Devotions By Jan

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In a Pickle

Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong and steadfast.”

It is such an odd expression to speak of one’s self as “in a pickle.”  The word “pickle” came from the Dutch word “pekel” meaning something piquant.  William Shakespeare used this expression in 1610 for his play, The Tempest, when one character asked another “How camest thou in this pickle?” meaning “How did you get so drunk?”  Being in a pickle today can mean being in any sort of disagreeable situation.  That difficulty is likened to becoming a pickle by soaking in brine and vinegar.

Today’s verse goes further than just a disagreeable situation!  The early Christians faced real persecution because of their faith and many were even martyred.  Peter reminds them of God’s favor in calling them and of their future reward.  He also points out that the suffering is temporary and only for a little while.  How precious that God Himself will personally restore them and make them strong and firm after that suffering is over!

There is a closeness that seems to come uniquely through suffering.  I have heard so many share their gratitude for having cancer because of their special bond and closeness to the Savior through it!  In some mysterious way, God moves in close to those who are suffering.  His presence is felt like never before as He affirms and reassures of His love and plan.  There is something about sharing His suffering that brings a close relationship even closer.  He has been there for me at some of the lowest times of my life and I am thankful.

Lord, help me feel You there in the hard times.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018)


Swaddled Babies

Scripture for Today: Psalm 94:18a-19 “Your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

What an unusual orchid! At a certain stage of opening, this flower looks a lot like a baby wrapped in swaddling cloth! The Swaddled Babies orchid is found in the Andes region around Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuela. It is also referred to as Tulip Orchid and Baby in the Cradle. Perhaps growing this orchid would have a calming effect. I know swaddling did with our second grandson. From flailing arms and distress to instant calm, swaddling brought immediate relief to his anxiety.

Today’s verse speaks of God’s consolation in the face of great anxiety. The psalmist felt that his foot was slipping and he was about to fall (verse 18). His anxiety was a direct result of wicked men and he acknowledged God’s help (verse 17). He felt supported and held up by God’s unfailing love. It was this consolation that turned his anxiety into joy. Like the swaddling, the psalmist was wrapped up and supported in God’s faithful love.

I may not have the same kind of enemies, but I often feel anxiety as the pace of life is so rapid I can feel unstable. I need to feel the arms of the Lord wrapped tightly around me, loving and supporting me. When I feel His love to that extent, then I can calm down and even feel joy! Whatever changes I am experiencing or am likely to experience, I can have joyful confidence in God’s swaddling comfort. His love and presence is the consolation I so desperately need. Like a swaddled baby, I can stop fussing!

Thank you Lord, for consoling me.

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Sweet Pea

Scripture for Today: John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

This unassuming flower was offered as a thank you to our hostess. Their strong fragrance of honey, orange and jasmine are as pleasing as their colorful delicate petals. The poet, Keats, is thought to be the first to use the name, Sweet Pea. It was very popular in the 1800’s and it has come to symbolize many lofty ideas including; chastity, strength, truth, and gratitude. But what surprised me most was its association with goodbyes.

In today’s verse, Jesus is preparing His disciples for the coming goodbye. He tells them that He is leaving to go to the Father. But He does not want their hearts to be troubled with this goodbye (verse 1). He reassures them that the Holy Spirit will be coming to live within them (verse 17) and they will not be left as orphans (verse 18). And this goodbye is only temporary as He will be coming back and there will never again be a separation.

What an incredible comfort this is! My relationship with the Lover of my soul need never be interrupted. With His Spirit He is always present. But for those human relationships, goodbyes can be so painful. In moving so often I have had to experience many. And of course, the most painful are the ones that are forever. But one day, there will be no more goodbyes. That is one word that will have no place in the heavenly vocabulary! There will be some incredible reunions as well as new friendships. They will be so much sweeter without that pain of separation.

Thank you Lord, that in Your home there will be no more goodbyes!

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The Right to Complain

Scripture for Today: Psalm 142:2 “I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.

I cannot remember the last time I saw a sign for a “Complaint Department.” This sign is from a restaurant in Ireland and obviously they are not really interested in hearing your complaint! Making this department as inaccessible as possible seems smart! Who wants to hear a bunch of complainers? Inviting a disgruntled customer to express his frustration seems like inviting trouble. And to be the person handling the complaints would require enormous patience. More often than not, the complaint department has moved to social media in the form of poor reviews expressed there.

Today’s verse was written by David while hiding out from Saul in a cave. He had plenty of reason to complain. Saul was intent on killing David without cause. His complaints were voiced out loud and he cried out for God to deliver him. David did not try to sugar coat his emotions. He complained of his troubles. But like so many of David’s psalms, he ends it on a positive note with confidence that God will work in his favor.

I take heart when I read this psalm. The Lord knows exactly what I am thinking and feeling. I might as well voice it and get it all out in front of Him. Nothing shocks the Lord and He can take it. Unlike the person handling customer complaints, His patience with me is infinite! Pouring out my complaint to others does not give me the same relief that the Lord does. Not only does He patiently listen, He has all the power to do something about it. And like David, voicing my complaints and troubles to Him puts me back on my knees in prayer. Before long, He reassures me that He is on it. 

Thank you Lord, for patiently listening.

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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.”

Do you live you life with Moxie? Well, someone thinks you should as he points his finger at you! Moxie is the brand name of a bitter syrup created in 1876 called, “Moxie Nerve Food.” It was purported to prevent paralysis, softening of the brain (?) nervousness and insomnia! Later, soda water was added to make one of the earliest carbonated drinks in America. The term “moxie” has come to mean the ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage.

Today’s verse comes at a time of transition and change. Joshua was given the daunting task of leading the Israelites. He was charged with taking the territory that God had promised Moses and the people. There would be many times of fear and discouragement but God reassures Joshua of His presence. He promises to never leave or forsake Joshua (verse 5). “Be strong and courageous,” is repeated three times in four verses! Because of God’s promises, Joshua could face the future with spirit and courage!

I have this same promise and reassurance! Especially in times of transition and change, I need to be reminded that God is there. I can face my future with that moxie of spirit and courage because God has told me that He will never leave me or forsake me (Heb. 13:5). He is with me wherever I go and there is no place where He is not (Psalm 139:7-10)! His presence is my strength. His presence is my courage. His presence is my encouragement. Without Him, I would be a bowl of quivering “what if’s.”

Thank you Lord, for the courage and strength You give me!