Devotions By Jan


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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!

 

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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..


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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.


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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

 


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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.