Devotions By Jan

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Tin Man

Scripture 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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Swallow’s Nest

Scripture 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

Scripture 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 feline 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

IMG_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.