Devotions By Jan


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DIY Fail!

Scripture for Today:  Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” 

What happened here?!  This do-it-yourself tile job has a serious flaw.  Someone was not paying attention!  There is no question that there is a clear pattern to follow.  Perhaps the worker laying the tile was not paid and this was the way he sought revenge.  Or perhaps there was drinking on the job and vision was impaired.  Or maybe it was just a style choice, although I find that last explanation hard to believe!  All that is needed to fix this is for that one tile to be turned.

Today’s verse was part of a sermon given by Peter to the Israelites.  They had been living a pattern of behavior shared by their ancestors.  After enjoying a time of blessing, they would rebel and ignore the prophets.  When punishment followed, they would cry to God in repentance.  He would forgive and restore them and renew His blessings.  Then, before too long the pattern would be repeated.  Peter pointed out how God fulfilled everything foretold through the prophets when He sent His Son, Jesus. (verse 18)

I am so grateful for Christ’s incredible patience with me!  I find myself following this same pattern of turning away from Him.  In my pride and self-sufficiency, I think I know better how to live my own life.  When things start following apart, and they do, I finally turn back to Him in humility and cry for help.  He is always there.  He is always ready to forgive and restore.  His love is unconditional and unchanging and He waits for me to turn to Him.  Then I can enjoy once again that “time of refreshing.”

Refresh me today, Lord.

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Shade Trees

Scripture for Today: Psalm 121:5 “The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand.”

These sheep are taking advantage of the only shade available on Cleeve Hill in Gloucestershire, England.  This beautiful spot overlooks Winchcombe in the valley below.  As the sun makes its trek across the sky, the bench sits in that lovely shade, providing welcome relief from the sun’s rays.  Sheep are often portrayed as dumb, but at least they know enough to move out of the sun and find comfort in the shade of that tree!

Today’s verse describes God’s care, protection and presence as shade.  His shade is at our right hand as that is the side used for battle.  The unrelenting heat of battle is lessened with assurances of His presence and power.  We are not dealing with an enemy that we can see (Eph. 6:12).  Putting on all that spiritual armor is essential for the conflict, but even more important is His divine protection.  The light of the sun or the moon will not harm us (verse 6).  Day or night He is watching over His own.  Nothing can touch our souls as He has already assured the outcome.  We are on the winning side.

What a comfort to have Him always with me!  I am so often unaware, not only of the raging battle around me but of His presence.  He is protecting me twenty-four seven from dangers I unknowingly encounter.  He is my shade and protection from any and all evil in the world.  If any of it should touch me, it is only with His permission and for His higher purposes.  He is always watching and nothing gets past Him.  He is my Deliverer and I can trust HIm.

Thank you Lord, for being my shade today.


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A Door

Scripture for Today: Hosea 2:15a “There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.”

This picturesque scene shows the strait between the Door Peninsula and Washington Island in Wisconsin.  It looks so calm and peaceful, yet it has historically been a dangerous passage.  There are remains of ships scattered beneath the surface.  The strait is known as “Death’s Door,” not because of shipwrecks but as a reference to a battle in the early 1600’s.  One third of the Ho-Chunk tribe was lost during a storm on a failed raid against the Pottawatomie tribe.

Today’s verse speaks of another door described as a “door of hope.”  The prophet Hosea was directed by the Lord to marry Gomer, a prostitute.  His life with her was to be a real-life example of what God’s people were doing when they rejected their God and ran off with other idols.  The Valley of Achor was the setting for the sin of Achan in Joshua 7:24-26 that had caused so much trouble for the Israelites.  This verse says that calamity can be turned to joy!  What was once a symbol of despair could be turned transformed into hope.

What a beautiful picture of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness!  His love has no limit and with my repentance and His forgiveness there is always hope!  The Lord uses the most intimate relationship to illustrate just how wide, long, high and deep His love is for me.(Eph. 3:18)  And when I turn away from that love in rebellion or by being friends with the world (James 4:4) I am just as much an adulterer as Gomer was to Hosea.  How thankful I am that there is that door of hope, standing open and welcoming me back!

Thank you Lord, that You are my hope.


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Iceberg

Scripture for Today:  I Timothy 1:19 “holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.”

I can understand these men getting as close as they dare to this iceberg.  It is impressive, especially with its beautiful blue tint.  However, there is more to this iceberg than meets the eye!  I would be concerned that some jagged piece of it hidden below the surface may capsize the boat!  This iceberg is termed a “bergy bit” as it is roughly the size of a house.  But, of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg as about 90% of an iceberg is found under water.

Today’s verse is Paul’s charge to young Timothy.  Although Timothy had been raised by a believing Mother and Grandmother, he is encouraged to hold on tight to the faith with a good conscience.  The possibility of “shipwrecked faith” was a danger for Timothy even though he was a leader in the church.  The believer is never exempt from the threat of wrong doctrine or the temptation to sin.  All that is needed to be vulnerable to shipwreck is to think that it could never happen!

I want to hold on tightly to my faith.  There are so many unseen and hidden dangers that can put me at risk when I become overconfident.  I want to hold on tightly when I am rocked by circumstances that make no sense and tempt me to doubt.  I need to hold on firmly to the word of life so as not to capsize (Phil. 2:16).   I do not want to be stuck on a sandbar and out of commission.  I want to finish this journey right to the end!

Lord, keep my faith strong and my conscience clear.


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Ironing

Scripture for Today:  Lamentations 3:21-23  “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

This picture represents my feelings about ironing!  Of course, with the synthetic materials available, there is less and less of it to do.  These days, I would hesitate to buy anything made of 100% linen!  Having to go over those stubborn wrinkles again and again is not my idea of fun.  The French word for “iron” means to pass over again and again.   And that is exactly why ironing can be such a chore!

Today’s verse is about calling something to mind, much like pressing or impressing something on our minds again and again.  We are to remember His great love, His compassions and His faithfulness.  In doing so we can live with hope.  His compassions are never at en end as every morning they are new and fresh.  Both His love and His faithfulness are described as GREAT!

I do have to “call this to mind.”  When facing something really hard, it is not my first thought.  In fact, there are times when I am tempted to doubt that love and faithfulness.  And when I do doubt, hopelessness is not far behind.  But when I remember the truth of His character and promises, my hope and confidence are restored.  I not only remember who He is but I remind myself of His incredible faithfulness in the past and I am encouraged.  Over and over He has proven His love and faithfulness to me.  That impossible situation I am facing will one day prove again just how loving and faithful He is as I look back on it.

Lord, thank you for the hope you give me!

 


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The Morning Glory

Scripture for Today: Psalm 143:8 “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life.”

This beautiful flower is  just like its name.  At night it closes, perhaps to keep in the moisture, perhaps to keep out damaging insects.  Then with the light of dawn, it opens its petals and appears in all its glory!  The name Morning Glory actually refers to over 1000 species of flowers that do this same thing.  The species pictured has blossoms shaped like funnels and come in purple, pink or white.  They grow on vines that climb all over a fence or trellis.

Today’s verse looks to the morning, not only as the start to a new day, but also to the hope of God’s unfailing love.  It is a hope that is never disappointed as God is faithful to all HIs promises.  Our trust is well placed in His unfailing love.  No other love is so constant.  No other love is so wide, long, high or deep as His love (Eph. 3:18).  And He demonstrates His unfailing love for us by showing us the way we should go.  His love guides and protects in that brand new day.

The word of his unfailing love may not always be found in my circumstances.  The word of His unfailing love may not always be found in my feelings.  The word of His unfailing love is most consistently found in the Bible.  Starting my day with the reminders of His love reassures me that He is there.  He is waiting for me to wake up so He can show me again.  Because I can trust His love, I can entrust to Him my life!

Thank you Lord, that Your love never fails me.

 

 


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Say Yes to the Dress

Scripture for Today:  Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

I guess I am a traditionalist.  My opinions are usually very different than the preferences shown by the soon-to-be-brides on the television show, “Say Yes to the Dress.”  I always prefer a white wedding dress to any other color.  It is not that the bride needs to have been lily white in her past.  It just seems that this solemn occasion marks a new and exciting beginning.  The commitment at the altar before God and witnesses can be viewed like clean slate.

Today’s verse gives hope that each day can be a new start.  The Lord’s compassion is renewed for His own every morning.  Regardless of what happened the day before, He is faithful to His commitment towards us.  Because of His unfailing love, we receive from Him His amazing grace.  We do not deserve forgiveness, but He continues to offer it to those who come clean with Him.

His renewed compassion gives me that new start every morning.  He washes me whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7).  He continually clothes me in dazzling white with each pardon.  Each morning I can start again.  That is what His forgiveness does for me.  I do not have to put on dirty clothes.  My past mistakes and failures are never an issue with Him.  He promises to not even remember them (Heb. 10:17).  How wonderful to begin each day with a clean slate!  Because of what Jesus did for me on that cross I can count on His continued faithfulness each and every morning.  He thinks I look good in white!

Thank you Lord, for Your pure perfect pardon.