Devotions By Jan


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Tin Man

tin-man1Scripture for Today: Galatians 5:16 & 25 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

Poor Tin Man.  He could not go long without his oil.  He would get progressively stiff and squeaky until he stopped walking altogether.  Thankfully, Dorothy was ever ready to help with her can of oil.  I sometimes feel like the Tin Man after getting up from long periods of sitting!  There are creaks, cricks and cracks upon rising.

Our verse for today talks about living and walking by God’s Spirit.  All those who belong to Jesus have the Holy Spirit residing in them.  His Spirit is His seal of ownership on us (II Cor. 1:22).  We have life now and eternally because of Him.  But “walking” by the Spirit implies something more.

The Spirit in Scripture is often symbolized by oil (I Samuel 16:13).  Just as the Tin Man needed oil to move and walk, so we are made to have that dependance on the “oil” of God’s Spirit.  We are to walk or obey by the Spirit.  Without Him, our obedience is slow and creaky.  Without the oil of His Spirit, we can barely move in response to His commandments.  We come to a virtual standstill as we just cannot obey on our own.  We desperately need the “oil” of His Spirit.

The Lord does not ask anything of me that He does not empower me to do.  His power, His presence and the fruit of His Spirit lubricate my joints and make it happen.  I need to go to Him continually for that oil as I dry up every day.  Walking in obedience feels so right when done through His Spirit!

Lord, help me walk well today!

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


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Big Boys Don’t Cry

baby crying sumoScripture for Today: Genesis 21:17 “God heard the boy crying, and the Angel of God called to Hagar from Heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid, God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.'”

I thought this picture of a sumo wrestler holding up a crying baby was very sweet, until I learned the story behind the picture!  There is a Baby Crying Contest held each year in Tokyo.  None are older than sixteen months and the one who cries the loudest wins!  The winning babies are usually those held up high by the sumo wrestlers.  Perhaps it is the fear and insecurity they feel up in the air that makes them cry the loudest.  It seems heartless to create a competition like this.

Our verse for today reveals God’s heart.  He hears the crying of a young boy and answers from Heaven with reassurances to the mother.  God then meets their need for water.  The context is the banishment of Hagar and her son, Ismael.  This young boy and his mother are experiencing not only great need but fear as well.  Because God has heard the crying, He meets both of these needs; water and reassurance.  God goes on to give them a promise of future blessing.

I amazed that God is moved by our tears.  Often in the Psalms David cries out to the Lord and is reassured (Ps. 34:17).  God is not impressed with stoicism in our prayers.  He understands the cries of our hearts and He is compassionate.  Big boys do cry and I need that release when coming to Him with a heavy heart.  I can unload the weight of whatever is distressing me.  I know He hears my crying with compassion.

Thank you Lord, for answering all my cries.

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

 


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Semper Fi

31OYCilc-MLScripture for Today:  Psalm 86:15 “But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

Our car has many decals of different places we have been.  Some decals picture a club or organization with which we have a special connection.  One of my favorites is the Latin saying, “Semper Fi” or “always faithful.”  This motto is a shortened version of the original “Semper Fidelis” and is associated with the US Marine Corps.  But the saying has a long history.

The first recorded usage was as a motto for the city of Abbeville, France in 1369.  But it has an early Polish connection too.  In 1658 Pope Alexander VII commended the city of Leopolis with this saying for their key role in defending Europe from Muslim invasion.  As my husband is part Polish, this motto has special meaning on several levels.

As inspiring as this motto is, there is only One who is always faithful.  Our verse for today teaches that our Lord is gracious by being slow to anger and by showing compassion.  He is not only loving and faithful but is abounding in those qualities to those who call on Him.  He will never act in opposition to His character.

I am ashamed that there are sometimes moments of doubt.  Emotions can get the best of me.  Asaph in Psalm 77 had the same problem when he in his grief felt that the hand of God had changed (verse 10).  He asks, “Has His unfailing love vanished forever?  Has His promise failed for all time?” (verse 8)  The answer is clearly, “No!”  He is abounding in love and faithfulness.  He has never failed me and He never will.

He is always faithful.  Thank you Lord, that I can always count on You.  Help me never ever doubt it.

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

 

 


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Swallow’s Nest

Capistrano-Swallows-DayScripture for Today:  Psalm 84:3-4 “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, My King and My God.”

There is a city ordinance in San Juan Capistrano, California, that prohibits knocking down a swallow’s nest!  Their bird droppings may be annoying, but they are protected.  The return of the swallows in March is celebrated every year with a parade and their likeness is sold in the town’s souvenir shop.  These swallows build their mud nests clinging to the ruins of the Great Stone Church of the Mission.  The arches of the vaulted ruins are bare and exposed, making it the perfect place for their nests.

Our verse for today speaks of another perfect place for a nest.  The swallow builds her nest near God’s altar.  When one thinks of a nest, there is the thought of comfort, care and protection.  A nest represents home and hearth.  The altar of God represents His presence.  It is a place of adoration and worship.  The psalmist cannot even mention the word “altar” without praising His name!  The context of this verse goes on to say that there is happiness when dwelling in His presence.

A nest may be built of all sorts of bits and pieces.  It could include mud, feathers, twigs and leaves.  But the most important factor is its proximity to God’s altar.  My nest could be feathered well with all kinds of creature comforts, but does it include God’s presence?  Dwelling in His presence means there is happiness and praise for Him (verse 4).

I want my nest to be His dwelling place.  Lord, may my home be marked by happiness, satisfaction and praise to You!

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


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Artistic Hands

IMG_20140623_161520Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 1:8 “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.”

This beautiful painting of a potter fashioning a vase was done by our daughter, Rebekah, in high school.  It hangs proudly in our entryway and reminds me that we are all a work in progress.  The potter looks so involved and attentive to his work.  He seems to be handling the vase with special care.  It looks to be almost completed with just a few finishing touches.

The image of God as our Potter is found throughout Scripture.  We are the clay and He fashions us according to His purposes.  But as with any pottery making process, pressure is needed on that clay to create.  On the wheel, artistic hands press and push to form the shape wanted.  The result is beautiful but the process looks arduous!

In our verse for today, Paul is feeling great pressure.  Troubles in his life were so difficult that he did not know if he could survive.  He feared that they were beyond his ability to endure.  Yet he recognized that there was a purpose behind them.  Paul saw that his Potter was using the pressure to encourage him to rely on God’s strength (verse 9).

I know my Potter uses some of those same methods in fashioning me into a vase He can use.  He allows pressures and difficulties in my life to sculpt and teach me dependence on Him.  It is not at all comfortable, but I know it is necessary.

Thank you Lord, that I can trust the pressure of Your hands to make something beautiful of my life!

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


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Nail Biting

nail bitingScripture for Today:  Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I wonder if this kitty is feeling anxious.  Probably not as nail biting is part of normal cat behavior.  Our Tiger does it too even though we try to keep up with trimming those nails.  It’s a bit unsettling to watch him chew at them.

Nail biting is considered an oral compulsive habit.  Some research shows that thirty percent of children and forty five percent of adolescents have a problem with this compulsion.  Most outgrow it but unfortunately, five percent of these young people continue the habit into adulthood.  I passed through this phase myself for a short time.  What starts as a stress reliever can so quickly become a mindless habit!

Our verse for today addresses the problem of anxiety.  That gnawing feeling of unrest and worry can drain us of energy.  Anxiety also causes me to doubt God’s control and goodness.  Being anxious is a sure sign of a lack of trust.  But according to this verse, there is no situation that warrants anxiety.  Whatever I am anxious about, the answer is to bring it to God in prayer.

It seems odd to see the “with thanksgiving” phrase as part of that prayer.  I used to think it was there to assure that my prayer would not seem so demanding!  But in fact, when I thank the Lord for all of what He has already done in my life, I start to feel the anxiety lessen.  In enumerating all His gifts and blessings, and all the ways He has come through for me in the past, my heart begins to relax.

Thank you Lord, that I can relinquish to You every anxiety and enjoy Your peace!

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


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Blind Man’s Bluff

  1. HIMG_5980Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:17 “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

I never much liked the game, “Blind Man’s Bluff” growing up.  It was uncomfortable not being able to see.  I always feared falling over my own two feet or running headlong into someone else and hurting myself.

This game has a long history with different versions dating back to Ancient Greece.  It was also a favorite pastime in the Victorian Era of the 1800’s.  There is an old Japanese version where the “it” must tag others not only blindfolded but carrying a full cup of tea!  Maybe that would be a good training exercise for waitress work!

Our verse for today talks about a blindness that is spiritual.  What is so sad is that the person described does not realize his blindness, nor his poverty and nakedness.  Being wealthy has caused this person to feel self-sufficient and not in need of anything.  What is so beautiful in this passage is that Christ proposes a remedy for this blindness.  He offers salve for the eyes to restore spiritual sight.  He also offers refined gold coming from Him, which represents true eternal riches.  Christ gives us white clothes to cover our nakedness.  Those white clothes are a symbol of His righteousness obtained for us.

There is no reason for me to continue to be poor, blind or naked.  Christ has taken the initiative to change my pitiful state when I repent of all my wrongdoing.  When I let go of of my pride and denial, I can open the door of my heart in answer to His knock.

Lord, may I always realize my need and open the door to You.

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