Devotions By Jan


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Training Wheels

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 4:7 “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourselves to be godly.”

If I were to ever try and maneuver a big heavy motorcycle, I would probably have to resort to what this lady is doing!  Training wheels on a motorcycle seem ridiculous but maybe it would save me a lot of scrapes and bruises!  I can still remember learning to ride a simple bike with training wheels.  The first time I tried riding without them was a wobbly milestone moment!  Mom or Dad had to be close enough to grab me in case I fell or I would not have attempted it!

Today’s verse reveals that to be godly takes training.  Paul was addressing the false Gnostic ideas that condemned marriage and certain foods.  Perhaps this group thought such heresies would give them a shortcut to godliness.  But godliness, or conduct that honors God, can only come through knowledge of the Truth (Titus 1:1)  The Lord has already provided everything needed for the believer to live a life of godliness through our knowledge of Him (II Peter 1:3).  There is no shortcut to knowing, studying, meditating and obeying the Scriptures, which give us our training in righteousness (II Tim. 3:16).

The training never stops.  I can never come to the end of knowing Him and there will always be more to learn.  But just as I can progress from spiritual milk to spiritual meat, so I can eventually let go of those training wheels and not fall over!  Rather than depending on someone else’s study, I can study on my own and hear His very personal message to me!  HIs Word shows me how beautiful He is!  And His Word shows me how to live a beautiful life that honors Him!

Help me Lord, to honor You today.

 

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How Many Steps?

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:11-12  “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.  When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.”

If 10,000 steps are needed daily to keep in shape, then reaching that quota would be no problem when visiting Dubrovnik, Croatia!  This beautiful medieval town on the southern coast sits inside ancient walls.  Its historic old town is charming and filled with stone steps.  A team of young people took it upon themselves to actually count them.  Including the stone steps on the city walls, the grand total is 5,423!  No wonder the picture shows two tourists sitting down on those steps to rest!

Today’s verse talks about our steps.  When walking in the way of wisdom they are not hampered.  When walking straight paths we can even run without stumbling.  Wisdom gained from God’s Word and instruction makes the path more doable.  God’s Word is our source of wisdom allowing us to see our feet and making our steps sure.  Steps are hampered when we rely on our own understanding rather than taking Him at His Word (Prov. 3:5-6)

I do not normally think of running up and down steps, but I do find myself running headlong into decisions without asking for the Lord’s guidance first!  The resulting “stumble” is God’s way of reminding me that there is a better way……His way!  A stumble and boo-boo on the knee is uncomfortable but not life-threatening.   But how much more agreeable my life can be without all the band-aids on skinned knees.  I am to give “careful thought” to the path I choose (Prov. 4:26).  His wisdom is always there and available.

Lord, please guide my steps today.

 

 


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Block Chain

Psalm 55:19 “God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change – He will hear them and humble them because they have no fear of God.”

You can try but you cannot change it!  That is the idea behind the “block chain.”  It is a digital ledger that is designed so that transactions made with bit coin and other cryptocurrency are meddle-proof and unable to be deleted.  The block chain is an accounting method that verifies transactions and creates a record that cannot be changed.  Because everything is unique and traceable, it cannot be copied.  Because this system is “immutable”, it generates trust and truth.

Today’s verse tells us that God does not change.  He is “immutable” and this attribute also generates trust and truth!  His character is irrevocable.  Who He was in times long past is who He still is today!  He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb.13:8).  He does not need to change, grow, mature or self-correct because He is perfect.  His Word and promises are binding and permanent!  He hears the cries of the righteous because He has promised and He will humble those who have no fear of God, because He has promised.

I never have to worry that God will change His mind about me.  I never have to doubt His unfailing love that does not change.  He has promised His presence for “always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)  I do not have to question whether He is going to show up or not!  The fact that He does not change strengthens my trust in Him.  How relieved I am that I do not have a God who is capricious and unpredictable!  He is my solid, immoveable and immutable rock and I can trust Him completely.

Lord, strengthen my trust in You today.


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Case Closed

Scripture for Today:  Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

“Case Closed” is the English title given to this ongoing Japanese detective manga series where an amateur detective is transformed into a child and helps solve crime.  But in a larger sense the phrase, “case closed,” is said after any question, debate or mystery has been solved or answered.  It is meant to be final and not able to be amended or varied in any way.  It puts a stop to any more discussion.

Today’s verse could be viewed as a case closed.  It is a wonderful assurance for the one who has placed their faith in Jesus.  There is no fear of this case being reopened.  The believer is justified, or declared righteous, not because of his own deeds but because of being credited with Christ’s righteousness (Romans 4:22-25).  The just punishment that we deserve has been fully met by His death on the cross.  The righteousness Jesus achieved has been laid to our account!

It has been decided.  I do not have to live in fear and doubt.  He declared, “It is finished,” on that cross.  How amazing that I can stand before Him, declared righteous!  Satan tries his best to try and pry open a case that is eternally closed by making accusations.  But it is to no avail.  God’s mighty hand has closed the affair and I have peace with God, now and forever.  My heart is not troubled because of my guilt and sin.  His forgiveness and declaration has established heartfelt peace, relief, and the joy and hope of heaven!  What God has declared is a case closed and His Word is final.

Thank you Lord, for Your precious assurance!

 


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Big Ears

Scripture for Today: Mark 4:23 “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.”

A baby’s little ears are so sweet.  However, they will look completely different at age 80, and perhaps will not look so sweet!  Because ears seem bigger and longer with age, there is a common misconception that they continue to grow.  But in fact, it is just that the elastin fibers in the cartilage begin to breakdown, making them stretch and sag.  In any case, having bigger-looking ears does not translate into better hearing!

Today’s verse is a phrase used only by Jesus and He said it eight times in the Gospels to get His listeners’ attention.  Of course His listeners have ears and can hear.  Yet, He understands how easily we are distracted from really listening and responding.  Jesus goes on to say that we are to consider carefully what we hear.  We are responsible and accountable for what we have heard Him say.  He wants from us a response to what we have heard.

There are a multitude of sounds all clamoring for my attention during the day.  Some of these sounds are inevitable, and many of them I can disregard.  When sleeping, our ears continue to hear sounds.  It is just that the brain disregards most of them so we can continue sleeping.  But there is a still small voice that, like Elijah, I need to discern.  The question I need to ask myself is, “Do I really want to hear what He is saying.?”   I do not want to hear Him ask what is uncomfortable or difficult.  But then I would not hear His whispers of love either.

Lord, I really do want to hear You.  Please speak to me today.


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Crossed Fingers

Scripture for Today:  “II Corinthians 1:20 “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are Yes in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

It is said that crossing the middle finger over the index finger as a gesture for luck or God’s favor became popular during wars in the 14th to 15th centuries.  Much later, those crossed fingers were made to silently ask for luck in getting away with a lie!  I still remember crossing my fingers behind my back as a little girl when lying, somehow feeling that in doing so the lie would not count!

Today’s verse teaches that all of God’s promises will be answered with a resounding “YES” in Christ.  The number of promises God has made is not a factor.  What God promises He fulfills as He cannot lie.  He is always faithful to His word.  There are no crossed fingers behind His back!  Some promises in God’s Word are made to a particular person or group of people.  Some promises are made with conditions attached.  But in any case, He can be counted on to honor His word.

Regardless of how I am feeling, what God declares is always reliable and trustworthy.  Sometimes, it is hard to believe that He is not like me; fickle.  If He were capricious, life would not be worth living.  I am so glad that He is not and I can always count on HIm.  I can and do build my life on His promises, trusting that He is faithful.  When I live with this kind of confidence, I am living out my “Amen” to His word and my life can give Him the glory He deserves!

Thank you Lord, for Your precious promises to me.  Help me believe them today.


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A Mooring

Scripture for Today: Psalm 16:8 “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”

These large ships are moored in a historical spot; the Eisenhower Pier in Bangor, Northern Ireland.  It is historical as it was the launchpad for D-Day landings.  Originally called “North Pier,” it was re-named after the General inspected the troops there.  These moorings are brightly colored yet unimpressive in the grand scheme of things.  However, without their stabilizing presence, those ships, large as they are, would just drift off.

Today’s verse reminds me of a mooring.  Because the Lord is present, because He is ever at my right hand, I will not be moved.  The weather makes no difference.  The movement of the water is a non-issue.  When firmly tied to the mooring of His presence, I can be steadfast and immoveable in my faith.

The problem comes when I hold on tight to something that moves.  God does not.  My own “can do” attitude or my own positive thoughts are not stable.  My emotions are all over the place!  Support and understanding from friends can even disappoint.  They are well meaning but not consistent.  There is only one true source of stability in my life; my Heavenly Father.

The mooring does not move, but sometimes the “rope” of my faith gets a bit frayed.  The only way I can stay close and connected to Him is through His Word.  That is the way I, “Set the Lord continually before me.”  So many other good things compete for my attention.  But when I make reading His Word my priority, I am holding on to His Word, His promises and a deepened awareness of His presence!

Lord, keep me holding on!