Devotions By Jan

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Bulletproof Backpacks

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:5 “You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid your hand upon me.”

What a discouraging reality that bulletproof backpacks are part of the back-to-school market!  Whether buying the backpack itself or a bulletproof insert put inside a backpack, the idea is to provide one’s child with an extra layer of protection. This measure only protects from handguns but not from any other kind of firearm.  So perhaps this product does more to ease a parent’s fear than anything else.  I always wonder if the backpack does any good if not positioned in the right direction of the threat!

I love the assurance of today’s verse!  Regardless of the direction of an immediate threat, the Lord has the righteous covered!  With His love and protection He has enclosed one behind and before.  Because He is omnipresent He completely surrounds those who belong to Him.  He has laid His hand upon the believer.  Nothing will ever happen that He does not allow and incorporate into His individual plan.  He does not intend that the righteous live their lives in fear but that their hearts remain secure (Psalm 112:8).

Whatever measures I take for my security are limited and there are never any guarantees.  I live in a fallen, broken world where evil threatens.  My security cannot be found in my environment.  My security is found in the fact that He is before me, behind me, and on all sides of me!  It may be that God would allow violence to touch me as He has allowed it for others.  But nothing can touch my soul and my eternal future with Him! (Matt. 10:28)  I have no reason to fear as He is my ultimate security and He will never disappoint!

Thank you Lord, that You lay your loving hand on me!


Elvis at the Grand Ole Opry

Scripture for Today:  Romans 5:3-4  “…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope:”

I was surprised to hear about the time Elvis Presley bombed!  We do not often hear of the failures of the greats but only their successes.  A teenage Elvis performed only once at the Opry in 1954.  He vowed never to sing there again.  During that time only country music was featured.  With his rhythm, blues and body gyrations, the reaction of the audience was tepid at best!  The manager advised Elvis to return to his truck driving position in Memphis!  I am so glad he did not listen.

Today’s verse teaches that perseverance can be developed out of hard times and perhaps even failure.  Perseverance is not born out of wishful thinking but out of suffering.  It is the ability to stay the course regardless of the obstacles.  Remaining faithful, keeping that promise or shouldering on with the right choice rather than compromise; it all requires perseverance in the face of hardship.  Out of continuing on, character is built and our hope in eternal reward grows stronger.

I am a wimp when it comes to suffering in any form.  But I know that the Lord does not exempt me from it.  It is so often in the suffering that my faith deepens and my knowledge of His heart grows too.  It is good to know as well that perseverance , character and hope have a fighting chance to develop in me.  But it is all grace.  It is God who is giving me that endurance and encouragement I so need to keep on keeping on (Rom. 15:5).  He is the One who brings positive outcomes out of what can look so hopeless.

Lord, keep me faithful to You no matter what!

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Bison in the Road!

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”

We have recently learned on the roads in  Yellowstone Park that Bison have the undisputed right of way!  There was no sign saying so.  It was just common sense to stop and make way.  With their huge shaggy heads and their gruff snorting, we did not argue!  There was no going around them or passing cars to get by them.  Everyone just waited until they decided they would clear the road!  Whether waiting took five minutes or ninety, there was nothing else to do!  It was out of our control.

Today’s verse tells us we are to yield or submit to the Lord in each and every way we choose to take.  By acknowledging His control, His superior knowledge and His goodness, we travel a path much less complicated by twists and turns.  He makes our paths straight, unencumbered by lengthy unnecessary detours.  We reach our destination in good time, or in His time (regardless of the bison in the road!)  When we give way to Him rather than insisting on our own plan, we find He had a better idea all along!

Yielding my will to His is so often a struggle.  Even knowing that my own understanding is limited, I stubbornly resist.  I like being the one who makes the decisions.  Trusting Him with all my heart is scary without having some measure of control.  But He promises that when I do, He will make my paths straight, choosing the best way.  No time will be lost as He has a purpose in every delay.

Thank you Lord, that I can fully trust Your heart of love for me!

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Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 2:32 “Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet My people have forgotten me, days without number.”

This is not my jewelry box.  My way of storing jewelry is not quite this organized!  Instead of a box I have shallow drawers where all my jewelry marry each other and get jumbled.  Although I am not so organized, I do remember where each piece came from.  I remember who gave me the item and the circumstances surrounding the gift.  Many times the value of my jewelry comes not from the price tag but from the memories associated with it.

Today’s verse tells us how unnatural it is for a young woman to forget her jewelry.  Yet, says the Lord through His prophet Jeremiah, My people have forgotten Me.  And He has so much more value than the most expensive elaborate jewelry!  How could they forget the One who provided for them, protected them from enemies, and caused their crops to grow?  Unfortunately, this happened often as they continually rebelled against God, turning to idols and to the ways of neighboring countries.  The Lord declares that they will not be helped by them (verse 37).

Forgetting God’s goodness and power is not something unique to the Israelites!  When everything is going well and life is good, I know I do the same thing!  I begin to take my health for granted.  When things run smoothly I tend to feel complacent, forget to thank Him or even take the credit.  I forget how intimately involved He is in every aspect of my life.  It is when I am in trouble that I cry out to Him and understand just how dependent I am on His goodness and power.

Lord, don’t let me forget You today!

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

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Giant Jenga!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:24 “though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord is the stay of his hand.”

I would hate to have been the one to make this jenga tower fall!  The giant version has been showing up for different social events but I have never seen one.  My grandsons enjoy building the smaller version on the coffee table.  But at their age they are more interested in making it fall as quickly as possible.  Of course, the idea is to build the tower one brick at a time, placing the brick on the top without the tower falling.  It takes an eye for balance and a steady hand.

Today’s verse is a promise that the Lord will establish the steps of the one who belongs to Him.  If there is a fall, it is a controlled one.  It will not be a free-fall, being cast headlong.  The Lord’s hand is involved and He breaks the fall with His hand.  Regardless of how many bricks are pulled out from under us, He is there.

This is a wonderful assurance for me that the Lord is my true support.  I may feel that my stability rests on my work, my plans or my finances, when in fact, none of those are holding me up.  Circumstances change, and sometimes with no warning at all.  Rather than feeling panic I can remain confident.  No bad news can shake me as my heart is steadfast and trusting in Him (Ps. 112:7).  And even if He were to allow me to teeter and fall, His open loving hand is there to soften the landing.  In His unfailing love, He stands me back up, brushes me off and strengthens my faith through the whole ordeal.

Thank you Lord, for holding me up.

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

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img_20170212_151120Scripture 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 Dead Sea was an ideal place to float with no effort at all!  My husband and I were there twenty-two years ago and the experience of floating on that water was unique.  The salt content at 29% (as compared to oceans with 4%) made the water so dense that sinking was practically impossible!  It was as if we were being held up from underneath.

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.  Walking by faith and not by sight (II Cor. 5:7) means I take Him at His word regardless of how dire my circumstances are.  He is there and there is no way He is letting me go under.

Thank you Lord, for holding me up!

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


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Pizza Dough

Scripture for Today: II Cor. 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

It all seems a bit complicated.  After punching down the rising pizza dough and kneading it, the dough is further manhandled by throwing it up in the air!  It looks like an art designed to impress the onlooker.  But in fact, this process of spinning it in the air creates the round shape and allows just enough airflow for easier handling.  With this method, the dough retains more moisture making the crust softer.

In today’s verse, Paul is recounting some of the hardships he and Timothy had faced.  At the beginning of the chapter and at the end, he says, “We do not lose heart.”  It would have been completely understandable if they had!  Paul had been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned and imprisoned for his faith.  Being perplexed, he perhaps did not always understand the “why” behind what was happening.  Yet, he remained confident that the pulling and stretching was producing something of value, forming the likeness of Jesus  in him (verse 10).

When I am faced with hard times, I often feel perplexed.  I usually cannot explain why the Lord allows certain difficulties in my life.  But He promises that all the pulling and stretching will be producing a “weight of glory” one day (II Cor. 4:17).  All that is painful or devestating is only a “light affliction” compared to what lies ahead.  I can be confident that even when panicked and confused, He is in control and His control is good.  How good of Him to reassure me!

Thank you Lord, that You use it all to make me more like You.  Help me not to lose heart.

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