Devotions By Jan


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Roller Coaster

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:39 “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

There is no way I would ever ride this roller coaster at Carowinds Amusement Park in Charlotte, North Carolina!  For me the steep climb and abrupt drop does nothing to amuse!  Perhaps if the curve were flattened and the ride became slower I would enjoy it!  The phrase, “Flatten the curve” is the rally cry today to slow down the spread of this COVID virus.

Today’s verse speaks to highs and lows of a different sort.  There is no height that can separate us from God’s love in Christ.  Nor is there any depth that can do so.  His love is never in question no matter how dire circumstances become.  Nothing in creation can create a barrier to His constant and unconditional love.  Wherever we are on the spectrum of high or low, He is there and He is faithful.  If I were to go up to the heavens or go down in the depths, He is there (Ps. 139:8).  His love never fails.

Of course, I want to do my part to “flatten the curve.”  Slowing the growth of this virus through social distancing and hygienic measures is so important.  But at the same time I am confident of God’s loving control.  His love has not changed.  These circumstances are so bizarre and unique but they will not distance me from Him.  In fact, this slow down is giving me more opportunities to know and feel His love.  How reassuring it is to know that He holds me fast!  During uncertain times, I can always be certain of Him.

Thank you Lord, for Your constant love.

 

 


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Rock Hyrax

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 30:24 & 26 “Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise….hyraxes are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags.”

These little creatures are no bigger than a guinea pig yet they are called “the little brother to the elephant!”  He can boast to being the elephant’s closest living relative having similar teeth, toes and skull structure.  He makes his home in the rocks and the niches of sheer cliffs.  But he does not come out of his rock shelter during rainy cool weather.  And when he does come out he starts his day with several hours of sunbathing!

Today’s verse comes from a passage describing four small living creatures; the ant, hydrax, locust and lizard.  They all have two things in common, their small size and the fact that they are wise, extremely wise.  The hydrax knows when to run to the rocks to hide himself.  He knows he is small and vulnerable.  He knows his limitations.  He does not have the size and strength of his “big brother.”  Without this wisdom to know when and where to run, he would be in mortal danger!

I have no power of my own.  It is no weakness to admit my weakness and cry out to Him!  It is even a mark of wisdom.  When my heart grows faint I need to be led to the Rock that is higher and more powerful than I am (Ps. 61:2).  In the middle of crisis, I am not even sure where He is.  I need to be led through His Word and through prayer to trust and lean on His powerful presence.  He is solid and unmovable regardless of my any panic I feel.  I am wise when I run to Him!

Lord, lead me to the Rock today.

 


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The Armadillo

Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:9 “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Hello little armored one!  That is what the armadillo’s name means in Spanish.  Of the twenty-one species, the smallest is the Pink Fairy at six inches and the largest is the Giant at five feet.  However, it is not the size but the number of bands that separates the species.  Rather than flee the enemy, this guy quickly digs in the dirt, hunkers down, and trusts the overlapping plates covering his back, legs and tail to protect him.

Today’s verse counsels the believer to resist the devil.  Rather than flee, we stand firm in the faith, trusting in our spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-18)  We can stand our ground (verse 13) by believing truth rather than believing his lies.  We can trust in God’s righteousness given to us rather than allowing the devil to paralyze us with guilt.  We not only stand our ground but take new ground by sharing His Gospel of peace.  Our unshakeable faith and our confidence in His salvation grows when we fill our minds and hearts with His Word.

It is a comfort for me to know that the struggles I have are not unique.  Believers all over the world are facing some of the same temptations and tests.  And I can have confidence that the Lord has given me everything needed to stand firm in the face of spiritual attack.  There is no reason to fear.  Christ has already secured the victory for me on that cross.  When I am submitted to God, I can resist any of the devil’s ploys and he is the one who flees! (James 4:7)

Thank you Lord, for Your priceless protection!

 


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Wine Casks

Scripture for Today: James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

Having lived so long in the wine culture of France, I have come to appreciate some of the details of its production.  We would often see these enormous oak barrels storing the wine.  I am told that the time spent in those casks had a direct bearing on the taste.  Oak will add flavor, slow the exposure to oxygen making it smooth and provide a suitable environment for the fermentation, making it creamier.  It will take time to produce the desired taste.

Today’s verse talks about how important time is to appreciate the compassion and mercy of the Lord.  The one who perseveres is blessed or happy.  Certainly Job did not feel especially blessed when going through all the heartache of loss and calamity.  In fact, he argued with his well-meaning friends and questioned God about what was happening.  But Job did persevere in staying true to his Lord.  Even though he was ignorant of the reasons for his trials, he did not give in to the pressure from his wife to curse God and die.  And in the end Job was blessed!

God finally brought about a positive outcome though it took years and years.  I may also be asked to wait for that “finally” or that positive outcome that the Lord in His mercy and compassion brings about.  Just as the wine takes time to acquire its taste, so God’s plan for me can take a lifetime to accomplish.  I may never understand it all but I can persevere and be true to Him because He is loving and faithful.

Lord, keep me faithful to You.


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The Chuckwalla

Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:5 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

I had never heard of a chuckwalla until it was spotted and photographed by a family member in an arid rocky area of Arizona.  They can weigh up to two pounds, measure up to sixteen inches and live as long as twenty five years!  But what is most surprising is the way they escape predators.  They dodge into the crevice of a rock and inflate themselves with air!  This wedges them in so firmly that it is nearly impossible to remove them!

Today’s verse describes our God as a rock.  He provides refuge, protection and the strength of our salvation.  When we feel threatened or vulnerable, we can run to the permanence of this Rock.  His strength and protection are constant and constantly available.  It is a place that is safe when we feel under attack.  In the crevice of this rock we not only catch our breath, but are filled with His Spirit in this place of refreshment.

Sometimes it takes a crisis for me to realize that I am far away from my Rock.  When life is smooth I can be lulled into thinking that there is no danger.  Self sufficiency begins to subtly influence my thinking.  But even when I do sense any kind of threat, I am ashamed to admit that my first reaction is not always to run to my Rock.  But it is no weakness to run to His strength.  He invites me to firmly wedge myself in and enjoy His love and protection!  In the crevice of this rock, I will not be moved or removed!

Lord, be my Rock today.

 


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Burnt to a Crisp!

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.”

We are smiling here but not when we got the news of the fire!  Our two cars were burnt to a crisp as the result of a gang coming through causing trouble.  This form of protest in France is concerning but we never thought we would be a target!  It was surprising but the Lord had a plan in all of it.  He graciously replaced our cars with two that were newer with better mileage.  And He did this through the gifts of His people!  Through this test our faith has grown and become more fireproof!

Today’s verse tells believers not to be surprised at the hard times we suffer.  They are not the exception, but the norm.  We are not exempt from difficulties, although sometimes we think we should be.  The “fiery ordeal” in this verse is not something that is caused by our own wrong choices.  It is an ordeal that comes from living as a believer in an unbelieving world.

It is easy for me to think that I should be shielded from hard times.  But I am to view any suffering for Him as a privilege and a joy! (verse 13).  And the end result of this story is joy at seeing how Jesus used it for His purposes and His glory!  Our faith has been strengthened.  And the evil intent of this gang was turned around to His praise and glory in our lives.  Because of this drama I am less surprised at opposition and more confident that God will use it!

Lord, keep my faith strong in whatever I face.

 

 

 

 

 


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Thorny Cactus

Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 12:7 “….Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me.”

These thorns look wicked!  And they seem so innocent surrounded by those delicate yellow flowers.  The spiny surface of a  cactus plant seems incongruent with the fragile beauty of a flower petal.  For the unsuspecting, those thorns could be overlooked when reaching for the flowers and could inflict some real pain.

In today’s verse, Paul is describing a thorn in the flesh.  It was sent by Satan in order to torment him.  But in God’s hands it was used for a good purpose; to keep Paul from becoming conceited.  Paul had received some incredible visions and revelations from the Lord and the temptation was to boast and feel that he was better than others.  Some believe his thorn was a physical ailment.  Others believe it could be a person as enemies and neighbors are described as thorns (Numbers 33:55 and Ezekiel 28:24)

A relationship that has gone sour, a conflict that goes unresolved, or a family member that has no interest in reconciliation can all be like a thorn in the flesh.  But whether it is a broken relationship or a broken body, the pain and discomfort from those thorns are a constant reminder that I am weak.  Thankfully, He uses the thorns for good in my life as well.   It is through thorns that I discover that His grace is all I need (verse 9).  For me those beautiful flowers are evidence of Christ’s power resting on me despite my weakness!

Thank you Lord, that I can delight in Your strength regardless of the “thorns” in my life!