Devotions By Jan


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False Ring Tones

Scripture for Today: Psalm 5:3 “In the morning, Lord You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly.”

Imagine, hearing that ring tone sound continuously even though you know your contact is there and waiting for your call.  How frustrating to have pre-arranged a conversation and no one picks up!  T-Mobile deceived millions of their customers by creating false ring tones.  They were used to make customers believe their calls were connecting when in fact they were not.  Rather than hear silence, they were hearing a misleading ringtone.  The company was fined 40 million dollars for this illegal practice.

Today’s verse is an encouragement that the Lord always hears our prayers.  Even when it seems there is only silence, He is there and He hears our every cry.  King David made it a practice to bring his requests to the Lord first thing in the morning.  The Lord knows the moment we are awake and open our eyes (Ps. 139:2).  He knows our thoughts before they are even voiced.  He is attentive and waiting for our thoughts and prayers to turn to Him.  David did not seem bothered by the silence that followed.  Not hearing the answers right away, he would wait with faith and expectation.

God’s silence does not mean that He does not hear or does not care.  His silence is so often the method He uses to grow my faith and trust.  I can “hear” His silence with peace and confidence knowing that He has heard my prayer and is working out His plan.  Like David, I can leave the burden of that request with Him and start my day with a lighter heart.  He is at work even when I do not see it.

Lord, help me to wait expectantly!

 

 

 

 

 

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Bless You!

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” 

Our cat, Tiger, would sometimes have a sneezing fit and would always look very surprised when it happened.  I never felt obligated to say the words, “bless you.”  After all, I figured it was usually the cat making everyone else sneeze.  There are many ideas on the origins of blessing people after a sneeze.  Some believed the sneeze had to do with evil spirits leaving the body.  Others felt it was the soul momentarily escaping the body.  My favorite is the belief that the heart temporarily stopped during a sneeze!

Today’s verse declares that the source of every spiritual blessing is Jesus Christ.  He has blessed every believer with unmerited favor and goodness.  The blessings He gives are not tangible but spiritual.  And because that is true, these blessings are eternal.  They include His choosing us, adopting us, redeeming us and forgiving us (verses 4-7).  He has blessed us by sealing us with His Holy Spirit and has promised us an inheritance (verse 13-14).  These blessings are not seen with our physical eyes but they are more real than things that are!

I need to be reminded of His blessings, especially when I see non-believers seemingly prosper around me.  Like David, I can feel discouraged and tempted to be envious (Psalm 37:1-2).  But their success is temporary and my inheritance is eternal!  Spiritual blessings are the ones that matter.  And the blessing of being His very own outweighs anything else.  I can live this life with faith and love because they spring from the hope stored up for me in Heaven! (Col. 1:5)  How blessed I am!

Lord, open the eyes of my heart to see Your blessings today..


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House of Heads

Scripture for Today: Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

This is just one head on the facade of the “House of Heads” in Colmar, France.  He is surrounded by 105 other heads as neighbors.  This historical monument sits in the heart of the town’s walking section.  Built in 1609 for the mayor, this German renaissance-styled building has served several purposes over the years, including housing the city’s Wine Exchange.  It is now a high end hotel and restaurant.  But passing by all those heads has always given me the creeps!

Today’s verse is a prophecy concerning a particular head that will be crushed.  It is perhaps the first and biggest “spoiler” to the centuries-long story of man.  Yes, evil has had a temporary victory in messing with mankind, but Satan is only able to inflict a strike on the heel.  That pain that Jesus would later endure on the cross is minimal when compared to the crushed head, or fatal blow that the Deceiver will experience.  Satan’s destiny is the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10) and the final victory belongs to the Lord!

How gracious God is to give us the good news at the same time as the curse!  He wasted no time in announcing His promise of a Savior.  And from the very beginning He has established His plan of victory.  When I see evil seemingly gaining the upper hand, this reassures me.  His purposes will prevail.  He has promised.  I can have full confidence in His control and justice, regardless of my circumstances.  I am one whom He has redeemed and made His.  Whatever may happen, I am on the winning side!

Lord, keep me encouraged by looking toward Your final victory.


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Fasting

Scripture for Today:  Mark 9:31 “…He (Jesus) said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him and after three days He will rise.'”

Whether for health or spiritual purposes, I have never been able to fast.  My tummy is so acidic that when too empty, it feels like it is eating itself!  But I know there are benefits so that I can at least like it in principle!  An article in the Telegraph quoted researchers who found that fasting can regenerate one’s entire immune system!  Apparently, fasting prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells in as little as three days.

Three days.  Today’s verse makes reference to three days, the most pivotal in all of human history.  Jesus predicts for His disciples exactly what will happen to Him.  They did not understand what Jesus was saying but were afraid to ask what He meant (verse 32).  For three days it would seem as though evil had won.  The very first to live a perfectly sinless life will be unjustly put to death.  But in three short days, He would rise from the dead and conquer death, not only for Himself, but for anyone who places their faith in Him and His sacrifice.

God keeps His promises.  I can absolutely trust that what He predicts He will bring to pass.  He is called, “Faithful and True” (Rev. 3:14).  Those three days of waiting must have been excruciating as Heaven held its breath.  The disciples felt defeated, not anticipating that earth shattering moment to come.  But Jesus proved that first Easter morning that He is God with power over life and death.  The power demonstrated in that single miraculous event has changed my life forever!

Thank you Lord, for conquering death forever!


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The Big “C”

Scripture for Today: Psalm 112:7 “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.”

Tears flow as I write.  In just one short week my list of friends having to battle cancer has grown by two.  There are already too many on that list.  In this image, a woman remains calm and serene receiving the news from her oncologist.  I do not know her or her story but I am amazed at the thought that a diagnosis of cancer could be received without panic and tears.

Today’s verse is one of my life verses.  I wear it on a custom pendant.  It helps me to face an unknown future with confidence.  This psalm of David’s is in the context of warfare.  The “they” are the righteous or those in right standing with God.  The righteous will not be shaken and God honors them for their trust in Him.  Even in the darkest of times, light dawns on those who belong to Him. (verse 4)  There is no fear of bad news because hearts can remain steadfast and sure, trusting in God’s power and goodness.

The Lord wants me to live confidently, sure of His control in every situation.  If I ever hear the “C” word for myself, I know that in the end I am victorious!  His plans are good because He is good.  I may never understand the “why” behind pain and suffering, but I can always cling to His love and goodness.  “C” may stand for cancer, but it can also stand for “Confidence.”

Lord, keep my heart steadfast and confident in You.


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Elaborate Headstones

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 4:13 “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”

If you want ideas for an elaborate headstone, many can be seen at Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vermont.  This city is considered the “Granite Capital of the World” supplying from its quarries most of the granite used for headstones across America.  Being that it is so plentiful, every headstone, plain or simple, is made of granite.  Perhaps the granite would last much longer than the memories of the one buried there.  Those memories may be the only hope held by some that grieve.

Today’s verse reminds the believer that death is not the end.  There was concern that those who had died before the Lord’s return would somehow miss out on the big event.  Paul reassures the church that the “dead in Christ” would rise first.  Those still living would join them in the air and so be forever with the Lord.  There is a future and a hope and death does not interfere with His program!  We are to encourage one another with this truth (verse 18).

Hope changes everything!  It has certainly changed how I grieve the death of my parents and of my friends.  It is not just my memories that keep them alive.  Though their bodies have given out, their souls continue.  I grieve with the hope and sure conviction that God keeps His promises.  It is painful to be separated.  But one day there will be a grand joyful reunion!  My hope is not built on a life well-lived.  My hope is built on Christ and His righteousness!

Thank you Lord, that You are my Hope and death is not the end!


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Québec License Plate

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 license plate says, “I remember.”  But what is it that we are not supposed to forget?  This saying was coined by Eugène-Etienne Taché having carved it on to the stone entrance to the parliament building in 1883.  Some believe he wanted to keep alive the memory of the heroes in Québec’s history.  Others prefer to think of it as a jab at the British.

Today’s verse tells us to remember.  We are told to call to mind God’s GREAT love, His compassions and His faithfulness.  In doing so we can live with hope.  Although our sins condemn us, we are not consumed in righteous anger.  He has compassion on us and has provided a solution in the sacrifice of His Son.  He continues to show a compassion that never fails and is renewed every morning.  His faithfulness is as big as His love.  This is what we need to remember, especially in the dark times.  And with remembrance comes hope!

It is because of the hard times that I can say with confidence that God is loving, compassionate and faithful.  Somehow, the pressure of hard times improves my memory.  I wish it did not take trials to remember, but it does.  When I look back on the difficulties He has brought me through, I am always reminded of His love and faithfulness to me.  Today I want to call these truths to mind without the stimulus of a trial.

Lord, help me to focus on Your great love, Your compassions and Your faithfulness!