Devotions By Jan


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Notre Dame

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 3:15 “If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”

How heartbreaking to see Notre Dame of Paris engulfed in flames!  People in the streets sobbed. sang, and prayed as they watched the 250 feet flames rise in the skies.  This iconic historical landmark meant so much to so many.  It seems inconceivable that something that has solidly stood for almost nine centuries could fall prey to fire.  This image of the cathedral no longer represents reality as the spire has toppled.  The news story is so recent at this writing that the extent of the damage is not yet known.

Today’s verse is an incredible reassurance in the face of this bad news.  The church of the living God does not consist of man-made materials.  The structure is not the church.  Though roofs, walls and spires may fall, the church continues.  Truth continues.  And the universal church is a pillar and buttress of truth.  The pillars on the inside hold up the truth.  The buttress jutting out on the exterior also support truth on the outside.  Jesus said that the gates of hell will never prevail against the church He has built (Matt. 16:18).

God’s Church is where He resides and He has taken up residence in the hearts of believers (I Cor. 6:19).  The church is made up of a believers in the past, present and future.  Together, we are to stand for the truth in a world where the Deceiver is actively at work.  The permanence of a building pales in comparison to the fact that God’s truth will prevail in the end!

Lord, keep me standing for the truth of Your Word.


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Air Bag Fail?

Scripture for Today: Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.”

No, my Mother-in-law’s air bag did not deploy.  Her 1991 car had only frontal air bags in any case and none on the sides.  But we do what we can to protect ourselves in the event of a crash.  We wear our seat belts and obey the rules.  We often depend on those air bags even though there have been recalls and even though there are counterfeits out there that malfunction.  And not every airbag is even supposed to deploy in some circumstances.  But we do try to take every precaution.

Today’s verse tells us that God’s protection belongs to those who love His name.  We can rejoice because He is all-knowing and all-powerful.  Knowing that He is in control means that we can have a light heart and even sing for joy.  His love and protection is always trustworthy as He has a plan for what He allows to happen.

I wish belonging to the Lord meant that I or my loved ones are never touched by evil, sickness or accident.  We live in a fallen world and it is not Paradise!  But God’s Word reassures me that He is in control.  The pain and suffering He allows is always used for His higher purposes.  None of it is “bad luck” or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I am fragile.  Life is fragile.  But I belong to the God of the universe and that calms me down.  He has already taken care of my eternity.  I can trust Him for every detail of this life.

Thank you Lord, that Your loving kindness protects me.

 


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April Fool’s Day

Scripture for Today: Romans 1:21 “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Today being April Fool’s Day is every prankster’s dream.  In France they call it, “poisson d’avril.”  The idea is to tape a paper fish on someone’s back without them knowing.  It is believed to have originated with the change of calendar under King Charles IX in 1564.  He moved the new year from April 1st to January 1st. The practice of exchanging gifts continued but in the form of fake gifts to make fun.  Fish were offered as this was also the period of Lent when eating meat was forbidden.  Eventually the whole concept became the silly precursor to our April Fool’s Day.

Today’s verse describes a foolish heart.  Foolish hearts reside in people who will not acknowledge God.  The previous verse says that they are without excuse having seen God’s creative power in nature.  These same foolish hearts claim to be wise, but by discounting and explaining away God’s revelation of Himself, they become fools.  Somewhere deep inside, perhaps they know God is there but they refuse to glorify Him.  Their hearts become dark and their thoughts futile.

I can feel a bit overawed sometimes by the extensive knowledge and advanced degrees of those around me.  But in fact, whether one is wise or a fool does not have much to do with it.  Foolishness is described as a refusal to acknowledge God (Psalm 14:1) and the fear of the Lord – that is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10).  On my own I would have remained in my foolish state.  But because of God’s power in my life, He has changed my heart to love and fear Him.

Thank you Lord, for enlightening this fool!


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Sleeping Whales

Scripture for Today: Psalm 121:2-3 “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber.”

The blowhole of this Blue Whale can be clearly seen on the top of his head.  As a mammal, he needs to periodically surface to fill his huge lungs with air so he can breathe underwater.  This means that a whale can never fall fully asleep!  Instead, they only allow half of their brain to sleep at a time.  The other half of their brain stays awake in order to come up for air when needed.

Today’s verse reminds us of how constant God’s care is of His own.  As the Maker of heaven and earth, He is all- powerful and has no need of sleep.  During the contest between God and Baal, Elijah taunted the false prophets when their god did not answer.  Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened! (I Kings 18:27)  The frantic dancing, shouting, and cutting of their bodies did not awaken a god that did not exist.  By contrast, our God is a faithful Source of help, always attentive to our cry day or night.

What a reassuring thought that He watches over me day or night!  There is never a time when I need to get His attention.  He is always thinking of me as His thoughts toward me are more numerous than the grains of sand (Psalm 139:18).  His watch over me means that He knows and He cares.  Nothing gets past Him.  What He allows to happen will be used to strengthen my faith and deepen our love relationship.  Whatever I am facing today, I can trust that He knows what He is doing.

Thank you Lord, for Your faithful watch over me.

 

 

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Cricket Shelter

Scripture for Today: Psalm 31:20 “In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from all human intrigues; You keep them safe in Your dwelling from accusing tongues.”

This spiky plastic pod looks positively alien!  But in fact, it is a shelter, creating a modular farm.  And it is built just for crickets and for raising them.  These insects are harvested, dried and ground up for the production of flour.  As disgusting as it sounds, they provide three times as much protein as steak!  In areas that are impoverished, they can be another source to combat potential starvation.  The spikes help capture the wind and provide ventilation.  They can be used individually or stacked in sequence forming a line of shelters.

Today’s verse is a wonderful assurance for those who are under some serious verbal attack.  God’s presence is a shelter from accusing tongues.  He hides His own from the plots and conspiracies of men.  David is often under physical attack from his enemies.  But the damage inflicted this time is to his name and his reputation.  To combat this kind of slanderous attack he turns to God to still those lying lips (verse 18).  David ends the psalm testifying to the reader that all those who hope in the Lord can be strong and take heart (verse 24).

False accusations cause a very different kind of pain and it is often unexpected.  It is an effective attack as even the accusation standing on its own can ruin a reputation.  But God knows and He hates lying.  He promises vindication and protection by His very presence.  He stores up good things for those who trust Him to act.  Not only that, He gives to us those good things, “in the sight of all,” validating us publicly.

Thank you Lord, that trust placed in You is well placed.

 


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Zorbing

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 26:7 “The path of the righteous is level; You, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.”

It looks like a giant hamster ball!  In fact that is one name for the extreme sport of zorbing.  The idea is to roll down a hill, enjoying the sensation while being  protected.  This plastic ball is actually two balls, one inside the other.  The “zorber” rolls head over heels being strapped in (or not) and sloshes around when water is added.  More control is possible the more level the ground is.

Today’s verse describes a path that is level and smooth.  It is not that way as a result of our own efforts.  It is level and smooth because of what the Lord does for the righteous.  Without His intervention, life is full of ups and downs and unwelcome jolts to our progress.  On our own, the path we take not only becomes rough and uncomfortable but also takes us in the wrong direction! (Isaiah 53:6).  But in living out the righteousness that He gives us through Jesus Christ, we can have a totally different ride!

I wish this verse meant that there would never be any problems for the believer.  The Lord affirmed that there will be trouble in this world (John 16:33).  But in choosing to follow His Word, we at least avoid additional and unnecessary problems of our own making.  Sin complicates a life and disobedience and rebellion make for a very bumpy ride.   Thankfully, in His grace the Lord will sometimes smooth over even those rough patches.  When He allows the jolts, He brings us through with new dependence on Him.

Lord, I need You to smooth out what looks like rough road ahead.  Thank you that I can trust You.

 

 

 

 

 


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The Ice Queen

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”

This 77 year old grandmother from Texas looks secure in this photo, perched upon an “ice throne” on her vacation in Iceland.  However, seconds later a wave washed in and dislodged this chunk of ice on the shore.  She knew she was in trouble when her “throne” began to rock back and forth.  Before she could react, the wave swept her out to sea and she had to be rescued!  Thankfully, although she was shaken, she was unharmed!

Today’s verse talks about receiving a Kingdom that thankfully cannot be shaken.  The Israelites had already experienced the earth shaking at Mount Sinai when God warned them.  And one day God will again shake the earth and even the heavens with warning and judgement (Rev. 6:12-14).  Only God’s Kingdom will remain, a Kingdom that will be immovable and eternal.  This Kingdom will include a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1-2).  It is with this perspective that we can worship the God of the universe as He should be worshipped, with reverence and awe.

It is sobering for me to think of the instability and temporary nature of every created thing around me.  But what awaits in God’s Kingdom is infinitely better and more beautiful!  What’s more, there will be no more shaking, sinking or waves of trouble that overwhelm and destabilize.  I want to build my life on what is eternal and not swept out to sea!  Seeking His Kingdom and rule first gives my life a stability not dependent on the swirling circumstances around me.

Lord, I am so thankful that because of Your grace, You have made me part of Your Kingdom!