Devotions By Jan


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Rest Stops

rest-area-closed-300x300Scripture for Today: Numbers 9:18  “At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at His command they encamped.  As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp.” 

We have done our share of road trips but fortunately, we have never encountered a sign like this one!  We have had plenty of occasions to compare rest stops throughout the States and Europe.  We have been most impressed with those in North America designed for truckers that come with cots and showers!  They really know how to rest!

I have noticed that the French media encourage drivers to stop and rest every two hours.  Strict laws govern the bus drivers on how long they can drive without stopping.  Without adequate rest, drivers are at risk for accidents and put others at risk as well.

Our verse for today is about the Israelites as they journeyed towards the Promise Land.  The Lord guided them by a cloud in the daylight hours and by a pillar of fire at night.  When the cloud stayed stationary, they were to stop and rest.  What a wonderful example of God caring for all our physical needs, even that of rest!

Sometimes I feel guilty when I rest, doing nothing at all.  There is always pressure to perform, to achieve and to do.  One real benefit of being just a little sick is having the luxury of doing nothing without the guilt!  But of course, those “down times” are needed.  Rather than dividing my activities into those that are”spiritual” and those that are not, I need to look at everything I do as potentially glorifying Him! (I Cor. 10:31)

Thank you Lord, that You give me needed times of rest and relaxation!  May You be glorified in everything I do!

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The Dawn

sunrise582751main_sunrise_from_iss-4x3_1600-1200Scripture for Today:  Psalm 112:4 “Even in the darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.”

Trying to sleep on a transcontinental flight is always a challenge.  Sleep is cut short when someone lifts their shade after just a few hours to see the early dawn.  The proverb, “the darkest hour is just before the dawn” was first seen in print in 1650 written by theologian, Thomas Fuller.  I could never make that observation as I am the one always trying to sleep!  But I wonder if the inspiration behind that proverb came from this verse.

Often in Scripture darkness represents calamity and light represents well being.  No one is exempt from dark times.  Regardless of education, wealth, health or status, we all face some kind of crisis or suffering.  But for the believer, there is a dawn coming!  For the one made righteous through Christ, there is hope.

The Lord is first and foremost my Light (Psalm 27:10).  He is the loving Source of all that is positive in my life! (James 1:17)  When everything seems dark and awful and hopeless, I can still see that small glimmer in the distance.  I know He is there.  As I seek His face the Light of his love grows stronger and stronger.  Before long, the darkness dissipates and the dawn has arrived.  With the dawning realization of His love and presence, I feel His warmth and light and I am reassured.

There is another meaning to the dawn; our eternal home.  It is still on the horizon, but with every year it approaches.  And it is full of light.  There will be no need for any sun, moon or lamp as the Lord Himself will be our light!

Thank you, Lord, that You are my Light and my Hope.


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Aerated Soil

Scripture for Today:  II Thessalonians 1: 3b-4  “…your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.  Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.”

When I first saw this picture I wondered why on earth someone would poke holes in a lawn.  Obviously, I am no gardener or I would know all about aerating soil.  What looks like destroying a patch of lawn is actually good for its health!  Aerating soil allows oxygen to reach plant roots.  Water and nutrients can be absorbed more easily.  Without aerating the soil, toxins increase, plant disease develops and plant growth slows down.  This process looks brutal but not only is it good for plants, it encourages roots to grow even deeper.

Our verse for today describes the spiritual health of the Thessalonian church.  Paul is proud of their growing faith and love for one another.  Their faith has been growing as a result of persecutions and trials.  Like aerating soil, the process is hard, but the results can be seen in a growing and healthy faith.  Because of the hard times, their roots have grown deeper and they are able to endure.

The seed of God’s Word has fallen on good soil (Matt. 13:23) and I am thankful.  But for my faith to continue to grow and be healthy, God allows hard times to come and test that faith.  He is aerating the soil to keep me growing.  It certainly does not feel good, but all those difficulties in my life are causing my roots to grow deeper into Him and His Word.

Thank you Lord, that You know what You are doing in my life.  Help me to trust You.

 


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Pottery Seconds

IMG_20140324_150035Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:9  “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.”

One of the great things about living in Europe is being fairly close to Poland and their wonderful pottery!  I have visited their pottery factories on two occasions.  Their hand stamped blue patterns are my favorites.  Most all of my purchases have been seconds, as they are so much cheaper.  But this particular bowl is technically a “fifth!”  It cannot go in the microwave, the dishwasher, or the oven.  It has one small place where the glazing is not even and one very unnoticeable flaw in the pattern.  Even though it is not of the best quality, at only five dollars it has been worth every penny!

Our verse for today teaches that we honor the Lord by giving Him the best.  Seconds or substandard quality does not honor Him.  He is worthy of the very best we can offer Him.  In the Old Testament, sacrifices were offered of the best of the fruit, the vegetables, the grain and the animals.

James 1:8 teaches that we ourselves are a kind of firstfruit of all He has created!  In Him we are the best of His creation!  We are not only to honor Him with the best of what we possess but the best of our very lives.  Leftovers are not worthy of Him.  Giving the Lord a few moments of consideration at the end of a long day, or what we feel we can spare of our money does not honor Him.  He is worthy of our absolute best service!  No seconds for Him!

“Give of your best to the Master, Give Him first place in your heart, Give Him first place in your service, Consecrate every part.”  Lord, help me to honor You with the best!


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Old Vines

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 71:18  “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare Your power to the next generation, Your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

Some vines can have very long lifespans of one hundred years or more!  Pictured here is the oldest known vine on record dating back more than four hundred years.  It is still producing fruit in Maribor, Slovenia.  It only produces 35-55 kilos of grapes per season, but that makes its wine so much more rare and valuable!  In fact, wine producers will clearly label their wine “Vieilles Vignes” (Old Vines) as it is generally considered that they produce the better wine.

Our verse for today is about continuing to produce fruit in old age.  The limitations that come with advanced years do not have to keep one from contributing to God’s Kingdom.  There is still a story to be told to others of all of God’s miracles seen in a lifetime!  With age, the story becomes longer and richer.  With age the story becomes more credible.  A weakening body has more occasion to lean on and experience God’s power.

Declaring His power and His greatness is a privilege belonging especially to those of a certain age.  In testifying to His faithfulness throughout a long life, others are encouraged to persevere in the faith.  Fruit continues to be produced when an elderly person speaks out for the Lord.  And that fruit is rare, sweet and better tasting because of the age of the source!  God does not forsake.  Jesus is our vine and we as His branches bear fruit as long as we are connected to Him.  There is no age limit.

Lord, keep me producing the fruit of praise for all You have done for me!


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Hiding

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 32:7 “You are my hiding place.  You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

What is it about cats and bags?  Every time I put away groceries I throw the empty bags on the floor, much to our Tiger’s delight.  He runs so quickly to hide in one of them that he and the bag slide across the floor!  Inside that bag he feels secure and invincible!  In his little cat brain he probably thinks no one can see him.  But when that bag starts moving across the tiles it is a dead give-away!

Our verse for today describes a different hiding place; the Lord Himself.  David has been hiding from God, unwilling to acknowledge his sin.  As with Adam and Eve, our first instinct with unconfessed sin is to hide from God.  Now that David has confessed everything, he is hiding in God.  He is hiding in His sure love and forgiveness.  He describes God’s love in verse 10 as a love that surrounds him.  There are songs and praise as those seeing and hearing of David’s deliverance celebrate the victory with him.

Hiding from God does not work.  Hiding behind a false sense of self sufficiency does not either.  But hiding in Him means protection and sure deliverance!  In Him is found such security.  His love is my retreat.  In His presence there is no fear of what man can do to me.  Whatever “mighty waters” (verse 6) may be in my future, they will not overwhelm me when I am hiding in Him.  He will fill my heart with song and praise as He proves Himself trustworthy yet again.

Thank you Lord, for hiding me in Your love.  It is such a good place to be!


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Rewarding Myself!

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

The only thing that kept me weeding today was the thought that I would reward myself when I was done with a particular patch.  There was ice cream in the freezer calling my name!  So, I kept pushing myself to reach my goal.  Somehow, making that ice cream serve as a reward made it all the sweeter and more satisfying!

The concept of reward for hard work is basic to our motivation.  The Lord understands this as He created us this way!  Our verse for today talks about the reward of our heavenly inheritance.  We are working for the Lord.  He is the One we are really serving.  And we are to work with all our heart.  Part of our motivation is knowing that we will be rewarded.

It seems somehow “unspiritual” to be motivated by reward.  It is fine in any other area of our lives, but it seems less than worthy of a pure selfless service to God.  And yet, the Lord is the One who in His grace has offered rewards.  Paul did not apologize for pressing on to win that prize (Phil. 3:14).  Looking forward to reward kept him self disciplined.  Thoughts of being recompensed helped Paul get through the hard times.

God’s rewards are a grace.  He does not owe it to me.  I certainly do not deserve reward.  How loving He is to want to recompense me!  I hope there are rewards awaiting me in heaven.  Why?  They will be for His glory as I humbly give them back to Him in worship.