Devotions By Jan


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Watch Where You Sit!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:105 “Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.”

I will never forget the story.  A friend of mine grew up in some rustic conditions in Papua New Guinea.  She was used to getting up in the night to find her way half asleep to the outhouse.  Of course she carried her flashlight.  On this particular night she just happened to shine her light on the toilet opening before sitting.  Unlike the spider pictured, this nighttime visitor completely spanned the opening!  How relieved she was for the light!

Today’s verse describes the Word of God as a lamp and a light by which we find our way.  Without that light we would still be stumbling around in the darkness with no way to find God.  His Word lights the way to Him, to His holy mountain or dwelling place (Psalm 43:3).  But even after finding Him and enjoying a relationship with Him, we continue to need that light.  His Word warns of danger, snares and pitfalls (Ps. 19:11).  Following His commands even preserves our lives! (Ps. 199:93)  His Word keeps us on that path of righteousness where we can enjoy walking in the light of His presence (Ps. 89:15).

I am amazed how easy it is for me to get off track!  When I am not in His Word, I start to doubt His love and control.  When I neglect reading His love letter to me, I begin to rationalize behavior that I know deep down does not please Him.  But staying in His Word keeps me holding on tight to what I know is true (Ps. 33:4).  His Word keeps my heart  flooded with the warmth and light of His guiding presence!

Thank you Lord, for lighting the way to Your presence!

 

 

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Charging Stations

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:27-28 “Cause me to understand the way of Your precepts, that I may meditate on Your wonderful deeds. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word.”

When I enter the airport lounge, no longer do I look for the most comfortable chair, or the place with a view out the window.  I do not worry about who I am sitting next to or how close I am to my gate.  Like so many others, I am scanning the waiting area for those power stations for my phone.  I have a horror of my phone being without enough power to text people about schedule changes or missed flights.  There is something reassuring about having my phone charged up and being ready for any eventuality.

Today’s verse reminds me that it is God’s Word that can strengthen my soul.  Understanding His precepts, meditating on His wonderful deeds and being in His Word gives solace to a soul lethargic with sorrow.  Sadness depletes our strength and we need to be built up and encouraged.  His Word does that.  And even when it is inconvenient to be actually reading the Bible, there are always the memories of His faithfulness in the past that can bolster my faith and strengthen me.

My alone-time with Him is my charging station, renewing my spirit and my strength.   I do not, however, need to wait until I am dangerously low on power.  Being “prayed-up” and “charged up” keeps me in a state of preparedness for whatever unknowns are ahead of me.  I want to have full strength to face anything, but that can only happen as I stay connected to Him and His Word.

Lord, I am tired of being sad.  Strengthen me with Your Word today.


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Truth

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:8 “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

There has been a lot of talk lately about “fake news.”  Without referring to politics, all can agree that the printed word needs to be read with discernment whether in the traditional daily paper or on social media.  I can still hear my Dad’s voice in my head saying, “just because it is in print does not mean that it’s true!”  It is the better part of wisdom to fact check.  Just as important is knowing the source and deciding if it is a reliable one.

Paul encourages the believer in today’s verse to think on a list of things that are excellent or praiseworthy.  At the top of the list and perhaps most important is the truth.  That starting point influences our world view, our direction, and our values.  The problem in today’s world is determining what is true and what is not.  Fortunately, the follower of Christ has a distinct advantage in knowing what is true.  We have the Spirit of truth directing us into all truth (John 16:13).  We also have God’s Word which is truth (John 17:17).

My day is so influenced by my thoughts.  When I allow my thoughts to focus on the negative, the ugly or the hopeless, I can count on a very mediocre twenty-four hours.  However, my spirit and mood are lifted with thoughts of what is noble.  How much better is my outlook when I think on what is admirable in life!  And isn’t it amazing that every one of these characteristics describes the One who is called Faithful and True! (Rev. 19:11)

Lord, help me with my thoughts today.


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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!