Devotions By Jan

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Old Photos

Scripture for Today: Revelation 2:3-4 “You have persevered and have endured hardship for My name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you; You have forsaken the love you had at first.”

In preparing for my Mother-in-Law’s memorial I have been immersed in old photos. This one from 1932 is especially precious, showing Minnie in the middle of four of her siblings, two on each side of her. But it is such a shame to see the damage done by UV rays, bright light, heat and humidity. Thankfully, it is possible to restore old photos to their original look using a number of different computer programs. My sister is the family “historian” bringing back to life old photos.

Today’s verse is a reprimand from the Lord to the Church at Ephesus. He is so gracious to start with a commendation. This church had gone through suffering for their faith. They did not renounce the Lord and continued strong. But there was something missing. They allowed obligation to replace the faithfulness that comes from a heartfelt love. The Lord sees the heart and knows from where our service springs. Somehow, their love had cooled from its original fervor. The brightness of that first love had faded.

If I am honest with myself, I admit to sometimes being in that same condition. I am committed and convinced of my faith. As far as I can know myself, I am willing to suffer and die for His name’s sake if He should ask it of me. But there are times when I feel far away from Him. The emotional connection can fade like images on an old photograph. He is there and always faithful, but routine and obligation can quickly take the place of the intimacy I have had in the past.

Lord, do not let me become satisfied with anything less than the vibrant clarity of our shared love.

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The Mongoose

Scripture for Today: II Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

This Dwarf mongoose makes his home in Botswana and he happens to be sitting atop an abandoned termite mound. As small as he is, he is bold enough to take down a king cobra! His speed and agility are remarkable, darting at the head of the snake and cracking its skull with his powerful bite! He himself does not need to worry about being bitten. That is because he has a protein that binds to proteins in the snake venom, rendering it harmless.

Today’s verse is a wonderful promise of the Lord to His own. He promises to strengthen and protect the believer from the evil one. Satan showed up in the very beginning as a serpent who deceives (Gen 3:13). He is also pictured as a lion looking to devour its prey (I Peter 5:8). There will be attacks and we are encouraged to stand firm in the faith with the armor He provides (Eph. 6:10-17). We may feel small, but the Lord is faithful to protect our soul, now and for eternity. Nothing and no one can snatch us from His powerful protective hands (John 10:29).

Like the small mongoose, I can be fearless and confident! I do not want to underestimate the enemy, but I know that victory is mine in Christ. The venom and sting of death is rendered powerless because of God’s faithfulness to me. There may be that occasional skirmish that can discourage, but the outcome is already decided! If God is for me, who can be against me? (Rom. 8:31) And this victory does not depend on this fickle soul but on the Savior of my soul who has promised!

Thank you Lord, for Your strength and protection!

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Who Cares?

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:18 “The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever.”

Eduardo Diez Viñuela
CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This is the beautiful Rio Cares, a river in Northern Spain. It is known in that region because of the spectacular canyon it forms. All along this 34 mile river is a walking path. And kayakers enjoy descending this river during the summers. It is also known for the quality of salmon in its waters. The Cares river can be said to “care” as it delights the eyes, as well as provides recreation, sustenance and peaceful respite.

Today’s verse describe another place where we find care, the Lord’s care. The blameless are those who because of forgiveness, enjoy a restored relationship with their Creator through Christ. It is the Lord’s care that insures that in times of disaster the believer does not wither (verse 19). But like the disciples in the storm-tossed boat, we can wonder if God really does care (Mark 4:38). Or like Martha, we can feel overwhelmed with work and accuse Jesus of not caring (Luke 10:40).

The Lord invites me to put the weight of all my cares on Him because He does care for me (I Peter 5:7). Whether it be physical, emotional, social or spiritual needs, He is big enough to care and provide for each one. He does not withhold any good thing from those who belong to Him (Psalm 84:11). He knows what is truly good for me and what is not! Rather than just a few hurried minutes, I need to spend my day in the Lord’s care. It is in trusting Him that I can avoid those feelings of being overwhelmed.

Lord, I give You all my cares today.

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Our Bald Eagle

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:5 “who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

The majestic Bald Eagle has been our National Bird since being placed on our official national seal in 1782 by congress. As we were still embroiled in war with England until the following year, this bird was a fitting choice, looking strong and fierce! In fact, the eagle has been used as a symbol of strength in many different countries throughout the centuries. It was even used by the Roman Legions as their standard.

Today’s verse is a call to praise the Lord for all of His benefits. David then lists several, ending with this amazing declaration. God satisfies our desires so that even our youth is renewed like the eagle’s!  Rather than constantly flapping our wings, we ride that thermal air current, soaring in His power. To be like the eagle means gaining new heights and flying long distances with minimal effort. Regardless of our age, renewal gives new impetus and energy! Satisfaction with what God gives allows us to experience new strength!

Looking to the Lord to take care of each desire is an exercise in renewal. No longer is there an energy drain fussing about what I do not have or pining away for what I wish I had. I am freed from discontent when I hand over my desires to Him. He knows what I really want. He knows what it is I truly need. He sees what complications can come from some of my wants. He only gives to me what is good. I want to relinquish every desire to Him and not be dragged down from the heights where I can be soaring! Satisfaction with Him is energizing!

Thank you Lord, for the renewal You offer me today.