Devotions By Jan


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“Yoke’s on You!”

Scripture for today: Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Today is April Fools Day and for some the joke or “yoke” is on them!  I wonder if during these days of social distancing there will be the same level of frivolity!  I hope so.  We could all use a laugh!  France has its own version of this day.  They observe this silliness by taping a paper fish on someone’s back without their knowledge.

Today’s verse mentions a yoke that is no laughing matter.  This is a yoke of slavery from which Christ has set us free.  The believers in the churches in Galatia were being influenced to put back on a heavy yoke.  That yoke was the belief that they could be justified by following the Law (verse 4).  Christ came to fulfill the Law and free us from this heavy impossible burden.  We have exchanged this yoke for an easy one, shared with Jesus.  His burden is light because He carries it with us and gives rest to our souls (Matt. 11:28-30).

How wonderful to know that He cares about what is burdening me!  Whatever is weighing me down does not come from Him.  He does not want me to go through life feeling that I must always do more to be accepted by Him.  That would be an unbearable weight!  He has done it all.  He is sufficient.  And the commands He has given me are not burdensome (I John 5:3).  It is in keeping them that I show my love for Him.  This love relationship is what gives me rest.  Despite the unease of risk and of the unknown, I can rest yoked to Him.

Thank you Lord, for Your reassurance.


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United States of Anxiety

Scripture for Today: Psalm 94:19 “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” (NASB)

“We are all in this together.”  It is a phrase I repeatedly hear on social media.  As a society we are divided on so many fronts; political, religious, racial and economical.  But one thing seems to united us and unfortunately it is anxiety.  It may be that our anxiety is only an occasional thought.  Or it may be an underlying state of mind that colors our whole day.  For some, this anxiety is showing itself in disturbing dreams (ahem….) or interrupted sleep.  In any case, it is a natural state of affairs when we feel we are not in control and we do not know what is next!

Today’s verse gives an answer to our anxious thoughts that seem to multiply within us.  The soul can be delighted with His words of comfort and consolation even in the middle of such uncertain times.  We can move from anxiety to delight when we turn to His Word and His promises.  His lovingkindness holds us up (verse 18).  The Lord will not abandon or forsake His people who are His inheritance (verse 14).  Whatever the future holds, He is there and He is faithful.

I am a great one for asking myself, “what if?” or “what then?”  My questions come from a desire to know and control.  But there is no way of knowing or controlling.  And I do not really need these answers to experience delight in the deepest part of me.  Rather I need the One who does know and control.  He reassures my heart that He has a plan for my future and He is good.  I can let go of anxious thoughts when I spend time with Him.

Lord, thank you for relieving my anxiety.


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Face Masks

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”

Fashion statements show up in some of the unlikeliest places!  A seamstress friend in France is selling these face masks in a variety of materials.  Of course they do not give the same protection as the medical surgical masks.  But in an area of the world where the COVID virus is gaining momentum, they provide the wearer with at least a sense of security.  This little piece of whimsical material may not be any kind of guarantee.  But the one wearing it can hope to be a little more shielded.

Today’s verse describes the Lord as our shield.  He can be counted on and so can His Words!  Everything God has said and everything He has promised is true and worthy of our trust.  And taking refuge in Him is the best way to be shielded from whatever life can throw at us.  He provides His protection to those who run to Him for it.  There is confidence with this shield of divine control.  Nothing, no matter how small or how big can get through this barrier.

Nothing else can give me this kind of refuge.  I cannot count on the words of limited scientific discoveries.  I cannot count on the words of the media.  I cannot count on the words of the government.  But I can trust God’s Word.  I run to God to shield me from evil, from spiritual attack or the attack of an unseen virus.  His shield will not allow anything to touch me without His permission and without His using it as part of His plan.  What comfort in this thought, that I am shielded by the love and control of my Creator!

Shield me today, Lord.


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Sheltering in Place

Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:1-2 “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.'”

A new phrase has crept into our everyday vocabulary in the wake of this nasty worldwide virus; “shelter in place.”  The idea is to limit exposure and to slow the spread of what for some can be fatal.  This is new territory and the questions and challenges can seem overwhelming.  Cabin fever, FOMO or fear of missing out, and fear of possible financial challenges to come can all create a pervading sense of unease.  That loss of connection is especially unnerving.

Today’s verse is a promise of rest from the anxieties of this unique time.  When we make the Most High our shelter we find rest in His presence.  Rather than trust in four walls, self-isolation, or the government, we can trust in God’s reassuring presence.  This is not just a place to drop in but to dwell.  Sheltering in this place gives the rest and peace so needed in the face of the unknown.  The best four walls around me are His care, His compassion, His comfort, and His control.

The best part of sheltering in His presence is that this can happen anywhere!  For now, my world has become so much smaller, but He has not!  His peace guards my heart and my mind (Phil. 4:7) regardless of where I am.  I never want to leave the shelter of His presence.  Nearer Still Nearer’s lyrics from 1898 say it best.  “Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast. Shelter me safe in that ‘haven of rest.'”

Thank you, Lord, for being my shelter and my rest.

 


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The Horn of Plenty

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 4:15 “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”

The cornucopia or horn of plenty has long been a symbol of overflowing harvest especially on Thanksgiving.  The original idea was to have an abundance of flowers, fruit and corn overflowing from a goat’s horn.  Today, we are happy with just a basket in the shape of a horn!  But the symbolism is lost if the contents are not spilling out beyond the confines of the horn.  When it overflows we know we are blessed!

Today’s verse speaks of a thanksgiving that overflows!  The circumstances Paul was facing would normally not call for thanksgiving as he was repeatedly imprisoned and persecuted.  Yet, he understood that through his faithfulness, the grace of Christ was reaching more and more people.  It was that grace which was producing an overflow of thanksgiving.  Paul could see the undeserved favor and blessing that is grace, even in the middle of hard times.  Realizing God’s grace created in him a thankfulness that overflowed and gave glory to God.

It is easy to give thanks to God when everything is going smoothly and life is good.  It is quite another thing to be overflowing with thanksgiving when life is tough and there is hurt and disappointment.  And yet, when I look to the unseen (verse 17) I can overflow with thanksgiving!  I do not deserve even one tiny blessing from Him.  How amazing He is to have given me new birth, a living hope and an eternal inheritance! (I Peter 1:3-6)  Regardless of life’s ups and downs, I can always overflow with thanksgiving for His incredible grace to me!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!


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Military ID

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:12  “The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.  Never again will they leave it.  I will write on them the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem……and I will also write on them My new name.”

On the dog tags worn by the military we honor today, there is marked the name, the identification number, the blood type and the religion of the soldier.  This one is special, marking the date when the soldier went missing in action in Vietnam in 1972.  How special for the family to be presented with these replacement dog tags as the originals were never found!  This brave soldier was honored with a medal having given his life to save others.  Although the family is happy to have these, they continue to look for the originals, hoping to hang them on their tree this Christmas.

Today’s verse teaches that one day, believers will be “wearing” three names that will identify us.  The meaning here seems to be symbolic.  Those who are victorious and enduring to the very end will bear three names.  The name of God will show that we belong to Him forever.  The name of God’s city will show that we are citizens.  And His own new name will indicate our special relationship with Christ.

How reassuring to know that I will remain in His presence forever!  There is no way to misplace this “tag” and be lost.  Christ has marked me as His very own forever!  Because of Him there is victory in this spiritual battle and sin will never separate me from His presence ever again!

Thank you Lord, for loving me enough to identify me as Your very own for all eternity!


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Sleep Aid

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:24 “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”

There all kinds of methods to help one fall asleep.  The newest of these are videos on YouTube done by a teenage boy!  They are viewed by half a million women who find that his role play of a whispering caring boyfriend is just what is needed to fall asleep!  The idea is to talk you down for the night and tuck you in with soothing words.  Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) explains that tingling static-like sensation that helps to relax and can lead to sleep.

Today’s verse describes a sleep that is sweet.  There is no fear of the ruin that can overtake the wicked (verse 25) as this is the sleep of the one who lives wisely, with sound judgement and discretion (verse 21).  Sleep is just one of the many benefits of wise living.  There are no worries about the consequences of foolish decisions to keep one awake.   And for the one who belongs to the Lord, there is the reassurance that He grants sleep to those He loves (Psalm 127:2).  Sleep can be sweet when we are aware that the Lord is at our side (verse 26).

Sleep can often be an issue for me for a variety of reasons.  Thankfully, the Lord is at my side.  His reassurance of love and care can calm me down and soothe me to sleep better than any sleep aid!  He knows exactly what keeps me awake or what worries me.  He knows when my thoughts are racing for no good reason.  It is often the thought of Him that soothes me as well as my prayers to Him in the middle of the night.

Thank you Lord, for the gift of sweet sleep.