Devotions By Jan


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Face to Face

Scripture for Today: Numbers 6:24-26 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Being “face to face” has new meaning in our day. And perhaps with all the connections we make through the computer screen, we have come to value and more deeply appreciate those in-person times. But with masks covering faces, even those in-person opportunities seem to lack an important component; the face. Sometimes that fleeting smirk, the quickly lifted eyebrow or the passing twinkle in the eye can be missed. So much of connection is made through our facial expressions. We communicate acceptance, compassion, and forgiving grace without ever saying a word.

Today’s verses are a priestly prayer given directly by the Lord to Moses. He was to pass it on to Aaron and his sons to be spoken over the Israelites in order to bless them. When God turns His face towards us, we are restored and saved. (Psalm 80:3) When He shines His face or presence in our lives we experience His grace and peace. We are told to seek His face (Ps. 27:8) and when we see His face we are satisfied. (Ps.17:15) As God is spirit, His face is a picture of His favor and blessing.

God’s “face” is turned away from those who are evil. (Ps. 4:16) It is only because of Christ and His righteousness that God can look on me with favor and blessing. His face is turned toward me every day because of His grace and mercy. It is because of this face-to-face relationship that I can live and move and have my being. (Acts 17:28) His face turned on me means deep heart-felt peace and blessing found nowhere else.

Thank you Lord, for turning Your beautiful face on me!

 

 


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Hanging On

Scripture for Today: Psalm 63:8 “I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.”

The koala, although a marsupial, looks like a cute cuddly teddy bear. He can hold on to those smooth-barked gum trees and even sleep there 18-20 hours a day without any worry of falling off. That is because he has two opposable thumbs on his fore paws that allow a sure grip. He also has big toes that are set at an angle to the foot, giving him a vise-like hold. They cling so well to the tree that they leave scratches on the bark.

Today’s verse tells us that we can cling to the Lord because He upholds us with His right hand. David writes this psalm while in the desert of Judah. He remembers and thinks on his bed, not about his enemies but about God’s love that he considers better than life! (verse 3) He clings to the truth that God is his help. (verse 7) David is confident of the end his enemies face. He may be in a clinging position now, but he knows that they will be destroyed and he will rejoice! They, as liars, will be silenced but he will glory in the Lord. (verse 11)

I feel as if I am barely hanging on when surrounded by those who oppose Jesus Christ and when surrounded by liars. But what I am clinging to makes all the difference! The piece of wood to which I cling is the cross! Jesus, by His death on the cross, has won the victory over every enemy! I cling to Him as He is the THE truth in a world full of liars. (John 14:6) His Word is eternal. His promises are true. He is the One who holds me up when I cling to Him.

Lord, keep me hanging on to You.


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Not So Lovable

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

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Tiger is looking quite lovable and innocent in this picture. But do not let him fool you! He is not so lovable when he has a struggling little bird in his mouth! He is not so lovable when terrorizing a lizard or cornering a mouse! Then there are the times he makes a mess on the carpet from his kills or from being sick. He is just being his own cat self. I show him mercy by not yelling at him or banishing him from the house. I show him grace by continuing to provide for his needs. 

Today’s verse describes God as rich in mercy. Mercy is not getting what one deserves! Because God loves us so much, He took care of what was deserved; the punishment for our sin. His love makes Him full of mercy and grace for us! Grace is being given what we do not deserve. And God did that by making us alive in Christ, so that we are no longer spiritually dead. God did all this, and not because we were lovable!

I sometimes think I am quite lovable to the Lord. After all, I can look pretty spiritual. I can have the right image, say the right words and even tithe and do good works. But in fact, it is only because of His undeserved grace that He has chosen to love me. He, more than anyone, knows just how black my heart can be. He sees the pride and the unforgiving spirit. He sees the flimsy excuses I invent to avoid complete obedience. How amazing that He should love me!

Thank you, Lord, for Your constant gracious love!

(If this seems familiar, it is a reworked blogpost from 2013)


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Winter Begins

Scripture for Today: Psalm 42:8 “By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life.”

Today is the official start of winter, marking the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The winter solstice makes for a very long and dark night. These days I awake before the sun just to take advantage of as much light as possible! For some people these dark nights can represent holidays that do not quite deliver.  Expectations not met, hopes dashed and keen disappointments can mark these long nights.  Sweet “Hallmark” moments do not match up with one’s reality.  For some, the darkest nights occur when everyone else seems to be celebrating.

Ralph Waldo Emerson has said when it is dark enough, men see the stars.  But today’s verse is no pithy saying.  It is truth.  His love is ours in the daytime. His control is seen in that He directs and commands His love toward us. His song is ours in the night, even in the long, darkest night.  Circumstances can disappoint.  People can disappoint.  But HE does not.  Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed (Romans 10:11).  What an incredible truth! 

During the darkest night, I can sing!  He is God, yes. But like the psalmist, I can say that He is the God of MY life. He is my light when there is none around me. The hope He gives me lightens the gloom and keeps me looking forward. A song, a prayer, a praise and I feel that light-giving hope begin to burn inside and turn things around.

No matter how dark the night, thank you Lord, that my heart can sing because You give me hope.


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Money Grows on Trees?

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 3:17b-18 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

My parents always told me that money does not grow on trees!  Imagine my surprise to learn that there have been found particles of gold on the leaves of some eucalyptus trees!  The incredibly long roots of this tree, up to 8.2 feet, delve up to 130 feet.  In Australia, some of these eucalyptus trees have pilfered gold from ore deposits underground and have transported them to their leaves!  The concentration of gold is only 46 parts per billion.  Still, it is amazing that some trees have rooted themselves in something so precious!

Today’s verse encourages the believer to be rooted and established in something even more precious; the love of Christ.  Just as the leaves of the eucalyptus tree reveal secrets hidden underground, so the “leaves” of the life of a believer reveal where he is planted.  The love of Christ is so vast and nourishing that our lives reflect Him as He develops His fruit in us.

Being rooted and established in His love is essential to my well-being.  His love is what allows me to grow and thrive.  Without it, I would shrivel up.  Being grounded in His love makes loving others possible.  This immeasurable love is my reason to be.  But if I am honest with myself, there are times I am not feeling it.  In those moments I need to delve deeper into His Word.  I take more time to listen to Him.  I watch for those sweet affirmations through prayer in my spirit.  I so often need those reassurances and He never disappoints!

Lord, keep me rooted in Your love today!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)