Devotions By Jan


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Leaning House

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.”

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is perhaps not so unique!  This house, used as a hotel, is found on the Blau river in Ulm, Germany.  The Guinness Book of Records named it the most leaning hotel in the world in 1997.  It was built around the 15th century in the Fisherman’s Quarter of the city.  I cannot imagine staying there.  I would be afraid that I would roll out of bed!

Today’s verse is a loving warning against leaning on one’s own understanding.  When a believer counts on his own reasoning rather than trusting in God’s unveiled plans, he leans as precariously as this house.  Our own understanding is flawed and limited.  We never see the big picture.  Leaning and trusting in only what we can understand makes us lean away from the sure foundation that He is!  In limiting ourselves to what we can surmise or figure out, we become unstable.  We teeter and sway rather than standing firm with a wholehearted trust in His direction.  He has promised to lead the way and make our paths straight.

My own understanding sure gets me in trouble.  I assume the wrong thing.  I read a situation incorrectly without even knowing it.  I think I know, and I do not.  There is only One who knows the future, who knows what is best for me.  The Lord not only knows, but He has the power to bring it about!  If I lean at all, I want to lean into Him and His strong arms.

Lord, keep me trusting in You with all my heart.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Play Doh

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 29:16 “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter, ‘You know nothing’?”

There is nothing better than a brand new set of play doh!  At least that is how my grandsons think.  It must feel good to start fresh with unmixed colors and clay that has not dried out to be rock hard.  The shapes my young grandsons form take some imagination to identify.  But in their funny creative minds they see a masterpiece worthy of the Louvre.  Grandma is obliged to ooh and ahh!

Today’s verse reminds us that there is a Potter who has formed and fashioned us, His clay, for His purposes.  God, as our Creator, has the right to form and mold us as He desires.  His reasons for how He has made us are well beyond our understanding.  But His creation has no right to challenge Him as if He did not have absolute knowledge and authority.  That is upside down thinking!

What a ludicrous scenario to imagine clay talking back to the potter!  But that is just what happens when a nonbeliever denies God’s existence.  He shakes his fist and declares that God did not create him and that he knows better than the omniscient One.  What a display of ridiculous pride!

It takes humility to submit to the Potter’s hand and become all that I am meant to be.  Pride makes me dry and hard in His hands.  Thankfully, He is patient and continually works in me with creative hands, making me like His Son.

Lord, while I am waiting yielded and still, mold me to be like You.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Snares

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 29:25 “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”

The simplest way to catch wild game is with the basic snare trap.  It consists of just a single piece of wire or string with a loop at one end, creating a noose.  It looks harmless enough until the animal runs through it, tightening the noose until it can not free itself.  It would break my heart to see one of these used.  I would pity the plight of the animal to the point of setting it free at the first opportunity!  Thankfully, I am not in a survivor mode having to depend on hunting to live.

Today’s verse uses the image of a snare to describe how fear affects us.  Fearing what man can do is a paralyzing trap.  Fear keeps us from moving forward and realizing our goals.  It stops us squarely in our tracks.  Rather than venture forth, we cower and stay still.  Our movements are curtailed and we are no longer free to move about.

This verse thankfully does not stop there.  We have a choice.  We do not have to live in fear of what evil men may do, but can live freely, trusting in the Lord’s protection.  He honors our trust and confidence in Him by keeping us safe.  For the believer, the soul is beyond the touch of evil and our eternal future remains secure.  Our God is more powerful than any evil scheme and nothing can thwart His personal plan for each one of His own.  I know and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day (II Tim. 1:12).

Thank you Lord, that trusting You keeps me safe and secure.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Holding Hands

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

They died holding hands.  After sixty-two years of marriage, this couple fell ill at the same time and were placed in a nursing home.  The staff pushed their beds together as he wanted to hold her hand.  Hand-holding began their life together and ended it.  He died while still grasping her hand.  She held on to life and his hand for another ninety minutes before dying as well.  How beautiful is this expression of love!  Holding hands can give courage, help and support.

Today’s verse is a beautiful assurance of God’s power and control.  The hand of God is a place of salvation, refuge and protection.  It is also a hand of healing and deliverance.  By taking our hand He assures us of His help.  His hand takes our right hand but not our left.  That is because the right hand is the one in Scripture that is used in battle.  He hold us by the right hand so that we allow Him to fight our battles!

I need Him to do the fighting.  My hands are weak and my grip is loose with discouragement on that “sword of the Spirit,” which is God’s Word (Eph. 6:17).  But He promises His help.  He takes a hold of my right hand and infuses me with strength and courage.  His help means that my enemies will be “as nothing.” (verse 11-12).  That impossible relationship that looms so large is no problem for Him.  He is in the business of righting wrongs and changing hearts.  He has my back and has promised to always be with me (Psalm 73:23).

Thank you Lord, for the warmth and comfort of Your hand holding mine.

 

 


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Covered in Spider Webs

Scripture for Today: Job 8:13-15  “Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless.  What they trust in is fragile.  What they rely on is a spider’s web.  They lean on the web but it gives way.  They cling to it, but it does not hold.”

Poor dog.  His daily walk through the fields of eastern Australia was not a normal one.  He and the field are covered in spider webs.  A massive flood in 2012 caused the evacuation of not only 9,000 residents but also the local spider population.  The spiders moved away from the flooded areas in search of higher and drier ground.  The result was an eerie white covering on bushes, grass and outdoor furniture.

Today’s verse describes the spider web as fragile and unable to bear too much weight.  The ones trusting in anyone or anything other than God are leaning on something as unreliable as that spider’s web.  It will eventually give way and let them down.  This verse is part of a conversation between Job and one of his three friends, Bildad.  Much of what his three friends said was discouraging for Job as they assumed his trials were a result of some hidden sin.  But the observation Bildad makes in this verse is absolutely true.

My own ideas, my own strength or even my own resources are like that spider web.  It will only hold me up temporarily.  It is just too flimsy and fragile.  How much better to lean on the One whose power and might can hold me up in any circumstance!  He will not give way.  He will never let me down.  He is so much stronger than any other support.

Thank you Lord, that I can lean on You and Your strength!


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A Dog Who Prays

Scripture for Today: Psalm 84:2 “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

What restraint!  What discipline!  And what training for a dog to pray before his meal!  How cute to see him balance on his haunches with his little paws together!  However, it does seem like he is peeking longingly at his food.  He can only hope that the signal to dig in comes quickly.  Of course, this little pooch has no idea what he is doing.  Like Pavlov’s dogs his sweet posture is part of “classical conditioning” with no true reverence for God involved.

Today’s verse puts a finger on exactly what separates us from animals.  An animal, even if one argued that he had a soul, does not yearn for the Lord.  His heart and flesh do not cry out to the living God.   The longing for a relationship with the God of the universe is something beyond their capacity.  But for man, it is exactly why we were created.  God Himself put the idea and longing for eternity in the human heart (Eccl. 3:11).  We are made to cry out for Him in our innermost being.  Even just one day in His presence is better than one thousand days elsewhere (verse 10).

The Lord fills and completes me.  When my relationship with Him is interrupted by my own wandering or indifference, it does not take long to feel something is missing.  Feeling that lack I cry out to Him for that reassurance that He is there and that He still loves me.  He always answers.  And somehow, I am more human when I am connected to my Creator.  The yearning is satisfied and it is “well with my soul.”

Thank you Lord, for completing me.

 


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Snatched!!

Scripture for Today: John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”

The sea lion looked cute and adorable, enjoying the breadcrumbs tossed in by a family vacationing at a fisherman’s wharf in Canada.   This little girl squealed with delight as he approached.  But moments later a terrifying scene saw him snapping at her dress and snatching her into the water when her back was turned!  In a matter of seconds she was pulled from the water by her Grandfather who had immediately jumped in after her.  Thankfully, she emerged unharmed but in total shock.

Today’s verse serves as a reassuring promise and a sobering reminder of danger.  The danger comes from Satan who is like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (I Peter 5:8).  He would like nothing better than to snatch and destroy the unaware.  But those who belong to Jesus are in His hand.  Nothing and no one can ever snatch us out of that hand.  The Father is greater and more powerful than any foe and we are secure and protected.  If God is for us, who can be against us ? (Romans 8:31).

He has promised that I will never perish and what God says is always true.  Every sin is covered by His sacrifice when I turn to Him in faith.  Regardless of doubts or feelings He has given me eternal life.  No other sacrifice is required.  I am secure and peaceful in His wonderful grip.  No circumstance will ever pry those fingers open.  His power and promise means I can trust those hands.

Thank you Lord, that I can never be snatched away from You!