Devotions By Jan


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Forced Perspective

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

The Leaning Tower of Piza is not the only place in Europe where tourists practice their “forced perspective” photography!  This booted giant woman looks as if she is crushing the Louvre Pyramid.  This technique manipulates our human visual perception with the use of optical illusion.  The result is often surprising, making an object appear larger, smaller, closer or farther away than it really is.

Today’s verse is all about perspective.  Paul tells believers to set their minds on things above.  Our minds and our hearts are to be changed by an eternal perspective.  What we see on earth does not match up with spiritual realities.  What we see, touch and feel around us is not eternal.  These things are real but they will not last.  When we set our minds and hearts on the realities of Heaven, it changes how we view that difficulty.  It affects how we see our problems.  What can loom so large in our perspective is only “light and momentary trouble.” (II Cor. 4:17)  All the hard things in this life are, “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

This perspective is not forced but it sure makes Heaven seem a little bit closer.  The things of this earth can seem much smaller with a heart set on what is above.  And sometimes, I need to see the hard things as smaller than they appear.  I need to change my perspective to what is eternal and lasting to see past the problems I face today.

Change my perspective, Lord.  Help me see You today instead of my problems.

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A Very Long Arm

Scripture for Today:  Jeremiah 32:17  “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for You.”

I can only imagine how thrilling it must be for this astronaut to be held up in space by this robotic arm.  Is he looking around himself with wonder?  Or is he reminding himself of the viability of the mechanics.  I wonder if he is reassuring himself of the qualifications of his colleague at the controls!  To enjoy the ride at all, I imagine he has to trust that everything will work out just fine!

Today’s verse describes an outstretched arm.  The powerful arm of the Sovereign Lord brought about the creation of the heavens and the earth.  What is more, His arm is outstretched still!  He has demonstrated His power over and over.  Creation around me attests to that amazing power.  The night skies above overwhelm me with His majesty.  Nothing is too hard for Him.  All He needs to do is to stretch out His arm.

I forget that.  I get tunnel vision and get overwhelmed with my little world.  Yet, He is able and willing to again stretch out His arm in my life.  Ralph Carmichael in his song, “My Little World” expresses this thought.  “The uncharted craters of planets beyond, You know like the palm of Your hand.  And yet You’re concerned with my little world.  Oh, help me to understand.”  I need to be reminded of His powerful outstretched arm, holding up not only this earth, but my little world.  When all seems hopeless, how reassuring it is to know that nothing is too hard for Him!

Thank you Lord, that You stretch out Your arm for me!


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Ironing

Scripture for Today:  Lamentations 3:21-23  “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

This picture represents my feelings about ironing!  Of course, with the synthetic materials available, there is less and less of it to do.  These days, I would hesitate to buy anything made of 100% linen!  Having to go over those stubborn wrinkles again and again is not my idea of fun.  The French word for “iron” means to pass over again and again.   And that is exactly why ironing can be such a chore!

Today’s verse is about calling something to mind, much like pressing or impressing something on our minds again and again.  We are to remember His great love, His compassions and His faithfulness.  In doing so we can live with hope.  His compassions are never at en end as every morning they are new and fresh.  Both His love and His faithfulness are described as GREAT!

I do have to “call this to mind.”  When facing something really hard, it is not my first thought.  In fact, there are times when I am tempted to doubt that love and faithfulness.  And when I do doubt, hopelessness is not far behind.  But when I remember the truth of His character and promises, my hope and confidence are restored.  I not only remember who He is but I remind myself of His incredible faithfulness in the past and I am encouraged.  Over and over He has proven His love and faithfulness to me.  That impossible situation I am facing will one day prove again just how loving and faithful He is as I look back on it.

Lord, thank you for the hope you give me!

 


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Pack Rat

Scripture for Today:Matthew 6:20-21  “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

This garage is definitely the work of a pack rat.  In fact, it looks like it could possibly have rats!  No, this is not our garage, fortunately.  We try very hard to clear out and sort on a regular basis.  It is never easy to let things go, but I have a horror of ending up like this picture!  As it is, I think we are the only ones in our cul-de-sac able to fit two cars in our garage!

Today’s verse talks about treasure without actually defining it.  It is treasure found in Heaven and cannot be destroyed.  Here on earth everything is temporal.  And one day everything will pass away to make way for the new earth (Matt. 24:35).  Yet, we all have the tendency to store up things even when we realize that, “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15b”).  There is something about the tangible that reassures us, provides a sense of security and even adds to our feelings of self-worth.

It is a sobering thought to realize that the objects I treasure are not going to last.  The lasting treasures are found in Heaven where my heart and focus need to be.  That treasure is not gold, the streets are paved with it.  It is not precious stones as those are just building materials for the gates.  Crowns will be readily given up and placed at the feet of Jesus.  The true lasting treasure is the loving presence of Jesus.  And that is a treasure I can enjoy today!

Lord, I want to treasure You.


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Crossed Fingers

Scripture for Today:  “II Corinthians 1:20 “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are Yes in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

It is said that crossing the middle finger over the index finger as a gesture for luck or God’s favor became popular during wars in the 14th to 15th centuries.  Much later, those crossed fingers were made to silently ask for luck in getting away with a lie!  I still remember crossing my fingers behind my back as a little girl when lying, somehow feeling that in doing so the lie would not count!

Today’s verse teaches that all of God’s promises will be answered with a resounding “YES” in Christ.  The number of promises God has made is not a factor.  What God promises He fulfills as He cannot lie.  He is always faithful to His word.  There are no crossed fingers behind His back!  Some promises in God’s Word are made to a particular person or group of people.  Some promises are made with conditions attached.  But in any case, He can be counted on to honor His word.

Regardless of how I am feeling, what God declares is always reliable and trustworthy.  Sometimes, it is hard to believe that He is not like me; fickle.  If He were capricious, life would not be worth living.  I am so glad that He is not and I can always count on HIm.  I can and do build my life on His promises, trusting that He is faithful.  When I live with this kind of confidence, I am living out my “Amen” to His word and my life can give Him the glory He deserves!

Thank you Lord, for Your precious promises to me.  Help me believe them today.


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The Hope Chest

chest-open_0Scripture for Today:Romans 5:5 “And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

I never owned a hope chest, although I hoped!  It was a tradition that was already obsolete by the 1950’s.  The practice of filling a hope chest with items useful in setting up house came from Europe around the 18th century.  A young girl’s “trousseau” consisted of handmade bed linens, table linens and embroidered items.  I often wondered what happened to that hope chest and its contents when it was clear that marriage had passed one by.  Perhaps giving it away signaled the end of hope.

Today speaks of a hope that never puts us to shame.  Unlike unfulfilled hope in a human love, our hope is placed in a love that has already been poured into the heart of a believer.  The Holy Spirit is our seal of ownership, guaranteeing what is to come! (II Cor. 1:22).  Hope in this sense is a sure thing with no possibility of disappointment or shame.  This hope grows stronger and stronger as we see the Lord come through for us when experiencing suffering (verse 3).  Hope grows by persevering through that impossible situation.  Our hope is obvious to everyone through the strength of character that comes from hanging in there (verse 4).

Hope that is based on the wrong thing can be wishful thinking that makes the heart sick when unfulfilled (Prov. 13:12).  My hope is sure being based on God’s faithful promises.  My longing for love is absolutely fulfilled in my relationship with my Creator.  He never disappoints and I am never put to shame.  He always comes through and someday I will see the glory of God up close and personal!

My hope will forever be in You, Lord.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Another World

img_20161001_112154Scripture for Today: John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I wish this man would turn around so I could see the shock on his face when he realizes that not all is as it appears!  This image reminds me of the movie, “The Truman Show” with Jim Carey where he unknowingly lives in an artificial domed world.  The man in this image would never have known there was another world had he not been curious and courageous enough to lift that curtain!

Today’s verse is spoken by the Lord, our Good Shepherd.  Those who belong to Him are pictured as sheep who enter only through Jesus, the Gate.  They have freedom to go in and out and find green pasture.  But there is another group who do not belong to Him and are fooled by the “thief,” or Satan.  They are fooled into thinking that this life and what we see is the only reality, when in fact there is another whole world.

Satan does not want anyone lifting that curtain and seeing the spiritual realm.  By hiding the reality of the abundant life Jesus offers, he steals from men their capacity to enjoy their days to the fullest!  With eyes blinded we miss out on what is real and eternal, until the Lord opens our eyes (Acts 26:18).  Without realizing it, so many are content to live with the pigs and eat their scraps rather than feasting and partying at the Father’s table! (Luke 15:11-25)

I am so grateful for Jesus giving me a life that includes that other unseen world.  This world is just not enough.  But He is!

Thank you Lord, for the full abundant life You give me!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.