Devotions By Jan


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Weary

funny dogs and puppies-4Scripture 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

water_lilyScripture 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

Poupées_russesScripture 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, the ones pictured here are Alsacian.  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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Where’s El Niño?

Nino8562496_GScripture for Today: II Peter 3:4 “They (the scoffers) will say, ‘Where is this coming He promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.'”

Forecasters say Southern California can expect El Niño to change up our weather patterns this winter.  This image shows a red and white band of warm ocean water similar to the El Niño of 1998.  It feeds thunderstorms and increases rainfall, which we badly need.  On the negative side there can be major flooding.  Forecasters are saying we have more than a 90% chance of seeing its arrival this winter.  But there are skeptics saying, “Where is this El Niño?” as the weather continues warm and dry.

Today’s verse has scoffers asking the same kind of question but on a much more important matter.  The second coming of Christ has been foretold for years.  Because it is a promise from God Himself, the chances of it happening are not just 90%.  A promise from God is absolutely sure.  Yet, when people see things continuing on in the same way, they doubt and even mock the idea.

How interesting to learn that “El Niño” in Spanish means the “Christ Child” when capitalized!  The warming of the Pacific near South America often occurred around Christmas and so was given this name.  Just as God’s promise of the Christ Child’s arrival was foretold and reliable, so His promise of Christ’s second coming is completely dependable.  The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise (verse 9) but patiently waits, putting off His coming so that more will come to Him in repentance!  His Word is true and trustworthy but He delays out of love and mercy.

Thank you Lord for waiting and help me never to doubt Your promise.


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Snares

snare-trap-woodsScripture for Today: Proverbs 29:25 “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”

The simplest way to catch wild game is with the basic snare trap.  It consists of just a single piece of wire or string with a loop at one end, creating a noose.  It looks harmless enough until the animal runs through it, tightening the noose until it can not free itself.  It would break my heart to see one of these used.  I would pity the plight of the animal to the point of setting it free at the first opportunity!  Thankfully, I am not in a survivor mode having to depend on hunting to live.

Today’s verse uses the image of a snare to describe how fear affects us.  Fearing what man can do is a paralyzing trap.  Fear keeps us from moving forward and realizing our goals.  It stops us squarely in our tracks.  Rather than venture forth, we cower and stay still.  Our movements are curtailed and we are no longer free to move about.

This verse thankfully does not stop there.  We have a choice.  We do not have to live in fear of what evil men may do, but can live freely, trusting in the Lord’s protection.  He honors our trust and confidence in Him by keeping us safe.  For the believer, the soul is beyond the touch of evil and our eternal future remains secure.  Our God is more powerful than any evil scheme and nothing can thwart His personal plan for each one of His own.  I know and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day (II Tim. 1:12).

Thank you Lord, that trusting You keeps me safe and secure.


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FIY

CBS_MACGYVER_006_CLIP3Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 17:5 “This is what the Lord says; ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.'”

My children watched the resourceful MacGyver weekly on French television growing up.  He never ceased to impress and astound with his innovative Fix-It-Yourself solutions.  There was never a crisis he could not surmount, never a problem he could not resolve with just a little know-how and imagination.  The FIY or DIY concept enjoys lots of success as it saves money and impresses family and friends.  I am all for ingenuity in problem solving.

Unfortunately, there have been some recent major problems in our society that we cannot seem to fix.  Rather than turning toward the One who is all powerful, we accuse Him for our sin.  We say that He cannot fix the problem when in fact, there is nothing too hard for Him.  But for so long, men have been trusting in their own intellect and in their own strength.  Man has limited himself to only what he can create, and it has turned ugly.  Today’s verse describes the one whose heart is turned away from the Lord as “cursed.”

Turning to God in repentance means we can draw on His enormous strength and power for change.  The One who keeps the oceans in their place, the One who raised His Son from the dead is the same One who infuses us with His strength to change every behavior.  Our independent spirit to fix it all ourselves without God does not work.  We cannot do it, but He can!

Thank you Lord, that You have the power, the strength, the know-how and all the answers!  I cannot do life without You.  Keep my heart turned towards You today.

 


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Nowhere To Go

Stuck 12039375_543744192443201_4330025808034457179_nScripture for Today: Psalm 25:12 “Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.”

There do not seem to be very many choices in this scene.  In fact, the only real choice is to turn around and go the other way.  If I cannot turn left or right, or continue straight ahead, then there is really no where to go.  I can just imagine the confusion of the drivers coming to this intersection.  I wonder how many of them would just ignore the signs and do what is most convenient.  I wonder what I would do!

Today’s verse is reassuring.  The Lord promises to instruct those who fear Him in what to choose.  He already does instruct us in His Word on so many matters.  When we obey what is already clear we show that we fear and respect Him.  His response is a promise to guide us even in the smaller details.  When we allow Him to instruct us in our choices, He promises more blessing! (verse 13)

The Lord is so gracious to cover my mistakes and blunders.  I can easily get myself into a scenario like the one pictured where I end up going backwards.  But when I am looking and asking for His guidance, He leads me in not only the right choices but the best ones!  He wants to bless me and He waits for me to acknowledge Him in all my ways, allowing Him to direct my paths. (Prov. 3:6)  His ways are perhaps not the easiest.  They may be on dirt roads rather than paved.  But His ways bring the blessings of peace, joy and closeness to Him!

Lord, show me what to choose.  Guide all my choices today.