Devotions By Jan


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Lunar Eclipse

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 60:19 “The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.”

How strange it was to see the “super moon” slowly being darkened by the shadow of the earth.  It does not happen too often and it was spectacular to see!  It was called a “super moon” because of its fullness and because of its position at the closest point of its orbit with the earth.  A news agency called it, “a glorious view of the heavens,” and “a glorious heavenly event.”  It was certainly rare as the next time this happens will not be until 2033.

This eclipse was a partial one so we were not left totally in the dark.  As beautiful as an eclipse or sunset can be, it leaves us with less light and increasing darkness.  But one day there will no longer be any darkness at all.  The Lord will be our light and it will be everlasting.  His glory will shine as bright as day.  There will no longer be any need of the sun or the moon.

That everlasting light is not just in our future, but He has promised to place some of that light in our hearts today! (II Cor. 4:6)  It shines in our hearts to give us an inkling of His overwhelming glory.  And it is displayed in the face and presence of Christ.  The more I approach Him the brighter that light becomes!  I can “walk in the light” (I John 1:7) and experience sweet fellowship.  I want to bask in the warmth of His loving light and not obscure it with the shadows of my sin.

Lord, help me to walk in the light of Your presence today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Giving Up

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

I can relate to the frustration this man must be feeling.  I can guess at the pressure he is feeling to meet a deadline.  Perhaps he is irritated at a failed communication or the lack of any response at all.  I wonder if he feels that his work will never produce the desired effect.  In any case, this image suggests a discouragement and weariness we all sometimes feel.

Today’s verse lets us know that though we do not see an immediate result to our good works, there will be a future time when we will see the fruit of our labor.  The “proper time” for seeing results may not be the present.  But eventually, God brings about results.  The harvest we reap is in His timing and control.  Our part is to keep on keeping on, regardless of the results.

It is easy for me to feel weary and wonder if God is really using me.  I do not want to give up serving Him, but it can be discouraging to wonder if I am making a difference.  Is He hearing my prayers for my loved ones?  Is He using my story to draw others to Himself?  God’s work of changing hearts is often initially unseen.  But the promise of reaping a harvest is only for those who do not give up!  I have to trust that His Word does not return void but accomplishes what He intends (Isaiah 55:11).  Yes, there are moments of weariness, but in His grace He gives strength and motivation to continue!

Help me Lord, to never give up serving You!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Feeling Down

Scripture for Today: Psalm 126:6 “Those who go out weeping carrying seeds to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”

In all my years living in Europe, I had never seen a European Weeping Beech tree.  But recently in Rhode Island, on the grounds of the Château sur Mer in Newport I saw this incredible sight!  The drooping branches were so thick, the trunk was not even visible.  The English call it the “upside down tree!”  I am familiar with the Weeping Willow, but apparently there are several species of trees that are called, “Weeping,” if they grow pendulous branches.  That sad weepy look is so strange looking.  I am not sure I would want such a sad looking tree in my yard.

Today’s verse describes a weeping that ends in joy!  What an amazing reversal promised to the Israelites!  The Lord would bring back their captives and restore their fortunes causing all the neighboring nations to sit up and take notice.  The Lord will be known as having done great things for them.  All those tears are replaced with laughter and songs of joy!

This promise has many layers as we too can look forward to a time when our weeping and sorrow will be transformed!  Laughter and joy will echo in the halls of Heaven as I enjoy a hope that is realized forever!  Weeping will be a distant memory.  Everything sad and awful will seem light compared to the weight of glory that I will one day enjoy! (II Cor. 4:17)

So much sadness in this life now, but before long, “One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase!”  Better than anything I can dream, His joy and recompense will exceed every expectation!

Thank you Lord, for the songs of joy yet to be sung!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Kintsugi

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:49-50 “Remember Your word to Your servant, for You have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

This bowl went from broken to beautiful!  The art of golden joinery is the definition of the Japanese word, “kintsugi.”  Fragmented and broken pottery or ceramics are repaired in this process by filling the holes and cracks with a resin mixed with gold, silver or platinum.  What used to be broken pieces thought to be worthless become a thing of beauty!  The very brokenness makes the item become more precious and valuable!

Today’s verse is a comfort and reassurance when going through suffering.  There is hope.  The author of this psalm was experiencing ridicule (vs. 51).  There was intense pressure from the wicked and perhaps he felt himself cracking from it. He vows to stay faithful to the Lord through it all.  In the night he reminds himself of who God is (vs. 55) and he resolves to stay the course.  Through all the pain he remains hopeful because of God’s promises.

It is hope that brings me through the darkest times of my life.  I can feel forgotten, rotten and dead inside just like David did when he described himself as “broken pottery” (Ps. 31:12).  But then, there are the promises of God.  Whatever feels broken He can repair.  More than that, He transforms our very brokenness into something useful and a thing of beauty.  Nothing is too hard for Him or beyond the skill of His capable hands.  He works in the good where everything went bad.  That stupid decision, that utter failure or that shame at letting Him down is all part of a pattern that He redeems and makes beautiful.  This is my hope.

Thank you Lord, that Your promises give me hope.

 

 


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My Carrot

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:23-24  “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

I am not sure this little one can handle such a challenging food!  But perhaps it is never too soon to introduce carrots with their sweet taste, crunchiness and health benefits.  The mule is certainly motivated to reach that “carrot on a stick.”  Dangling the carrot just out of reach keeps that mule moving forward.  This expression has come to mean being motivated to persevere, knowing that eventually there will be a reward.

Today’s verse is quite clear about linking reward to our motivation to work hard.  It is for Him that we  work and not for the approval and recognition of men.  It is always nice, of course, to have that pat on the back from men too.  But it does not always come.  The Lord understands our need for recognition and reward and how they help to motivate us.  But there is a reluctance to talk about rewards.  It is like we are embarrassed that we need them.  There is the idea that somehow working for reward is a motive that is suspect.  And yet, the teaching of rewards is found throughout Scripture.

There are many times that others do not see what I do, or in seeing, say nothing in the way of thanks or appreciation.  Those words of approval are important to keep me going.  I am just made that way.  I need to be reminded of God’s rewards.  He sees.  He knows.  He is pleased with my service to Him and His rewards can keep me going.

Please Lord, may I one day hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”


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Pizza Box

Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I loved this story on the news the other day of a man in New York who was the recipient of an anonymously donated pizza.  Inside the cover were written the words, “Stay strong,” the very words his wife daily said to him while dying of cancer.  He told the pizzeria manager that this simple message “turned his life around” and pulled him out of a deep depression.

Today’s verse is an encouragement from the Lord to Joshua that inspired him be strong.  Joshua had just taken over the enormous task of leading the Israelites after the death of Moses.  Joshua needed this assurance that the Lord’s presence would give him strength and courage.  There is a subtle difference between the words,”stay strong ” and “be strong.”  The first implies that strength is already there in some measure and should continue.  For Joshua at the death of his friend and leader, he had no strength or courage.  Not only was the charge overwhelming, but he must have felt alone and sad with Moses gone.

I absolutely have no strength without the Lord.  Whatever strength I have comes from Him.  Paul recognized this when he said to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power (Eph. 6:10).  I need His strength especially when losing a family member or friend.  I need this same reassurance that He will be with me and give me all the courage and strength to face the future.  Of course there is sadness, but I do not need to feel discouraged.  He is there and will get me through.

Thank you Lord, for the strength You give.


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The Sting of the Scorpion

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

I hope I am never stung by this disgusting creature!  The Indian Red Scorpion is said to have the most lethal sting.  One could die if not treated within 72 hours of being stung.  They are quite hardy and can live up to a year without food or water.  Because they are very sensitive to light, they stay hidden during the day and only come out at night.  One good thing about them is that they can glow in the dark!

Today’s verse describes death as a “sting.”  Death will no longer have the victory when the mortal is changed into immortality (verse 54) and the perishable becomes imperishable.  Death seems to have the victory for now, but in fact, Christ’s empty grave means that death has been swallowed up in victory!  The venom of that heart-rendering grief is no longer lethal as we look to the life to come.  We share in Christ’s victory over death.  We have hope that death is not the end as we look to the One who conquered and defeated death forever!

The news is disturbing as I hear of senseless and violent death.  I can feel overwhelmed with news of terminal cancer in friends and loved ones.  Yet, as much as I grieve, I can grieve with hope, knowing that for the believer, He has promised that the very best is 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, that death no longer stings.