Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Jello leaves me feeling ambivalent. On the one hand it is very versatile. Anything and everything can go in it and it can take on so many forms and shapes. On the other hand, it is slimy and unnaturally colored. It wobbles and slithers and is usually too sweet for me. The French as a rule do not want to even try it, so perhaps they have influenced me over the years. Too many times, I have unmolded a jello only to have it not be firm enough to hold the shape!

Today’s verse promises strength, firmness and steadfastness. It is a promise directed to those who are called by God’s grace and belong to Him. This promise is always needed but especially so when going through a time of suffering. We are not firm and steadfast in the middle of trial. We are like that jello, all wobbly and ready to slide off the plate. No one stands strong when their legs feel like jello!

The suffering I go through is usually unexplainable. The only thing I know with certainty is that it is unavoidable.  My comfort is that God uses it. The pain is never wasted. It is through suffering that I draw closer to the Lord and learn to love Him more. Sometimes my suffering is used to encourage others. But in any case, it is to be counted a privilege to suffer for Him as He suffered so much for me! And what comfort to know that He personally restores me and renews my strength! 

Thank You Lord, for personally standing me back up again.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)

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Scripture for Today: Isaiah 26:4 “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal.”

This seaweed looks beautiful waving its fronds in the water. I normally see and smell seaweed washed up on the shore, giving off a terrible odor. But when growing underwater it can be beautiful and mesmerizing in its movement.  It is cultivated for lots of different uses, including medicine, filtration, fertilizer and food. Two important elements are essential for seaweed to grow; seawater and sunlight. But there is something else needed for most species of seaweed to thrive, and that is a rock. They have what is called a “holdfast” which is a basal disk providing attachment to a rock!

Today’s verse praises God for being that faithful and eternal rock. The believer needs the Living Water to grow (John 4:10) as well as the Light of the World (John 8:12). But first we need to be holding fast to our Rock. His stability gives us the best chance to grow when turbulent water tries to dislodge us. Being our Rock means He is our refuge and shelter. Holding fast to Him gives strength to grow and thrive, regardless of the circumstances. 

The Lord Himself is my stability in a world that seems to be in constant motion and change. Because He is my eternal Rock, I know He will always be there for me. He does not move and I know where to find Him. I find Him in the pages of the “love letter” He wrote for me. I find Him in the sweet reassurances He whispers to my heart. His words are eternal and I can trust Him completely! Despite sometimes constant changes around me, He keeps me stable and growing.

Thank you Lord, for being my eternal and trustworthy Rock.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)


Malabar Giant Squirrel

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:24 “though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord is the stay of his hand.”

Meet the Malabar Giant Squirrel who makes his home in the tree tops of India. He is huge, being two times the size of the squirrels we are used to seeing. His multi-colored fur makes him unusual being anywhere from purple to maroon to orange! Unlike other squirrels who hide their nuts in the ground, this squirrel hides them in caches in the tree tops. He is very nimble jumping 20 feet between trees. But it is his very long tail that gives him such balance, acting as a counterweight.

Today’s verse is a promise that the Lord will establish the steps of the one who belongs to Him. If there is a fall, it is a controlled one. It will not be a free-fall, being cast headlong. The Lord’s hand is involved and He breaks the fall with His hand. Regardless of the spaces between trees, His Hand is the “counterweight” giving us the balance and stability we need.

This is a wonderful assurance for me that the Lord is my true support. I may feel that my stability rests on my work, my plans or my finances, when in fact, none of those are holding me up. Circumstances change, and sometimes with no warning at all. Rather than feeling panic I can remain confident. No bad news can shake me as my heart is steadfast and trusting in Him (Ps. 112:7). And even if He were to allow me to teeter and fall, His open loving hand is there to soften the landing. In His unfailing love, He stands me back up, brushes me off and strengthens my faith through the whole ordeal.

Thank You Lord, for holding me up.

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Rose of Jericho

Scripture for Today: Luke 24:7 “The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”

This unusual plant in its happy state is a beautiful green with tiny white flowers. Pictured here is its dried out state. This plant, also called “Resurrection Plant,” is able to survive long periods of time with no water. This small grey plant will curl its branches and seed pods inward in a dry season for even years at a time. Then the ball it forms, if still rooted, will open when moistened. What was seemingly dead and gone comes back to life!

Today’s verse comes from Luke’s amazing account of Christ’s resurrection. Two men in dazzling white spoke this to the women who had come early in the morning to the Lord’s tomb. I wonder which shock was greater; the absence of Jesus’ body or the presence of these angels! When the angels announced, “He is not here. He has risen,” they remembered the Lord’s words. When these women reported this to the disciples they were understandably incredulous! They were grieving. They had given up hope and felt lost without their beloved Lord.

When I read this account I wish I could have told the disciples during those three dark days, “Just wait!” As the truth of Jesus’ resurrection finally dawned on them, grieving was turned into shouts of joy! Their hope was no longer dead but had revived. The fact of the Lord’s triumph over death does the same thing for me! Death is only a temporary separation because He lives. His resurrection has proved not only His love but His power as God. HE is my hope and it is a hope that cannot die!

Thank you Lord, that because You live I have hope.

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Lamb or Lion?

Scripture for Today: John 1:29 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.'”

The lamb walking up to the cross does not seem threatening at all! He is small, white and vulnerable. The lion, however, gives pause. He is near the cross but has stopped short of it. That ferocious ruling lion is sitting, seemingly to wait. As we commemorate Good Friday or Holy Friday today, we are seeing only the lamb. For some who do not see the lion, today may not mean much. But the lion is one and the same as that weak sacrificial lamb.

Today’s verse was spoken by John the Baptist who recognized the One who was to be the Lamb of God. This Jesus would be led like a lamb to the slaughter for our sins, taking on our punishment (Is. 53:7). But the sacrificial lamb becomes the lion as He rules over and conquers death three days later! Jesus is called the “Lion of Judah” who has triumphed! (Rev. 5:5) Jesus will one day return, not as a humble baby but a triumphant eternal King of Kings.

What looks like defeat on this solemn day is actually the precursor to amazing triumph! Jesus would emerge from that grave a victor over death. He is revealed as a strong, ruling lion who is to be feared. When He returns He will right all wrongs and establish justice. I am so grateful to be forgiven but that does not mean that I will not tremble in His holy presence! Yes, Jesus is approachable as the Lamb, but He is also awe inspiring as the Lion.

Thank you Lord, for being the Lamb of God today, and also a Lion to be feared.