Devotions By Jan


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Floating

img_20170212_151120Scripture for Today: Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

The Dead Sea was an ideal place to float with no effort at all!  My husband and I were there twenty-two years ago and the experience of floating on that water was unique.  The salt content at 29% (as compared to oceans with 4%) made the water so dense that sinking was practically impossible!  It was as if we were being held up from underneath.

Today’s verse is a wonderful promise of support for God’s chosen ones.  Those He has redeemed for all eternity need have no fear of sinking in the water of this world’s troubles.  He gives strength and help.  He upholds us with His powerful and righteous hand.  Regardless of how deep that water is, we have no cause for fear.  His steady love and power will hold us up and keep our head above water.

Moving through hard times, I need to hear this.  There are times I feel as if I am sinking but I am not.  He has never let me down.  And I know He has a plan and purpose for those difficulties.  But I feel dismay and fear even so.  I paddle as if my life depended on it.  I panic and swallow water when I could be trusting Him and floating on the surface.  He is holding me up from underneath where I cannot see.  Walking by faith and not by sight (II Cor. 5:7) means I take Him at His word regardless of how dire my circumstances are.  He is there and there is no way He is letting me go under.

Thank you Lord, for holding me up!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 


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The Woodchuck

Scripture for Today: Psalm 62:11 “One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard; Power belongs to You, God.”

This woodchuck seems unconcerned about the answer to the riddle: “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”  He really does not need to count as these marmots do not normally chuck wood at all!  They are regionally called groundhogs and as such are great earth movers creating their burrows.  One wildlife expert tried to answer the question by using the equivalent in weight of dirt displaced!  There are five “w” words and five “ch” sounds in this tongue twister.  And it is a good way to distinguish the difference between “would” and “could.”

In today’s verse, David proclaims the power of God.  With the Lord, there is never a question of whether God “could” do something.  By His power He created everything we see (Col. 1:16).  With God all things are possible (Matt. 19:26).  Nothing is too hard for Him.  David had seen God’s power up close and personal in his own life and could say this with conviction.  He had even heard God speak it to His heart.  But there was a second truth David heard, revealed in the next verse.; “and with You Lord is an unfailing love.”

The words, “would” and “could” are often and unintentionally interchanged in prayer.  But there is a huge difference in their meaning.  I never need to ask God if He could do something for me or someone else.  The question in prayer is always, “would You?”  Nothing is outside His scope of power, but something I want may well be outside His will.  And when He answers “no,” I can be confident of that second truth.  In His unfailing love He knows what is best.

Help me Lord, to trust Your love.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:5 “You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.”

The dilemma this sheep faces is surely that of being between, “a rock and a hard place!”  I cannot imagine what lured him into such a predicament!  The choices look pretty limited and uncomfortable.  It is thought that this expression comes from Greek mythology where one had to confront one of two sea monsters!  It has been a popular expression since the early twentieth century when it was used to refer to bankruptcy.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm that describes how vast is God’s knowledge of each one of us.  He is acquainted with all of our ways and all of our movements.  He is everywhere and there is no fleeing His presence.  But this verse is so very personal.  He encloses or hems us in with His presence.  He puts a limit ahead of us and a limit behind us.  He does not do this to frustrate us with impossible choices.  He does this in a gesture of love, to place His hand on us.

It is understandable that He needs to hem me in and put His hand on me.  I am so often in constant movement and activity.  I hardly stand still.  Taking time out for Him and being still seems impossible sometimes.  The pace of life makes me forget He is even there.  There are times I need to be stopped in my tracks in order to see His hand and recognize His presence.  Being hemmed in by the Lord is a good thing.  When I cannot go forward or turn backward, it is then that I look up.  That is just how He wants it!

Lord, keep me looking to You for every decision!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Unlikely Friends

Scripture for Today: “You are My friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you.”

Meet Bella, the Black Labrador and Bubbles, the African Elephant.  They are practically inseparable taking walks and swims together at the Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina.  Bella was abandoned there as a puppy and this unlikely friendship developed over a shared love of the water.  Bubbles could throw his considerable weight around and crush Bella if he had a mind to.  Instead, he enjoys frolicking with Bella and allowing her to use him as a diving board!

Today’s verse describes another unlikely friendship.  Jesus calls those who trust Him friends.  Unlike human friendship where the footing is on an equal basis, Jesus still commands in this relationship and we still obey.  But it is a much richer relationship than just master and servant.  He has chosen to reveal to us what the Father wants to accomplish.  We are part of His plan.

Jesus calls us His friends because He has openly shared with us His business.  God’s plan and will are clearly spelled out in His Word.  I wish I knew more details, but it is amazing that He lets me know anything at all!  He daily communicates His love to me and I have the freedom to tell Him absolutely anything.  Sometimes my friendship with Jesus seems one-sided as I do lots and lots of talking but maybe not so much listening!  Thankfully, He is a patient faithful Friend!  And unlike any human friendship, His love is steadfast and enduring (Psalm 57:10).

What a friend I have in You, Lord!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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The California Poppy

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:130 “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

What could be more breathtaking than a boring brown field suddenly coming to life with a vibrant carpet of red?  The spring rains in California change the landscape into a burst of color with the blooming of this state flower.  Not only is it beautiful but it has many uses.  Its leaves are used medicinally, its pollen cosmetically and its seeds are used in cooking. If you pick one, this simple fragile flower will lose its petals almost immediately.  And without the sun, the flower folds into itself each night or on a cloudy day.

Today’s verse is part of that very long psalm extolling the wonders of God’s Word.  His Word gives light and understanding, even to the simple.  The light of His statutes and commands allows us to be who we are meant to be.  Obeying Him and His way warms us and causes us to grow and be beautiful.  Without the light of understanding, we close up and shrivel.   When the clouds of darkness or disobedience block the warmth of His light, we suffer without even knowing why.

It takes faith and trust to obey Him.  Our way seems better and easier.  Certainly, life would be less complicated if a believer could just do as he pleases.  At least that is how we reason.  However, the more I compromise His standards, the darker my day becomes.  The light of His loving words and counsel to me fall on deaf ears as I close in on myself.  But when I choose obedience, despite the cost, then my spirit opens to a renewed closeness to His heart.

Lord, keep me in the light of Your Word!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 


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Mortar and Pestle

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 27:22 “Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.”

Both my daughters use a mortar and pestle in their kitchens, although they did not learn this from me!  I was always too rushed to grind or purée anything by hand.  This ancient method takes more effort but proponents say that the releasing of the oils and smells is a heady experience.  Plus, it looks so gourmet sitting on the counter!  An added benefit is working through one’s frustrations with all the pounding and grinding!

Today’s verse refers to a mortar and pestle being unable to grind out the folly from a fool.  No matter how hard one tries, whether banging heads on walls or a school of hard knocks, the fool will not learn from the experience.  He is destined to repeat his folly (Prov. 26:11).  The fool does not listen to advice or counsel (Prov. 1:7) and their way seems right to them (Prov. 12:15).  The fool detests turning from evil (Prov. 13:19) even when devastated and hurt by it.  But the biggest folly of the fool is saying in his heart that there is no God (Psalm 53:1).

Fools may appear intellectual, sophisticated and reasonable.  Their lives may exude success.  They may even be the darlings of the media.  But their behavior manifests what is in their hearts.  Without God, they are enslaved in their sin.  Their eventual end reveals their foolishness in rejecting God.  And the only way to remove this folly is to replace it with the wisdom that comes from fearing God (Proverbs 9:10).  When I acknowledge Him and bow the knee in humility and submission, I can be wise.

Thank you, Lord, for Your grace that transformed this fool into someone wise!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Shower Heads

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:23 “Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.”

Buying a shower head can be a complicated business with all the choice there is!  Not only does one choose between fixed or hand-held, but now there are a variety of special effects available, including: rain effect, massage options, waterfall effect, LED lighting or multi head showers!  Then there is the pressure and efficiency to decide.  The idea is that the shower should be a luxurious experience rather than just a tool of cleanliness!  But who doesn’t enjoy feeling pampered when using a fancy shower head?

Today’s verse refers to something being poured on us but it is not hot water.  Wisdom is being poured out and its teaching and thoughts can be pictured as cascading and drenching a person when heeded.  Wisdom in Proverbs is personified as a “she.”  We are to repent when wisdom advises and rebukes (verse 25).  She calls out to us the thing to do (verse 24) and those who disregard her risk disaster (verse 26).  But those who fear the Lord will listen to wisdom and live in safety and ease (verse 33).

All the higher education available does not guarantee that a life will be lived skillfully and with wisdom.  That is because the Source of wisdom is God Himself.  Fearing, respecting and obeying Him will avoid so much heartache and mess in my life.  So much distress and trouble is of my own making as a result of poor choices, disregarding His way for my own way.  I know myself and I know I am just one decision away from acting the fool.  I am “prone to wander.”

Lord, make me wise.  Don’t let me stray from You!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.