Devotions By Jan


2 Comments

Powerful Arms

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.”

This statue in Colmar, France was sculpted by Bartholdi, the same artist who created the Statue of Liberty.  It is called, “Les Grands Soutiens du Monde” or “The Great Supports of the World.”  There are three figures representing three lofty ideas: two arms of justice, one arm of work and one arm of patriotism.  They are depicted walking and supporting the world with their powerful arms.  I appreciate the artistic sentiment behind this sculpture.  But unfortunately, sometimes those arms get a bit weary and drop.

Today’s verse reminds us of God’s incredible power and control. How reassuring it is to know that planet earth has much stronger arms holding it up!  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!  Creation around me attests to His 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 when I get overwhelmed with my little world.  Yet, He is able and willing to again stretch out His arm in my life.  All things are possible with God (Mark 10:27).  For Him there are no limits of time or space or any other constraint.  He established the laws of nature and can just as easily put them aside for His purpose.  Those arms not only create but they hold me up when I feel weary.  Those are the arms that tenderly carry me when I just can’t anymore.

Thank you Lord, that I can lean on and trust Your powerful arms.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Inside a Whale!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 69:15 “Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me.”

Described as a modern-day Jonah, life for this wildlife photographer looked as if it might be cut short!  Filming a sardine run off the coast of South Africa, the water began to churn and before he knew it, Rainer Schimpf was swallowed up into total darkness.  But unlike the fish that swallowed Jonah for three days and three nights, this Bryde’s whale has an esophagus too small to completely swallow him.  He was spat out and lived to tell the tale!

Today’s verse expresses the sentiments perhaps felt  by this man and certainly by Jonah inside that fish.  But it is a cry for help from David as he was scared and depressed by the continual attacks of his enemies.  What he was experiencing did not last for just a moment or for three days.  What David endured continued for years.  It felt to David as if the depths of his despair would swallow him up.

Today marks the beginning of three long days of total despair as Jesus dies on the cross.  The whole land went dark as the Light of the world hung there for you and me.  But death could not swallow Him up for long.  Instead, “He will swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:8).  These three days until the resurrection represent all the waiting I do.  But I wait with hope for that time when all tears, sadness and death will be swallowed up in victory.  I wait with hope because I will one day be resurrected as well!  He is MY resurrection and MY life!

Help me Lord, to wait with joyful expectation and hope.


Leave a comment

“Great Rock”

Scripture for Today:  Isaiah 28:16 “So this is what the Sovereign Lord says; ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.”

This strange structure sits on an even stranger landscape; Burren, on the west coast of Ireland.  The name, Burren, means “great rock.”  Dry limestone rock covers this flat barren area making it resemble a moonscape.  This structure is called Poulnabrone, a portal tomb that has stood the test of time.  Originally covered with soil, it served as a collective burial site as well as a territorial marker.  All that remains today is its “stone skeleton.”

Today’s verse describes the only true and firm foundation.  The people were deluding themselves thinking that they could mock God’s words, live how they pleased and not be touched by calamity.  They were taking refuge in lies and falsehoods (verse 15&17).  They relied on themselves and their own righteousness and justice rather the foundation of God’s truth.  The “stone” we are to build our lives on is a tested precious cornerstone.  That Cornerstone is Jesus Christ (Eph.2:20) and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame (I Peter 2:6).

My whole life is like a building that is based on the Rock.  Jesus is not just an afterthought but the cornerstone from which everything else is fitted.  He is my point of reference for all truth.  Relying on my own rationale or reasoning is like building on sand (Matt. 7:24-27).  When the storms of life whirl around me, I want to be remain stable.  I will not panic at whatever life throws at me because I am founded on His unshakeable and eternal truth.

Lord, keep me stable today.

 

 


1 Comment

First Day of Spring

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 35:1-2a “The desert and the parched land will be glad. The wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom. It will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.”

For many parts of the world, the small crocus poking out its little head through cold hard ground is the first indication of spring!  For years in the north of France that was true for us.  My heart was always encouraged with that unexpected burst of color appearing.  There was still plenty of brown landscape and barren trees, but at least I knew that change was in the air!

Today’s verse uses the image of the crocus to picture the joy of God’s redeemed people.  The desert of their distress and persecution will be transformed into joyful springs of water.  There will be a day when God will move on their behalf, coming with vengeance and salvation (verse 4).  Every wrong will be made right.  There will be singing, shouting, gladness and everlasting joy for the redeemed.  There will be complete healing and protection.  Sorrow and sighing will be no more!

What an incredible future awaits me!  I can choose to live with joy as I look forward to that coming day.  I do not have to be bowed down with sorrow over the struggles I face.  A different season is coming.  There is a promise of so much more to come.  All will be transformed in the blink of an eye.  At that point, there will be no containing my bursting joy!  It is so easy to look around at everything sad and barren in my life and become discouraged.  But instead, I am going to look for that small crocus flower today!

Thank you Lord, that incredible joy IS my future!


Leave a comment

Thrown Away

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 10:35 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”

Her husband thought he was being helpful.  His wife came in late from the baby shower given her.  She dutifully emptied the car of all the gift boxes containing all the sweet gifts for their unborn baby.  She stacked them in the corner of the garage and went to bed.  As usual, she heard the garbage truck come by early the next morning but thought nothing of it.  That is until she realized that her helpful husband cleared out the garage that morning.  Thinking the boxes were empty, he inadvertently threw away all the gifts!

Today’s verse speaks of something that believers are never to throw away; our confidence.  This is not a confidence in ourselves.  This confidence is the full assurance that faith brings (verse 22).  Confidence is ours because of Christ’s sacrifice, giving us direct access into God’s presence (verse 20).  We have confidence to draw near to God because Christ has sprinkled our hearts clean from a guilty conscience.  These believers were facing physical suffering and confiscation of their property.  But confidence was still possible in looking forward to what was promised.

It is much easier to doubt and question than to remain confident.  When everything seems dark and hopeless, I am tempted to let go.  But when I remember His faithfulness I can regain that confidence.  He is faithful to His word and His promises.  He wants me to hold unswervingly to this hope I profess (verse 23).  With confidence in His love I can persevere, even when circumstances are so negative.  He has promised that my confidence placed in Him will be richly rewarded!  Already, He is rewarding me with more of Himself.

Lord, keep me confident and holding on.


Leave a comment

Roasting Coffee

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

That small coffee bean goes through quite a long involved process before it finally makes it into my cup!  But towards the end, just before the grinding and the brewing, there is that all-important step of roasting.  The green bean is kept moving to avoid burning and turns brown at 400 degrees.  At that point a fragrant oil is released producing that wonderful aroma and flavor.

Today’s verse is an encouragement to believers who are suffering for the name of Christ.   Rather than be surprised by the intensity of the heat, we are to see it as normal.  Suffering abuse and rejection for Him makes us participants in the suffering He endured for us! (verse 13)  The Lord promises special blessing and an evidence of His presence (verse 14).  The heat of the trial tests our faith and produces in us a stronger flavor and aroma of testimony.  There is no shame in being insulted, rejected or marginalized.  Instead, there can be praise and joy at this privilege!

The hostility I encounter at the name of Jesus Christ is surprising.  The reaction seems so unwarranted and sometimes out of character from the person I thought I knew.  The name of Jesus is a polarizing one.  There may be additional difficulties in my life for proclaiming His name, but there is also additional blessing!  The heat of the testing can make my faith stronger.  Rather than discourage me, it can make firm my resolve to live for Him.  My piddly little problems of being misunderstood do not even compare to what Jesus went through for me!

Thank you Lord, that You know and You understand.


Leave a comment

Waffle House Index

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:49-50 “Remember Your word to Your servant, for You have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this; Your promise preserves my life.”

The Waffle House chain in the Southern states is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Because they are normally open non-stop, it would take a very severe storm to close them.  That is why FEMA calls these restaurants the “Waffle House Index.”  The government knows an area has been hit especially hard if it was enough to shut down a Waffle House!  Their menu could be called a list of “comfort foods” with plenty of carbs, grease and sugar.  When eating there at 3am, the diner may very well be in need of some comfort!

There is suffering in today’s verse, but there is also comfort.  And that comfort is very closely linked with hope; hope in the word and promise of the Lord.  There is comfort in remembering His promises of help, of strength, of vengeance and of reward.  All His promises are comforting when times are so dark.  And God comforts us in ALL our troubles, even the ones of our own making! (II Cor. 1:4).  He comforts those who are downcast and depressed for reasons that are inexplicable (II Cor. 7:6).  He is the God of all comfort (II Cor. 1:3).

He sees when I am overwhelmed with fear and worry.  He cares when I am feeling too sad to get up from bed.   Better than indulging in comfort food, He gives me the amazing comfort of His love and goodness.  He brings to mind a song lyric.  He uses a long-forgotten verse.   And so often, He gives comfort through the encouragement of other believers.  He knows better than anyone else how to lift my head and my spirits.

Lord, I need Your comfort today.