Devotions By Jan


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Holding Hands

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

They died holding hands.  After sixty-two years of marriage, this couple fell ill at the same time and were placed in a nursing home.  The staff pushed their beds together as he wanted to hold her hand.  Hand-holding began their life together and ended it.  He died while still grasping her hand.  She held on to life and his hand for another ninety minutes before dying as well.  How beautiful is this expression of love!  Holding hands can give courage, help and support.

Today’s verse is a beautiful assurance of God’s power and control.  The hand of God is a place of salvation, refuge and protection.  It is also a hand of healing and deliverance.  By taking our hand He assures us of His help.  His hand takes our right hand but not our left.  That is because the right hand is the one in Scripture that is used in battle.  He hold us by the right hand so that we allow Him to fight our battles!

I need Him to do the fighting.  My hands are weak and my grip is loose with discouragement on that “sword of the Spirit,” which is God’s Word (Eph. 6:17).  But He promises His help.  He takes a hold of my right hand and infuses me with strength and courage.  His help means that my enemies will be “as nothing.” (verse 11-12).  That impossible relationship that looms so large is no problem for Him.  He is in the business of righting wrongs and changing hearts.  He has my back and has promised to always be with me (Psalm 73:23).

Thank you Lord, for the warmth and comfort of Your hand holding mine.

 

 


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Kintsugi

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.”

This bowl went from broken to beautiful!  The art of golden joinery is the definition of the Japanese word, “kintsugi.”  Fragmented and broken pottery or ceramics are repaired in this process by filling the holes and cracks with a resin mixed with gold, silver or platinum.  What used to be broken pieces thought to be worthless become a thing of beauty!  The very brokenness makes the item become more precious and valuable!

Today’s verse is a comfort and reassurance when going through suffering.  There is hope.  The author of this psalm was experiencing ridicule (vs. 51).  There was intense pressure from the wicked and perhaps he felt himself cracking from it. He vows to stay faithful to the Lord through it all.  In the night he reminds himself of who God is (vs. 55) and he resolves to stay the course.  Through all the pain he remains hopeful because of God’s promises.

It is hope that brings me through the darkest times of my life.  I can feel forgotten, rotten and dead inside just like David did when he described himself as “broken pottery” (Ps. 31:12).  But then, there are the promises of God.  Whatever feels broken He can repair.  More than that, He transforms our very brokenness into something useful and a thing of beauty.  Nothing is too hard for Him or beyond the skill of His capable hands.  He works in the good where everything went bad.  That stupid decision, that utter failure or that shame at letting Him down is all part of a pattern that He redeems and makes beautiful.  This is my hope.

Thank you Lord, that Your promises give me hope.

 

 


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Closet Fail!

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

This happened!  My husband came into the kitchen with the strangest crestfallen look on his face to break the news.  The closet rods had given up after valiantly trying to support too much weight.  Not only had everything fallen but the closet doors would not open being blocked from the carnage inside!  We had already reinforced the closet rod, but it could not bear the weight of all my good deals!  With the new closet system in place, I vowed to myself to be more reasonable about the amount of clothes I could wear in a lifetime!

Today’s verse talks about two more items of clothing that every closet, no matter how overcrowded, should include: strength and dignity.  This verse is part of the well-known passage describing a wife of “noble character.”  She herself is clothed in fine linen and purple (vs.  22) but she knows that charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting (vs. 30).  However, being clothed with strength and dignity is something that will allow her to laugh at the days to come and have confidence in facing her future.

No piece of clothing, regardless of brand or cost, will ever give me strength and dignity.  The Lord is my strength and it is through Him that I can do all things (Phil. 4:13).  He gives me the power I need to endure and the strength of resolve to persevere in the hard times.  I am so thankful that His strength and power even show themselves through my weakness (II Cor. 12:9).  And dignity?  That also comes from Him and being His child.  He has crowned me with glory and honor (Heb. 2:7).

Lord, I need Your strength and dignity today!

 


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Hospital Gown

Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:9 “All my longings lie open before You, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from You.”

Is there anything more humiliating than wearing that infamous hospital gown?  I feel for this little pooch looking so forlorn.  I would have used a picture of a human patient, but this is a family-friendly blog!  Modesty goes out the window in a doctor’s examining room.  But at least there is a hospital gown.  Often in French doctors’ examining rooms nothing is offered to cover up!  One feels so open and exposed, and the indignity one feels is intensified when not feeling well.

Today’s verse tells us that nothing is hidden from the Lord.  David understands that there is not a longing or heart-felt sigh that is hidden from Him.  He sees our innermost being, knowing even our words before we speak them (Psalm 139:4).  He has searched us and known us even from the time we were in our mother’s womb.  Even at that early stage, our frame was not hidden from Him (Psalm 139:15).

Does His knowledge of me frighten me or make me uncomfortable?  To have every motive of my heart open to the Lord can be a disturbing thought.  There is no hiding behind lofty prayers or religious traditions.  He knows exactly what I am thinking and feeling.  But as His child, this intimate knowledge is a real comfort.  He understands the fumbling prayer that finds no words.  He hears the anguished cry of my heart for lost family and friends.  He knows the sadness I feel with that deep sigh.  And every unfulfilled longing that hides out in a corner of my heart is open to Him.  Oh yes.  He is my comfort because He knows and understands.

Thank you Lord, that You know me like no other and love me anyway!


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Pizza Box

Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I loved this story on the news the other day of a man in New York who was the recipient of an anonymously donated pizza.  Inside the cover were written the words, “Stay strong,” the very words his wife daily said to him while dying of cancer.  He told the pizzeria manager that this simple message “turned his life around” and pulled him out of a deep depression.

Today’s verse is an encouragement from the Lord to Joshua that inspired him be strong.  Joshua had just taken over the enormous task of leading the Israelites after the death of Moses.  Joshua needed this assurance that the Lord’s presence would give him strength and courage.  There is a subtle difference between the words,”stay strong ” and “be strong.”  The first implies that strength is already there in some measure and should continue.  For Joshua at the death of his friend and leader, he had no strength or courage.  Not only was the charge overwhelming, but he must have felt alone and sad with Moses gone.

I absolutely have no strength without the Lord.  Whatever strength I have comes from Him.  Paul recognized this when he said to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power (Eph. 6:10).  I need His strength especially when losing a family member or friend.  I need this same reassurance that He will be with me and give me all the courage and strength to face the future.  Of course there is sadness, but I do not need to feel discouraged.  He is there and will get me through.

Thank you Lord, for the strength You give.


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Beam Me Up!

Scripture for Today: Romans 5:3-4 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

“Beam me up, Scotty!”  This phrase, although part of pop culture, was never actually uttered exactly this way on any Star Trek episode or movie!  But how great that these characters could escape any and all dangerous situations just by being transported back up to the ship from the planet’s surface!  At just the right moment, they would disappear before startled eyes and escape any unpleasantness.  I often wish I could do the same thing!

Paul had a very different view of facing hard times.  Today’s verse explains that we can actually glory or be positive about what we are facing.  We are not plucked out of that suffering.  We are left here to face it with God’s help.  We may never know exactly why we were not spared that suffering, but we do know it can produce something positive; perseverance, character, and hope.  And that hope does not put us to shame (verse 5).  We are not transported immediately to Heaven after our salvation because we are slowly being shaped and molded here on earth.  The perseverance, character and hope He produces allows us to resemble Him.

I do not look for or want any suffering.  I would much rather produce that perseverance, character and hope some other way.  But it comes through the hard times when my faith is stretched.  He went through so much more than I ever will so I know He understands and cares.  He will never put me through more than I can withstand.  I can trust His heart and His purpose for me.

Thank you Lord, that You use every pain to bring me closer to You!


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The Sting of the Scorpion

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

I hope I am never stung by this disgusting creature!  The Indian Red Scorpion is said to have the most lethal sting.  One could die if not treated within 72 hours of being stung.  They are quite hardy and can live up to a year without food or water.  Because they are very sensitive to light, they stay hidden during the day and only come out at night.  One good thing about them is that they can glow in the dark!

Today’s verse describes death as a “sting.”  Death will no longer have the victory when the mortal is changed into immortality (verse 54) and the perishable becomes imperishable.  Death seems to have the victory for now, but in fact, Christ’s empty grave means that death has been swallowed up in victory!  The venom of that heart-rendering grief is no longer lethal as we look to the life to come.  We share in Christ’s victory over death.  We have hope that death is not the end as we look to the One who conquered and defeated death forever!

The news is disturbing as I hear of senseless and violent death.  I can feel overwhelmed with news of terminal cancer in friends and loved ones.  Yet, as much as I grieve, I can grieve with hope, knowing that for the believer, He has promised that the very best is ahead of me.  Because of what Christ did on the cross, death and evil do not win.  No despair can erase this truth.  No tragedy nullifies my hope.  In Christ alone, there is “No guilt in life, no fear in death; This is the power of Christ in me.”

Thank you Lord, that death no longer stings.