Devotions By Jan


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Stingray Shuffle

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:15  “Look carefully then how you walk!  Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people).”

There have been numerous stories lately about stingrays on the California beaches.  All records were broken when 156 stingray injuries were reported in just three days!  Normally, I think of this problem as only being on the Atlantic side.  But apparently, the low tides and warm water have brought these unwanted visitors close enough to be a problem.  The prevailing wisdom is to shuffle your feet when entering the water.  The sand kicked up when walking this way will alert and scatter them.

Today’s verse tells us to be wise by walking carefully.  We walk through life with a purpose.  We walk in a manner that is worthy of our calling, pleasing the Lord (Col. 1:10).  We do not walk courting disaster as the unwise would do.  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 danger.  So much heartache can be avoided when we walk through this life the way the Lord has prescribed.  Walking carefully is walking within His will, making the most every day (verses 16-17).

Walking my way instead of His does not seem so bad.  Mt problem is that I do not see that stingray in my path as it can blend in with the sand.  The only way I can be confident of my next step, and the one after that, is to know I am walking to please Him.  No decision is too small or unimportant to bring to Him for counsel (Psalm 73:24).  He guides me through His Word which touches every area of my life.

Lord, show me how to walk today.

 

 

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Changing Tack?

Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:9 “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.”

No.  I do not know these people either.  But I sense a kindred spirit in this woman who is prudently holding onto the boom.  When a boat tacks and changes direction, that boom quickly swings to the other side of the boat.  For the unaware, it means being knocked in the head if one is in its path.  I know this from experience!  The one changing direction would, in a perfect world, let his passengers know what he was doing.

Today’s verse reassures the believer that God has a plan for how we live our lives.  He is available to be our Guide and to teach us His way, which is always the best way!  All His ways are loving and faithful (verse 10) even if it seems that He is guiding us into waters that do not look so calm.  He is there and He is good.  But it is only the humble who can be guided.  When we confidently change tack or direction without His counsel, (James 4:13-16) we are likely to be in the way of that boom!

I am excited for this new calendar year, in fact so much so that I tore Christmas down a bit early!  But at the same time, I can be fearful of what changes may be in store.  There will be changes.  There always are.  He may change some of my directions.  But if I am humbly seeking Him and His guidance, I do not have to be surprised by that boom!  And I am reassured by who He is.  All His ways are loving and faithful!  I can be peaceful as I look ahead knowing that He is completely trustworthy!

Lord, I need You to guide me.


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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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Current of Air!

Scripture for Today: Galatians 5:25 “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Scarves are worn everywhere and throughout every season in France.  There are heavy winter ones and smaller indoor ones to dress up an outfit.  Men wear them almost as much as women.  When the sun is strong, vendors are even on the beaches selling them.  The scarves in summer are lightweight and keep the sun off the neck and shoulders.  Scarves are worn regardless of the temperature and are especially worn when there might be a current of air.  Most of my French friends are convinced that a cold could be caught as the result of that breeze coming in the window!

Today’s verse talks about living by the Spirit of God.  The Greek word used for Spirit is “pneuma” and means to breathe or blow.  The Spirit is like the wind (John 3:8) being invisible and powerful.  But that wind can also be light and gentle, like a soft current of air.  It can be easy to miss if we are not paying attention.  Living by the Spirit is being sensitive to the Spirit’s leading.  He gives us the wisdom and understanding to know and follow what God wants (Col. 1:9).

Sometimes, the leading of His Spirit is unmistakeable as He steers me clear of compromising situations or obvious sin.  But other times I can easily miss what He wants and be “out of step.”  My own will is awfully strong and frankly, I do not always want to ask for His.  However, keeping in step with Him is far better as He makes my path straight when I acknowledge and submit to Him (Prov. 3:5-6).  His way is always better.

Lord, help me follow Your Spirit today.

 


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In the Limelight

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:9 “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

Before the advent of electricity, theaters would use limelight to illuminate the stage.  A sharp point of oxyhydrogen flame was directed at a cylindrical block of lime, causing a tiny area of it to become incandescent.  The result was a bright white light.  However, it needed almost constant attention.  Someone was needed to continually adjust the block as it burned.  Since the invention of electricity this method is no longer used.  The saying, “being in the limelight,” is usually the only time we hear this word.

Today’s verse speaks of another source of light.  It will never be replaced with something better as this light gives life and enables us to see.  He does not illuminate a stage but a lifetime with the Light of His presence (John 8:12).  God has made His light to shine in our hearts, to give us the knowledge of Him (II Cor. 4:6).  His light not only shows us who He is but it is also an expression of His priceless and unfailing love (Psalm 36:7).

Just like the limelight, the light of His presence needs constant attention.  Being in His Word intensifies that light He gives.  His light is warm and loving, giving me closeness to Him and direction for my day.  Without it, I can easily stumble around and lose my purpose.  I can even get quite accustomed to the dimness and shadows.  But the further I wander from His light, the more negative and discouraged I become.  But oh what a difference when I return to the source of Light!  Not only does His light dispels darkness in my heart and mind but it also draws others to Himself!

Lord, keep me in Your light 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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Apple Fritter

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:15-16 “Be very careful, then , how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

I can turn down donuts fairly easily but I have a weakness for apple fritters.  I can tell myself that they are “healthier” having apple in them.  But in fact they do not differ much from the donut, being deep fat fried cake batter.  The word, “fritter,” comes from the French word for fried.  However, there is another meaning to the word, “fritter,” as in the saying, “to fritter away.”  This is when we gradually squander or waste time or money.

Today’s verse stresses the importance of making the most of every opportunity.  Doing so makes us wise.  When we fritter away the day or the week, we assume there will be many more ahead of us.  But the days are evil and life can be cut short.  However, missed opportunities are not an issue for the believer who is carefully living to please Him and do His will (verse 17).  In being filled with His Spirit (verse 18) we can make the most of our days.

Making the most of today may involve doing absolutely nothing and “recharging my batteries.”  I do not have to worry that I am frittering away anything if I am closely following what He wants for me today.  He knows when I need to slow down and when I can speed up.  He places those opportunities to serve Him squarely in my path, and gives me the motivation to, “fulfill His good purpose.” (Phil. 2:13)  I only have this one life to offer Him.  When I come to the end of it, I do not want to have any regrets over missed opportunities.

Help me Lord, to live wisely today.