Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

NASCAR Spotters


Scripture for Today: Proverbs 20:24 “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?”

The NASCAR driver can not turn his head while wearing the required head and neck support.  His wrap-around helmet also reduces visibility.  The driver can really only see directly in front of him or behind him.  These safety requirements have made the role of the “spotter” crucial.  The spotters are called, “eyes in the sky” seeing the whole track at once.  For three and a half hours the race-long conversations help their drivers avoid wrecks, position themselves to the best advantage and maneuver around blind corners.  Those words of guidance and encouragement in a calm tone can make all the difference!

Today’s verse acknowledges that the Lord directs the steps of those who belong to Him.  But often, the one directed has no idea of His direction!  The question expresses what is often felt:  How can anyone understand their own way?  We do not have the same vantage point and we can never understand it all.  We are told in any case not to lean on our own understanding but to acknowledge Him so that He can direct us (Prov. 3:5-6).

Because I cannot see what lies ahead, I need to trust the One who is already there and knows the way.  If I were to wait until I understood the reasons behind every directive, I would be at a standstill and make no progress!  But I can be confident of my direction even without full understanding.  That is because I trust Him.  His eyes are always on me and the twists and turns are not random.  He has a loving purpose in every change of course.  His direction is always towards a more loving relationship with Himself!

Lord, help me to trust You completely!


Leave a comment

Walking Partners

Scripture for Today: Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

These look like unlikely walking partners!  But apparently, they don’t know that!  Walking is great exercise but with a partner it can enrich the experience.  There are digital platforms that connect people.  The People Walker is one that provides safe reliable walking partners for a fee.  They advertise that with a partner, it becomes more than just a mere walk.  There is conversation, accountability, motivation, exploration, sightseeing and new experiences!

Today’s well-known verse simplifies what the Lord requires of us.  It simplifies but it is not simple!  His standard for what is truly good and necessary is to always live a life that is just and to love and show mercy.  The life of a believer is a lifelong journey walking humbly with God.  Walking with God humbly would be to stay by His side, allowing Him to set the pace and direction.  It is also more than a mere walk, providing conversation, accountability, motivation, exploration, sightseeing and new experiences!

There is no possibility of me acting justly or loving mercy were it not for my Walking Partner.  His presence and power give me the desire and the ability to do what He asks of me (Phil. 2:13).  Walking with Him keeps me out of a whole mess of trouble, be it unnecessary detours or tripping over rocks.  He keeps me in that path of righteousness.  But He keeps me there by His very presence at my side.  And because He sets the pace, He knows when I need to slow down and rest.  And when the path becomes difficult, He is there to get me through.

Thank you Lord, for walking with me.


2 Comments

Sheepish Students

Scripture for Today: John 10:4 “When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.”

I am not sure how much sheep can learn.  They are said to be pretty dumb.  But apparently that could change for 15 lucky sheep who were recently enrolled in school!  Classes were at risk of closing due to a lack of students in a small village of four thousand in Crêts en Belledonne, France.  In an effort to keep the classes open, a local shepherd registered fifteen of his sheep, providing birth certificates and names!  Now with increase enrollment the concerned parents could assert their rights and save the classes!

Sheep do not know very much.  But today’s verse points out one thing sheep know very well and that is the voice of their shepherd.  Others may try to call to them to follow but unless it is the voice of their shepherd, they pay them no mind (verse 5).  Those sheep that belong to the Good Shepherd know and recognize His voice and follow Him.  With His voice He leads, guides and protects from danger.  It is a trustworthy voice.

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 my 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, please let me hear Your voice today.

 


Leave a comment

Coxswain Rowing

Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:19  “They have lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.”

As I look out the window at Buzzard’s Bay I see the rowing teams practicing from the nearby private academy.  The only one who seems to know where the boat is going is the coxswain who sits in the stern facing the bow.  This member of the team does not row but his role is crucial.  It is only with his specific calls that the rowers can make any progress.  He is responsible for steering the boat and for coordinating the power and rhythm of the rowers.  Without him, there is no unity.

Today’s verse speaks of the Church as a body with a head.  That Head is Christ (Col. 1:18).  If we lose our connection with Him we have lost the ability to work together.  We each have a role to play as members of this body, and there is no growth without Him.  He is the One who directs and leads.  He is the One who steers us in the right direction.  He has the same call for all of us and that is to glorify Him.

There is a temptation to think I am really something!  I may think I know a better way to move forward.  But with this attitude I lose connection with the Lord and I lose connection with other members.  That is because it is Christ who holds us together.  He sees where I am going but asks me to operate by faith and trust Him.  When I am listening for His calls I find unity with other believers doing the same thing!

Thank you Lord, for the progress You make possible!

 


Leave a comment

Bummer Lamb

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 40:11 “He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.”

This sweet lamb being bottle fed could very well be what is called in agricultural terms a “bummer lamb.”  These are lambs that need special attention and care having been rejected by their mothers.  If the shepherd does not intervene, the lamb would die.  Some shepherds go so far as to bring the lamb into their home and raise him there until strong enough to join the rest of the flock.

Today’s verse is such a beautiful depiction of the Lord.  This tender picture is sandwiched between two verses describing God’s power; His ruling power and His creative power.  How amazing it is that His tenderness can co-exist with that incredible power!  The Lord is our Shepherd and cares about each of His sheep individually.  He carries them when they feel weak, not under His arm or even on His back, but close to His heart.  Our Shepherd leads and guides His sheep but does it oh so gently for the ewes with their young ones.

In a world that can sometimes seem so cold and harsh, it is this quality of His love that I so appreciate.  I especially need His tenderness when I am sore from beating myself up.  I need His tenderness when I feel hurt and rejected.  His gentleness is like a balm for my soul.  Close to my Shepherd’s heart I feel warm and cherished.  His arms hold me up when I just can’t anymore.  There is a time for His rod and staff.  But there is a time for His tenderness.  And He knows exactly what I need.

Thank you Lord, for Your gentle care today.


Leave a comment

The Border Collie

Scripture for Today:  John 16:8   “When He  comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement……”

This beautiful border collie has everyone’s rapt attention!  Unlike the “heeler” dogs who nip at heels, this breed is called a “header.”  He goes to the front of the animal to turn or stop its movement.  It is common for a border collie to stand in front of a large group and use what is called a “strong eye” to stare them down into submission!

Today’s verse talks about the role of the Holy Spirit.  Like the header dog that nudges the sheep in the right direction, so we need Him to direct and lead.  We are like sheep and left to ourselves would go astray (Is. 53:6).  We all need the Shepherd’s rod and staff for correction and for getting us out of danger!  His Spirit brings the conviction of what is wrong, what is right and the consequences a behavior brings.  The Spirit incites the positive godly guilt that leads to repentance (II Cor. 7:9.)

The Lord is my Shepherd but the Holy Spirit is like that border collie.  I love that the indwelling Holy Spirit brings comfort, power and His fruit in my life (Gal. 5:22-23).  However, the guilt and conviction from Him is not a comfortable experience.  The quicker I listen and obey, changing direction, the sooner the experience is over.  But that temporary discomfort is well worth avoiding that fall over a cliff!  His desire is always for my good.  As my Shepherd He leads me in the paths of righteousness where I can find quiet waters to refresh my soul (Psalm 23).  That is why His conviction as a rod and staff can actually bring me comfort!

Lord, help me see Your correction as proof of Your love..


2 Comments

The North Star

Scripture for Today:  Exodus 15:13 “In Your unfailing love You will lead the people You have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling.”

For centuries the North Star, or Polaris, has been helping travelers get their bearings.  Whether traversing a dry uncharted desert or sailing through waters without a horizon in sight, the North Star has kept travelers from losing themselves.  Because it is located nearly at the north celestial pole, it marks the way due north.  It is bright but only the 50th brightest star above us.  The North Star is famous for holding nearly still while the entire northern sky turns around it.

Today’s verse reminds us of the fact that the God of this universe is willing to lead and guide His people.  He shows us the way because of His amazing unfailing love.  He uses His incredible strength to lift us up out of the deep slimy pit of mud and mire and to set our feet back on firm solid ground (Psalm 40:2).  His love for us never falters, even when we ignore His leading and fall away.  We may step out of His will but we never step out of His care.  His correction and instruction light the way back to His presence (Prov. 6:23).

What a precious thought that He cares enough to see every wayward step.  He does not want me to go through life unclear and confused about my direction.  He has redeemed me and I am HIs.  His love will never fail me, even when I am not looking up for His direction.  In my pride I may think I have it all together when in fact I may be inadvertently putting distance between us.  His guidance keeps me warm and close.

Lord, keep me looking to You for each step.