Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

Straddling

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 30:19 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live”

There is nothing so frustrating as being behind a driver who is straddling two lanes!  My first inclination is to pass him and get well away.  But I sure would not try to pass in either of the two lanes he is using.  Chances are he would decide on my lane just as I am passing!  Better to bide my time and wait until he makes his intentions clear.

The choice of a traffic lane is one of a myriad of choices we make in a day.  But far more important is our choice of whether we turn toward or away from the Lord.  Today’s verse makes it clear that there is a choice to be made.  There is no possibility of “straddling lanes.”  We either turn our hearts toward God in obedience or we turn away from Him in rebellion.

I love how this verse reveals God’s loving heart as He urges us to choose life and blessing.  He reassures us that what He asks is not too difficult or beyond reach (verse11-14).  He promised life, blessing, and protection for the Israelites ready to cross over into the Promise Land.  And today He promises an abundant life for all those who belong to Him (John 10:10).  Choosing Him is choosing a life consumed with loving Him, listening to His voice and holding fast to Him (verse 20).  Choosing Him is living a life that is worth living.  The Lord is my life.  I cannot even imagine living life without Him!

Thank you Lord, for giving me the choice and the privilege of choosing You!

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


Leave a comment

Open Hands

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:28 “When You give to them, they gather it up; when You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good things.”

Hands can be so expressive.  When curled up they indicate tension.  When folded they can communicate a readiness to listen.  When their palms are lifted, the hands express bafflement or confusion.  Anger is expressed when they form a fist.  But the open hand is a giving hand.  I remember when our children were small.  We tried to avoid spanking with our hand.  We never wanted our hands to be feared.  How terrible when children cringe from a helping hand!  We wanted our hands to have a positive association.

This beautiful verse for today mentions God’s hands.  They are open in a giving gesture to provide for His creation.  Although God is spirit (John 4:24) it is helpful to have this image of His hands.  He reigns, delivers and does mighty works with His powerful right hand.  His hands are like no others and when He opens them, it is with loving provision.  All that is good in our lives comes from those open hands.

I never need to cringe from His hands lifted in anger and punishment.  Although wrath and judgement do come from His righteous hands I do not fear them.  That is because I have placed my trust in Christ.  By faith I have received His righteousness as a gift and I am no longer under any condemnation (Rom. 8;1).  His nail-pierced hands are full of mercy and grace.  I do not fear those hands as His perfect love has cast out all fear. (I John 4:18)  I can trust His outstretched hands as they offer forgiveness and peace.  His hands provide for me what truly satisfies that deep longing in my soul.

Thank you Lord, for opening Your hands to me.

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


1 Comment

Shearing Sheep

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

This silly sheep disliked shearing so much that he hid in a cave for six consecutive seasons to avoid the ordeal.  With the sixty extra pounds of wool he could barely move!  Life was getting a bit difficult and it was probably with a sense of relief that he finally gave up and allowed himself to be sheared.  Without shearing, that wool fleece becomes heavy, soiled and unhealthy.

In today’s verse there is a harvest, not of wool but of righteousness and peace.  This harvest requires a process that can be as uncomfortable as shearing.  The Lord’s discipline is unpleasant and painful.  But for the believer it is not a question of punishment.  Jesus took on Himself that punishment on the cross. Discipline is love in action and a sure sign of belonging to Him. (verse 8)  Just as a father lovingly disciplines his son, so the Lord corrects and trains through discipline. (verse 9)

When I am experiencing something negative in my life, I can sometimes wonder if it is a “trial” or “discipline.”  But usually it is clear.  I am like that three year old who looks sideways at the parent to see if he is watching.  There is rebellion in my heart when I refuse to acknowledge that something is wrong.  When I stubbornly continue my behavior the Lord lovingly corrects me for my good.  When I finally give up what I know is wrong, that heavy weight on my back is lifted!  Like the newly shorn sheep, I can run and jump and move with ease!  Peace and righteousness feel good!

Thank you Lord, for Your loving correction.

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


Leave a comment

Chimney Swifts

Scripture for Today: Job 12:7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;”

It was a real show!  In my sister’s yard in Portland, we arranged our chairs to watch as hundreds of small swifts circled in the air.  They would gather in small groups, adding new members as they swooped around the rooftops.  After about twenty minutes of this confusing ballet, someone in the group deemed it time to drop, fluttering, into the chimney.  All it took was one to begin a mass entrance!  How did they know when to begin?  How did they choose their leader?  Somehow, they were communicating with each other to orchestrate this orderly nightly processional.

Today’s verse points out that animals and birds can teach us!  If these birds could speak, what would they tell us?  Each one of them knows that, “In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (verse 10)  They are not at all confused about where they came from and Who it is that gives life and breath.  Their existence depends entirely on their Creator.  Perhaps that is the meaning of their high-pitched chattering calls!

These birds can testify to truth that escapes many people!  He is not far from any of us as, “in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)  Not one sparrow is forgotten by God (Luke 12:6) and the swallow nests in the shelter of God’s presence (Psalm 84:3).  In God’s sight we are worth so much more than these tiny flying creatures.  His care is so obvious in my life.  How silly of me to doubt!  Regardless of my circumstances, He is there and He is faithful.

Thank you Lord, for your constant unfailing love.

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


Leave a comment

Love or Chocolate?

Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:2 “I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You have established Your faithfulness in heaven itself.”

I had to chuckle when I saw this same saying inscribed over the doorway of a cafe!  I admit that I am a “chocoholic” but I do have my standards.  I am most tempted with the dark and only in certain forms.  Indulging in that creamy satisfying taste never lets me down.  Chocolate always lives up to my expectation.  But before long, I would have to “fall” into it again to have that same satisfying experience.

The expression, “falling in love,” makes love seem half-hazard and unintentional.  If we can fall in, perhaps we can climb out as well.  Today’s verse speaks of a love that stands firm forever.  It is a love that is constant and true because of the One who is doing the loving!  Beginning this relationship does not involve falling into it, unless we are falling to our knees in repentance and humility!

It is understandable that love can disappoint.  Love between flawed humans is in a constant state of flux.  Our ever-changing emotions make our love unreliable.  But there is a love that does not change.  God’s love is so great that it reaches to the skies! (Ps. 57:10)  He will never disappoint.  That is because His love does not depend on me but on His faithful promise.  His faithfulness to His Word is untouchable there in Heaven itself!

What a huge comfort to know that the Lord is never going to give up on me!  Nothing is going to change His love.  God is Love in its most beautiful and purest form.

How amazing it is that You can love me, Lord!  Help me believe it today.

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


1 Comment

What Not To Pack!

Scripture for Today: John 14:6 “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a  place for you?”

Regardless of my destination, I invariably pack more than I need!  I like having choice.  Plus, I like being prepared for several possible scenarios.  And so often the weather predictions are not quite right.  So, I over pack and find myself sitting on the suitcase to get it to close completely.  Sometimes as much as half of what I packed I did not use.  Each time this happens I vow I will pack more reasonably next time!

Today’s verse is about a destination where no packing will be involved!  Everything will be provided as Jesus has gone ahead of us to prepare the perfect place.  What is amazing to me are not the things that are needed.  Those will be provided for and beyond our wildest expectations.  What amazes me are rather the things we will not need!  No pocket flashlights are required as the Lord Himself will be our everlasting light (Isaiah 60:19).  Forget the sunscreen as I can bask safely in His presence.  Those small packets of tissue can be left behind as God will personally wipe away every tear.  In fact, I can leave behind my water bottle as Jesus will provide wonderful springs of living water (Rev. 7:17).  The first aid kit will not be needed as there will be no more sickness of death.  And my wardrobe choices will be taken care of in those beautiful white robes! (Rev.7:9)

His preparations are perfect and complete.  Am I prepared to meet Him?   Because of His grace and with a heart that is cleansed with His forgiveness I can say, “Yes.”

Thank you Lord, for meeting every need today and for eternity!

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


Leave a comment

The Hills Are Alive!

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 49:13 “Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones.”

Such a well-known scene!  Julie Andrews sings, “The Hills Are Alive,” in the movie, The Sound of Music, filmed in the Alps surrounding Salzburg, Austria.  We had the privilege of seeing many of the movie locations around the city of Salzburg, but nothing compared to the majestic peaks of those Alps!  It seems incongruous to call them “hills” in the song.  But according to the lyrics, they are alive “with the sound of music, with songs they have sung for a thousand years.”

There is reason for the heavens to shout, for the earth to rejoice and for the mountains to burst into song.  Today’s verse gives the reason; the comfort and the compassion the Lord gives to His hurting people.  He is not unmoved by our pain.  He does not ignore our cries.  He hears us in the night when we smother our tears.  He sees when the heart is hurting and we want to give up.  He offers His comfort and compassion and it is unlike any other.

He is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (II Cor. 1:3).  He uses His Word to reassure my heart.  He uses the care and concern of friends and family.  He uses the lyrics of a long-forgotten song in the most unlikely moment to bring me a measure of peace.  His compassion never fails me.  His comfort and compassion are renewed every morning when I wake up to a new day (Lamentations 3:22-23).

What a wonderful reason for those mountains to burst into song!  May today be a day when I can shout, rejoice and sing because He cares for me!

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