Devotions By Jan


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Tasmanian Devil

Scripture for Today: Galatians 5:15 “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Despite his name I would hate for the Tasmanian Devil to become extinct.  His only natural habitat is the Australian island-state of Tasmania.  Because of his husky snarl and bad temper, he often has what is called a “devilish expression.”  Since 2008 he has been on the endangered list.  The reason?  A cancer called, “devil facial tumor disease,”  which results in grotesque tumors around the head and mouth.  It is thought to be transmitted when they bite each other!

Today’s verse teaches that the words from our mouths can inflict pain and even destroy another.  Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).  So much of what displeases the Lord comes from the mouth, whether it be gossiping, lying, mocking, arguing, criticizing, ….the list goes on.  And each of these has such a devastating effect on the one to whom it is directed.  What is more, the “tit for tat” reciprocity only escalates the problem until both parties are destroyed.

It is only by His Spirit that I can love and forgive the one who has inadvertently or intentionally hurt me.  My memory is long when it comes to hurtful words.  But I have definitely taken things a step further when I want to retaliate.  There might be a momentary feeling of satisfaction but the relationship remains tense and broken.  Forgiveness is so difficult but without it, the relationship is “endangered” and at risk of extinction.  Realizing God’s forgiveness for me helps me get a better perspective on the whole mess.  And His love and His power are there to make forgiveness and restoration possible.  It is just not possible on my own.

Thank you Lord, that You heal those difficult relationships.

 

 


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Inner Peace

Scripture for Today: John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

There is a store in our area whose name is pictured here; Art of Inner Peace.  They sell Eastern spiritual items, gifts and jewelry, as well as Buddha figurines, incense and crystals.  They advertise themselves as a zen place to find harmony, peace and balance.  I am assuming that the owners think their name appropriate in the belief that selling these particular items will contribute to inner peace.  It was a new thought to me that peace could be considered an “art.”

In contrast, todays’s verse tells us that peace is a gift.  Its Giver is Jesus Christ.  Because of the peace Jesus offers we can now have peace with God and are no longer His enemy (Rom. 5:10).  From this peace flows peace with others and the inner peace of mind we so desperately want.  True peace of mind is having a heart untroubled and unafraid in the midst of whatever life brings.  The peace He gives is a calm assurance that He is in control and that it is a good control.

Life does not need to slow down to experience His peace.  There can be noise, confusion, and even frenzied activity.  His inner peace is not tied to the physical nor does it depend on outside circumstances.  His peace goes deeper.  It is the peace of belonging to Him heart and soul.  He will never leave me or abandon me.  He is there to sustain me and bring me through whatever I am facing.  His peace reassures me of His loving care, today and tomorrow!

Thank you Lord, for Your gift of peace.


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Bonded Leather

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

I was horrified to pull back my couch cover and see how the bonded leather was “unbonding!”  After just two years the couch was showing signs of this kind of wear.  It was my own fault for not researching the meaning of “bonded leather” before buying it.  But because the price was hefty and it was from a reputable well-known brand, I did not think it through.  This kind of leather is made up of many small pieces bonded or glued together.  Those that sell it admit that it will only hold up three to five years.  What a disappointment!

Today’s verse talks about a supernatural bond of peace that is the work of the Holy Spirit in believers.  Those belonging to Jesus come in all shapes and sizes, different races and cultures, social standings, income and education.  We are little pieces bonded together making a whole.  We are part of one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father! (verses 4-6).  And this peace is something we are to strive to keep.

The Lord knows me.  He knows how easily I can nitpick and criticize.  I so easily focus on differences rather than recognize what unites me with my brothers and sisters.  The Lord has shown me incredible grace, and yet I am slow to show that same grace to others.  Our unity is more important than me being right, recognized or visible.  Our unity can be a powerful draw to the world.  And oh how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! (Ps. 133:1)

Thank you Lord, that You make possible this bond of peace.  Help me to keep it!

 

 


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Teddy Bears

Scripture for Today: Psalm 42:5 “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

The teddy bear got its name from President Theodore Roosevelt as a result of a bear hunting trip in 1902.  The resulting political cartoon inspired the creation of the first teddy bear.  Originally made to look similar to a real bear, it has evolved to be a comforting presence for many children.  In fact, a program called “Teddy Bear Cops” was created to distribute teddy bears to children in the midst of crisis.  It was found that the teddy bear would calm them down.

In today’s verse David is speaking to his own soul in an attempt to calm down from the despair he feels.  He had plenty of reason to have a soul disturbed within him.  He was under constant attack from his enemies.  Rather than focusing on his circumstances or giving in to despair, the psalmist reminds himself of the hope he has in God.  Because of that hope, he could look forward to a future where praise for God would come again to his lips.

It is true that God’s promises tend to calm me down.  I can get so worked up and panicky in the middle of a problem.  I need the quieting influence of God’s voice through His Word.  He reminds me that He is in control.  He reassures me of His presence.  He upholds me with declarations of His love.   He calms and quiets me much like the teddy bear does for the child.  A calm and quiet spirit is not natural in the middle of crisis.  Thankfully, I have Someone who does the supernatural for me.

Thank you Lord, for Your calming presence.


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The Manatee

Scripture for Today:Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

Who would ever want to harm this gentle creature?  The Florida manatee, or sea cow, measures up to 13 feet and 1,300 pounds.  Their slow lolling nature make this large marine mammal a favorite of tourists.  But there are Manatee Zone signs saying “Slow Speed” and “Minimal Wake” in an effort to protect them.  Even so, the manatee is classed as “vulnerable.”  Their greatest threat is human as they are hunted, drown in fishing nets, face habitat degradation or collide with fishing boats.

Today’s verse reminds us that our greatest enemy is not human.  Our biggest threat is spiritual against our souls.  We protect ourselves from evil by the different pieces of God’s armor: truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. (verses 10-19)  We can stand firm against evil with the protection He provides.  We can stand with confidence as well, knowing that He not only has determined the outcome of this war, but He fights with and for us!

My courage is so non-existent that I need to enlist my husband when in combat with a spider!  There is nothing in me to inspire fear in those dark forces of evil.  Yet, the Devil will flee from me when I am wholly submitted to God (James 4:7).  I can face the dark and stand strong, never with  my puny efforts but in the power of His might!  Although this is a subject that can illicit fear, God reassures my heart.  If God is for me, who can be against me? (Romans 8:31)

Thank you Lord, that my heart, mind and soul belong to You.


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Bulletproof Backpacks

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:5 “You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid your hand upon me.”

What a discouraging reality that bulletproof backpacks are part of the back-to-school market!  Whether buying the backpack itself or a bulletproof insert put inside a backpack, the idea is to provide one’s child with an extra layer of protection. This measure only protects from handguns but not from any other kind of firearm.  So perhaps this product does more to ease a parent’s fear than anything else.  I always wonder if the backpack does any good if not positioned in the right direction of the threat!

I love the assurance of today’s verse!  Regardless of the direction of an immediate threat, the Lord has the righteous covered!  With His love and protection He has enclosed one behind and before.  Because He is omnipresent He completely surrounds those who belong to Him.  He has laid His hand upon the believer.  Nothing will ever happen that He does not allow and incorporate into His individual plan.  He does not intend that the righteous live their lives in fear but that their hearts remain secure (Psalm 112:8).

Whatever measures I take for my security are limited and there are never any guarantees.  I live in a fallen, broken world where evil threatens.  My security cannot be found in my environment.  My security is found in the fact that He is before me, behind me, and on all sides of me!  It may be that God would allow violence to touch me as He has allowed it for others.  But nothing can touch my soul and my eternal future with Him! (Matt. 10:28)  I have no reason to fear as He is my ultimate security and He will never disappoint!

Thank you Lord, that You lay your loving hand on me!


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OMG!!!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 145:18 “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.”

If ferrets could talk this one might be saying what I hear all the time from surprised people; “Oh my God!” Shortened to OMG, we all know this expression as part of widespread internet chat.  One of the earlier appearances of the term was in a letter to Winston Churchill from Lord Fisher in 1917.  But more recently the rise of “Valley Speak” in the pop culture of the eighties made the expression popular.  Of course, its use usually does not include any thought of God.

Today’s verse is a wonderful promise for those who are crying out to God.  Whether a person uses the words, “oh my God,” or some other expression, the Lord sees the intent of the heart.  He knows who is calling on Him in sincerity and in truth.  He promises to be near.  He especially makes His presence felt for the one who cries out to Him in desperation.  It is especially when we are in distress that He hears our cry for help (Psalm 18:6).  He promises that His ears are attentive to the cry of the righteous (Psalm 34:15).

Those casually using the expression, “Oh my God,” may one day be using it sincerely and in truth.  When they do, the Lord will be there as He was for me.  Just recently, at a time of great distress, it was all I could say in my heart.  Over and over these were the only words that could come.  He made His presence keenly felt and with that realization I felt hope.  How good and attentive He is to His children!

Oh my God, I am so thankful that You are mine and I am Yours.