Devotions By Jan


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Are We There Yet??

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 4:17 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

“Are we there yet?” must be the most often-asked question while going through this tunnel!  The Laerdal tunnel in Norway is the longest land tunnel in the world at 24.5 kilometers.  Because of concern for the well-being of the travelers, advice was sought from industrial psychology consultants.  To keep people positive, three large caverns were built every six kilometers with blue lighting to suggest daylight and yellow lighting on walls to represent sunrise!  But what would keep me positive is the sign with the length posted!

Today’s verse encourages positivity as our troubles are said to be “momentary.”  Regardless of the duration, every difficulty in life is temporary when compared to eternity!   Pain is momentary but glory is eternal.  And the glory experienced in Heaven grows in direct relation to our afflictions here on earth.  The hard times experienced by the believer are not only momentary but are working for him.  What awaits us far outweighs any sadness and pain on earth.

To answer the question, no, we are not there yet.  But we will be.  Ten thousand years from now I very much doubt that I will give this pandemic a second thought.  All the trials and difficult times I experience are but for a moment  They are a temporary condition.  And as hard as they feel, it is a pain that is never wasted.  My sorrow is not for nothing.  This truth keeps me from “losing heart” (verse 16).  Remembering this keeps me looking forward to what is unseen and eternal.

Thank you Lord, that life’s trials can seem small when compared to You and eternity!


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Bleeding Heart Flower

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.”

One can immediately see how this flower got its name!  The larger petals resemble a heart and the bottom of it even looks like blood dripping down!  These perennial flowers have been growing wild for centuries in Asia.  But it has only been since the 1800’s that the Bleeding Heart has been cultivated in the Western world.  It is not only used as a symbol for love but also for the compassion we are to feel for those that suffer.

Today’s verse describes our God as one of comfort and a Father of compassion.  He knows and feels with us our sadness and pain.  His heart bleeds for the brokenness of our world.  But He did not stop there.  He did something about it by paying for the sin that allowed this brokenness to enter our lives.  He knows when our souls are “downcast within us” even when no one else is aware.  His comfort is a balm to the sorrow that our suffering brings.

He sees when I am overwhelmed with fear and worry.  He cares when I am feeling too sad to get up from bed   Better than physical comfort, He gives me the amazing comfort of His love and goodness.  He knows better than anyone else how to lift my head and my spirits.  He brings to mind a song lyric.  He uses a long-forgotten verse.   And so often, He gives comfort through the encouragement of other believers.  His heart bleeds for me and He asks me to have that same heart for the suffering of others.

Thank you Lord, for Your precious comfort and help me share it with others.


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Contact Tracing

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:2-3 “You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.”

Technology is now being developed to trace our physical contact with those who may be infected with the COVID virus.  The idea is to control the spread through identifying those with whom an infected person has had close contact.  The app, due to come out in mid-May, would be in partnership with public health authorities.  And the challenge will be to do this in a privacy-preserving way!

Today’s verse can either be viewed with anxiety or comfort!  The Lord is aware of our every movement.  He knows when we leave the house.  He knows when we retire for the night.  Whether we stand or sit He is mindful.  How incredible that the God of the universe is familiar with all our habits or any change of schedule!  Not only is He aware of our movements, He knows exactly what we are thinking!  This is a knowledge too wonderful to even grasp (verse 6) and more extensive than any technology could achieve!

Does this knowledge make me uncomfortable?  Because I belong to Him and am under no condemnation (Rom. 8:1) I can answer, “no.”  The fact that the Lord is aware of my every movement and my every thought gives me comfort.  He uses this knowledge to love me and care for me.  Because of His love and grace, I do not have to hide from this knowledge.  His intimate knowledge of me means I can live without fear.  I can move confidently through my day, knowing He is there.  Rather than get nervous over what could happen, I can trust Him.

Thank you Lord, that You know.


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C.O.V.I.D.

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

“This too shall pass,” is a phrase I often heard from my Mother and I find myself repeating it during these unique times of self-isolation.  I am hopeful that one day we will look back saying, “remember when?”  We have lost loved ones and our hearts break for those experiencing financial hardship as well.  My husband invented his own acronym for Covid to help me gain some perspective, “Christ Offers Victory In Death.”

Today’s verse talks about the life Christ offers to those who are alive but at the same time dead in their sins.  Being dead, there is nothing we can do to save ourselves.  It is because of His love and mercy that He made us alive with Him.  The tomb could not hold Him nor will death have the final say for those to whom He has given spiritual life!  Death will no longer have the victory (I Cor. 15:55-57).  Believers are no longer dead in their sins but alive with Him both now and forever!

What a difference this makes for me!  The potential for death in any situation is devoid of “sting.”  My life continues with Him whether my body does or not.  I have been made alive and that life never ends.  I can face an unknown future with confidence.  I can live without anxiety and fear knowing my life is forever in His powerful loving hands.  I do not relish the idea of dying, who does?  But I do know that my true life is hid with Him (Col.3:3).

Thank you Lord, for victory even in death!

 


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The Easter Lily

Scripture for Today: Matthew 12:40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Growing up, my Mother’s Easter table was often graced with this lily.  This beautiful flower is also called, “white-robed apostles of hope.”  There is symbolism in the white color representing the purity of Christ.  The trumpet shape of the flower brings to mind the trumpeting of the message of resurrection.  But what impressed me was that all this beauty could come from a dirty unremarkable bulb.  For at least three years its bulb stays underground in the dark before bursting forth to flower.

Today’s verse comes from a discussion Jesus had with the Pharisees asking for a sign.  Here, Jesus predicts the three days He will spend in the heart of the earth following His death.  Those three days were not unlike what Jonah experienced.  It was during those three days that despair was so keenly felt by all who had hoped in Christ.  It looked as if Satan had won.  All who had looked to Jesus to be their deliverer must have felt betrayed and defeated.

What a comfort to know that the darkest days I could ever experience are only a “momentary affliction” compared to the glorious future He has prepared for me! (II Cor. 4:17) Whether it is three dark days, three years or thirty, it is a time of waiting until I burst forth, flowering for an eternity because of His resurrection!  How amazing it is that because of His victory over death,  I can wait patiently with hope.  His resurrection changes me giving me new life, eternal life and life that can be abundant!

Lord, because of You I have hope!

 

 


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“Yoke’s on You!”

Scripture for today: Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Today is April Fools Day and for some the joke or “yoke” is on them!  I wonder if during these days of social distancing there will be the same level of frivolity!  I hope so.  We could all use a laugh!  France has its own version of this day.  They observe this silliness by taping a paper fish on someone’s back without their knowledge.

Today’s verse mentions a yoke that is no laughing matter.  This is a yoke of slavery from which Christ has set us free.  The believers in the churches in Galatia were being influenced to put back on a heavy yoke.  That yoke was the belief that they could be justified by following the Law (verse 4).  Christ came to fulfill the Law and free us from this heavy impossible burden.  We have exchanged this yoke for an easy one, shared with Jesus.  His burden is light because He carries it with us and gives rest to our souls (Matt. 11:28-30).

How wonderful to know that He cares about what is burdening me!  Whatever is weighing me down does not come from Him.  He does not want me to go through life feeling that I must always do more to be accepted by Him.  That would be an unbearable weight!  He has done it all.  He is sufficient.  And the commands He has given me are not burdensome (I John 5:3).  It is in keeping them that I show my love for Him.  This love relationship is what gives me rest.  Despite the unease of risk and of the unknown, I can rest yoked to Him.

Thank you Lord, for Your reassurance.


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United States of Anxiety

Scripture for Today: Psalm 94:19 “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” (NASB)

“We are all in this together.”  It is a phrase I repeatedly hear on social media.  As a society we are divided on so many fronts; political, religious, racial and economical.  But one thing seems to united us and unfortunately it is anxiety.  It may be that our anxiety is only an occasional thought.  Or it may be an underlying state of mind that colors our whole day.  For some, this anxiety is showing itself in disturbing dreams (ahem….) or interrupted sleep.  In any case, it is a natural state of affairs when we feel we are not in control and we do not know what is next!

Today’s verse gives an answer to our anxious thoughts that seem to multiply within us.  The soul can be delighted with His words of comfort and consolation even in the middle of such uncertain times.  We can move from anxiety to delight when we turn to His Word and His promises.  His lovingkindness holds us up (verse 18).  The Lord will not abandon or forsake His people who are His inheritance (verse 14).  Whatever the future holds, He is there and He is faithful.

I am a great one for asking myself, “what if?” or “what then?”  My questions come from a desire to know and control.  But there is no way of knowing or controlling.  And I do not really need these answers to experience delight in the deepest part of me.  Rather I need the One who does know and control.  He reassures my heart that He has a plan for my future and He is good.  I can let go of anxious thoughts when I spend time with Him.

Lord, thank you for relieving my anxiety.