Devotions By Jan


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Following Suit

Scripture for Today: Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise.” 

The card game, Uno, is full of surprises.  Normally, being able to “follow suit” quickly wins the game.  It is almost a mindless exercise to just follow the color played ahead of you.  But the smart player will look for other options if he is holding those special cards.  Instead of just following suit, those cards allow for some strategy.  The game suddenly becomes more interesting, and NOT following suit can pay off!

Following suit in life is a mindless exercise as well.  Today’s verse tells us that there is another option; following God’s precepts.  Rather than follow what everyone around us is doing, the believer has some special cards in his hand.  They are God’s ways and precepts.  When one follows His Word, He develops wisdom and good understanding of life and how it should be played.  Fear, awe, respect and obedience to God are those special cards.  The believer is under no obligation to follow what is played around him.

My problem is that following suit is just so much easier to do.  I am holding those special cards but opt not to use them.  The desire to fit in with the prevailing fad or thought is very strong.  To follow what everyone else is doing requires no thought, less risk and certainly no censure from others.  But conforming to the world’s system of thinking can be resisted when my thoughts are transformed through God’s Word (Rom. 12:1-2).  I do not want to live mindlessly but with purpose, screening out the bad and holding on to the good (Rom. 12: 9).  His Word and following His way makes me wise.

Lord, keep me from following suit today.

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The Accordion

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” 

The music of an accordion is such a happy one, reminding me of street performers, dances, and festivals in France.  The buttonboard cannot be seen by the player so some buttons have a small depression so the player can navigate by feel.  The base-note buttons sound one or more notes in differing octaves.  The chord buttons emit a three-note chord when pressed.  This 120 button layout can seem confusing.  But the one thing each button has in common is that it needs to be pushed to be sounded.

Today’s verse is a warning about anger.  When someone “pushes our buttons,” it can have a predictable result.  We can be quickly provoked to anger with the right trigger, especially when there is a history with the one goading us.  Certain words, situations or reminders can rouse us to anger in an instant.  Unfortunately, it more often happens with those who are the closest to us.  But when we allow anger to settle down and take up residence, we risk becoming a fool.

Anger can sometimes be completely justified  But anger can also turn me into a fool if I let it linger (Eph. 4:26).  And I am to be slow to get to that point of anger if I want to be like Him (Ps. 103:8).  If I always react with anger at the mention of someone’s name, than anger is residing in my lap!  I need God’s Spirit to cultivate the same kind of love, compassion and forgiveness in my heart that the Lord has shown me.  That way, pushing my buttons will only produce something melodious!

Lord, make me slow to anger and quick to forgive.


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Doomsday Clock

Scripture for Today: Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

The time left on the “doomsday clock” is not very encouraging.  This symbolic clock reads 2 minutes to midnight, or 2 minutes to a global man-made catastrophe!  The members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists started the doomsday clock in 1947.  Since then, it has read as much as 17 minutes to midnight (1991).  This year marks the third time it has shown 2 minutes remaining.  Nuclear risk and climate change are the factors that influence the clock.

Today’s verse talks about an hour that has already come; the hour to wake up from spiritual slumber.  The night is almost over and the day is about to arrive.  This is not a doomsday clock for the believer, but it is something for which we need to be prepared.  We are to understand our times, the present time and the time that is to come.  God’s Word gives us signs for what is coming.  Although there are lots of different ideas about how to interpret them, one thing is sure; our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed!

It is easy for me to be sleepy and to believe that things will always continue as they are.  I need to “wake up” and realize that my time is limited.  Knowing that Christ’s return could happen at any moment changes my priorities and how I live.  When I live with this certainty, it makes me want to live a pure life that pleases Him (I John 3:2-3).  I want to live wisely, making the most of every opportunity the Lord offers me (Eph. 5:15-16).

Lord, wake me up today!

 


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Building Forts

Scripture for Today: Psalm 59:16 “But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love, for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”

Kids can make a fort out of just about anything!  All that is needed is a little imagination and a few props.  There was not only room enough in this fort for my two grandsons but their mother as well.  Surprisingly, she stayed in there after the boys lost interest.  Maybe not so surprisingly!  It was quiet and peaceful there.  It was even warm with the protection from drafts.  After even just a few minutes inside, she came out looking happily refreshed!

Today’s verse describes God as a fortress and refuge.  David’s house was being watched by Saul’s men as they laid in wait to ambush and kill him.  David prays for deliverance not only from his enemies (verse 1), but from their slander, curses and lies (verses 10 & 12).  He recognizes that God is his strength and that he can rely on Him (verse 10).  David’s confidence in God being his strength, fortress and refuge is so strong that he can sing!  He praises God in song for His strength and His love.

In times of trouble, I need the warmth and protection of HIs strength and love.  Actually, I just need Him all the time.  But it is when faced with hard times that I realize my need.  His presence fortifies and strengthens my resolve to stand firm and resolute.  His love reminds me that He is in control and will not allow me to be overwhelmed.  His strength can be mine when I run to Him for shelter.  I am His.  I belong to Him and whatever I am facing, nothing is too hard for HIm.

Lord, I will sing today of Your strength and love!


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Chased by a Moose!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 57:3 “He sends from Heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me – Gods sends forth His love and His faithfulness.”

Some snowboarders at a ski resort in Breckenridge, Colorado got the surprise of their lives when chased by a moose!  The animal looked calm enough but at one point must have felt threatened as they zipped by on their boards!  Just before charging, the ears of a moose are laid back and the hairs on its hump are raised.  If pursued by a moose, it is recommended to either run or take cover behind something solid like a tree.

Today’s verse speaks of being hotly pursued.  David is running from an enemy that is intent on destroying him; Saul.  Unlike a moose whose charge is sometimes only a warning, this pursuit was to the death!  David cries out to the Lord for mercy.  He takes cover in a cave and God protects David out of His love and faithfulness.  Because David’s heart is steadfast he can sing and make music in the middle of disaster (verse 7).  His trust and confidence is so strong that he describes God’s love as reaching to the heavens and His faithfulness to the skies (verse 10).

I am amazed at David’s trust in God while being so relentlessly pursued!  Rather than respond with fear or complaint, David looks past his circumstances to the love and faithfulness of God.  His situation sure did not stimulate this praise.  And sometimes, neither does mine.  It can be hard to praise Him when faced with unnerving conflict and injustice.  But when I call to mind His love for me I can be confident.  When I remember His faithfulness my heart can take courage.  He will fight for me.  He will vindicate me.

Lord, remind today of Your love and faithfulness.

 


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Banished Words

Scripture for Today: Luke 16:17 “It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.”

Every year since 1976 Lake Superior State University has issued a list of banished words.  These words are nominated from around the world.  They include pet peeves from everyday speech.  But they also come from news, education, and advertising, among other fields.  The 2019 list includes: yeet, collusion, ghosting and accoutrements.  Their list is comprised of words that are misused, overused or useless!

Today’s verse speaks of the permanence of God’s Word.  In contrast to the falling out of favor and banishment of words, the Word of God stands forever (Psalm 119:89).  It would be easier for all of heaven and earth to disappear than for even one little part of His Law to be null and void.  What God says stands for all eternity.  There are no mistakes and there is never a need for revision.  His Word is always relevant throughout the centuries.  Because His Words are inspired by His Spirit, they communicate unchangeable truth.  The standards of the Law are not changed by popular opinion or a nominating committee!

How convicting and comforting His Word can be!  It is convicting because it exposes my heart and motives (Heb. 4:12).  And His Law shows me how woefully I do not measure up.  Thankfully, Jesus Christ kept the Law and perfectly fulfilled it.  His righteousness is mine through faith in His work and sacrifice (Romans 3:22).  But His eternal Word is also comforting.  It is truth that never changes and strengthens my faith (Romans 10:17).  His Word reminds me of His love and faithfulness.  His Word gives me an unshakeable hope that is an anchor for my soul.

Thank you Lord, that Your Word is forever and worthy of trust.

 

 

 


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Together

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 12:26 “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

How heart warming it is to see people come together in times of grief!  This picture however, is not of a funeral but a wedding.  There is joy for the newly married couple but also grief at the imminent passing of the bride’s father.  This group of believers may be very different from one another.  But what unites them is their shared joy and pain.  Not only is each individual helped but the one they are surrounding is uplifted by this show of oneness and support.

In today’s verse there is both suffering and joy.  Both emotions can be shared within Christ’s body, the Church even though we show and experience emotion in different ways.  The weight of emotion is not quite as heavy when it is shared.  That sharing brings us together and emphasizes our oneness.  We are to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).  Doing so makes our unity that much stronger.  And when we are one, people can see Christ in us (John 17:20-23).

There is nothing worse than feeling strong emotions and having no one with which to share them.  Both intense joy and grief can increase feelings of isolation when they are not shared.  But when I can relate in this way with other believers, I connect on another level.  My little part of the body feels more integrated.  And what is really amazing is that this connection between believers somehow glorifies Christ and He is seen more clearly in me and in all of us!

Thank you Lord, for the connection I can have with other believers.