Devotions By Jan

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Rearranging the Furniture

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:26 “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

I am one of those people who love to rearrange the furniture!  The new configuration may not even be better than the previous one, but it makes me feel better.  I enjoy the change and the fresh look.  My husband is not always of the same opinion, especially when he stubs his toe!  Where before he could walk through the living room without any thought, he now has to be intentional about where he steps!  Habits die hard!

Today’s verse is a caution about our steps.  We are to give careful thought to what paths we follow.  Routine and habit can dull the senses and make us unaware.  We are to be intentional in evaluating our direction and walk in a way that is consistent with our beliefs.  The following verse tells us to avoid turning to the right or to the left, but to stay the course of what we know is right.  Verse 25 tells us to fix our gaze straight ahead.

It is easy to be distracted rather than resolute.  But inattention can get me in trouble with evil.  It lies on either side of that righteous path.  The path for the believer is narrow but it leads to life and immortality (Prov. 12:28) so it is well worth following!  I do not have to fear that evil regardless of how close it may seem.  I have Someone who as my Shepherd guides me along the right path (Psalm 23:3-4).  There may be unexpected obstacles, but He is always there to guide and protect.  He helps me to think through that next step!

Lord, help me to give careful thought to where I am stepping!

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

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Follow Me!

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 1:12 “….One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.'”

It was easy following Paul.  He was driving a comfortable pace in the commuter lane.  We kept right up with him regardless of the boisterous noise of six French teens seated behind us.  It took the stress out of driving to have someone in the lead.  But when it looked as if Paul missed our exit, I was not too worried.  I just figured he knew a different way to our destination.  But when another exit flew by, I was worried enough to call him on my cell.  He had already arrived!  We were following the wrong car!

Today’s verse was written by the apostle Paul to the church at Corinth.  The believers there were dividing themselves into factions.  Each group followed a different church leader.  Paul turns their thoughts and loyalties to the One who could bring them together in unity.  After all, it was not Paul crucified.  They were not baptized in his name but in the name of Jesus (verse 13).  When we all have our eyes fixed on Jesus, following Him, we will remain united.

It seems to be part of human nature to split up into separate groups.  Somehow, pride gets in the way of fostering unity.  I often major on our differences rather than celebrating our common ground.  And there is danger in placing the group or the leader above Christ, making my allegiance to that leader the most important one.  But in following Jesus Christ above all else, I find I can bond with others who do the same, regardless of church affiliation, regardless of race, age or locale.

Thank you Lord, that following You above anyone else brings sweet unity with others!

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

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Solar Eclipse

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:5 “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”

How eerie to see the sun completely covered by the moon today!  The total solar eclipse was oohed and awed by many along its trajectory.  Those not in its path still had the opportunity to see the sun partially covered with their special glasses.  For many of a certain age it may very well be their last opportunity to experience the celestial show as the next one does not occur until 2024.  It was odd to see crowds of people clapping and cheering as the sky became completely darkened.  The return of the sun did not get the same response.  As nature’s spectacle came to en end, I do not think there were many that doubted that the sun would reappear.

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance about something that is warm and full of life-giving energy that is never eclipsed.  God’s love can never be darkened.  Nothing can thwart or obstruct His faithful love for His own.  His love reaches to the heavens and there are no shifting shadows that can change it (James 1:17).  He is faithful to His Word and to His promises.

It can feel dark.  It can feel as though He has abandoned me when things are not going my way.  When my doubts obscure His love there is only one solution: I need to turn back again to His love letter to me.  There I am reminded of His faithfulness.  His love has not changed.  His love and compassion are renewed every morning (Lam. 3:22-23).  Though I may not see the light of His love, it is still there.  He lifts my head to see His faithfulness reaching to the skies!

Thank you Lord, that Your love for me never fails!


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Brand Names

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:16 “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

I am not sure that Nike is so thrilled that this older lady proudly wears their famous “swoosh.”  Their image is one of athletic excellence, which does not quite fit my reality!  Like many recognizable name brands, there is a certain message to be conveyed by wearing their product.  The message may have to do with chic style, youth, sports or music.  We identify with that message when we proudly display the brand name.  However, I cannot help but feel that they profit from our free advertising!

Our verse for today talks about proudly displaying a name.  It is a name that is above all other names.  But it is also a name that could provoke hostility from others.  The word, “Christian,” was first used in Antioch and was a pejorative term (Acts 11:26).  Being a Christ follower carries the risk of being scorned, mocked and even persecuted.  How polarizing the name of Jesus is!  The names of other religious leaders do not get the same reaction.

We wear the name of Jesus when we live like He did.  We wear the name of Jesus when we speak of Him to others.  And we wear His name when we exemplify His character through His Spirit.  Wearing His name identifies us as belonging to Him.  Even if it draws negative attention, we are not to be ashamed.  Suffering for His name is a privilege.  I wonder if my label is showing?  I wonder if I am identified so closely with Christ that people see a difference in me.  I hope so.  I pray so.

Thank you Lord, for the privilege of bearing Your name!

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

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Butterfly Collection

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:24 “How many living things You have made, O Lord! You have exhibited great skill in making all of them; the earth is full of the living things You have made.”

The closet was full of at least thirty display boxes like the one pictured here.  Each one was filled with an amazing variety of butterflies.  The colors of the differently-sized butterflies were brilliant and each had a different pattern.  My elderly friend’s husband had died many years before.  But his butterfly collection remained.  I imagine it will soon be split up among her children and grandchildren.  I was struck with the same wonder this gentleman must have felt in gazing at their detailed beauty.

Today’s verse extols the creativity of our God.  The living things that He has made far outshine man’s creativity.  The most impressive man-made work of art pales in comparison to His creation.  The tallest building or newest technology does not even come close to the amazing skill God exhibited in making a single short-lived butterfly.  Every wonderful thing that man has made is but a poor shadow of what God has fashioned.

We understand just how powerful God is by contemplating what He has created (Romans 1:20).  It is obvious that there is intelligent and thoughtful design by Someone when we see the intricacies of a single butterfly wing.  Seeking to attribute the wonder of His works to lucky chance cheapens all of life and creation.  How does anyone really appreciate the beauty of creation without acknowledging the beauty of the Creator?!  I am humbled to think that this same powerful Creator loves me and wants a close intimate relationship with me!  What a privilege to know and love the Creator!

Lord, may the wonder of Your creation bring me closer to You!

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