Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

Looking Up

Scripture for Today: Acts 1:11 “‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven.'”

Do you see what I see in these clouds?  A friend took this (thanks Kristen) and she did not even have to suggest what was there.  Facing to the left of the screen is what looks like a huge gorilla head.  She calls it a monkey blowing kisses!  Perhaps one has to use one’s imagination.  But I love looking up in the clouds and seeing different shapes and what they suggest.

Today’s verse was addressed to the disciples by two angels at the occasion of Christ returning to Heaven.  They had just seen Him taken up into the sky and then hidden by a cloud (verse 9).  These angels reassured them that He would be coming back, and in the same manner.  Somehow at Christ’s return, clouds will be involved.  Jesus Himself foretold that He would come on the “clouds of Heaven” (Matt. 26:64).  And one day, every eye will see Him coming with the clouds (Rev. 1:7).

Whether I see strange clouds or not, I want to keep looking up.  It is then that I am reminded of His faithfulness which reaches to the skies (Ps. 36:5).  That huge expanse of sky is His creation and nothing is too hard for Him.  He always keeps His word and I can trust Him.  What He says He will do, He will do.  When I see those clouds overhead, I want to say with firm conviction, “Maranatha,” the Lord is coming!  He has promised.

Lord, keep me looking up today.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Magic Mushrooms

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:6 “The mind governed by the flesh is death – but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

These mushrooms look innocent enough.  But the psilocybin in them can alter the mind just as LSD does.  A recent book by Michael Pollan explores the testing of psychedelics as a treatment for depression, fear and anxiety, especially as a result of a terminal cancer diagnosis.  He even went so far as to experiment on himself!  His conclusion was that these psychedelics appear to help with what he calls a “psycho-spiritual distress.”  He also believes that there really is nothing else for people in that situation.

Today’s verse talks about two states of mind.  One mind is governed by the flesh and one is governed by the Spirit of God.  The mind that is governed or controlled by the flesh is the mind without God and without the peace of God.  There is not only physical death but spiritual death in store.  In contrast, the mind governed by the Spirit is life both here and eternally after death because there is peace with God through His Son, Jesus.

I cannot speak personally about facing death.  And I do not want to minimize what that suffering may be like.  But it is often in the sobering moments facing one’s own mortality that there is a last chance for establishing peace with God through the forgiveness offered by His Son.  To take away that last opportunity by altering one’s state of mind seems cruel.  I know there is peace and assurance facing death.  I have seen it.  And when it is my turn, I am confident because He has promised a perfect peace for a mind that is steadfast, trusting in Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Thank you Lord, that I can live and die without fear.


Leave a comment

Smallest Chameleon

Scripture for Today: James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

This little guy is thought to be the smallest chameleon ever discovered.  From the tip of his tail to his nose he measures just one inch!  He is found in Madagascar and this species is threatened with de-forestation.  He is too cute to disappear with his weird rotating eyes and curly tail.  He, like his bigger counterparts, can change his color pattern when under stress.

Today’s verse explains that not only is everything good in our lives a gift from our Heavenly Father, but He is a God that does not change.  With the Lord there is no changing or shifting shadows.  He is the same powerful miraculous God yesterday, today and forever!  (Hebrews 8:13)   He does not improve with age as He is perfect.  He does not change His plans for us as He already knows the end from the beginning.  We however, are constantly in a state of change.  Our circumstances change, our thinking changes and our abilities change with age.  Emotions change with the weather!

It is a comfort to know He does not change.  I feel an enormous sense of security in this assurance.  I do not serve a capricious God.  He will always be true to His word and to who He is.  I do not have to worry if He will be faithful or not, holy or not, just or not.  I can ALWAYS count on Him.  The fact that there is no shadow of turning with Him means that He is worthy of my trust and confidence tomorrow as well as today.

Thank you Lord, for being who You are and for always being true to Yourself!


Leave a comment

GQ Magazine’s Recommendation

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 4:12  “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart.”

The Gentlemen’s Quarterly, a fashion magazine for men, just published an article putting the Bible on a list of 21 classics not worth reading!  The Bible was called foolish, repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, and ill-intentioned.  The novelist, Jesse Ball, conceded that there were some interesting parts but that, “overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced.”

Somehow, someone has missed the point!  Today’s verse describes the Bible as having a very piercing point as it is sharper than a two-edged sword.  Unlike any other book in history, the Bible is living and active as it is the very Word of God.  It is unique in that man did not produce it.  Although human writers were used, it is “God-breathed” and Spirit-inspired.  No other book can make that claim.  Because the Bible judges our deepest desires and thoughts, it often comes under attack.

Dividing soul from spirit and joints from marrow is an image that makes me shudder.  And yet, it is the kind of action needed to get through to my deceitful heart (Jer.17:9).  The Word exposes what to me is comfortably hidden.  I do not want to be uncomfortable reading His Word.  But so many times it is necessary to feel His conviction and be shown the truth about myself.  Thankfully, His Word does not leave me bruised and bleeding.  His Word also comforts, heals and encourages.  By reading His Word I can enjoy a restored relationship with the Divine Author.

Create in me a clean heart, O God……even when it hurts!

 


1 Comment

Bless You!

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” 

Our cat, Tiger, would sometimes have a sneezing fit and would always look very surprised when it happened.  I never felt obligated to say the words, “bless you.”  After all, I figured it was usually the cat making everyone else sneeze.  There are many ideas on the origins of blessing people after a sneeze.  Some believed the sneeze had to do with evil spirits leaving the body.  Others felt it was the soul momentarily escaping the body.  My favorite is the belief that the heart temporarily stopped during a sneeze!

Today’s verse declares that the source of every spiritual blessing is Jesus Christ.  He has blessed every believer with unmerited favor and goodness.  The blessings He gives are not tangible but spiritual.  And because that is true, these blessings are eternal.  They include His choosing us, adopting us, redeeming us and forgiving us (verses 4-7).  He has blessed us by sealing us with His Holy Spirit and has promised us an inheritance (verse 13-14).  These blessings are not seen with our physical eyes but they are more real than things that are!

I need to be reminded of His blessings, especially when I see non-believers seemingly prosper around me.  Like David, I can feel discouraged and tempted to be envious (Psalm 37:1-2).  But their success is temporary and my inheritance is eternal!  Spiritual blessings are the ones that matter.  And the blessing of being His very own outweighs anything else.  I can live this life with faith and love because they spring from the hope stored up for me in Heaven! (Col. 1:5)  How blessed I am!

Lord, open the eyes of my heart to see Your blessings today..


Leave a comment

House of Heads

Scripture for Today: Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

This is just one head on the facade of the “House of Heads” in Colmar, France.  He is surrounded by 105 other heads as neighbors.  This historical monument sits in the heart of the town’s walking section.  Built in 1609 for the mayor, this German renaissance-styled building has served several purposes over the years, including housing the city’s Wine Exchange.  It is now a high end hotel and restaurant.  But passing by all those heads has always given me the creeps!

Today’s verse is a prophecy concerning a particular head that will be crushed.  It is perhaps the first and biggest “spoiler” to the centuries-long story of man.  Yes, evil has had a temporary victory in messing with mankind, but Satan is only able to inflict a strike on the heel.  That pain that Jesus would later endure on the cross is minimal when compared to the crushed head, or fatal blow that the Deceiver will experience.  Satan’s destiny is the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10) and the final victory belongs to the Lord!

How gracious God is to give us the good news at the same time as the curse!  He wasted no time in announcing His promise of a Savior.  And from the very beginning He has established His plan of victory.  When I see evil seemingly gaining the upper hand, this reassures me.  His purposes will prevail.  He has promised.  I can have full confidence in His control and justice, regardless of my circumstances.  I am one whom He has redeemed and made His.  Whatever may happen, I am on the winning side!

Lord, keep me encouraged by looking toward Your final victory.


Leave a comment

Elaborate Headstones

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 4:13 “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”

If you want ideas for an elaborate headstone, many can be seen at Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vermont.  This city is considered the “Granite Capital of the World” supplying from its quarries most of the granite used for headstones across America.  Being that it is so plentiful, every headstone, plain or simple, is made of granite.  Perhaps the granite would last much longer than the memories of the one buried there.  Those memories may be the only hope held by some that grieve.

Today’s verse reminds the believer that death is not the end.  There was concern that those who had died before the Lord’s return would somehow miss out on the big event.  Paul reassures the church that the “dead in Christ” would rise first.  Those still living would join them in the air and so be forever with the Lord.  There is a future and a hope and death does not interfere with His program!  We are to encourage one another with this truth (verse 18).

Hope changes everything!  It has certainly changed how I grieve the death of my parents and of my friends.  It is not just my memories that keep them alive.  Though their bodies have given out, their souls continue.  I grieve with the hope and sure conviction that God keeps His promises.  It is painful to be separated.  But one day there will be a grand joyful reunion!  My hope is not built on a life well-lived.  My hope is built on Christ and His righteousness!

Thank you Lord, that You are my Hope and death is not the end!