Devotions By Jan


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Magic Mushrooms

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:6 “The mind governed by the flesh is death – but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

These mushrooms look innocent enough.  But the psilocybin in them can alter the mind just as LSD does.  A recent book by Michael Pollan explores the testing of psychedelics as a treatment for depression, fear and anxiety, especially as a result of a terminal cancer diagnosis.  He even went so far as to experiment on himself!  His conclusion was that these psychedelics appear to help with what he calls a “psycho-spiritual distress.”  He also believes that there really is nothing else for people in that situation.

Today’s verse talks about two states of mind.  One mind is governed by the flesh and one is governed by the Spirit of God.  The mind that is governed or controlled by the flesh is the mind without God and without the peace of God.  There is not only physical death but spiritual death in store.  In contrast, the mind governed by the Spirit is life both here and eternally after death because there is peace with God through His Son, Jesus.

I cannot speak personally about facing death.  And I do not want to minimize what that suffering may be like.  But it is often in the sobering moments facing one’s own mortality that there is a last chance for establishing peace with God through the forgiveness offered by His Son.  To take away that last opportunity by altering one’s state of mind seems cruel.  I know there is peace and assurance facing death.  I have seen it.  And when it is my turn, I am confident because He has promised a perfect peace for a mind that is steadfast, trusting in Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Thank you Lord, that I can live and die without fear.

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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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Hex Signs

Scripture for Today: II Thessalonians 3:2-3  “And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.  But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

I had heard about hex signs but had never seen them in use.  Recently, we drove through the Pennsylvania countryside and saw a billboard advertising them.  They are put on barns or outbuildings and were originally meant to ward off evil.  They typically have a design that is circular and have a wheel or rosette in the middle.  They can be simple or elaborate and in modern times are used more for decoration than for any other purpose.

In today’s verse Paul asks the church members in Thessalonica to pray that he and his co-workers are delivered from wicked and evil people.  In proclaiming the Gospel Paul would encounter opposition from others.  More than that, he would encounter opposition from the evil one, meaning Satan. But in the same breath, Paul declares God’s faithfulness in giving strength and protection, reassuring the church that the same is true for them.

I am reassured as well in reading this verse.  I live in such an evil-ridden world but my soul is safe in His hands.  He always keeps His word and He promises that His strength is available.  His protection is real and He will not allow evil to gain the upper hand with me!  Regardless of how weak I may feel in the presence of evil, He will strengthen my faith and my resolve to resist (James 4:7).  He is faithful!  I know in whom I have placed my confidence.  It is He that is able to keep the soul that I have committed to Him until the very end (II Tim. 1:12).

Lord, help me be confident of Your protection.

 


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Flapjack Octopus

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:6 “Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, Your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.

It is obvious how this octopus got its name with its flat appearance.  This flapjack octopus was made famous by the character, Pearl, in the animated film, Finding Nemo.  Like Pearl they can be pink, but they can also be anywhere from transparent to deep red.  Unlike the film, this interesting creature can only live in very deep waters, 500 to 1,500 meters.  If they were to rise to be near the surface of the water they would turn into pink mush!

Today’s verse uses two extremes to describe the Lord’s righteousness and justice; the highest place on earth and the deepest.  His righteousness and justice are that encompassing!  There is no place on this earth where one can be outside His reach.  Even in the depths, He is there (Psalm 139:8).  All of earth is His creation and He has absolute control over it.  And because He is sovereign, His justice will prevail.  We look forward to a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness will dwell as He has promised (II Peter 3:13).

How often I am discouraged to see the guilty go unpunished!  How disheartening it is to see God mocked and to even see the wicked prosper!  But God is just and there will be a day when every wrong will be put right.  He hears that betrayal.  He knows what that cheater did.  He sees what is done in secret.  Nothing, no matter how small, escapes His notice.  Because I can count on His ultimate justice, my heart is reassured.  My heart is especially peaceful to know that God’s justice concerning me was satisfied with Christ’s sacrifice!

How thankful I am Lord, that You are always just.


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Fly Casting

Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”

It looks complicated.  I cannot imagine the skill and dexterity it must take to fly cast correctly.  If it were me, I would have that line wrapped around me and everyone else!  Fortunately, there are lessons, classes and YouTube video instruction available.  Among the basic principles is the idea that every casting stroke is a smooth acceleration followed by an abrupt stop.  The better the “stop” the better the transfer of energy and the more efficient the cast.

Today’s verse describes a different kind of cast.  The form is not so important but we do want to get those cares and worries as far away as possible from us!  The Lord invites us to cast all of our care on to Him.  When we do, He will strengthen and sustain us.  Casting all our cares on to Him means an abrupt stop to those worrying thoughts and imaginings.  Leaving them with Him means that we can stand firm in our faith, regardless of the shaky ground.  He will never let the righteous, or those in right standing with Him, be shaken.

What a beautiful promise to claim when it seems like my world is falling apart!  He is there, waiting and willing to takes those cares off my shoulders. It is through prayer that I do the casting (Phil. 4:6).  I do not need to carry them.  Those worries do not have to weigh me down.  He invites me to give them all to Him.  No, He asks me to stop and throw them on Him!  And what sweet relief comes when I do!

Lord, keep me casting every one of my worries and cares on to You

 


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Restless Leg Syndrome

Scripture for Today: I John 3:19 “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence.”

Restless legs shown here are no longer a problem!  I am not quite sure what the artist was trying to convey with this display, but these legs will not be moving any time soon!  Perhaps everyone feels at some point that tingling uncontrollable urge to move one’s legs while trying to sleep.  How annoying to feel that itchy, creepy crawly feeling.  Moving seems to at least temporarily give relief.  But I tend to be less sympathetic when being kicked!

Today’s verse talks about a heart that is at rest.  When we know and are convinced that we belong to the truth, there is a resting settled feeling in our hearts.  In His presence, we feel His peace, knowing that we belong to Him.  No longer are our hearts restless, wandering or searching.  When we belong to Him, our hearts can no longer condemn us as He is greater than our hearts (verse 20).  We can have confidence before God as He knows everything and He knows our hearts better than we do ourselves!  When we believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our hearts are finally at rest (verse 23).

When my heart is at rest, there is a confident peace.  He does not want my heart to be restless or troubled (John 14:27).  His Spirit testifies with my spirit that I am God’s own (Rom.8:16) and reassures my heart.  How good He is to give me that heart at rest!  And how much I want that for friends and family members who live restless lives without Him.

“Jesus, I am resting resting in the joy of what Thou art.”  Lord, may I feel that heart rest today.

 


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Belly Laugh

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

They say that,”laughter is the best medicine.”  And apparently, science confirms this idea.  Giggles and guffaws both can reduce stress by stimulating heart, lungs and muscles.  A hearty laugh can increase endorphins released by your brain, giving you that “feel-good feeling.”  Have you ever noticed that good relaxed feeling after a big belly laugh?  That is because the stress response is fired up then cooled down, increasing heart rate and blood pressure.  A good laugh can completely turn around my mood.

Today’s verse is about a woman who laughs at the future.  This woman is clothed with strength and dignity as she lives her life with wisdom (vs.26).  She works vigorously (vs. 17) and she is not idle (vs. 27).  The public praises her because of her works (vs. 31) and more importantly she is praised by her children and husband (vs. 28).  But what is most surprising about this “super woman” is that she laughs at the days to come.  Her heart is light because she fears the Lord (vs. 30).

My tendency is to fear rather than laugh at the future.  I do not know what changes may be in store for our country or personally for my life.  Rather than have a light heart, I sometimes have this vague disquiet about what lies ahead.  But when my heart is steadfast and trusting in His power and sovereignty, than I do not fear bad news (Ps. 112:7).  How much better to laugh at the future and fear God than to fear the future and laugh at the idea of God’s control!  He is directing it all and because that is true, I can be glad.

Thank you Lord, for Your loving control of my future!