Devotions By Jan


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Bumper Bowling

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 2:7-8 “He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.”

Maybe I would feel differently about bowling had I grown up using these bumpers.  Imagine no more gutter balls!  But I did not have this luxury and I was on my  own trying to get that blasted ball to reach any of those bored pins.  It was not as if my Dad did not try to teach me.  He was in a bowling league at his work and had his own ball.  He and his team won trophies, but of course no serious bowler would consent to using these bumpers.  But I love the idea of having that little edge to correct the course of my wayward ball.

Today’s verse is beautiful!  The Lord God wants us to succeed but true success is only found in a relationship that follows His course.  None of His commands are arbitrary.  They exist for our good and for our protection.  Through His Word He speaks and guides.  When we obey and follow His perfect way, we enjoy the blessing of intimacy with Him.

I look at those bumpers as His grace to forgive, correct and restore.  Even with the best of intentions I fail.  I am “prone to wander” off His path.  But because I belong to Him, He does not let this silly sheep stray too far.  Sometimes that corrective bump can be a bit of a shock and not at all comfortable.  But it is just what is needed to get me back on course.

Lord, I want to always be one of Your faithful ones.  Keep me on that path of righteousness today.

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


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Water Lily

Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:8 “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”

Water lilies fascinate me!  Their beautiful white and pink flowers look as if they bloom effortlessly as they serenely  float on the surface of the water.  They can be seen on lakes or ponds whose waters are still, and they can root up to seven feet deep.  If left undisturbed they can cover hundreds of acres of water.  Because they float, they access the sunlight unhindered by taller plant species.  Their leaves lie flat on the water soaking up all that light.  The result is beautiful!

Today’s verse tells us that the commands of the Lord are radiant.  They give all the light needed to grow and thrive in life.  His commands refresh the soul and make simple people wise (verse 7).  They give joy to the heart.  Each and every direction God gives is right and completely trustworthy.  Obeying His laws makes our lives beautiful.

I do not normally think of rules and regulations as a source of joy.  But just as a child can feel unloved and neglected without parental boundaries, so we too can feel as if God does not care if He had not given us His commands.  They are a sign of His love.  He cares that I succeed in life and He has shown me how.  His commands and precepts are designed with my welfare in mind, not to limit me or restrict my freedom.  They can give joy to my heart when I see them as proof of His tenderness and care.

Lord, keep me in the still water, soaking up the light of Your presence today!

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


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Texting

Scripture for Today: Psalm 3:3 “But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

I hurt just looking at her!  This hunched-over position while texting can have some serious consequences.  With the head weighing 10-12 pounds, bending over our phones increases the force, pulling on those neck muscles and joints.  Not only can our poor posture lead to headaches and spine problems, some researchers have even made a connection with depression!  The idea is that the relationship between mind and body can run both ways.  We slump over because we are sad or we are sad because we slump over!

Today’s verse tells us that the Lord’s presence in our lives is a protective shield.  He looks out for His own.  Nothing and no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28).   And as  believers, He is our glory.  Our lives are to progressively reflect His glory as He creates Christ’s character in us (II Cor. 3:18).  But in addition to all of this, He lifts our heads!  And not just a little bit.  He lifts our heads high!  We no longer hang our heads in shame and disgrace.  We do not have to look down in humiliation and guilt.  Because of His love and forgiveness He lifts our heads high!  What an amazing thought!

When He lifts my head, I have the advantage of seeing more of His wonders in my life!  With the perspective that comes with grace and forgiveness, I can see just how much He has blessed me!  Like Mary in her song, I can say that I am blessed, “for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name.” (Luke 1:49)

Lord, help me to live this day with my head lifted up high with the assurance of Your love.

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


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Kintsugi

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:49-50 “Remember Your word to Your servant, for You have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

This bowl went from broken to beautiful!  The art of golden joinery is the definition of the Japanese word, “kintsugi.”  Fragmented and broken pottery or ceramics are repaired in this process by filling the holes and cracks with a resin mixed with gold, silver or platinum.  What used to be broken pieces thought to be worthless become a thing of beauty!  The very brokenness makes the item become more precious and valuable!

Today’s verse is a comfort and reassurance when going through suffering.  There is hope.  The author of this psalm was experiencing ridicule (vs. 51).  There was intense pressure from the wicked and perhaps he felt himself cracking from it. He vows to stay faithful to the Lord through it all.  In the night he reminds himself of who God is (vs. 55) and he resolves to stay the course.  Through all the pain he remains hopeful because of God’s promises.

It is hope that brings me through the darkest times of my life.  I can feel forgotten, rotten and dead inside just like David did when he described himself as “broken pottery” (Ps. 31:12).  But then, there are the promises of God.  Whatever feels broken He can repair.  More than that, He transforms our very brokenness into something useful and a thing of beauty.  Nothing is too hard for Him or beyond the skill of His capable hands.  He works in the good where everything went bad.  That stupid decision, that utter failure or that shame at letting Him down is all part of a pattern that He redeems and makes beautiful.  This is my hope.

Thank you Lord, that Your promises give me hope.

 

 


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Death Zone

Scripture for Today: Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

What an awe-inspiring scene this is on Mount Everest!  The grandeur and magnificence of these mountains have drawn many experienced climbers to its heights.  But unfortunately, ten climbers have already died this year alone.  They were found in what is called the “death zone” where oxygen is scarce.  Anywhere above 26,000 feet is part of that zone where the air is so thin that even supplemental oxygen is sometimes not enough.  The human body is just not made to function at the cruising altitude of a 747!

Today’s verse recognizes the source of life and breath.  It is the Spirit of God who created us.  It is the breath of the Almighty that gives us life.  At the very dawn of mankind, it was God who breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life (Gen. 2:7).  There is no life apart from His breath.  And just as this is true in the physical sense, so it is true spiritually  The Spirit of God breathes life to our souls.  Where before we were dead, He has made us alive (Eph. 2:5).

My relationship with Christ is as necessary to me as the air I breathe!  But frankly, I do not always feel His presence.  Perhaps there are “death zones” for me where the spiritual air is scarce.  He promises to never leave me (Heb.13:5) but I can be indifferent to Him.  I can be gasping for breath when I immerse myself in the world and its values.  But when I turn back to Him, He breathes into me renewed love and forgiveness.  “This is the air I breathe, Your holy presence living in me.”

Come Holy Spirit and breathe on me today.


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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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Missing!

Scripture for Today: Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

I remember seeing these milk cartons with the faces of missing children plastered all over them.  The program started in 1982 in Des Moines, Iowa as a result of two child abductions.  By 1985 the program had spread nationwide.  Although a number of children were returned to their homes, the idea was short-lived.  One of the problems was the complaints from parents that the pictures were frightening their own children.  But the campaign did raise awareness and now, the spirit of it lives on in the electronic version, Amber Alert.

Today’s verse is all about being lost.  It comes after three parables describing a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son.  Jesus came to this earth to seek out the lost ones.  Those lost do not understand where they are nor where they are going.  What is worse is not realizing one is lost!  Being lost in Luke’s three parables meant separation from one’s owner or one’s Father.  It is the same for us.  When we live a life separate from our Creator, we lose the sense of who we are, where we are and where we are going!

How incredible that the Lord takes the initiative!  He actively seeks me as I am too lost to find the way to Him on my own.  He loves me enough to go out of His way and extract me from the mess of my own making.  He left Heaven to come after me!  I am no longer confused and lost, fearful or panicked.  I am found now and I am His.  I know where I am and to whom I belong.  What security that is!

Thank you Lord, for seeking after me.