Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

Sharpened Knife

Scripture for Today: Psalm 64:3 “They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows.”

Are your knives so sharp that you can slice a ripe tomato thin enough to read through it?  If not, according to the experts your knives need sharpening!  I do not think my knives have ever been that sharp even when new!  But for the serious cook, kitchen knives should be sharpened at least twice a year and much more often if used every day.  The best method is thought to be the water stone and there is quite the procedure to follow.   This was all news to me.  I guess I am not a “serious cook.”

Today’s verse describes a different kind of sharpening; sharpening the tongue to do the most damage.  The injury the tongue can inflict is as serious as that of a sword or deadly arrow.  The wicked conspire and encourage one another in their plans to hurt and destroy.  The evildoers ask each other, “Who will see?”  The answer is that God will turn their own tongues against them (verse 8) and bring them to ruin.

God sees.  God hears.  So often, the hurt and devastation brought on by another’s words is a private manner.  It is done one-on-one with no one else around.  Perhaps it is done on the telephone and for your ears only.  The words are sharp and penetrating.  Those closest to us are often the very ones who inflict this kind of pain.  They know where I am vulnerable and where to strike.  But I do not have to respond in kind.  Yes it hurts, but I can take refuge in Him ( verse 10) and I can trust His vengeance and justice!  God promises to turn their tongues back on themselves.

Help me Lord, to trust Your justice!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


1 Comment

Bitter Melon

Scripture for Today: Psalm 71:20 “Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter, You will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth You will again bring me up.”

Bitter melon looks nothing like a melon!  It looks more like a cucumber and it is not only its taste which can discourage a try but also its bumpy warty skin!  This very bitter fruit is grown in tropical areas of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and South America.  It is also known as balsam pear, bitter squash, karela and goya.  The bitter melon is believed to aid digestion and improve overall health.  It is even believed to help in treating diabetes and cancer, although the research is not conclusive.

Today’s verse talks about many bitter troubles.  David has had his share with his enemies seeking to kill him.  He has also lived with some very unhappy family relationships.  Yet he remains confident that his troubles will be short-lived.  He looks to the future with hope that God, though allowing the bitter trouble, will restore and lift him up once again.  David can say this as he has already seen the Lord do just that for him.  This psalm is full of testimony to God’s wonderful faithful care.

Although I enjoy God’s blessings, I am not spared “many and bitter troubles.”  And Peter tells me not to think it strange to experience fiery trials (I Peter 4:12).  But like David, I do not want to allow something difficult and even bitter to make me bitter!  He is there through all of it and is ready to restore and lift me up from the depths of disappointment, dashed hopes and depression!  In fact, He is the only One able to do it!

Thank you Lord, that You are my hope and comfort!


1 Comment

Grumpy Cat

Scripture for Today: Psalm 68:3 “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”

The viral star known as “Grumpy Cat” died this past week at age seven.  She had been quite the sensation as the subject of memes, appearing in commercials, doing sponsorships and appearances, even starring in a movie.  Her claim to fame?  Being a sour puss.  That permanent scowl earned her owners up to 100 million!  That angry and sad face was actually due to an underbite and feline dwarfism.  I am glad to know that in fact she could have  been happy.

Today’s verse talks about being glad, rejoicing, and being happy and joyful.  This enviable emotional state is a direct result of realizing what God does for us.  He blows away our enemies like smoke (vs. 1).  He is a Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows.  He even cares for the lonely, placing them in families (vs. 5-6).  He is continually showing favor to those who belong to Him.  He daily bears us up and He is our salvation (vs.19).

Perhaps the words “happy” and “glad” do not always characterize a believer.  I have my share of depression and sadness in the face of longterm difficulties.  Whether it be financial woes, health concerns, or the loss of relationship, there are plenty of reasons to have a grumpy face.  But in His presence, it can all change.  “Before God” I can be glad and rejoice at what He has done for me.  Nothing can change His love and the hope He gives.  When sadness threatens, I want to run to Him as in His presence is “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).  In His presence I am reminded of all He has done for me.  He turns it around.

Thank you Lord, that You chase away my sadness.

 


2 Comments

Powerful Arms

Scripture for Today:  Jeremiah 32:17  “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for You.”

This statue in Colmar, France was sculpted by Bartholdi, the same artist who created the Statue of Liberty.  It is called, “Les Grands Soutiens du Monde” or “The Great Supports of the World.”  There are three figures representing three lofty ideas: two arms of justice, one arm of work and one arm of patriotism.  They are depicted walking and supporting the world with their powerful arms.  I appreciate the artistic sentiment behind this sculpture.  But unfortunately, sometimes those arms get a bit weary and drop.

Today’s verse reminds us of God’s incredible power and control. How reassuring it is to know that planet earth has much stronger arms holding it up!  The powerful arm of the Sovereign Lord brought about the creation of the heavens and the earth.  What is more, His arm is outstretched still!  Creation around me attests to His amazing power.  The night skies above overwhelm me with His majesty.  Nothing is too hard for Him.  All He needs to do is to stretch out His arm.

I forget that when I get overwhelmed with my little world.  Yet, He is able and willing to again stretch out His arm in my life.  All things are possible with God (Mark 10:27).  For Him there are no limits of time or space or any other constraint.  He established the laws of nature and can just as easily put them aside for His purpose.  Those arms not only create but they hold me up when I feel weary.  Those are the arms that tenderly carry me when I just can’t anymore.

Thank you Lord, that I can lean on and trust Your powerful arms.


Leave a comment

The Amen

Scripture for Today: II Timothy 4:18 “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever . Amen.

How unusual!  A teenage couple from Jacksonville, Florida, were swept out to sea as a riptide pulled them 1.5 miles from shore.  No matter which way they swam they kept getting further and further out!  Exhausted, they floated on their backs, fearing the end was near.  They called out to God for help and shortly after were spotted and rescued by a passing boat.  Ironically, the boat was named, “Amen.”

We normally tack on an “amen” at the end of prayers without much thought to its meaning.  But in Scripture the “so be it” is used as a statement of confirmation.  In today’s verse, it follows a burst of praise from Paul.  He glorifies and praises God for His deliverance from evil and His promise to eventually bring him safely into His kingdom.  Paul had been beaten, shipwrecked and persecuted.  Although his life was not free of hardship, Paul remained confident that his future was secure and that nothing could touch his soul.  Evil would never win.

I have the same confidence and my whole life can be an “amen.”  Evil will not win in my life either as He has saved me completely (Heb.7:25).  I have been rescued from the power of evil and no attack can touch my soul.  Nothing can snatch me from His hand (John 10:29) and nothing can separate me from His love (Romans 8:38-39).  He has promised and what He says is true and sure.  No matter how many promises He has made they are all “Yes” in Christ (II Cor. 1:20) so I can continually say, “Amen.”

Thank you Lord, for the confidence You give!


Leave a comment

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 deception and every sorrow. The Lord is aware of every wandering 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.  Apparently, real men DO cry.  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.


1 Comment

Make a Name for Yourself

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:5b “I will never blot out the name of that person from the Book of Life but will acknowledge that name before my Father and His angels.” 

This REO Speed Wagon from 1941 was the inspiration for a family name!  My friend’s husband was named after Uncle Reo, the 13th child in his family.  The father was not allowed to take his newborn home until he had a name.  So, looking out the hospital window he saw his neighbor go by in a REO truck and took the name from its side!  (REO actually stands for Ransom E. Olds, founder of Oldsmobile).  This name continues in the family as the daughter’s name!

Today’s verse tells us that unlike names on earth that may eventually die out, there will one day be names that will never be blotted out.  These are names that remain in the Book of Life.  The ones who are victorious are the ones whose names will remain.  Not only that, Jesus will acknowledged those names before God the Father and the angels.  The victorious ones are those who will be dressed in white, like those from the Church of Sardis who remained faithful.  Those who have placed their faith in Jesus are the victorious ones! (I John 5:4)  God gives us this victory through His Son (I Cor. 15:57).

My name is only in the Book of Life because of Him.  Because of His unmerited favor towards me, He has written it there.  Nothing and no one has the authority to blot out my name except Him and He has promised to never blot it out.  Nothing will ever separate me from His undeserved love (Rom. 8:37-39).  My name is written in permanent ink because of His victory over sin and death!

Thank you Lord, for the victory I have in You!