Devotions By Jan


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The Woodpecker

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 10:12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”

I had never seen a woodpecker until living in France.  There was one who frequently visited our yard and with his red markings he was easy to spot.  There was one fruit tree that he especially liked to peck for insects.  I was always happy to see him, not realizing what he was doing to that tree.  One night we had an huge windstorm and with an impressive crack, that tree came down, snapping at exactly the very place that woodpecker had been working!  I feel differently about woodpeckers now.  I missed that mirabelle plum tree!

Today’s verse is a loving warning.  After describing the failures of the Israelites in the wilderness, Paul cautions that falling is a real possibility.  We can think that we are standing firm while at the same time being slowly weakened by compromise.  Like the small attacks by the beak of  a woodpecker, our resolve can slowly erode leaving us vulnerable.  A strong wind of temptation can come along and knock us flat.  We fall to the ground and we no longer bear fruit.

No one wakes up in the morning and decides to give in to temptation.  Being drawn away from Him is usually a slow sneaky process.  And it can come from something normally beautiful or agreeable.  The next verse is such a comforting promise.  God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can bear.  He provides a way out.  I have a choice.  That enticement to sin is never so strong that with His help I cannot resist!

Don’t let me fall, Lord.  Keep me firmly standing and bearing fruit.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

 


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Vintage Label Maker

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 43:1 “But now, this is what the Lord says — He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel; ‘Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.'”

I did not realize our label maker was vintage!  It does look strange but it gets the job done, marking items with our name.  We do it because we have the silly optimism that those same items when loaned to others will have a better chance of making it back to our home!  We do not try to label everything with our name, just the little treasures we would like to have returned to us.

Today’s verse reassures us that the Lord knows us intimately.  He has called us by name and we as believers belong to Him.  This verse refers specifically to the nation of Israel but it is true of all those who are His own.  He is our Shepherd and calls His own sheep by name (John 10:3).  He not only formed and created each one of us, but He has bought us back at a tremendous price to Himself! (I Cor. 6:20)  He thought us valuable enough to call us by name, redeem our lives and mark us as His very own forever! (Rev. 3:12)

Because of His intimate knowledge and love for me, I do not have any reason to fear.  If God is for me, who can be against me? (Rom. 8:31)  Plenty of people I suppose but they will not get far.  I belong to the Creator of the universe and nothing and no one can separate me from His love! (Rom. 8:35-39)  No one will ever touch my soul.  He has labeled me as His very own!

Thank you Lord, that You know my name and make me Yours!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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House vs. Home

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:8 “We are of good courage, I say. and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

I have lived in a variety of houses on both sides of the ocean.  Not all of them have really felt like “home.”  The essential element was not the window flower boxes, a fire in the hearth or baking smells wafting from the kitchen.  For me the word denotes a feeling of permanence, being settled and enjoying warm loving family relationships.  Being that we were many times on the move, my husband would often tell me that “home” is where I am.

Today’s verse tells us where our true home is.  We are at home when we are in the presence of the Lord.  One day that will happen literally as He has thoughtfully and lovingly prepared a place for us (John 14:2).  What will make this place home will not be the size of the mansion or its appointments.  It will be the fact they we will be forever with Him.  There will be no interruption to this warm loving relationship.  It will be permanent and we will feel settled.

No matter how wonderful some of my houses have been, none of them have given me a feeling of satisfaction.  There is always a nagging sense of being unsettled.  Sure, it is nice to come back after time away.  But that feeling of coming home quickly wears off.  I know for a fact that I am not home yet.  When I finally feel at home will be when I enter my eternal home!  But for now, I can enjoy a small taste of home when I sense His presence.

Lord, You are my home.  Help me find contentment in You.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Doggie Discipline

Scripture for Today: Titus 2:12 “It (grace) teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,”

This dog understands the word, “No!”  I am amazed at his self-control sitting there with that piece of meat on his nose.  I wonder how long that lasted?  With smelling it, seeing it, and imagining that first bite, the dog must be trembling with the effort to refrain from gobbling it up in a moment!  I do not think the owner was too far away as the tension mounted.

Today’s verse is surprising.  The grace that normally comes to mind is the grace that offers salvation, that amazing unmerited and undeserved favor from God. (verse 11)  But this grace is a grace that teaches.  This grace allows the believer to live a godly life that pleases the Lord.  And like saving grace, it is completely unmerited.  We do not earn the ability to live a self-controlled life.  It is a gift that is part of the evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5:23).  We cannot take credit for staying away from sin.  We cannot take credit for our obedience to God.  It is all grace.

I am so thankful for the gift of self-control without which my life would be a mess.  His Spirit enables me to say “No” to temptation.  His Spirit gives me the power to turn my back on ungodly desires and choose obedience.  And despite the occasional slip, He has changed my heart to want what is right.  My highest desire is to honor Him with my choices.  And it is with His help that I can achieve that desire even just a little.

Thank you Lord, that Your self-control is another evidence of Your grace!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Bumper Bowling

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 2:7-8 “He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.”

Maybe I would feel differently about bowling had I grown up using these bumpers.  Imagine no more gutter balls!  But I did not have this luxury and I was on my  own trying to get that blasted ball to reach any of those bored pins.  It was not as if my Dad did not try to teach me.  He was in a bowling league at his work and had his own ball.  He and his team won trophies, but of course no serious bowler would consent to using these bumpers.  But I love the idea of having that little edge to correct the course of my wayward ball.

Today’s verse is beautiful!  The Lord God wants us to succeed but true success is only found in a relationship that follows His course.  None of His commands are arbitrary.  They exist for our good and for our protection.  Through His Word He speaks and guides.  When we obey and follow His perfect way, we enjoy the blessing of intimacy with Him.

I look at those bumpers as His grace to forgive, correct and restore.  Even with the best of intentions I fail.  I am “prone to wander” off His path.  But because I belong to Him, He does not let this silly sheep stray too far.  Sometimes that corrective bump can be a bit of a shock and not at all comfortable.  But it is just what is needed to get me back on course.

Lord, I want to always be one of Your faithful ones.  Keep me on that path of righteousness today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Leaning House

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is perhaps not so unique!  This house, used as a hotel, is found on the Blau river in Ulm, Germany.  The Guinness Book of Records named it the most leaning hotel in the world in 1997.  It was built around the 15th century in the Fisherman’s Quarter of the city.  I cannot imagine staying there.  I would be afraid that I would roll out of bed!

Today’s verse is a loving warning against leaning on one’s own understanding.  When a believer counts on his own reasoning rather than trusting in God’s unveiled plans, he leans as precariously as this house.  Our own understanding is flawed and limited.  We never see the big picture.  Leaning and trusting in only what we can understand makes us lean away from the sure foundation that He is!  In limiting ourselves to what we can surmise or figure out, we become unstable.  We teeter and sway rather than standing firm with a wholehearted trust in His direction.  He has promised to lead the way and make our paths straight.

My own understanding sure gets me in trouble.  I assume the wrong thing.  I read a situation incorrectly without even knowing it.  I think I know, and I do not.  There is only One who knows the future, who knows what is best for me.  The Lord not only knows, but He has the power to bring it about!  If I lean at all, I want to lean into Him and His strong arms.

Lord, keep me trusting in You with all my heart.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Play Doh

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 29:16 “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter, ‘You know nothing’?”

There is nothing better than a brand new set of play doh!  At least that is how my grandsons think.  It must feel good to start fresh with unmixed colors and clay that has not dried out to be rock hard.  The shapes my young grandsons form take some imagination to identify.  But in their funny creative minds they see a masterpiece worthy of the Louvre.  Grandma is obliged to ooh and ahh!

Today’s verse reminds us that there is a Potter who has formed and fashioned us, His clay, for His purposes.  God, as our Creator, has the right to form and mold us as He desires.  His reasons for how He has made us are well beyond our understanding.  But His creation has no right to challenge Him as if He did not have absolute knowledge and authority.  That is upside down thinking!

What a ludicrous scenario to imagine clay talking back to the potter!  But that is just what happens when a nonbeliever denies God’s existence.  He shakes his fist and declares that God did not create him and that he knows better than the omniscient One.  What a display of ridiculous pride!

It takes humility to submit to the Potter’s hand and become all that I am meant to be.  Pride makes me dry and hard in His hands.  Thankfully, He is patient and continually works in me with creative hands, making me like His Son.

Lord, while I am waiting yielded and still, mold me to be like You.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)