Devotions By Jan

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Carried on His Shoulders

998667_944118212940_1180021667_nScripture for Today:  Deuteronomy 33:12  “….May the beloved of the Lord dwell in security by Him, Who shields him all the day, And he dwells between His shoulders.”

My husband enjoyed carrying our kids on his shoulders.  These glaciers in Alaska would certainly have been too slippery for our son, even though he could walk at the time.  Being carried meant no fear of falling on the ice.  He could relax and enjoy the ride in total security.  He was even shielded from some of the cold weather by the warmth of Randy’s body.  That touch and support meant warmth and security for our son.

Our verse for today was a blessing given by Moses to the tribe of Benjamin.  This tribe came from the youngest son and was the smallest of the twelve.  Perhaps, because of its smallness and vulnerability, God called them “beloved.”  Being small, they would need to find their security in Him.  They would need His protection.

Those that are chosen and set apart by God are His beloved today.  We are dearly loved and kept for Jesus Christ according to Jude 1:1.  I am small and insignificant, needing His protection.  As a small child loved by his Father, I too need to be carried.  Sometimes, there are too many pitfalls in my way.  Fear of the unknown ahead can be paralyzing.  Or many times, like the child whose legs are too short, I get weary.  He is so good to repeatedly pick me up and carry me.  In His love He does not reproach or chide.

My Father responds to child-like faith on my part.  He does not ignore those up-stretched arms.  He hoists me up on His strong broad shoulders and carries me through the difficult times.

Thank you, Lord, that I am Your beloved.

(Look familiar?  This is a summer re-post due to ministry schedule.)

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daffodilsScripture for Today:  Psalm 66:12 “You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but You brought us to a place of abundance.”

I will never forget visiting this beautiful immense expanse of daffodils with my Father.  It was breathtaking!  They just went on and on as far as the eye could see.  Skagit Valley, Washington is not only known for its daffodils but also for its tulips.  Most all bulb flowers do so well here because the soil is rich with volcanic ash.

Today’s verse begins on a negative note.  David understands that God is testing him.  The context of this verse explains that God tests and tries us as silver is tried (verse 10).  The testing includes nets and afflictions, being ridden over, as well as going through fire and water.  Through all of this, David remains faithful to the Lord.  In fact, his response is to go into the house of the Lord to worship Him with sacrifice.  Instead of bitterness for a hard life, he says, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul.” (verse 16)

What God did for David’s soul was to bring him into a wide open place, a place of abundance.  Just as those daffodils thrive on volcanic ash in the soil, I too can come to a place of beauty and growth after the fiery trial.  This place of abundance is the same place in Psalm 23 that is full of green pastures and still waters that restore my soul.  If in bitterness I shun His presence than I miss out on that abundant place of refreshment!  It is there that He reassures me of His love and care.

Lord, help me find that place of abundance!

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Fly Away

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 55:6  “…Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest.”

The dove has long been the symbol of peace and love.  I love to see them used in a marriage ceremony.  Because doves mate for life, they are an especially poignant symbol of love.  The dove is a symbol of peace for the state of Wisconsin and it is the state bird for Michigan.  The French consider squab a delicacy.  It is quite popular in French traditional cuisine.  But because of its associations, it does seem a shame!

Our verse for today uses the image of a dove to symbolize the desire for escape and rest.  David had been betrayed, not only by his counselor, Ahithopel, but by his own son, Absalom.  He had to flee to the wilderness and defend himself.  In Psalm 55, David was filled with anguish, fear and trembling.  His only thought was to escape and fly away to a place of shelter and rest.

It is surprising that the image of a dove was used rather than one of a bigger stronger bird such as the eagle.  However, there are some species of doves that can fly up to fifty miles per hour and up to six hundred miles in a day!  The wings of a dove are a strong symbol of quick deliverance.

Where do I go when my heart is overwhelmed?  When I am fearful of the future, where do I find peace and rest?  When the hard times seem too much to bear, where can my heart settle down?  His presence is my shelter.  The protection of His wings is my escape (Psalm 91:4).

Lord, I fly to You today for that much-needed rest my heart so needs.

(Look familiar?  This is a summer re-post due to ministry schedule.)

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Scripture for Today: James 1:2-4  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

My Chinese Mother-in-Law has wonderful taste in jewelry.  In the early fifties she bought a beautiful pearl broach in Hong Kong.  Because of her generosity, my daughters and I each have a beautiful pearl ring that came from this piece.  I am no expert on pearls, but the color and luster of that pearl is gorgeous.  I could never afford something like that today.  It amazes me that something so beautiful can come from an ugly lowly oyster!

The pearl is formed in an oyster as a protective gesture.  If a foreign substance slips in between its “mantle” and its shell, the mantle covers that irritant with layers and layers of its nacre.  Over time, the repeated secretion of that nacre is what eventually creates that beautiful pearl.

The making of a pearl reminded me of our verse for today.  The “pearl” of endurance is the beautiful result of faith-testing.  The irritant for the oyster can be likened to the trials and difficulties in life.  For the believer, every difficulty that tests faith is used for something positive.  Patient endurance brings us to completion.  Something ugly and irritating can be turned into something beautiful.

It takes a lifetime of trial and difficulties to produce a beautiful enduring strong spirit.  It is not a comfortable life but the end result is worth it.  Christ has promised to bring to completion what He has started in me (Phil. 1:6).

There is joy to know a “pearl” is in the making!  Thank you, Lord, for what Your loving tests are accomplishing in me!

(Look familiar?  This is a summer re-post due to ministry schedule.)



Scripture for Today: Psalms 46:10  “Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations!  I will be exalted in the earth!”

Our Siamese cat, Chin-Chin, lived for eighteen years.  Most every year she had a beautiful litter of kittens that my Mother would sell.  It was not unusual to see Chin-Chin carrying around her kittens by the scruff of their necks.  As a young girl, it always bothered me to see that, thinking that it must hurt the kitten.  But of course, the kitten was fine, as long as he did not struggle.  I have since learned about this odd reflex that causes the kitten to hold its body stiffly, its hindquarters raised with its tail and hind legs curled.  It is not that the kitten goes limp.  Its body is not flaccid, remaining firm.  But there is no struggle.

Our verse for today calls for stillness.  Just as for that kitten, there are times to be still and allow the Lord to have His way.  The context of this verse describes insurmountable obstacles such as changes in the earth, troubled waters and mountains trembling.  In all of this upheaval well beyond one’s control, the trusting response is stillness and quiet trust in the sovereignty of God.  He reassures us of His powerful presence.  That stillness allows Him to carry us.

Being quiet and still, carried through trial by His presence is such a beautiful image of His love.  It is never His intention that I worry or fret or struggle with questions and doubts.  He wants to carry me but He cannot until I stop struggling and fussing.

Help me, Lord, to be still and in that stillness feel you carrying me through.

(Look familiar?  This is a summer re-post due to ministry schedule.)