Devotions By Jan


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Thunderstorm!

Scripture for Today: Job 37: 3, 5 “Under the whole heaven He lets it loose, and His lightnings to the ends of the earth.  God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing great things which we cannot comprehend.”

It was quite the show!  The storm woke us with peals of rolling thunder and flashes of light that lit up our room at the Mesa Verde National Park.  We must have watched it for a good hour, marveling at the force and grandeur of that storm!  As it moved overhead, we jumped at the deafening cracks of thunder and the room even seemed to shake!  How thankful we were not to be outside in it.  We felt safe and protected.

Today’s verse likens thunder to God’s mighty voice.  The fear that a clap of thunder can evoke is the fear I ought to feel at God’s powerful Word.  The Law was given to the Israelites in the midst of thunder and lightning.  It inspired such fear in the people that they insisted that Moses approach God in their place.  It is that fear which leads to obedience and wisdom (Psalm 111:10).

There are times that I lose that sense of fear at God’s greatness.  But all it takes to remind me is a huge storm that unleashes its fury!  God is bigger than the biggest storm.  His power transcends everything!  I am so thankful that my fear of Him does not include fear of punishment!  Jesus took on Himself all the condemnation I deserve.  But my fear of Him is one that inspires knee-bending awe of His greatness and power.  His thunderous mighty voice reminds me just how small and powerless I am.  And His voice is accomplishing so much I do not understand.

Thank you Lord, that I can trust Your voice.

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My Heritage

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:111-112 “Your statues are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping Your decrees to the very end.”

When leaving this earth at the ripe old age of almost 105, my Grandmother did not have much money left to leave her grandchildren!  She did however leave each of us a small sum and I along with my siblings were told to spend it on an object that would remind us of her.  I chose this music-playing clock and for years it has kept good time.  Unfortunately, it no longer plays the music disks to the end of the song.  And someday, it will not work at all.  Nothing lasts forever.

Today’s verse talks about a heritage that will last forever.  God’s statues or laws do not become void in the next century.  They never become out of date or no longer valid.  God established His laws to last forever.  And what God says will stand for eternity.

Unlike my clock, this is an inheritance that will endure forever. (Ps. 37:18)  I am not sure though that His precepts are always “the joy of my heart.”  There are plenty of times I think I know better.  It is so easy for me to rationalize my behavior in the light of what everyone else is doing.  Somehow, I can water down what He says to make it easier to follow.  But His standard remains high and unchanged.  Thankfully, Christ has fulfilled all the Law of the Older Testament for me as I can never completely keep it.  His righteousness is mine through faith in His Son.  Even so my heart’s desire is to follow Him and His way more closely.

Thank you Lord, for Your standards.  Keep me faithful to the very end.


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Enjoying the View

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:45 “I will walk about in freedom for I have sought Your precepts.”

I imagine that anyone with a fear of heights would give the Needles Overlook a wide berth.  This view of Canyonlands National Park in Utah is a panoramic one going in all directions.  The overlook affords a view of the Abago Mountains and the peaks of La Sal.  But this open plateau edge drops suddenly away 1,600 feet above the valley floor!  If it were not for that sturdy rail going around the perimeter, I would not feel free to walk very close to the edge and I would miss out on those amazing views.

Today’s verse puts two words together that normally one would not think to do; freedom and precepts.  Prevalent thinking equates freedom with no rules or restrictions at all.  But God’s laws are like the railing.  Because of its presence I can freely walk about and enjoy incredible vistas.  God’s laws provide safety and protection.  They are there, not to restrict and be a burden, but rather to free us to walk in confidence.  God’s laws even alleviate our anxiety.  “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Ps. 119:165)

The author of this psalm cannot say enough about how he loves God’s law.  He describes them as giving comfort (verse 52). God’s statues and precepts reassure me of the right direction my life is taking.  I never have to wonder if another way is better or more exciting.  I do not miss out on anything except for what will harm me.  His law is an expression of His love for me.  Following it gives me the best kind of life there is!

Lord, keep me walking about in the freedom that following Your law brings!


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Prairie Dog

Scripture for Today: Psalm 1:3 “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.”

Although the prairie dog is just a burrowing rodent, I find them adorable when they stand up on their hind legs to look around.  I have seen them do just that in a large grassy field in Colorado, several popping up to check out their surroundings.  They gain a little extra height at the raised entrances of their burrows.  And when standing up they can watch for signs of danger and bark at the others when feeling threatened.

Today’s verse talks about where the wicked cannot stand.  At the judgement, those who have not received Christ’s righteousness through faith will not be able to stand before a holy righteous God.  The judgement will be a time of stripping away all pretense of goodness.  Only those who have already humbled themselves in confessing their sin will be able to stand before Him.  God will Himself humble the wicked as He “casts the wicked to the ground.” (Ps. 147:6)

It is a sobering thought which reminds me just how holy and righteous God is.  Without the grace of His Son I would have no leg to stand on in His presence.  I can only stand on His righteousness and not on my own merit.  But those who reject Him and stand in defiance on this earth, will one day be unable to continue standing.

I am told not to stand in the way of sinners (vs 1-2) but instead to find delight in following God’s Law.  If I am really conscious of His holiness I will “stand in awe of Your Laws.” (Ps.119:120).  I may be surrounded by the wicked but I don’t have to stand with them.

Lord, keep me aware of where I am standing!


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Giant Clam

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 15:2 “By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the Word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

It is called a “giant clam” for good reason.  This is the largest of the mollusks on earth.  It can grow up to 500 pounds and can measure up to four feet!  Just think of all the clam chowder it could produce! The giant clam is not endangered although it is classified as vulnerable as it has been over harvested for food and decoration.  What struck me is that the giant clam has only one chance to chose its home.  Once it has fastened itself to a spot on a reef, it will sit there for life.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to hold firmly to God’s Word.  By the Gospel or “good news” of salvation we are saved from the punishment our sins deserve.  It is on the truth of God’s Word that we take our stand (verse 1).  When we commit our lives, our future and our eternal destiny to what God says, we flourish and grow.  There is no reason to attach ourselves to some other philosophy or system of thought.  His Word gives hope, encouragement and all the nourishment our faith needs to grow and thrive.

Trusting in my own ideas and reasoning gets me in trouble.  The waves of the sea or the blowing winds can toss me about making me unstable (James 1:6).  But when I put my entire confidence in what the Lord says about a matter, I know I am on firm footing.  The decrees of the Lord are firm (Psalm 19:9) and make me firm as well.  I want to attach myself to Him and make His truth my home!

Lord, keep me in Your Word and remembering Your truth today.

 


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Truth or Consequences

Scripture for Today: Romans 2:7-8 “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”

At the risk of sounding ancient, I will admit to remembering this old television show!  It originated on radio in 1940 and became popular on television in the 50’s.  It had quite a run broadcasting its last show in 1988.  The idea was to pick contestants from the audience, ask a question impossible to answer, then require a stunt to perform as the “consequence.”  But really the only consequence to not knowing the truth was looking silly.

Today’s verse describes those who have heard the truth but reject it.  They are characterized by selfish lifestyles and evil choices.  This passage describes them as having stubborn and unrepentant hearts.  That indicates that they have experienced conviction and guilt, but have chosen to ignore it.  There does not seem to be any immediate consequence to their rejection, but the context talks about storing up God’s righteous wrath and anger.  In His grace, He holds off the consequences which must surely come.  But eventually, “trouble and distress” are in store for those who continue to do evil (verse 9).

Those are pretty negative consequences.  But for the believer, glory, honor and peace are promised for those who do good! (verse 10)  Knowing and believing His absolute truth is motivating.  Being convinced of the truth of His Word motivates me to persevere, regardless of the fluctuating ideas of “truth” around me.  It is not “a truth” by which I live my life but “the truth” in the person of Jesus Christ! (John 14:6)

Thank you Lord, for the wonderful positive consequences of embracing Your truth!

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

 


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All Directions

Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law My servant Moses gave you.; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”

These signs are common in France.  Apparently, everywhere I want to go is to the left!  “All Directions” is actually a helpful indication when trying to change course.  It helps to know how to change direction when confused.  Details come later.  This sign at least points toward major streets from which one can exit the area.  By following it, one can avoid going around in circles and getting tied up with one-way streets.

Today’s verse calls for strength and courage.  This is the charge the Lord gave directly to Joshua as he took over as leader of the Israelites.  The law came through Moses but was not to be considered invalid at his death.  Obedience to the law was to continue.  And following it would bring blessing and success.  But there was plenty of temptation to turn away from it.  A few steps to the left or to the right would be detrimental.  The verse warns us to be careful not to turn away from what God had said.

There are signs everywhere encouraging me to turn off with promises of an easier route.  The sign, “All Directions” is everywhere.  Surely, there is more than one way.  Try this route, or maybe that one is just as valid with less trouble.  There are roads that are narrow that lead to life or there are roads that are wide that lead to destruction (Matt 7:13-14).  How important it is for me to choose well!

Give me strength and courage Lord, to carefully follow Your way!

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