Devotions By Jan

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Tandem Bicycling

bikeemily_and_justin-3-Edit-3_grandeScripture for Today: Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Now this is the way to ride a bike!  As much as I enjoy bicycling, I am not too thrilled about the soreness or leg cramps that often follow my rare excursions.  How much nicer to share the pedaling!  The rider in front is called the captain, the steerman or the pilot.  As the stronger and more experienced rider, he is responsible for steering, braking, shifting, changing gears and keeping the bike balanced.  The one in back is called the stoker and only helps with pedaling while listening and following directions.

Today’s verse is an invitation from Christ to come to Him for rest.  Work does not stop but there is help.  Being yoked with Him makes the burden of work lighter and easier to handle.  He is gentle and humble and does not force Himself.  But when I allow Him be the “steerman” than the load is shared and the result is rest for the soul.  Being connected to Christ makes all the difference.

It takes a conscious effort on my part to come to Him and yield to Him the control.  It is only when I come to the end of my own strength that I am open to the idea.  To relinquish the controls is not always easy.  I have my own ideas about how fast or slow I should be pedaling and what direction to take.  But His plan is always the better one.  There is relief when I allow Him to take charge.  There is a lightness of heart when I can look around me and enjoy the journey.  There is rest.

Lord, make my burden lighter today by giving me rest for my soul.


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Never Alone

Scripture for Today: Matthew 28:20b “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I enjoy my alone times.  The solitude is often welcome after being around people, voices and noises all day.  There is something calming about that solitude.  We all need differing doses though.  My need in no way resembles that of my husband.  He is energized by people but for me, there comes a time when I need to retreat.  I even need retreat from the one most dear to me.  Living in a 900 square foot home, those alone times are sometimes difficult to come by!  But the alone times are starting to feel a bit long with my husband traveling.

Today’s verse reminds us that for the believer, one is never really alone.  These words of Jesus were said just before leaving earth and ascending into heaven.  How reassuring it must have been for those disciples to hear!  A Comforter, the Holy Spirit, was to come soon and they would never ever be alone again.  This promise is valid just until the end of time when we are brought into His literal presence in Heaven.

It is an incredible comfort to feel His constant presence.  He knows my unvoiced thoughts.  He can relate to all of my emotions.  As my Creator, He understands every motive, doubt and impulse.  No one on earth can possibly know me like He does.  And yet, He still loves me!  His presence means that I can open up and share every little thought or disappointment.  He is an active caring listener unlike any other.  It is incredible that I cannot bore Him.  I may be alone, but because He is always there, I do not ever have to feel lonely!

Thank you Lord, for always being there!

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Identity Theft

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:15 “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.'”

I have heard some real horrors stories of people who have had their identities stolen.  Stealing identities has been around for a long time.  But now with so much sensitive information being on-line, there is the added risk of theft through our passwords.  A whole industry has been born to protect the consumer.  But nothing can offer 100% protection from those intent on stealing identities for gain.  And many victims are unaware of how their information was stolen!

Today’s verse tells me that as a believer in Christ, I have the indwelling of His Spirit.  Because of His residence in me, I am His child.  I belong to Him.  That is my identity and I can call my Heavenly Father, “Abba,” or “Daddy.”  Before this spiritual adoption I was a slave to the flesh.  Obeying those impulses and desires kept me under its power and I lived with fear.  I was afraid of never being good enough.  I lived with fears and insecurities about eternity and punishment.  But with sonship, my identity changed!

I have been born into His family and nothing and no one can make me “un-born” out of it!  But sometimes I forget who I am.  Old habits and ways of thinking can cause me to live according to the desires of my flesh.  But I am never obliged to live that way again (verse 12).  His Spirit reminds and assures me that I am His child and I have choice.  I can choose to live like who I am!

Lord, thank you that my identity as Your child will never be stolen!


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Scripture for Today: Galatians 3:1 “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.”

With just eight seasons, the Bewitched show has become an icon of television history!  We have the privilege of knowing the Murphy twins, Diane and Erin, who played the role of Tabitha.  This show, running from 1964 to 1972 made the top 20 in its first five seasons.  Its declining popularity toward the end of its run is sometimes blamed on the unexplained and sudden switch of the character, Darrin.  There is even a term used to reference an unpopular switch; “the Darrin Syndrome.”

Today’s verse uses the term,” bewitched” to describe the switch the Galatians had made.  They were bewitched or fooled into switching from the Gospel of grace to a system of works.  A group of legalistic Judaizers convinced this group of converted Gentiles that the death of Christ was not sufficient.  They believed that certain ceremonial laws of the Old Testament were still binding.  They were adding works to the Gospel of grace.  Paul reminds the Galatians that observing the Law did not earn them the Holy Spirit or right standing with God.  Faith in Christ’s sacrifice did that.

It is so easy to be “bewitched” today.  How many religions fool their adherents to believe that it is through our own efforts that we are saved or can please God?  Why switch to a never-ending treadmill of works that does not erase my sense of guilt?  I am never good enough.  There is always more I should be doing.  I am so thankful for His grace.  God’s standard of righteousness was fully met in my Savior and the debt of my sin has been fully paid!

Thank you Lord, that You paid it all and there is nothing more to add!

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The White Ibis

Scripture for Today: Job 38:36 “Who gives the ibis wisdom or gives the rooster understanding?”

Perhaps the rooster is given understanding to know when to crow.  I often wish he was not so understanding!  But how is the ibis wise?  It could be because he knows to fly in the energy-conserving V formation.  Maybe he is wise because he uses his long beak to feel for and capture his prey without even seeing it.  I like to think he is wise because he is mostly monogamous!  Of course, these behaviors are instinctive but they show more wisdom and understanding than some humans demonstrate!

Today’s verse reminds us that it is the Lord who gives wisdom and understanding.  It is given, not earned.  He is the Source and gives freely to all who ask in faith (James 1:5-6).  He not only gives but gives generously and without reproach.  Without asking Him, we are not wise.  We may think we know the best solution to our predicament.  But with His wisdom there is always the potential for something better.  That is because there are consequences we do not anticipate.  He knows the future.  He can see the outcome.  Every decision made without His wisdom to guide and direct is suspect.

I am not an instinctive creature.  God created me with the ability to ponder, weigh options and reflect on possible outcomes.  But sometimes, these God-given abilities make me an independent thinker.  I think I can make decisions just fine without Him.  And sometimes things work out.  But before long, the Lord will humble me to the point where I see my need to ask Him.  How much better to recognize my limits and ask Him in the beginning of that decision-making process!

Lord, thank you for the gift of Your wisdom every day for every decision.