Devotions By Jan

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Contagious Fear

Scripture for Today:  Deuteronomy 20:8  “Then the officer shall add, ‘Is anyone afraid or fainthearted?  Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.'”

I love the message of this saying!  It isn’t until the first duck lands on the head of this crocodile that the other two dare to get near!  The first duck is especially fearless as he discovers that the crocodile is fake!  Of course, he may not have realized it until coming close and landing on it.  In any case, courage IS contagious as is its opposite; fear.

In today’s verse, officers are addressing the troops before battle.  They have been reassured that the Lord will be fighting for them and would give them the victory.  They were told there was no need to be afraid, to be terrified or to give way to panic (verses 1, 3-4).  The officers asked the soldiers for complete commitment.  Those with a new house, a new vineyard or those newly engaged were allowed to go home.  And then comes this surprising verse.  Even those afraid were encouraged to go home, because fear is contagious!

In God’s Word is often found the phrase, “Be not afraid.”  The Spirit God has given us does not make us timid or fearful (II Tim. 1:7).  Regardless of the size of the enemy, God is greater.  Regardless of that unknown future, God is greater.  Regardless of any obstacle we face, God is greater.  When we are in a place of complete trust and confidence, then there is no room for fear.  Acknowledging His loving and sovereign control chases away any doubt or fear.  Fear is contagious.  But so is confidence!  Being around others that trust Him bolsters my faith as well.

Lord, may my trust in You be an encouragement to others today!

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No Fear

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.”

I do not normally think of myself as a fearful person, but then I am not trying to do what this woman is doing, hanging over the Hong Kong skyline!  She is either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid to take such a risk!  The hammock seems to suggest ease and relaxation, which has got to be far from what she is feeling!  Even so, it is a sure bet that she does not suffer from acrophobia!

Today’s verse is an encouragement to not fear.  I am to put my trust in God.  His presence keeps me from being dismayed at dizzying heights.  He strengthens.  He helps.  And most importantly, He upholds me with His righteous right hand!  Whether I am facing insurmountable odds, or the presence of evil, I do not have to give in to fear.

The stronger my faith is in Him, the less problem I will have with fear.  In Matthew 8:26 Jesus challenges His disciples with the question, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  Their boat being pummeled by a storm seemed reason enough.  But had they had more trust in Him, fear would not have been an issue.  I do the same thing when faced with scary circumstances.  The level of fear I am feeling is a barometer of just how much I am trusting Him.  But with God for us – who (or what) can be against us? (Rom. 8:31)  Through Him, we are more than conquerors, even over our own fears!

Thank you Lord, that because of You, I do not have to fear.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)

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Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

On a recent horseback riding adventure, my husband got the “privilege” of riding the unpredictable one!  This unruly horse would bolt and even nudge mine, causing my horse to kick back at him.  Unfortunately, he missed, kicking my husband’s shin instead!  Bolting up the embankment of a stream he decided to stop suddenly, throwing my poor husband over his head and to the ground!  Thankfully, he was able to successfully break his fall, only bruising his ribs and his ego!  It happened so quickly, we were all surprised!

Our verse for today tells believers not to be surprised at the hard times we suffer.  They are not the exception, but the norm.  We are not exempt from difficulties, although sometimes we think we should be.  We get used to an easy gait and get lulled into thinking that an easy life is our right and privilege as God’s own.  Then something sudden happens and we are surprised!  Rather than holding on, the ordeal unseats us.

The “fiery ordeal” in this verse is not something that is caused by our own wrong choices.  It is an ordeal that comes from living as a believer in an unbelieving world.  Rather than be surprised at the negative reactions, I am told to rejoice that I can participate in some small measure what Jesus faced.  I can expect that others will heap abuse on me (I Peter 4:4).   I am not ever to be surprised if the world hates me (I John 3:13).  This testing of my faith is never very comfortable!

Help me Lord, to stay faithful to You, even when it is hard.

(Look familiar? Reposting while reposing!)


Apple Fritter

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:15-16 “Be very careful, then , how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

I can turn down donuts fairly easily but I have a weakness for apple fritters.  I can tell myself that they are “healthier” having apple in them.  But in fact they do not differ much from the donut, being deep fat fried cake batter.  The word, “fritter,” comes from the French word for fried.  However, there is another meaning to the word, “fritter,” as in the saying, “to fritter away.”  This is when we gradually squander or waste time or money.

Today’s verse stresses the importance of making the most of every opportunity.  Doing so makes us wise.  When we fritter away the day or the week, we assume there will be many more ahead of us.  But the days are evil and life can be cut short.  However, missed opportunities do not have to be an issue for the believer who is carefully living to please Him and do His will (verse 17).  In being filled with His Spirit (verse 18) we can make the most of our days.

Making the most of today may involve doing absolutely nothing and “recharging my batteries.”  I do not have to worry that I am frittering away anything if I am closely following what He wants for me today.  He knows when I need to slow down and when I can speed up.  He places those opportunities to serve Him squarely in my path, and gives me the motivation to, “fulfill His good purpose.” (Phil. 2:13)  I only have this one life to offer Him.  When I come to the end of it, I do not want to have any regrets over missed opportunities.

Help me Lord, to live wisely today.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)

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The Pomegranate

Scripture for Today:  Colossians 1:11 “being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.”

As a child I tired quickly, trying to pop out those pomegranate seeds one by one!  I would get more of the staining juice on my hands than in my mouth!  Unlike other fruits, it is the seeds or “arils” that are eaten.  But de-seeding a pomegranate takes either some know-how, some patience, or both.  However it is done, this sweet red fruit is well worth the effort.  I love them sprinkled on a salad or made into a glaze over roasted duck!

Today’s verse indicates from where patience comes.  It is through the strength and power of the Lord that we can live with a patient attitude.  It is His “glorious might” that makes it possible to have great endurance and patience.  To live a life worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in every way (verse 10) will take patience and endurance.  But thankfully, we do not muster it up on our own.  It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit working in us (Gal. 5: 22).  It is also the result of having our faith tested and seeing the Lord come through for us. (James 1:3)

For me, the biggest test of patience is waiting for the Lord to answer my prayers, my way.  His timing is rarely my own.  And I tend to treat my prayers as “unanswered” if I don’t receive the answer desired!  How many times I have worried, full of anxiety while awaiting His response!  But being impatient serves no purpose and certainly does not obligate Him to hurry!  I know He is pleased when I wait for His answers and promises with a patient calm heart.

Lord, help me to patiently trust You more.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)