Devotions By Jan


1 Comment

Royalty!

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:17  “Now if we are God’s children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”

Meet King Henry the Third, my twenty-first Great Grandfather!  Thanks to the years of research done by my sister, we can trace our family back to the early 1200’s.  Although kindhearted, history portrays King Henry as weak and ineffectual during his reign starting in 1216.  This image is of his effigy at his tomb located in Westminster Abbey.  We are also direct descendants of the King Edwards I, II, and III.  But will this discovery garner me more respect??

Today’s verse reminds me of my identity in Christ.  I am not only a subject of the King,  I am a child of the King.   What an amazing thought!  As His child I have access to the throne room of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! (Heb.4:16)  I belong there!  Because of the grace shown by Christ’s sacrifice, God extends to me His scepter, just as King Xerxes did for Queen Esther so long ago.  His throne is called a “throne of grace” because there He dispenses His mercy and help in time of need.  Isn’t that all the time?

I am not so sure I like the part about suffering.  But in our fallen world suffering is inevitable, especially for doing the right thing.  However, I have hope and can look forward to sharing in His glory!  Would that I remember that my allegiance belongs to the King and not to the world.  He is a King full of love and grace, welcoming me to His throne room.

Lord, help me remember that I am Your child and heir.

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


1 Comment

Pizza Dough

Scripture for Today: II Cor. 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

It all seems a bit complicated.  After punching down the rising pizza dough and kneading it, the dough is further manhandled by throwing it up in the air!  It looks like an art designed to impress the onlooker.  But in fact, this process of spinning it in the air creates the round shape and allows just enough airflow for easier handling.  With this method, the dough retains more moisture making the crust softer.

In today’s verse, Paul is recounting some of the hardships he and Timothy had faced.  At the beginning of the chapter and at the end, he says, “We do not lose heart.”  It would have been completely understandable if they had!  Paul had been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned and imprisoned for his faith.  Being perplexed, he perhaps did not always understand the “why” behind what was happening.  Yet, he remained confident that the pulling and stretching was producing something of value, forming the likeness of Jesus  in him (verse 10).

When I am faced with hard times, I often feel perplexed.  I usually cannot explain why the Lord allows certain difficulties in my life.  But He promises that all the pulling and stretching will be producing a “weight of glory” one day (II Cor. 4:17).  All that is painful or devestating is only a “light affliction” compared to what lies ahead.  I can be confident that even when panicked and confused, He is in control and His control is good.  How good of Him to reassure me!

Thank you Lord, that You use it all to make me more like You.  Help me not to lose heart.

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


Leave a comment

Hot Air Balloon

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.”

What a thrill it must be to quietly glide through the air without the noise of engines!  The views from the hot air balloon must be amazing.  But there is no gliding above the earth without heating the air that fills the hot air balloon.  The burners use gas jets fueled by propane cylinders.  The pilot’s job is to fire a steady flame from the burner to climb and maintain altitude.

In today’s verse, Peter anticipates that the believers will be surprised at the fiery trials they will face.  He points out that there is something behind the intense crisis they encounter.  The Lord uses every difficulty to test our faith and make us strong.  However, this “fiery ordeal” is not something caused by our own wrong choices.  It is an ordeal that comes from living as a believer in a non believing world.  Rather than reacting with surprise, we are to respond with joy (verse 13) being confident that blessing and future glory are ours (verse 14).  That fiery trial allows us to fly higher and maintain our altitude!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to peacefully glide through life without difficulties?  But I need that flame to make me stronger.  With each problem my faith can grow.  With each difficulty I can see Him work and draw closer to Him.  Each time I respond as I should He takes me a little higher and gives me a more expansive view!  Of course, I wish the process were not so uncomfortable.  But I can trust Him to know what He is doing.  I can trust that He knows how to grow my faith.

Lord, may my attitude allow new altitude!

 

 

 

 

 


1 Comment

Bitter Melon

Scripture for Today: Psalm 71:20 “Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter, You will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth You will again bring me up.”

Bitter melon looks nothing like a melon!  It looks more like a cucumber and it is not only its taste which can discourage a try but also its bumpy warty skin!  This very bitter fruit is grown in tropical areas of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and South America.  It is also known as balsam pear, bitter squash, karela and goya.  The bitter melon is believed to aid digestion and improve overall health.  It is even believed to help in treating diabetes and cancer, although the research is not conclusive.

Today’s verse talks about many bitter troubles.  David has had his share with his enemies seeking to kill him.  He has also lived with some very unhappy family relationships.  Yet he remains confident that his troubles will be short-lived.  He looks to the future with hope that God, though allowing the bitter trouble, will restore and lift him up once again.  David can say this as he has already seen the Lord do just that for him.  This psalm is full of testimony to God’s wonderful faithful care.

Although I enjoy God’s blessings, I am not spared “many and bitter troubles.”  And Peter tells me not to think it strange to experience fiery trials (I Peter 4:12).  But like David, I do not want to allow something difficult and even bitter to make me bitter!  He is there through all of it and is ready to restore and lift me up from the depths of disappointment, dashed hopes and depression!  In fact, He is the only One able to do it!

Thank you Lord, that You are my hope and comfort!


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.


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” on which we are to build our lives 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.