Devotions By Jan


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Fly Casting

Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”

It looks complicated.  I cannot imagine the skill and dexterity it must take to fly cast correctly.  If it were me, I would have that line wrapped around me and everyone else!  Fortunately, there are lessons, classes and YouTube video instruction available.  Among the basic principles is the idea that every casting stroke is a smooth acceleration followed by an abrupt stop.  The better the “stop” the better the transfer of energy and the more efficient the cast.

Today’s verse describes a different kind of cast.  The form is not so important but we do want to get those cares and worries as far away as possible from us!  The Lord invites us to cast all of our care on to Him.  When we do, He will strengthen and sustain us.  Casting all our cares on to Him means an abrupt stop to those worrying thoughts and imaginings.  Leaving them with Him means that we can stand firm in our faith, regardless of the shaky ground.  He will never let the righteous, or those in right standing with Him, be shaken.

What a beautiful promise to claim when it seems like my world is falling apart!  He is there, waiting and willing to takes those cares off my shoulders. It is through prayer that I do the casting (Phil. 4:6).  I do not need to carry them.  Those worries do not have to weigh me down.  He invites me to give them all to Him.  No, He asks me to stop and throw them on Him!  And what sweet relief comes when I do!

Lord, keep me casting every one of my worries and cares on to You

 

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In a Pickle

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 and steadfast.”

It is such an odd expression to speak of one’s self as “in a pickle.”  The word “pickle” came from the Dutch word “pekel” meaning something piquant.  William Shakespeare used this expression in 1610 for his play, The Tempest, when one character asked another “How camest thou in this pickle?” meaning “How did you get so drunk?”  Being in a pickle today can mean being in any sort of disagreeable situation.  That difficulty is likened to becoming a pickle by soaking in brine and vinegar.

Today’s verse goes further than just a disagreeable situation!  The early Christians faced real persecution because of their faith and many were even martyred.  Peter reminds them of God’s favor in calling them and of their future reward.  He also points out that the suffering is temporary and only for a little while.  How precious that God Himself will personally restore them and make them strong and firm after that suffering is over!

There is a closeness that seems to come uniquely through suffering.  I have heard so many share their gratitude for having cancer because of their special bond and closeness to the Savior through it!  In some mysterious way, God moves in close to those who are suffering.  His presence is felt like never before as He affirms and reassures of His love and plan.  There is something about sharing His suffering that brings a close relationship even closer.  He has been there for me at some of the lowest times of my life and I am thankful.

Lord, help me feel You there in the hard times.

 


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Unique

Scripture fro Today: I Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can bear it.”

Having visited the pottery  factories in Poland has given me a true appreciation for their products.  It was fascinating to see each artist bent over their work, hand painting or stamping their pieces with intense concentration.  Each piece is signed by the artist as well as stamped with the Polish word for “unique.”  It is true that each piece is unique.  But all the pottery went through the same process of being fired in the kiln.

Today’s verse recognizes that each believer faces the same kinds of trials and tests.  The details may vary.  The timing and even the intensity may differ.  But there is a commonality to all of the trials God allows us to face.  They are never intended to weaken us but to strengthen our faith.  In each trial we see God’s hand and His faithfulness.  And we have His promise that it will never be more than we can bear.

What I am facing is never unique.  Somewhere, someone in the world has faced nearly the same thing.  Knowing that helps me to not feel so alone.  Not only can I draw strength from the stories of others, but I can be encouraged knowing what Christ faced.  He experienced every kind of temptation and yet did not sin. (Heb. 4:15)  And because He Himself suffered when tempted, He is there to help (Heb. 2:18)  He Himself is my “way out.”  Depending on His strength and help makes all the difference.

Thank you Lord, that I do not need to do this alone.


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Belly Laugh

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

They say that,”laughter is the best medicine.”  And apparently, science confirms this idea.  Giggles and guffaws both can reduce stress by stimulating heart, lungs and muscles.  A hearty laugh can increase endorphins released by your brain, giving you that “feel-good feeling.”  Have you ever noticed that good relaxed feeling after a big belly laugh?  That is because the stress response is fired up then cooled down, increasing heart rate and blood pressure.  A good laugh can completely turn around my mood.

Today’s verse is about a woman who laughs at the future.  This woman is clothed with strength and dignity as she lives her life with wisdom (vs.26).  She works vigorously (vs. 17) and she is not idle (vs. 27).  The public praises her because of her works (vs. 31) and more importantly she is praised by her children and husband (vs. 28).  But what is most surprising about this “super woman” is that she laughs at the days to come.  Her heart is light because she fears the Lord (vs. 30).

My tendency is to fear rather than laugh at the future.  I do not know what changes may be in store for our country or personally for my life.  Rather than have a light heart, I sometimes have this vague disquiet about what lies ahead.  But when my heart is steadfast and trusting in His power and sovereignty, than I do not fear bad news (Ps. 112:7).  How much better to laugh at the future and fear God than to fear the future and laugh at the idea of God’s control!  He is directing it all and because that is true, I can be glad.

Thank you Lord, for Your loving control of my future!


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Magic or Miracle?

Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.”

Our grandson on his fourth birthday was front and center with that magician, mesmerized by the seemingly impossible feats performed.  Lately, he has been drawn to all things magic, including hats, capes and wands.  But the awe on all of their sweet faces was priceless.  These little boys were properly amazed but the parents were impressed as well with the slight of hand.  Who doesn’t like to be astonished by what looks to be impossible?

Today’s verse describes not magic, but the miraculous.  God’s power is evident in the creation of the heavens and the earth.  No tricks or slight of hand were needed, only His incredible outstretched arm.  The heavens and earth testify to His great miraculous power.  By seeing and appreciating His power in creation, we can be assured that absolutely nothing is too hard for Him!

I have evidence of God’s power all around me.  And yet, I am sometimes so accustomed to it that it no longer seems miraculous.  Sure the sun will rise tomorrow morning.  Of course, principles of gravity will continue to hold true.  However, everything that God does is miraculous.  Anything that is caused by the power of God is a “miracle.”  But when His miracles become commonplace to me, than I can find myself wondering if something could be too hard for Him.  I need to have that child-like wonder when seeing a caterpillar or gazing at the stars.  When I do then my faith grows as I realize that NOTHING is too hard for Him to accomplish in my life!

Lord, help me to trust that nothing is too hard for You.

 

 


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Seasickness

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107: 28-29 “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.”

These poor men!  This photo is from a postcard of American soldiers suffering from seasickness on the deck of the USS Powhatan during World War I.  The misery on their faces says it all!  Not all of them seem to be affected.  And the waves cannot be too awfully strong as the deck remains level.  But it does not take much motion for the sensitive stomach to churn.

Today’s verse talks of merchants who were used to life on the sea.  But this time, the Lord Himself stirred up a tempest that created huge waves (verse 25).  Their courage melted away as they staggered around like drunkards.  This was outside their normal area of expertise.  Even so, it was not until they were at their “wits’ end” (verse 27) that they cried out to the Lord.  And when they did, He brought them out of their distress, stilling that storm and hushing the waves.  Coming out of it, they were thankful for the calm.

I take the calm in my life for granted, that is just until the waves grow large!  I am like these sea merchants in thinking I can handle the sudden storm.  But I quickly realize that I cannot.  What starts as a queasy stomach can turn into full grown panic as my small efforts do not seem to amount to much.  How good and faithful He is to respond to my cry!  Whether that storm is of my own making or a test from Him, my first thought should always be to humbly ask for His help.

Thank you Lord, that You can still my storm.

 


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Charging Stations

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:27-28 “Cause me to understand the way of Your precepts, that I may meditate on Your wonderful deeds. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word.”

When I enter the airport lounge, no longer do I look for the most comfortable chair, or the place with a view out the window.  I do not worry about who I am sitting next to or how close I am to my gate.  Like so many others, I am scanning the waiting area for those power stations for my phone.  I have a horror of my phone being without enough power to text people about schedule changes or missed flights.  There is something reassuring about having my phone charged up and being ready for any eventuality.

Today’s verse reminds me that it is God’s Word that can strengthen my soul.  Understanding His precepts, meditating on His wonderful deeds and being in His Word gives solace to a soul lethargic with sorrow.  Sadness depletes our strength and we need to be built up and encouraged.  His Word does that.  And even when it is inconvenient to be actually reading the Bible, there are always the memories of His faithfulness in the past that can bolster my faith and strengthen me.

My alone-time with Him is my charging station, renewing my spirit and my strength.   I do not, however, need to wait until I am dangerously low on power.  Being “prayed-up” and “charged up” keeps me in a state of preparedness for whatever unknowns are ahead of me.  I want to have full strength to face anything, but that can only happen as I stay connected to Him and His Word.

Lord, I am tired of being sad.  Strengthen me with Your Word today.