Devotions By Jan


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Laugh Track

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

In the days of early television when everything was live, there was no need for any kind of canned or prerecorded laughter.  But later that instant feedback was lacking.  The solution became the laugh track.  The mixing of prerecorded laughs included the housewife giggles, the belly laugh, and the guy who gets the joke early.  For years the  laugh track was used and over used.  Thankfully, it is now not as prominent.  Along with many others I find the sound fake, distracting and an annoying intrusion.

Today’s verse is about someone who laughs at the future.  This woman is clothed with strength and dignity as she lives her life with wisdom (vs.26).  She works vigorously (vs. 17) and she is not idle (vs. 27).  The public praises her because of her works (vs. 31) and more importantly she is praised by her children and husband (vs. 28).  But what is most surprising about this “super woman” is that she laughs at the days to come.  Her heart is light because she fears the Lord (vs. 30).

My tendency is to fear rather than laugh at the future.  I do not know what changes may be in store for our country or personally for my life.  Rather than have a light heart, I often have this vague disquiet about what lies ahead.  But when my heart is steadfast and trusting in His power and sovereignty, than I do not fear bad news (Ps. 112:7).  How much better to laugh at the future and fear God than to fear the future and laugh at the idea of God’s control!  He is directing it all and because that is true, I can be glad.

Thank you Lord, for Your loving control of my future!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 


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Beet Juice

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

I am not a fan of beets but dutifully served them to my family.  Not only did I dislike the taste but the juice from them was always staining clothes.  Their juice is used as dye on some fabrics, but there is another use; de-icing roads!  Apparently, when mixed with road salt, the beet juice melts the snow more effectively.

Today’s verse likens our influence to salt.  Once salt loses its taste it does not have much effect.  It cannot be made salty again.  It is thrown out and trampled underfoot.  But even salt in the form of rock salt can have some effect, clearing the road.  God in His grace can redeem a life of mistakes and blunders and use it!  We are forgiven through His blood and sacrifice.  And like that red beet juice, His forgiveness can make something useful out of something thrown out and trampled.

After completely blowing it, we can feel that God can never use us again.  But nothing is further from the Truth.  We are walking examples of what forgiveness and grace can do.  Saltiness is not perfection.  Being salty is having the courage to admit our imperfections and openly sharing what God’s grace and forgiveness has done for us!  I am salt and light in the world, not because I am perfect but because I am forgiven!  I am grateful God uses flawed people.  And if He uses me at all, it is in spite of myself and He gets all the glory (verse 16).

Thank you Lord, for Your precious grace and forgiveness!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Renewed Like the Eagle

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

These baby eaglets are completely dependent on their parents to protect and care for them.  They will fledge or fly away from their nest at ten to fourteen weeks.  But the eaglets will still hang around the nest, honing flight skills and constantly begging food for the next one to two months.  Finally, they will venture forth for a good year before returning to visit.  The soaring on those thermal air currents make the flight of the eagle seem effortless.  Even an old bird can seem young and vibrant when soaring majestically through the skies.

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!  Rather than constantly flapping our wings, we ride that thermal air current, soaring in His power.  To be like the eagle means gaining new heights and flying long distances with minimal effort.

Looking to the Lord to take care of each desire is an exercise in renewal.  No longer is there 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 sees what complications can come from some of my wants.  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!

Thank you Lord, for the renewal You offer me today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Merry-Go-Round

Scripture for Today:  Ecclesiastes 1:9  “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

I am so glad my grandsons are not too old for the merry-go-round.  I enjoy them too as there are no heart-stopping descents or speeds that take my breath away!  The movement is gentle, the music is appealing and the views of folks enjoying themselves all make the ride pleasant.  But of course, after a little bit the sameness starts to get to me.  When the novelty begins to wear off, I begin looking at my watch.

Today’s verse recognizes that there can be a sameness to our days which can be a challenge.  The same view may present itself again and again.  The same experience with only a few variations can have us thinking, “deja vu.”  There is the feeling of “been there, done that.”  What has been done before will be done again.  Life can feel like it is going around in circles.

Unlike Solomon I can view life differently when I include the Lord.  There may be “nothing new under the sun” but the One who gives purpose to my life is above the sun!  I do not always understand His purpose but it is a comfort to know that there is one!  I can take pleasure in the thought that He had plans for this day even before I was born.  I can face the routine and sameness of each day because there just may arise a new opportunity to serve Him, if I am looking for it!  My relationship with Christ can make each day different.  My communion and conversation with Him can be fresh and new each day.  I am climbing off that merry-go-round.

Thank you Lord, for making life full and meaningful!


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Finders Keepers?

Scripture for Today: Romans 3:23-24 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Would you return a lost wallet?  That was the question researchers explored in a three-year study.  They placed 17,303 wallets with varying amounts of cash in 355 cities worldwide.  Besides the cash, each wallet had only a name and an email address.  Their findings were surprising.  More people returned the wallets with larger amounts than those with the smaller amounts!  One explanation given was that it felt more like stealing with the larger amounts of cash.  The conscience was not quite as bothered keeping the smaller amounts.

Today’s verse does not differentiate between “small” sins and large.  It does not address whether one feels like a sinner or not.  Just as the image is black and white, there are moral absolutes when it comes to God’s laws.  And the bad news is that all of humanity falls short of the perfect standards of a holy God.  But the good news is that the same “all” who blow it are offered His grace.  Because of the redemption that came through Christ, we can have right standing before God.

I am included in that first “all.”  But I cannot be included in the next “all” until I confess and come clean with Him.  My pride keeps me from admitting my guilt.  I am an expert at diminishing and rationalizing my behaviors and attitudes.  It is easy to do when I compare myself with some others and come out “smelling like a rose.”  But when I compare myself to His perfection, I no longer smell so good.  He waits for me to be honest and humble with Him about my wrongdoing.

Thank you Lord, for freely forgiving me.


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Big-Hearted Giraffe

Scripture for Today: John 5:39-40 “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.”

How regal the giraffe stands!  Being the tallest of the land animals between 14 and 19 feet, these stately animals have to have strong hearts.  And they do!  Their two-foot-long heart is equal to 50 human hearts!  The giraffe’s exceptional twenty-five pound heart is able to pump blood where it belongs.  Being that their necks are six feet long, their blood pressure is two times stronger than other animals in order to push that blood all the way from heart to head.

Jesus’ reprimand to the Pharisees in today’s verse addresses the distance between heart and head.  These men were admirably using their heads, searching out the Scriptures.  But unfortunately, they were missing the point.  They closed their minds to the truth that the Scriptures were pointing to Jesus as the Messiah and they refused to come to Him.  Their hearts were not involved.   And rather than come to Jesus for the life He promised, they preferred to continue searching the Scripture apart from Jesus Christ.

It is said there are 18 inches between a human’s head and heart.  That is a long distance in the spiritual realm.  One can agree to spiritual truth intellectually without that truth ever touching the heart.  My own experience bears this out as I can agree in my head that God’s way is best and at the same time stubbornly follow my own!  Jesus understands how I am made and so commands me to love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:27).  He wants all of me!

Lord, make my heart soft and obedient to all that You have taught me.


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Day of Remembrance

Scripture for Today: I John 4:10 “This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Memorial Day is a special day of remembrance, honoring  those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.  The soldier who lies in this grave is no exception even though his remains could not be identified.  His name is not recorded but his sacrifice is commemorated even so.  On this day we want to remember the incredible price paid by all the fallen, named or unnamed.

Today’s verse speaks of another sacrifice, one made to secure our freedom from the power and curse of sin.  He has won the battle over evil and darkness forever.  His name is known and has been for centuries.  The name of Jesus is a polarizing one that has provoked hate, division and rebellion as well as love, unity and submission.  His sacrifice to secure for us a future in Heaven was done out of love.  And His love is the supreme example of a life-changing sacrificial love.

I remember Christ’s sacrifice not only on Good Friday and when taking communion, but hopefully everyday.  I sometimes  forget though how costly His sacrifice was.  It was not only physical pain that Jesus endured but the incredible pain of separation from the Father.  It was the first time in all of eternity that God turned away from His Son.  And it was because of my sin.  Jesus suffered that separation from God so I would not have to.  His sacrifice is proof positive of His love for me!  Every time I think on it I am overwhelmed with gratitude and a desire to make His name known!

Lord, remind me of Your sacrifice every day.