Devotions By Jan


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“Walking the Line”

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 2:26-27 “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

It was 1956 when the famous country singer, Johnny Cash, sat backstage and wrote the song, “I Walk the Line.”  As a newlywed, he wrote it as a pledge to his wife.  The lyrics are all about personal responsibility and avoiding temptation.  I love the line, “Because you’re mine, I walk the line.”  This expression has long been used to mean behaving or abiding by moral standards.  Or in other words, walking the straight and narrow.

Today’s verse tells us to think carefully about where and how we walk through life.  We do not walk close to edge, courting disaster as the thoughtless might.  Rather than wondering just how far one can go in a particular behavior before it becomes sin, we need to walk with a healthy fear of falling.  We need to stay away from that tempting edge.  We do not turn to the left or to the right.  We stay right in the middle and away from temptation.  In other words, we walk the line.  Walking on a dangerous edge gives no room for error.  One moment of inattention or one small misstep can mean disaster.

When I am walking the line, I feel His pleasure.  Walking in obedience to His commands is how I show my love for Him (II John 1:6).  And His commands make the path smooth, straight and manageable.  It is when I veer left or right and start to compromise on His standards that life becomes more difficult.  Thankfully, He offers His forgiveness and helps me get back on track.

Lord, help me love You by walking the line 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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Grandfather Clocks

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

These beautiful Grandfather clocks stand proudly in the World Museum in Liverpool, England.  The first Grandfather clock (or Longcase clock) was produced around 1680 by a British clockmaker, William Clement.  The name “Grandfather” clock is thought to be the result of a song written in 1876 entitled, “My Grandfather’s Clock.”  Our modern ones have an eight day movement.  But earlier less expensive models had only a thirty hour movement.  In either case, time would run out if not wound by a key or if the chains were not pulled.

Today’s verse is another reminder that time is the great equalizer.  We all have the same daily twenty four hours handed to us.  But what is so amazing is that our God is in control of time.  Not only is my time in His hands but all time is.  He is eternal and outside of time.  His kingdom is an eternal one and His dominion endures forever (Dan. 4:3).  Here on earth we are frustrated with time constraints.  But time and seasons will only exist “under Heaven.”

Imagine having time for everything!  Someday it will be true, but today I need to trust the Lord to provide the time needed for what He thinks is important.  I love the song lyrics that say, “He is able, more than able, to accomplish what concerns me today…” He is in control of time, and He is the source.  The Lord is more than able to free up minutes I did not know I had!  As a result of trusting Him I find comfort that there is more than enough time for His plans.

Lord, help me to trust You, even when I seem to be running out of time.


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Calling All Cows

Scripture for Today: John 10:4-5 “When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; in fact they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

Seeing these cows on my walk reminded me of 30 black and white dairy cows in Normandy.  In 1943 their owner left them in a field as the Germans were advancing.  He was able to return for them but some French opportunists had taken them for their own.  They challenged my friend’s grandfather to prove the cows were his.  So he told them to call the cows over.  Of course, the cows just looked at those interlopers and did not budge.  But when the true owner called them, they all immediately got up and approached!

Today’s verse describes the same phenomenon but with sheep.  Jesus was addressing the Pharisees but they were not understanding His meaning.  Jesus then identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep (verse 11 & 14).  Those that are His sheep know and recognize His voice and follow Him.

Not only is the Lord’s voice recognizable but He calls each sheep by name! (verse 3)  And when He speaks to me, I will know it is Him.  He will never say anything in opposition to what He has already said in His Word, the Bible.  His voice does not condemn as he has already laid down His life as payment for every sin.  His voice will never accuse or tear down.  His words are full of love, even when He says something difficult to hear.  His voice is soft and tender as He draws me closer to Himself.

Lord, let me hear Your voice today.


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That Pothole

Pothole_1911993bScripture for Today: Isaiah 26:7 “The path of the righteous is level; You, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.”

There is nothing worse than seeing that pothole too late!  The resulting thud and bounce matches what my heart does!  Unfortunately, this scenario is quite common in California.  One would not think so as California does not deal with lots of snow as do other states.  But even so it is a problem and one that can result in some expensive repairs.  Insurance companies often have claims involving pothole damage to the tires and suspension.

Today’s verse describes a path that is level and smooth.  It is not that way as a result of our own efforts.  It is level and smooth because of what the Lord does for the righteous.  Without His intervention, life is full of ups and downs and unwelcome jolts to our progress.  On our own, the path we take not only becomes rough and uncomfortable but also takes us in the wrong direction! (Isaiah 53:6).  But in living out the righteousness that He gives us through Jesus Christ, we can have a totally different ride!

I wish this verse meant that there would never be any problems for the believer.  However, we are told we will have troubles in this world (John 16:33).  But in choosing to follow His Word, we at least avoid additional and unnecessary problems of our own making.  Sin just hurts and complicates life, whether our sin or that of someone else.  But in His grace the Lord will sometimes smooth over even those rough patches.  When He allows the jolts, He brings us through with new dependence on Him.

Lord, I need You to smooth out what looks like rough road ahead.  Thank you that I can trust You.

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


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Checkmate

IMG_20151204_152757Scripture for Today:  James 4:15 “Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

My grandsons had no idea where each chess piece should be placed to begin or even continue a game!  Their Nana sure could not help, but they had fun anyway, confidently moving the pieces around according to some unseen vision in their little heads!  The strategy escapes me but I do know enough to recognize that “check” is not what one wants to hear, and “checkmate” even less, signaling that the game is over.

Today’s verse talks about making plans for the future.  Of course it is important in reaching any goal to carefully plan a strategy.  A building is not begun without considering the estimated cost (Luke 14:28).  But this passage is speaking to the arrogance of making plans without thought to the plans the Lord may have.  We do not know what tomorrow will hold or whether we will have life and breath to carry out our future plans (verse 14).  The unexpected can always “check” or “checkmate” our progress.

When I make plans I want to always recognize that the Lord may have something different in mind.  Recognizing this keeps me humble and it keeps me in an attitude of submission.  Recognizing His control also keeps me asking and listening to Him.  As wonderful as I think my plan is, I do not want to miss out on something better!  He knows what tomorrow holds.  He knows what health issues I may be facing later.  Being overconfident about my plans is seen as “boasting” in the Lord’s eyes (verse 16).  There may be a change of plan but through it I can trust Him.

Lord, keep me following Your plan.

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


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Improvise!

improvise2962204559_1_3_IZa3X68UScripture for Today: Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

In our small studio in France, we are learning to live without what we normally take for granted.  We dry our clothes outside, fold up the two chairs to allow for more space when not in use, and close all the shutters to keep cool.  We have no freezer, no oven and no stove top.  Thankfully, we have a microwave!  We are learning to improvise, but perhaps not to the point of grilling meat on an iron!

Today’s verse is a comfort.  The Lord is personally involved in the direction our lives take.  He watches for what is needed.  When asked He gives His counsel in making decisions, and He teaches us which direction to take.  However, He also allows us freedom to choose.  When His direction is clear, we can decide to follow it, or not.  And He also allows freedom and choices when several options are just fine with Him.

If I thought that every choice made in a day was directed by Him, I think I would live in fear of missing it.  But He has given me my mind, my intellect, and my preferences to follow.  When I am in an attitude of submission to Him, I can trust that He will intervene if I am making an incorrect choice.  His goal for me is to become more and more like His Son and He can make that happen in a variety of circumstances.  So if my next step is not so clear, I improvise!  I do not have the script but that OK.

Thank you Lord that I know You, the Author, and how the story will end!

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