Devotions By Jan


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Watch and Wait

Scripture for Today: Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.”

Have you ever seen a cat watch and wait for his prey?  The total concentration is surprising as they lay in wait.  Every muscle is tensed and the pupils are wide in anticipation.  The patient focus of a determined cat is amazing!  Our cat, Tiger, used to spend much of his time in the yard crouched in readiness.  And often, just before he pounced his whole back end would quiver in excitement!

Today’s verse is a statement of faith and trust of the one who cries out to the Lord for mercy.  Faith is most evident when there is waiting involved for a response.  And when we wait it is with our whole being, putting our hope in His sure and infallible Word.  We wait for the Lord to act more than the wait of the watchmen (verse 6).  They guard a sleepy city by watching and peering into the distance as they wait for the morning.  Our wait will not last forever.  As morning comes for the watchmen ending their shift, so we will eventually see His Word fulfilled!

I have been watching and waiting for a response to a particular prayer request for thirteen years!  My morning has come with His incredible answer!  I could wait with hope because of His unfailing love and His full redemption (verse 7).  But there remains more reasons to watch and wait with unfulfilled promises in my life.  I am encouraged though to persevere having seen Him respond!  One day there will be no more watching and waiting.  One day, there will be no more need to hope as every hope will be realized in His presence!

Lord, thank you that I can wait with hope.


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Walking Canes

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

A cane can be a weapon, a symbol of power, or a statement of wealth and social status.  In the 11th century in what is now called France, women would carry slender sticks of applewood as a fashion statement.  And Marie Antoinette was known for carrying a shepherd’s crook.  But in today’s world, a cane is most often what we usually think of; simply something on which to lean!

Today’s verse tells us we are not to lean on our own understanding but instead trust the Lord.  Leaning on our own understanding may seem like the logical thing to do, but it is so woefully limited.  In any decision we cannot see what the future holds nor what consequences may result.  We do not throw logic out the window.  The Lord has given us decision-making skills but they can only cover so much.  Trusting God’s control and guidance means we can step forward confidently, knowing that He will direct or even redirect if needed.

The famous song, “Lean On Me,” by Bill Withers has the phrase, “please, swallow your pride.”  It takes humility for me to recognize my need of His direction.  Trusting in Him rather than in myself can be so uncomfortable as I do not understand where He is taking me.  But leaning and relying on Him and His wisdom will take me down paths of righteousness and blessing.  Trusting in my own wisdom has me going around in circles or following dead ends.  He is trustworthy.  And He invites me to throw down that cane and turn to Him!

Lord, I want to lean on You today.

 


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“I Have a Dream…”

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:24-25 “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

It was on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 that Martin Luther King Junior spoke words of hope in his “I Have a Dream” speech.  Six times he repeated the words, “I have a dream that one day…”  King dreamed of racial equality, brotherhood, freedom and justice, not being judged by the color of one’s skin, and the joining of hands as brothers and sisters.  The world has changed since those days, and although there has been some progress, much of what he dreamed remains unfulfilled.

Today’s verse talks about hope.  But unlike the hopes and dreams of King, this is a hope that saves.  It is a hope that has to do with full and complete redemption (verse 23).  It is a hope that is sure because the object of that hope is Christ Himself.  What He has promised is something that is sure.  The word, “hope,” in Scripture denotes confident expectation of what is sure to come.  And hope means waiting patiently for the fulfillment of His promises.

There are many promises in my life that are yet to come.  The Lord wants to shower His goodness on me when I wait quietly and with confidence.  The Lord is especially good to me as I earnestly seek His face in those hard times of waiting (Lamentations 3:25-26).  My hope in Him is never disappointed as He can be counted on to be true to His Word.

Lord, thank you for the sure hope I have in You!  Help me to wait patiently for all the good that You have promised.


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I Did It My Way

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 16:25 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

The music of the famous song, “My Way,” was based on the French song, “Comme D’Habitude.”   But the lyrics were written by Paul Anka.  After dining with Frank Sinatra and hearing about his unhappiness that things were not going his way, Anka penned the now-famous lyrics.  They describe a man facing his own mortality and reflecting on a life done his own way.  It says, “For what is a man, what has he got?  If not himself, then he has naught.”

Today’s verse talks about how right and good our way can seem.  There is a rebel lurking in all of us and we would rather question God’s way than question our own.  But this verse is saying that even though our way may seem right, it can still be wrong.  Our subjective stamp of approval does not change the objective truth that certain choices will lead to death.  We all need to be taught and led in His way (Psalm  27:11) and led in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:24).

How glad I am that I have more to live this life than the lyrics suggest!  I am not on my own.  My life has a plan and a purpose, created by the One who created me!  It is true that I do not always understand His way and His logic, but I am to walk His way in faith.  His way leads me on to level ground instead of the steep inclines of my ill-conceived short cuts! (Psalm 143:10).  His way leads me by still quiet waters instead of the turbulent waters my choices create (Psalm 23:2).

Lord, in looking back on my life, may I be able to say, ‘I did it YOUR way.'”

 


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Kite Mishap

Scripture for Today: John 3:8 “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

I did not see the beginning of this kite mishap but I can just imagine it!  The wind this day was not so terribly strong but it was capricious.  The dangling string did nothing to help free it from the tree’s clutches and of course climbing the tree proved too difficult.  As far as I know, the kite is still there, victim to the wind’s change of direction.

Today’s verse likens the work of the Spirit to the wind.  Man has learned how to harness the power of the wind, but we still cannot control where it is coming from.  Man has no say in when it will arrive, how strong it will be or when it will abate.  In the same way, we cannot explain the movement of God’s Spirit but we do see the results.  We see His presence by the change affected in hearts and lives.

Just as I cannot control the wind, I cannot control God’s Spirit.  He is a Person, not just a force of nature.  I do not have the power to oblige Him to do anything.  He is God, and it would be presumptuous of me to think that I could control Him!  His power and how He chooses to use it is part of what makes Him God.  But I can be assured through His Word that His movements are not capricious but purposeful and good.  No, I do not control Him.  What I desire most is that His Spirit controls me.

Lord, may Your Spirit empower and direct me today.


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Old Father Time

Scripture for Today: John 14:17 “the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”

I like this whimsical depiction of Old Father Time on the Bakers clock in Gloucester, England.  This winged and robed old man standing in the middle carries a scythe and an hourglass and was thought to reveal or unveil truth.  This idea was related to the Latin saying, “Time is the Father of Truth.”  Perhaps this is the origin of our expression, “time will tell.”

Today’s verse explains the source of truth for the believer; the Holy Spirit.  He is the Spirit of truth residing in all those who have put their trust in Jesus as the ultimate truth (John 14:6).  The world does not see Him or know Him and so does not accept Him as truth.  In fact, the world would say that the whole idea of truth is a relative and subjective concept.  But we have an objective truth in Him that never varies or changes.  His truthful word is eternal and stands firm in the heavens (Ps. 119:89).  And He Himself is faithful and true (Rev. 19:11).

Time will tell.  This new year brings all of us a bit closer to the Day when His truth will be evident in His return!  In the meantime, I have His truth residing in my heart.  It reassures me of the veracity of His Word and the sure fulfillment of all His promises!  His truth is the only sure foundation worth anything in facing this new year.  And the most incredible truth is that He loves me even though He knows me!  What a liberating truth that is!

Thank you Lord, for giving me Your truth!

(photo by James Clark, flickr.com/photos/cathedralcityguide/6447335635)

 


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A Blank Slate

Scripture for today:  Psalm 118:24  “This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Gone are the days when students carried their own small squares of slate to school.  This simple tool of education in the early nineteenth century replaced the need for expensive paper.  It could be wiped clean with a rag and used repeatedly.  I cannot help but think of today as a brand new clean slate being the first day of a brand new year.

Today’s verse teaches that each new day is a day that the Lord has made.  This new day and new year are His creation.  It is blank now but it has the potential to be just about anything!  As our Creator, He continues to create and He has something specific in mind.  We can rejoice and be glad looking at that blank slate.  His plans for us are good and we can trust what He will do.  And He holds not only the chalk but the eraser for those times we get it all smudged with our mistakes!

There may be days this year when I wake up with a less-than-positive attitude.  I may think I know what is ahead for the day and it is not a subject for joy and gladness.  All the obligations facing me can bring me down.  But the message in this verse is that God gave me this new day as well as this new year.  He created it.  He is in control of my day.  He has plans for it that I may know nothing about!  I can face the day with joy regardless of what it might or might not hold.  Why?  Because He is in it, and in His presence is “fulness of joy.”

Happy New Year!!