Devotions By Jan


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The Roadrunner

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 20:24 “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?”

The roadrunner is in the cuckoo family but he doesn’t say, “cuckoo” or “beep beep.”  This long-legged bird is built for speed and can even outrun humans!  The roadrunner is believed to have special powers to make the listener feel tired when hearing his call!  Some Indian tribes believe he can protect against evil spirits.  Their distinctive “X” tracks supposedly confuse the spirits as to which direction they are taking!  I wonder if the roadrunner is himself confused when seeing his own tracks?

Today’s verse acknowledges that the Lord directs the steps of those who belong to Him.  But often, the one directed has no idea of His direction!  The question expresses what is often felt:  How can anyone understand their own way?  It often is puzzling.  We do not have the same vantage point and we can never understand it all.  We are told in any case not to lean on our own understanding but to acknowledge Him so that He can direct us (Prov. 3:5-6).

Because I cannot see what lies ahead, I need to trust the One who is already there and knows the way.  If I were to wait until I understood the reasons behind every directive, I would be at a standstill and make no progress!  But I can be confident of my direction even without full understanding.  That is because I trust Him.  His eyes are always on me and the twists and turns are not random.  He has a loving purpose for me in every change of course.  And His direction is always towards a more loving relationship with Himself!

Lord, help me to trust You completely!


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Caving

Scripture for Today: Lamentations 3:57 “You came near when I called You and You said. ‘Do not fear.'”

I cannot imagine doing what this man is doing!  Exploring underground caves and caverns is called “caving,” “spelunking,” or “potholing,” and is not for the claustrophobic!  The caves with shaft entrances as pit caves or vertical caves would especially be missing from my bucket list!  But the draw is strong for those who love exploring what is off the map and true wilderness.  To walk into the fear, the dark and the unknown can be a rush when done on one’s own terms.

Today’s verse comes from someone who finds himself in a pit (verse 55) and the prophet Jeremiah is not there on his own terms.  He is put there by his enemies.  There is no special equipment or preparedness to insure his safety.  He calls in desperation on the name of the Lord and God heard his plea for relief.  Then comes today’s verse.  God came near.  God’s presence was the answer to Jeremiah’s fear.  His circumstances had not changed but the Lord reassures Jeremiah that HE will take up his case. (verse 58)

There are many reasons I can find myself in a pit.  Times are dark when feeling outnumbered by those who mock the Name I love.  I can feel vulnerable to subtle attack, knowing that I am in the minority.  The darkness becomes especially thick when I doubt that God knows and cares.  Fear can be a constant companion when leaving God out.  But with assurance of His presence, both the darkness and the fear flee.  He answers my cries.  He responds to my pleas for help and takes up my case.  Wickedness may surround me but will never overwhelm as He will right every wrong and bring final justice!

Thank you Lord, for calming every fear.


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Sad Sunflowers

Scripture for Today: Psalm 42:5 “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put you hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

I usually think of sunflowers as happy flowers, probably because of their bright large blossoms being a sunny yellow.  It is commonly thought that this flower turns its head to follow the sun.  But obviously, these sunflowers are looking down and all they see is the ground.  Being that this photo was taken while skies were darkened with smoke from the Oregon fires, it is understandable that their heads just look down.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm called a “Maskil of David.”  A maskil is translated as enlightened or wise.  David is imparting something that is especially wise in the face of discouragement and depression.  He addresses his soul which he recognizes is disturbed.  Regardless of his difficult circumstances, David chooses to turn his gaze to the Lord.  Rather than focusing on his problems or giving in to despair, the psalmist reminds himself of the hope he has in God.  Because of that hope, he could look forward to a future where praise for God would come again to his lips.

I have that choice as well.  I can be “downcast” and look at the ground, seeing only what is depressingly negative, or I can lift my gaze to the only One who can lift my soul.  Placing my hope in God changes everything.  His love and faithfulness need to be squarely in my view.  Remembering His promises and His loving control give me that hope.  This focus keeps me praising Him, not because of my circumstances but despite them!  And I know that one day, circumstances will change and my praise will continue into eternity!

Thank you Lord, for lifting my soul!

 

 


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The Percolator

Scripture for Today: Psalms 77:11-12  “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; Yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

At the risk of dating myself I will admit to using this outmoded method of coffee-making!  I can still remember church potlucks where the percolators were gigantic to serve a crowd.  The idea was to brew the coffee by cycling boiling water over and over through the coffee grounds using gravity until the coffee taste reached the desired strength.  The spurting sound or “perking action” will only stop when the coffee is ready to drink.  Rushing the process was never a good idea and just made the taste weak.

Today’s verse talks about remembering, meditating and musing on all of the Lord’s wondrous works.  Memories are short.  One can hear of, read about and even experience the miracles the Lord has done and yet forget them entirely.  Meditating is like cycling that water over and over.  The truths in Scripture need to be meditated on again and again before they have an impact on our lives.

There are plenty of moments in the day where my mind is inactive or on “pilot.”  It takes an effort of the will to turn my mind to spiritual things and reflect on His goodness.  It not only takes effort but time.  The more I cycle the same truths through my heart and mind, the stronger my faith becomes!  I cannot hear testimonies of God’s power too many times.  I cannot hear God’s promises too many times.  With each remembrance my faith grows stronger.  And there are no loftier thoughts than thoughts of Him.  He is worthy of all my thoughts.

Lord, keep me meditating on You and Your Word all day.


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Smoky Skies

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood; but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

With these fires enveloping so much of Washington, Oregon and California, the skies have become dark and somber with the ash.  Midday can seem like early evening and the sun has trouble piercing the gloom.  A pall of dark smoke hangs over land far away from the actual fire.  The lack of normal light is a constant reminder of our fire-beleaguered world here in the west.

There is a dark world in today’s verse, and it is our world.  Making it dark are unseen rulers, authorities, and powers that are in direct opposition to the Light of Jesus and to His “children of light.”  No, we do not see these spiritual forces of evil, but we know they are there as we see their effect.  Thankfully, we are not without recourse.  Because of God’s armor, we can stand firm against this dark world.  Believers have God’s truth, not only as our first line of defense (belt of truth verse 14) but also as our only and best offense. (sword of the Spirit, the Word of God verse 17)

I have no courage to stand.  Who am I to plant myself firmly against such an array of opposition?  But God tells me that my strength is in the Lord and in His mighty power. (verse 10)  He has given me truth and the truth is that the battle belongs to the Lord.  I am on the winning side!  Although this world is dark, following Jesus means I will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life! (John 8:12)

Thank you Lord, for being my strength and my light.