Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:164-165 “Seven times a day I praise You for Your righteous Laws.  Great peace have they who love Your Law, and nothing can make them stumble.”

There is something about the number seven.  Gamblers consider it a lucky number.  The character, George Costanza, thought “Seven” a beautiful first name.  Many ancient cultures had seven gods.

In Scripture, the number seven has special significance.  Creation, with the Sabbath, took seven days.  Solomon’s Temple took seven years to build.  The walls of Jericho came down after seven days of marching.  Revelation records seven stars, lampstands, churches, seals, trumpets, and bowls.  Seven is thought to be the number of perfection or completion.

In our verse for today David does not use the number seven literally.  David mentions praying three times a day in Psalm 55:17.  In fact, David writes that His praise shall continually be in his mouth (Psalm 34:1).  He uses the number seven here to express a desire to worship the Lord perfectly, or completely.  In turning towards a holy and righteous God, David is showing a special care in his devotion.  His praise is specific; for God’s Law.  He recognizes the stability His Law gives to life.  In following God’s righteous way, one will not stumble as the wicked do whenever calamity strikes (Prov. 24:16).  David praises God for the great peace that comes from being obedient.  He knew the difference.  He experienced first hand the agony and awful consequences of breaking God’s Law.

What a beautiful and worthy subject of praise!  God’s Law gives stability and direction to my life.  It keeps me from stumbling.  Following His Law gives me heart peace instead of guilt and confusion.  Seven times a day is only the beginning of my praise and worship!

Lord, may I continually praise You today!  You are worthy!

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

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Broken Pottery

unnamedScripture for Today: Psalm 31:12 “I am forgotten as though I were dead.  I have become like broken pottery.”

This happened.  I do not want to name names.  It was just one of those unfortunate freak accidents.  My Polish pottery is not only beautiful but special as it reminds me of trips to Poland with friends.  I doubt I will ever have the chance to replace it.  I had to bite my tongue so as not to make the culprit feel worse.  It is only an inanimate object and relationship is certainly more important.  There is not much use for it now unless I want half portions, which I do not!

In our verse for today David feels like broken pottery.  He feels the utter contempt of his enemies.  He is shunned by his neighbors and becomes an object of dread.  It is as though he were useless and of no importance.  David feels himself slipping into depression and views his life as falling apart.  The psalm turns around in verse 14 when he says, “But I trust in You, Lord.”  He begins to see the abundance of good things God has done and ends the psalm addressing all who hope in the Lord to be strong and take heart!

There are times I can relate to these feelings of loneliness and brokenness.  But like David, I can turn to the only One who can pick up those broken pieces and make something new and useful from them.  It is never too late to trust Him because in His capable hands, nothing is beyond repair.  It is because of His grace that I can take heart, regardless of my circumstances, regardless of my failures and regardless of broken relationships.

I am never forgotten or defeated because of His incredible healing love!  Thank you, Lord.

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


Domino Effect

Scripture for Today: Psalm 20:7-8 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.  They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.”

The art of domino toppling has become a serious competition in much of the world!  The term, “domino effect” refers to the chain reaction of their fall.  If there is too much space between the dominoes then of course, the chain is broken.  A domino show is most impressive when different colors are used and a mosaic is produced, or when there are three dimensional stacks.  According to Guinness World Records, a German group holds two records; the most mini dominoes toppled and the most dominoes toppled in a spiral in 2013.  The name of this group is interesting; “Sinners Domino Entertainment!”

Our verse for today speaks of those who fall and those who stand.  The one who puts their trust in their own strength will one day be brought to their knees.  Their fall is inevitable.  The one who puts their trust and confidence in the name and power of the Lord God is the one who ends up on their feet.  That person can rise up and stand firm as they draw on a strength that is not their own, but His!

Just as in the domino effect, correct spacing is important.  I can be influenced by the thinking of the world.  It is easy to align myself with self-sufficient thinking.  When I begin trusting in myself more than the Lord, I am too close to those falling and I end up falling too!  My prayer is to stand close enough to others to influence them for the Lord, but with enough space not to be knocked down!

Lord, keep me standing firm in my faith!

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



Panting Dogs

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:131-132 “I open my mouth and pant, longing for Your commands.  Turn to me and have mercy on me, as You always do to those who love Your name.”

I will admit it.  I am not a “dog person.”  Cats are my animal of choice.  One of the many reasons I prefer cats is that they do not normally hang out their tongues and pant.  I do not enjoy dog slobber or doggy breath either! But the tongue hanging out is not especially an endearing quality.

Of course, God in His wisdom and creativity designed the dog to pant in order to cool down.  Except through their paw pads, a dog will not sweat through their skin and so they need to pant.  The circulating air enters their bodies and cools them down.

Our verse for today speaks of panting for God’s commands!  It is a surprising sentiment as one does not normally embrace laws and commands with such enthusiasm.  One tends to balk against any restrictions on one’s freedom.  Rather than seeing them as something negative, the author embraces them, knowing that wisdom and blessings come from obedience.  He pants for them.  They are as important as the air one breathes.  They make true life possible.

I love the image of the deer panting for water (Psalm 42:1).  In just the same way, our soul pants for God.  He is the Source of all that nourishes and satisfies.  If I am panting and longing for that intimacy with God, then my attitude towards His commands will be just as enthusiastic!  By following His commands I stay close to Him and our relationship grows deeper and deeper.

Lord, help me to be enthusiastic about following Your way, knowing it will lead to a closer relationship with You.


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Macadamia Nut

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 28:14 “Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.”

It seems a bit extreme to open up a macadamia nut with a vise and hammer, but this nut is said to be the hardest nut in the world to crack!  Even after being boiled or roasted, it is a very difficult nut to open.  Three hundred pounds of pressure per square inch is needed.  The effort is worth it as this nut is up to eighty percent oil (the good kind) and delicious!  My favorite are those enrobed in chocolate!

Our verse for today talks about something that can be just as hard as the macadamia nut; a heart that does not fear God.  It would take a very hard heart not to recognize the awesome power that God demonstrates.  The person who hardens their heart against God is one who is at risk to fall into all kinds of trouble.  That is because a hardened heart is a prideful one, and pride goes before the fall (Prov. 16:18).

The heart of King Nebuchadnezzar became arrogant and hardened with pride.  In consequence, God stripped him of glory until he acknowledged God as sovereign (Daniel 5:20).  The story never ends well for those who’s pride produces a hardened heart.  They become a hard nut to crack!  How much better to fear God and tremble before His majesty!

The one who always trembles before God is blessed.  Recognizing His power and splendor and one’s complete dependence gives a person the right perspective.  The trembling heart will be soft and pliable, ready to obey and serve.  I have confidence to approach God’s throne because of Jesus.  But that does not mean I will not tremble before His awesome presence!

Lord, keep me from developing a hard heart.

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