Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 107: 13-14  “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses.  He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke apart the bonds that held them.”

The French have an expression that makes me smile.  They use their word for “unchained” to express the idea of over-active, over-playful or hyper!  It is a great way to describe school children let go from their classes at the end of the day.  There is visible joy in being liberated at last!

There are all sorts of chains that hold people back.  My heart goes out to people seen on news reports who are bound and used because of evil men.  But there are spiritual chains as well.  Chains due to our own sin are the hardest to break.  One can be chained to a sinful habit without even being aware.  Some live their lives in the pursuit of personal freedom, rejecting whatever mores and values they feel restrain them.  They end up bound and tangled in their own sinful behavior, powerless to change things.

Our verse for today is a cry for freedom from bondage.  These people were bound because they rebelled against Him and His counsel.  There was nothing they could do to free themselves.  Yet God was gracious and saved them from their distress.

He is still doing it!  His grace is still unchaining those who cry to Him.  Satan would like one to believe that those chains are unbreakable.  But Christ’s sacrifice has broken the power of sin and death forever!  His love is unending and His grace is amazing!

“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free.  My God, my Savior has ransomed me.  And like a flood His mercy reigns, unending love, amazing grace!”

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Scripture for Today:  Jeremiah 8:7  “Even the stork in the sky knows when it is time to move on.  The turtledove, swallow and the crane recognize the normal times for their migration.  But My people pay no attention to what I, the Lord, require of them.”

I am fortunate to live in an area known for its stork population.  I so enjoy watching them fly past our windows.  The cranes around here are almost as big but do not have the same “wow” effect for me.  I am anxious to see them return with the warmer weather.  They winter in Sub-Saharan Africa, something I wish I could do!  They often will return to the exact same nest.

Our verse for today talks about four different kinds of birds but with one thing in common; they all migrate.  Their little bird brains know instinctively when it is time to move on so as to avoid the freezing temperatures.  Jeremiah mentions these birds as a contrast to the Israelites.  The people prided themselves in possessing the Law of God.  But they continually turned to their own individual course, rather than following God’s way.  The Law, instead of being written in their hearts, became a mere code or outward ceremony.

I wish obeying God was as instinctive for me as migration is for the birds.  But then it would not mean as much.  God wants my obedience to be an intentional choice.  Knowing what God expects of me is a good thing.  But I do not want to make the same mistake as the Israelites.  The point is not how many Bible verses I can recite by heart.  He is more interested in how many I obey!  Help me, Lord, to be obedient.

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IMG_20130319_102100Scripture for Today:  Matt. 11:28-30  “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I am not sure our Tiger could be any more relaxed!  If he were, he would fall off.  Ah, the life of a cat!  I can not imagine why he needs twenty hours of sleep a day!  From what is he resting?  Maybe he is weary from his dreams.

Our verse for today promises rest for those that are weary and feel burdened.  I can often feel that way with a schedule that is too full.  I can feel burdened with impossible demands that I put on myself.  I know there is weariness in me when I find myself continually sighing.  I love that my Jesus does not want me to feel that way!

Even so, my first inclination is to fix my own problems rather than coming to Him.  But in taking matters into my own hands, I am not really at rest where it counts, in my soul.  Finding rest in Him is so much more than just changing the “to-do list” or getting more sleep.  I look at “soul rest” as quiet unruffled confidence in His control.  There is peace in handing everything over to Him.  There is rest.

These verses do not say that I necessarily stop working.  But in taking on His yoke, I have Someone who shares the weight of it.  The burden of work is no longer heavy but light.  In the midst of work and activity, my soul can be at rest.

Lord, I need Your rest today.

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High Road or Low Road?

IMG_20130319_164837Scripture for Today: Colossians 1:10  “so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

There is a very old Scottish melody that comes to mind when I see one path climb higher than another.  The lyrics from The Bonnie Banks O’Loch Lomond say; “Oh, ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak’ the low road.”  I more often than not find myself taking the low easier road.  Although, these particular paths are deceiving in the vineyards behind the house.  The lower road is actually the more difficult one as it becomes much steeper around the bend!

“Taking the high road” is also a saying that can mean walking the higher moral ground, exhibiting honesty and selflessness.  It signifies a choice that is harder and takes more consecrated effort.

Our verse for today is part of Paul’s prayer for the Colossians.  As believers we are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.  In doing so we will be pleasing to Him.  Our good work will have fruit and our knowledge of Him will increase.  This is walking the high road.  It is a road that takes much more effort.

The low road is easy.  There is no effort involved.  In walking it, there is no thought about pleasing Him, only ourselves.  But the good works done will bear no fruit.  Our knowledge of Him does not grow.  No pain, no gain.

Everyday these two roads present themselves in the choices of the day.  Do I strive to please Him and walk in obedience?  Or am I being lazy and enjoying a leisurely stroll on the low road.  Today, may I enjoy His pleasure on that high road!

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IMG_20121025_135857Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 17:22  “A joyful heart is good medicine but a broken spirit dries the bones.”

I remember the old TV commercial with the phrase, “I wanna be like Mike.”  Well, I wanna be like these two ladies.  They are pushing ninety and can still be silly and fun!  Oh, they have their problems, many of which are physical.  But they have kept their sense of humor intact.  They have both walked with the Lord for a long time.  Because of years of Bible study with them I have had a front row seat to their faith.  They are a joy to be around because they do not complain.  Instead they choose the medicine of a joyful heart.

The phrase, “laughter is the best medicine,” has been around a long time.  Research has shown there are many health benefits to laughter, including increased blood flow, better immune response, lowered blood sugar, and relaxation.   Isn’t it nice to see science catch up with Scripture written centuries ago!

For a believer, joy is the natural result of a close relationship with the Lord.  Psalm 16:11 tells us that in His presence is fullness of joy!  Being in His presence is a choice.  That means joy is a choice too.

Habakkuk understood that joy is a choice.  When everything was going wrong with crops and livestock, he said in 3:18 “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.  I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

When everything is going wrong with my circumstances I can still find joy when I choose His presence.  There is joy in the realization of His love.  There is joy in the thought of His salvation and the future that awaits!

No broken spirit or dry bones for me!  I choose joy!