Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

Enjoying the View

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:45 “I will walk about in freedom for I have sought Your precepts.”

I imagine that anyone with a fear of heights would give the Needles Overlook a wide berth.  This view of Canyonlands National Park in Utah is a panoramic one going in all directions.  The overlook affords a view of the Abago Mountains and the peaks of La Sal.  But this open plateau edge drops suddenly away 1,600 feet above the valley floor!  If it were not for that sturdy rail going around the perimeter, I would not feel free to walk very close to the edge and I would miss out on those amazing views.

Today’s verse puts two words together that normally one would not think to do; freedom and precepts.  Prevalent thinking equates freedom with no rules or restrictions at all.  But God’s laws are like the railing.  Because of its presence I can freely walk about and enjoy incredible vistas.  God’s laws provide safety and protection.  They are there, not to restrict and be a burden, but rather to free us to walk in confidence.  God’s laws even alleviate our anxiety.  “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Ps. 119:165)

The author of this psalm cannot say enough about how he loves God’s law.  He describes them as giving comfort (verse 52). God’s statues and precepts reassure me of the right direction my life is taking.  I never have to wonder if another way is better or more exciting.  I do not miss out on anything except for what will harm me.  His law is an expression of His love for me.  Following it gives me the best kind of life there is!

Lord, keep me walking about in the freedom that following Your law brings!

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Floundering

Scripture for Today: “II Corinthians 5:15 “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”

This fish continued his valiant fight for life even after being pulled from the water.  I enjoy seafood so much but I hate thinking about how it got to be on my plate!  In the end, this fish flopping and floundering did him no good.  The word “floundering” was perhaps influenced in the 1590’s by the Dutch word, “flodderen” meaning to flop about.  Later this verb referred to being completely unable to decide what to do or say.

Today’s verse gives a goal and direction to life.  Rather than flounder through life following different visions and dreams, there is a sense of purpose.  This goal in life does not change with the times or fashions of the day.  It is not a goal that disappoints but a purpose that is deep and lasting.  There is no ambiguity.  We are to live our lives for the Lord Jesus who died and was raised again for us.  Living to please ourselves leaves us empty and unfulfilled.  Solomon found that living for any desire or pleasure was meaningless and like chasing after wind. (Eccl. 2:10-11)

It breaks my heart to see family and friends floundering, living for the next relationship, the next adventure or the next big purchase.  A whole life can be spent on the dubious goal of pleasing one’s self.  But living for the Lord is always an adventure of faith!  He gives that sense of purpose to my life.  Living for His purposes gives a satisfaction and a significance like nothing else can.

Thank you Lord, that in sacrificing Your own life, You have made mine worth living!

 

 


Leave a comment

Rearranging the Furniture

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:26 “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

I am one of those people who love to rearrange the furniture!  The new configuration may not even be better than the previous one, but it makes me feel better.  I enjoy the change and the fresh look.  My husband is not always of the same opinion, especially when he stubs his toe!  Where before he could walk through the living room without any thought, he now has to be intentional about where he steps!  Habits die hard!

Today’s verse is a caution about our steps.  We are to give careful thought to what paths we follow.  Routine and habit can dull the senses and make us unaware.  We are to be intentional in evaluating our direction and walk in a way that is consistent with our beliefs.  The following verse tells us to avoid turning to the right or to the left, but to stay the course of what we know is right.  Verse 25 tells us to fix our gaze straight ahead.

It is easy to be distracted rather than resolute.  But inattention can get me in trouble with evil.  It lies on either side of that righteous path.  The path for the believer is narrow but it leads to life and immortality (Prov. 12:28) so it is well worth following!  I do not have to fear that evil regardless of how close it may seem.  I have Someone who as my Shepherd guides me along the right path (Psalm 23:3-4).  There may be unexpected obstacles, but He is always there to guide and protect.  He helps me to think through that next step!

Lord, help me to give careful thought to where I am stepping!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


Leave a comment

Ask!

Scripture for Today: James 1:5 “But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.”

I can ask Google anything.  Apparently, there are no questions too stupid that it will not answer.  In fact, when asking something very obvious that everyone should know, it does not make fun of me or roll its eyes!  I get no attitude from Google.  Imagine it saying, “What?  You don’t know that?” or, “I answered that yesterday!  Can’t you remember anything?” In the privacy of my own home I can ask it anything without fear of disdain for my stupidity!

Asking questions from people can be humbling.  It is difficult to put aside one’s pride and admit not knowing.  My motto is often, “Fake it ’til you make it.”  How often I have continued a phone conversation despite not knowing which Kathy or Jim is on the line!  My pride prevents me from asking for a last name.  No one likes to admit not knowing.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to ask for wisdom from the Lord.  He does not reprimand us for not knowing.  There is no exasperation on His part.  He is patient and understanding.  But we do not receive this wisdom until two things happen: we recognize our lack and we humble ourselves enough to ask Him.

Google is not infallible and it is limited to just the facts.  Google cannot help me to live my life with skill and godliness.  However, God invites me to approach Him with faith, anywhere and anytime for help with any area.  He is the limitless and infallible source of every answer I need!

Help me Lord, to turn to You today for every answer!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


Leave a comment

Good Taste

Scripture for Today: Job 34:3-4 “For the ear tests words as the tongue tests food. Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.”

This cat is enjoying ice cream almost as much as I do!  Our Tiger never tasted the stuff because I was always unwilling to share.  However, I have given him as taste of yogurt and he was thrilled.  I imagine many cats enjoy foods that involve milk or cream.  But I still remember the veterinarian warning us that the digestive system of an adult cat does not take too well to drinking milk.  Although the taste is delicious, it is not so good for him.

Today’s verse records the advice of one of Job’s three friends.  Elihu was eager to help Job discover the reason for his troubles.  He had a lot to say but it was off the mark.  Certainly, we are to test what we hear and listen with discernment.  Just as we taste food to see if it has a pleasing flavor, so we “taste” what we hear to decide if it rings true.  The problem is that we all have differing taste buds.  What seems right and good to one can seem wrong and sour to another.  Our subjectivity gets in the way of finding absolute truth.

Thankfully, we do not have to discern for ourselves what is right.  It is not up to us to come to some sort of consensus.  God’s Law goes beyond individual opinion or cultural norms.  God’s Law does not change with the times.  Surveys and votes do not change what God has put in place.  And not only does it taste good, but it is good for us!

Help me Lord, to discern what You call good and right.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


Leave a comment

Bumper Bowling

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 2:7-8 “He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.”

Maybe I would feel differently about bowling had I grown up using these bumpers.  Imagine no more gutter balls!  But I did not have this luxury and I was on my  own trying to get that blasted ball to reach any of those bored pins.  It was not as if my Dad did not try to teach me.  He was in a bowling league at his work and had his own ball.  He and his team won trophies, but of course no serious bowler would consent to using these bumpers.  But I love the idea of having that little edge to correct the course of my wayward ball.

Today’s verse is beautiful!  The Lord God wants us to succeed but true success is only found in a relationship that follows His course.  None of His commands are arbitrary.  They exist for our good and for our protection.  Through His Word He speaks and guides.  When we obey and follow His perfect way, we enjoy the blessing of intimacy with Him.

I look at those bumpers as His grace to forgive, correct and restore.  Even with the best of intentions I fail.  I am “prone to wander” off His path.  But because I belong to Him, He does not let this silly sheep stray too far.  Sometimes that corrective bump can be a bit of a shock and not at all comfortable.  But it is just what is needed to get me back on course.

Lord, I want to always be one of Your faithful ones.  Keep me on that path of righteousness today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


Leave a comment

Leaning House

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

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is perhaps not so unique!  This house, used as a hotel, is found on the Blau river in Ulm, Germany.  The Guinness Book of Records named it the most leaning hotel in the world in 1997.  It was built around the 15th century in the Fisherman’s Quarter of the city.  I cannot imagine staying there.  I would be afraid that I would roll out of bed!

Today’s verse is a loving warning against leaning on one’s own understanding.  When a believer counts on his own reasoning rather than trusting in God’s unveiled plans, he leans as precariously as this house.  Our own understanding is flawed and limited.  We never see the big picture.  Leaning and trusting in only what we can understand makes us lean away from the sure foundation that He is!  In limiting ourselves to what we can surmise or figure out, we become unstable.  We teeter and sway rather than standing firm with a wholehearted trust in His direction.  He has promised to lead the way and make our paths straight.

My own understanding sure gets me in trouble.  I assume the wrong thing.  I read a situation incorrectly without even knowing it.  I think I know, and I do not.  There is only One who knows the future, who knows what is best for me.  The Lord not only knows, but He has the power to bring it about!  If I lean at all, I want to lean into Him and His strong arms.

Lord, keep me trusting in You with all my heart.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)