Devotions By Jan


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Lifetime Achievement Award

Scripture for Today: Genesis 15:1 “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision; ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.'”

George Clooney has just been announced as this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute.  He is being honored for his achievements as an actor, writer, producer and director.  He has won two Oscars as well as other honors.  And it cannot hurt that he remains so good looking, although that may not have influenced those bestowing this award!  In any case, this award represents approval from people for noteworthy achievements.

Today we bury my 95 year old Mother.  Her lifetime achievements are not so well-known or noteworthy.  But right now she is enjoying her reward.  This reward lasts for eternity and it does not depend on the approval of men..  Today’s verse explains that Abraham’s reward is God Himself.  Abraham enjoyed an intimate relationship with his Creator.  He was even called, “God’s friend.” (James 2:23).  He, like my Mother, was able to enjoy his reward while here on earth.  But to literally be in His presence is a reward that surpasses any other!

I think the world of my Mother but of course, she was not perfect.  However, I know she is enjoying her “Reward” because of God’s grace and forgiveness.  Although she spent her life following and obeying Him, she did not earn her place in His presence.  She is there because of God’s grace.  And I know, because I have accepted His grace as well, I will one day be able to hug her again.  I know she is hearing God’s approval as He says, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

Thank you Lord, for being our very great reward!

 

 

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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!

 

 


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Cocoon

Scripture for Today: Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 3:18  “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is Spirit.”

I wonder if this caterpillar knows what is happening to him?   His little life was perfect, happily munching leaves in the sun. But before long he finds himself in the dark and hanging on for dear life!  He only did what was natural, making a silk mat and spinning the silk to attach himself to a branch.  But now, everything seems to have stopped and all that is familiar has disappeared.  Life has not only spun out of control, but he himself is hanging upside down.  Now he waits.

Today’s verse speaks of another transformation.  It is one that is just as spectacular as a caterpillar changing into a butterfly.  We, as believers, are slowly being transformed into the image of the Lord.  Each stage of this process brings ever increasing glory, not to ourselves but to Him.  The glory and beauty come from becoming more like our Creator!  It happens on the inside as a work of His Spirit.  We do not know exactly what we will be, except that we will be like Him as His children. (I John 3:2)

In the meantime it can feel a bit dark and confusing.  This cocoon stage seems to last a lifetime and the waiting all by itself can feel exhausting.  I know He is at work in me, but it is dark and I do not always understand what He is doing and why.  But I do know that He is good and the outcome will be beautiful.  His promises are the branch to which I cling!

Lord, help me be patient for what is to come!!

 

 

 


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Sauna

Scripture for Today: I Chronicles 28:19 “All this…I have in writing as a result of the Lord’s hand on me, and He enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.”

The wet heat of a sauna is the preferred choice for many to lower stress and relax.  The deep sweating raises the core body temperature allowing the blood vessels to dilate.  The increased blood flow relaxes muscles and cleanses the skin of toxins.  It all sounds good, but for me there is one big problem.  I do not like to sweat!

I find myself repeating the saying, “don’t sweat the small stuff,” when trying to calm myself.  Recently, I have been drowning in details of administration.  The project was a stretch and outside of my comfort zone.  I had to continually remind myself that my God is a God of detail and I can trust Him to help me in the smallest fine point of planning.

In today’s verse David declares God’s faithfulness.  The Lord helped him with construction plans  for the Temple his son, Solomon, was to build.  God’s hand was on David to help him understand the smallest detail.  I love that!  Our God is big and powerful to do mighty amazing things.  But He is also a God of minute detail.  Because He loves and cares for us, He cares about the small things in our lives as well.

The following verse concludes the thought.  Because our Lord is a God who takes care of detail, I can trust Him.  He tells me to be strong and courageous and do the work, knowing that He will never fail me or forsake me!  In other words, “don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Thank you Lord, that for You it is all small stuff!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Solar Eclipse

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:5 “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”

How eerie to see the sun completely covered by the moon today!  The total solar eclipse was oohed and awed by many along its trajectory.  Those not in its path still had the opportunity to see the sun partially covered with their special glasses.  For many of a certain age it may very well be their last opportunity to experience the celestial show as the next one does not occur until 2024.  It was odd to see crowds of people clapping and cheering as the sky became completely darkened.  The return of the sun did not get the same response.  As nature’s spectacle came to en end, I do not think there were many that doubted that the sun would reappear.

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance about something that is warm and full of life-giving energy that is never eclipsed.  God’s love can never be darkened.  Nothing can thwart or obstruct His faithful love for His own.  His love reaches to the heavens and there are no shifting shadows that can change it (James 1:17).  He is faithful to His Word and to His promises.

It can feel dark.  It can feel as though He has abandoned me when things are not going my way.  When my doubts obscure His love there is only one solution: I need to turn back again to His love letter to me.  There I am reminded of His faithfulness.  His love has not changed.  His love and compassion are renewed every morning (Lam. 3:22-23).  Though I may not see the light of His love, it is still there.  He lifts my head to see His faithfulness reaching to the skies!

Thank you Lord, that Your love for me never fails!

 


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Table Settings

Scripture for Today: Psalm 78:19 “They spoke against God; they said, ‘Can God really spread a table in the wilderness?'”

I love a pretty table setting!  Somehow, all that attention to detail makes the food taste better.  When I have company over they may ask to help set my table.  But that is something I always reserve for myself.  However, this  outlet for creativity can be overdone.  This table looks a bit crowded as there seems to be no place for the dishes.  The flowers are perhaps too tall to see other table guests!

Today’s verse talks about the Lord Himself spreading a table.  It was no picnic being in the wilderness year after year.  The Israelites complained and repeatedly put God to the test.  How gracious He was to rain down manna, called the “grain of heaven” and the “bread of angels” (verse 24-25).  They gorged themselves on meat that He provided.  Yet, their hearts were not loyal.  Though He provided for their needs again and again, they continually forgot His power (verse 42).  How exasperating it must have been for the Lord to hear the question posed in our verse when He had proven Himself over and over.

I imagine that though the Lord loves me, He must sometimes be exasperated with me!  Can He really meet this need?  Will He come through for me this time?  Can I completely count on Him for that?  To even have such thoughts reveals that I have forgotten His power.  He has already shown Himself faithful time after time.  Yes, He can and does spread a table in the wilderness!  When all seems dry and desolate, He provides above and beyond all we can ask or think! (Eph. 3:20)

Thank you Lord, for spreading a table for me and meeting my every need!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Chimney Swifts

Scripture for Today: Job 12:7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;”

It was a real show!  In my sister’s yard in Portland, we arranged our chairs to watch as hundreds of small swifts circled in the air.  They would gather in small groups, adding new members as they swooped around the rooftops.  After about twenty minutes of this confusing ballet, someone in the group deemed it time to drop, fluttering, into the chimney.  All it took was one to begin a mass entrance!  How did they know when to begin?  How did they choose their leader?  Somehow, they were communicating with each other to orchestrate this orderly nightly processional.

Today’s verse points out that animals and birds can teach us!  If these birds could speak, what would they tell us?  Each one of them knows that, “In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (verse 10)  They are not at all confused about where they came from and Who it is that gives life and breath.  Their existence depends entirely on their Creator.  Perhaps that is the meaning of their high-pitched chattering calls!

These birds can testify to truth that escapes many people!  He is not far from any of us as, “in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)  Not one sparrow is forgotten by God (Luke 12:6) and the swallow nests in the shelter of God’s presence (Psalm 84:3).  In God’s sight we are worth so much more than these tiny flying creatures.  His care is so obvious in my life.  How silly of me to doubt!  Regardless of my circumstances, He is there and He is faithful.

Thank you Lord, for your constant unfailing love.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)