Devotions By Jan


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“Strong Arm” Saguaro

Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:13 “Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.”

This majestic Saguaro not only dwarfs its visitors by its size but can boast of a long life, some of them being as old as 200 years! Recently, the “Strong Arm” Saguaro in Marana, Arizona fell over, all forty feet of it! Its thirty-four arms lay broken and dusty on the floor of the Tortolita Preserve. What an undignified end to what is considered an impressive symbol of the Sonoran Desert!

Today’s verse describes another arm that will never face a similar fate. The arm of God is so powerful that by it He created the heavens and the earth (Jer. 32:17). His outstretched arm has accomplished great and awesome deeds (Deut. 4:34) and by the incredible power of His arm He redeems and saves those who reach out to grasp it (Ex. 6:6). His strong arm scatters His enemies (vs. 10) but strengthens those who belong to Him (verse 21). But not only are His arms powerful, they are tender as well. He gathers us in His arms and carries us close to His heart (Isaiah 40:11).

God’s powerful arms would actually evoke fear if it were not for His love. God’s unlimited power is part of what makes Him God. But I am grateful that because of His great love and grace, those arms operate for me and not against me (Rom. 8:31). The same power demonstrated in His arm is the same power that keeps my soul entrusted to Him! (II Tim 1:12) Nothing is too hard for Him and I can absolutely trust what His powerful arms are doing in my life.

Thank you Lord, that Your powerful arms keep me close to Your heart.


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Oh Pooh!

Scripture for Today: Daniel 1:9 “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.”

Mike Mozart https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/7533303858

“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully. “Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.” “And he has Brain.” “Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.” There was a long silence. “I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh How astute of Pooh! He surprises me with his funny insights. And it does seem that the more we think, study and learn, the more we realize how little we know and understand.

Today’s verse refers to Daniel and 3 other young men of Israel’s nobility who were taken captive by the King of Babylon. These four were singled out among all the captives to be trained for special service to the King, as they showed aptitude for learning and were well informed (vs. 3-4). These men were committed to keeping their dietary laws and God blessed their faithfulness with something they would desperately need. He gave them knowledge and understanding. Their own efforts at learning would be enhanced by this gift.

There is a whole dimension to knowledge and understanding that is missed when the Source is denied or ignored. It is from the mouth of the Lord that knowledge and wisdom come (Prov. 2:6). And knowing Him is understanding (Prov. 9:10). Although study, research and efforts to learn are very important, they can somehow fall short of that elusive step of understanding. How wonderful that God graciously offers it to those who fear and obey His Word! I will never understand it all this side of Heaven. But whatever I do understand is His gift to me.

Thank you Lord for the understanding You give.


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Earth Wobble

Scripture for Today: Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

It has long been thought that the earth’s rotation has been gradually slowing. But in July of this year, there was a slight wobble and that day turned out to be the shortest day on record! In fact, a faster rotation seems to be the trend and if continued may result in a “drop second,” subtracting a full second from our twenty four hour day!

Today’s verse reminds the believer that salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The day is fast approaching and the darkness is nearly over. We are exhorted to wake up as there is an urgency to “do this.” We are to be actively loving (verses 8-10) as well as arming ourselves with light and so putting aside deeds of darkness (verses 12-14). In other words, we are to look like Christ to those around us. Others may be asleep but we are to be awake and sober. (I Thes. 5:6)

The door of opportunity is slowly closing even without dropping a second of a twenty four hour day. Living life carefully and making the most of every opportunity is wise (Eph. 5:15-16). I do get lulled and lazy in using my time for Him. And I do need those wake-up calls. I find that being aware of His presence and unconditional love motivate me to be obedient and used by Him. Keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus does not make me perfect but it does make me aware of the hour!

Lord, wake me up to use this day for You.


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The Pangolin

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 6:20b-21 “…Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.”

https://www.flickr.com/photos/flowcomm/51837575293/

Meet the pangolin. Although he looks like a reptile, he is a mammal. And because of those funny looking scales, he is the most poached and trafficked animal. They are made of keratin, the same stuff of hair and nails. But in some Asian countries they are thought to have medicinal properties. Because of what most would consider a false idea, their numbers are declining in their Asian and African habitats and they are at risk of extinction.

Today’s verse tells us to turn away from what is falsely called “knowledge.” If what we are hearing discounts completely God’s existence, then it is “godless.” Ideas opposing the absolute truth of Scripture may sound learned and intelligent, but it is not true knowledge. Those who adopt what opposes Scripture are at risk to leave the faith. But turning away from what pretends to be knowledge is not done in pride. Rather it is done in humility, recognizing that we too can be unduly influenced and leave the faith.

I do not want to “write off” those who hold to false ideas. I turn away so as to not be enticed myself by something that contradicts what God has made clear in His Word. I need to remember that it is the Lord that gives wisdom, from His mouth come knowledge and understanding (Prov. 2:6). True knowledge is knowing and loving the Source of truth (John 14:6). But I need to not only turn a deaf ear to what is false, but live out what I know to be the truth!

Lord, keep me turned away from false knowledge but loving the one who is deceived!


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Old Photos

Scripture for Today: Revelation 2:3-4 “You have persevered and have endured hardship for My name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you; You have forsaken the love you had at first.”

In preparing for my Mother-in-Law’s memorial I have been immersed in old photos. This one from 1932 is especially precious, showing Minnie in the middle of four of her siblings, two on each side of her. But it is such a shame to see the damage done by UV rays, bright light, heat and humidity. Thankfully, it is possible to restore old photos to their original look using a number of different computer programs. My sister is the family “historian” bringing back to life old photos.

Today’s verse is a reprimand from the Lord to the Church at Ephesus. He is so gracious to start with a commendation. This church had gone through suffering for their faith. They did not renounce the Lord and continued strong. But there was something missing. They allowed obligation to replace the faithfulness that comes from a heartfelt love. The Lord sees the heart and knows from where our service springs. Somehow, their love had cooled from its original fervor. The brightness of that first love had faded.

If I am honest with myself, I admit to sometimes being in that same condition. I am committed and convinced of my faith. As far as I can know myself, I am willing to suffer and die for His name’s sake if He should ask it of me. But there are times when I feel far away from Him. The emotional connection can fade like images on an old photograph. He is there and always faithful, but routine and obligation can quickly take the place of the intimacy I have had in the past.

Lord, do not let me become satisfied with anything less than the vibrant clarity of our shared love.