Devotions By Jan


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Our Future Plans

Scripture for Today: James 4:15 “Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

We’re late. In our household we move from one year’s agenda to the next at the beginning of July. But somehow, time got away from us. Here it is August and I am only now making the transfer. Perhaps subconsciously, I was putting off recording our planning in the new agenda as the world continues to change and restrictions come and go. Too often, plans have fallen apart through circumstances outside my control.

Today’s verse talks about making plans for the future. Of course it is important in making any plan to carefully weigh the pros and cons, to count the cost and to prepare for contingencies. Scripture encourages us to count the cost (Luke 14:28). But this passage is speaking to the arrogance of making plans without thought to the plans the Lord may have. We do not know what tomorrow will hold or whether we will have life and breath to carry out our future plans (verse 14). The unexpected will always surprise us, but will never take the Lord by surprise.

When I make plans I want to acknowledge that the Lord may have something different in mind. Recognizing this truth keeps me humble and keeps me in an attitude of submission. Accepting His control also keeps me asking and listening to Him. As wonderful as I think my plan is, I do not want to miss out on something better!  He knows what tomorrow holds. He knows what health issues I may be facing. He is already aware of possible changes in our finances. Being overconfident about my plans is seen as “boasting” in the Lord’s eyes (verse 16). He wants me to make Him my confidence. 

Lord, keep me following Your agenda.


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Flex Alert

Scripture for Today: I Chronicles 29:12 “Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.”

Flex Alert is a voluntary program of energy conservation here in California. During extremely hot temperatures the power grid can get overloaded with an increase in demand. To avoid a black out or even planned roving power outages, folks are encouraged during peak hours to do three things: set the thermostat to 78 or higher, avoid using major appliances and turn off unnecessary lights. These measures keep us from running out of power.

Today’s verse acknowledges that wealth, honor, strength and power all come from the Lord. This praise is part of David’s prayer of praise at the building of the Temple. David had given of his wealth (verse 2) and he encourages the people to follow his example. Because wealth, honor, strength and power are from God’s hands, the people could open their own hands and give generously. But David first challenges the Israelites to consecrate themselves to the Lord (verse 5). That power from Him showed up in their willingness to give of themselves and of their wealth.

I often call on the Lord for His strength and power. His power is definitely present when I can say “no” to temptation. His strength is evident when He gets me through a difficult day after a sleepless night. When He comes through for me it is amazing! But it is just as amazing to step out in faith and give sacrificially to His work. To do so, I need to remember this verse. Power, strength, honor and wealth all come from Him and there are no outages.

Thank you Lord, that Your power enables me to give You myself and all I have.


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In a Pickle

Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong and steadfast.”

It is such an odd expression to speak of one’s self as “in a pickle.”  The word “pickle” came from the Dutch word “pekel” meaning something piquant.  William Shakespeare used this expression in 1610 for his play, The Tempest, when one character asked another “How camest thou in this pickle?” meaning “How did you get so drunk?”  Being in a pickle today can mean being in any sort of disagreeable situation.  That difficulty is likened to becoming a pickle by soaking in brine and vinegar.

Today’s verse goes further than just a disagreeable situation!  The early Christians faced real persecution because of their faith and many were even martyred.  Peter reminds them of God’s favor in calling them and of their future reward.  He also points out that the suffering is temporary and only for a little while.  How precious that God Himself will personally restore them and make them strong and firm after that suffering is over!

There is a closeness that seems to come uniquely through suffering.  I have heard so many share their gratitude for having cancer because of their special bond and closeness to the Savior through it!  In some mysterious way, God moves in close to those who are suffering.  His presence is felt like never before as He affirms and reassures of His love and plan.  There is something about sharing His suffering that brings a close relationship even closer.  He has been there for me at some of the lowest times of my life and I am thankful.

Lord, help me feel You there in the hard times.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018)


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Dog Obedience School

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 9:23b “…But you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. You did not trust Him or obey Him.”

This dog must have passed his dog obedience course with flying colors! Would that dogs obeyed their owners to this extent! I am not too sure I would enjoy grasping that wet bag handle though! Typically, the dog obedience school trains dogs to come when called, stay, sit, lie down and walk nicely on a leash. That last behavior is especially important. No one wants a dog lunging or pulling on a leash. A dog who walks attentively next to his owner is less likely to become fearful in new situations.

Today’s verse describes the disobedience of the Israelites when commanded to take the land the Lord had given them. God had promised victory had they gone up and taken possession. But they were fearful. To obey this command would involve trusting God’s promise. It would seem risky to take Him at His word. So instead of trusting and obeying, they chose to rebel.

Obeying God’s commands is not always easy or comfortable. I usually have an idea that seems better and with less bother. But doing things my way is really saying that I do not trust Him. I do not trust Him to work things out for my benefit. Can I really trust Him to meet every need? Can I truly trust Him to be enough? Will He really come through? There is no question of me obeying Him if I do not trust Him. My obedience comes out of a place of absolute trust.  Like the old hymn says, “What He says we will do, where He sends we will go; never fear, only trust and obey.”

Lord, help me to trust You more today than I did yesterday.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)


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Resetting the Anchor

Scripture for Today: II Peter 3:17 “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” 

Anchored
Photo by Matthew Matheson at https://www.flickr.com/photos/blueprincearchitectural/17323371366

This rusty relic of an anchor sits above the rocky shore of Cape Breton. If anchors could talk I am sure there would be interesting stories to tell. There is quite a procedure to follow when setting an anchor. The first consideration among others is the depth of the water. But even when all steps are meticulously followed, there are times when an anchor will need to be reset. If wind, currents or tide changes cause the boat to swing over the anchor, then the anchor may have to be reset.

Today’s verse warns the believer that there is a possibility of being carried from our secure position by the wrong thinking of the lawless. These scoffers will argue that they do not see the promise of the Lord’s coming as everything continues as it always has (verse 3-4). We are to be on our guard against such arguments as God will always be true to His Word. Reminding ourselves of the veracity of His promises keeps us anchored securely in place.

If I ever feel I am drifting away, then I need to “reset my anchor” by returning to His promises. This hope in His Word is an anchor for the soul, keeping me firm and secure (Heb. 6:19). It is reminders of His faithfulness found there that keep me faithful to Him! Those fickle winds of change and popular thinking will then not move me. The constant currents of the next new thing will not budge me from the secure position He provides.

Thank you Lord, for being my anchor.