Devotions By Jan


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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 Dove

Scripture for Today: Numbers 6:24-26 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” 

This sweet girl looks to be kissing the dove in her hands.  These meek gentle birds have long been a symbol for peace over the centuries and in many different cultures.  And a dove with an olive branch in its beak especially symbolizes peace.  Noah could finally leave his ark with the dove’s return.  There was peace with God in this new beginning on earth.

Today’s verses are a priestly prayer God gave Moses to share with Aaron and his sons for the Israelites.  It is the Lord that gives blessing and protection.  It is the Lord that gives grace with His very presence, and it is only through His favor that we can experience peace.  Mankind has the best chance at establishing peace with one another when first we have made peace with our Maker.  This happens through Christ’s sacrifice, made while we were still His enemies (Rom.5:10).  Jesus made peace possible with God and it is Jesus that makes peace possible between men.

I so ardently want to see change in our world.  The injustices and the  divisions make peace seem an impossible goal.  And on our own I do not see much hope.  But with His face turned our direction, He can give peace.  This is not the same peace that the world offers, which frankly can be short-lived and imperfect (John 14:27).  His peace calms my heart and my fears.  His peace allows me to reach out to those different from myself.  “The problem is not skin, it’s sin.  The solution is not race, it’s grace.”

Thank you Lord, for being my peace-maker.


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How Are You Feeling?

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 56:3-4  “When I am afraid, I will trust in You, In God whose word I praise, In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”

The red gurnard is a very distinct bottom-dwelling fish and his feelings matter!  From his three lower pectoral fins hang what looks like narrow finger-like growths.  These appendages have sensory organs and it is with them that he feels for his food in the sand.  He never has to look with those large eyes but depends on feeling for small fish and crustaceans in the sediment.

With what is going on in our world today, the temptation is to be carried away by our feelings.  In today’s verse, David was certainly tempted to give in to fear.  He had been seized by the Philistines in Gath and feared for his life.  But throughout this psalm, David turns to God in confident trust to beat back the fear.  And the psalm finishes with praise for deliverance from his enemies.

My feelings can overwhelm me during these days of riotous protest.  I feel a profound sadness at injustice in our world.  There is gnawing unrest in my heart when I watch the unsettling news.  I feel nervous trepidation for what may come next.  That is why this psalm is such a comfort.  Placing my trust in the Lord calms me down and gives me a measure of peace.  Feeling peace in my heart during such unrest makes it a supernatural peace that can only come from Him.  My eyes cannot help but see all the disheartening trouble in our country but I can take heart as HE has already overcome the world (John 16:33).

Thank you Lord, that I can feel your peace, even when there is such unrest.

 

 

 


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Contact Tracing

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:2-3 “You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.”

Technology is now being developed to trace our physical contact with those who may be infected with the COVID virus.  The idea is to control the spread through identifying those with whom an infected person has had close contact.  The app, due to come out in mid-May, would be in partnership with public health authorities.  And the challenge will be to do this in a privacy-preserving way!

Today’s verse can either be viewed with anxiety or comfort!  The Lord is aware of our every movement.  He knows when we leave the house.  He knows when we retire for the night.  Whether we stand or sit He is mindful.  How incredible that the God of the universe is familiar with all our habits or any change of schedule!  Not only is He aware of our movements, He knows exactly what we are thinking!  This is a knowledge too wonderful to even grasp (verse 6) and more extensive than any technology could achieve!

Does this knowledge make me uncomfortable?  Because I belong to Him and am under no condemnation (Rom. 8:1) I can answer, “no.”  The fact that the Lord is aware of my every movement and my every thought gives me comfort.  He uses this knowledge to love me and care for me.  Because of His love and grace, I do not have to hide from this knowledge.  His intimate knowledge of me means I can live without fear.  I can move confidently through my day, knowing He is there.  Rather than get nervous over what could happen, I can trust Him.

Thank you Lord, that You know.


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“Yoke’s on You!”

Scripture for today: Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Today is April Fools Day and for some the joke or “yoke” is on them!  I wonder if during these days of social distancing there will be the same level of frivolity!  I hope so.  We could all use a laugh!  France has its own version of this day.  They observe this silliness by taping a paper fish on someone’s back without their knowledge.

Today’s verse mentions a yoke that is no laughing matter.  This is a yoke of slavery from which Christ has set us free.  The believers in the churches in Galatia were being influenced to put back on a heavy yoke.  That yoke was the belief that they could be justified by following the Law (verse 4).  Christ came to fulfill the Law and free us from this heavy impossible burden.  We have exchanged this yoke for an easy one, shared with Jesus.  His burden is light because He carries it with us and gives rest to our souls (Matt. 11:28-30).

How wonderful to know that He cares about what is burdening me!  Whatever is weighing me down does not come from Him.  He does not want me to go through life feeling that I must always do more to be accepted by Him.  That would be an unbearable weight!  He has done it all.  He is sufficient.  And the commands He has given me are not burdensome (I John 5:3).  It is in keeping them that I show my love for Him.  This love relationship is what gives me rest.  Despite the unease of risk and of the unknown, I can rest yoked to Him.

Thank you Lord, for Your reassurance.