Devotions By Jan

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The Grace Building

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 3:10 “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should build with care”

Built by the Grace brothers in the 1920’s as their premiere retail store, this building in Sydney, Australia epitomized the optimism of that period.  But with the Great Depression of 1930, it did not live up to expectations.  In 1943 it was used as a headquarters by General MacArthur.  It remained in the possession of the government until purchased and transformed into a hotel.  There is grace in this building’s past in it being repurposed over and over again!

Today’s verse likens a believer’s life to a building.  This is also a “grace building” as the foundation is Christ Jesus Himself. (verse 11)  Each believer builds his life with care, making sure that one has the sure and strong foundation of the grace and forgiveness of the Lord.  Any other foundation will cause a building to topple.  This building can withstand any damaging storm.  A life built on Christ can experience all kinds of setbacks but there is always His grace with which He rebuilds and repurposes!

My foundation is not always visible to others.  But when the storms hit, (and they seem to be sweeping through quite often) I know I will not be shaken.  Christ keeps my life stable.  Even if mountains are shaken and hills removed, His unfailing love is my foundation and I will not be shaken! (Isaiah 54:10)  Building my life on Christ and His incredible grace means I can face tomorrow and the next day with confidence!  No other foundation can compare and He has proved faithful over and over!

Thank you Lord, that because of You and Your grace, I can stay standing.

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Contagious Fear

Scripture for Today:  Deuteronomy 20:8  “Then the officer shall add, ‘Is anyone afraid or fainthearted?  Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.'”

I love the message of this saying!  It isn’t until the first duck lands on the head of this crocodile that the other two dare to get near!  The first duck is especially fearless as he discovers that the crocodile is fake!  Of course, he may not have realized it until coming close and landing on it.  In any case, courage IS contagious as is its opposite; fear.

In today’s verse, officers are addressing the troops before battle.  They have been reassured that the Lord will be fighting for them and would give them the victory.  They were told there was no need to be afraid, to be terrified or to give way to panic (verses 1, 3-4).  The officers asked the soldiers for complete commitment.  Those with a new house, a new vineyard or those newly engaged were allowed to go home.  And then comes this surprising verse.  Even those afraid were encouraged to go home, because fear is contagious!

In God’s Word is often found the phrase, “Be not afraid.”  The Spirit God has given us does not make us timid or fearful (II Tim. 1:7).  Regardless of the size of the enemy, God is greater.  Regardless of that unknown future, God is greater.  Regardless of any obstacle we face, God is greater.  When we are in a place of complete trust and confidence, then there is no room for fear.  Acknowledging His loving and sovereign control chases away any doubt or fear.  Fear is contagious.  But so is confidence!  Being around others that trust Him bolsters my faith as well.

Lord, may my trust in You be an encouragement to others today!

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No Fear

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.”

I do not normally think of myself as a fearful person, but then I am not trying to do what this woman is doing, hanging over the Hong Kong skyline!  She is either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid to take such a risk!  The hammock seems to suggest ease and relaxation, which has got to be far from what she is feeling!  Even so, it is a sure bet that she does not suffer from acrophobia!

Today’s verse is an encouragement to not fear.  I am to put my trust in God.  His presence keeps me from being dismayed at dizzying heights.  He strengthens.  He helps.  And most importantly, He upholds me with His righteous right hand!  Whether I am facing insurmountable odds, or the presence of evil, I do not have to give in to fear.

The stronger my faith is in Him, the less problem I will have with fear.  In Matthew 8:26 Jesus challenges His disciples with the question, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  Their boat being pummeled by a storm seemed reason enough.  But had they had more trust in Him, fear would not have been an issue.  I do the same thing when faced with scary circumstances.  The level of fear I am feeling is a barometer of just how much I am trusting Him.  But with God for us – who (or what) can be against us? (Rom. 8:31)  Through Him, we are more than conquerors, even over our own fears!

Thank you Lord, that because of You, I do not have to fear.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)

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The Pomegranate

Scripture for Today:  Colossians 1:11 “being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.”

As a child I tired quickly, trying to pop out those pomegranate seeds one by one!  I would get more of the staining juice on my hands than in my mouth!  Unlike other fruits, it is the seeds or “arils” that are eaten.  But de-seeding a pomegranate takes either some know-how, some patience, or both.  However it is done, this sweet red fruit is well worth the effort.  I love them sprinkled on a salad or made into a glaze over roasted duck!

Today’s verse indicates from where patience comes.  It is through the strength and power of the Lord that we can live with a patient attitude.  It is His “glorious might” that makes it possible to have great endurance and patience.  To live a life worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in every way (verse 10) will take patience and endurance.  But thankfully, we do not muster it up on our own.  It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit working in us (Gal. 5: 22).  It is also the result of having our faith tested and seeing the Lord come through for us. (James 1:3)

For me, the biggest test of patience is waiting for the Lord to answer my prayers, my way.  His timing is rarely my own.  And I tend to treat my prayers as “unanswered” if I don’t receive the answer desired!  How many times I have worried, full of anxiety while awaiting His response!  But being impatient serves no purpose and certainly does not obligate Him to hurry!  I know He is pleased when I wait for His answers and promises with a patient calm heart.

Lord, help me to patiently trust You more.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)

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Pancake Tortoise

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.”

We had trouble actually seeing this Pancake Tortoise at the San Diego Zoo as he was so completely flattened and wedged in the rock.  I had never heard of a tortoise that can run but this one does!  That is because his shell is lightweight and full of small holes.  The fact that his shell is thin, flat and flexible means that he can flatten himself like a pancake and hide in narrow rock crevices.  So rather than retreat into his shell like most, this guy runs to the rocks until the danger is past.

Today’s verse tells us where to hide when we feel threatened.  David was constantly under attack from within and from without.  He was the object of evil plots and slanderous tongues.  In his anguish and distress he runs to the only One who can give him shelter and safety; the presence of the Lord.  David did not withdraw into his own shell or resources.  He ran to His presence and there God hid him.

There are times to stand and face the enemy.  But there are also times to retreat and run to Him and His presence.  He has promised shelter and safety when we are just too tired and discouraged.  He protects us when we are fearful and overwhelmed.  The unkind  remarks of others can create deep wounds.  Fighting against malicious gossip that damages a reputation is practically impossible.  The only solution is to run to His presence and allow Him to take care of those “human intrigues.”  He is more than able to fight for me!

Thank you Lord, for the safety and shelter of Your presence.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)