Devotions By Jan


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Morning Person?

alarm-clockScripture for Today: Psalm 59:16  “But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength.  Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your loving kindness in the morning.  For You have been my stronghold and refuge in the day of my distress.”

I do not understand a “morning person.”  Being chipper and bright early in the morning is somehow non-human!  Coffee helps start my engines, but oh so slowly.  My husband is a “morning person” and I attribute it to his childhood.  My Father-in-law had a unique way of rousting my husband out of bed for early mornings.  He would play John Philip Sousa marching band music full blast!  Thankfully, my husband does not try that with me!

Our verse for today is all about joy and singing in the morning.  I do not always feel in top form first thing but God’s strength does not falter.  If I am not feeling rested or strong even after eight hours of sleep, I can be assured that He is strong and He is my strength! (Psalm 28:7)  With a song in my heart, if not on my lips, I can thank Him.

“Loving kindness” does not describe me in those early hours.  It takes concentrated effort to sweeten my voice.  But God’s loving kindness does not fluctuate with the hour!  He continues to show me love even at my most unlovable moments!

How thankful I am that my God is constant.  Early mornings may change my disposition but never on His part!  When I take even a moment to reflect on His care and protection, I start to feel a melody of gratitude begin its first trembling notes in my spirit.

Coffee may wake me but it is thoughts of Him that make me want to sing, regardless of the hour!

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Shielded

repel-cavalry-01Scripture for Today:  Psalm 5:12 “For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord.  You surround him with favor as with a shield.”

There is a beautiful castle not far from us called Haut-Koenigsbourg.  It is perched high in the Vosges mountains and from its windows there are some amazing views.  It is a furnished castle with an armory filled with all kinds of ancient instruments of war.  Included in their collection are some antique shields.  Every piece of armor is critical but maybe none more than the shield that protects.

Normally, when I think of biblical references to the shield, my mind either goes to the list of spiritual armor in Ephesians 6, or the Psalms that talk of the Lord Himself being a shield.  Our verse for today talks about the shield being His favor.  What a beautiful thought, that He surrounds the righteous  with His favor and blessing!

He promises favor and blessing for those who are in right standing with Him.  I have no righteousness of my own, but I am the recipient of His righteousness.  I am His own and He in His grace takes care of His own.  I do not deserve such care and attention.

Because of His favor shielding me, I can take refuge in Him.  He is my Protector and that means I can move through this life without fear.  It also means I can face death without fear.  Putting my trust in Him is my defense in the midst of battle.  I can sing and shout for joy regardless of the circumstances.  I know the outcome of every skirmish as He is the Victor!  As Psalm 3:3 says, He is my shield and the “lifter of my head!”

I am so unworthy.  Thank you, Lord, for surrounding me with Your favor today.


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GPS

car-gpshowstuffworks-top-5-car-gps-devices-hgfqccslScripture for Today: James 4:6 “But He gives a greater grace.  Therefore it says, God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

The other day while finding our way in the mountains, our GPS got totally confused.  Her voice stayed confident as she told us take the second exit at the round point where there was none!  There were several times that had we obeyed her, we would have turned right into the mountainside!  After listening to her continue to give us outrageous directions, we finally just turned her off!  Thankfully, we had an old fashioned map as a back up.  But not once did she apologize!  She never said, “I was wrong and you were right!”  Of course, had she admitted her mistake I would have fainted with surprise!

There is something in all of us that bristles at the thought of admitting our errors.  Sometimes, the only way it can happen is if we can point to extenuating circumstances!  Or we can maybe admit we were wrong if someone can share our chagrin.  It is never a comfortable experience.

In our relationship with the Lord, humbling ourselves and admitting our wrongs is the starting point to our relationship with Him.  We cannot receive forgiveness without confession.  But pride can keep us from admitting our sin.  Pride itself is the root of so much sin and heartache.  This is why it tops the list of abominable sins in Proverbs 6:17.   There are those who would rather face the opposition of the Almighty God than be humbled.

The good news is that there is grace for those who come clean with Him.  He shows me unmerited favor when I humble myself in honest confession.  Forgive me my pride, Lord!  Oh how I need your grace today!


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Relief

8585759939_b61605712eScripture for Today: Psalm 4:1 “Answer me when I call to You, my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.”

This bottle was a common sight in my childhood home.  Although my Mother was an excellent cook, my Father always struggled with stomach acid.  The different colors and flavors of the tablets made it seem inviting.  But the chalky taste was disagreeable to me.  I still remember the advertisement from the 70’s; “How do you spell RELIEF?”  Of course the rhetorical question was to be answered by spelling out the brand name.

Our verse for today gives a different source of relief.  In the beginning of this short psalm David is crying out to the Lord for relief.  He ends the psalm with lying down in peace and sleep.  He has found relief in his confident trust in the Lord.  His circumstances had not changed at all.  What changed was his focus.  And his focus changed as a result of his prayer.  Prayer does that.  It relieves a heart bowed down with worry.  Prayer relieves the heavy burden of sadness.  Prayer reminds us that we are not alone or forgotten.  He is there and He can bear the burden for us.  That is a relief.

My problems seem insignificant compared to those of David.  I do not have enemies seeking to kill me.  But I do need relief as sometimes it all seems too much.  Whether there are struggles with health, finances, or broken relationships, it can all seem overwhelming.  I know my Lord does not want me to live that way.  He is willing and waiting to relieve me.

May my prayer to Him today end with a sigh of relief.


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Autopilot

946592_10151821140364073_554091784_nScripture 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 acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

It worries me to think of an airplane with autopilot capabilities!  They have been in use for a long time, but my imagination takes flight sometimes along with the plane.  I can think of lots of things that could go wrong!  But everything is so computerized that planes can execute some pretty precise maneuvers, even landing a plane with zero visibility.

I learned that the autopilot of an aircraft is sometimes referred to as “George!”  It is a good thing that George can be switched off in times of failure.  That manual override is important when there is a bad connection or a sensor failure, resulting in a loss of needed input data.  The presence of that pilot remains essential.

Sometimes in my Christian walk, I feel like I am on autopilot.  I have been a believer a long time.  I can go through all the motions of the Christian life without much thought.  I can pray spiritual-sounding prayers at the drop of a hat.  I know all the lyrics of all the old hymns and can quote verses with the best of them.  But I usually know when I am on autopilot, as something is missing.  My heart is not in it.

Our verse today talks about leaning on our own understanding and directing ourselves.  When I am going through the motions, doing things in my own strength, and directing myself, I am at risk of messing up.  Flight turbulence brings me to my senses!  I acknowledge Him by giving Him back the controls.  Thank you, Lord, that You are there and waiting to straighten my paths.


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Money Belts

1_Leather_Money_BeltScripture for Today:  Luke 12:33 “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.”

Traveling with cash can sometimes present problems.  To avoid theft, it is always best to keep valuables as close to one’s body as possible or to hide them.  The money belt does both, and does a better job than a “fanny pack.”  That was what my husband was wearing when pick pocketed on the Italian metro years ago!

Our verse for today mentions money belts, although some versions use the word, “purses.”  It stands to reason that in wearing a long tunic, it would be difficult to carry around a wallet!  In any case, a belt will eventually wear out as will a purse.  The only kind that will never wear out are those filled with heavenly treasure.

Earthly riches cannot compare to what awaits in Heaven.  What I need to be concerned about is building a treasure store in Heaven.  How do I do that?  Every gift of my time, money and effort toward God’s Kingdom will one day be rewarded.  Those rewards are riches that are eternal and unfailing.  And what treasure could be more precious than seeing those with whom I have shared the Gospel kneeling at the throne next to me!

I love the lyrics of Ray Boltz’s song that describe a scene in Heaven.  It is not until we are there that we discover that lives were touched because of our generosity.  We will one day see the part we played in others being there.  Would that I hear others approach me in heaven saying, “Thank you for giving to the Lord.  I am a life that was changed.”


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Fox

P1020410Scripture for Today: Ezekiel 13:3-4 “…Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing.  O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among the ruins.”

This Red Fox decided to pay our yard a visit!  He is not the first.  In fact, once we had a mother and her five kits having a play date outside our living room window!  As our house backs up to a hill with vineyards and forest, we are one of their first stops on their trip down!

I was relieved to learn that a fox and cat will ignore one another.  But if they do decide to fight, the fox will come off worse!  Even so, when I see these visitors, my immediate reaction is to check on our cat.  The fox has been called a “creature of opportunity,” eating virtually everything they come across.  They have even been called, “nature’s garbage collectors.”

Learning these facts helped me understand today’s verse.  It is a warning against false prophets who speak out of their own hearts (verse 2).  They are opportunists who follow their own spirits and do not speak God’s truth.  The false prophets are like foxes who forage for their own appetites.  To please their hearers, they tell the people that everything is fine.  There will always be crowds of people who are looking to have their ears tickled (II Tim. 4:3).

The Lord wants me to test the spirits to see whether they speak for Him (I John 4:1).  Those foxes still forage around today.  The only way I know to test what is said is to know and understand God’s written Word.  I can discern error by knowing the Truth.  Lord, may I be disciplined in studying Your Word!  Keep me from listening to the wrong voices.