Devotions By Jan


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Elvis at the Grand Ole Opry

Scripture for Today:  Romans 5:3-4  “…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope:”

I was surprised to hear about the time Elvis Presley bombed!  We do not often hear of the failures of the greats but only their successes.  A teenage Elvis performed only once at the Opry in 1954.  He vowed never to sing there again.  During that time only country music was featured.  With his rhythm, blues and body gyrations, the reaction of the audience was tepid at best!  The manager advised Elvis to return to his truck driving position in Memphis!  I am so glad he did not listen.

Today’s verse teaches that perseverance can be developed out of hard times and perhaps even failure.  Perseverance is not born out of wishful thinking but out of suffering.  It is the ability to stay the course regardless of the obstacles.  Remaining faithful, keeping that promise or shouldering on with the right choice rather than compromise; it all requires perseverance in the face of hardship.  Out of continuing on, character is built and our hope in eternal reward grows stronger.

I am a wimp when it comes to suffering in any form.  But I know that the Lord does not exempt me from it.  It is so often in the suffering that my faith deepens and my knowledge of His heart grows too.  It is good to know as well that perseverance , character and hope have a fighting chance to develop in me.  But it is all grace.  It is God who is giving me that endurance and encouragement I so need to keep on keeping on (Rom. 15:5).  He is the One who brings positive outcomes out of what can look so hopeless.

Lord, keep me faithful to You no matter what!


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Giant Jenga!

Scripture 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 have been the one to make this jenga tower fall!  The giant version has been showing up for different social events but I have never seen one.  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 build the tower one brick at a time, placing the brick on the top without the tower falling.  It takes an eye for balance and a steady hand.

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.

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


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Cloudy Days

Scripture for Today: Matthew 26:64  “You have said so, Jesus replied.  But I say to all of you: from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Being from southern California, I am not such a fan of clouds.  Little puffy white ones can be pretty if they do not block the sun.  But when they grow grey and menacing and the sun is hidden, my mood is usually affected.  I remember when we lived in Grenoble at the base of the Alps.  We would drive up the mountains on a cloudy grey day and be thrilled to find ourselves above the clouds and in the brilliant sunshine!

Today’s verse tells us that Jesus will one day come with the clouds, so I am starting to change my mind about them! When Jesus ascended into heaven, a cloud received Him and took Him away.  Two angels explained that Christ would return in the same way (Acts 1:9-11).  And one day believers will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (I Thes. 4:17).  One day every eye will see Him coming with the clouds (Rev. 1:7).

So clouds are a good thing as they could possibly be the signal that today is the day of His return!  What a great reminder that He is coming soon!  But regardless of the weather, I want to be ready for His return.  Frankly, I am not always thinking about it.  But expecting His return sure makes a difference to how I live.  I want my life to please Him.  When I see those clouds overhead, I want to say with firm conviction, “Maranatha, the Lord is coming!

Come, Lord Jesus!  Come quickly!

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


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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.


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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!


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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.

 


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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.