Devotions By Jan

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The Big “C”

Scripture for Today: Psalm 112:7 “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.”

Tears flow as I write.  In just one short week my list of friends having to battle cancer has grown by two.  There are already too many on that list.  In this image, a woman remains calm and serene receiving the news from her oncologist.  I do not know her or her story but I am amazed at the thought that a diagnosis of cancer could be received without panic and tears.

Today’s verse is one of my life verses.  I wear it on a custom pendant.  It helps me to face an unknown future with confidence.  This psalm of David’s is in the context of warfare.  The “they” are the righteous or those in right standing with God.  The righteous will not be shaken and God honors them for their trust in Him.  Even in the darkest of times, light dawns on those who belong to Him. (verse 4)  There is no fear of bad news because hearts can remain steadfast and sure, trusting in God’s power and goodness.

The Lord wants me to live confidently, sure of His control in every situation.  If I ever hear the “C” word for myself, I know that in the end I am victorious!  His plans are good because He is good.  I may never understand the “why” behind pain and suffering, but I can always cling to His love and goodness.  “C” may stand for cancer, but it can also stand for “Confidence.”

Lord, keep my heart steadfast and confident in You.


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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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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.


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Scripture fro Today: I Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can bear it.”

Having visited the pottery  factories in Poland has given me a true appreciation for their products.  It was fascinating to see each artist bent over their work, hand painting or stamping their pieces with intense concentration.  Each piece is signed by the artist as well as stamped with the Polish word for “unique.”  It is true that each piece is unique.  But all the pottery went through the same process of being fired in the kiln.

Today’s verse recognizes that each believer faces the same kinds of trials and tests.  The details may vary.  The timing and even the intensity may differ.  But there is a commonality to all of the trials God allows us to face.  They are never intended to weaken us but to strengthen our faith.  In each trial we see God’s hand and His faithfulness.  And we have His promise that it will never be more than we can bear.

What I am facing is never unique.  Somewhere, someone in the world has faced nearly the same thing.  Knowing that helps me to not feel so alone.  Not only can I draw strength from the stories of others, but I can be encouraged knowing what Christ faced.  He experienced every kind of temptation and yet did not sin. (Heb. 4:15)  And because He Himself suffered when tempted, He is there to help (Heb. 2:18)  He Himself is my “way out.”  Depending on His strength and help makes all the difference.

Thank you Lord, that I do not need to do this alone.

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First Responders

Scripture for Today: James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

The term, “first responder” was coined by the media during the 9/11 attacks as a verbal short cut.  So many different agencies and ranks were involved in rescue on that day that the term proved very useful.  But the downside is having no clarity on which services were in charge on the scene.  The life-sustaining aid they give are important enough to be reported with more detail about who they are!  The training and help they give as a  “first response” saves lives.

Today’s verse talks about a response to all kinds of trials and difficulties that does not usually come first!  Believers are to look at their problems not as a punishment, a curse or bad luck.  The one belonging to the Lord is to consider or regard each trial as something positive.  There can be joy when we can see past the problem to the perseverance that is being produced in us.  The testing of our faith comes through the hard times, especially those that we “fall into” unexpectedly.

Of course, joy is not my first response to tragedy.  But after long careful consideration, it can be.  It is usually well after that negative experience that I can see how God used it in my life.  I can esteem something as a joy when I see my faith become stronger as a result.  Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Heb. 12:2).  I want to see the joy that is set before me as well and so be able to endure with perseverance whatever He allows.

Lord, help me see the joy ahead!


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Sound Wave Tattoos

Scripture for Today: Jude 21 “keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”

How amazing that an image tattooed on a body can be translated into sound!  The idea is to wear on your skin a snippet of your favorite music or a recorded message from a loved one.  With an app one can read it and play it anytime by scanning that unique sound wave image.  A young woman recently had her dead grandmother’s last voice message tattooed on her chest.  She will forever have her grandmother’s voice over her heart!  How sweet to be able to access that message of love anytime and anywhere.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to keep one’s self in God’s love.  His love does not change but our perceptions sure can!  When He brings us into eternal life there will never again be the smallest whisper of doubt that He loves us.  But today, rather than needing a voice tattoo, we can hear and be reassured of His love through His Word.  Psalm 143:8 say that the morning brings us “word of Your unfailing love.”  But not only then.  He reassures our hearts all day long!

Surprisingly, it is not in the difficult times that I doubt His love.  I am most prone to forget or question His love when I am not in His Word, actively listening.  God’s Word is His love letter to me.  It is full of His declarations of love.  He uses that written word to reassure my heart and build me up.  His voice is the one I need to be listening for and not all the other negative ones in my head.

Lord, remind me and keep me in Your love today!

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Walking Backwards?

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 38:17 “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In Your love You kept me from the pit of destruction; You have put all my sins behind Your back.”

Nothing stops a person so completely in their tracks than a muscle cramp!  The pain, though temporary, can be so intense and feels like it will last forever!  That involuntary contraction in the calf is incredibly strong and the only relief seems to be in massaging and stretching.  However, some have found that walking backwards is a good way to relieve the pain.

Our suffering may stop us in our tracks.  Like King Hezekiah, sometimes all we can do is turn our head to the wall and cry.  Today’s verse was written by King Hezekiah after his illness and recovery.  He acknowledges that there was benefit in his suffering.  He learned humility (verse 15) as a result of the “anguish of his soul.”  He understood that the Lord acted out of love and not malice towards him.  That suffering was used to save him from destruction.

Suffering in any form can shake my faith to its core.  When I do not see the outcome I want, the suffering can well transform itself into an anguish of the soul.  It is too easy for me to doubt God’s love and wonder if He really cares.  But God always acts out of love for His own.  He works that suffering into a benefit that is of eternal value although I may not always see it.   The ultimate suffering would be to spend eternity without Him.  I can never really doubt His love because He spared me that suffering when He forgave my sins.

Thank you Lord, for sparing me from the worse kind of suffering!