Devotions By Jan

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Earth Wobble

Scripture for Today: Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

It has long been thought that the earth’s rotation has been gradually slowing. But in July of this year, there was a slight wobble and that day turned out to be the shortest day on record! In fact, a faster rotation seems to be the trend and if continued may result in a “drop second,” subtracting a full second from our twenty four hour day!

Today’s verse reminds the believer that salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The day is fast approaching and the darkness is nearly over. We are exhorted to wake up as there is an urgency to “do this.” We are to be actively loving (verses 8-10) as well as arming ourselves with light and so putting aside deeds of darkness (verses 12-14). In other words, we are to look like Christ to those around us. Others may be asleep but we are to be awake and sober. (I Thes. 5:6)

The door of opportunity is slowly closing even without dropping a second of a twenty four hour day. Living life carefully and making the most of every opportunity is wise (Eph. 5:15-16). I do get lulled and lazy in using my time for Him. And I do need those wake-up calls. I find that being aware of His presence and unconditional love motivate me to be obedient and used by Him. Keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus does not make me perfect but it does make me aware of the hour!

Lord, wake me up to use this day for You.

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The Pangolin

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 6:20b-21 “…Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.”

Meet the pangolin. Although he looks like a reptile, he is a mammal. And because of those funny looking scales, he is the most poached and trafficked animal. They are made of keratin, the same stuff of hair and nails. But in some Asian countries they are thought to have medicinal properties. Because of what most would consider a false idea, their numbers are declining in their Asian and African habitats and they are at risk of extinction.

Today’s verse tells us to turn away from what is falsely called “knowledge.” If what we are hearing discounts completely God’s existence, then it is “godless.” Ideas opposing the absolute truth of Scripture may sound learned and intelligent, but it is not true knowledge. Those who adopt what opposes Scripture are at risk to leave the faith. But turning away from what pretends to be knowledge is not done in pride. Rather it is done in humility, recognizing that we too can be unduly influenced and leave the faith.

I do not want to “write off” those who hold to false ideas. I turn away so as to not be enticed myself by something that contradicts what God has made clear in His Word. I need to remember that it is the Lord that gives wisdom, from His mouth come knowledge and understanding (Prov. 2:6). True knowledge is knowing and loving the Source of truth (John 14:6). But I need to not only turn a deaf ear to what is false, but live out what I know to be the truth!

Lord, keep me turned away from false knowledge but loving the one who is deceived!

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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.