Devotions By Jan


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Waking Up

Scripture for Today: Psalm 3:5 “I lie down and sleep. I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.”

We miss our Tiger.  But one thing I do not miss is him waking us early in the morning.  The door was always closed but in our old house, he was able to push it open.  He would then jump on the bed and nudge us until we either threw him out or got up.  I can think of worse ways to wake up.  A blaring buzzer on the alarm pulls me out of sleep a little too rudely.  I can still remember my children waking me up with their first cry of the day.  Waking up is just sometimes hard to do.

Our verse for today makes me realize that it is a gift to wake up at all.  It is the Lord’s grace that allows me to lie down and sleep.  I am warm and protected with a roof over my head when so many do not have that privilege.  I awake without fear of danger or war and I awake in good health.  Waking up with joy in my heart is not my strong point.  Yet, I am convinced that it is the Lord who allows me to wake up to one more day.  He sustains my life.  Each breath and each heart beat occurs because He has allowed it.

The Lord of course, never slumbers or sleeps.  He watches me wake up and waits for me to turn my thoughts to Him.  Do I awake with thankfulness in my heart for His gift of life?  Or do my thoughts immediately turn to deadlines and pressures of the day?

If I have not said it yet today, “Good morning, Lord.  Thank you for allowing me another day.”


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The Foreigner

difference by goldfishScripture for Today: Deuteronomy 10:18 “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and He loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.”

It is not a comfortable experience being a foreigner.  In fact for many, the thought of being classed as a foreigner in another culture keeps people happily and comfortably cocooned in their own worlds.  I completely understand this preference.  It is not easy to stand out from the crowd, going against the current.  Living twenty-five years in France, I learned how to blend in to the culture and lifestyle.  However, early in our marriage we spent a summer in Taiwan.  There was no chance of blending in there.  I was constantly regarded as the foreigner and I had to deal with it!  I was orange and everyone else was blue!

Our verse for today reveals the loving heart of the Lord.  He is especially attentive to the needs of the orphans and widows.  But in addition to that care, He has a special place in His heart reserved for the foreigner and his hapless predicament.  I wonder if it was because His Son would one day descend from Heaven and be Himself a foreigner on earth!

The Lord shows special love to the lost, lonely and displaced person.  The foreigner is often in a humbled position having to depend on the kindness of others in his host country.  Not only does God offer His love and help, but the context urges us to do the same (verse 19).  Those who have been foreigners themselves can have a special empathy, having experienced this turmoil personally.

I have the privilege of reaching out with God’s love to the foreigner residing among us.  Help me Lord, to have the same heart for him as You do.

 


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Crabs

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:15 “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.”

I am not a fan of crabs.  Their pincers make me a bit nervous and their appearance is a bit off-putting.  But one of their behaviors always brings a smile; their ability to walk sideways.  In trying to avoid them, this unusual behavior makes me unsure of which way to go to get out of their way!  Perhaps they are confused too, not knowing whether they are coming or going!  The fact that their joints bend outwards rather than forwards makes for this bizarre gait.  They can shuffle forwards but sideways allows for more speed and efficiency.  They can quickly dip into a hole or crevice and escape a predator.

Our verse for today reminds us to walk with care.  As believers we are to walk with wisdom.  Perhaps walking wisely can look like a sideways gait to some.  Our walk is to be different than those around us who are walking foolishly, outside of God’s will.  The context tells us to wake up and make the most of every opportunity.  This passage goes on to cite the particulars of this different walk: being filled with His Spirit, speaking differently, singing, making music and being thankful.  Walking in this way is walking in a direction that is different and distinctive!

The subtle influence of those walking around us can affect our walk.  Who wants to be seen walking sideways?  It looks like we are going nowhere.  We are not walking towards worldly values or recognition.  Instead, we are walking towards the commendation of the Master, hoping to hear one day, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

Lord, keep me from blindly following the walk of those around me.  Make me wise, walking Your way today.

 

 


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Romance?

IMG_20130130_111803Scripture for Today:  Song of Solomon 2:10  “My beloved speaks and says to me, Rise up, my love, my fair one and come away.”

This imagined ending to Snow White’s love story is not too encouraging!  Prince Charming is not living up to his name while Snow White looks exasperated, overwhelmed and a bit confused.  Somehow, this was not what she signed up for!

The idea of romance and love is ingrained in the heart of most everyone.  Who does not want to be wooed and pursued?  But somehow, even with the best of intentions, we fall short of our ideal.  The mundane routine of life distracts and discourages romance.  Sure, we still love each other, but maybe our Prince can no longer fit his tights.  Maybe our Princess is ready to drop from fatigue.

The love relationship spoken of in our verse does not have to follow this same story line.  Christ offers a love that transcends all other love relationships.  He invites us to follow Him.  The life of love He wants to share with us has no ending.  It is an everlasting love that grows better and deeper with time.  It is a love that does not disappoint or fail.  That “happily ever after” we all want is realized in Him!

I am made for this love.  He created me in order to love me.  Christ sacrificed His very life to make it happen.  His heart is that tender.  And what does He ask in return?  My love.  However, my puny feeble attempts to return His love can never match the depth of love He shows me.

What a wonderful truth, that the Lord loves me with an everlasting love!  “O Love, that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee.”


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Wisdom Teeth

chipmunkimageScripture for Today: Proverbs 3:7 “Do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord and shun evil.”

I can still remember when both of our daughters had their wisdom teeth taken out during their high school years.  Their cheeks looked very much like those on this squirrel!  To add insult to injury, they both received academic honors in a public ceremony while looking like this!

I am not so sure why those late-arriving third molars are labeled as wisdom teeth.  They wreaked havoc in my mouth, threatening to destroy years of teeth-straightening braces.  Wisdom teeth have the knack of coming in sideways, pushing and crowding neighboring teeth, and doing it all partially or completely hidden.  That does not sound so wise to  me!

Our verse for today is one of many that warn us not to consider ourselves wise.  This is a danger as it can lead to the conviction that we know better.  This brand of pride considers rules as being for other people to follow and not applying to us.  Those that see evil as good, dark as light and bitter as sweet are the same people who are “wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:21)

It is easy to think that wisdom comes from our own schooling and mental prowess.  But God’s Word makes clear that the source of wisdom is the Lord.  We demonstrate wisdom when we are humble enough to follow and obey Him in every area of life.  The minute I consider myself wise is the same minute I become foolish (Prov. 26:12).  To become or remain wise is simply the by-product of humble, dependent obedience to my Creator.

Thank you Lord, that right relationship with You makes me wise.  Keep me humble, submissive and close to You today.


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Bees

beesunnamedScripture for Today: Psalm 19:10 “They are more precious than gold, than pure gold. They are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.”

I was very surprised to see this warning sign on my walk the other day.  I proceeded with lots of caution and fortunately did not encounter any aggressive bees.  Ever since being stung on the neck as a toddler, I have been a big baby about bees.  I have not been stung since, and I attribute that to always being cautious around them.  I have a lot of respect for beekeepers and the lengths they go to extract that sweet honey.

Our verse for today likens God’s decrees to pure gold and sweet honey.  God’s commandments are sweet because they show us a better way to live, one that will lead to close intimacy with Him.  His Word is Truth and like honey, it sweetens life and makes it worth living.

The problem with honey for me is always the bees.  The Church is to proclaim God’s sweet Word, but the bees sometimes get aggressive.  At times there is a problem with everyone wanting to be the “Queen Bee,” the most important bee in the hive.  But in fact, all believers are “worker bees.”  We all serve one Lord and it is His glory we seek and not our own.

When the bees are aggressive and not getting along, the message of God’s sweet Word to others is lost.  There is enough jostling for position in the world.  We are to attract those outside the “hive” by the love we have, honoring others above ourselves (Rom. 12:10).  When I live with other believers like that, not only is God’s sweet Word heard, but my testimony is sweet as well.

I pray no one has to “proceed with caution” around me today!


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Clogged

clogunnamedScripture for Today: Psalm 19:12 “But who can discern their own errors. Forgive my hidden faults.”

In making a transatlantic move we have had to start over with different appliances that work with different voltage.  Our friends have been so kind to help us with new and gently used items.  This morning I tried out the vacuum cleaner’s attachments.  Nothing.  There was no suction at all.  I thought it odd as it was a good brand and appeared practically new.  But looking down the tube I saw the problem.  It was blocked, and not just a little.  I kept pulling and pulling the stuff out!  No wonder there was no power!  The vacuum looked wonderful and clean on the outside but inside was a different story.

Our verse for today points out what can be successfully hidden.  Our own errors are often difficult to discern.  We can feel pretty good about what image we project to those around us.  But if we do not take care of what is inside, then we too are without power and not effective.  I imagine that if I had not unblocked that tube, the motor would have eventually burned out.

David asked forgiveness for the hidden faults he could not see.  It was a prayer that showed a lot of humility.  He realized that the heart is deceitful and difficult to understand (Jer. 17:9).  Rather than depending on his own examination, David asked the Lord to search his heart for him (Psalm 139:23).

Do I have the courage to pray this same prayer?  Who knows what gunk He will pull out into view?  But the cleansing forgiveness He offers clears it all out.  His power becomes available and He can work through me anew.

Yes Lord.  I know there is plenty that is hidden.  Thank you for Your full forgiveness.