Devotions By Jan


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Jumping for Joy?

Scripture for Today: John 21:7b “…As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped in the water.”

I used to think that when fish jumped out of the water they were jumping for joy!  I have learned otherwise and yet still prefer to think it could be true.  Fish may jump to feed on flying insects, to propel themselves upstream for spawning, to escape predators or to rid themselves of sea-lice.  We jump at the chance.  We jump down one’s throat or jump ship.  We may jump on the bandwagon or in our family, we jump in the shower!  But the best jumping is when we jump for joy!

Today’s verse has someone jumping into the water, and it certainly seems as if there were joy involved!  Not surprisingly, the disciples did not immediately recognize the resurrected Jesus after a fruitless night of fishing.  But when the Lord  miraculously filled their net, they knew who it was.  Peter could not wait to get to Jesus.  Rather than row the boat with the disciples that last one hundred yards to shore, he jumped in!

Would that I would jump at the chance to meet with the Lord with that much enthusiasm!  Can I say with David that He fills me with joy in His presence? (Psalm 16:11)  To be honest, not always.  But when I recognize His miraculous hand in my life, I do jump up and run to Him with a grateful heart.  It may not be a net full of fish, but His miracles are everywhere in my life; the miracle of His love and grace, His forgiveness and protection, and too many more to list!

Lord, may I jump at the chance to meet You today!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018)


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A Smiling Angel

Scripture for Today:  Luke 2:10-11 “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'”

Does it seem bizarre to think of an angel as smiling?  Unlike all the other angel sculptures on the facade of the cathedral in Rheims, France, this one does!  She has stood there smiling since the 13th century.  She continues to smile even though she was bombed in World War I and needed restoration.  Despite destruction and death, she remains a symbol of victory and joy.

Today’s verse was spoken by an angel to the shepherds in the field, announcing the birth of a Savior.  He announces this good news as “great joy.”  How could he not smile in delivering this message?  This is a joy that will be for all the people, in fact for all the world.  The carol, Joy To The World, captures clearly the reason for our joy; the story of our redemption.  This carol, attributed to Isaac Watts in 1719, is exuberant and victorious, ending with Christ’s triumphal return.

We sing Joy to the World as a Christmas carol but it was not written for that purpose as it is a song that celebrates the end of the story; Christ’s victory over sin and death.  And He is not only a Savior, but He is my personal Savior.  Despite the turmoil of this world around me, there is hope for a brighter tomorrow because of what He has done!  He gives me a deep joy, being confident of His plan.  One day He will “rule the world with truth and grace.”

Thank you Lord, for Your first coming, and for the one to come!


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Finding Life

Scripture for Today: Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.”

This is exactly the kind of behavior we would see from Tiger when thunder would clap over the house and he would run for cover! The instinct in animals for self-preservation is a strong one. And we as humans are not much different. It is normal to want to protect our lives from natural disasters, serious illness or accident. We do not look to put ourselves in harm’s way. We take the necessary precautions. We take the safest route. We live our lives so as to avoid disaster.

The truth in today’s verse seems contrary to human nature. Of course we are going to try to save our lives when we feel that they are threatened. But at what cost? Peter had just rebuked Jesus, trying to discourage Him from going to Jerusalem. Suffering and death awaited Jesus there and He knew it. Yet He turned toward what would be certain death. Unlike Peter, Jesus had in mind the concerns of God and not merely human concerns (verse 23). It was because Jesus walked in obedience to the Father that He could set aside the restraints of self-preservation.

Finding true rewarding and fulfilling life only happens when I am willing to risk my own safety and comfort. Protecting my life at any cost makes me lose it! Christ bought my life at an incredible cost to Himself, not so that I can hide under the covers and wait for danger to pass. The goal of my life is not to preserve it but to spend it in service to Him. Following Him means picking up my cross daily in obedience (verse 24) despite personal risk.

Lord, may You find me faithful.


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Hill of Crosses

Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:15 “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

This Hill of Crosses is found in Lithuania and makes quite a statement! It is made up of acres and acres of huge crosses and then a multitude of smaller ones, crammed together to take up every inch of space! Notes and signs are intermixed with wishes and prayers everywhere. What is so incredible is that this hill of crosses has been repeatedly plowed over by the Russians, the Germans, and several times by the Soviets! And yet it keeps coming back as a form of protest and perhaps something more!

In today’s verse there is a cross that triumphs over every enemy and every foe. No regime can ever diminish the power of the cross of Jesus! What looked like failure to men was actually victory over the power of sin and death! Whether that power is earthly or in the heavenly places, the cross of Christ has sealed the fate of every spiritual force of evil. (Eph. 6:12) The cross of Christ polarizes the world into two groups; those that see the cross as foolishness or those that see it as the power of God. (I Cor. 1:18)

His cross is not just a pretty symbol to wear around my neck. It is to His cross that I cling for salvation and hope! If it were not for His cross I would still be lost in my sin and weighed down with guilt. What Christ did there to pay my debt takes my breath away! How could victory over death and sin be seen as foolish by anyone? And yet, Satan continues his lies and deceit, trying and succeeding in making the believer look foolish.

Lord, may I never be ashamed of Your cross.


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Devils Marbles

Scripture for Today: Matthew 7:25 “The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house – yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

Can’t lose these marbles! They are hard to miss, rising up from the desert floor of Northern Australia. The Devils Marbles have come to symbolize the Australian outback but in fact, for the Aboriginal people it is sacred ground being the site for “dream stories.” Hundreds of these rounded granite rocks, some as big as twenty feet, have survived centuries of erosion. However, some have split completely in half!

Today’s verse uses the image of a rock as a firm foundation for building our lives. The one using rock is the one who not only hears the words of Jesus but puts them into practice. (vs.24) Hearing the words of Jesus without obedience is like building a house on sand. In either scenario the winds and rain will come to beat on the house. But only one house will survive those relentless storms of life. The crowds were amazed at what they heard from Jesus. (vs. 28) But the point Jesus was making was not about just hearing!

Like never before we have multiple opportunities to hear the words of Jesus: sermons, books, articles, songs, live streaming, podcasts and personal Bible reading. I can choose to hear His words twenty-four/seven if I were so inclined. But were I to stop there, I would be building on sand. The point is not how familiar I am with His words, how many verses I can quote or how much I study. The point is how much I put in

 

to practice. How gracious His promise is that He will keep my life from falling apart when I obey!

Thank you Lord, for being my Rock!