Devotions By Jan

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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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Hot House Orchid

Scripture for Today: II Peter 3:18 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”

This gorgeous flower needs pampering! When transplanting the orchid out of its tropical habitat, it will need special conditions to grow and flourish. The artificially heated greenhouse will provide an environment that will make this delicate plant happy and stable. In that hot house will be other vulnerable plants not hardy enough to grow under natural conditions. The phrase, “hot house flower” also describes a person who is fragile and vulnerable.

Today’s verse talks about what is needed for the believer to grow in his faith: grace and knowledge. There is not a Christ-follower alive that does not need these special conditions to grow. Being exposed to the harsh world-environment can choke out what God wants to produce in us. His grace or unmerited favor and the knowledge of Himself is His hot house. His grace is sufficient when we are weak (II Cor. 12:9). And the power to thrive comes through our knowledge of him (II Peter 1:3).

I forget so often. My independent and prideful spirit makes me feel that I am doing just fine on my own. That takes all the glory for myself when it rightfully belongs to Him. And before long, my attitude starts to show in shriveled leaves and droopy flowers. It is clear to me that my faith is stunted when I totally lose it at the first sign of difficulty. But when I can respond with dependence on His grace and a recognition of His goodness and love, then I can not only survive, but thrive. It is the Lord that keeps me from being fragile and vulnerable.

Thank you Lord, for the growth that comes from You!


Poking Holes

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 11:10 “He (Abraham) was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

There was a problem. We had been living with it for awhile and finally decided to do something about it. The “something” meant poking a hole in the foundation. It was the only way to fix the shortcuts that were taken in the building of our house 46 years ago. After repairs below, there was no question but that we had to go that extra step. The foundation needed work to be stable once again. It would be unthinkable to live with a gaping hole in a foundation.

Today’s verse describes the faith of Abraham, looking forward to the Celestial City with sure foundations. He does not have to worry about how those foundations were built as the Builder and Architect is God Himself. Abraham lived as a nomad, in tents and on the move. (verse 9) He lived like a stranger in a foreign country. The idea of building his life on an unmovable foundation must have been especially attractive.

The foundation this world offers is never a sure one. Its changing “truths” make it full of holes and unstable. Trying to build my life on it is like trying to nail jello to a wall! If there are no absolute truths there can be nothing sure and certain on which to build my life. But my foundation is God’s unchanging and life-giving Word. Nothing and no one can poke holes in His Word, His character and His plans. Despite the uncertainties of this life, I can look forward with certainty to the fulfillment of every promise. My Builder and Architect is even now preparing a place for me (John 14:2).

Lord, keep me looking forward to what You have prepared for me!

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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, firm and steadfast.”

Jello leaves me feeling ambivalent. On the one hand it is very versatile. Anything and everything can go in it and it can take on so many forms and shapes. On the other hand, it is slimy and unnaturally colored. It wobbles and slithers and is usually too sweet for me. The French as a rule do not want to even try it, so perhaps they have influenced me over the years. Too many times, I have unmolded a jello only to have it not be firm enough to hold the shape!

Today’s verse promises strength, firmness and steadfastness. It is a promise directed to those who are called by God’s grace and belong to Him. This promise is always needed but especially so when going through a time of suffering. We are not firm and steadfast in the middle of trial. We are like that jello, all wobbly and ready to slide off the plate. No one stands strong when their legs feel like jello!

The suffering I go through is usually unexplainable. The only thing I know with certainty is that it is unavoidable.  My comfort is that God uses it. The pain is never wasted. It is through suffering that I draw closer to the Lord and learn to love Him more. Sometimes my suffering is used to encourage others. But in any case, it is to be counted a privilege to suffer for Him as He suffered so much for me! And what comfort to know that He personally restores me and renews my strength! 

Thank You Lord, for personally standing me back up again.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)

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Scripture for Today: Isaiah 26:4 “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal.”

This seaweed looks beautiful waving its fronds in the water. I normally see and smell seaweed washed up on the shore, giving off a terrible odor. But when growing underwater it can be beautiful and mesmerizing in its movement.  It is cultivated for lots of different uses, including medicine, filtration, fertilizer and food. Two important elements are essential for seaweed to grow; seawater and sunlight. But there is something else needed for most species of seaweed to thrive, and that is a rock. They have what is called a “holdfast” which is a basal disk providing attachment to a rock!

Today’s verse praises God for being that faithful and eternal rock. The believer needs the Living Water to grow (John 4:10) as well as the Light of the World (John 8:12). But first we need to be holding fast to our Rock. His stability gives us the best chance to grow when turbulent water tries to dislodge us. Being our Rock means He is our refuge and shelter. Holding fast to Him gives strength to grow and thrive, regardless of the circumstances. 

The Lord Himself is my stability in a world that seems to be in constant motion and change. Because He is my eternal Rock, I know He will always be there for me. He does not move and I know where to find Him. I find Him in the pages of the “love letter” He wrote for me. I find Him in the sweet reassurances He whispers to my heart. His words are eternal and I can trust Him completely! Despite sometimes constant changes around me, He keeps me stable and growing.

Thank you Lord, for being my eternal and trustworthy Rock.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)