Devotions By Jan


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Obedient Ant

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise.”

This ant is carrying quite a load.  That is normal as they are created to carry twenty times their body weight.  But there is one ant who inexplicably carried away a lost contact lens.  Its owner was mountain climbing when she lost it.  She turned to the One who sees all and pleaded with Him for help.  On descending the mountain with her friends, another group of climbers at the bottom shouted up the question, “Did anyone lose a contact lens?”  They only noticed it because an ant was carrying it on his back!  I can just imagine the ant’s confusion as to why he was carrying such a cumbersome inedible object!

Today’s verse is in the context of working hard and preparing for one’s future.  The ant stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest in order to be prepared for the coming lean times.  We are encouraged to look to the ant’s ways and be wise.  However, there is also wisdom in fearing and obeying the Lord as that ant did in this woman’s true story (Prov. 9:10).  Something (or Someone) prompted that small ant to lug around a very heavy load to what seemed to be no purpose.

I do not always understand the why’s behind what God asks me to do.  But then my obedience should not depend on seeing the whole picture.  He sees what is ahead and His plans for me are good because He is.  I want to trust Him for the reasons behind His commands.  This whole faith adventure is by faith and not by sight.

Lord, help me to be faithful to You, even when I don’t understand.


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Holding Hands

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

They died holding hands.  After sixty-two years of marriage, this couple fell ill at the same time and were placed in a nursing home.  The staff pushed their beds together as he wanted to hold her hand.  Hand-holding began their life together and ended it.  He died while still grasping her hand.  She held on to life and his hand for another ninety minutes before dying as well.  How beautiful is this expression of love!  Holding hands can give courage, help and support.

Today’s verse is a beautiful assurance of God’s power and control.  The hand of God is a place of salvation, refuge and protection.  It is also a hand of healing and deliverance.  By taking our hand He assures us of His help.  His hand takes our right hand but not our left.  That is because the right hand is the one in Scripture that is used in battle.  He hold us by the right hand so that we allow Him to fight our battles!

I need Him to do the fighting.  My hands are weak and my grip is loose with discouragement on that “sword of the Spirit,” which is God’s Word (Eph. 6:17).  But He promises His help.  He takes a hold of my right hand and infuses me with strength and courage.  His help means that my enemies will be “as nothing.” (verse 11-12).  That impossible relationship that looms so large is no problem for Him.  He is in the business of righting wrongs and changing hearts.  He has my back and has promised to always be with me (Psalm 73:23).

Thank you Lord, for the warmth and comfort of Your hand holding mine.

 

 


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A Dog Who Prays

Scripture for Today: Psalm 84:2 “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

What restraint!  What discipline!  And what training for a dog to pray before his meal!  How cute to see him balance on his haunches with his little paws together!  However, it does seem like he is peeking longingly at his food.  He can only hope that the signal to dig in comes quickly.  Of course, this little pooch has no idea what he is doing.  Like Pavlov’s dogs his sweet posture is part of “classical conditioning” with no true reverence for God involved.

Today’s verse puts a finger on exactly what separates us from animals.  An animal, even if one argued that he had a soul, does not yearn for the Lord.  His heart and flesh do not cry out to the living God.   The longing for a relationship with the God of the universe is something beyond their capacity.  But for man, it is exactly why we were created.  God Himself put the idea and longing for eternity in the human heart (Eccl. 3:11).  We are made to cry out for Him in our innermost being.  Even just one day in His presence is better than one thousand days elsewhere (verse 10).

The Lord fills and completes me.  When my relationship with Him is interrupted by my own wandering or indifference, it does not take long to feel something is missing.  Feeling that lack I cry out to Him for that reassurance that He is there and that He still loves me.  He always answers.  And somehow, I am more human when I am connected to my Creator.  The yearning is satisfied and it is “well with my soul.”

Thank you Lord, for completing me.

 


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In His Hands

Scripture for Today: Scripture for Today:  John 10:28-29  “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them from My Father’s hand.”

What a beautiful picture of love, care and protection for the most vulnerable; a little baby!  Those strong hands cradle and soothe this little one to sleep and that peaceful smile is a trusting one.  There are no disturbing thoughts of approaching waves suddenly coming up from behind to snatch him from those hands.

Today’s verse describe God’s hands as being more powerful than any others.  Although God is spirit (John 4:24) the Bible is full of references to God’s eyes, arms or hands to help us understand Him.  There can be no sudden sneaky move on the part of the enemy that can snatch us of His hand.  Those who belong to Him are held safe and secure in the same hands that formed the universe.  His are the hands that stilled the waters and calmed the seas.  Those hands touch and heal.  And they are scarred with the proof of His love.

I, myself, can not cause Him to let go.  My faith in Him put me there.  His power and love keep me there. They are hands that I can trust and He will not let me go.  My life and all of my tomorrows are in His hands, but more than that my eternity is in His hands!  If life is suddenly cut short, those same hands will gently and lovingly bring me into His very presence.  His hands are beautiful.

Lord, help me to be aware of Your loving hands today.


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Pizza Box

Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I loved this story on the news the other day of a man in New York who was the recipient of an anonymously donated pizza.  Inside the cover were written the words, “Stay strong,” the very words his wife daily said to him while dying of cancer.  He told the pizzeria manager that this simple message “turned his life around” and pulled him out of a deep depression.

Today’s verse is an encouragement from the Lord to Joshua that inspired him be strong.  Joshua had just taken over the enormous task of leading the Israelites after the death of Moses.  Joshua needed this assurance that the Lord’s presence would give him strength and courage.  There is a subtle difference between the words,”stay strong ” and “be strong.”  The first implies that strength is already there in some measure and should continue.  For Joshua at the death of his friend and leader, he had no strength or courage.  Not only was the charge overwhelming, but he must have felt alone and sad with Moses gone.

I absolutely have no strength without the Lord.  Whatever strength I have comes from Him.  Paul recognized this when he said to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power (Eph. 6:10).  I need His strength especially when losing a family member or friend.  I need this same reassurance that He will be with me and give me all the courage and strength to face the future.  Of course there is sadness, but I do not need to feel discouraged.  He is there and will get me through.

Thank you Lord, for the strength You give.


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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.

 


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Easter Egg Hunt

Scripture for Today: Psalm 9:10 “Those who know Your name trust in You, for You Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.”

I love the expression on the face of this little boy at the very moment when he discovers that the egg opens and there is something inside!  Egg hunts add such excitement to Easter.  It takes awhile for young toddlers to understand what they are to do.  A family member sometimes needs to model how to search and gather the eggs, although they are often “hidden” in plain sight.  There is excitement as baskets begin to fill.  But oh how enthusiasm mounts when the egg contents are discovered!

Today’s verse talks about seeking for the Lord.  It is not that He is hiding.  It is just that it takes eyes of faith to see Him.  And He wants to be discovered.  He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6). But it is a search that requires faith and trust.  Knowing His name, who He is and His incredible character helps us trust Him.  His faithfulness and that empty tomb help us to continue seeking Him.  He promises never to leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5).

He is ready to be sought and found.  He waits for me to turn to Him when I am in trouble.  He promises to be my refuge and stronghold (verse 9).  And just like those eggs scattered for the youngest searchers, He is there is plain sight.  When I seek Him He is ready to reveal Himself and deepen our relationship.  But so often I am too busy, distracted or full of doubts to do the seeking.  I need to slow down and listen to my heart say, “Seek His face!” (Psalm 27:8) as David’s heart told him.

Thank you Lord, for allowing me to find You!