Devotions By Jan


A Mark of Impatience

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 16:32 “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.”

It was not one of my stellar moments. The workers had promised they would put up all my wall hangings for me. I waited. Patiently I thought. After all, it was a low priority in our renovation. I could wait some more….until I couldn’t and I went ahead without them! I thought I understood the instructions on the adhesive I used and how to test it. I obviously did not as the lack of plaster attests! Every time I pass that wall I am reminded of my impatience!

Today’s verse values the patient person more than a successful strong warrior. Self-control is more admired than someone who conquers a city. And both patience and self-control are part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in a believer. (Gal. 5:22-23) Throughout Scripture we are told to “wait on the Lord.” When He makes a promise, we can absolutely rely on His faithfulness to come through. Like Sarah who was promised a son in her old age, it is when we try to “help God out” that we get ourselves in trouble.

I don’t like to wait. I often want to tell the Lord why now is so much better than later! But nothing He does is without plan or purpose. Certainly, He can fulfill all His promises at any time He chooses. But He chooses to make me wait and it’s for my benefit; to build my trust, to make me patient, to work on my self-control! My, what a lot of work He has!

Thank you Lord, for being patient with me!

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Tough or Tender?

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (NASB)

Tenderizing meat is a wonderful way to work out frustrations! I can still remember my Mother whomping on a cut of meat with some scary mid-evil looking instrument. Pounding on a more affordable cut of meat will break down the muscle fibers that constrict when heated. If they are broken down beforehand they don’t tighten up but stay relaxed. The result is nice tender meat that seems to be a cut above the rest without breaking the bank!

Today’s verse tells us that we are kind and tender-hearted when we forgive. In theory we all like the idea of showing kindness and being tender towards another. But the most difficult part of showing this attitude is in forgiveness. Like the meat tenderizing process, we need to have what is tight and unbending be broken down. We stay relaxed and ready to forgive the hurt inflicted by a loved one when we take to heart God’s forgiveness towards us.

How is it that someone else’s sin against me is so much more grievous than my sin against God? Yet that must be my prideful conclusion when I withhold forgiveness. When this happens (and it happens more than I’d like to admit) I am likely to be disciplined through some intense “meat tenderizing.” The Lord wants me to be tender, forgiving and compassionate, regardless of the hurt, regardless of the injustice and regardless of the response. Yes, it’s hard, but He did it for me.

Lord, help me to forgive.

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The Easter Basket

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 40:12 “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?”

I can still remember the squeals of delight when distributing those Easter baskets to our kids! I started with the oldest, much to the annoyance of my youngest. The origin of Easter baskets is thought to be from a Catholic tradition in Poland and other eastern European countries. Families would bring their Easter Sunday dinner to mass in a basket to have it blessed. Of course, anything in the basket other than chocolate and jelly beans would be firmly rejected by children everywhere today!

Today’s verse describes the contents of another basket as being all the dust of the earth. This poetic description of God’s mighty power asks rhetorical questions that can only have one response; no one. No one but God could measure all the waters of the earth, or the breadth of the heavens. No one but God is powerful enough to hold all the dust of the earth or weigh the mountains and hills. If He can do all of this, than raising Jesus from the dead poses no challenge at all to the all-powerful One.

I serve a mighty powerful God who is not bound by the laws of nature that He Himself created. And the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that raises me to new life as well. I was dead in my sin (Col. 2:13) but God made me alive with Christ. I can be truly alive only because He is! And if God can raise Jesus from the dead and promise me an eternity with Him, why do I worry about what this day might bring?

Thank you Lord, for Your resurrection power!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018)


The Tallest Cross

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 1:18  “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

Credit to Godot13 at Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International 

This cross is thought to be the tallest in the world, standing at 492 feet in Madrid, Spain. It is so prominent that it can be seen from 40 miles away! Built between 1940-1958, it sits atop a monument to immortalize the fallen, which explains the monument’s name, “The Valley of the Fallen.” Roughly 34 thousand combatants are buried there, from both sides of their civil war. Half the fallen are buried on one side and half on the other.

Today’s verse describes two ways people view the cross of Christ, especially remembered on Good Friday. It continues to be a symbol of sacrificial love throughout the centuries. For those who are being saved it is a positive symbol of our salvation. We celebrate a cross where death led to life everlasting. But for those who are perishing the cross is foolishness. It signifies indignity and failure, rather than the power by which we are saved. 

The cross continues to polarize. There is no middle ground as we are on one side or the other. We are all in the Valley of the Fallen, having fallen short of God’s standards. (Rom. 3;23) Like the two thieves crucified with Jesus, there are only two responses. I either place my trust in Christ as my substitute, or I remain in my sin. What power in this cross of Jesus! His power snatched me from darkness and placed me in His wonderful light! (I Peter 2:9) Because of the cross I have hope. I have life, forgiveness, and healing! The power of the cross is that it cancels the power of my guilt and shame!

Lord, I am eternally grateful for the power of Your cross.

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The Court Jester

Scripture for Today: Psalm 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”

This week some will celebrate April Fool’s Day by tricking friends and making them laugh. In medieval times, the royals had the luxury of having a court jester always available to make one laugh. He was also called a “fool” and would wear brightly colored clothes and bizarre hats in a motley pattern. His job was simply to entertain. His was a privileged position in the court as he could mock and revile without penalty.

Today’s verse describes a different sort of fool; the one that in his heart says that there is no God, mocking the very idea of God. But his Creator says He will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7). This fool may not be easily recognized as his foolishness is hidden in his heart. He may be revered for his doctorates or admired for his sophistication. But God sees them as a fool and even laughs at the wicked! (Ps. 37:13) And the fool is eventually revealed to others by his behavior.

It is never my place to call anyone a “fool” as in a curse (Matt. 5:22) as I cannot see what is in the heart. That is better left to the One who can. However, my own behavior can be very revealing and I know when I am being foolish with my decisions. When I choose to do things my own way instead of the Lord’s, I am being foolish. When I decide I know better I feel chagrin at the mess I make of things. Better to obey His Word even if I look the fool to the world!

Lord, keep me from being foolish today.