Devotions By Jan


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Caribou

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 11:13 “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”

Caribou seem to always be on the move.  They are called the “Nomads of the North” for good reason.  The caribou lay claim to the longest terrestrial migration on the planet!  Some of these beautiful animals, also called reindeer, travel up to 2,737 miles per year!  Different factors affect the timing of their movements but the migrations in general follow the seasons.  Perhaps the reason the caribou have survived tough conditions for so many thousands of years is the fact that they keep moving.

Today’s verse is in a chapter that lists the 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 where they were.  In a sense they were nomads.  Rather than becoming too comfortable where they were, they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God (verse 16).

As believers our citizenship is in Heaven (Phil.3:20) and we are not to feel too comfortable in whatever country we live.  I am not home yet.  But there are times when I am so steeped in this world and its values that I forget that this is not my home.  As much as I want to live comfortably here, I can become too complacent and forget to have that eternal perspective.  By living like a stranger or foreigner here, I can keep my eyes on my forever home!

Lord, keep me looking forward to my true home.

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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!

 


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Walk Ins Welcome

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:19 “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.”

This store name may give some potential clients pause!  Considering the reaction of one’s mother to a tattoo may just dissuade some customers.  But the billboard is very welcoming with the words, “Walk Ins Welcome.”  Normally this means no appointment needed.  Maybe no mental preparation either!  Those three little words appeal to impulse buying and probably account for much of their sales.  One is always welcomed to spend money!

Today’s verse is a psalm of praise for salvation.  The gates of righteousness stand wide open for those who have cried out to God for His salvation (verse 21).  Only those who have accepted Christ’s righteousness can enter these gates.  On our own merits, no one can enter.  We have no righteousness of our own (Eccl. 7:20).  But our faith in the Righteous One and His sacrifice for sin is credited as righteousness (Rom. 4:5).  We cannot just walk in.  It is because of His righteousness those gates are opened.  And for believers, a rich welcome awaits us into the eternal kingdom (II Peter 1:11).

The Lord is, “my one defense, my righteousness.”  I can stand before those imposing gates of righteousness with full assurance.  Not because of my efforts but because of His incredible grace to me!  A rich welcome must mean that no one enters quietly or unnoticed.  When I enter those gates it will be a warm home-coming marked with a rich welcome.  It is rich because I will be greeted by friends and family who will have gone before me.  But it will be especially rich when I am greeted and held in the warm embrace of the Savior!

Thank you Lord, that by Your righteousness I am welcomed!

 


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Bedazzled!

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 61:10 “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Each year at the Oscars, the red carpet showcases women decked out in their finery and in their dazzling jewelry.  This particular necklace, worn by Nicole Kidman at the 2008 Oscars, is made up of 1,399 carats of rough diamonds!  The jewels worn this year have been valued at as much as 20 million dollars a person!  For the most part, these pieces are only borrowed luxury from their jewelers.

Today’s verse brings all kinds of images to mind.  As believers we are clothed in the Lord’s righteousness.  The material is pure dazzling white because of the forgiveness we receive by faith.  As the Church, we are the Bride of Christ.  We are purified and presented to Him without spot or wrinkle.  We are glorious, set apart in a love relationship with Him (Eph. 5:27).  As if that were not enough, it will be as if we are adorned with jewelry on that beautiful day that begins our eternity with Him!

I would love to wear dazzling show-stopping jewelry.  But the adornment I have to look forward to makes the finery on this earth look like cheap plastic imitations.  His righteousness makes me beautiful.  And the gentle and quiet spirit He makes possible is worth so much more in His sight (I Peter 3:4).  His garments of salvation are in such contrast to the “filthy rags” of my own efforts (Isaiah 64:6).  There is delight and joy at the thought of being adorned with His beauty!

Lord, may Your beauty be seen in me today!

 

 


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Closing Bell

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 15:52 “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed.”

When that bell peals its piercing note and the sound of it drifts away, all the frantic activity comes to an abrupt halt.  Everything stops.  At least until the next day there are no more opportunities for trade on the New York Stock Exchange.  Everyone carefully listens for it as the timing can change priorities for those traders on the floor.

In today’s verse is the sound, not of a bell but of a trumpet.  It is the last trumpet and signals a stop as well to all frantic activity.  It is a sound that will signal the end of all time as we know it.  This trumpet announces the resurrection and it will be heard all over the world.  When it is blown, those believers who have died will receive their new incorruptible bodies.  Those believers still living at the time will also be changed.  Death will forever be swallowed up in victory!  What a day that will be!

Reading about this future event affects me TODAY.  Knowing this truth helps me stay steadfast, immoveable, and prioritizing my service to Him (verse 58).  Looking towards the resurrection and eternity convinces me that my work for the Lord is never futile or in vain.  I want to be listening for and anticipating this sound.  It closes the opportunity to serve Him here on earth.  But look what it opens!  An eternity of rest and reward with the Lover of my soul!

Thank you Lord, for the change that is coming!

 


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“CAVU”

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:1 “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited, or CAVU, is an aviation term that pilots use to indicate good flying weather.  But it is also used as slang to mean anything sought after or desirable.  For the late President George H.W. Bush, this term described his approach to life.  He had the acronym on a plaque in his office.  And on his 80th birthday he described his life as CAVU, “thanks to my family and friends.”

Today’s verse gives us a look past the ceiling of the sky to something beyond.  It is only visible to our spiritual eyes.  But like the former president, this unobstructed view of Heaven is to describe our approach to life.  We have been raised up with Christ from the old life to the new.  We are to set not only hearts but also our minds (verse 2) on what is there.  Christ is there, seated at the right hand of God.  Our focus is to be on this reality more than on the temporal things of earth.

I can only “see” beyond the things of this earth by being in His Word.  The truths read and studied there lift my sights to what is eternal.  I frankly could not smile without being reassured in His Word of what is to come.  Life can be pretty awful sometimes.  Knowing that God has planned what eye cannot see, ear cannot hear or even what our minds cannot imagine (I Cor. 2:9) is an enormous comfort when things are so sad and so hard.

Thank you Lord, that, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim,” when I see You.

 

 

 

 

 


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A Christmas Carol

Scripture for Today: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

This particular version of the classic tale by Charles Dickens was filmed in 1938 and stars Reginald Owen as the unloveable Scrooge.  It was the first major adaptation of a Dicken’s novel and it took some liberties with the story, having each Christmas spirit appear in one night rather than in three.  But the message of Christmas being a time to give liberally to others finally gets through to the stingy Scrooge.  He begins to care.  He begins to love.  And so he begins to give.

Today’s often-quoted and beloved verse explains the reason for God offering His Son.  He gives because He loves.  He loves all of mankind, regardless of race, religion or culture.  The offer of His Son was to give us a way to spend all eternity with Him.  It was His love that motivated such a sacrifice of His one and only Son.  And it is only through faith in His sacrifice for sin that eternal life can be ours.

The birth of Christ was a gift for everyone because our need for a Savior is universal.  We all need Him.  No one is exempt from their need of a Savior to forgive and give life. One day I invited Him to be mine and it was the best and most important decision I have ever made!  And because He loved me first, I can love Him in return.  One of the best ways I can love Him is by showing His love to others.  He loves so He gives.  I want my love for others to show itself in selfless giving.  Not only at Christmas but everyday!

Thank you Lord, that You gave.