Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

Encouraging Sign

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

This added homemade sign in Scotland says, “Keep right on to the end of the road.”  These are lyrics from a traditional Scottish song which goes on to say, “though the way be long, let your heart be strong.”  There is good reason to continue on.  This road leads to Kirkton Manor, an historic stone manor built into a wall.  Even the three-acre-country gardens there make the trip well worth the effort!

Today’s verse tells us to encourage each other by reminders of who we are and what is ahead.  In the middle of dark times we are children of the light and of the day (verse 5).  We have the hope of our salvation (verse 8) and we have an incredible future ahead in living together with Him! (verse 10)  It is these truths which encourage us to keep plodding on.  There will be an end to what we are facing.  There will be a destination that makes every heartache and trial worth it.

I do not like having disruptions to my routine or being inconvenienced in any way.  My comfort is way too important to me.  What small trials I face in comparison to those who are imprisoned for their faith!  But I can be encouraged that in the face of any unknown earthly future, I can choose to focus on the heavenly one!  I have no control over the current self quarantine that is being imposed.  But there is an end in sight.  There will be a point where I reach my destination.  And though the way may seem long, it is the Lord who keeps my heart strong!

Lord, encourage me and make me an encouragement to others.

Photo © Jim Barton (cc-by-sa/2.0)


Leave a comment

A Walking Stick Bug

Scripture for Today: Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes….”

My niece is a brave soul to put her hand next to this huge walking stick bug there in Costa Rica!  It is true that they do not bite, but the idea of it crawling over me does not appeal!  There are over three thousand species worldwide and all differ according to their habitat.  Each species has evolved to resemble the plant material in their area.  They escape notice so well that they can hide in plain sight and blend in perfectly.

Today’s verse is a bold statement of Paul’s that is the very opposite of blending in to one’s surroundings.  Paul wants to be detected.  He wants to be noticed and to stand out from the crowd.  And believing in the Gospel of Christ in the midst of a non-believing world will do just that!  But there is no shame in standing out for something so powerful.  There is no shame in being different from others when it can mean the salvation of a soul.  It is worth any discomfort to draw attention to the amazing power of the Gospel!

It is a strong inclination of mine to blend in and belong.  It is uncomfortable for me to draw the eye or incite the comments of others.  Worry over what others think can sometimes nullify my testimony.  But rather than the approval of men, my overriding desire is the approbation of the Lord.  He scorned the shame to hang naked on a cross for me (Heb. 12:2).  How could I possibly be ashamed of a few odd looks or comments?

Lord, may I scorn shame in any form.  Keep me bold with the Truth!

 


Leave a comment

Pickleball Ball

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

Pickleball has become more and more popular, using elements from tennis, badminton  and ping-pong.  But who knew there could be so many choices with the pickleball ball?  There are indoor or outdoor ones.  The weights and colors can be different. But they all have to have  26-40 round holes.  If this ball had no holes, there would be problems in playing the game.  Without the holes the ball would not travel in a true line but would fly upward, downward or sideways.

Today’s verse explains that every believer has been given a gift for the service of others.  More than a natural talent, these spiritual gifts are supernaturally infused with God’s strength (verse 11) and He uses them uniquely for His glory.  The gifts come in various forms and God uses them in different ways.  But like the pickleball ball, we are imperfect and full of holes.  This is no problem for the Lord as He uses even our weaknesses to show His strength (II Cor. 12:9).  What He looks for is our availability and faithfulness.

I keenly feel my imperfections.  Dwelling too much on them can completely block me from any kind of service for Him!  But it is those very “holes” that He uses to point us in the right direction.  Thankfully, I do not need to be perfect before He can use me.  I do not have to have all the answers before I open my mouth.  I do not have to have my life completely together before I can help someone else.  He uses every weakness and covers it with the strength to serve Him!

Thank you Lord, for the privilege of serving You.


Leave a comment

Burnt to a Crisp!

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

We are smiling here but not when we got the news of the fire!  Our two cars were burnt to a crisp as the result of a gang coming through causing trouble.  This form of protest in France is concerning but we never thought we would be a target!  It was surprising but the Lord had a plan in all of it.  He graciously replaced our cars with two that were newer with better mileage.  And He did this through the gifts of His people!  Through this test our faith has grown and become more fireproof!

Today’s verse tells believers not to be surprised at the hard times we suffer.  They are not the exception, but the norm.  We are not exempt from difficulties, although sometimes we think we should be.  The “fiery ordeal” in this verse is not something that is caused by our own wrong choices.  It is an ordeal that comes from living as a believer in an unbelieving world.

It is easy for me to think that I should be shielded from hard times.  But I am to view any suffering for Him as a privilege and a joy! (verse 13).  And the end result of this story is joy at seeing how Jesus used it for His purposes and His glory!  Our faith has been strengthened.  And the evil intent of this gang was turned around to His praise and glory in our lives.  Because of this drama I am less surprised at opposition and more confident that God will use it!

Lord, keep my faith strong in whatever I face.

 

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

Through the Ages

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 15:54 “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true; ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.'”

This image from the Imagerie d’Epinal, France hangs on our wall.  For me it brings back memories of our tour of the ancient time-honored printing process.  This image was done by François George in 1826 and depicts the stages of life.  Each stair step corresponds to an age of life from birth to death.  The first fifty climb the steps but after that it is all downhill!  Under the stairway is the supernatural showing both eternal destinations.

Today’s verse reminds us that the bodies we have are perishable and mortal.  But they will not always be so!  One day, believers will be clothed with another kind of body, one that will never perish and will be immortal!  Death that for now seems to have the upper hand, will one day be forever defeated.  Death will be swallowed up in victory! (Isaiah 25:8)  The sting of death will no longer be felt (verse 55).  It is for this reason that we can stand firm in our faith and give ourselves fully to God (verse 58).

It does not matter where I am on that staircase.  Whatever age I am and whatever my body is doing in its slow downward progression, I have hope of an amazing future!  He has promised me an eternity with Him and the best is still ahead of me.  Because of what Christ did on the cross, death and evil do not win.  No despair can erase this truth.  No tragedy nullifies my hope.  In Christ alone, there is “No guilt in life, no fear in death; This is the power of Christ in me.”

Thank you Lord, for Your promise!


2 Comments

Chinese New Year

Scripture for Today: Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Happy Chinese New Year!  Being that my husband is half Chinese, we enjoy getting together with family and delighting in all the special foods.  The Chinese Lunar calendar sets the beginning of months based on the new moon.  According to the Chinese zodiac of twelve animals, this is the year of the rat.  Because it is associated with the hour before and after midnight, the rat in particular stands for new beginnings.

Today’s verse is my favorite one when thinking about beginning again.  Because of the Lord’s great love for us, we can experience new beginnings, not only with the new year but with each new morning!  He is faithful to renew His compassion for us each and every new day.  He never fails us and this is why we can have hope (verse 21).  We can be assured that the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him (verse 25).  His compassion faithfully expresses itself every morning of every day.

On waking in the morning, I have the sure hope of His goodness, His love and His compassion for me.  The fact that I even woke up is a grace from Him!  And I will never exhaust His endless eternal supply of compassion.  This means a second chance with each new day!  What other love can promise that?  His love reaches to the heavens and His faithfulness to the skies! (Psalm 36:5)  Just as each day is new, so is His compassion new and not just leftovers from the previous day nor a simple continuation.  Every morning He knows just what I am feeling and facing that day.

Thank you Lord, for Your deep compassion for me.


2 Comments

Reply or Reply All

Scripture for Today: Romans 11:4 “And what was God’s answer to him? (Elijah) ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'”

In my haste, I have sometimes made the mistake of hitting that “reply all” button on a group email.  Many times it can be appropriate to reply to all.  Normally, it is not a problem but there are times when I want my response to be very personal.  One of my pet peeves is reading responses sent to the whole group when it does not involve me or concern me.

Today’s verse is a very specific answer to a discouraged cry for help.  Elijah ran for his life after death threats from Queen Jezebel.  Strengthened and encouraged with rest and food provided by an angel, he continued to put distance between himself and the threat, traveling 40 days and nights.  Elijah felt totally alone, spent and discouraged.  The Lord never reprimanded him for feeling this way.  The answer to his prayer spoke directly to his need.  Elijah was told to anoint Elisha to help and was told of seven thousand who like Elijah were faithful to God!  He was not alone.

This is no “reply all” response from God.  It was an intensely personal reply.  God’s answer to Elijah was for a certain time and place.  But I learn from it that He hears the individual prayer and provides a specific answer.  And He does the same for me.  He knows exactly what I am feeling and why.  I may not even be able to articulate my need but the Holy Spirit intercedes for me with wordless groans (Romans 8:26).  As my Creator He sees and understands my heart.  When I cry out to Him, He answers with exactly what I need.

Thank you Lord, for Your very personal replies.