Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:9 “All my longings lie open before You, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from You.”

Dressing up in costumes is something that many of us never seem to outgrow!  Whether it is resembling a character from a book, film or simply from the imagination, going incognito is fun!  Regardless of whether it is for a fall festival, a play or a street fair, dressing up adds to the excitement.  For a time, we can forget who we are and become someone else.  And especially when the face is covered, we can conceal our true identity.

Today’s verse makes it clear that there is nothing hidden from the Lord.  With Him, our true identities are never concealed.  David acknowledges his sin (verse 18) being overwhelmed with guilt and groaning “in anguish of heart.” (verse 8)  He pours out his complaint that his friends have turned on him.  He ends this psalm with a cry for help and a plea that God would not forsake him as well.  Every longing and every sigh is seen by the One who knows our hearts and thoughts.  Nothing is hidden from Him.

I wonder if sometimes I pretend to be someone I am not in my private prayers.  If all is open and bare before Him then there is no need to sanitize my prayers.  The good the bad and the ugly are all there.  He knows just what I am feeling and He waits for me to be honest with Him.  He does not censor my words or rebuke me for wrong theology.  He hears my frustrations and my ill-concealed doubts.  Nothing shocks Him and I am thankful that He loves me no matter what.

Thank you Lord, that I can completely be myself with You.

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The Army Crawl

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:28 “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word.”

It is so cute when babies do the “army crawl.”  My granddaughter is in this stage, pulling herself along with her arms while staying prone.  Now her older brother has to scramble to keep his lego structures standing at her approach!  In the military, staying prone while moving forward keeps one out of the line of fire.  There is a quote from Napoleon saying, “An army marches on its stomach.”  But rather than referring to an army crawl, marching on one’s stomach meant to fight victoriously being well-provisioned.

Today’s verse tells us that we are well-provisioned or strengthened through His Word.  In our spiritual battle to obey and follow His commands, we grow weary.  The psalmist recognizes that he can be strengthened by understanding God’s precepts and meditating on all of God’s wonderful deeds in the past.  It is through God’s Word that we gain strength and courage to keep walking in His ways.  Without His Word, we are ill prepared or ill-provisioned!  Our souls need this daily nourishment to persevere.

How presumptuous of me to think I can live the Christian life on my own!  But every time I neglect His Word, I am operating out of pride.  My soul can easily become weary with sorrow as I move away from His love letter to me.  Pride and doing things my way isolates me from the relationship the most important in my life.  How good He is when I return to His Word to change that sorrow and weariness into joy and motivation!  Being in His Word strengthens my faith, my resolve and my relationship with Him!

Thank you Lord, for strengthening me today through Your Word.



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Safety Systems

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:11 “Do not withhold Your mercy from me, Lord; may Your love and faithfulness always protect me.”

I wonder if I would feel more safe in a “safety car.”  Today’s models come with so many safety systems that perhaps I would.  There are visible or audible warnings to alert the driver and avoid a collision.  There is automatic braking available to prevent collision as well.  Sensors can detect passing pedestrians and there are blind spot warnings too.  There are now rear cross-traffic warnings and lane centering assistance.  With all these helps, surely I would feel some confidence about my safety!

Today’s verse talks about another source of protection.  The mercy of the Lord can intervene to avoid a collision.  His love and His faithfulness can protect a driver not only behind the wheel but also when he steps from the car.  The one who loves the Lord God and acknowledges His name is the one who is rescued and protected by His hand (Psalm 91:14).  Whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe (Prov. 29:25).  The righteous, or those in right standing with the Lord, are feeling this security as a result of trusting Him.

I feel like it is an exercise of trust every time I climb in to the car!  The crowded freeways of Southern California give me lots of opportunity to trust Him.  Sure, it is great to have extra safety features but in fact, His protection covers so much more.  I do not deserve His mercy, love and faithfulness as I can be just as impatient or careless as the driver next to me.  And if there is a breakdown or collision I can continue to trust His loving control of the situation.

Thank you Lord, that You are my best protection.  Help me to fully trust You today.

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Fall Colors

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 2:9 “However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ – the things God has prepared for those who love Him.'”

The colors of fall can be breathtaking!  And the colors in God’s pallet continually amaze me.  His use of color is bold and startling.  I have trouble putting red and orange together but not Him!   Our God is creative and masterful with color.  And how amazing it is that He should take such creative care in something so temporal.  It makes me wonder about the colors that are eternal in Heaven.  As He will be the only source of light there, it’s difficult to imagine what different hues and new colors He will create!

Today’s verse speaks of our limitations in understanding what is prepared for us in Heaven.  Our earthly senses and even our imaginations cannot fully grasp the colors, light and sounds of our eternal home.  But the passage goes on to say that believers can have some spiritual understanding because we have residing in us God’s Spirit.  Our physical senses and our mental imaginings can only go so far in understanding spiritual truth.  We need the revelation of His Spirit.  It is because of His Spirit we can understand what He has so freely given us (verse 12).

So much of what He has so freely given to me is in my future.  But He has painted my world with the beautiful colors of His love now!  I see that color with spiritual eyes.  Surely, the color of His faithfulness is a bright cobalt blue.  And the color of His forgiveness?  It must be dazzling white!

Lord, heighten my spiritual senses to see and hear and feel all You have given to me today!

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Bold as a Lion

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 28:1 “The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”

It was in the back of the Edinburgh Castle that my cousin found the origin of our family name, Leonardy, belonging to my maternal grandmother.  It is a very old name originating in Gascogne, France.  The original bearer of this name was thought to be as bold as a lion.  So the name meaning, “lion-bold” was given to this individual.  Although my Grandmother married into this name, she certainly showed courage living to the ripe old age of almost 105!

Today’s verse describes the righteous as being as bold as a lion.  This is in contrast to the wicked whose guilt makes them fearful.  The wicked flee even though they are not being pursued.  Knowing in their heart that they are deserving of punishment, they run.  In contrast are the righteous or those who are in right standing with God.  They are not running and they are not fearful because they are assured of God’s forgiveness.  This position of righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:22).  Being seen as righteous in God’s eyes makes us bold and not fearful of punishment as Christ took on Himself our sins and the wrath they deserve.

My faith does make me bold.  I am not being pursued for my wrongdoing.  And it is not presumption to take Jesus at His Word that I am “righteous.”  It is a gift given through His grace (Eph. 2:8-9).  What confidence and boldness in facing any struggle in life or even in death!  My eternity has been secured by Him.  The question of my guilt has been settled.  That makes me bold to approach His throne for all the mercy and grace I need (Heb. 4:16).

Thank you Lord, for the boldness You make possible!

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Following the Recipe

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:137-138 “You are righteous, Lord, and Your laws are right. The statues You have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.”

I love following a good recipe that is tried and true.  And if I want a German dish to be authentic I would go to the trouble of translating those instructions (as well as converting the measurements).  I would not worry about all the verbs being in the command form.  It is a recipe after all.  I do not expect it to say, “please beat the eggs.”  Or “would you mind chopping the nuts.”  But I am not offended.  The directives are there to obtain a good, tasty result!

Today’s verse describes God’s directives.  Sometimes they can seem very blunt.  There is no softening of what God requires of us.  But His commands are always with a good goal.  They are always for our good and for our protection.  We know that because HE is good.  What He commands is fully trustworthy and an expression of His love and care.  This is why David could say that they are a joy to the heart and light to the eyes, sweeter than honey and more precious than gold! (Psalm 19)

If God’s commandments are really for my good, then why am I always trying to change the recipe?  Because that is in fact what I sometimes try to do.  I think I know better or that somehow I am an exception to the rule.  Maybe I can “sort of” follow the instructions but introduce a variation which makes it easier on me.  The result is never as good.  His way is always the best and I am the one who benefits when I carefully follow what He wants.

Lord, thank you for Your love expressed through your commands.

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Book Signing

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 12:2 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I highly recommend my friends’ book, Strangers Like Angels!  This saga, written by Alec and Jan Forman,  follows the first-hand account of their Land-Rover travels in the 70’s.  Their year-long adventures took them through the Sahara Desert, tropical rainforests in Africa, Europe, then Nepal and Afghanistan.  My book copy is especially valuable as it is signed by the authors!

In today’s verse Jesus is described as an author, the Author of our faith.  He is the One who creates and initiates.  He is the One who makes faith possible.  He is also the perfecter or finisher of our faith, carrying the story through to the very end.  He has written the conclusion and I already know the ending to my story.  It is not shrouded in mystery but revealed in His Word.  It is a triumphal ending where faith becomes sight and I will be with Him forever!

As the Author of my faith, He wrote the introduction.  He planned exactly who I am, the family He wanted me to have, and the way I would come to Him in faith for salvation.  But right now, I am living the unknown part, the chapters in between.  This is the part that can seem so uncertain.  Not only that, I want to tell Him what to write.  But as the Author of my faith, He is also its perfecter and there is no need to edit anything!  I can trust that He knows what He is doing with my life.

Thank you Lord, for authoring my story and my future.