Devotions By Jan



Scripture for Today: Psalm 111:4 “He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate.”

Photo by Peter Lee

This week, North Americans remember on Memorial Day those soldiers who have fallen to secure our freedom. We need these special days to remember. Memories fade without them or without a physical memento to remind us. These dog tags hang in the Old North Memorial Garden near the Old North Church in Boston, MA. They commemorate those who have lost their lives in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Today we can identify remains through DNA. Even so, dog tags are still issued. They serve as an important reminder of sacrifice.

And we need important reminders. Today’s verse teaches us one of the many ways the Lord shows us His grace and compassion. He helps us remember. He knows that we are forgetful. We continually need His reminders of the wonders He has done. He brings them to mind at the most opportune time; when we are depressed and our soul is downcast (Ps. 42:6) and when we are on our bed and all is quiet. (Ps. 63:6) We find comfort when we remember His Word. (Ps. 119:52)

My tendency is to forget what I have studied in His Word, what I have seen and experienced of His wonders. Over time, they fade from my heart. (Deut. 4:9) if I am not careful and watch myself closely. It seems to be my default setting. But when I forget, I will need to learn it all over and over again, rather than growing in my faith! I may not have dog tags, but I have His many reminders through His Word and His personal reassurances of His faithfulness in the past!

Thank you Lord, for Your reminders.

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Puffed Up

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 8:1 “Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” (NKJV) Photo by Eugene Kim

The blowfish looks pretty comical when puffed up. In fact one of his names is “pufferfish.” This unusual fish has a very elastic stomach, able to quickly ingest huge amounts of water and air. In doing so they become several times their normal size and so avoid becoming someone’s next meal.This fish gives new meaning to the idea of being puffed up and full of one’s self.

Today’s verse acknowledges that we all have some measure of knowledge. The problem comes with what we do with it. Knowledge in and of itself can puff one up, making one arrogant. However, this same knowledge coupled with love can be a source of encouragement, edifying and building others up. Early believers coming out of idol worship were emboldened to eat meat offered to idols, to do something against their sensibilities by others who had no such qualms. Knowledge needed to be softened with love and patient understanding.

Which is more important; to be proven right or to love? Are the rights of the knowledgeable believer to trump the weaker conscience of another? Or is my being right more important than that relationship? These are questions I have had to ask myself. Quite frankly, there are times when claiming my freedom in Christ is paramount. (I Cor. 10:23) But when I insist, I sacrifice the good of my fellow-believer with that selfish attitude.

Lord, keep me humble and responding with love to others.

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French Citadel

Scripture for Today: Psalm 48:3 “God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress.”

photo credit Frans de Wit

The citadel in this French town can be seen from many different vantage points as it dominates the landscape. Its history there in Bitche (pronounced “beach”) is a long one, having been constructed on the site of an old castle in the early 1600’s. The citadel was destroyed at one point but restored and strengthened in the 1700’s. This fortress has since survived all succeeding wars as much of it is excavated in red sandstone rock, making it bomb-proof. There was something comforting about its strong presence during our stay there.

Today’s verse talks about the citadel of Jerusalem; the city is also referred to as “city of God” and “Mount Zion.” Written by the sons of Korah, this psalm or perhaps song, was written as a celebration of safety and security. The citadel or fortress in and of itself was not being praised. Rather, the fact that God resided there gave the people a sense of security and well-being. It was a physical reminder of God’s special relationship with His people.

I have the same need to look up and be reminded of God’s love, presence and protection. I need to continually “lift my eyes” to the One who sits enthroned in Heaven. (Psalm 123:1) I may not have a literal brick and mortar fortress within my line of vision, but with eyes of faith I can look up. With that changed perspective I see His power rather than my weakness. Problems and obstacles grow smaller as HE looms larger.

Lord, remind me to look up!

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By-the-Wind Sailors

Scripture for Today:Ephesians 4:14 “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”

Photographer: Robin Wilson
CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A few weeks ago on the beaches of California there washed ashore millions of these By-the-Wind Sailors! It looked as if space aliens had invaded our coasts! These blue jellyfish-like creatures belong in the water but were steered off course by the wind. Their small stiff “sail” can catch that wind and wash them up on shore. They drift along and go wherever the wind takes them. But if the tide does not pull them back into the ocean, they will rot away.

Today’s verse describes the immature believer as someone who is tossed back and forth by waves and susceptible to being blown around by the winds of false teaching. By contrast, the mature believer can discern good from evil and will not be taken in by false teachers. (Heb. 5:14) We become mature by being intimately acquainted with the One who calls Himself, “Truth.” (John 14:6) Through His Word we are, “taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.” (Eph. 4:20)

The more I study the truth of God’s Word, the more I can discern something even a little bit off. The false teaching that can so destabilize me will feed my ego, propose shortcuts, appeal to my pride and most of all, deny the deity of Christ! (I John 4:3) The Deceiver would love to slowly and steadily wash me up on shore and take me out of commission. But through staying in His Word, I can remain exactly where God wants me; humble, teachable and following His course for my life!

Lord, keep me in Your truth.


The Lily of the Valley

Scripture for Today:  Psalms 56:8  “You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle.  Are they not in Your book?”

In France, bouquets of lily of the valley are offered to friends on May 1st to wish them luck and happiness. This day (their Labor Day) is called “Fête du Travail” or “Fête du Muguet” meaning lily of the valley. I love their delicacy and sweet smell. Legend has it that these are the tears of Eve as she was banished from the Garden of Eden.

Today’s verse tells us there is a bottle belonging to the Lord that holds our tears. With this beautiful imagery we understand that God knows about every disappointment and every sorrow. The Lord is aware of every misery and every tear drop. King David had plenty of occasions to shed tears. When he wrote this Psalm he was on the run for his life. His enemies were constantly after him.  But he was confident the Lord knew of his circumstances and his feelings. When David cried out, he was reassured that God was with him and for him.

He sees my tears too. Although this is poetic imagery, I like to think of Him saving every drop. It shows me that I am precious to Him. He even sees the unshed tears that stick in my throat. God’s awareness of my circumstances and emotions would be meaningless if He did not also care. But He not only cares, He has the power to do something about it! He consoles like no other.  He comforts. He sees and understands. He reassures me that He is on my side. No other one can dry my tears like He can.

Lord, thank you that one day there will be no more tears.

(Look familiar? This is a re-post from 2019)