Devotions By Jan

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Wishful Thinking

2014-05-07 14.04.18Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

How can one visit Rome without seeing the famous Trevi Fountain?  Sculpted in 1762, it was built as an outlet for an ancient aqueduct.  This Baroque fountain with its figure of Neptune is touted to be the largest and most famous fountain.  And yes, I did the tourist thing.  Like so many others, I threw a coin in with my right hand over my left shoulder!  The original tradition involved drinking the fountain water to insure good fortune and a return to Rome.  But today it is coin tossing that is said to guarantee a return.  Since the 1954 film, “Three Coins in a Fountain” one coin does not suffice.  Now it is expected to throw in that second coin to get me a new and exciting romance, and a third coin to lead to marriage. But I couldn’t get my husband to hand me more than one coin!!

Our verse for today speaks of hope.  Hope in Scripture is not just wishful thinking.  That is because the object of our hope is something sure.  We are to hope in His Word (Psalm 130:5) as well as His unfailing love (Psalm 147:11).  Hope like that does not disappoint.  But hope in anything else has the potential to disappoint.

The Lord has plans for me.  He has my future in His powerful and loving hands.  He promises blessing for obedience.  I cannot possibly know what is ahead but with hope I am confident that it is all good.  It is amazing to me that He loves me enough to plan it all out.

Thank you Lord, that my hope is in You, and You never disappoint.

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


First Class

2014-03-19 19.12.53Scripture for Today: Psalm 4:3  “Know that the Lord has set apart His faithful servant for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him.”

This has never happened before; my husband in first class!  A friend with extra points very generously upgraded him on his last transatlantic flight.  Randy, with his long legs, clearly relished all that extra space!

There is something very special about sitting apart behind that curtain.  It does not help that the rest of us to have to pass through first class on our way to our own small seats in the back.  We eye ball the freebies and all the little extras we will not be enjoying.  Before the rest of us even find our seats, the first class passengers are being very attentively served.  They are “set apart” from everyone else and each of their calls are quickly answered.

Our verse for today for today teaches that believers are also set apart.  We are set apart for a much different purpose; not to be spoiled but to serve Him faithfully.  This entire psalm is so beautiful in describing the blessings that are ours when we lead godly lives.  There is distress, but there is immediate relief when we call to Him (verse 1).  He shows good to those who trust Him (verse 5-6)  He fills the heart with greater joy than those who have no shortage of grain and wine (verse 7).  We can lie down and sleep in peace, knowing that He keeps us safe (verse 8).  What a beautiful picture of the care the Lord takes of us.  And it is all grace.  We do not deserve any bit of it.

Thank you Lord, that You have set me apart as Your own.  May I serve You more faithfully in gratitude for all You do for me!

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


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Tattered Banner

P1080490Scripture for Today: II Timothy 3:11b-12 “Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them (persecutions).  In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

My husband and I remarked on this tattered banner flying on the top of a castle we visited.  Of course, it is not original to it but just part of the decoration.  The banner is not old but because it is a windy region, it did not take long for this banner to have an old beat-up appearance.

When seeing this banner, I could not help thinking of our well-known verse for today.  All those who want to live a godly life will stand up tall and straight.  And like the banner, our stand for the Lord is vulnerable to the winds of persecution.  Those winds push and pull at us.  Our resistance to the winds will eventually wear on us.

If one hides their banner, the wind will have no opportunity to buffet it.  No one bothers to persecute those who are not taking a stand.  Becoming tattered or persecuted does not seem a great motivation to live a godly life!  But it is the natural consequence of living out our faith among those who are lovers of self rather than lovers of God (verses 1-5).

Paul encourages Timothy to take a stand and continue on in the faith.  He reminds Timothy of God’s power to deliver, something he had repeatedly experienced.  My motivation to lead a godly life is that I am a lover of God more than a lover of self.  It is love and gratitude that keeps me faithful to Him, regardless of the opposition.  There is no shame in my banner being tattered.

Lord, give me the courage to stay faithful to You.

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




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Lost Sheep

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:176 “I have strayed like a lost sheep.  Seek Your servant for I have not forgotten Your commands.”

This sheep looks a bit lost.  His companions are no where in sight and it looks as if he has completely lost his bearings.  Thankfully, he does not seem to be in any apparent danger.  He is not stuck in thorns or falling off a cliff, yet.  I can imagine that this sheep strayed because he did not follow the commands of the shepherd.  But even knowing he is lost does not solve his problem.  He needs to be sought out by his shepherd.

Today’s verse is the last verse of the longest psalm. The author, even though he has tremendous love and respect for God’s commands, still has a problem always following them.  After so many verses extolling and exalting God’s precepts, he ends with a cry for help.  He confesses his weakness and closes with a heartfelt prayer.

Seeing this verse reassures me.  The author is made of the same stuff I am.  I wondered if he was “super spiritual” to love and exalt God’s Law so much.  But in fact, like Paul, even knowing what is right to do does not mean we do it! (Romans 7:18-21)  We all stray from what is right.

Our Shepherd always seeks us out.  He will even leave the other ninety-nine to go out after the one who strays.  He keeps searching until that lost one is brought back! (Luke 15:4)  Christ’s whole purpose in coming to earth was to seek and save the lost! (Luke 19:10)  But to be found I need to realize that I am lost.  When I cry out for help, He is faithful to bring me back to His waiting arms.

Thank you Lord, for finding this lost sheep!

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

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:5 “You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.”

I love the feeling of being enclosed!  Whether it is in a home or in a garden, I feel safe and comfortable when I can see the whole space at once.  The image of this enclosed garden gives me that feeling.  I know where I am.  I know where the limits and boundaries are.  Closed in spaces can make one feel peaceful and secure.  The fences keep out what is not wanted.  The enclosed space seems to invite intimacy.

Our verse for today comes from a psalm that describes how vast is God’s knowledge of each one of us.  He is acquainted with all of our ways and all of our movements.  He is everywhere and there is no fleeing His presence.  But this verse is so very personal.  He encloses or hems us in with His presence.  He puts a limit ahead of us and a limit behind us.  He does not do this to frustrate us.  He does this in a gesture of love, to place His hand on us.

It is understandable that He needs to enclose me to put His hand on me.  I am so often in constant movement and activity.  I hardly stand still.  Taking time out for Him and being still seems impossible sometimes.  The pace of life makes me forget He is even there.  There are times I need to be stopped in my tracks in order to see His hand and recognize His presence.

Being hemmed in and enclosed by the Lord is a good thing.  His hand on me is a loving one.  When I cannot go forward or turn backward, it is then that I look up.  That is just how He wants it!

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