Devotions By Jan

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Sad Sunflowers

Scripture for Today: Psalm 42:5 “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put you hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

I usually think of sunflowers as happy flowers, probably because of their bright large blossoms being a sunny yellow.  It is commonly thought that this flower turns its head to follow the sun.  But obviously, these sunflowers are looking down and all they see is the ground.  Being that this photo was taken while skies were darkened with smoke from the Oregon fires, it is understandable that their heads just look down.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm called a “Maskil of David.”  A maskil is translated as enlightened or wise.  David is imparting something that is especially wise in the face of discouragement and depression.  He addresses his soul which he recognizes is disturbed.  Regardless of his difficult circumstances, David chooses to turn his gaze to the Lord.  Rather than focusing on his problems or giving in to despair, the psalmist reminds himself of the hope he has in God.  Because of that hope, he could look forward to a future where praise for God would come again to his lips.

I have that choice as well.  I can be “downcast” and look at the ground, seeing only what is depressingly negative, or I can lift my gaze to the only One who can lift my soul.  Placing my hope in God changes everything.  His love and faithfulness need to be squarely in my view.  Remembering His promises and His loving control gives me that hope.  This focus keeps me praising Him, not because of my circumstances but despite them!  And I know that one day, circumstances will change and my praise will continue into eternity!

Thank you Lord, for lifting my soul!

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In the Gap

Scripture for Today: Ezekiel 22:30 “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.”

I am not often in England, but when I am, two warning signs have proved very important: “Look Right,” and “Mind The Gap.”  When crossing a street it is automatic for me to look left for oncoming traffic.  As the British drive on the other side, I need to remember to check the opposite direction!  The sign, “Mind The Gap” warns the rail passenger to watch their step.  It is too easy to fall into that space between the station platform and the train.

There is another gap in today’s verse that is much more serious.  It is the gap between God’s righteous wrath and the wicked.  The Sovereign Lord looks for those who are willing to stand in this gap and by their prayers be an intercessor on behalf of their land.  We are told to make petition and prayer, intercession and thanksgiving for all people, including the wicked who are in authority. (I Tim. 2:1-2)

God’s wrath is sure to come on all who reject Him.  For now He stays His hand as He is not willing that any perish but that all come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)  Of all the roles I could take to affect change, the most important is to stand in that gap with prayers for our leaders.  I feel powerless to change things or stem the tide of wickedness because I am powerless!  But I have the ear of the One with all the power!  Praying for our leaders, wicked or not, is a responsibility He asks of me.

Lord, keep me faithful in prayer.

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Delicate Arch

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”

The Delicate Arch is one of the over 2,000 found in Arches National Park in Utah.  Other notable arches have names like Landscape Arch, Double Arch and Broken Arch.  Their odd formations are the result of centuries of erosion carving layer and layer of rock away.  They look like they could last forever with their impressive height, this one standing 46 feet tall.  But in fact, each arch is fated to one day fall as did the Wall Arch in 2008.

There is another Rock that will never fall or face erosion.  Today’s verse describes our God as a Rock.  His perfection will never change.  Everything He does is perfect and just.  Most of all, this Rock is faithful and can be counted on to always and forever be there, strong and solid.  He will never do wrong as He is upright and just.  He is THE Rock and there is no one like Him (Ps. 18:31).  Because He is my rock, “I will never be shaken.” (Ps. 62:2)  “He is my rock of refuge to which I can always go.” (Ps. 71:3)  And most of all, God is the “Rock of my salvation.” (Ps. 95:1)

How reassuring to be reminded of His permanence.  Nothing will ever change Him or His promises to me.  Even when I am unfaithful, He will always remain faithful and true to Himself.  In a world where everything is in a constant state of change, He continues perfectly unchanged.  I can run to Him for everything I need.  Being a rock, He gives me the stability I need.

Thank you Lord, that I can always count on You!

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


Arundel Tomb

Scripture for Today: Psalm 100:5 “For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

I walked right past these amazing effigies at the Chichester Cathedral in England, not realizing I was related!  Meet Eleanor of Lancaster, my 18th Great Grand Aunt!  She was the great granddaughter of King Henry the III and is dressed as a noblewoman with gown, veil and wimple.  Beside her lies her husband Richard Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, dressed in the armor of a knight.  They have been holding hands since 1376!  Their sweet posture inspired a poem by Philip Larkin called, “An Arundel Tomb” in which the poet declares, “What will survive of us is love.”

Today’s verse describes a love that will truly endure forever.  The Lord is good which means His love is a faithful love unlike any other; a love that will endure the test of time.  His love continues through all generations and into eternity!  It does not stop at the grave.  As beautiful as romantic love can be, it does not even compare to His incredible unconditional love for us!  No other love is as wide, long, high or deep as His love (Eph.3:18).

My problem is believing it.  Oh, I believe God’s love is true in principle.  But to really grasp that His love is always there, always deep, and always faithful can be a struggle.  The failings of human love cloud my understanding.  But His love never disappoints.  Its intensity never fluctuates.  When I am just not feeling it, He waits to reassure me through His Word.  He cared enough to write it down.  And He reassures my heart by pouring into it His love through His Spirit (Rom. 5:5).

Lord, reassure me of Your love today.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)

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Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” 

I doubt that this sandcastle was built by a small child.  It seems too involved and complicated, perhaps needing some special molds and skills.  Sandcastle-building has become quite the art form with annual competitions all over Southern California.  Some of the competitions have been taking place for more than fifty years!  The entries are elaborate and take painstaking precision.  The results are impressive but no longer there.  These fantasy castles and kingdoms are eventually reclaimed by the ocean.  What a shame to see all that creative work washed away!

Today’s verse speaks of a kingdom that is eternal.  It does not erode with time.  What effort is invested in this kingdom will endure.  We are promised that when spending our lives living for God’s kingdom, we will be able to live our lives without worrying about tomorrow (verse 34).  The  mundane pursuits of food and clothing become less important.   Life is more than food and the body more than clothes (verse 25).  Seeking His kingdom means living for Him and for values that are eternal.

The most important component of any kingdom is its king.  Seeking God’s kingdom is to live as His subject and submit to His rule.  When I live for Him and His purposes, this gracious King takes care of the details.  But I sometimes get distracted by building my own little sandcastles.  I want my own kingdom, however small, in the hopes of having some say and control.  I want to be the one in charge!  But my pathetic kingdom is never as good as His.  And I do not want to waste my time on what will not last!

Lord, keep me focused on living for You.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)