Devotions By Jan



Scripture for Today: Psalm 111:4 “He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate.”

Photo by Peter Lee

This week, North Americans remember on Memorial Day those soldiers who have fallen to secure our freedom. We need these special days to remember. Memories fade without them or without a physical memento to remind us. These dog tags hang in the Old North Memorial Garden near the Old North Church in Boston, MA. They commemorate those who have lost their lives in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Today we can identify remains through DNA. Even so, dog tags are still issued. They serve as an important reminder of sacrifice.

And we need important reminders. Today’s verse teaches us one of the many ways the Lord shows us His grace and compassion. He helps us remember. He knows that we are forgetful. We continually need His reminders of the wonders He has done. He brings them to mind at the most opportune time; when we are depressed and our soul is downcast (Ps. 42:6) and when we are on our bed and all is quiet. (Ps. 63:6) We find comfort when we remember His Word. (Ps. 119:52)

My tendency is to forget what I have studied in His Word, what I have seen and experienced of His wonders. Over time, they fade from my heart. (Deut. 4:9) if I am not careful and watch myself closely. It seems to be my default setting. But when I forget, I will need to learn it all over and over again, rather than growing in my faith! I may not have dog tags, but I have His many reminders through His Word and His personal reassurances of His faithfulness in the past!

Thank you Lord, for Your reminders.

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French Citadel

Scripture for Today: Psalm 48:3 “God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress.”

photo credit Frans de Wit

The citadel in this French town can be seen from many different vantage points as it dominates the landscape. Its history there in Bitche (pronounced “beach”) is a long one, having been constructed on the site of an old castle in the early 1600’s. The citadel was destroyed at one point but restored and strengthened in the 1700’s. This fortress has since survived all succeeding wars as much of it is excavated in red sandstone rock, making it bomb-proof. There was something comforting about its strong presence during our stay there.

Today’s verse talks about the citadel of Jerusalem; the city is also referred to as “city of God” and “Mount Zion.” Written by the sons of Korah, this psalm or perhaps song, was written as a celebration of safety and security. The citadel or fortress in and of itself was not being praised. Rather, the fact that God resided there gave the people a sense of security and well-being. It was a physical reminder of God’s special relationship with His people.

I have the same need to look up and be reminded of God’s love, presence and protection. I need to continually “lift my eyes” to the One who sits enthroned in Heaven. (Psalm 123:1) I may not have a literal brick and mortar fortress within my line of vision, but with eyes of faith I can look up. With that changed perspective I see His power rather than my weakness. Problems and obstacles grow smaller as HE looms larger.

Lord, remind me to look up!

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The Easter Basket

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 40:12 “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?”

I can still remember the squeals of delight when distributing those Easter baskets to our kids! I started with the oldest, much to the annoyance of my youngest. The origin of Easter baskets is thought to be from a Catholic tradition in Poland and other eastern European countries. Families would bring their Easter Sunday dinner to mass in a basket to have it blessed. Of course, anything in the basket other than chocolate and jelly beans would be firmly rejected by children everywhere today!

Today’s verse describes the contents of another basket as being all the dust of the earth. This poetic description of God’s mighty power asks rhetorical questions that can only have one response; no one. No one but God could measure all the waters of the earth, or the breadth of the heavens. No one but God is powerful enough to hold all the dust of the earth or weigh the mountains and hills. If He can do all of this, than raising Jesus from the dead poses no challenge at all to the all-powerful One.

I serve a mighty powerful God who is not bound by the laws of nature that He Himself created. And the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that raises me to new life as well. I was dead in my sin (Col. 2:13) but God made me alive with Christ. I can be truly alive only because He is! And if God can raise Jesus from the dead and promise me an eternity with Him, why do I worry about what this day might bring?

Thank you Lord, for Your resurrection power!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018)


The Tallest Cross

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 1:18  “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

Credit to Godot13 at Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International 

This cross is thought to be the tallest in the world, standing at 492 feet in Madrid, Spain. It is so prominent that it can be seen from 40 miles away! Built between 1940-1958, it sits atop a monument to immortalize the fallen, which explains the monument’s name, “The Valley of the Fallen.” Roughly 34 thousand combatants are buried there, from both sides of their civil war. Half the fallen are buried on one side and half on the other.

Today’s verse describes two ways people view the cross of Christ, especially remembered on Good Friday. It continues to be a symbol of sacrificial love throughout the centuries. For those who are being saved it is a positive symbol of our salvation. We celebrate a cross where death led to life everlasting. But for those who are perishing the cross is foolishness. It signifies indignity and failure, rather than the power by which we are saved. 

The cross continues to polarize. There is no middle ground as we are on one side or the other. We are all in the Valley of the Fallen, having fallen short of God’s standards. (Rom. 3;23) Like the two thieves crucified with Jesus, there are only two responses. I either place my trust in Christ as my substitute, or I remain in my sin. What power in this cross of Jesus! His power snatched me from darkness and placed me in His wonderful light! (I Peter 2:9) Because of the cross I have hope. I have life, forgiveness, and healing! The power of the cross is that it cancels the power of my guilt and shame!

Lord, I am eternally grateful for the power of Your cross.

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What Palms Tell You

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 49:15-16a “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.”

Palm reading is generally thought to be a superstitious belief but it continues to enjoy some success for those who want to believe. There are different types of palmistry practiced but the idea is to interpret one’s future by looking at the heart, head, life or fate lines. Classic palmistry has its roots in Greek mythology where a god or a goddess is related to different areas of the palm or fingers.

Today’s verse talks about God’s palm and what is written there! The Lord is reassuring the Israelites that He will never forget them. As unusual as it may be for a mother to forget her child, He will never forget His own chosen people. A mother may not have compassion for her child, but the Lord will comfort His people and will have compassion on them. (verse 13) Those that God loves He will never abandon. Those that He loves are engraved on the palms of His hands.

How reassuring it is that the Lord will never forget me! His thoughts towards me are as numerous as all the grains of sand in the world. (Psalm 139:18) That means I can never catch Him NOT thinking of me! His palms are engraved with my name and no one can snatch me out of those loving powerful hands! (John 10:28) Not only is my name there but also the scars that prove His love for me. My heart, hand, life or fate are all in His control as I belong to Him. What an amazing confidence and peace His love makes possible!

Thank you Lord, that You will never forget me.

(Look familiar? This is a re-post from 2020)