Devotions By Jan


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Bison in the Road!

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.”

We have recently learned on the roads in  Yellowstone Park that Bison have the undisputed right of way!  There was no sign saying so.  It was just common sense to stop and make way.  With their huge shaggy heads and their gruff snorting, we did not argue!  There was no going around them or passing cars to get by them.  Everyone just waited until they decided they would clear the road!  Whether waiting took five minutes or ninety, there was nothing else to do!  It was out of our control.

Today’s verse tells us we are to yield or submit to the Lord in each and every way we choose to take.  By acknowledging His control, His superior knowledge and His goodness, we travel a path much less complicated by twists and turns.  He makes our paths straight, unencumbered by lengthy unnecessary detours.  We reach our destination in good time, or in His time (regardless of the bison in the road!)  When we give way to Him rather than insisting on our own plan, we find He had a better idea all along!

Yielding my will to His is so often a struggle.  Even knowing that my own understanding is limited, I stubbornly resist.  I like being the one who makes the decisions.  Trusting Him with all my heart is scary without having some measure of control.  But He promises that when I do, He will make my paths straight, choosing the best way.  No time will be lost as He has a purpose in every delay.

Thank you Lord, that I can fully trust Your heart of love for me!


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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:5 “You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.”

The dilemma this sheep faces is surely that of being between, “a rock and a hard place!”  I cannot imagine what lured him into such a predicament!  The choices look pretty limited and uncomfortable.  It is thought that this expression comes from Greek mythology where one had to confront one of two sea monsters!  It has been a popular expression since the early twentieth century when it was used to refer to bankruptcy.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm that describes how vast is God’s knowledge of each one of us.  He is acquainted with all of our ways and all of our movements.  He is everywhere and there is no fleeing His presence.  But this verse is so very personal.  He encloses or hems us in with His presence.  He puts a limit ahead of us and a limit behind us.  He does not do this to frustrate us with impossible choices.  He does this in a gesture of love, to place His hand on us.

It is understandable that He needs to hem me in and put His hand on me.  I am so often in constant movement and activity.  I hardly stand still.  Taking time out for Him and being still seems impossible sometimes.  The pace of life makes me forget He is even there.  There are times I need to be stopped in my tracks in order to see His hand and recognize His presence.  Being hemmed in by the Lord is a good thing.  When I cannot go forward or turn backward, it is then that I look up.  That is just how He wants it!

Lord, keep me looking to You for every decision!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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NASCAR Spotters


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

The NASCAR driver can not turn his head while wearing the required head and neck support.  His wrap-around helmet also reduces visibility.  The driver can really only see directly in front of him or behind him.  These safety requirements have made the role of the “spotter” crucial.  The spotters are called, “eyes in the sky” seeing the whole track at once.  For three and a half hours the race-long conversations help their drivers avoid wrecks, position themselves to the best advantage and maneuver around blind corners.  Those words of guidance and encouragement in a calm tone can make all the difference!

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?  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 Partners

Scripture for Today: Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

These look like unlikely walking partners!  But apparently, they don’t know that!  Walking is great exercise but with a partner it can enrich the experience.  There are digital platforms that connect people.  The People Walker is one that provides safe reliable walking partners for a fee.  They advertise that with a partner, it becomes more than just a mere walk.  There is conversation, accountability, motivation, exploration, sightseeing and new experiences!

Today’s well-known verse simplifies what the Lord requires of us.  It simplifies but it is not simple!  His standard for what is truly good and necessary is to always live a life that is just and to love and show mercy.  The life of a believer is a lifelong journey walking humbly with God.  Walking with God humbly would be to stay by His side, allowing Him to set the pace and direction.  It is also more than a mere walk, providing conversation, accountability, motivation, exploration, sightseeing and new experiences!

There is no possibility of me acting justly or loving mercy were it not for my Walking Partner.  His presence and power give me the desire and the ability to do what He asks of me (Phil. 2:13).  Walking with Him keeps me out of a whole mess of trouble, be it unnecessary detours or tripping over rocks.  He keeps me in that path of righteousness.  But He keeps me there by His very presence at my side.  And because He sets the pace, He knows when I need to slow down and rest.  And when the path becomes difficult, He is there to get me through.

Thank you Lord, for walking with me.


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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.