Devotions By Jan


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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.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018)


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Resetting the Anchor

Scripture for Today: II Peter 3:17 “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” 

Anchored
Photo by Matthew Matheson at https://www.flickr.com/photos/blueprincearchitectural/17323371366

This rusty relic of an anchor sits above the rocky shore of Cape Breton. If anchors could talk I am sure there would be interesting stories to tell. There is quite a procedure to follow when setting an anchor. The first consideration among others is the depth of the water. But even when all steps are meticulously followed, there are times when an anchor will need to be reset. If wind, currents or tide changes cause the boat to swing over the anchor, then the anchor may have to be reset.

Today’s verse warns the believer that there is a possibility of being carried from our secure position by the wrong thinking of the lawless. These scoffers will argue that they do not see the promise of the Lord’s coming as everything continues as it always has (verse 3-4). We are to be on our guard against such arguments as God will always be true to His Word. Reminding ourselves of the veracity of His promises keeps us anchored securely in place.

If I ever feel I am drifting away, then I need to “reset my anchor” by returning to His promises. This hope in His Word is an anchor for the soul, keeping me firm and secure (Heb. 6:19). It is reminders of His faithfulness found there that keep me faithful to Him! Those fickle winds of change and popular thinking will then not move me. The constant currents of the next new thing will not budge me from the secure position He provides.

Thank you Lord, for being my anchor.


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The Pledge

Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.”

by clotho 98 at https://www.flickr.com/photos/clotho98/4948369338

The gesture pictured on this magazine cover is a common one in North America among scouts. Before a girl or boy can become a scout a pledge must be voiced. “On my honor I promise to do my best….” Following are three praiseworthy statements regarding duty, helpfulness and obedience. The principles written in the scout’s honor pledge are lofty and difficult to consistently follow. It is interesting to have the disclaimer as part of the pledge…”to do my best.” There is resolve and commitment but a recognition as well that one cannot perfectly fulfill this pledge.

Today’s verse is a wonderful assurance that everything God says is right and true. He is faithful to His Word and there is no need for any disclaimer! He never says, “I will try to do my best,” or “I will do the best I can.” He is powerful enough to make all His words become a reality. If He says something will happen, then it will. We never have to wonder whether He will go back on His Word. We never have to wonder if what He says is right. His purpose statements are not just good intentions but unshakeable truth.

I can and do build my life on His Word, being that it is rock solid truth. He will always perfectly fulfill His pledge to me. His Word is not only faithful and true but powerful beyond comprehension! After all, it was by His Word that the heavens were made! (verse 6) In a world where words are cheap and promises are broken, how amazing it is to be able to count on everything He says! And what He says is so good and loving.

Thank you Lord for the certainty that everything You say is right and true!


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Swaddled Babies

Scripture for Today: Psalm 94:18a-19 “Your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

What an unusual orchid! At a certain stage of opening, this flower looks a lot like a baby wrapped in swaddling cloth! The Swaddled Babies orchid is found in the Andes region around Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuela. It is also referred to as Tulip Orchid and Baby in the Cradle. Perhaps growing this orchid would have a calming effect. I know swaddling did with our second grandson. From flailing arms and distress to instant calm, swaddling brought immediate relief to his anxiety.

Today’s verse speaks of God’s consolation in the face of great anxiety. The psalmist felt that his foot was slipping and he was about to fall (verse 18). His anxiety was a direct result of wicked men and he acknowledged God’s help (verse 17). He felt supported and held up by God’s unfailing love. It was this consolation that turned his anxiety into joy. Like the swaddling, the psalmist was wrapped up and supported in God’s faithful love.

I may not have the same kind of enemies, but I often feel anxiety as the pace of life is so rapid I can feel unstable. I need to feel the arms of the Lord wrapped tightly around me, loving and supporting me. When I feel His love to that extent, then I can calm down and even feel joy! Whatever changes I am experiencing or am likely to experience, I can have joyful confidence in God’s swaddling comfort. His love and presence is the consolation I so desperately need. Like a swaddled baby, I can stop fussing!

Thank you Lord, for consoling me.


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Do You Smell Lemons?

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 27:9 “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.”

We have all heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” For the Crested Auklet seabird in Alaskan waters, the smell of lemons is a good thing! This gregarious bird does not attract a mate with its noisy honking, barking or whistling. It attracts a mate by secreting a strong citrus smell during breeding season! The scent is so strong that it is noticeable some distance away from the bird colonies.

Today’s verse acknowledges the joy that can come from a good pleasing scent. This proverb likens that pleasing smell to the pleasantness of hearing good advice from a true friend. Heartfelt advice is advice that is sincere and disinterested, not looking for personal advantage. Giving advice to a friend puts one squarely in a place of obligation and caring. There is no agenda nor are there hurt feelings if the advice is not taken. Heartfelt advice is motivated by simply wanting the best for the other. Asked for or not, advice from the heart shows thoughtful concern.

Quite frankly, I am not always open to advice, heartfelt or otherwise. There are plenty of times that I think I know better. And sometimes I do. But when a suggestion comes from someone’s heart, sincere and earnest in the spirit of friendship, I am more likely to consider it. That offered advice usually shows true friendship and a willingness to get involved. And when I do the same for a friend and it is well received, the friendship grows stronger. That give and take brings joy and we both smell good!

Thank you Lord, for the counsel of true friends.