Devotions By Jan

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A Scorpion’s Sting

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 or any variety of scorpion!  But 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 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 my hope means death no longer stings.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)

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Laughing Hyena

Scripture for Today: Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Hearing the spotted hyena laugh never fails to at least elicit a smile from me if not a laugh of my own!  Their maniacal “laugh” can be heard when hyenas are agitated or showing aggression.  One can especially hear it when there is a feeding frenzy.  As the hyena is not certain when they will eat next, they gorge themselves whenever they can.  No joy or happiness here.  This is no laughing matter!

Today’s verse speaks of a deep seated joy that is accompanied with peace.  Unlike happiness which depends on happenings, this joy comes from God through His Spirit (Gal. 5:22)  Because of its divine Source, the result of being filled with this joy is an overflowing hope.  However, it is through the conduit of trusting Him that believers experience this joy with peace.  As we trust Him we are filled with a joy and peace that has little to do with our circumstances.

Our world is daily changing and with it, our plans as well.  When things abruptly fall apart, so does my sense of well being.  Tears, disappointment and even anger are my immediate reaction.  But when I stop to consider God’s sovereignty in everything, I am reassured.  I continue to be disappointed but at the same time I can take heart.  The more I can manage to trust Him and His plan, the more I can experience this unexplainable joy.  When my heart trusts Him then my heart can “leap for joy.” (Ps. 28:7)  Circumstances do not need to defeat or define me.

Thank you Lord, that YOU are my hope.  YOU are my peace.  YOU are my joy.

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The Peacock Butterfly

Scripture for Today: Psalm 54:7 “You have delivered me from all my troubles and  my eyes have looked in triumph over my foes.”

The peacock bird is not the only one who can boast about its “eyes.”  The peacock butterfly is recognizable for its four large eyespots, similar to the peacock bird.  But for the butterfly, these eyes are not just for looks.  They serve to confuse and startle its predators.  Their predators sense that the spots may belong to a potential enemy.  That moment of hesitation is often all that is need to save the life of this butterfly.

Today’s verse is from a psalm that cries out to God for help.  David is being pursued by Saul with the help of the Ziphites (I Sam. 23:19-29).  The situation was serious as they were intent on killing him.  David finds reassurance in proclaiming God as his help (verse 4).  Instead of allowing his predicament to overwhelm him, David remembers that God has delivered him in the past and his eyes have looked in triumph on his enemies.  And that is exactly what happens again!  Just as Saul and his men were closing in, a messenger arrives to bring Saul back to deal with the invading Philistines!

My eyes will one day look in triumph over my enemies as well.  The Lord is for me and though I encounter plenty of trouble, Christ has already overcome the world (John 16:33) and this is my encouragement.  My enemies are sometimes visible but many times are not as the battle is spiritual in nature (Eph. 6:12).  Regardless, He has given me spiritual eyes to see His presence and protection!  And His eyes are on me!  He is El Roi, the God who sees and I can count on Him.

Thank you Lord, for getting me out of what can appear hopeless!



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Moeraki Boulders

Scripture for Today: I Samuel 2:2 “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one beside You; there is no Rock like our God.”

These strange spherical boulders on the Koekohe Beach in New Zealand have fired the imagination for years.  The varied names given them include: eel pots, hooligan gallstones, giant gobstoppers, alien brains, bowling balls of the giants and dinosaur eggs!  There are over fifty of them and the biggest one weighs seven tons!  Their strange appearance makes for a unique landscape.  They are made of mud, fine silt and clay, cemented together by calcite, layer upon layer over many years.

Today’s verse is part of Hannah’s prayer as she dedicates her young son, Samuel, to full-time service in the temple.  This is the child she had prayed for so ardently, being barren and snubbed.  Although she was giving up Samuel, her heart rejoiced being vindicated before her enemies (verse 1).  She felt delight at God’s deliverance and praises Him for being her holy and unique Rock.  Throughout Scripture our God is pictured as a Rock.  What an image of His strength and permanence!  Layer upon layer of faithfulness to His Word makes for a sure foundation.

I never need to worry whether my Rock will be there tomorrow or the day after.  He is immoveable and unchanging.  He is my strength, and my refuge.  Being my Rock, He is a place of strength and refreshment for my flagging spirit.  The surface of this rock has a cool touch when I am too warm from stress and anxiety.  But that same rock surface is warm from the sun and comforting when I am feeling cool and indifferent.  I know He is faithful to meet my every need as I have “proved Him ore and ore.”

Lord, be my Rock today.

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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!