Devotions By Jan

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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!


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Québec License Plate

Scripture for Today: Lamentations 3:21-23  “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

This license plate says, “I remember.”  But what is it that we are not supposed to forget?  This saying was coined by Eugène-Etienne Taché having carved it on to the stone entrance to the parliament building in 1883.  Some believe he wanted to keep alive the memory of the heroes in Québec’s history.  Others prefer to think of it as a jab at the British.

Today’s verse tells us to remember.  We are told to call to mind God’s GREAT love, His compassions and His faithfulness.  In doing so we can live with hope.  Although our sins condemn us, we are not consumed in righteous anger.  He has compassion on us and has provided a solution in the sacrifice of His Son.  He continues to show a compassion that never fails and is renewed every morning.  His faithfulness is as big as His love.  This is what we need to remember, especially in the dark times.  And with remembrance comes hope!

It is because of the hard times that I can say with confidence that God is loving, compassionate and faithful.  Somehow, the pressure of hard times improves my memory.  I wish it did not take trials to remember, but it does.  When I look back on the difficulties He has brought me through, I am always reminded of His love and faithfulness to me.  Today I want to call these truths to mind without the stimulus of a trial.

Lord, help me to focus on Your great love, Your compassions and Your faithfulness!

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Fly Casting

Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”

It looks complicated.  I cannot imagine the skill and dexterity it must take to fly cast correctly.  If it were me, I would have that line wrapped around me and everyone else!  Fortunately, there are lessons, classes and YouTube video instruction available.  Among the basic principles is the idea that every casting stroke is a smooth acceleration followed by an abrupt stop.  The better the “stop” the better the transfer of energy and the more efficient the cast.

Today’s verse describes a different kind of cast.  The form is not so important but we do want to get those cares and worries as far away as possible from us!  The Lord invites us to cast all of our care on to Him.  When we do, He will strengthen and sustain us.  Casting all our cares on to Him means an abrupt stop to those worrying thoughts and imaginings.  Leaving them with Him means that we can stand firm in our faith, regardless of the shaky ground.  He will never let the righteous, or those in right standing with Him, be shaken.

What a beautiful promise to claim when it seems like my world is falling apart!  He is there, waiting and willing to takes those cares off my shoulders. It is through prayer that I do the casting (Phil. 4:6).  I do not need to carry them.  Those worries do not have to weigh me down.  He invites me to give them all to Him.  No, He asks me to stop and throw them on Him!  And what sweet relief comes when I do!

Lord, keep me casting every one of my worries and cares on to You



Birthdays in Heaven

Scripture for Today: Luke 15:10 “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Today my Mother celebrates her birthday in Heaven for the first time.  If there are candles on her cake they would number 96!  I am not sure that she is having a party.  I imagine that if everyone there is daily celebrating birthdays, eternal life would be one big continual party!  The cake would be delicious but with no calories.  The gifts would need no exchanging.  And there would be no let-down the following day!  I cannot imagine a cake big enough to hold all the candles as each century is added!

Today’s verse describes a time of rejoicing in Heaven.  It is not for the first birthday but for the second; the spiritual one when one is born again.  There is rejoicing and somehow the angels even get into the act.  When even just one sinner repents and comes to Jesus for salvation, there is celebration and joy!  The noise of it would echo down those streets of gold.  This verse follows the parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep that were found.  Following this verse is the parable of the lost son whose return was celebrated with a party.  In each case there was enthusiastic joy and celebration!

Her joy is complete.  Mine, not so much.  She is enjoying her reward, whatever form it takes.  But I can recapture some of my joy when reminding myself of where she is and what she is experiencing today.  There are no more tears, pain or suffering and she is surrounded with incredible beauty and splendor.  She is enjoying “face-to-face” the Love of her life; her Savior.

Thank you Lord, for what You have prepared for all who love You.


A Squirrel and his Nut

Scripture for Today: Psalm 77:11-12 “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will consider Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds.”

I am not the only one who forgets where I have put things!  The University of Richmond did a study and found that squirrels fail to recover up to 74% of the nuts they bury!  Even so, they do have a strategy.  They do what’s called, “spatial chunking” sorting their nuts by size, type and taste and then burying them in groups.  Even more surprising are the grey squirrels who frequently dig up and then rebury the same nut, a behavior perhaps to refresh their memories!

Today’s verse comes from a psalm of Asaph, King David’s music director.  In his depression he is wondering if God is going to keep His promises.  He wonders if God’s love for him has vanished (verse 8).  He doubts and wonders but then he answers his own questions with these two verses.  He resolves to remember all of what the Lord has done in the past for him and his people.  He replaces his troubling thoughts with memories of God’s miracles and mighty deeds.

I have seen the Lord do so many miracles in my life!  He has provided and proved Himself faithful.  But those memories are so often buried.  I easily forget when I am struggling with a new difficulty.  I need to go back and dig it up to refresh my memory of His faithfulness!  Thoughts of His “mighty deeds” in the past restore my confidence and trust in Him!  Not only my memories do this but the testimony of others too!  He has done it in the past and He will do it again!

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible faithfulness.

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Cows Coming Home

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 63:14 “Like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord. This is how You guided Your people to make for Yourself a glorious name.”

In Bavaria, Germany there is a tradition about bringing the cows home.  After spending the warmer months of the year in the hills and mountains, the cows are brought down to the lower elevations.  They are moved to the plains before the onset of winter.  But this yearly trek is done in style!  The cows wear elaborate headgears made of flowers for the occasion!

Today’s verse pictures God’s leading of His people towards rest as cattle being led to the plains.  In this seasonal change of residence, there will not be so much moving or climbing up and down.  Some days they may not even leave the warmth and shelter of the barn and all their needs will be met.  The Lord knows and cares about the needs of His people.  He sees when they need to slow down.  He knows when they need to rest.  He understands when there needs to be a different season of life.

Rest is an illusive commodity during a busy holiday season.  Rest seems impossible for the student preparing for exams or the mother of young children.  Physically, the idea of rest sometimes needs to be tabled for later.  But what is so amazing about our God is that in the midst of busyness, He can provide rest for our souls!  Our burden does not have to be heavy when we consciously hand it over to Him (Matt. 11:30).  I can find that rest in closeness with the One who is “gentle and humble in heart.”  He will care for my every need.

Help me Lord, to find that soul-rest today!

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My Fingerprint

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14: 10 “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.”

I am amazed at all the  new technology using the human fingerprint for identification!  It only makes sense as each fingerprint is unique.  However, I had some trouble with my new cell phone the other day.  My hands had been in water doing the dishes.  The skin on my index finger was only slightly “pruned” from the water.  But it was enough to confuse the system.  I was “not recognized.”  It occurred to me that with the Lord, this would never happen!  Although there are billions of people in the world, He knows my name.  As my Creator He has made me unique.

Today’s verse hints at our uniqueness.  No other person can quite relate to what we feel.  Our bitterness is unknowable to others.  Our joy is tailor made and cannot be fully appreciated by anyone else.  I often feel how my emotions distance me from others.  That is why God deals with me individually.  He speaks to each heart with full understanding.  The truth I need to hear from Him is the truth He communicates.  My relationship with Him will always be unique to me.  He is that loving and personal!

How wonderful that I am special and unique in His eyes!  His relationship to me is an individual one, tailored to fit my needs and struggles, my background and personality.  When I open His Word, He speaks to the very situation I am living.  He knows my thoughts and emotions better than I do.  No one else can really understand my heart but what a comfort to know that He does!

Thank you Lord, for understanding me like no one else, and still loving me!