Devotions By Jan


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Restless Dogs

Scripture for today: I John 3:19 “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence.”

This poor pug looks grumpy and sleep-deprived!  Have you ever seen a dog circle and circle his bed before finally laying down?  Or there’s the dog that paces back and forth.  The restless dog will repeatedly adjust his sleep position, unable to lie still.  The reason for this behavior could be the pain of arthritis or a sign of doggy anxiety.  But this restlessness is not just a problem for dogs!  Everything can be positive in life and yet one can still have a restless spirit.

Today’s verse talks about a heart that is at rest.  When we know and are convinced that we belong to the truth, there is a resting settled feeling in our hearts.  In His presence, we feel His peace, knowing that we belong to Him.  No longer are our hearts restless, wandering or searching.  When we belong to Him, our hearts can no longer condemn us as He is greater than our hearts (verse 20).  We can have confidence before God as He knows everything and He knows our hearts better than we do ourselves!  When we believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our hearts are finally at rest (verse 23).

When my heart is at rest, there is a confident peace.  He does not want my heart to be restless or troubled (John 14:27).  His Spirit testifies with my spirit that I am God’s own (Rom.8:16) and reassures my heart.  How good He is to give me that heart at rest!  And how much I want that for friends and family members who live restless lives without Him.

Lord, may I feel that heart rest today.

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Busted!

Scripture for Today: Numbers 32:23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”

Poor thing.  No one wants to see a dog in this kind of distress.  At least in his predicament he is not thirsty as I imagine he was going for the water in the bottom of the jar.  Probably he stuck his head in there on the sly.  Surely, his owners would have loudly discouraged his behavior had they seen it.  But there was no hiding what he had done after the fact!

Today’s verse concerned the Israelites who had made promises to God and were thinking about putting their own interests first before fulfilling them.  Moses reminded them of their obligations and the Lord’s specific commands.  They did the right thing and were rewarded with possession of the land.  Probably, the warning Moses gave the people was added motivation!

I would like to think that I am always motivated to obey the Lord out of my love and gratitude to Him for all He has done for me.  But to be brutally honest with myself, sometimes it is the idea of this accountability to the Lord that motivates me.  He is my Father and I am His child.  He is not going to allow me to continually and blatantly disobey Him.  The Lord will lovingly but surely discipline those He loves (Heb. 12:6).  My sin will find me out and be obvious to myself and others if I ignore all His attempts at correction and conviction.  He will allow the consequences of my wrongdoing to humble me to my knees.  But what love and restoration I find there!

Thank you Lord, for loving me and forgiving me in spite of myself!

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


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Newborn Puppies

Scripture for Today:Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.”

The chihuahua puppy looks so tiny and vulnerable sitting on an outstretched hand.  This breed of dog is only four inches long at birth.  Puppies seem especially vulnerable and helpless during their first few days.  They are not only blind but deaf, toothless and unable to regulate body temperature.  To cuddle their mother and siblings and to nurse, they depend on their sense of touch and smell.  Their eyes do not open until their second week.  Life gets suddenly much larger when these tiny puppies can begin to explore and discover their world.

Today’s verse describes eyes that are opened to wonderful things in God’s law.  Our eyes can miss what is positive in God’s commandments.  Those wonders can easily escape us.  This verse is a prayer that God would open spiritual eyes to see God’s law differently.  This entire psalm goes on to extol and praise God’s law.  The author’s eyes have been opened to see a long list of wonderful things: blessing, purity, delight, strength, understanding, knowledge, good judgement, freedom and comfort, to name just a few!  God answered the author’s prayer.

I do not often feel this way about God’s law.  Instead of seeing “wonderful things,” in His law, I sometimes see it as negative and restrictive.  My eyes need to be opened!  I want to see those same wonders in His law, especially the comfort and blessing!  God’s law is given with love and with the desire to make life work for me.  I need my eyes open to explore and discover how God wants me to live and to see it as wonderful!

Open my eyes today, Lord.

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


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Walking the Dogs

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 17:24  “A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.”

In walking our daughter’s dogs, there are two different lengths for the leashes.  Both dogs are fairly obedient but Paco, the smaller black one, needs the shorter leash.  He was an abandoned stray and we are not sure what he lived through before becoming part of the family.  But whatever it was, he thinks he can take on any other dog he sees and lets them know it!  He also is very distracted by any and every smell he encounters, which makes for lots of pulling on that leash.  His cooperation does not come easily!

Today’s verse describes a fool whose eyes wander away from what is wise.  Wisdom is like that shorter leash that keeps the discerning person from wandering.  The fool is easily distracted away from wisdom.  Wandering aimlessly is how the adulteress is described and she does not even know it. (Prov. 5:6)  Some wander away from the faith because of their love of money (I Tim. 6:10).  Without the shorter leash of wisdom we wander all over the mountains and hills, following the wrong shepherds and forgetting where our resting place is (Jer. 50:6).

Christ is the wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:24).  I know that connecting to Him is wise.  He is the One who keeps me on the right path.  The problem is that I am “prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love.”  I am so easily distracted.  I pull on that leash to go check something out and end up going in the wrong direction.  When I trust in my own understanding or ideas, I am out of step with Him.  His direction and His pace are always the best.

Lord, make me wise by following You.


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Muddy

Scripture for Today: Psalm 101:3 “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.”

This dog looks absolutely thrilled to be covered in mud!  Dog owners say there are three seasons for a dog; grass, snow, and mud!  There is something about that gooey slimy mud that can feel so good to a dog.  Some dogs cannot wait to roll around in it and then blithely track it all through the house!  There are all kinds of articles that deal with mud removal for dogs and training dogs to stand still for that all-important towel off.

In today’s verse David is resolved to separate himself from anything that is vile.  He avows that he will have nothing to do with faithless people.  In his house, which in his case is a palace, he is determined to conduct the affairs of his household with a blameless heart (verse 2).  David wants nothing to do with evil (verse 4).

I have the same desire to make my house an evil-free zone!  The dirty slime of sin daily enters my home by my own dirty feet but thankfully, just as for the disciples, Jesus washes them with His forgiveness (John 13).  However, additional dirt seems to make its way in the door by what  I allow my eyes to look upon with approval, ie the media.

For me, what used to be shocking no longer rattles me.  What was formerly disturbing now passes by unnoticed.  It is not that I am looking on images and story lines with approval, but I do let them take up residence without comment or resistance.  How much better to fill my mind with what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable! (Phil. 4:8)

Lord, keep me out of the mud.

 


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Not Feeling It

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 3:3 “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?

My poor husband recently had a rotten tooth extracted and with the local anesthetic, he felt and looked much like this dog!  But the upside is that there was no pain during the procedure.  He did not feel a thing!

Feeling physical pain is sometimes easier than dealing with strong feelings and emotions.  Over the years I have often heard it said that, “feelings are neither good or bad.”  They are somehow neutral and natural.  It is what we do with them that can result in something negative or positive.  Feelings and emotions drive us to do so many wonderful or horrible things.

Today’s verse seems to support the idea that our feelings are normal and natural.  When we feel jealousy, we are following our normal human inclination.  However, some feelings, though understandable, are absolutely wrong in God’s sight.  Jealousy is one.  Our God is a jealous God but we are never given that right.  Hate is another.  The hate does not even have to lead to action to be wrong (Matt. 5:21).  When one lusts for someone other than a spouse, it is as wrong as the actual act of adultery (Matt. 5:27-28).  Feelings matter.

Of course not all feelings are wrong.  But just because it feels normal does not mean that the Lord approves.  My heart is deceitful and ready to excuse every feeling for whatever reason (Jer. 17:9).  My heart is all about those feelings that motivate and shape my life.  Controlling them, dealing with them and sometimes confessing them is only possible through His Spirit!

Lord, help me evaluate my feelings in the light of Your Word.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Underdog

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:31b-32 “…If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”

This poor dog is clearly in a position of defeat, although he does not seem to be bothered by it!  Being underneath he is literally the “underdog!”  We often like to cheer the underdog or the one who seems to be facing insurmountable odds.  There is something about the weaker one carrying the victory that encourages us to hope and to greater effort in our own circumstances.

Feeling like the “underdog” as a believer is all too common.  Those who follow Christ are more often outnumbered and in the minority.  This can lead us to think that we are in the weaker position and cannot expect to have victory.  But nothing is further from the truth!  Today’s verse encourages the heart of every underdog.  God sees our predicament.  He understands that we are limited and often powerless to stand firm in our faith.  We are mocked and maligned, misunderstood and marginalized.  But we are on the right side and that changes everything!

God is for His own.  He has sacrificed His dearest Son to have this relationship with me.  No one can snatch me out of His hand (John 10:28).  No one can separate me from His love (Rom. 8:38-39).  No one.  He has won the victory for me (I Cor. 15:57) and I can hold my head up!  I may feel outnumbered and insignificant, but with God on my side, suddenly the playing field changes.

How could I live this life without You being for me?  Thank you that I do not have to!