Devotions By Jan


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Anyone There??

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:1 “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.”

It is called many things: hotel reception bell, call bell, desk bell or counter bell.  I just call it annoying.  Back in the day they were used much more frequently to call the attention of people in the service industry.  I suppose ringing this bell is preferable to shouting, but the sound of that bell can jangle the nerves, especially when one rings it a bit too enthusiastically!  I imagine that as with Pavlov’s dogs, we can all be conditioned to respond to the sound of a bell (or metronome).  But in any case, the ring of that bell normally gets results.

Today’s verse is a testimony of David’s to God’s faithfulness in answering him.  He cried out to the Lord, perhaps over and over.  Then at some point David waited and he waited well with patience.  It is not that God was too busy to attend to him.  It was not that God was indifferent to David’s distress.  The Lord hears, encourages and listens to our cries (Psalm 10:17).  But He asks us to wait for His response with patience.  God’s eventual response was to lift David out of his slimy pit and set his feet on rock.

The Lord will always turn to me and hear my cry.  It might help me to ring that bell over and over but He heard it the first time!  He asks me to wait and to wait with patience and confidence that He has heard.  I may receive a different answer than expected at the end of that waiting period.  But I know He has heard and His plan is best!

Thank you Lord, that You hear and I can trust You.

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Pack Your Patience

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

Today we leave for France.  With long lines, security hassles, and tired feet the thrill of travel is definitely lacking!  I cannot think of a better training ground for practicing patience than when flying.  I am so careful in my packing but I am not sure I always pack patience!  Flight delays and missed connections strain my patience to the very limit.  And showing patience is especially difficult when fatigue is added to the mix.  I easily take offense at the slightest provocation, whether it be someone knocking into me or cutting in line.

Today’s verse tells us from where patience comes.  It comes from wisdom.  Showing patience is always the wiser course.  Blowing up or throwing a tantrum never changes anything.  Wisdom determines when to grin and bear it when nothing else can be done.  Overlooking that rude remark or crying baby not only is the wiser more patient response but it makes one a better person.  Any other reaction risks being “inglorious.”  Wisdom is the source of patience and the fear of the Lord is the source and beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).

I have been told (tongue in cheek) never to actually pray for patience as it always seems to come as a result of testing (James 1:3).  But I am encouraged to learn that patience can be a by-product of wisdom as well.  Fearing and respecting God’s power and control of my circumstances calms me down and helps me keep my emotional balance.  So whether I am waiting in long lines or learning that my suitcase did not make it, I can be confident that He knows and He has my back.

Lord, make me wise today especially!


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Lawn Bowling

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 59:8 “The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks along them will know peace.”

I have a friend who enjoys lawn bowling and I was interested to learn that the balls they use are “biased.”  There is no way they can roll in a straight line as they are weighted.  The ball is deliberately lopsided so that it always curves toward the flat side as it slows down.  Without taking this into account, it would be doubly difficult to roll the closest to that white ball (or jack) which is the point of the game.

Today’s verse talks about a road that is crooked.  There is no way to walk  straight down this path.  And because the going is crooked there is no justice or peace.  This is a picture of the path of wickedness rather than the path of righteousness.  By ignoring God’s laws and always doing the wrong thing, there is no peace with God or each other.  But just as that lawn bowling ball can look normal, so too we can be unaware of the crooked way we are walking.

My path can only be straight as I submit to His way of doing things (Prov. 3:6).  When He leads along straight paths, my steps will not be hampered and I will not stumble (Prov. 4:12).  I am sure it is the more difficult path however.  He has never promised that it would be easy.  But when I make the effort to walk with integrity, I can enjoy peace with Him and have the best chance at peace with my neighbor.  It is worth the effort.

Lord, keep me walking Your way.


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Sacrifice

Scripture for Today: Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.”

This watch survived a torpedo attack on the USS Pennsylvania on the arm of my Father.  Unlike so many we commemorate on Memorial Day, he emerged from WWII unscathed.  His ship, however, did not fare well.  On August 12, 1945 the hit from a Japanese torpedo opened up a 30 foot hole in the stern and the ship was eventually decommissioned without seeing further action.  Twenty men died that day, sacrificing their lives for our freedom.

Today’s verse presents a true paradox.  Those who are intent on saving their lives at any cost will end up paying in other ways.  Lives that are selfishly lived will in the end be lost.  Whereas, those who pour out and sacrifice their lives for others as a service to the Lord will have meaning and purpose.  They will in fact find their lives.

My Father did not lose his life on that fateful day, but he did lose his life in service to the Lord.  For 93 years he lost his life by living it for his Savior.  Yet he found life, one that was so rich and full and blessed!

Losing my life for the One I love is the best way I know to demonstrate my love.  I lose my life each time I choose to obey God’s way rather than my own.  I lose my life every time I put His agenda of good works ahead of my own.  When I desire Christ’s love above and beyond any human love then my life is spent serving Him.  In losing my life to Him, He fills it and makes it meaningful!

Thank you Lord, that in sacrificing myself to You I find life!


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Sea Glass

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

I feel as if I have found treasure when I see that gleaming colorful piece of glass nestled in the sand!  The beaches of California are especially good for their discovery.  In their original form, I would not look at them twice.  After all, they are just shards of glass bottles or tableware.  But after years and years of being broken up and tumbled by the waves, they lose their rough edges and become smooth.  Gone is the normal sheen of glass as it is replaced by a frosty appearance.  Now they are worthy of being a piece of art or jewelry!

Today’s verse describes the life of Paul.  He was persecuted, thrown in jail, shipwrecked, and beaten.  Through all of this he was never crushed, in despair, abandoned or destroyed.  He calls his experiences, “light momentary troubles” (verse 17).  He does not lose heart because he believes they are achieving for him “an eternal glory.”  Rather than focusing on what he is going through, he sees what God is producing in him.

Whoever said that life was easy has not lived very long!  Being a follower of Christ does not guarantee me a smooth ride.  I am tossed around and pounded by the waves just as much as everyone else.  My sure hope is that He is producing something meaningful and beautiful through all the negative.  Knowing He is in control and that His control is good, keeps me from despair.  There will be no punishing pounding waves in Heaven.  All my rough edges will be gone and I will be complete!

Thank you Lord, that I can trust what You are doing in my life.


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Look familiar?

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 111:2 “Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them.”

Perhaps this bystander would never have noticed the woman’s outfit had he not just bought something with a similar pattern.  Have you ever observed that whatever new experience we have, we tend to suddenly see more of the same around us?  Just like noticing the same make and color of the car we recently bought, we tend to see everywhere whatever our current focus is.  This phenomenon is called “reticular activating system” or RAF.  Like a gatekeeper to one’s brain, it sorts through one’s experiences, dismissing some as irrelevant, while letting through information on that which we are already focused on.

David declares in today’s verse that the works of the Lord are great.  He calls God’s deeds glorious and majestic (verse 3).  He then goes on to list a few of those works: providing food and remembering His covenant, giving them the lands of other nations, and providing redemption.  David is focused on God’s works so he sees them everywhere.  He is seeing confirmation of who God is in all His works.  And because this is David’s focus, he is seeing God’s works everywhere.

There are times I see God’s hand everywhere in my life.  My spiritual senses seem heightened and I am more aware of what He is doing.  This most often happens after spending time in His Word.  When I am focused on His truth, I suddenly see confirmation after confirmation!  It could be in seeing His creativity in nature.  It could be in a chain of unusual circumstances.  I am reassured of His intimate love in the simple memory of a song lyric.  What a delight to see His works over and over!

Lord, keep me focused and seeing You today!

 

 

 


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Looking Up

Scripture for Today: Acts 1:11 “‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven.'”

Do you see what I see in these clouds?  A friend took this (thanks Kristen) and she did not even have to suggest what was there.  Facing to the left of the screen is what looks like a huge gorilla head.  She calls it a monkey blowing kisses!  Perhaps one has to use one’s imagination.  But I love looking up in the clouds and seeing different shapes and what they suggest.

Today’s verse was addressed to the disciples by two angels at the occasion of Christ returning to Heaven.  They had just seen Him taken up into the sky and then hidden by a cloud (verse 9).  These angels reassured them that He would be coming back, and in the same manner.  Somehow at Christ’s return, clouds will be involved.  Jesus Himself foretold that He would come on the “clouds of Heaven” (Matt. 26:64).  And one day, every eye will see Him coming with the clouds (Rev. 1:7).

Whether I see strange clouds or not, I want to keep looking up.  It is then that I am reminded of His faithfulness which reaches to the skies (Ps. 36:5).  That huge expanse of sky is His creation and nothing is too hard for Him.  He always keeps His word and I can trust Him.  What He says He will do, He will do.  When I see those clouds overhead, I want to say with firm conviction, “Maranatha,” the Lord is coming!  He has promised.

Lord, keep me looking up today.