Devotions By Jan

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Are We There Yet??

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 4:17 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

“Are we there yet?” must be the most often-asked question while going through this tunnel!  The Laerdal tunnel in Norway is the longest land tunnel in the world at 24.5 kilometers.  Because of concern for the well-being of the travelers, advice was sought from industrial psychology consultants.  To keep people positive, three large caverns were built every six kilometers with blue lighting to suggest daylight and yellow lighting on walls to represent sunrise!  But what would keep me positive is the sign with the length posted!

Today’s verse encourages positivity as our troubles are said to be “momentary.”  Regardless of the duration, every difficulty in life is temporary when compared to eternity!   Pain is momentary but glory is eternal.  And the glory experienced in Heaven grows in direct relation to our afflictions here on earth.  The hard times experienced by the believer are not only momentary but are working for him.  What awaits us far outweighs any sadness and pain on earth.

To answer the question, no, we are not there yet.  But we will be.  Ten thousand years from now I very much doubt that I will give this pandemic a second thought.  All the trials and difficult times I experience are but for a moment  They are a temporary condition.  And as hard as they feel, it is a pain that 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.

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

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The Other Side

Scripture for Today:  Colossians 3:1-2  “Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

There is not much to enjoy about tunnels.  They are dark, smelly, and claustrophobic.  When traversing a mountain in Europe, the tunnel will normally have the length posted on a sign at the entrance.  I find that helpful when the tunnel is especially long and the exit cannot readily be seen.  But the best part of the tunnel experience is the light that beckons at the end of it!

Today’s verse talks about setting our minds and hearts on things above in Heaven.  It is because the believer has been raised with Christ that he can see his world differently.  Rather than focusing on the dark uncomfortable tunnel, he sees the light at the end of it.  Christ is that Light (John 8:12).  And He promises that we will never walk in darkness.  It is never completely dark as He is there and He is the light of life.

When life is good, my mind and heart are set firmly on earthly things.  I am less likely to think on Heaven when I am comfortable.  But when I forget about eternity, somehow these earthly distractions start to lose their luster.  Life becomes a bit dim when I focus entirely on what I can see and touch.  And it is when life is difficult that my gaze turns to that Light.  He is my future.  He is my Hope.  Passing through this “tunnel experience” of a pandemic will not last forever, but life with Him will!

Lord, keep me focused on what is ahead!

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Scripture for Today: I Peter 1:4b-5 “This inheritance is kept in Heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last times.”

This yellow protective suit makes me smile, especially as the wearer has seemingly incorporated it into his daily routine!  But this “HAZMAT suit wanna-be” looks less scary than the real thing.  The hazard materials suit is meant to shield against chemical, nuclear and biological agents as well as fire and high temperatures.  The suit can only be worn up to two hours as it is hot and poorly ventilated.

Today’s verse tells us that the believer is shielded at all times by God’s power.  Our faith is that shield, the same piece of armor that protects us from our enemy, Satan (Eph. 6:16).  God’s power insures that the inheritance of our future salvation is kept safe and secure in Heaven.  Nothing can touch it.  No chemical, nuclear or biological agent is greater than His power.  But this does not mean that we will not “suffer grief and all kinds of trials.” (verse 6)  What it does mean is that there is a future and a hope.

There is lots of uncertainty in our covid-conscious world right now.  We are all wondering what measures are needed to protect ourselves and for how long.  It is sobering to see how quickly the world can change and how powerless we can feel.  But the one thing I am sure of is God’s power to protect, to guard and to save.  His plans for me are never frustrated.  Even though I may be touched by suffering and trial, He has secured for me an untouchable inheritance that is eternal.

Lord, I am so thankful for Your power to save!

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Through the Ages

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 15:54 “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true; ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.'”

This image from the Imagerie d’Epinal, France hangs on our wall.  For me it brings back memories of our tour of the ancient time-honored printing process.  This image was done by François George in 1826 and depicts the stages of life.  Each stair step corresponds to an age of life from birth to death.  The first fifty climb the steps but after that it is all downhill!  Under the stairway is the supernatural showing both eternal destinations.

Today’s verse reminds us that the bodies we have are perishable and mortal.  But they will not always be so!  One day, believers will be clothed with another kind of body, one that will never perish and will be immortal!  Death that for now seems to have the upper hand, will one day be forever defeated.  Death will be swallowed up in victory! (Isaiah 25:8)  The sting of death will no longer be felt (verse 55).  It is for this reason that we can stand firm in our faith and give ourselves fully to God (verse 58).

It does not matter where I am on that staircase.  Whatever age I am and whatever my body is doing in its slow downward progression, I have hope of an amazing future!  He has promised me an eternity with Him and the best is still ahead of me.  Because of what Christ did on the cross, death and evil do not win.  No despair can erase this truth.  No tragedy nullifies my hope.  In Christ alone, there is “No guilt in life, no fear in death; This is the power of Christ in me.”

Thank you Lord, for Your promise!

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Zip Codes

Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 5:8  “We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

Did you know there are 43,000 zip codes?  They first made their appearance in 1963.  This 1973 stamp features their growing importance.  The 5 digit code was improved upon in 1983 with the addition of 4 more digits.  But it was met with such resistance that it is not required.  Some zip codes are more well known like the Beverly Hills 90210 zip code featured in a television series.  ZIP is actually an acronym meaning, “Zone Improvement Plan.”

Today’s verse expresses Paul’s preference for another “zone,” one that will be a huge improvement!  There is no zone on earth that can compare to what awaits us in our forever home!  What God has prepared for those who love Him defies the imagination! (I Cor. 2:9)  And for Paul, looking forward to being at home with the Lord gave him courage to face persecution, imprisonments and rejection.  This world is never really “home” for the believer.  We are “at home” when we are in His presence.  There will be a “settledness” at home with Him.

There is a saying that one can be too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.  I totally disagree!  The more I have this eternal perspective, the more fully I live this life with intention and significance!  I never want to feel too “settled” here.  True “home” remains in my future.  It is so incredible that it is worth thinking about and anticipating!  And like Paul, the thought of my forever home gives me hope and courage when life gets difficult.  The hope of my heavenly home inspires and motivates me to live this life for Him.

Thank you Lord, that being with You is being at home.