Devotions By Jan

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The Hills Are Alive!

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 49:13 “Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones.”

Such a well-known scene!  Julie Andrews sings, “The Hills Are Alive,” in the movie, The Sound of Music, filmed in the Alps surrounding Salzburg, Austria.  We had the privilege of seeing many of the movie locations around the city of Salzburg, but nothing compared to the majestic peaks of those Alps!  It seems incongruous to call them “hills” in the song.  But according to the lyrics, they are alive “with the sound of music, with songs they have sung for a thousand years.”

There is reason for the heavens to shout, for the earth to rejoice and for the mountains to burst into song.  Today’s verse gives the reason; the comfort and the compassion the Lord gives to His hurting people.  He is not unmoved by our pain.  He does not ignore our cries.  He hears us in the night when we smother our tears.  He sees when the heart is hurting and we want to give up.  He offers His comfort and compassion and it is unlike any other.

He is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (II Cor. 1:3).  He uses His Word to reassure my heart.  He uses the care and concern of friends and family.  He uses the lyrics of a long-forgotten song in the most unlikely moment to bring me a measure of peace.  His compassion never fails me.  His comfort and compassion are renewed every morning when I wake up to a new day (Lamentations 3:22-23).

What a wonderful reason for those mountains to burst into song!  May today be a day when I can shout, rejoice and sing because He cares for me!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Under Armour Brand

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

The Under Armour brand name was more a result of trial and error in the search for trademark approval than anything else.  The founder of the company stumbled on the name through an off-hand comment from his brother.  But the name makes sense as the first products making this business successful were the undershirts made of material that wicked away moisture from the skin.

Today’s verse describes an armor that protects us from something much more important than a little sweat.  This armor cannot possibly be hidden under our clothes as we are told to stand firm and ready for attack.  Not only is it to be visible to others but easily accessible when needed.  This is spiritual armor for our struggle against what we cannot see (vs. 12).  It helps us to stand against the devil’s schemes (vs.11).  With it in place we are strong, not in ourselves but in His mighty power (vs 10).  We as believers never need to fear any evil day as He has given us the ultimate victory in Christ Jesus (I Cor. 15:57).

What an encouragement to know that I am not without defense!  Against the Father of lies I am on the side of Truth.  I can stand firm in His righteousness against the accusations of the enemy.  My faith protects my heart from wavering and doubt.  My salvation is secure because of Him.  God’s Word will defeat the enemy every time.  And He has even given me the privilege of brokering peace through the Gospel!

Thank you Lord, that sin will not win and evil will not prevail!!

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The Earthworm

Scripture for Today: Psalm 22:6 “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.”

Earthworms are disgusting even without being this huge!  But this one is small compared to the one discovered in South Africa at twenty-two feet!  There are 2,700 different kinds of this slimy creature but their role in nature is amazing.   They till and aerate the soil, making it more fertile.  They have no lungs, breathing through their moist skin.  There is no love lost for the worm on my part, but they have love to spare having no fewer than five hearts!  And of course, fish love the taste of a fat worm!

Today’s verse sees King David in a pity party.  He feels as lowly as the worm, scorned, and despised by the very people he serves.  He is insulted and mocked and the people shook their heads at him.  Like Christ would later experience on the cross, David felt abandoned and forsaken by God.  But the pity party is short-lived as David turns his troubling thoughts into a plea for strength, deliverance and rescue (verses 19-21).  David begins this psalm feeling like a worm but then realizes that God has not despised or scorned him (verse 24).

I remember singing as a child the Worm Song; “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me.  Guess I’ll go eat worms…”  I have not felt sorry enough for myself to resort to eating worms, but I can relate to what David was feeling.  When I feel misunderstood or ill treated, I can easily fall into that unhappy “poor me” state.  How gracious the Lord is to care and lift my head (Ps. 3:3).  His love for me is from everlasting to everlasting (Ps. 103:17) and remembering that changes everything!

Thank you Lord, that Your love lifts me up!

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Hospital Gown

Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:9 “All my longings lie open before You, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from You.”

Is there anything more humiliating than wearing that infamous hospital gown?  I feel for this little pooch looking so forlorn.  I would have used a picture of a human patient, but this is a family-friendly blog!  Modesty goes out the window in a doctor’s examining room.  But at least there is a hospital gown.  Often in French doctors’ examining rooms nothing is offered to cover up!  One feels so open and exposed, and the indignity one feels is intensified when not feeling well.

Today’s verse tells us that nothing is hidden from the Lord.  David understands that there is not a longing or heart-felt sigh that is hidden from Him.  He sees our innermost being, knowing even our words before we speak them (Psalm 139:4).  He has searched us and known us even from the time we were in our mother’s womb.  Even at that early stage, our frame was not hidden from Him (Psalm 139:15).

Does His knowledge of me frighten me or make me uncomfortable?  To have every motive of my heart open to the Lord can be a disturbing thought.  There is no hiding behind lofty prayers or religious traditions.  He knows exactly what I am thinking and feeling.  But as His child, this intimate knowledge is a real comfort.  He understands the fumbling prayer that finds no words.  He hears the anguished cry of my heart for lost family and friends.  He knows the sadness I feel with that deep sigh.  And every unfulfilled longing that hides out in a corner of my heart is open to Him.  Oh yes.  He is my comfort because He knows and understands.

Thank you Lord, that You know me like no other and love me anyway!

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In His Hands

Scripture for Today: Scripture for Today:  John 10:28-29  “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them from My Father’s hand.”

What a beautiful picture of love, care and protection for the most vulnerable; a little baby!  Those strong hands cradle and soothe this little one to sleep and that peaceful smile is a trusting one.  There are no disturbing thoughts of approaching waves suddenly coming up from behind to snatch him from those hands.

Today’s verse describe God’s hands as being more powerful than any others.  Although God is spirit (John 4:24) the Bible is full of references to God’s eyes, arms or hands to help us understand Him.  There can be no sudden sneaky move on the part of the enemy that can snatch us of His hand.  Those who belong to Him are held safe and secure in the same hands that formed the universe.  His are the hands that stilled the waters and calmed the seas.  Those hands touch and heal.  And they are scarred with the proof of His love.

I, myself, can not cause Him to let go.  My faith in Him put me there.  His power and love keep me there. They are hands that I can trust and He will not let me go.  My life and all of my tomorrows are in His hands, but more than that my eternity is in His hands!  If life is suddenly cut short, those same hands will gently and lovingly bring me into His very presence.  His hands are beautiful.

Lord, help me to be aware of Your loving hands today.

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Pizza Box

Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I loved this story on the news the other day of a man in New York who was the recipient of an anonymously donated pizza.  Inside the cover were written the words, “Stay strong,” the very words his wife daily said to him while dying of cancer.  He told the pizzeria manager that this simple message “turned his life around” and pulled him out of a deep depression.

Today’s verse is an encouragement from the Lord to Joshua that inspired him be strong.  Joshua had just taken over the enormous task of leading the Israelites after the death of Moses.  Joshua needed this assurance that the Lord’s presence would give him strength and courage.  There is a subtle difference between the words,”stay strong ” and “be strong.”  The first implies that strength is already there in some measure and should continue.  For Joshua at the death of his friend and leader, he had no strength or courage.  Not only was the charge overwhelming, but he must have felt alone and sad with Moses gone.

I absolutely have no strength without the Lord.  Whatever strength I have comes from Him.  Paul recognized this when he said to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power (Eph. 6:10).  I need His strength especially when losing a family member or friend.  I need this same reassurance that He will be with me and give me all the courage and strength to face the future.  Of course there is sadness, but I do not need to feel discouraged.  He is there and will get me through.

Thank you Lord, for the strength You give.

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Giant Jenga!

jenga4Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:24 “though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord is the stay of his hand.”

I would hate to be the one to make this jenga tower fall!  The giant version has been showing up on lawns for different social events but I have never seen one at a wedding.  My grandsons enjoy building the smaller version on the coffee table.  But at their age they are more interested in making it fall as quickly as possible.  Of course, the idea is to dismantle the tower one brick at a time, placing the brick on the top without the tower falling.  It takes a steady hand and an eye for balance.

Today’s verse is a promise that the Lord will establish the steps of the one who belongs to Him.  If there is a fall, it is a controlled one.  It will not be a free-fall, being cast headlong.  The Lord’s hand is involved and He breaks the fall with His hand.  Regardless of how many bricks are pulled out from under us, He is there.

This is a wonderful assurance for me that the Lord is my true support.  I may feel that my stability rests on my work, my plans or my finances, when in fact, none of those are holding me up.  Circumstances change, and sometimes with no warning at all.  Rather than feeling panic I can remain confident.  No bad news can shake me as my heart is steadfast and trusting in Him (Ps. 112:7).  And even if He were to allow me to teeter and fall, His open loving hand is there to soften the landing.  In His unfailing love, He stands me back up, brushes me off and strengthens my faith through the whole ordeal.

Thank you Lord, for holding me up.