Devotions By Jan


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Forever Young

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:5 “…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

This image communicates such a contrast between young and old, vibrant and struggling.  However, for a 60+ year old man from the Netherlands, this was not how he saw himself.  In his head and spirit, if not in his body, he was still young.  On a job application he put his age down as 49.  When he was called on it, he explained that this was how he felt inside!

Today’s verse is a call to praise the Lord for all of His benefits.  David then lists several, ending with this amazing declaration.  God satisfies our desires so that even our youth is renewed like the eagle’s!  There is satisfaction in remembering each of the good things that are already ours.  He forgives, He heals. He redeems, and He crowns us with His love and compassion (verses 3-4).  Those intangible benefits provide a satisfaction that constantly renew the spirit.

If I did not know His love and compassion I would feel prematurely old.  And realizing all His good gifts is a lift and renewal to my spirit!  Focusing on HIs benefits means there is no longer an energy drain fussing about what I do not have or pining away for what I wish I had.  I am freed from discontent when I hand over my desires to Him.  He knows what I really want.  He knows what it is I truly need.  He only gives to me what is good.  I want to relinquish every desire to Him and not be dragged down from the heights where I can be soaring!  Remembering His benefits is the best way I know to feel young!

Thank you Lord, that You satisfy and renew me.

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The Blue Devils


Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Duke is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina.  It has a long history having been founded in 1838 by Methodists and Quakers.  Their motto in English is “Knowledge and Faith.”  Their basketball team, called the Blue Devils, have an eight-episode documentary recently released.  It documents their preparation for their 2018-2019 season.  The title of this documentary is undoubtably meant to be motivational for the players, “Earn Everything.”

Today’s verse teaches an important truth that salvation is something that cannot be earned.  Very clearly it states that salvation does not come through our work or efforts.  We want to think that somehow, something we did contributed to being saved.  But no matter how hard one works to earn Heaven, man will always fall short of the perfect standard of God’s holiness.  And the problem with thinking we can earn it is never knowing if we have done enough!  Salvation is free and a gift from God.  Because this is true, none of us can boast about earning it.

My gratitude towards God grows by leaps and bounds when I grasp this truth.  It is all grace and it is amazing!  There is tremendous freedom in my spirit to be assured that my salvation depends on Him and not my efforts.  In a season of gift-giving, isn’t this the greatest gift of all!  Without this truth, I would always be in a state of fear and worry about my eternal destination.  But I do not have to worry when I place my faith and trust in what HE did on that cross!

Thank you Lord, for such an incredible, unearned gift!


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Famous Builder

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:3 “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.”

This is a very recognizable house!  It was many years ago that we made a visit to the White House and I remember feeling the history of the place.  But to my chagrin I did not remember who built it!  The architect, James Hoban, not only built it originally in 1792 but he also rebuilt it after the British set fire to it in 1814.  One would think that such a recognizable landmark with such history would have brought the builder more name recognition!

Today’s verse points out that the builder of a house would normally have more honor than the actual building.  The Jews being addressed were honoring Moses more than Jesus.  Moses was very important as a faithful servant in God’s house, however Jesus is the Son over God’s house (verse 5-6).  Jesus Christ as God’s Son and the Builder of the house deserves all the honor.  And the “house” are all those, Jews and Gentiles alike, who have trusted in Christ’s sacrifice for their sin.

So God is the Architect and Builder of my life.  Sometimes, I do not understand the building plans at all.  There seem to be some wide open places that I wish He would close in and make more intimate.  There are way too many doors when as an introvert I would prefer to be quiet and alone.  But He is the Builder of my life and I can trust what He is creating.  In any case, all the honor for any success and accomplishment belongs to Him!  When others see my “house” may they see the Builder.

Lord, what an honor it is to honor You!


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The Secretary Bird

Scripture for Today: Psalm 18:38 “I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet.”

Do not let this stately bird with beautiful eye lashes fool you!  The Secretary Bird is an accomplished hunter who corners its prey in the tall grass of Southern Africa.  From a standing position they will use five times their body weight (an average of 8.9 pounds) to kick and stomp on a snake.  More than just stunning the snake, they jump, kick and stomp on it until the neck or back is snapped.  As I am not a fan of snakes, I do not feel too sorry for them.  But the whole process seems a bit ruthless.

Today’s verse seems a bit ruthless as well.  David is describing what happened in battle when the Lord delivered him from his enemies.  It was kill or be killed and David recognizes that it was God who armed him with strength (verse 39).  Instead of taking credit, David praises and exalts God for avenging him and saving him from his enemies. (verses 46-48)

The image of victory in battle seems far removed from my everyday life.  Yet, each time I succeed in resisting temptation, it is a victory.  Each time I do the right thing when it would have been so much easier to compromise, it is another battle won!  I am in a continual battle against forces that I cannot see (Eph. 6:12).  Ruthlessness is called for with an enemy that wants to destroy me.  I dare not underestimate him.  And as with David, there is no victory without God’s strength.  He graciously gives me His armor along with His strength and mighty power.

Thank you Lord, that in You there is victory!


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Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Scripture for Today: Psalm 127:2 “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for He grants sleep to those He loves.”

I never thought of a dog as being a sleep aid!  But in fact, a recent study by researchers at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York found that women sleep better with a dog in their bed!  Apparently, both cats and humans are equally disruptive to a woman’s sleep.  I can think of some other disruptions too!  But dogs are less likely to wake their owners.  Dogs provide a feeling of comfort and security.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm written by Solomon who has lots to say about vanity.  It is vain to make life all about acquisition.  He should know as he did not deny himself any possession or pleasure (Eccl. 2:10-11).  Yet when he surveyed all that he had toiled to achieve, it was meaningless.  God chooses to bless His loved ones and does so apart from our own toil, even in sleep.  The Bible is full of verses on being a good conscientious worker and not a sluggard.  But toiling incessantly is not the goal of life.

Living with a constant stress that interferes with sleep is not God’s plan.  This world is so fast-paced seeming never to stop.  One is always in a hurry to do more, be more and produce more.  But when I put God’s Kingdom above everything else, God blesses me with everything needed (Matt. 6:33).  I belong to Him and I trust His care and provision.  I can rest easy knowing He is faithful to provide.  He is the One who provides even those feelings of comfort and security.

Thank you Lord, that there will be sweet sleep tonight, knowing You love me.


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The Sea Otter

Scripture 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 little furry face of the sea otter looks too cute to be related to the weasel.  The otter is made for the water and spends most of his time there.  His feet are webbed, his fur is water repellent and his nostrils and ears close up in the water.  Despite their fur being the thickest of any animal, they often float on the surface, even falling asleep in this position.  They look so calm and peaceful, without a care in the world.

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.  His powerful right hand is there and I can relax in His control.

Thank you Lord, for Your strength and support!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Dried Out Clay

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called, ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

There is not a whole lot one can do with dried out clay.  It always seems to be a problem with my grandsons.  When their clay is left out, it becomes dry and hard and pretty much useless.  Without storing it properly, the air seems to suck out all the moisture and it is no longer pliable.  Instead of being fashioned into pleasing shapes, it becomes brittle and hard.

Today’s verse says that we can become hardened.  Our hearts have the tendency to turn away from God in rebellion and unbelief (verse 12).  It can be a slow insidious process that we do not even realize is happening.  Sin is deceitful and can pull us gradually and subtly away from the God we love.  Sin is deceitful because it can seem so good and right.  It can appear sophisticated and desirable.  We need encouragement everyday in order to resist its attraction.  By recognizing sin’s empty promises and praying for one another, we can hold on firmly to what we have in Christ (verse 14).

I would like to think that I am immune from sin’s attraction.  After all, I have known and loved the Savior for quite some time.  I understand the complications and danger sin can bring to a life.  But I am not immune.  I will always need the example and encouragement from other believers.  He is always ready to forgive, but I do not like the distance I feel from the Lord when I give in.  I know that if I flirt with sin, my heart will no longer be soft and pliable to Him.

Lord, do not let my heart become hardened.