Devotions By Jan


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“Yoke’s on You!”

Scripture for today: Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Today is April Fools Day and for some the joke or “yoke” is on them!  I wonder if during these days of social distancing there will be the same level of frivolity!  I hope so.  We could all use a laugh!  France has its own version of this day.  They observe this silliness by taping a paper fish on someone’s back without their knowledge.

Today’s verse mentions a yoke that is no laughing matter.  This is a yoke of slavery from which Christ has set us free.  The believers in the churches in Galatia were being influenced to put back on a heavy yoke.  That yoke was the belief that they could be justified by following the Law (verse 4).  Christ came to fulfill the Law and free us from this heavy impossible burden.  We have exchanged this yoke for an easy one, shared with Jesus.  His burden is light because He carries it with us and gives rest to our souls (Matt. 11:28-30).

How wonderful to know that He cares about what is burdening me!  Whatever is weighing me down does not come from Him.  He does not want me to go through life feeling that I must always do more to be accepted by Him.  That would be an unbearable weight!  He has done it all.  He is sufficient.  And the commands He has given me are not burdensome (I John 5:3).  It is in keeping them that I show my love for Him.  This love relationship is what gives me rest.  Despite the unease of risk and of the unknown, I can rest yoked to Him.

Thank you Lord, for Your reassurance.


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United States of Anxiety

Scripture for Today: Psalm 94:19 “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” (NASB)

“We are all in this together.”  It is a phrase I repeatedly hear on social media.  As a society we are divided on so many fronts; political, religious, racial and economical.  But one thing seems to united us and unfortunately it is anxiety.  It may be that our anxiety is only an occasional thought.  Or it may be an underlying state of mind that colors our whole day.  For some, this anxiety is showing itself in disturbing dreams (ahem….) or interrupted sleep.  In any case, it is a natural state of affairs when we feel we are not in control and we do not know what is next!

Today’s verse gives an answer to our anxious thoughts that seem to multiply within us.  The soul can be delighted with His words of comfort and consolation even in the middle of such uncertain times.  We can move from anxiety to delight when we turn to His Word and His promises.  His lovingkindness holds us up (verse 18).  The Lord will not abandon or forsake His people who are His inheritance (verse 14).  Whatever the future holds, He is there and He is faithful.

I am a great one for asking myself, “what if?” or “what then?”  My questions come from a desire to know and control.  But there is no way of knowing or controlling.  And I do not really need these answers to experience delight in the deepest part of me.  Rather I need the One who does know and control.  He reassures my heart that He has a plan for my future and He is good.  I can let go of anxious thoughts when I spend time with Him.

Lord, thank you for relieving my anxiety.


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Roller Coaster

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:39 “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

There is no way I would ever ride this roller coaster at Carowinds Amusement Park in Charlotte, North Carolina!  For me the steep climb and abrupt drop does nothing to amuse!  Perhaps if the curve were flattened and the ride became slower I would enjoy it!  The phrase, “Flatten the curve” is the rally cry today to slow down the spread of this COVID virus.

Today’s verse speaks to highs and lows of a different sort.  There is no height that can separate us from God’s love in Christ.  Nor is there any depth that can do so.  His love is never in question no matter how dire circumstances become.  Nothing in creation can create a barrier to His constant and unconditional love.  Wherever we are on the spectrum of high or low, He is there and He is faithful.  If I were to go up to the heavens or go down in the depths, He is there (Ps. 139:8).  His love never fails.

Of course, I want to do my part to “flatten the curve.”  Slowing the growth of this virus through social distancing and hygienic measures is so important.  But at the same time I am confident of God’s loving control.  His love has not changed.  These circumstances are so bizarre and unique but they will not distance me from Him.  In fact, this slow down is giving me more opportunities to know and feel His love.  How reassuring it is to know that He holds me fast!  During uncertain times, I can always be certain of Him.

Thank you Lord, for Your constant love.

 

 


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Face Masks

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”

Fashion statements show up in some of the unlikeliest places!  A seamstress friend in France is selling these face masks in a variety of materials.  Of course they do not give the same protection as the medical surgical masks.  But in an area of the world where the COVID virus is gaining momentum, they provide the wearer with at least a sense of security.  This little piece of whimsical material may not be any kind of guarantee.  But the one wearing it can hope to be a little more shielded.

Today’s verse describes the Lord as our shield.  He can be counted on and so can His Words!  Everything God has said and everything He has promised is true and worthy of our trust.  And taking refuge in Him is the best way to be shielded from whatever life can throw at us.  He provides His protection to those who run to Him for it.  There is confidence with this shield of divine control.  Nothing, no matter how small or how big can get through this barrier.

Nothing else can give me this kind of refuge.  I cannot count on the words of limited scientific discoveries.  I cannot count on the words of the media.  I cannot count on the words of the government.  But I can trust God’s Word.  I run to God to shield me from evil, from spiritual attack or the attack of an unseen virus.  His shield will not allow anything to touch me without His permission and without His using it as part of His plan.  What comfort in this thought, that I am shielded by the love and control of my Creator!

Shield me today, Lord.


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Wearing Green

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:28 “Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”

Today everyone wants to be Irish!  Historically, there are parades and celebrations everywhere this week marking Saint Patrick’s Day.  This patron saint of Ireland is often depicted holding a green shamrock.  It is said that he used it as a visual aid to teach on the Trinity.  But since the holiday has moved away from any religious associations, the green shamrock is now touted to be good luck and the day sees many of us wearing green.

Today’s verse gives us another reflection when thinking of the color green.  Green is the color for growth and health.  Those who thrive with the color green are those who make the Lord the focus of their trust.  It is not the green of money that is the object of our confidence.  We are not green and healthy because we have a healthy bank account balance.  We thrive and grow when we lean and rely on the Lord Himself.

When I look to my own resources, my color turns to a sickly brown.  No other resource in life can sustain me and hold me up as the Lord can out of the riches of His mercy.  Because of the unlimited blessings He gives, I will not fall.  He never disappoints, taking care of all my needs.  He promises that even in old age, I can stay fresh and green when I proclaim to others that the Lord is my upright and righteous Rock! (Psalm 92:14).  I just may wear green today, but with this verse in mind!

Thank you Lord, for keeping me fresh, green and thriving because of Your riches!


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The Armadillo

Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:9 “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Hello little armored one!  That is what the armadillo’s name means in Spanish.  Of the twenty-one species, the smallest is the Pink Fairy at six inches and the largest is the Giant at five feet.  However, it is not the size but the number of bands that separates the species.  Rather than flee the enemy, this guy quickly digs in the dirt, hunkers down, and trusts the overlapping plates covering his back, legs and tail to protect him.

Today’s verse counsels the believer to resist the devil.  Rather than flee, we stand firm in the faith, trusting in our spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-18)  We can stand our ground (verse 13) by believing truth rather than believing his lies.  We can trust in God’s righteousness given to us rather than allowing the devil to paralyze us with guilt.  We not only stand our ground but take new ground by sharing His Gospel of peace.  Our unshakeable faith and our confidence in His salvation grows when we fill our minds and hearts with His Word.

It is a comfort for me to know that the struggles I have are not unique.  Believers all over the world are facing some of the same temptations and tests.  And I can have confidence that the Lord has given me everything needed to stand firm in the face of spiritual attack.  There is no reason to fear.  Christ has already secured the victory for me on that cross.  When I am submitted to God, I can resist any of the devil’s ploys and he is the one who flees! (James 4:7)

Thank you Lord, for Your priceless protection!

 


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Wine Casks

Scripture for Today: James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

Having lived so long in the wine culture of France, I have come to appreciate some of the details of its production.  We would often see these enormous oak barrels storing the wine.  I am told that the time spent in those casks had a direct bearing on the taste.  Oak will add flavor, slow the exposure to oxygen making it smooth and provide a suitable environment for the fermentation, making it creamier.  It will take time to produce the desired taste.

Today’s verse talks about how important time is to appreciate the compassion and mercy of the Lord.  The one who perseveres is blessed or happy.  Certainly Job did not feel especially blessed when going through all the heartache of loss and calamity.  In fact, he argued with his well-meaning friends and questioned God about what was happening.  But Job did persevere in staying true to his Lord.  Even though he was ignorant of the reasons for his trials, he did not give in to the pressure from his wife to curse God and die.  And in the end Job was blessed!

God finally brought about a positive outcome though it took years and years.  I may also be asked to wait for that “finally” or that positive outcome that the Lord in His mercy and compassion brings about.  Just as the wine takes time to acquire its taste, so God’s plan for me can take a lifetime to accomplish.  I may never understand it all but I can persevere and be true to Him because He is loving and faithful.

Lord, keep me faithful to You.