Devotions By Jan


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The “Text Neck”

Scripture for Today: Psalm 3:3 “But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

The hunched-over position while texting can have some serious consequences.  With the head weighing 10-12 pounds, bending over our phones increases the force, pulling on those neck muscles and joints.  Not only can our poor posture lead to headaches and spine problems, some have even made a connection with depression!  The idea is that the relationship between mind and body can run both ways.  We slump over because we are sad or we are sad because we slump over!

Today’s verse tells us that the Lord’s presence in our lives is a protective shield.  He looks out for His own.  Nothing and no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28).   And as  believers, He is our glory.  Our lives are to progressively reflect His glory as He creates Christ’s character in us (II Cor. 3:18).  But in addition to all of this, He lifts our heads!  And not just a little bit.  He lifts our heads high!  We no longer hang our heads in shame and disgrace.  We do not have to look down in humiliation and guilt.  Because of His love and forgiveness He lifts our heads high!  What an amazing thought!

When He lifts my head, I have the advantage of seeing more of His wonders in my life!  With the perspective that comes with grace and forgiveness, I can see just how much He has blessed me!  Like Mary in her song, I can say that I am blessed, “for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name.” (Luke 1:49)

Lord, help me to live this day with my head lifted up high with the assurance of Your love.


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Weary

Scripture for Today: Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This poor dog looks completely spent.  Not sure what his day looked like, but apparently it was exhausting!  I look exactly like this, especially during the frantic-paced Christmas season!  The normal do-able schedule goes out the window with the addition of shopping, parties, baking, concerts, decorating, etc.  But of course, this picture could represent many times during the year when life just seems too much!  When the coming weekend will not give me respite then I know I am too busy!

Today’s verse does not promise that the schedule will be lighter.  These words of Jesus do not even promise sleep.  But they do promise something even more important; rest for our souls.  The circumstances may not change, but our sense of peace and well-being can change.  It does not involve exercise, calming music, going to church or a hot tub.  This rest He promises goes much deeper and touches our innermost being.  It is a rest that lifts the weariness and burdens of our hearts.

I so often miss it.  The answer is too simple.  I am to come to Him in faith and quietness.  All the distractions of the day can fade away in His loving presence.  All the worries and anxieties crowding my mind can be laid aside.  It is as if I have been holding my breath trying to keep it all together.  But when I kneel in His presence and soak up His love, I can give a sigh of relief.

Thank you Lord, for the rest You promise.  Keep me coming to You all day long.

 

 


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The Water Lily

Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:8 “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”

Water lilies fascinate me!  Their beautiful white and pink flowers look as if they bloom effortlessly as they serenely  float on the surface of the water.  They can be seen on lakes or ponds whose waters are still, and they can root up to seven feet deep.  If left undisturbed they can cover hundreds of acres of water.  Because they float, they access the sunlight unhindered by taller plant species.  Their leaves lie flat on the water soaking up all that light.  The result is beautiful!

Today’s verse tells us that the commands of the Lord are radiant.  They give all the light needed to grow and thrive in life.  His commands refresh the soul and make simple people wise (verse 7).  They give joy to the heart.  Each and every direction God gives is right and completely trustworthy.  Obeying His laws makes our lives beautiful.

I do not normally think of rules and regulations as a source of joy.  But just as a child can feel unloved and neglected without parental boundaries, so we too can feel as if God does not care if He had not given us His commands.  They are a sign of His love.  He cares that I succeed in life and He has shown me how.  His commands and precepts are designed with my welfare in mind, not to limit me or restrict my freedom.  They can give joy to my heart when I see them as proof of His tenderness and care.

Lord, keep me in the still water, soaking up the light of Your presence today!


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Nesting Dolls

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:3 “…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Although the nesting dolls or “matryoska” dolls originated in Russia, they have been adopted by the French!  We see them all year long in France, but they are especially popular at the Christmas markets.  The number of dolls in a set can vary anywhere from five to several dozen.  A number of different themes are used including fairy tale figures, animals, and religious or political figures.  I am partial to the traditional “little matrons.”  But they all show beautiful artistry in the elaborate and detailed painting.

Today’s verse came to mind in thinking of the different sizes of these dolls.  Each one has its place in the set.  Each one belongs to the other and is needed to be complete.  Paul encourages his readers not to think of themselves more highly than they should.  Whatever size we think we are, we are not to look down on someone else.  Whatever talents we have are a gift from our Creator.  Each capability is a grace from Him.

Each believer has received a special talent or gift to serve Him.  When we think about ourselves with sober judgement we realize that any success in life ultimately comes from Him.  It is all grace.  Like Paul said, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  I do not want to disqualify myself from serving Him by allowing pride to poison my thinking.  But, it is always a sneaky temptation.

Lord, thank you for all your gifts to me!  Keep me from taking any credit.


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Peaceful River

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 48:18 “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.”

There is something so restful about water.  It has such a calming affect on the spirit.  The reflections on the surface of the still water can make me sigh.  And the repetitive sounds of the waves gently lapping the shore lull me into a sense of well-being.  Stay long enough and tensions leave the body and time seems to stand still.  The water mesmerizes me and when I leave it, I somehow leave refreshed.

Today’s verse describes our peace and well-being like a river.  That peace comes as a result of following God’s way.  His way includes leading us by quiet waters and restoring our souls (Psalm 23:2).  His commands are designed for our good.  He teaches us what is best for us (verse 17).  But in our independent spirit, we do not pay attention to how He leads, or if we do, we think we know better!  That peaceful river alludes us as we move away from the Lord of peace.

When I am listening and obeying God’s voice, I experience peace with Him.  There are sweet times and a clear sense of His pleasure when I am not fighting Him.  Submitting to Him can be a struggle, but worth the effort when I can feel that deep heart peace in the middle of turmoil around me.  He calms my spirit and anxious thoughts.  Regardless of my circumstances, the still waters of His peace get me through, guarding my heart.

Lord, keep me obedient and close to the quiet waters of Your peace today.