Devotions By Jan


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Seasickness

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107: 28-29 “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.”

These poor men!  This photo is from a postcard of American soldiers suffering from seasickness on the deck of the USS Powhatan during World War I.  The misery on their faces says it all!  Not all of them seem to be affected.  And the waves cannot be too awfully strong as the deck remains level.  But it does not take much motion for the sensitive stomach to churn.

Today’s verse talks of merchants who were used to life on the sea.  But this time, the Lord Himself stirred up a tempest that created huge waves (verse 25).  Their courage melted away as they staggered around like drunkards.  This was outside their normal area of expertise.  Even so, it was not until they were at their “wits’ end” (verse 27) that they cried out to the Lord.  And when they did, He brought them out of their distress, stilling that storm and hushing the waves.  Coming out of it, they were thankful for the calm.

I take the calm in my life for granted, that is just until the waves grow large!  I am like these sea merchants in thinking I can handle the sudden storm.  But I quickly realize that I cannot.  What starts as a queasy stomach can turn into full grown panic as my small efforts do not seem to amount to much.  How good and faithful He is to respond to my cry!  Whether that storm is of my own making or a test from Him, my first thought should always be to humbly ask for His help.

Thank you Lord, that You can still my storm.

 

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“A Watched Pot…”

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 64:2 “As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make Your name known to Your enemies and cause the nations to quake before You.”

“A watched pot never boils,” however, I am not sure this cat is watching and waiting for boiled water.  In fact, if that burner were on he is much too close for comfort!  My guess is this cat is soaking in the warmth from the oven.  This proverb is attributed to Benjamin Franklin in the mid 1700’s.  The idea is that time seems to move more slowly when waiting or anticipating something.

In today’s verse, the prophet, Isaiah, anticipates the Lord avenging His name among the nations.  He affirms the truth that there is no other God besides Him.  Isaiah remembers the mighty acts God has done in the past and is zealous for His name.  He sees Israel’s enemies seemingly gaining the upper hand with sacred cities becoming wastelands, Jerusalem a desolation and the Temple burned.  And now he waits, knowing that God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him (verse 4).

When I see God mocked and Christians ridiculed for their faith, that is the time I need to wait patiently for Him to move.  The more I anticipate Him intervening, the longer the wait seems!  But I have His Word and promises.  He will not be mocked and there will be retribution (Gal. 6:7).  He waits for those that scoff, wanting all to come to repentance (II Peter 3:9).  Whatever it is I am waiting for, I know He uses the wait to stretch my faith.  And I can count on Him being faithful to His promises, in His way and in His timing.

Lord, help me to wait with absolute confidence in You.

 


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Coconut Oil

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 1:9  “You have loved righteousness and You have hated lawlessness.  Therefore God, even Your God has anointed You with the oil of exultant joy and gladness above and beyond Your companions.”

When I smell coconut oil, it transports me back to younger days at the beach!  I associate the smell with a tropical vacation and in fact, one of its claims is that it reduces stress.  Coconut oil is called, “the wonder oil.”  I can understand calling it that if even half its claims are true.  Coconut oil is purported to be good for skin and hair.  It is supposed to improve digestion and increase immunity.  They say it speeds up healing, keeps organs healthy and boosts heart health.  I have no idea how much of this is actually true.  I just know I like the smell and taste!

Today’s verse refers to Jesus Christ.  In fact the name, “Christ” in Greek means, “anointed one.”  God set apart and anointed Jesus in giving Him a position that is above any other.  He not only is worthy of this distinction, but this anointing oil comes with joy and gladness.  Despite awful betrayal and death, Jesus experienced exultant joy and gladness.

I, too, am anointed with oil!  Psalm 23:5 says that the Lord does this for His own.  I am set apart for Him.  The oil also represents His Holy Spirit, who testifies with my spirit that I belong to Him (Romans 8:16).  This oil is surely the “wonder oil!”  His Holy Spirt is the Source of joy in my life as part of His fruit (Gal. 5:22).  And like Christ, I can experience joy and gladness despite my circumstances.  His joy is deep down in my heart where nothing can touch it!

Lord, I want to feel that joy today!


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Charging Stations

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:27-28 “Cause me to understand the way of Your precepts, that I may meditate on Your wonderful deeds. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word.”

When I enter the airport lounge, no longer do I look for the most comfortable chair, or the place with a view out the window.  I do not worry about who I am sitting next to or how close I am to my gate.  Like so many others, I am scanning the waiting area for those power stations for my phone.  I have a horror of my phone being without enough power to text people about schedule changes or missed flights.  There is something reassuring about having my phone charged up and being ready for any eventuality.

Today’s verse reminds me that it is God’s Word that can strengthen my soul.  Understanding His precepts, meditating on His wonderful deeds and being in His Word gives solace to a soul lethargic with sorrow.  Sadness depletes our strength and we need to be built up and encouraged.  His Word does that.  And even when it is inconvenient to be actually reading the Bible, there are always the memories of His faithfulness in the past that can bolster my faith and strengthen me.

My alone-time with Him is my charging station, renewing my spirit and my strength.   I do not, however, need to wait until I am dangerously low on power.  Being “prayed-up” and “charged up” keeps me in a state of preparedness for whatever unknowns are ahead of me.  I want to have full strength to face anything, but that can only happen as I stay connected to Him and His Word.

Lord, I am tired of being sad.  Strengthen me with Your Word today.


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In the Limelight

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:9 “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

Before the advent of electricity, theaters would use limelight to illuminate the stage.  A sharp point of oxyhydrogen flame was directed at a cylindrical block of lime, causing a tiny area of it to become incandescent.  The result was a bright white light.  However, it needed almost constant attention.  Someone was needed to continually adjust the block as it burned.  Since the invention of electricity this method is no longer used.  The saying, “being in the limelight,” is usually the only time we hear this word.

Today’s verse speaks of another source of light.  It will never be replaced with something better as this light gives life and enables us to see.  He does not illuminate a stage but a lifetime with the Light of His presence (John 8:12).  God has made His light to shine in our hearts, to give us the knowledge of Him (II Cor. 4:6).  His light not only shows us who He is but it is also an expression of His priceless and unfailing love (Psalm 36:7).

Just like the limelight, the light of His presence needs constant attention.  Being in His Word intensifies that light He gives.  His light is warm and loving, giving me closeness to Him and direction for my day.  Without it, I can easily stumble around and lose my purpose.  I can even get quite accustomed to the dimness and shadows.  But the further I wander from His light, the more negative and discouraged I become.  But oh what a difference when I return to the source of Light!  Not only does His light dispels darkness in my heart and mind but it also draws others to Himself!

Lord, keep me in Your light today.

 

 


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Ashes to Ashes?

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 61:3 “…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…”

The traditional practice of saving a loved one’s ashes in an urn is only one of many options.  I recently learned that ashes can be saved as an hourglass, a vinyl record, or a diamond ring.  The ashes can be part of a tattoo when sterilized and mixed with ink.  An artist can create a portrait mixing ashes into the paint.  Stained glass pieces can be bonded together with ashes.  Ashes can be transformed into fireworks or even shot gun shells.  But my favorite idea was storing ashes in the cute cuddly body of a teddy bear!

Today’s verse is a declaration of what God would do for the Israelites through His prophet, Isaiah.  He was to replace the ashes on their heads with a crown of beauty.  Those ashes were a sign of sorrow and repentance for sin, along with the sackcloth worn.  That itchy rough garment of despair over sin would be replaced with a garment of praise.  Joy would replace mourning.  God’s forgiveness changes everything!

I do not always feel much sorrow over my own sin.  But when I do, it can feel like a crushing weight.  Thankfully, He promises to be near the one who is brokenhearted over sin (Psalm 34:18).  His forgiveness turns my ashes into a crown of beauty!  When I humble myself and go to Him in confession, the ugliness of sin disappears.  Despair over my past mistakes and failures is transformed into praise for the new start He gives me!  He is faithful and just to forgive every single time!

Thank you Lord, for exchanging ashes for beauty!


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Coyote or Dog?

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14:15 “The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.”

It is not uncommon to hear of coyote sightings in our area.  We have low lying hills nearby where they can roam.  They look so much like dogs and their paw prints are similar too.  But one can always discern which prints are whose.  The dog will go through an open field stopping to investigate trees, shrubs or logs.  But the coyote will walk in a straight line, all business.  They know where they are going and what to do when they get there.

Today’s verse describes someone who is prudent.  He will be thoughtful about where he steps.  The prudent is not likely to follow some new untested theory or fad.  Behavior that is prudent is characterized by doing what is right, just and fair (Prov. 1:3).  The simple however, will believe and follow anything.  The simple person is not thinking but takes the lazy and easy way, following what everyone else is doing.  The simple person is believing without question, without fact-checking, and without scrutiny.  Their steps and the path they take can lead to danger (Prov. 22:3).

Giving thought to my next step makes me slow down.  I want to walk with purpose and not aimlessly in circles.  I am easily distracted by the trees, shrubs and logs along my path.  But I need to remember the purpose of my walk.  The path I have chosen is to please and serve the Lord.  That next step is with Him in mind.  He has promised to direct me  (Prov. 3:5-6)  and I do not want to run ahead of Him!  I need His wisdom for every decision as He alone knows what is ahead.

Lord, please guide every step I take today.