Devotions By Jan


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Misfits

Scripture For Today:  Hebrews 11:13b and 14 …”and they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.”

Do you remember the old song on Sesame Street that says, “One of these things is not like the other.  One of these things just doesn’t belong…”  It is obvious from this photo which of these petals does not belong.  Living as a foreigner in France meant that I often felt like a misfit.  After almost thirty years of living in France I am still dumbfounded by newly discovered differences in their thinking!

What is even more surprising to me is having this same out-of-place feeling when in the USA.  My frame of reference has changed and I have grown comfortable with what previously was strange to me.  I find it difficult to change again to the American way of thinking.  So in fact, I consider myself a misfit on both sides of the ocean.

Today’s verse is part of a chapter listing  great men and women of faith.  What is true of all of them is that they were looking for a country of their own.  They were not comfortable in their culture.  They were longing for a better country, a heavenly one (vs 16).  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.  So in one sense, we are ALL called to be misfits.  As believers, our citizenship is in heaven so we do not feel too comfortable in whatever country we live.  We are not home yet.

I love living in France and I love living in the States.  But in fact, there is a restlessness inside of me.  I want a better country.  And He is preparing it for me!

Lord, keep me looking toward that country to come!

 

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A Crown

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 2:19 “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?”

The Miss America contest winner gets to wear a crown encrusted with diamonds and worth $200,000.  She only wears it for television broadcasts.  It is too valuable and a security risk to be wearing it out in public.  It stays under lock and key and is heavily guarded.  What one sees in public is pretty but only a copy.

Today’s verse speaks of a crown which is in fact far more valuable than any literal diamond encrusted one.  This crown represents our eternal hope and the joy we will experience in the presence of the Lord.  But even more, the crown represents the people who have come to Christ through one’s testimony and influence.  The crown represents as well those who the believer has encouraged and helped to grow closer to Him, as Paul had for the believers in the church in Thessalonica.  If we “glory” or boast at all, it will not be in our own exploits of faith or our good works.  Our glory will be individuals.

What joy there will be to see in Heaven those for whom we have prayed so diligently!  What a thrill to see someone walk through those gates for whom we had given up hope!  That sacrificial gift made to help the Gospel spread will mean we will see believers from every tribe and nation!  Aspiring to this crown is a worthy goal!  I am my Mother’s crown as she led me to the Lord as a small child.  My crown is made up of individuals I have loved and prayed with over the years.

Lord, keep me faithful.


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The Bod Pod

Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 4:17  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

No, this does not come from the set of the Mork and Mindy television set, although it looks like it could have!  The Bod Pod is another way to measure body composition.  It measures the amount of fat weight as opposed to the amount of fat-free weight.   The Bod Pod  can even measure fat around organs.  It’s all about the quality of the weight, whether lean muscle mass or body fat.  I think I would rather tell myself that the weight gain after the holiday is from muscle mass!

Today mentions another kind of weight and it is all good; the weight of glory!  This is a weight one would like to see increase.  But the weight of glory in Heaven grows in direct relation to our afflictions here on earth.  The hard times are working for us.  Life’s sorrows are achieving that weight of glory!

All the trials and difficult times I experience are but for a moment  They are a temporary condition.  And as hard as they feel, they are considered  “light” in comparison to the eternal glory that awaits.  My pain is never wasted.  My sorrow is not for nothing.  This truth keeps me from “losing heart”(verse 16).  Remembering this keeps me looking forward to what is unseen and eternal.  Being convinced keeps me renewed on the inside when I am falling apart on the outside (verse 16).  One day everything will be glorious.  One day there will be only recompense and joy!

Thank you Lord, that life’s trials can seem small when compared to You and eternity!

 

 


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Tissue Invasion

Scripture for Today: Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

This could be me this past week.  The tears have been flowing freely at the death of my Mother.  With all the tissue I have used, the trash overflows and so do I.  I know she is with the Lord and free from pain, but for me the pain of separation is just beginning.  But despite the tears, my heart is at peace with His promises and reassurances.

Today’s verse describes a day when there will be no more need for tissues.  There will be no illness of any kind.  There will be no pain or death, no separation or sadness.  Anything and everything that provokes tears will be gone forever!  What an incredible thought!

I love this verse as the Lord is intimately involved in erasing our sadness.  He Himself gets close and personal.  He takes it on Himself to wipe those tears from our eyes.  And once His loving powerful hands dry our face, those tears never return.  I can just imagine His look of infinite tenderness as He does this.  He knows all about tears.  His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death in the garden of Gethsemane.  He endured that horrible time of suffering in order to “swallow up death forever” for you and me.

Heaven is going to be a noisy place!  Those who sow a lifetime of tears will reap with songs of joy! (Psalm 126:5)  Cries of anguish will be replaced with melodies of joy.  He has promised.

Thank you Lord, that You will personally dry my tears.


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A Welcome

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:11 ” and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

I love seeing welcome signs at border crossings between cities, counties and states.  This one seems an especially inviting welcome with our name on it in Kent, England!  I remember when our kids were small and we were back in the States for a year.  We were used to crossing borders frequently in Europe so when we made a big deal about crossing a state line, our seven year old son asked, “Is this Portugal?”

Today’s verse is about crossing over the border from an earthly life into the eternal kingdom of God.  I am not so sure there is a sign needed to mark that entrance! However, there will be a “rich welcome” for those who have placed their faith in the saving work of Jesus.  A rich welcome must mean that no one enters quietly or unnoticed.  Each entrance will be a celebrated home-coming and marked with a warm welcome.  The Prodigal Son received a rich welcome when he returned to his Father’s house with his Father running out to greet him.  He welcomes him with the best robe, a ring and sandals.  And there is a feast and celebration all done to welcome him!

I wonder what was done to welcome my Mother into that eternal kingdom just last week.  No way did she slip in unnoticed.  Perhaps her “rich welcome” meant being greeted by her family and friends who arrived before her.  But the richest welcome of all would be to be greeted and held in the warm embrace of the Savior!

“When He takes me by the hand, and leads me through the Promised Land, what a day, glorious day that will be!”


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Lifetime Achievement Award

Scripture for Today: Genesis 15:1 “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision; ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.'”

George Clooney has just been announced as this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute.  He is being honored for his achievements as an actor, writer, producer and director.  He has won two Oscars as well as other honors.  And it cannot hurt that he remains so good looking, although that may not have influenced those bestowing this award!  In any case, this award represents approval from people for noteworthy achievements.

Today we bury my 95 year old Mother.  Her lifetime achievements are not so well-known or noteworthy.  But right now she is enjoying her reward.  This reward lasts for eternity and it does not depend on the approval of men..  Today’s verse explains that Abraham’s reward is God Himself.  Abraham enjoyed an intimate relationship with his Creator.  He was even called, “God’s friend.” (James 2:23).  He, like my Mother, was able to enjoy his reward while here on earth.  But to literally be in His presence is a reward that surpasses any other!

I think the world of my Mother but of course, she was not perfect.  However, I know she is enjoying her “Reward” because of God’s grace and forgiveness.  Although she spent her life following and obeying Him, she did not earn her place in His presence.  She is there because of God’s grace.  And I know, because I have accepted His grace as well, I will one day be able to hug her again.  I know she is hearing God’s approval as He says, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

Thank you Lord, for being our very great reward!

 

 


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The Condor

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 15:25-26 “For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

This vigilant squirrel is right to keep an eye on the condor flying overhead!  But perhaps he does not need to worry too much as the condor will only feed on a carcass.  They are scavengers and I suppose they have their place in the scheme of things.  But to me they are disgusting because of their eating habits, not to mention their grunts, growls and hissing!  There are two species of vultures to which the condor refers and they are associated with death in Scripture.

Today’s verse speaks of death as an enemy.  It is an enemy that touches every one and each time brings with it unspeakable sorrow.  It is an enemy mankind has brought on ourselves by our own sin and rebellion against God (Rom. 6:23).  But thankfully, death will one day be vanquished forever.  There will be a time when there will be no more mourning or death (Rev. 21:4).  The pain and sorrow of separation will in the future be a distant memory.  Death will take its rightful place, fully vanquished and overcome under His feet.

I know this is true as Jesus has already vanquished death for Himself when He rose up from the grave.  And God has already made me alive spiritually when I was dead in my sins (Eph. 2:5).  But what is true in a spiritual sense will one day be true in a physical sense as well!   I will enjoy a new body that will never wear out (I Cor. 15:54) and death will be “swallowed up in victory!”  No more funerals, obituaries or burials!  And best of all, no more goodbyes!

Thanks you Lord, for the coming victory over death.