Devotions By Jan

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gununnamedScripture for Today: Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

This very bizarre gun is prominently displayed on the wall of my friend’s home hair salon.  With this gun, it is not just the prey that is hunted, but the hunter himself.  Her theme is the jungle, but maybe it is more than decoration.  Maybe it is a warning not to criticize her work!  In that unlikely scenario, everyone gets hurt!

Our verse for today is a clear command not to take revenge.  Like the self-directional gun, taking revenge can backfire.  Instead of finding peace and closure with the guilty one called to account, our brand of revenge can hold an element of bitterness.  Somehow, the hurt continues and the revenge seems to fall short.  That is because  taking revenge is taking a role that does not belong to us.

The revenge of the Lord is always timely and completely just.  When we leave room for Him to work, we can continue our lives without that wrong done to us consuming our hearts and minds.  We can feel lighthearted and free of the sense of injustice knowing that He will deal with that person.  There is peace in leaving that wrong in His hands.  He will repay that individual in a way we never could.  He promises.

God would not be a holy God if He did not act on His perfect sense of justice.  He will one day right every wrong, even the ones done in secret.  Nothing is hidden.  He will bring it all to light and right will prevail!

What comfort and peace to know that I can count on His justice!

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Scripture for Today: Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”

I am so glad I do not live in hurricane country.  We were in Florida one summer as a hurricane came through and I will never forget it!  We got up in the middle of the night and jumped in our car, hoping to race out of town ahead of it.  We did not feel the full force of those winds as we managed to get out, but even the beginning of it was impressive.  Those winds howled so that we could hardly stand!

There is one place in the midst of a hurricane where there is very little wind or rain, and that is at its very center.  The eye of the hurricane is where the storm’s minimum barometric center is found.  There, in a space typically 20-40 miles wide, there is utter calm in the middle of chaos.

Our verse for today describes a peace that is perfect.  The winds still howl and rage.  The rains continue to pelt the ground, but the one in that “eye of the storm” will not be affected.  That is the case for anyone who keeps their minds steadfast on the power and goodness of the Lord.  Absolute trust in God’s control will lead to absolute peace.

Keeping my mind steadfast on the Lord Jesus is not so easy.  Like Peter, I am distracted by the elements around me and start to sink (Matt. 14:31).  Jesus is so gracious to stretch out His hand and catch me.  His presence is my “eye of the storm” where I can have peace and calm despite my circumstances.

Thank you Lord, for the perfect peace I find in You.

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A Dog and His Bone

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:6 “Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.”

Though this dog looks harmless enough, I would not want to get between him and his bone!  He must be in “doggy heaven” with such a treasure.  How many hours of fun he will have biting, tearing and gnawing at it.  However, there is lots of controversy about giving dogs bones.  There is discussion about raw versus cooked and which kinds are safe from splintering and causing problems.  But worrying a bone is something that seems a normal natural activity for a dog.

The phrase, “worrying a bone” reminded me of our verse for today.  We are told that we are not to worry, fret or be anxious about anything.  Instead, we are to turn those worries into prayers, thanking God in advance for how He will answer.  But like the dog with his bone, worrying just seems to come naturally.  It is so natural to worry that we need supernatural help to stop!

Worrying changes nothing, but praying can.  Prayer disposes my heart to trust Christ.  He already knows what worries are gnawing at me.  But He asks me to name those worries in the form of petitions.  What freedom can be mine when I give it all to Him!  He replaces that worry with His peace that guards my heart and mind.  Instead of being consumed with worry, I can get some distance from that problem.  I am no longer gnawing and picking at it.  My mind and heart are at rest, knowing I can trust His hand to work.

Lord, keep me from my natural inclination to worry.  Help me turn every anxious thought into heartfelt prayer.

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The Forest

Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:10-11 “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purpose of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purpose of His heart through all generations.”

Over the years I have enjoyed my walks in the vineyards above our house.  They climbed the hills and afforded views of Guebwiller and surrounding villages below.  But further up, the crest of these hills is covered by a forest.  I never saw all of the forest at once.  It circled the crest of those hills for quite a distance and to see it in its entirety, I would need to see it from a higher viewpoint.  I could not see the forest for the trees!

Our verse for today gives a perspective that is eternal.  The Lord allows a glimpse of the entire forest.  His plans and purposes will prevail despite the individual “tree” that blocks our view.  I can get discouraged when I focus on the details of my own sin and failures.  But focusing on my little life is like seeing only an individual tree.  He has a plan and purpose for the entire world.  Certainly, if He can order and carry out His plan for nations, He can bring about His purpose in my life as well.

What is His purpose?  Ultimately, it is not about me, but about Him and His glory.  I am here on this earth to contribute my small part to reflecting His glory.  I am one small tree in a forest lifting up my branches to praise His name!  I am part of His bigger plan and purpose that stands firm throughout the ages!  What an incredible privilege!

Thank you Lord, for allowing me to be part of the big picture of what You are doing!


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Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:11 “By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

Who wouldn’t give one of these a wide berth?  Even the look of a rattlesnake is off-putting for me.  But of course, it is their bite and venom I especially want to avoid.  That nasty venom travels through the bloodstream causing swelling, internal bleeding and much pain.  A bite is not usually fatal if treated right away.  But most people have the sense to avoid provoking rattlesnakes and avoid them all together when hearing their distinctive rattle.  Those segments of keratin at the end of their tails knock together when the tail is vertical, producing a buzzing sound.  As if that were not enough, they can also hiss to warn off people or predators.

Our verse for today promises reward for keeping God’s laws and decrees.  That is the positive side.  The negative side in this verse is that they also serve as a warning.  Like the rattle on a snake, God’s commandments give us warning.  They let us know when we are headed toward trouble.  God, in His grace, alerts us through His Word so that we can avoid needless heartbreak.  Following His way rather than our own keeps us out of harm’s way.

Our sin hurts.  It complicates a life and results in brokenness.  But it does not have to be if we heed His warning signs.  It is unpopular to speak of absolutes but they are not my words.  God delineates quite clearly in His Word between what is good and evil, black and white, dark and light.  He makes it clear so I do not add senseless pain and guilt to my life.

Help me Lord, to see Your commandments as a loving gesture from You.

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”

I had no idea that there is an International Jugglers’ Association and has been since 1947!  They have their own newsletters, meetings, and festivals, all dedicated to promoting juggling.  They have even established a “World Juggling Day” with events around the world.  Being a certified “klutz” I do not think they would allow me to join!

Any busy person feels they already do a juggling act.  The balls up in the air represent jobs, projects, responsibilities, expectations, and deadlines.  A young mother especially feels she is managing more than others with multiple balls in the air.  She may be using not only her hands but her feet and head as well!

Each ball I am juggling has its importance but I find myself always dropping the same ball.  And it is the most important one.  Our verse for today reminds me of what is most important; spending time in God’s presence.  It is not just an obligation but a pleasure!  When I spend time with the Lord, whether individually or with others, I feel as if my day has value.  All the other balls can drop to the ground when I gaze into His loveliness.  Nothing seems quite as important.

His wisdom shows me what balls need to be in the air and which ones I can let drop for a time.  But what I never want to drop is dwelling in Him, gazing on His beauty and seeking His presence!

Keep me seeking You, Lord, above all else.

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O Happy Day!

happy1209917998n4G3K11Scripture for Today: Psalm 68:3 “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”

This last Friday was “International Day of Happiness.”  It was established by the United Nations in 2012 to focus world attention on economic growth for all.  This was done in recognition that happiness is a fundamental human goal.  This day is to promote development and alleviate poverty worldwide.  Part of this year’s observance was a speech on climate change by the popular singer, Pharrel Williams, who is known for his song, “Happy.”  It is such a catchy tune but the lyrics ironically describe happiness as “a room without a roof.”

There are many things that come to mind when thinking about the word, “happy.”  The pursuit of happiness is usually associated with the pursuit of economic stability.  The thought that happiness is just one purchase away is a hard one to dismiss from my thinking.  But I know better.  I know that material wealth does not mean happiness as seen by the heartache of many well-to-do friends.  True happiness has little to do with what is owned.

Our verse for today makes an association with the word, “happy’ that for many is the last word to come to mind; righteous.  Those who have placed their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin can experience true happiness.  To have a heart freed from the guilt of sin is happiness.  To have experienced God’s unmerited favor regardless of a spotted past is a real reason for happiness.  To know that my future in Heaven is secured by His pardon gives a whole other meaning to “happy.”  This is a happiness that cannot be shaken by any circumstance on earth!

Jesus, thank You for that happy day when You washed my sins away!