Devotions By Jan


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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.

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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!


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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?”

Today in France,  bouquets of lily of the valley are offered to friends 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.  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.


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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!

 

 


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Inside a Whale!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 69:15 “Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me.”

Described as a modern-day Jonah, life for this wildlife photographer looked as if it might be cut short!  Filming a sardine run off the coast of South Africa, the water began to churn and before he knew it, Rainer Schimpf was swallowed up into total darkness.  But unlike the fish that swallowed Jonah for three days and three nights, this Bryde’s whale has an esophagus too small to completely swallow him.  He was spat out and lived to tell the tale!

Today’s verse expresses the sentiments perhaps felt  by this man and certainly by Jonah inside that fish.  But it is a cry for help from David as he was scared and depressed by the continual attacks of his enemies.  What he was experiencing did not last for just a moment or for three days.  What David endured continued for years.  It felt to David as if the depths of his despair would swallow him up.

Today marks the beginning of three long days of total despair as Jesus dies on the cross.  The whole land went dark as the Light of the world hung there for you and me.  But death could not swallow Him up for long.  Instead, “He will swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:8).  These three days until the resurrection represent all the waiting I do.  But I wait with hope for that time when all tears, sadness and death will be swallowed up in victory.  I wait with hope because I will one day be resurrected as well!  He is MY resurrection and MY life!

Help me Lord, to wait with joyful expectation and hope.


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Notre Dame

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 3:15 “If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”

How heartbreaking to see Notre Dame of Paris engulfed in flames!  People in the streets sobbed. sang, and prayed as they watched the 250 feet flames rise in the skies.  This iconic historical landmark meant so much to so many.  It seems inconceivable that something that has solidly stood for almost nine centuries could fall prey to fire.  This image of the cathedral no longer represents reality as the spire has toppled.  The news story is so recent at this writing that the extent of the damage is not yet known.

Today’s verse is an incredible reassurance in the face of this bad news.  The church of the living God does not consist of man-made materials.  The structure is not the church.  Though roofs, walls and spires may fall, the church continues.  Truth continues.  And the universal church is a pillar and buttress of truth.  The pillars on the inside hold up the truth.  The buttress jutting out on the exterior also support truth on the outside.  Jesus said that the gates of hell will never prevail against the church He has built (Matt. 16:18).

God’s Church is where He resides and He has taken up residence in the hearts of believers (I Cor. 6:19).  The church is made up of a believers in the past, present and future.  Together, we are to stand for the truth in a world where the Deceiver is actively at work.  The permanence of a building pales in comparison to the fact that God’s truth will prevail in the end!

Lord, keep me standing for the truth of Your Word.


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Air Bag Fail?

Scripture for Today: Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.”

No, my Mother-in-law’s air bag did not deploy.  Her 1991 car had only frontal air bags in any case and none on the sides.  But we do what we can to protect ourselves in the event of a crash.  We wear our seat belts and obey the rules.  We often depend on those air bags even though there have been recalls and even though there are counterfeits out there that malfunction.  And not every airbag is even supposed to deploy in some circumstances.  But we do try to take every precaution.

Today’s verse tells us that God’s protection belongs to those who love His name.  We can rejoice because He is all-knowing and all-powerful.  Knowing that He is in control means that we can have a light heart and even sing for joy.  His love and protection is always trustworthy as He has a plan for what He allows to happen.

I wish belonging to the Lord meant that I or my loved ones are never touched by evil, sickness or accident.  We live in a fallen world and it is not Paradise!  But God’s Word reassures me that He is in control.  The pain and suffering He allows is always used for His higher purposes.  None of it is “bad luck” or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I am fragile.  Life is fragile.  But I belong to the God of the universe and that calms me down.  He has already taken care of my eternity.  I can trust Him for every detail of this life.

Thank you Lord, that Your loving kindness protects me.