Devotions By Jan


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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.

 

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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!

 


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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.


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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..


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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.


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Meteor Sighting

Scripture for Today: Psalm 43:3 “Send me Your light and Your faithful care, let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell.”

Our friends in Tallahassee were treated to an incredible sight a few days ago.  A meteor crashed through earth’s atmosphere lighting up the sky.  The five seconds it took to streak across the night turned the whole area into daylight.  One witness said it was if someone had turned on stadium lights!  This chunk of space rock is called a “meteoroid” when floating in space.  But as soon as it hits earth’s atmosphere it is called a “meteor.”  And should it strike the surface it becomes a “meteorite.”  In any case, the light it generates is impressive!

Today’s verse is a prayer for light.  We need His light to guide us back to the altar, back to His presence.  When we wander away it is easy to lose the way back to Him.  Our souls become downcast and disturbed (verse 5).  Without His light, everything seems somber, confusing, and even despairing.  Disquieting thoughts and doubts keep us feeling alienated.  But His light and His care brings us back into His comforting presence.  It is at His altar that we find what we need.  He is our joy and delight (verse 4).

How quickly it can get dark!  But it does not have to stay that way.  I have but to move back to His light-giving presence.  His Word is that light to my feet, leading me back to Him (Psalm 119:105).  Knowing Him better and better allows that light to grow inside (II Cor. 4:6).  And with that light comes confidence and courage.  Hope is reborn in His light!  Darkness will not win.

Thank you Lord, that Your light brings me back to You!


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A Three-Legged Race

Scripture for Today:  Amos 3:3 “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?

They were doing so well, outrunning all the others on their combined three legs!  But all it took was a small deviation to the right or to the left without the cooperation of the other to bring down this duo.  There is no hope of winning the prize unless the two runners can move together in sync.  The only way to be coordinated in their movements is to have complete agreement on their direction and their speed.  The most important agreement to make is on who will lead and who will follow.

Today’s verse is in a little-known book of prophecy.  Out of God’s love for Israel, he warns them of coming judgement through his prophet, Amos.  He asks obvious questions of cause and effect to point out that their sin will be punished (verses 3-6).  Two cannot walk together unless they can agree on their pace and their route.  As a nation, they were collectively going in the wrong direction.  Rather than walking toward the Lord in confession they were willfully walking away from Him in their sin.

I want to be intentional about who my walking companions are!  My direction is very different than that of the world.  If I am yoked with unbelievers than I will be tripping and falling all over the place (II Cor. 6:14).  I want to walk in sync with the Lord and follow Him.  That can only happen as I humbly agree with Him in confession.  When I do, that walk is sweet and satisfying.  He chooses just the right path and keeps me from stumbling.  Walking with Him through life gives me purpose and fulfillment.

Lord, don’t let me wander.   Keep me walking close to You.