Devotions By Jan


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Walking Canes

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

A cane can be a weapon, a symbol of power, or a statement of wealth and social status.  In the 11th century in what is now called France, women would carry slender sticks of applewood as a fashion statement.  And Marie Antoinette was known for carrying a shepherd’s crook.  But in today’s world, a cane is most often what we usually think of; simply something on which to lean!

Today’s verse tells us we are not to lean on our own understanding but instead trust the Lord.  Leaning on our own understanding may seem like the logical thing to do, but it is so woefully limited.  In any decision we cannot see what the future holds nor what consequences may result.  We do not throw logic out the window.  The Lord has given us decision-making skills but they can only cover so much.  Trusting God’s control and guidance means we can step forward confidently, knowing that He will direct or even redirect if needed.

The famous song, “Lean On Me,” by Bill Withers has the phrase, “please, swallow your pride.”  It takes humility for me to recognize my need of His direction.  Trusting in Him rather than in myself can be so uncomfortable as I do not understand where He is taking me.  But leaning and relying on Him and His wisdom will take me down paths of righteousness and blessing.  Trusting in my own wisdom has me going around in circles or following dead ends.  He is trustworthy.  And He invites me to throw down that cane and turn to Him!

Lord, I want to lean on You today.

 


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Bookworm

Scripture for Today: Revelation 20:12 “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”

An avid reader is often called a “bookworm” and the idea is sweet.  But the other meaning of this word is pretty disgusting!  The term refers to any insect that bores or tunnels through a book, leaving behind some pretty serious damage.  They can range from silverfish to termites, although most of these insects are beetles.  Oddly enough, none of the culprits are worms!  Sometimes it is not the paper that they are after but rather the leather or the glue in the binding.

It is odd to think that there will be books in heaven, but according to today’s verse there are.  One book is singled out as incredibly important; the book of life.  It will be used at the Great White Throne Judgement and will determine one’s eternity!  Being judged according to one’s deeds is the future of those who reject salvation through Jesus.  There is nothing worse.  No one will be able to stand on their own merit.  “There is none righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10)  And the deed that condemns is choosing one’s own way of “good deeds” over the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

It is because of God’s promise that my name is written in the book of life.  Praise God there is no condemnation for me because I have accepted His sacrifice! (Romans 8:1).  What amazing love!  I am so thankful that there is no fear of judgement because of His saving grace!

Lord, thank you for writing my name in Your book.

Photo credit: Dominic Mason https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bookworm_Grub_and_the_damage_done.jpg


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“I Have a Dream…”

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:24-25 “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

It was on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 that Martin Luther King Junior spoke words of hope in his “I Have a Dream” speech.  Six times he repeated the words, “I have a dream that one day…”  King dreamed of racial equality, brotherhood, freedom and justice, not being judged by the color of one’s skin, and the joining of hands as brothers and sisters.  The world has changed since those days, and although there has been some progress, much of what he dreamed remains unfulfilled.

Today’s verse talks about hope.  But unlike the hopes and dreams of King, this is a hope that saves.  It is a hope that has to do with full and complete redemption (verse 23).  It is a hope that is sure because the object of that hope is Christ Himself.  What He has promised is something that is sure.  The word, “hope,” in Scripture denotes confident expectation of what is sure to come.  And hope means waiting patiently for the fulfillment of His promises.

There are many promises in my life that are yet to come.  The Lord wants to shower His goodness on me when I wait quietly and with confidence.  The Lord is especially good to me as I earnestly seek His face in those hard times of waiting (Lamentations 3:25-26).  My hope in Him is never disappointed as He can be counted on to be true to His Word.

Lord, thank you for the sure hope I have in You!  Help me to wait patiently for all the good that You have promised.


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I Did It My Way

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 16:25 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

The music of the famous song, “My Way,” was based on the French song, “Comme D’Habitude.”   But the lyrics were written by Paul Anka.  After dining with Frank Sinatra and hearing about his unhappiness that things were not going his way, Anka penned the now-famous lyrics.  They describe a man facing his own mortality and reflecting on a life done his own way.  It says, “For what is a man, what has he got?  If not himself, then he has naught.”

Today’s verse talks about how right and good our way can seem.  There is a rebel lurking in all of us and we would rather question God’s way than question our own.  But this verse is saying that even though our way may seem right, it can still be wrong.  Our subjective stamp of approval does not change the objective truth that certain choices will lead to death.  We all need to be taught and led in His way (Psalm  27:11) and led in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:24).

How glad I am that I have more to live this life than the lyrics suggest!  I am not on my own.  My life has a plan and a purpose, created by the One who created me!  It is true that I do not always understand His way and His logic, but I am to walk His way in faith.  His way leads me on to level ground instead of the steep inclines of my ill-conceived short cuts! (Psalm 143:10).  His way leads me by still quiet waters instead of the turbulent waters my choices create (Psalm 23:2).

Lord, in looking back on my life, may I be able to say, ‘I did it YOUR way.'”

 


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Green Gold

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

No wonder the pistachio is referred to by the name, “green gold.”  This nut is prized not only for its taste but appreciated for all the intensive labor needed to harvest it!  It is true that the partially-opened shells are hard and sometimes uncooperative, but at harvest time there is also a hull that needs to be removed from the seed.  Some small growers put the pistachios in a sack and roll it around with their feet to loosen that hull!

Today’s verse speaks of the fruit of righteousness and peace.  It comes as a result of painful discipline.  Every believer goes through it from time to time.  The Lord disciplines those He loves.  And He does it for our good so that we can share in His holiness (Heb. 12:6 &10).  We can be sure that He is not exacting punishment as He took that on Himself at the cross.  But discipline is proof that He loves us and that we belong to Him (Heb. 12:8).  Out of love He uses it to correct and teach.  Nevertheless, it hurts.

Tumbling around in that sack, I can trust Him that He knows what it will take for me to have this fruit.  It is such a long process of removing that “hull” of sin.   And I do not want to prolong it further by not responding the way He intends.  I want to be “trained by it” and see the good result.  When He uses the hard times to mature me and produce fruit, He also graciously reassures me of His love.

Thank you Lord, that You love me enough to discipline me.

 


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Reflected Color

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:18-20  “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Our area of Alsace, France is known worldwide for its white wine.  We lived in the middle of extensive vineyards and our landlords had their own winery.  Not only are the white wines renown but they have their own special wine glasses.  Because the whites are so light in color, the wine glasses have green stems to add reflected color.  Without the green color of those stems, the glass looks as if it contains only water.

Today’s verse speaks of the danger of drunkenness and of the loss of control.  Rather than being filled with wine, we are to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit.  Rather than losing control with wine, we are to be controlled by His Spirit.  The evidence of being filled is the “green stem.”  That reflected color of being filled is the joy, the singing and the praise to God.  Praise for God’s blessings are shared with others and expressed to the Lord with a heart overflowing with thankfulness.  Gratitude is the attitude of the one who is filled.

Sometimes, I am colorless.  He is there but I am not filled with Him as my discontent is taking up so much space.  It is easy to compare my situation with others and focus on what I do not have.  On those days there is no joyful color.  I certainly do not feel like singing or praising Him.  But it all can change the minute I confess my ungrateful heart.

Lord, fill me with Yourself and make my heart sing!

 


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Reply or Reply All

Scripture for Today: Romans 11:4 “And what was God’s answer to him? (Elijah) ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'”

In my haste, I have sometimes made the mistake of hitting that “reply all” button on a group email.  Many times it can be appropriate to reply to all.  Normally, it is not a problem but there are times when I want my response to be very personal.  One of my pet peeves is reading responses sent to the whole group when it does not involve me or concern me.

Today’s verse is a very specific answer to a discouraged cry for help.  Elijah ran for his life after death threats from Queen Jezebel.  Strengthened and encouraged with rest and food provided by an angel, he continued to put distance between himself and the threat, traveling 40 days and nights.  Elijah felt totally alone, spent and discouraged.  The Lord never reprimanded him for feeling this way.  The answer to his prayer spoke directly to his need.  Elijah was told to anoint Elisha to help and was told of seven thousand who like Elijah were faithful to God!  He was not alone.

This is no “reply all” response from God.  It was an intensely personal reply.  God’s answer to Elijah was for a certain time and place.  But I learn from it that He hears the individual prayer and provides a specific answer.  And He does the same for me.  He knows exactly what I am feeling and why.  I may not even be able to articulate my need but the Holy Spirit intercedes for me with wordless groans (Romans 8:26).  As my Creator He sees and understands my heart.  When I cry out to Him, He answers with exactly what I need.

Thank you Lord, for Your very personal replies.