Devotions By Jan


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Seeing is Believing?

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

While living in Grenoble, France, we would often have foggy socked-in days.  Nestled in the valley with the Alps soaring above, we knew sun was shining on those peaks.  We knew because as often as schedule would allow, we would drive up the mountain to see the sun.  We would look down on that blanket of fog covering everything and revel in the sun’s warmth.  But life awaited below so back down into the fog we would drive, remembering the sun but no longer seeing it.

Today’s verse is a very clear definition of the word, “faith.”  It is confidence in our hope and assurance of what is there even though we cannot see it.  We cannot see with our physical eyes what we can see with our spiritual ones!  Thomas would not believe the Lord had risen until he could actually physically see and touch Him.  But we are in that special group that are blessed for believing without seeing! (John 20:29)

Most of the time my spiritual eyes are seeing His beauty, His power and His grace towards me.  But there are days when my spiritual vision seems clouded.  Just as the fog blurs the landscape, so my view of spiritual truth can seem blurred.  I know He is still there but my perspective has changed.  It usually happens when I neglect His Word.  It is sure to happen when I am not speaking with Him.  And that fog can become quite thick the longer I doubt or ignore Him.  But I am amazed at how quickly that fog can lift when I turn back to Him, His promises and His whispers of love!

Lord, lift that fog today!


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Litter Bug

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 10:35-36 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

What a shame to see trash spoiling this beautiful scene!  I still remember that old slogan, “Every litter bit hurts.”  It was part of the campaign begun in the early 50’s called, “Keep America Beautiful.”  Its aim was to end littering and to beautify our environment.  And they did raise awareness through education, public service advertising, mapping of “litter hotspots” and organized cleanup activities.  Much of these values are seen today in other efforts such as Earth Day and “plogging” or picking up litter while jogging.

Today’s verse tells us about something believers should never throw away; our confidence!  That confidence allows us to persevere in doing what God wants.  The believers addressed had suffered through being thrown in prison and through having property confiscated.  Their treatment was unfair but they were told to stay confident that God would richly reward them for their sacrifice and perseverance.  Those who have thrown away their confidence are those who no longer believe the suffering is worth it.  Abandoning the faith for an easier life, they forgo the reward that would have been theirs.

I can respond in one of two ways to a life-changing crisis.  I can either blame God and run away from Him, or I can run to Him for the comfort and encouragement that only He can give.  My faith and confidence, rather than being thrown away, grows and strengthens when I choose that second response.  I do not know what hard thing may await me.  But I pray that I will never throw away my confidence.

Lord, help me to persevere no matter what!

 


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Bold as a Lion

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 28:1 “The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”

It was in the back of the Edinburgh Castle that my cousin found the origin of our family name, Leonardy, belonging to my maternal grandmother.  It is a very old name originating in Gascogne, France.  The original bearer of this name was thought to be as bold as a lion.  So the name meaning, “lion-bold” was given to this individual.  Although my Grandmother married into this name, she certainly showed courage living to the ripe old age of almost 105!

Today’s verse describes the righteous as being as bold as a lion.  This is in contrast to the wicked whose guilt makes them fearful.  The wicked flee even though they are not being pursued.  Knowing in their heart that they are deserving of punishment, they run.  In contrast are the righteous or those who are in right standing with God.  They are not running and they are not fearful because they are assured of God’s forgiveness.  This position of righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:22).  Being seen as righteous in God’s eyes makes us bold and not fearful of punishment as Christ took on Himself our sins and the wrath they deserve.

My faith does make me bold.  I am not being pursued for my wrongdoing.  And it is not presumption to take Jesus at His Word that I am “righteous.”  It is a gift given through His grace (Eph. 2:8-9).  What confidence and boldness in facing any struggle in life or even in death!  My eternity has been secured by Him.  The question of my guilt has been settled.  That makes me bold to approach His throne for all the mercy and grace I need (Heb. 4:16).

Thank you Lord, for the boldness You make possible!


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Book Signing

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 12:2 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I highly recommend my friends’ book, Strangers Like Angels!  This saga, written by Alec and Jan Forman,  follows the first-hand account of their Land-Rover travels in the 70’s.  Their year-long adventures took them through the Sahara Desert, tropical rainforests in Africa, Europe, then Nepal and Afghanistan.  My book copy is especially valuable as it is signed by the authors!

In today’s verse Jesus is described as an author, the Author of our faith.  He is the One who creates and initiates.  He is the One who makes faith possible.  He is also the perfecter or finisher of our faith, carrying the story through to the very end.  He has written the conclusion and I already know the ending to my story.  It is not shrouded in mystery but revealed in His Word.  It is a triumphal ending where faith becomes sight and I will be with Him forever!

As the Author of my faith, He wrote the introduction.  He planned exactly who I am, the family He wanted me to have, and the way I would come to Him in faith for salvation.  But right now, I am living the unknown part, the chapters in between.  This is the part that can seem so uncertain.  Not only that, I want to tell Him what to write.  But as the Author of my faith, He is also its perfecter and there is no need to edit anything!  I can trust that He knows what He is doing with my life.

Thank you Lord, for authoring my story and my future.


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Deep Water

Scripture for Today: John 4:10 “Jesus answered, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”

Did you know that over 60% of the earth is covered by deep water more than a mile in depth?  How wonderful it would be to scuba dive and enjoy all the varied colors of the coral and of the fish!  Even in the extreme depths far from sunlight there is life found in the cold sweeps and hydrothermal vents.  There is a whole other world when one goes deeper!

Today’s verse is from the story of the woman at the well.  Jesus offers her water that will so satisfy her that she will never thirst again.  The woman’s response is understandable.  She keeps the discussion on a physical rather than spiritual plane.  But if she had known who it was that was speaking to her she would have realized that there was a deeper meaning.  He wanted to satisfy her deeper longings and not only her physical need.

My requests and prayers to the Lord often stay on the physical plane.  It is understandable to ask Him for a physical healing.  He understands when I ask for help with finances or a miracle that would change my circumstances.  But He wants me to go deeper with Him.  He wants me to recognize and ask Him for what I cannot see or touch or measure.  He offers to fill me up with the fulness of Him.  He wants me to ask for His peace, His power and the assurance of His presence.  Filling these deeper needs carry me through all the rest!

Thank you Lord, for giving me what I truly need; more of You.

 


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Sleep Aid

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:24 “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”

There all kinds of methods to help one fall asleep.  The newest of these are videos on YouTube done by a teenage boy!  They are viewed by half a million women who find that his role play of a whispering caring boyfriend is just what is needed to fall asleep!  The idea is to talk you down for the night and tuck you in with soothing words.  Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) explains that tingling static-like sensation that helps to relax and can lead to sleep.

Today’s verse describes a sleep that is sweet.  There is no fear of the ruin that can overtake the wicked (verse 25) as this is the sleep of the one who lives wisely, with sound judgement and discretion (verse 21).  Sleep is just one of the many benefits of wise living.  There are no worries about the consequences of foolish decisions to keep one awake.   And for the one who belongs to the Lord, there is the reassurance that He grants sleep to those He loves (Psalm 127:2).  Sleep can be sweet when we are aware that the Lord is at our side (verse 26).

Sleep can often be an issue for me for a variety of reasons.  Thankfully, the Lord is at my side.  His reassurance of love and care can calm me down and soothe me to sleep better than any sleep aid!  He knows exactly what keeps me awake or what worries me.  He knows when my thoughts are racing for no good reason.  It is often the thought of Him that soothes me as well as my prayers to Him in the middle of the night.

Thank you Lord, for the gift of sweet sleep.

 

 


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Waiting in Line

Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

I have never met a person who enjoys waiting in line.  I know I do not, especially when I constantly check the time or shift position to be more comfortable.  I tell myself I have better things to do.  The time seems to drag, I am bored, frustrated and wishing I had brought something to occupy my mind.   But the wait is bearable when two things are true: the wait will be worth it and something worthwhile can happen during the wait.

In today’s verse David is waiting for the Lord to act on his behalf.  He is surrounded by enemies, the wicked and his foes (verse 2).  David remains confident while he waits because he believes he will again see the goodness of the Lord (verse 15).  To see the goodness of the Lord once more makes the waiting worthwhile.  And something David is doing while waiting is making that wait bearable; he is in the Temple gazing on the beauty of the Lord (verse 4).  That long wait is doable as David finds strength and takes heart in the Lord’s presence.

There are different ways to wait for God to answer my prayer.  I can question, doubt or tap my foot in impatience.  I can wonder if He hears me or if He even cares.   I can give up and stop asking.  Or, like David I can be strong through the wait and take heart.  It is worth the wait when I can be confident of again seeing proof of His goodness.  And the time waiting is never wasted when it is spent in His presence and in gazing on Him.

Lord, may I never doubt Your goodness and Your timing.  Help me wait with confidence!