Devotions By Jan


2 Comments

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.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

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.

 


Leave a comment

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.)


Leave a comment

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!

 


Leave a comment

Doggie Discipline

Scripture for Today: Titus 2:12 “It (grace) teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,”

This dog understands the word, “No!”  I am amazed at his self-control sitting there with that piece of meat on his nose.  I wonder how long that lasted?  With smelling it, seeing it, and imagining that first bite, the dog must be trembling with the effort to refrain from gobbling it up in a moment!  I do not think the owner was too far away as the tension mounted.

Today’s verse is surprising.  The grace that normally comes to mind is the grace that offers salvation, that amazing unmerited and undeserved favor from God. (verse 11)  But this grace is a grace that teaches.  This grace allows the believer to live a godly life that pleases the Lord.  And like saving grace, it is completely unmerited.  We do not earn the ability to live a self-controlled life.  It is a gift that is part of the evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5:23).  We cannot take credit for staying away from sin.  We cannot take credit for our obedience to God.  It is all grace.

I am so thankful for the gift of self-control without which my life would be a mess.  His Spirit enables me to say “No” to temptation.  His Spirit gives me the power to turn my back on ungodly desires and choose obedience.  And despite the occasional slip, He has changed my heart to want what is right.  My highest desire is to honor Him with my choices.  And it is with His help that I can achieve that desire even just a little.

Thank you Lord, that Your self-control is another evidence of Your grace!

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


Leave a comment

Covered in Spider Webs

Scripture for Today: Job 8:13-15  “Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless.  What they trust in is fragile.  What they rely on is a spider’s web.  They lean on the web but it gives way.  They cling to it, but it does not hold.”

Poor dog.  His daily walk through the fields of eastern Australia was not a normal one.  He and the field are covered in spider webs.  A massive flood in 2012 caused the evacuation of not only 9,000 residents but also the local spider population.  The spiders moved away from the flooded areas in search of higher and drier ground.  The result was an eerie white covering on bushes, grass and outdoor furniture.

Today’s verse describes the spider web as fragile and unable to bear too much weight.  The ones trusting in anyone or anything other than God are leaning on something as unreliable as that spider’s web.  It will eventually give way and let them down.  This verse is part of a conversation between Job and one of his three friends, Bildad.  Much of what his three friends said was discouraging for Job as they assumed his trials were a result of some hidden sin.  But the observation Bildad makes in this verse is absolutely true.

My own ideas, my own strength or even my own resources are like that spider web.  It will only hold me up temporarily.  It is just too flimsy and fragile.  How much better to lean on the One whose power and might can hold me up in any circumstance!  He will not give way.  He will never let me down.  He is so much stronger than any other support.

Thank you Lord, that I can lean on You and Your strength!


Leave a comment

A Dog Who Prays

Scripture for Today: Psalm 84:2 “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

What restraint!  What discipline!  And what training for a dog to pray before his meal!  How cute to see him balance on his haunches with his little paws together!  However, it does seem like he is peeking longingly at his food.  He can only hope that the signal to dig in comes quickly.  Of course, this little pooch has no idea what he is doing.  Like Pavlov’s dogs his sweet posture is part of “classical conditioning” with no true reverence for God involved.

Today’s verse puts a finger on exactly what separates us from animals.  An animal, even if one argued that he had a soul, does not yearn for the Lord.  His heart and flesh do not cry out to the living God.   The longing for a relationship with the God of the universe is something beyond their capacity.  But for man, it is exactly why we were created.  God Himself put the idea and longing for eternity in the human heart (Eccl. 3:11).  We are made to cry out for Him in our innermost being.  Even just one day in His presence is better than one thousand days elsewhere (verse 10).

The Lord fills and completes me.  When my relationship with Him is interrupted by my own wandering or indifference, it does not take long to feel something is missing.  Feeling that lack I cry out to Him for that reassurance that He is there and that He still loves me.  He always answers.  And somehow, I am more human when I am connected to my Creator.  The yearning is satisfied and it is “well with my soul.”

Thank you Lord, for completing me.