Devotions By Jan


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Litter Bug

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 10:35-36 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

What a shame to see trash spoiling this beautiful scene!  I still remember that old slogan, “Every litter bit hurts.”  It was part of the campaign begun in the early 50’s called, “Keep America Beautiful.”  Its aim was to end littering and to beautify our environment.  And they did raise awareness through education, public service advertising, mapping of “litter hotspots” and organized cleanup activities.  Much of these values are seen today in other efforts such as Earth Day and “plogging” or picking up litter while jogging.

Today’s verse tells us about something believers should never throw away; our confidence!  That confidence allows us to persevere in doing what God wants.  The believers addressed had suffered through being thrown in prison and through having property confiscated.  Their treatment was unfair but they were told to stay confident that God would richly reward them for their sacrifice and perseverance.  Those who have thrown away their confidence are those who no longer believe the suffering is worth it.  Abandoning the faith for an easier life, they forgo the reward that would have been theirs.

I can respond in one of two ways to a life-changing crisis.  I can either blame God and run away from Him, or I can run to Him for the comfort and encouragement that only He can give.  My faith and confidence, rather than being thrown away, grows and strengthens when I choose that second response.  I do not know what hard thing may await me.  But I pray that I will never throw away my confidence.

Lord, help me to persevere no matter what!

 


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Elvis at the Grand Ole Opry

Scripture for Today:  Romans 5:3-4  “…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope:”

I was surprised to hear about the time Elvis Presley bombed!  We do not often hear of the failures of the greats but only their successes.  A teenage Elvis performed only once at the Opry in 1954.  He vowed never to sing there again.  During that time only country music was featured.  With his rhythm, blues and body gyrations, the reaction of the audience was tepid at best!  The manager advised Elvis to return to his truck driving position in Memphis!  I am so glad he did not listen.

Today’s verse teaches that perseverance can be developed out of hard times and perhaps even failure.  Perseverance is not born out of wishful thinking but out of suffering.  It is the ability to stay the course regardless of the obstacles.  Remaining faithful, keeping that promise or shouldering on with the right choice rather than compromise; it all requires perseverance in the face of hardship.  Out of continuing on, character is built and our hope in eternal reward grows stronger.

I am a wimp when it comes to suffering in any form.  But I know that the Lord does not exempt me from it.  It is so often in the suffering that my faith deepens and my knowledge of His heart grows too.  It is good to know as well that perseverance , character and hope have a fighting chance to develop in me.  But it is all grace.  It is God who is giving me that endurance and encouragement I so need to keep on keeping on (Rom. 15:5).  He is the One who brings positive outcomes out of what can look so hopeless.

Lord, keep me faithful to You no matter what!


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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.


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Broken Bisque

Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

These broken pieces of bisque look pretty pathetic.  For whatever reason they did not survive their first firing during the process of becoming beautiful pottery.  The first firing is to strengthen the clay.  Their glazing, unique colors and design can only be applied after this important step.  When touring a Polish pottery factory I remember seeing a huge bin full of broken bisque pieces.  Our guide explained that rather than throw them out, they would melt them all down to start again.

When hearing this explanation, I could not help but think of today’s verse.  Paul is confident that God will continue His work in the hearts of believers.  He has a goal for each of us to grow more and more like His Son.  And even though the process is life-long, what He starts, He promises to finish.  Just as pottery needs firing to be strengthened, so our faith is built up by the “fiery trials” we experience (I Peter 4:12).  When life heats up with impossible situations or insurmountable obstacles, it becomes clear just where we are weak. With each testing of our faith, we ideally become more confident of His control and goodness.

I wish it were always true that I come through those trials without cracking or breaking.  But I certainly cannot say that.  Thankfully, my failures do not change the plan or the eventual outcome.  I can be confident too that the Lord will use it all and He knows what He is doing with me.  One day, I will be like Him! (I John 3:2)

Lord, keep me trusting You, especially in the hard times.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Petrified Wood

Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

This piece of petrified wood hardly resembles wood any longer.  The inside is as hard as rock.  Petrified wood is classed as a fossil and it is formed when a tree falls to the ground and is covered with mud or ash.  Rather than decaying, the organic plant material breaks down, forming a void. Over much time, as mineral laden groundwater flows through the inside, the deposits build up forming rock in that void.

Today’s verse is a process that takes much time as well.  But the result is a strength every bit as strong as that rock.  The Lord allows suffering for awhile.  He uses it to empty us of all of our own resources, pride and self-sufficiency.  Then when there is a void, He moves in with His strength.  Little by little we are filled with those rock-making materials.  We no longer resemble ourselves when we are filled with His strength and power.

It is in the middle of those difficult hurting moments that I realize I am weak.  Any other time I think I am strong.  All it takes is a bit of suffering to realize that I am not.  The Lord is so gracious to come to me Himself and personally restore me.  He gives me His strength and helps me be strong and steadfast.  I may look the same on the outside, but something has changed inside.  And it would not have happened had He not allowed the void and emptiness first.

Thank you Lord, for filling me with Your strength.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 


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Giant Jenga!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:24 “though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord is the stay of his hand.”

I would hate to have been the one to make this jenga tower fall!  The giant version has been showing up for different social events but I have never seen one.  My grandsons enjoy building the smaller version on the coffee table.  But at their age they are more interested in making it fall as quickly as possible.  Of course, the idea is to build the tower one brick at a time, placing the brick on the top without the tower falling.  It takes an eye for balance and a steady hand.

Today’s verse is a promise that the Lord will establish the steps of the one who belongs to Him.  If there is a fall, it is a controlled one.  It will not be a free-fall, being cast headlong.  The Lord’s hand is involved and He breaks the fall with His hand.  Regardless of how many bricks are pulled out from under us, He is there.

This is a wonderful assurance for me that the Lord is my true support.  I may feel that my stability rests on my work, my plans or my finances, when in fact, none of those are holding me up.  Circumstances change, and sometimes with no warning at all.  Rather than feeling panic I can remain confident.  No bad news can shake me as my heart is steadfast and trusting in Him (Ps. 112:7).  And even if He were to allow me to teeter and fall, His open loving hand is there to soften the landing.  In His unfailing love, He stands me back up, brushes me off and strengthens my faith through the whole ordeal.

Thank you Lord, for holding me up.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Fading Flowers

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades but the Word of our God shall stand forever.”

Flowers that fade are not uncommon.  It can happen when there is too much exposure to sun and heat.  A once vibrant color can fade after being pollinated, no longer needing its suitors.  But the flower can also fade from stress after being transplanted.  Flowers growing from bulbs, such as the daffodil, fade with age.  The hydrangeas in my garden in France would fade being sensitive to the acidity of the soil.  The writer, Robert Bridges, used this image of fading flowers to describe diminishing love.

Today’s verse uses the grass that withers and the flower that fades to illustrate how brief and temporary life is.  The green grass can spring up overnight after a good rain and blanket a hillside.  And just as quickly, the grass can wither in an unrelenting sun.  The flower can enjoy a stunning burst of color, but eventually fades.  What a contrast to God’s Word that never withers and never fades!  It is always true and never changing.

God’s Word is living and enduring, making my life full of vibrant color (I Peter 1:23).  Through His Word He has put in me seed that never dies.  In a winter of bare trees and dry grass, I know that in the spiritual realm it is always spring!  His Word refreshes and strengthens me (Ps. 119:28).  Nothing can ever happen to make it untrue, unreliable or irrelevant.  What God says brings me comfort and hope in the most dire situations.  His promises keep me strong and His reassurances give me courage.  I cannot even imagine life without His precious Word to help me live it!

Lord, keep me faithfully reading Your Word.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.