Devotions By Jan

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Remote Control Mix-Up

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 37:5  “Commit your way to the Lord;  trust in Him and He will do this.”

This array of remote controls is impressive!  I cannot imagine trying to keep them all straight.  Seriously, I would probably mix them up to the point of inadvertently turning on or off the wrong thing.  Even with the few we have, I have been mixed up, pointing the fan remote at the television and wondering why nothing happened!  All these controls must give one a sense of command.  With voice recognition we can tell lights to come on or heating to turn off.  It is a powerful feeling to have the environment obey one’s every command!

Today’s verse teaches believers to give up control of our lives to the Lord.  There are plenty of things over which we have no control.  But for those things we do, we are to entrust even those to Him.  This is not a natural reaction to a problem.  In fact, in facing a difficulty beyond one’s control, the first inclination is to somehow find a sense of control.  But committing one’s way to the Lord is yielding it all to Him.  It is an intentional decision to allow the Lord His perfect way and to relinquish control.

My basic problem in yielding those controls to Him is a lack of trust.  Why ever do I think I can do a better job of it than He can?  Trusting in myself and my own limited understanding may keep control in my feeble hands but His way is always better.  Even when His way is difficult, I can trust that He knows what He is doing.  Nothing is random and I can be confident that He does have a plan.

Thank you, Lord, for your wise and loving control.

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Blind as a Bat

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:7 “For we live by faith, not by sight.”

It certainly does not seem as if these Mexican free-tailed bats are blind.  Although pitch dark, they seem to know exactly where they are going.  They are not bumping in to each other or the walls of Bracken Cave, their summer home in Mexico.  Theirs is the world’s largest bat colony housing more than 15 million.  It is actually a myth that bats are blind, although some species prefer relying on echolocation rather than their sight.

Today’s verse states that a believer will not rely only on his sight to navigate this life.  The one who places their confidence in his Creator has the advantage of faith or “spiritual sight” to guide him.  It may sometimes seem like a “blind faith” as we cannot understand the work of God completely (Eccl. 11:5).  We do not see the path of the wind or how the body is formed in the mother’s womb.  There is so much we do not understand.  But we trust our Heavenly Father without knowing all the details.

What is reassuring about our faith is that it is not really blind at all.  We know the One in whom we place our trust and that makes all the difference!  When I cannot understand what He is doing, I can still trust that He will be true to His character; loving, good, faithful and true.  I can trust that He will be true to His Word.  He is never random or capricious. My faith is not blind as it is placed in the One who sees all.  I can even, like Corrie Ten Boon, “trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Thank you Lord, that my faith in You is never blind.

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Monkey Puzzle Tree

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

“It would puzzle a monkey to climb that!”  This is the quote that led to the popular name of this tree which happens to be the National Tree of Chili.  Its leaves are very thick and tough with an average lifespan of twenty four years!  But that is nothing compared to the longevity of this tree, living as long as one thousand years!  Its reptilian branches and its symmetrical appearance make it easily recognizable.  But that does not help the poor monkey trying to navigate it!

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?  It often is puzzling.  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!

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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.



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!