Devotions By Jan

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Circling the Wagons

Scripture for Today: Psalm 5:12 “Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”

It only made sense to circle those wagons. If not, those early pioneers on the Oregon Trail were vulnerable to attack. Not only was there safety in numbers, there was a better chance of fighting off attack when the enemy’s approach could be seen ahead of time. Every vantage point was used to be prepared. Whatever squabble may have separated these travelers during the day was forgotten in the need for unity and protection.

Today’s verse teaches that the believer is surrounded by God’s favor. That favor and blessing act as a shield against any attack from the enemy. On every side, God protects us from trouble and surrounds us with songs of deliverance (Ps. 32:7). The wicked do not have this protection but the one who trusts in Him is surrounded by His unfailing love (Ps. 32:10). Unlike that circle of wagons, there are no gaps in the defense He provides! On all sides we are covered and enclosed in His love and protection. No evil can touch our souls and nothing can snatch us out of His powerful hands (John 10: 29).

What a wonderful assurance this is! Regardless of the destructive power of evil, it will never touch my soul. I have been bought with a price and belong to the All Powerful One. He has delivered me from the power of Satan by what He accomplished on the cross. And He continues to deliver me from the snares and traps of sin. There is encouragement in being in that circle of wagons with other believers as well. Gathering together reminds me that I am not in this battle alone. I can draw courage from others as well to stand firm!

Thank you Lord, for surrounding me.

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Pushed Around!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:13 “I was pushed back and about to fall but the Lord helped me.”

Cliff diving is scary enough without being pushed from behind! This perhaps playful scene took place on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas. Maybe the diver needed a little push. Maybe not!! In any case, being pushed from behind could be unexpected and throw one off balance. And being pushed around by others would certainly create trust issues.

Today’s verse is a call to praise for God’s deliverance from enemies. The Lord’s right hand had done mighty things (verse 16) one of which was protection from falling. Enemies push hard. But our God is trustworthy and catches us when we are about to fall. Trusting in God is better than trusting in humans (verse 8) or even in princes (verse 9). This psalm is full of shouts of victory and triumph over enemies. God is our strength, defense and salvation. He does not disappoint.

Enemies today push just as hard. The scorn and mocking of a colleague at work may destabilize me. Someone I am counting on for help may let me down. I am thrown off balance when a friend or family member betrays a confidence. I can be blindsided by someone who publicly denounces me. I am disappointed and surprised when pushed around by those I thought I could trust. We all let each other down and often times inadvertently. But the Lord will never let me down. I can always take refuge in Him. He is there to break my fall. The Lord will never betray my trust. His help is always available to place me firmly back on my feet. How wonderful to know that I can always count on Him!

Thank you Lord, that even when pushed, You will not let me fall when I place my trust in You.


Wandering Albatross

Scripture for Today: Psalm 63:7-8 “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.”

GFDLCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Wandering Albatross is perhaps thought to be wandering as he spends most of his life in flight! He can fly up to 25 miles per hour and is especially adept at gliding, going several hours at a time without flapping those gigantic wings. This amazing bird can boast the largest wingspan of any bird in the world, reaching nearly 12 feet! When he flies overhead, his shadow can be impressive!

Today’s verse describes God’s presence as wings that cast a protective shadow over those who belong to Him. David is again being opposed by his enemies. When he can finally rest on his bed at night, he remembers God’s power and protection and David praises Him for being His help (verse 6). He clings to His powerful right hand to save him. David hides in this shadow (Ps. 17:8) finding refuge and shelter there (Ps. 61:4). He is even covered with warm feathers in His presence (Ps. 91:4). David is so comforted that he can even sing!

What a beautiful image of God’s faithfulness! This description invites me to run to Him when the world is so harsh and hopeless. His comforting presence soothes and heals from all the attacks of the enemy. Be it doubt, discouragement or despair, His wings are my safe place. In the shelter of His wings I am safe and secure. His powerful right hand will hold me up and sustain me right up to the time He takes me to my eternal home. This is a reason for singing! And the acoustics from under His wings make my singing sound pretty good!

Lord, keep me close to You.

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The Right to Complain

Scripture for Today: Psalm 142:2 “I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.

I cannot remember the last time I saw a sign for a “Complaint Department.” This sign is from a restaurant in Ireland and obviously they are not really interested in hearing your complaint! Making this department as inaccessible as possible seems smart! Who wants to hear a bunch of complainers? Inviting a disgruntled customer to express his frustration seems like inviting trouble. And to be the person handling the complaints would require enormous patience. More often than not, the complaint department has moved to social media in the form of poor reviews expressed there.

Today’s verse was written by David while hiding out from Saul in a cave. He had plenty of reason to complain. Saul was intent on killing David without cause. His complaints were voiced out loud and he cried out for God to deliver him. David did not try to sugar coat his emotions. He complained of his troubles. But like so many of David’s psalms, he ends it on a positive note with confidence that God will work in his favor.

I take heart when I read this psalm. The Lord knows exactly what I am thinking and feeling. I might as well voice it and get it all out in front of Him. Nothing shocks the Lord and He can take it. Unlike the person handling customer complaints, His patience with me is infinite! Pouring out my complaint to others does not give me the same relief that the Lord does. Not only does He patiently listen, He has all the power to do something about it. And like David, voicing my complaints and troubles to Him puts me back on my knees in prayer. Before long, He reassures me that He is on it. 

Thank you Lord, for patiently listening.

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Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Do you live you life with Moxie? Well, someone thinks you should as he points his finger at you! Moxie is the brand name of a bitter syrup created in 1876 called, “Moxie Nerve Food.” It was purported to prevent paralysis, softening of the brain (?) nervousness and insomnia! Later, soda water was added to make one of the earliest carbonated drinks in America. The term “moxie” has come to mean the ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage.

Today’s verse comes at a time of transition and change. Joshua was given the daunting task of leading the Israelites. He was charged with taking the territory that God had promised Moses and the people. There would be many times of fear and discouragement but God reassures Joshua of His presence. He promises to never leave or forsake Joshua (verse 5). “Be strong and courageous,” is repeated three times in four verses! Because of God’s promises, Joshua could face the future with spirit and courage!

I have this same promise and reassurance! Especially in times of transition and change, I need to be reminded that God is there. I can face my future with that moxie of spirit and courage because God has told me that He will never leave me or forsake me (Heb. 13:5). He is with me wherever I go and there is no place where He is not (Psalm 139:7-10)! His presence is my strength. His presence is my courage. His presence is my encouragement. Without Him, I would be a bowl of quivering “what if’s.”

Thank you Lord, for the courage and strength You give me!