Devotions By Jan

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Follow Your Heart?

Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

This saying on a poster is beautiful, and there are many like it.  We enjoy thinking of the heart as lovely and romantic, and so often it is.  We counsel each other to just follow your heart and all will be well.  Somehow, the heart will guide us to the right way, the right solution, the right love.  When we listen to our heart, we discover what we really desire.

Today’s verse has a message of warning about the heart.  The heart, which in the Bible is the seat of all our emotions and will, can deceive us.  We try to understand what our heart is saying to us.  But no one can quite understand.  One day it says one thing and the next, another.  I have often been quite sure about what I have wanted.  Then, when I have managed to receive it, I find that I did not want it after all.  That brings to mind the dog who chases after a car.  He has no clue what to do with it once he catches up to it!

My heart deceives me so following it can be dangerous.  Because I cannot cure it, I need to follow Someone who knows my heart better than I do.  The Lord searches my heart and tries it.  As my Creator, He knows what I really want and what will bring me true satisfaction and fulfillment.  He knows so much better than I do what is good for me and what is not.  He sees the pride and selfishness hiding out in my heart.  And His love and forgiveness are the cure.

Lord, do not let me be deceived today.  Help me follow Your heart.


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A Heart in Pieces

Scripture for Today: Psalm 86:11 “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”

I am not a “puzzle person” but even I can put this simple one together!  Hearts of every kind flood the store aisles for Valentine’s Day.  But I am not too interested in them unless chocolate is somehow involved.  I do like the romantic idea of a heart being in pieces with only one individual able to put it all together.

Today’s verse is a prayer for an undivided heart, one that is made up of just one piece.  The idea is that the heart needs to be whole and wholly committed.   When our hearts are completely His, we can fear and worship His name and all He represents.  When our hearts are undivided we are teachable, walking the way He chooses and in His truth.

God’s love is described as a “great love” (verse 13).  There is no greater love on earth!  Giving Him all of my heart poses no risk whatsoever.  I can trust Him with the deepest part of myself.  He does not hurt.  He does not disappoint.  But my tendency is to keep parts of my heart separate.  I sometimes fear what He may ask of me.  What if He asks me to give up something or someone?  My goals, my desires, my hopes and dreams are that piece of the heart I want to hold back.  It makes no sense.  He has already proved His great love for me by dying in my place and giving me an eternity with Him.  What more could He do?  And what am I afraid of?

Keep my heart undivided, Lord.  Take all of it and make it Yours today.

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Locks of Love

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:17 “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children.”

There is something about Paris that inspires grand gestures of love.  Couples have been putting locks on the Pont de L’Archeveche to commemorate their love.  What a wonderful way to symbolize the permanence of a relationship!  However, a section of this old bridge built in 1828 has buckled and fallen under the weight of these locks.  The city has now ordered that all the locks come down for safety reasons.

Today’s verse is a promise of a love that never ends.  Unlike the best-intentioned human love, God’s love for His own does not fail or falter.  His love is everlasting because He chose us in love to be His before the creation of the world! (Eph. 1:4)  He proved His love by dying for us while we were still rebellious sinners (Rom. 5:8)  He did not wait for our response.  He loved us first and to the utmost!

The symbol of His love is more than a lock on a bridge.  The symbol of His love is that infamous cross.  It reminds me of what He went through to establish a relationship with me!  It locked up securely and forever the love we can now share!  There is no way to tear down or nullify what He has done to establish this love.  It will continue into eternity!

I feel God’s love most keenly when I am considering His power and greatness.  The fear, awe and respect that His holy character inspires makes me even more appreciative of this incredible love.  I am humbled and grateful that He, being so vast and powerful, could love someone like me!

Thank you Lord, for Your amazing love!

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The Sorry Game

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 7:9 “Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended…”

I grew up with this board game and although it has gone through some revisions, it is still enjoyed today.  The idea was to get around the board first, usually by impeding the progress of others.  As the youngest in my family I often felt put upon and would relish my revenge by landing on an opponent and sending them home.  That most feared “sorry card” allowed a player to go directly to any occupied space and knock them off.  The expected “sorry”  spoken would of course sound hollow and insincere.  I was never really sorry!

Today’s verse talks about being sorry.  Sorrow for sin is something that God intended us to feel.  Sorrow is even called “godly sorrow” when it leads to repentance.  And of course, this repentance is heartfelt and not just lip service.  God sees into our hearts and responds with forgiveness and cleansing when we come clean with Him.  Trying to ignoring that sorrow and shame can be destructive as it can lingers on, even for a life time.  His forgiveness and grace allows us to lift our head again.

Being sorry is not enough if it does not lead me to fall on my knees and repent.  It is in repenting that I can turn my back on that sin.  That second step is where I find not only His forgiveness but a new start.  If I am only sorry I will probably be sorry again over the same thing.  He wants to give me victory over sin.  He lifts that burden of sorrow and makes my heart light again!

Thank you Lord, for erasing my sorrow.

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Sound Wave Tattoos

Scripture for Today: Jude 21 “keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”

How amazing that an image tattooed on a body can be translated into sound!  The idea is to wear on your skin a snippet of your favorite music or a recorded message from a loved one.  With an app one can read it and play it anytime by scanning that unique sound wave image.  A young woman recently had her dead grandmother’s last voice message tattooed on her chest.  She will forever have her grandmother’s voice over her heart!  How sweet to be able to access that message of love anytime and anywhere.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to keep one’s self in God’s love.  His love does not change but our perceptions sure can!  When He brings us into eternal life there will never again be the smallest whisper of doubt that He loves us.  But today, rather than needing a voice tattoo, we can hear and be reassured of His love through His Word.  Psalm 143:8 say that the morning brings us “word of Your unfailing love.”  But not only then.  He reassures our hearts all day long!

Surprisingly, it is not in the difficult times that I doubt His love.  I am most prone to forget or question His love when I am not in His Word, actively listening.  God’s Word is His love letter to me.  It is full of His declarations of love.  He uses that written word to reassure my heart and build me up.  His voice is the one I need to be listening for and not all the other negative ones in my head.

Lord, remind me and keep me in Your love today!

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Black Hole

Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:14 “Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

Theory has it that falling into a black hole would stretch one out like a long piece of spaghetti!  These strange phenomena in space cannot really be seen, being black.  But scientists know they are there from the gravity pulling on the stars and gasses surrounding it.  They are thought to be the result of collapsed stars and their gravitational pull is extremely powerful.  The black hole grows enormous as nearby dust and gas fall into it.  That black hole grows larger but never becomes full!

Today’s verse describes where satisfaction is to be found.  God’s love does not change or falter.  It is unfailing and can be the best beginning of the day.  God’s love satisfies the relentless searching of our souls.  When we are satisfied with His love, our lives are marked by songs of joy and gladness.  Without His love, the search for satisfaction can be like that black hole.  We can grab at whatever we can grasp to fill the hole inside ourselves.  But nothing else can quite fill that void.  We are made for close intimate relationship with our Creator.

The minute my eyes fly open in the morning is the best time to appreciate and revel in His love!  Before the distractions and obligations of the day begin, I want to acknowledge His love and care.  He has given me another day of life.  He is there to walk through the day with me, His presence being my security.  His love will never fail me.  He has promised.  Thinking on this truth brings satisfaction to my day before it even begins!

Lord, satisfy me today with Your love.


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Walking Backwards?

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 38:17 “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In Your love You kept me from the pit of destruction; You have put all my sins behind Your back.”

Nothing stops a person so completely in their tracks than a muscle cramp!  The pain, though temporary, can be so intense and feels like it will last forever!  That involuntary contraction in the calf is incredibly strong and the only relief seems to be in massaging and stretching.  However, some have found that walking backwards is a good way to relieve the pain.

Our suffering may stop us in our tracks.  Like King Hezekiah, sometimes all we can do is turn our head to the wall and cry.  Today’s verse was written by King Hezekiah after his illness and recovery.  He acknowledges that there was benefit in his suffering.  He learned humility (verse 15) as a result of the “anguish of his soul.”  He understood that the Lord acted out of love and not malice towards him.  That suffering was used to save him from destruction.

Suffering in any form can shake my faith to its core.  When I do not see the outcome I want, the suffering can well transform itself into an anguish of the soul.  It is too easy for me to doubt God’s love and wonder if He really cares.  But God always acts out of love for His own.  He works that suffering into a benefit that is of eternal value although I may not always see it.   The ultimate suffering would be to spend eternity without Him.  I can never really doubt His love because He spared me that suffering when He forgave my sins.

Thank you Lord, for sparing me from the worse kind of suffering!