Devotions By Jan


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Walking Canes

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

A cane can be a weapon, a symbol of power, or a statement of wealth and social status.  In the 11th century in what is now called France, women would carry slender sticks of applewood as a fashion statement.  And Marie Antoinette was known for carrying a shepherd’s crook.  But in today’s world, a cane is most often what we usually think of; simply something on which to lean!

Today’s verse tells us we are not to lean on our own understanding but instead trust the Lord.  Leaning on our own understanding may seem like the logical thing to do, but it is so woefully limited.  In any decision we cannot see what the future holds nor what consequences may result.  We do not throw logic out the window.  The Lord has given us decision-making skills but they can only cover so much.  Trusting God’s control and guidance means we can step forward confidently, knowing that He will direct or even redirect if needed.

The famous song, “Lean On Me,” by Bill Withers has the phrase, “please, swallow your pride.”  It takes humility for me to recognize my need of His direction.  Trusting in Him rather than in myself can be so uncomfortable as I do not understand where He is taking me.  But leaning and relying on Him and His wisdom will take me down paths of righteousness and blessing.  Trusting in my own wisdom has me going around in circles or following dead ends.  He is trustworthy.  And He invites me to throw down that cane and turn to Him!

Lord, I want to lean on You today.

 


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I Did It My Way

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 16:25 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

The music of the famous song, “My Way,” was based on the French song, “Comme D’Habitude.”   But the lyrics were written by Paul Anka.  After dining with Frank Sinatra and hearing about his unhappiness that things were not going his way, Anka penned the now-famous lyrics.  They describe a man facing his own mortality and reflecting on a life done his own way.  It says, “For what is a man, what has he got?  If not himself, then he has naught.”

Today’s verse talks about how right and good our way can seem.  There is a rebel lurking in all of us and we would rather question God’s way than question our own.  But this verse is saying that even though our way may seem right, it can still be wrong.  Our subjective stamp of approval does not change the objective truth that certain choices will lead to death.  We all need to be taught and led in His way (Psalm  27:11) and led in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:24).

How glad I am that I have more to live this life than the lyrics suggest!  I am not on my own.  My life has a plan and a purpose, created by the One who created me!  It is true that I do not always understand His way and His logic, but I am to walk His way in faith.  His way leads me on to level ground instead of the steep inclines of my ill-conceived short cuts! (Psalm 143:10).  His way leads me by still quiet waters instead of the turbulent waters my choices create (Psalm 23:2).

Lord, in looking back on my life, may I be able to say, ‘I did it YOUR way.'”

 


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A Blank Slate

Scripture for today:  Psalm 118:24  “This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Gone are the days when students carried their own small squares of slate to school.  This simple tool of education in the early nineteenth century replaced the need for expensive paper.  It could be wiped clean with a rag and used repeatedly.  I cannot help but think of today as a brand new clean slate being the first day of a brand new year.

Today’s verse teaches that each new day is a day that the Lord has made.  This new day and new year are His creation.  It is blank now but it has the potential to be just about anything!  As our Creator, He continues to create and He has something specific in mind.  We can rejoice and be glad looking at that blank slate.  His plans for us are good and we can trust what He will do.  And He holds not only the chalk but the eraser for those times we get it all smudged with our mistakes!

There may be days this year when I wake up with a less-than-positive attitude.  I may think I know what is ahead for the day and it is not a subject for joy and gladness.  All the obligations facing me can bring me down.  But the message in this verse is that God gave me this new day as well as this new year.  He created it.  He is in control of my day.  He has plans for it that I may know nothing about!  I can face the day with joy regardless of what it might or might not hold.  Why?  Because He is in it, and in His presence is “fulness of joy.”

Happy New Year!!


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Level Ground

Scripture for Today: Psalm 143:10 “Teach me to do Your will for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”

This traveler can see for miles and miles.  Because there are no hills, mountains, turns or trees she can see far ahead. But not only that, she herself can be seen from a distance.  I enjoy walking when there are no ups and downs to change my pace.  But because of this level ground I would be vulnerable and open to scrutiny.

Today’s verse is David’s prayer to do what pleases God.  He prays that God’s Spirit will lead him to level ground.  This is the path of righteousness or as some versions say, “the land of uprightness.”  This level path was walked by Jesus.  The rough ground was made level for Him when every valley was raised up and every mountain and hill were made low (Isaiah 40:4)  The reason for the level ground was not for ease of walking.  It was rather for His glory to be revealed and for all people to see it (verse 5).  There was nothing on that level ground to obstruct the view of His glory.

The way I walk is open to scrutiny and like David, I need His Spirit to teach me.  People are watching how I walk whether I realize it or not.  He is my God and His glory is at stake.  When I walk to please Him, He is lifted up and glorified.  When I follow what I know He wants, than those watching can be helped to faith.  Level ground does not necessarily mean that my way is easy.  Far from it.  But that level ground does makes me visible.

Lord, lead me to level ground and may nothing obstruct the view of Your glory in my life!


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Lactose Intolerant

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 5:13-14 “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

 

Arne Hendriks

Can anyone be truly happy without dairy?  According to these sign-toting young people in Beijing the answer is Yes!  My half Chinese husband has this problem and is much more pleasant to be around when he uses the lactose free milk and sticks to sorbet.  Like many Asians (up to 90%) he lacks that all important enzyme, lactase, which is needed to break down and absorb the lactose, which is a sugar found in milk.  All I know is that I am very thankful not to have this problem as I enjoy my ice cream!

Today’s verse in no way discounts “milk.”  It is necessary and foundational for the new christian.  There are times for the mature christian as well to review the basics.  The problem comes when one has only milk and does not progress to “solid food.”  Being satisfied with just milk will result in a failure to distinguish good from evil.  Scripture is to be actually used in making decisions.  The more we rely on its wisdom and principles, the more we can recognize evil, hate it and cling to the good! (Romans 12:9)

There are times in approaching God’s Word that I just want something basic or familiar.   Maybe I feel rushed.  Or maybe I am feeling pretty good about myself.  No conviction today, please.  A promise would make me feel good.  Nothing wrong with that.  But to really distinguish between what masquerades as good and what truly is good, I need to spend more than a little time in His Word.

Lord, make me hungry for solid food!

 


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Flippers

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:7 “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.”

I can relate to this boy who had some trouble walking in those flippers.  There is nothing so comical as watching someone trying to walk forward in flippers, high stepping in an effort not to trip!  The ends of those flippers curl up or under and make tripping inevitable.  A simple solution would be to put them on at water’s edge.  But if that is not possible than there is another solution that avoids looking like a clown and tripping.  And that is to walk backwards!

Today’s verse talks about our lives being a walk.  Paul is pointing out the difference between our former way of walking and our walk now that we are made new.  The old way of walking was characterized by tripping up on anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language (verse 8).  This way of walking in our earthly nature included sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (verse 5).  No wonder there was tripping and stumbling!  But with being made new, we are walking backwards, sure-footed.  We may be walking differently than everyone else, but we are upright!

It is not always easy to be walking differently through life than everyone around me.  Even though I am not tripping, I am in the minority.  I am walking backwards compared to everyone else and it is an uncomfortable feeling to be mocked or misunderstood.  But this is the walk the Lord has called me to.  Thankfully, I am not alone.  His Spirit keeps me walking in a way that pleases Him.  And there are other believers doing this same walk with me.  Walking His way is so much more pleasant when I can avoid tripping and stumbling!

Lord, keep me walking Your way.

 


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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.