Devotions By Jan


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Cows Coming Home

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 63:14 “Like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord. This is how You guided Your people to make for Yourself a glorious name.”

In Bavaria, Germany there is a tradition about bringing the cows home.  After spending the warmer months of the year in the hills and mountains, the cows are brought down to the lower elevations.  They are moved to the plains before the onset of winter.  But this yearly trek is done in style!  The cows wear elaborate headgears made of flowers for the occasion!

Today’s verse pictures God’s leading of His people towards rest as cattle being led to the plains.  In this seasonal change of residence, there will not be so much moving or climbing up and down.  Some days they may not even leave the warmth and shelter of the barn and all their needs will be met.  The Lord knows and cares about the needs of His people.  He sees when they need to slow down.  He knows when they need to rest.  He understands when there needs to be a different season of life.

Rest is an illusive commodity during a busy holiday season.  Rest seems impossible for the student preparing for exams or the mother of young children.  Physically, the idea of rest sometimes needs to be tabled for later.  But what is so amazing about our God is that in the midst of busyness, He can provide rest for our souls!  Our burden does not have to be heavy when we consciously hand it over to Him (Matt. 11:30).  I can find that rest in closeness with the One who is “gentle and humble in heart.”  He will care for my every need.

Help me Lord, to find that soul-rest today!

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Leftovers

Scripture for Today:  Lamentations 3:22-23  “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.”

I love leftovers.  I especially love what is left the next day after a delicious Thanksgiving meal!  The flavors have had a chance to really mingle and often the taste is better the day after.  However, sometimes there is too much of a good thing and the Mother is stuck with trying to find creative ways of making that turkey taste original and new!

Thankfully, in the spiritual realm there are no leftovers when it comes to God’s compassion!  Today’s verse declares that His compassions are new every morning!  They are new because each day presents a new need for them.  And because He is forgiving, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love, He renews His compassion every day.  He crowns us with love and compassion (Ps. 103:4) and has compassion on us just as a Father does for his children (Ps. 103:13).  It is because He is compassionate that we are not punished as we deserve.  It is because of His love that He took that punishment for our sin on Himself.

Every day I can have a new start.  The disappointments and failures of yesterday are covered by His forgiveness and grace.  I can wake up with hope and expectation only because He is faithful to His promises.  His compassion does not wear out or run out.  He does not put a limit on His compassion for me or His forgiveness.  This renewal of His abounding love for me makes the new day one of possibility and hope!

Lord, thank you for a new start today!


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In the Limelight

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:9 “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

Before the advent of electricity, theaters would use limelight to illuminate the stage.  A sharp point of oxyhydrogen flame was directed at a cylindrical block of lime, causing a tiny area of it to become incandescent.  The result was a bright white light.  However, it needed almost constant attention.  Someone was needed to continually adjust the block as it burned.  Since the invention of electricity this method is no longer used.  The saying, “being in the limelight,” is usually the only time we hear this word.

Today’s verse speaks of another source of light.  It will never be replaced with something better as this light gives life and enables us to see.  He does not illuminate a stage but a lifetime with the Light of His presence (John 8:12).  God has made His light to shine in our hearts, to give us the knowledge of Him (II Cor. 4:6).  His light not only shows us who He is but it is also an expression of His priceless and unfailing love (Psalm 36:7).

Just like the limelight, the light of His presence needs constant attention.  Being in His Word intensifies that light He gives.  His light is warm and loving, giving me closeness to Him and direction for my day.  Without it, I can easily stumble around and lose my purpose.  I can even get quite accustomed to the dimness and shadows.  But the further I wander from His light, the more negative and discouraged I become.  But oh what a difference when I return to the source of Light!  Not only does His light dispels darkness in my heart and mind but it also draws others to Himself!

Lord, keep me in Your light today.

 

 


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My Fingerprint

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14: 10 “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.”

I am amazed at all the  new technology using the human fingerprint for identification!  It only makes sense as each fingerprint is unique.  However, I had some trouble with my new cell phone the other day.  My hands had been in water doing the dishes.  The skin on my index finger was only slightly “pruned” from the water.  But it was enough to confuse the system.  I was “not recognized.”  It occurred to me that with the Lord, this would never happen!  Although there are billions of people in the world, He knows my name.  As my Creator He has made me unique.

Today’s verse hints at our uniqueness.  No other person can quite relate to what we feel.  Our bitterness is unknowable to others.  Our joy is tailor made and cannot be fully appreciated by anyone else.  I often feel how my emotions distance me from others.  That is why God deals with me individually.  He speaks to each heart with full understanding.  The truth I need to hear from Him is the truth He communicates.  My relationship with Him will always be unique to me.  He is that loving and personal!

How wonderful that I am special and unique in His eyes!  His relationship to me is an individual one, tailored to fit my needs and struggles, my background and personality.  When I open His Word, He speaks to the very situation I am living.  He knows my thoughts and emotions better than I do.  No one else can really understand my heart but what a comfort to know that He does!

Thank you Lord, for understanding me like no one else, and still loving me!


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Streaked Windows

Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow bring death.”

They say it “never rains in California.”  However, I can be sure it will if I have just cleaned my windows!  Serves me right for believing the weather report.  Cleaning windows is not my favorite activity, especially since I cannot seem to avoid the streaks.  I have special products that say right on the label that streaks will not be a problem.  I have all the special equipment and recommended technique at my fingertips.  And although the windows are clean, those streaks seem unavoidable and I try hard not to see them.

Today’s verse contrasts a worldly sorrow for sin and a godly sorrow  The worldly sorrow not only brings death but leaves behind streaks of regret.  The godly sorrow leads to salvation and leaves behind no regrets.  When forgiveness is full and complete, guilty feelings need not be present.  He has promised to remove our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  He remembers our sins no more (Is. 43:25).  By contrast, those who try to self-clean and bypass sincere repentance to a holy God, will daily live with guilt and regret for an unforgiven past.

I will admit to that little voice in my head that reminds and accuses.  But I know it does not come from Him!  Of course I regret my past sins, but He does not even remember them!  His love does not waver and His grace is greater than all my sins put together!  When I do struggle with thoughts of past failures I cling hard and fast to His unmerited favor!  It’s gone.  It’s done.  He took care of all of it!

Thank you Lord, for forgiveness that frees me from guilt!

 

 


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Coloring Outside Lines

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

One of my earliest memories involved coloring outside the lines of my color page.  I was so impatient to have the praise of my teacher that I raced through to be the first one finished!  But rather than receive praise, I was reminded that it was not a race and that I should color inside those lines.  Perhaps there is less insistence on this point today.  But at least when coloring within the lines, the image is clear.

Today’s verse reminds us that as believers we are to be conformed to the image of God’s Son, Jesus.  All of mankind has been created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27) but when sin entered the world, that image became blurred.  Man has colored outside the lines with his pride and rebellion against God.  The image is not so clear anymore.  But for the one who turns to God in repentance, this image of His Son is slowly being restored.  Just as brothers and sisters can resemble one another, so the believer is to increasingly resemble the character of Jesus.

I have a long way to go!  I pray people realize I am His child but there are definitely days when I am far from being like Him.  Hopefully, there is progress but often it is three steps forward and two steps back.  How infinitely patient He is with me!  And I am so glad His love does not depend on my progress or lack of it.  How reassuring it is that one day, the transformation will be complete when I meet Him face to face! (I John 3:2)

Lord, make me like You today!


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Tissue Invasion

Scripture for Today: Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

This could be me this past week.  The tears have been flowing freely at the death of my Mother.  With all the tissue I have used, the trash overflows and so do I.  I know she is with the Lord and free from pain, but for me the pain of separation is just beginning.  But despite the tears, my heart is at peace with His promises and reassurances.

Today’s verse describes a day when there will be no more need for tissues.  There will be no illness of any kind.  There will be no pain or death, no separation or sadness.  Anything and everything that provokes tears will be gone forever!  What an incredible thought!

I love this verse as the Lord is intimately involved in erasing our sadness.  He Himself gets close and personal.  He takes it on Himself to wipe those tears from our eyes.  And once His loving powerful hands dry our face, those tears never return.  I can just imagine His look of infinite tenderness as He does this.  He knows all about tears.  His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death in the garden of Gethsemane.  He endured that horrible time of suffering in order to “swallow up death forever” for you and me.

Heaven is going to be a noisy place!  Those who sow a lifetime of tears will reap with songs of joy! (Psalm 126:5)  Cries of anguish will be replaced with melodies of joy.  He has promised.

Thank you Lord, that You will personally dry my tears.