Devotions By Jan


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A Season

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

The vineyards of Alsace, France are breathtaking in the autumn! Rich golden color covers the hillsides and when the sun shines just right, the leaves look to be on fire! But it will not be long before these leaves turn brown, shrivel and fall to the ground, exposing gnarled bare branches. I miss being surrounded by these vineyards as they mark the passing of time. There was a sense of order and comfort knowing that each season will make its appearance in due time.

Today’s verse reminds us of the passing of time and seasons. The earth is locked into a cycle of time that has no equivalent above the heavens. The seasons are unique to us. Heaven and eternity are not bound or limited by time. And each season that God ordains in our lives has a God-given purpose for His glory. There is a time for birth or death, mourning or dancing, speaking or remaining silent, among many other activities “under heaven.” (verse 2-8) What is always encouraging is that God is the Eternal Rock of Ages, unaffected by time or seasons.

Seasons change. I miss living in the vineyards as now I am in a different season of life. But each season, whether negative or positive, is temporary. And even though I enjoy my current season, the next one may bring some challenging times. But there is coming a “season” that will be eternal and unchanging! In Heaven, I will be forever in His presence where there is joy and eternal pleasures. (Psalm 16:11) There will be no sin to separate and no end to the unimaginable fulfillment of a life with my Creator!

Lord, keep me focused on that time without end!


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Navy Seal Creed

Scripture for Today: James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

“Forged by Adversity” is one of the creeds of the Navy Seals. This image of the Navy Seal Trident represents what can only be worn by those who have earned it through their arduous training. The US Navy Website has this quote; “I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time.”

Today’s verse talks about adversity in the form of testing and trial. When going through it, one is blessed by God for persevering and not giving up. The Christian life is not exempt from any kind of hardship, although we think we should be! The Lord uses many kinds of tests to forge us into a tool of righteousness that He can use. When we stand firm when rocked by adversity, we do not just get a special trident to wear. The Lord promises a “crown of life” to those who stay true to their love for HIm.

Adversity forges my faith by using fiery trials or ordeals. (I Peter 4:12) I wish my faith grew stronger some other way. But it is in the middle of crisis that I look up and cry for His help. It is when I am too weak that He shows Himself strong. When I come to the end of my own resources, He responds by supplying my needs out of the riches of His glory! He turns my adversity into blessing and more reasons to love Him!

Lord, help me to persevere.

 


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The Cooper Hawk

Scripture for Today: Acts 13:39 “Through Him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.

He looked almost as surprised to see me as I was to see him! This Cooper Hawk or Chicken Hawk watched me on my morning walk from the fence of my neighbor’s yard. I recognized this hawk from a television story I had just seen about one that had inadvertently trapped himself in a huge skating rink in Canada. A team of wildlife rescuers were called in after two days. They spent hours with their nets trying to get the tired, hungry and frightened bird to fly into their nets. He was finally captured and released into the wild.

Today’s verse comes from Paul’s sermon explaining how Jesus was the promised Savior of the Old Testament. He explained the good news that Jesus was resurrected (verse 32-33) and that it is through Him that sins are forgiven. (verse 38) It is this forgiveness that sets us free from the power of every sin to ensnare and imprison. What the law could not do, Jesus accomplished by fulfilling it and setting us free!

Just like that trapped hawk, I could easily live in the confines of rules, regulations, and trappings of self-righteousness. But there is no set of rules that can make me righteous before God. The walls of my own prison are made up of unforgiven sin. Jesus is the only One who can free me. My own feeble attempts at fixing myself can be exhausting. Thankfully, His forgiveness offers true freedom from guilt and condemnation. He has captured me with His sacrificial love and has set me free in the wilds of His incredible grace!

Thank you Lord, for setting me free!


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Wishing Well

Scripture for Today: Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Will a wishing well have mystical powers and grant any wish I speak aloud? That was the prevailing thought centuries ago. The idea in German folklore was that the clean pure water was guarded at its source by spirits who would sometimes take pity on humans. Whatever one spoke aloud as his heart’s desire may just be granted and to insure the outcome, small tokens or coins would be tossed in the water.

Wishing at a well, wishing on a star or making a wish blowing a dandelion head pretty much describe the thinking of those who place their confidence in anyone but Jesus.  It is a poor flimsy substitute for real hope.  Today’s verse describes God as a, “God of hope.” The hope He offers, unlike a wish, will fill the one who trusts in Him with joy and peace. Trusting the God of hope means the believer can overflow with hope by the power of His Spirit within us! Hope for the believer is faith in what is sure. 

My hope is only as good as its object. That makes my hope in Jesus unshakable! I not only have hope, I am overflowing with it as I trust Him.  He promises to fill me with all joy and peace as I live in that hope and trust. My wishes and desires are never as important as the deeper gifts of joy and peace He offers in the face of darkness and despair. Because He is my hope, I can look forward to an unknown future without anxiety.

Thank you Lord, for being my hope.


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School Uniforms

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:2-3 “Be completely humble and gentle, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

One year our children attended a private school where students were to wear uniforms. I was not too sure how I felt about it. Wouldn’t looking all the same discourage individuality? Would the uniqueness of my “exceptional perfect children” not stand out? I did appreciate the ease of choosing outfits in the morning. But what was interesting was to see how these students still managed to distinguish themselves from their fellow classmates by the shoes, the backpacks or the accessories worn.

Today’s verse talks about unity of the Spirit. Our unity comes from one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father. (verse 4-6) What is wonderful about the unity of the Body of Christ is that it is not “uniformity.” Thankfully, our unity does not come from looking alike. There is no one skin color. Our unity does not come from sharing the same roles and gifts in the Church. And our unity does not come from the same social status or the same political preferences.

It is an effort to do what is not natural. The natural thing for me to do is to be prideful about my positions on any issue. My tendency is not to be teachable and humble. It is easier for me to be harsh with criticism rather than gracious to other believers with different convictions. Yet, I am supposed to be showing love, not just to those who agree with me but to those who do not. When I make the effort to keep our unity, non-believers can see the difference the Spirit makes.

Lord, keep us unified. Make me humble, gentle and loving.