Devotions By Jan


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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.

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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.


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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.


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Building Forts

Scripture for Today: Psalm 59:16 “But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love, for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”

Kids can make a fort out of just about anything!  All that is needed is a little imagination and a few props.  There was not only room enough in this fort for my two grandsons but their mother as well.  Surprisingly, she stayed in there after the boys lost interest.  Maybe not so surprisingly!  It was quiet and peaceful there.  It was even warm with the protection from drafts.  After even just a few minutes inside, she came out looking happily refreshed!

Today’s verse describes God as a fortress and refuge.  David’s house was being watched by Saul’s men as they laid in wait to ambush and kill him.  David prays for deliverance not only from his enemies (verse 1), but from their slander, curses and lies (verses 10 & 12).  He recognizes that God is his strength and that he can rely on Him (verse 10).  David’s confidence in God being his strength, fortress and refuge is so strong that he can sing!  He praises God in song for His strength and His love.

In times of trouble, I need the warmth and protection of HIs strength and love.  Actually, I just need Him all the time.  But it is when faced with hard times that I realize my need.  His presence fortifies and strengthens my resolve to stand firm and resolute.  His love reminds me that He is in control and will not allow me to be overwhelmed.  His strength can be mine when I run to Him for shelter.  I am His.  I belong to Him and whatever I am facing, nothing is too hard for HIm.

Lord, I will sing today of Your strength and love!


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“CAVU”

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:1 “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited, or CAVU, is an aviation term that pilots use to indicate good flying weather.  But it is also used as slang to mean anything sought after or desirable.  For the late President George H.W. Bush, this term described his approach to life.  He had the acronym on a plaque in his office.  And on his 80th birthday he described his life as CAVU, “thanks to my family and friends.”

Today’s verse gives us a look past the ceiling of the sky to something beyond.  It is only visible to our spiritual eyes.  But like the former president, this unobstructed view of Heaven is to describe our approach to life.  We have been raised up with Christ from the old life to the new.  We are to set not only hearts but also our minds (verse 2) on what is there.  Christ is there, seated at the right hand of God.  Our focus is to be on this reality more than on the temporal things of earth.

I can only “see” beyond the things of this earth by being in His Word.  The truths read and studied there lift my sights to what is eternal.  I frankly could not smile without being reassured in His Word of what is to come.  Life can be pretty awful sometimes.  Knowing that God has planned what eye cannot see, ear cannot hear or even what our minds cannot imagine (I Cor. 2:9) is an enormous comfort when things are so sad and so hard.

Thank you Lord, that, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim,” when I see You.

 

 

 

 

 


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Christmas Tea

Scripture for Today: James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

I appreciate a lovingly brewed tea. I especially enjoy it when it is accompanied with sweets!   It takes time and some effort to do it correctly.  There are always directions on a box of tea on how long to steep that bag.  But more often than not, I tend to hurry the process along.  For the full flavor to be realized, the bag needs to steep long enough in that hot water.

Today’s verse talks about a process with a very positive outcome.  But like steeping in boiling water, it takes time.  The testing of our faith through trials and difficulties does eventually bring about perseverance.  And this is why one can consider it a joy.  Believers are to look at their problems not as a punishment, a curse or bad luck.  The one belonging to the Lord is to consider or regard each trial as something positive.  There can be joy when we can see past the problem to the perseverance that is being produced in us.

Of course, joy is not my first response to hard times  But after long careful consideration, I can eventually come to it.  It is usually well after that negative experience that I can see how God used it in my life.  I can esteem something as a joy when I see my faith become stronger as a result.  Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Heb. 12:2).  I want to see the joy that is set before me as well and so be able to endure with perseverance whatever He allows.

Lord, help me to trust what You are allowing in my life.

 

 

 

 

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The Sea Otter

Scripture for Today:Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

The little furry face of the sea otter looks too cute to be related to the weasel.  The otter is made for the water and spends most of his time there.  His feet are webbed, his fur is water repellent and his nostrils and ears close up in the water.  Despite their fur being the thickest of any animal, they often float on the surface, even falling asleep in this position.  They look so calm and peaceful, without a care in the world.

Today’s verse is a wonderful promise of support for God’s chosen ones.  Those He has redeemed for all eternity need have no fear of sinking in the water of this world’s troubles.  He gives strength and help.  He upholds us with His powerful and righteous hand.  Regardless of how deep that water is, we have no cause for fear.  His steady love and power will hold us up and keep our head above water.

Moving through hard times, I need to hear this.  There are times I feel as if I am sinking but I am not.  He has never let me down.  And I know He has a plan and purpose for those difficulties.  But I feel dismay and fear even so.  I paddle as if my life depended on it.  I panic and swallow water when I could be trusting Him and floating on the surface.  He is holding me up from underneath where I cannot see.  His powerful right hand is there and I can relax in His control.

Thank you Lord, for Your strength and support!