Devotions By Jan


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Face Blindness

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:58 “I have sought Your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to Your promise.”

Imagine seeing everyone, even those closest to you, as strangers!  Those dealing with the neurological disorder “prosopagnosia” or face blindness, sometimes do not even recognize their own faces in the mirror!  Those who have this disorder use other techniques to distinguish people including: voice, gait, hairstyle, clothing, body type or context.  Brad Pitt and Jane Goodall are among the 2.5% of Americans who suffer from this problem, which sometimes runs in families.  Not remembering names can be annoying but how much worse this would be!

Today’s verse comes from the longest psalm in the Bible.  The author values God’s law and precepts more than life and makes following them his life’s mission.  With the same ardor he seeks God’s face with all of his heart.  And in seeking God’s face he asks for God to remember His promises and be gracious to him.  One of His promises is that the upright or those in right standing with Him will see His face (Psalm 11:7).  To those who wholeheartedly seek Him, He reveals Himself, His character and His love.  He is the rewarded of those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

He is worth the effort of seeking and searching!  He rewards such effort with more and more revelation of Himself!  Nothing on earth can compare to Him.  I cannot see His face with anything but spiritual eyes.  But one day I will be face-to-face in His literal presence.  But even today I can recognize His face shining on me (Numbers 6:25) when I see all the ways He has been gracious to me.  With all my heart I want to seek His face more today than I did yesterday.

Lord, help me recognize Your face.

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A Three-Legged Race

Scripture for Today:  Amos 3:3 “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?

They were doing so well, outrunning all the others on their combined three legs!  But all it took was a small deviation to the right or to the left without the cooperation of the other to bring down this duo.  There is no hope of winning the prize unless the two runners can move together in sync.  The only way to be coordinated in their movements is to have complete agreement on their direction and their speed.  The most important agreement to make is on who will lead and who will follow.

Today’s verse is in a little-known book of prophecy.  Out of God’s love for Israel, he warns them of coming judgement through his prophet, Amos.  He asks obvious questions of cause and effect to point out that their sin will be punished (verses 3-6).  Two cannot walk together unless they can agree on their pace and their route.  As a nation, they were collectively going in the wrong direction.  Rather than walking toward the Lord in confession they were willfully walking away from Him in their sin.

I want to be intentional about who my walking companions are!  My direction is very different than that of the world.  If I am yoked with unbelievers than I will be tripping and falling all over the place (II Cor. 6:14).  I want to walk in sync with the Lord and follow Him.  That can only happen as I humbly agree with Him in confession.  When I do, that walk is sweet and satisfying.  He chooses just the right path and keeps me from stumbling.  Walking with Him through life gives me purpose and fulfillment.

Lord, don’t let me wander.   Keep me walking close to You.

 


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First Day of Spring

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 35:1-2a “The desert and the parched land will be glad. The wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom. It will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.”

For many parts of the world, the small crocus poking out its little head through cold hard ground is the first indication of spring!  For years in the north of France that was true for us.  My heart was always encouraged with that unexpected burst of color appearing.  There was still plenty of brown landscape and barren trees, but at least I knew that change was in the air!

Today’s verse uses the image of the crocus to picture the joy of God’s redeemed people.  The desert of their distress and persecution will be transformed into joyful springs of water.  There will be a day when God will move on their behalf, coming with vengeance and salvation (verse 4).  Every wrong will be made right.  There will be singing, shouting, gladness and everlasting joy for the redeemed.  There will be complete healing and protection.  Sorrow and sighing will be no more!

What an incredible future awaits me!  I can choose to live with joy as I look forward to that coming day.  I do not have to be bowed down with sorrow over the struggles I face.  A different season is coming.  There is a promise of so much more to come.  All will be transformed in the blink of an eye.  At that point, there will be no containing my bursting joy!  It is so easy to look around at everything sad and barren in my life and become discouraged.  But instead, I am going to look for that small crocus flower today!

Thank you Lord, that incredible joy IS my future!


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The Quokka

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

This seemingly sweet quokka looks as if he is smiling.  He is the smallest member of the “big foot” family that includes the kangaroo and wallaby.  They look so cuddly with their teddy bear ears and their doe like eyes.  But in fact, they can be quite vicious when using  their sharp claws.  This adorable looking animal is not so adorable when the mother pushes her baby out of her pouch when chased in order to escape her predator!

Today’s verse is a promise that the Lord will never abandon His own.  What a comforting truth that the Lord our God will go with us!  He not only is with us but He goes before us and leads the way.  Because He will never leave us or forsake us, we are not fearful or discouraged.  There is never a question of being abandoned by God.  These words were spoken by Moses to the Israelites in verse 6 and then repeated in verse 8 to Joshua and the Israelites.  His leadership was coming to an end and Moses did not want them to feel abandoned.

It is during the hard discouraging times that the Lord wants to reassure me of His loving presence and control.  Looking at my unclear future causes anxious fearful thoughts to fill me.  Looking at my daunting circumstances brings discouragement.  But looking to Him brings me hope.  He is right there in front of me, clearing the way through the mess.  The promise that He will never leave me or abandon me helps calm me down.

Lord, help me remember that You are there and working on my behalf.


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Groundbreaking!

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 3:9 “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

It is an important moment, digging up that first shovel-full of dirt.  It looks as if this groundbreaking ceremony is having some trouble getting started.  It is taking two men’s efforts to break that hard ground!  This universal and ancient custom is also called a sod-cutting or sod-turning ceremony.  It is sometimes attended by local dignitaries and the media as the new construction begins.  Often, the shovel used is saved and proudly displayed in a place of honor.  The groundbreaking ceremony symbolically consecrates that piece of land.

Todays’ verse describes believers as God’s field and God’s building.  Those who have placed their faith in Jesus are consecrated or set apart as His people.  By His Spirit the Lord has broken the hard resistant ground that was our heart.  Those that have yielded their lives to the convicting pressure of His Spirit are now “under construction!”  Our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19).  At the moment of salvation He takes up residence.  But throughout life His temple is being maintained and renovated.  We can be confident that this good work He does in us will continue until we see Christ (Phil. 1:6).

I am a little tired of the dust and mess.  I can appear so put together to others but I know the state of affairs on the interior.  I see some progress in being more others-centered but I am still so selfish.  I truly appreciate other’s gifts and at the same time find myself jealous.  I give grace to myself but can be so critical of others.  The to-do list continues.  But, He does not give up on me.

Thank you Lord, for Your patient loving work in me.


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A Squirrel and His Nut

Scripture for Today: Psalm 77:11-12 “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will consider Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds.”

I am not the only one who forgets where I have put things!  The University of Richmond did a study and found that squirrels fail to recover up to 74% of the nuts they bury!  Even so, they do have a strategy.  They do what’s called, “spatial chunking” sorting their nuts by size, type and taste and then burying them in groups.  Even more surprising are the grey squirrels who frequently dig up and then rebury the same nut, a behavior perhaps to refresh their memories!

Today’s verse comes from a psalm of Asaph, King David’s music director.  In his depression he is wondering if God is going to keep His promises.  He wonders if God’s love for him has vanished (verse 8).  He doubts and wonders but then he answers his own questions with these two verses.  He resolves to remember all of what the Lord has done in the past for him and his people.  He replaces his troubling thoughts with memories of God’s miracles and mighty deeds.

I have seen the Lord do so many miracles in my life!  He has provided and proved Himself faithful.  But those memories are so often buried.  I easily forget when I am struggling with a new difficulty.  I need to go back and dig it up to refresh my memory of His faithfulness!  Thoughts of His “mighty deeds” in the past restore my confidence and trust in Him!  Not only my memories do this but the testimony of others do too!  He has done it in the past and He will do it again!

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible faithfulness.


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A Dangerous Path

Scripture for Today: Psalm 18:35-36 “You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.”

This is not a path that I would willingly take!  In all of our hiking adventures in France and Switzerland, we have never chosen a path quite so precarious.  We have enjoyed some breathtaking views, but always at a safe distance from the edge.  To walk along such a narrow path seems to invite disaster.  The vertigo, the tension and the possibility of a lethal misstep would over ride any pleasure in the view.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm of David praising God for His deliverance from enemies.  David affirms that he has kept God’s ways (verse 21) and that God’s way is perfect (verse 30).  The path God gave David to walk was a broad path where his footing could be sure.  Despite the attacks from enemies, David praises God for giving him strength and making his way perfect (verse 32).  God has enabled David to stand on the heights like the deer (verse 33).  This is a path of righteousness that is not only broad but spacious (verse 19).  On this broad path he has a clear view of God’s faithfulness.

I have a choice about what kind of path to take through life.  The path of righteousness is thought to be the more difficult arduous one.  There are restrictions there that bring out the rebel in me.  But in fact, the path of righteousness is the one most sure.  There, my steps are not hampered and I can even run without stumbling! (Prov. 4:11-12) Guilt and sin can narrow my path making it uncomfortable.  But in following His perfect way, I can look up and enjoy the view of His hand and His faithfulness.

Lord, keep me following Your perfect way today.