Devotions By Jan


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The Army Crawl

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:28 “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word.”

It is so cute when babies do the “army crawl.”  My granddaughter is in this stage, pulling herself along with her arms while staying prone.  Now her older brother has to scramble to keep his lego structures standing at her approach!  In the military, staying prone while moving forward keeps one out of the line of fire.  There is a quote from Napoleon saying, “An army marches on its stomach.”  But rather than referring to an army crawl, marching on one’s stomach meant to fight victoriously being well-provisioned.

Today’s verse tells us that we are well-provisioned or strengthened through His Word.  In our spiritual battle to obey and follow His commands, we grow weary.  The psalmist recognizes that he can be strengthened by understanding God’s precepts and meditating on all of God’s wonderful deeds in the past.  It is through God’s Word that we gain strength and courage to keep walking in His ways.  Without His Word, we are ill prepared or ill-provisioned!  Our souls need this daily nourishment to persevere.

How presumptuous of me to think I can live the Christian life on my own!  But every time I neglect His Word, I am operating out of pride.  My soul can easily become weary with sorrow as I move away from His love letter to me.  Pride and doing things my way isolates me from the relationship the most important in my life.  How good He is when I return to His Word to change that sorrow and weariness into joy and motivation!  Being in His Word strengthens my faith, my resolve and my relationship with Him!

Thank you Lord, for strengthening me today through Your Word.

 

 


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Following the Recipe

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:137-138 “You are righteous, Lord, and Your laws are right. The statues You have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.”

I love following a good recipe that is tried and true.  And if I want a German dish to be authentic I would go to the trouble of translating those instructions (as well as converting the measurements).  I would not worry about all the verbs being in the command form.  It is a recipe after all.  I do not expect it to say, “please beat the eggs.”  Or “would you mind chopping the nuts.”  But I am not offended.  The directives are there to obtain a good, tasty result!

Today’s verse describes God’s directives.  Sometimes they can seem very blunt.  There is no softening of what God requires of us.  But His commands are always with a good goal.  They are always for our good and for our protection.  We know that because HE is good.  What He commands is fully trustworthy and an expression of His love and care.  This is why David could say that they are a joy to the heart and light to the eyes, sweeter than honey and more precious than gold! (Psalm 19)

If God’s commandments are really for my good, then why am I always trying to change the recipe?  Because that is in fact what I sometimes try to do.  I think I know better or that somehow I am an exception to the rule.  Maybe I can “sort of” follow the instructions but introduce a variation which makes it easier on me.  The result is never as good.  His way is always the best and I am the one who benefits when I carefully follow what He wants.

Lord, thank you for Your love expressed through your commands.


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Love Letters

Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:22 “May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You.”

What a treasure trove it was when my sister came across love letters written by our parents during World War II!  I am now thankful that my Mother saved every scrap of paper.  These letters are windows into their souls!  In the earliest letters the words were a bit stilted, surprisingly on Mom’s part.  It was my quiet reserved Dad who expressed his love so well!  They are now with their beloved Lord, but their love story lasted seventy one years!

Today’s verse describes a love that spans centuries.  This love is an unfailing love that not only lasts forever but delivers our souls (Psalm 6:3-4).  It is a priceless love (Psalm 36:7) its value surpassing any human attempt at romance.  And when we pin our hope on His unfailing love, His eyes are on us! (Psalm 33:18)  We are the better for always being mindful of this incredible love (Psalm 26:3).  We are told to even meditate on this love (Psalm 48:9).  And we do that by immersing ourselves in the words of the greatest love letter ever written, the Bible.

In writing this I was amazed at all the references to God’s love in Scripture!  I was reassured of His unfailing love and could feel it wash over me.  So often when reading the Bible I get bogged down in the details of study.  I get distracted by all the injunctions I find there.  I am so sidelined by word studies or cultural references that I forget the main point.  Reading His Word is reading His personal love letter to me.  His love is behind every list of blessing, every faithful miracle, every promise and even every warning.

Thank you Lord, for reassuring me of Your unfailing love!

 


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Pickle Fork

Scripture for Today: John 15:4 “Remain in Me, as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit of itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”

I love looking out the window of an airplane, even if I am over a wing.  I don’t normally think about how that wing is attached to the plane.  But if I did, I would just assume the connection was good at what is called the “Pickle Fork.”  That is the name of the juncture between the wings and fuselage.  Lately, the new generation of the Boeing 737 has been showing cracks in exactly that spot!

Today’s verse teaches how vital our connection is with the Lord.  Just as there can be no fruit in a branch separated from the vine, so there can be no good result when a wing detaches from the fuselage.  This verse tells us to remain in Him, meaning that sometimes we do not.  Our independent spirit and sense of self-sufficiency can create some serious cracks!  The separated branch or wing can look good to others but without that essential connection, there is no purpose to it being there.

To remain in constant communication with the Lord takes focus.  To always be aware of His presence and love takes deliberate effort.  But when I spend time in His Word and my thoughts are directed toward Him, I see my day take on purpose as He works through me.  Nothing I can accomplish will have any eternal significance without His amazing productive power.  I can almost feel those cracks forming when I do not spend time with Him.  But when I stay connected I see results that I know do not come from me alone.

Lord, keep me connected and crack free!

 

 

 

 


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Forever 21

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:96“To all perfection I see a limit but Your commands are boundless.” 

I have always been intrigued by the name of this store.  Would I want to be 21 forever?  Who does not want to turn back the clock and “re-do” the past, perhaps appreciating what once we took for granted?  But to be stuck at 21 without any chance at change or growth does not appeal.  To be any age forever would be to stagnate.  And of course this store is not forever, especially as they are considering filing for bankruptcy.

Of course, there are very few things in life that are forever.  But today’s verse tells us that God’s Word is eternal, not having the boundaries of time.  Everything else we can name has a limit and an end.  What man can come up with may seem perfect and complete.  But it will end.  In contrast, God’s Word has no limits.  It is broad, boundless and viable for every age.  And it is without end.  It will continue into eternity.  Not one letter or stroke of the pen will disappear before heaven and earth do! (Matt. 5:18)  God’s Word is forever, unlike anything we can touch on this earth.

Because His commands are boundless, they will always speak to my circumstances.  I cannot say that God’s Word does not have the answer in whatever dilemma I face.  His words are not bound by time OR by scope!  His words give wisdom, comfort and guidance to every challenge in my life.  No other book can do what God’s eternal word claims to do.  But how easily I am distracted by other voices.  Or I do not give His Word the time and study to find those answers.

Lord, keep me in Your boundless, relevant and eternal Word.

 

 

 


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Sandbar

Scripture for Today: Matthew 7:26 “But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”  

It must be odd to walk on a sandbar, surrounded by water and yet staying dry.  There are many famous sandbars in our world, many of which are found in the Philippines.  But the Haulover Sandbar in Biscayne Bay, Florida, enjoyed some notoriety when a baby grand piano suddenly made its appearance!  It was a true mystery how it got there.  It turns out that it was an artistic photo shoot done by a young man for his school application!  Had the piano stayed there, it would have eventually sunk or been overtaken by water.

Today’s verse describes something just as ludicrous; constructing a house on sand.  Hearing God’s Word but not applying it makes the foundation of our lives as precarious as sand.  Jesus assures the listeners that the crash of that house is inevitable.  In contrast, those that DO put into practice God’s Word will enjoy stability as their foundation is solid Rock.

The sand can represent words of shifting cultural norms.  They are easier to follow but the result is ruin.  God’s Word is true and eternal, unaffected by what is modern or popular (Ps. 119:160).  Building my life on the objective truth of His Words does not happen just by knowing and quoting it.  I can study those words for a lifetime but if I do not obey them as authoritative, then that next storm may just bring me down.  His words are practical and speak to every area of my life.  Applying them is a question of humility to do things His way and not my own!

Lord, keep me off that sand!


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Fading Flowers

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades but the Word of our God shall stand forever.”

Flowers that fade are not uncommon.  It can happen when there is too much exposure to sun and heat.  A once vibrant color can fade after being pollinated, no longer needing its suitors.  But the flower can also fade from stress after being transplanted.  Flowers growing from bulbs, such as the daffodil, fade with age.  The hydrangeas in my garden in France would fade being sensitive to the acidity of the soil.  The writer, Robert Bridges, used this image of fading flowers to describe diminishing love.

Today’s verse uses the grass that withers and the flower that fades to illustrate how brief and temporary life is.  The green grass can spring up overnight after a good rain and blanket a hillside.  And just as quickly, the grass can wither in an unrelenting sun.  The flower can enjoy a stunning burst of color, but eventually fades.  What a contrast to God’s Word that never withers and never fades!  It is always true and never changing.

God’s Word is living and enduring, making my life full of vibrant color (I Peter 1:23).  Through His Word He has put in me seed that never dies.  In a winter of bare trees and dry grass, I know that in the spiritual realm it is always spring!  His Word refreshes and strengthens me (Ps. 119:28).  Nothing can ever happen to make it untrue, unreliable or irrelevant.  What God says brings me comfort and hope in the most dire situations.  His promises keep me strong and His reassurances give me courage.  I cannot even imagine life without His precious Word to help me live it!

Lord, keep me faithfully reading Your Word.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.