Devotions By Jan


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Petrified Wood

Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who has 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.”

This piece of petrified wood hardly resembles wood any longer.  The inside is as hard as rock.  Petrified wood is classed as a fossil and it is formed when a tree falls to the ground and is covered with mud or ash.  Rather than decaying, the organic plant material breaks down, forming a void. Over much time, as mineral laden groundwater flows through the inside, the deposits build up forming rock in that void.

Today’s verse is a process that takes much time as well.  But the result is a strength every bit as strong as that rock.  The Lord allows suffering for awhile.  He uses it to empty us of all of our own resources, pride and self-sufficiency.  Then when there is a void, He moves in with His strength.  Little by little we are filled with those rock-making materials.  We no longer resemble ourselves when we are filled with His strength and power.

It is in the middle of those difficult hurting moments that I realize I am weak.  Any other time I think I am strong.  All it takes is a bit of suffering to realize that I am not.  The Lord is so gracious to come to me Himself and personally restore me.  He gives me His strength and helps me be strong and steadfast.  I may look the same on the outside, but something has changed inside.  And it would not have happened had He not allowed the void and emptiness first.

Thank you Lord, for filling me with Your strength.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 


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Mud Bath

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Although these majestic creatures are so huge and ugly, I am saddened to think that they soon could be extinct.  The horn of the rhinoceros, because of its purported medicinal properties, make them a target for poachers.  When the rhino is not foraging or resting in the shade of a tree, he can be found wallowing in the mud.  The mud cools them down in a hot climate and it also protects them from insects.  The mud works as a sun block as well.

Today’s verse gives a different view of mud.  Along with the mire it is a slippery place for human feet.  David cried out to the Lord when he found himself figuratively in that slimy pit.  There was no way out and the Lord did not respond immediately.  David waited patiently ( verse 1).  In that time of waiting he did not turn to the proud or to false gods for help (verse 4).  David continued to trust while waiting.  And he praises the Lord for lifting him out of the mess and giving him a firm stable place to stand.

It often feels as if the Lord does not immediately come when I cry to Him.  He sometimes asks me to wait as well.  Of course He hears me cry to Him.  He sees my predicament and He cares.  But He also wants my faith and trust in Him to grow and strengthen.  So many times it is in the waiting that this happens.  And His delay means that others see and can praise Him with me when rescue comes! (verse 3)

Lord, help me wait with patience.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Floating

img_20170212_151120Scripture for Today: Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

The Dead Sea was an ideal place to float with no effort at all!  My husband and I were there twenty-two years ago and the experience of floating on that water was unique.  The salt content at 29% (as compared to oceans with 4%) made the water so dense that sinking was practically impossible!  It was as if we were being held up from underneath.

Today’s verse is a wonderful promise of support for God’s chosen ones.  Those He has redeemed for all eternity need have no fear of sinking in the water of this world’s troubles.  He gives strength and help.  He upholds us with His powerful and righteous hand.  Regardless of how deep that water is, we have no cause for fear.  His steady love and power will hold us up and keep our head above water.

Moving through hard times, I need to hear this.  There are times I feel as if I am sinking but I am not.  He has never let me down.  And I know He has a plan and purpose for those difficulties.  But I feel dismay and fear even so.  I paddle as if my life depended on it.  I panic and swallow water when I could be trusting Him and floating on the surface.  He is holding me up from underneath where I cannot see.  Walking by faith and not by sight (II Cor. 5:7) means I take Him at His word regardless of how dire my circumstances are.  He is there and there is no way He is letting me go under.

Thank you Lord, for holding me up!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 


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The Woodchuck

Scripture for Today: Psalm 62:11 “One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard; Power belongs to You, God.”

This woodchuck seems unconcerned about the answer to the riddle: “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”  He really does not need to count as these marmots do not normally chuck wood at all!  They are regionally called groundhogs and as such are great earth movers creating their burrows.  One wildlife expert tried to answer the question by using the equivalent in weight of dirt displaced!  There are five “w” words and five “ch” sounds in this tongue twister.  And it is a good way to distinguish the difference between “would” and “could.”

In today’s verse, David proclaims the power of God.  With the Lord, there is never a question of whether God “could” do something.  By His power He created everything we see (Col. 1:16).  With God all things are possible (Matt. 19:26).  Nothing is too hard for Him.  David had seen God’s power up close and personal in his own life and could say this with conviction.  He had even heard God speak it to His heart.  But there was a second truth David heard, revealed in the next verse.; “and with You Lord is an unfailing love.”

The words, “would” and “could” are often and unintentionally interchanged in prayer.  But there is a huge difference in their meaning.  I never need to ask God if He could do something for me or someone else.  The question in prayer is always, “would You?”  Nothing is outside His scope of power, but something I want may well be outside His will.  And when He answers “no,” I can be confident of that second truth.  In His unfailing love He knows what is best.

Help me Lord, to trust Your love.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:5 “You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.”

The dilemma this sheep faces is surely that of being between, “a rock and a hard place!”  I cannot imagine what lured him into such a predicament!  The choices look pretty limited and uncomfortable.  It is thought that this expression comes from Greek mythology where one had to confront one of two sea monsters!  It has been a popular expression since the early twentieth century when it was used to refer to bankruptcy.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm that describes how vast is God’s knowledge of each one of us.  He is acquainted with all of our ways and all of our movements.  He is everywhere and there is no fleeing His presence.  But this verse is so very personal.  He encloses or hems us in with His presence.  He puts a limit ahead of us and a limit behind us.  He does not do this to frustrate us with impossible choices.  He does this in a gesture of love, to place His hand on us.

It is understandable that He needs to hem me in and put His hand on me.  I am so often in constant movement and activity.  I hardly stand still.  Taking time out for Him and being still seems impossible sometimes.  The pace of life makes me forget He is even there.  There are times I need to be stopped in my tracks in order to see His hand and recognize His presence.  Being hemmed in by the Lord is a good thing.  When I cannot go forward or turn backward, it is then that I look up.  That is just how He wants it!

Lord, keep me looking to You for every decision!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Pizza Dough

Scripture for Today: II Cor. 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

It all seems a bit complicated.  After punching down the rising pizza dough and kneading it, the dough is further manhandled by throwing it up in the air!  It looks like an art designed to impress the onlooker.  But in fact, this process of spinning it in the air creates the round shape and allows just enough airflow for easier handling.  With this method, the dough retains more moisture making the crust softer.

In today’s verse, Paul is recounting some of the hardships he and Timothy had faced.  At the beginning of the chapter and at the end, he says, “We do not lose heart.”  It would have been completely understandable if they had!  Paul had been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned and imprisoned for his faith.  Being perplexed, he perhaps did not always understand the “why” behind what was happening.  Yet, he remained confident that the pulling and stretching was producing something of value, forming the likeness of Jesus  in him (verse 10).

When I am faced with hard times, I often feel perplexed.  I usually cannot explain why the Lord allows certain difficulties in my life.  But He promises that all the pulling and stretching will be producing a “weight of glory” one day (II Cor. 4:17).  All that is painful or devestating is only a “light affliction” compared to what lies ahead.  I can be confident that even when panicked and confused, He is in control and His control is good.  How good of Him to reassure me!

Thank you Lord, that You use it all to make me more like You.  Help me not to lose heart.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Laugh Track

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

In the days of early television when everything was live, there was no need for any kind of canned or prerecorded laughter.  But later that instant feedback was lacking.  The solution became the laugh track.  The mixing of prerecorded laughs included the housewife giggles, the belly laugh, and the guy who gets the joke early.  For years the  laugh track was used and over used.  Thankfully, it is now not as prominent.  Along with many others I find the sound fake, distracting and an annoying intrusion.

Today’s verse is about someone 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 often 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!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.