from their cat-like eyes with their vertical elliptical pupils! If I thought those thin oddly-shaped pupils wouldn’t see much, I would be wrong!

Today’s verse describes eyes that are opened to see more than most; wonderful things in God’s law. Our eyes can miss what is positive in God’s commandments. Those wonders can easily escape us. This verse is a prayer that God would open spiritual eyes to see God’s law differently. This entire psalm goes on to extol and praise God’s law. The author’s eyes have been opened to see a long list of wonderful things: blessing, purity, delight, strength, understanding, knowledge, good judgement, freedom and comfort, to name just a few!  God certainly answered the author’s prayer.

I do not often feel this way about God’s law. Instead of seeing “wonderful things,” in His law, I sometimes see it as negative and restrictive. My eyes need to be opened. I want to see those same wonders in His law, especially the comfort and blessing. And how wonderful His law must be to actually give freedom! God’s law is given with love and with the desire to make life work for me. I need my eyes open to explore and discover how God wants me to live and to see it as wonderful!

Lord, open my eyes today.