Devotions By Jan


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Digging in the Dirt

Scripture for Today:  Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;”

Roots are a good thing normally.  They are what support and sustain the plant.  But then there are those roots that support and sustain what is unwanted; those nasty weeds.  I can be quite proud of myself when I have cleared a large area of weeds in a short time.  But if I have not gone deeper, digging after those roots, then of course it all needs redoing very quickly.  Those roots are tenacious.  A weed can seem deceptively small but the root can go on and on.  There is a such satisfaction in getting to the hidden root and pulling it all up.

Today’s verse speaks of the damage that is done by a root of bitterness.  It can spring up out of nowhere.  It is a surprise when it surfaces as normally it is well hidden.  And of course, the longer it has been hidden below the surface, the longer and more entrenched it becomes!  The problem of an unforgiving spirit can seem like that deceptively small weed.  In pulling it out all seems resolved on the surface.  But the Holy Spirit wants to dig deeper and reveal the problem of bitterness underneath.

Digging hurts.  The conviction of the Spirit can be excruciating.  Oh, but the relief to have that long root pulled up and out!  There is freedom in having that bitterness eradicated.  Often, the offending party is not even aware.  But the whole process is heart wrenching as I give up the hurt and the any thought of revenge.  There is freedom in giving the whole mess over to the Lord.

Thank you Lord, that You can take that bitterness away.

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Lightening Rod

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him and by His wounds we are healed.”

What a spectacular sight when it happens!  But in fact, the Eiffel Tower  is struck by lightening about ten times a year.  It happened again just recently on May 30th at 2:00am.  Around that time, France experienced a few days with record rainfall and lots of storms throughout the country.  (We were affected being stuck 3 days, trying to fly in!) The tower has lightening rods at the top, so it attracts the lightening and protects quite a large space around it.  The Parisians are safer with that large hunk of metal absorbing the electricity.

Today’s verse reminded me of a lightening rod or conductor.  The cross absorbed all of God’s wrath against sin.  Jesus, who was sinless, took the punishment on Himself that was rightfully ours to bear.  He was pierced, crushed and wounded, all in our place.  Because of His sacrifice, He was able to absorb all of God’s righteous anger against sin.  To talk about God’s wrath is not a comfortable topic.  Yet, without realizing God’s hatred against all wrong-doing, we do not understand how deep is His grace in taking our place!

I am guilty of sometimes treating sin lightly.  I have an amazing ability to minimize its seriousness, at least when it comes to me!  My sin is never as serious as someone else’s!  But when I examine my heart in the light of God’s holiness I become overwhelmed.  When I realize the pain and agony He suffered, then I understand how unworthy I am to have His mercy and grace poured out on me!

I am forever grateful to You Lord, for taking my place.

 


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Dormant

mount-edgecumbeScripture for Today: James 1:19b-20 “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

The residents of Kruzof Island got quite a scare when seeing this black plume rise out Edgecumbe mountain.  The volcano on this Alaskan island was thought to be dormant as it had not erupted for four thousand years.  (A volcano is classed as “dormant” when it has not erupted in the last ten thousand years.)  When a helicopter flew over to investigate, they found it to be an elaborate prank by a resident who had set fire to tires!

Today’s verse encourages us to be inclined to listen rather than to speak, and to be slow in becoming angry.  Our anger, even in the face of injustice usually does more harm than good.  Our anger does not always result in righteousness.  More often than not, even justified anger ends up being something for which we ask forgiveness.  God’s anger, vengeance, and justice however always produces righteousness.  When we are slow to anger, allowing it to lie dormant, we give ourselves the opportunity to see God work!

There is always some level of anger underneath the surface.  There are times I have been wronged personally.  I get especially angry when I see family members hurt.  Rather than lash out, I need to wait and see the Lord take care of it, in His way and in His timing.  Allowing my anger to spill out serves no purpose at all.  Burying it below the surface is not ideal either, but better than erupting!  I need to trust in His perfect justice!  God’s Spirit gives me the control to slow down the anger and not erupt!

Lord, I need your control today.

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


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Bent by the Wind

Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:6 “I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go about mourning all day long.”

So many of the trees at this beach on the island of Sardinia were bent over as a result of the strong winds.  It was almost impossible to walk through a grove of them and avoid running into their lowered branches.  Some of them were practically horizontal.  Only a few provided the shade we needed at the right height for our picnic.  Even so, they managed to keep growing, in spite of the buffeting from those strong gusts of wind.

Today’s verse talks about being bent over and bowed down as an image for guilt over sin.  David feels the seriousness of his failures so keenly that he mourns all throughout the day.  He describes the guilt he feels as a burden too heavy to bear (verse 4).  He feels that the guilt is even affecting his health when he says there is no soundness in his bones because of his sin (verse 3).  He calls his sin, “folly” (verse 5).

This is exactly what guilt feels like.  But this description is before David confesses (verse 18).  David ends the psalm with confidence in God’s help and forgiveness.  Those strong winds of guilt have him bowed down but he is still standing.  Perhaps David was a “man after God’s own heart” because he recognized the seriousness of his sin and was willing to completely humble himself.

I do not often have this kind of guilt.  It is not that I do not sin as much or as seriously as David.  But I think I am sometimes desensitized to it.  Or my pride just does not allow me to think that I am quite that bad, or that what I have done is so serious.

Lord, examine my heart today.

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


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Busted!

Scripture for Today: Numbers 32:23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”

Poor thing.  No one wants to see a dog in this kind of distress.  At least in his predicament he is not thirsty as I imagine he was going for the water in the bottom of the jar.  Probably he stuck his head in there on the sly.  Surely, his owners would have loudly discouraged his behavior had they seen it.  But there was no hiding what he had done after the fact!

Today’s verse concerned the Israelites who had made promises to God and were thinking about putting their own interests first before fulfilling them.  Moses reminded them of their obligations and the Lord’s specific commands.  They did the right thing and were rewarded with possession of the land.  Probably, the warning Moses gave the people was added motivation!

I would like to think that I am always motivated to obey the Lord out of my love and gratitude to Him for all He has done for me.  But to be brutally honest with myself, sometimes it is the idea of this accountability to the Lord that motivates me.  He is my Father and I am His child.  He is not going to allow me to continually and blatantly disobey Him.  The Lord will lovingly but surely discipline those He loves (Heb. 12:6).  My sin will find me out and be obvious to myself and others if I ignore all His attempts at correction and conviction.  He will allow the consequences of my wrongdoing to humble me to my knees.  But what love and restoration I find there!

Thank you Lord, for loving me and forgiving me in spite of myself!

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


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Curious Cat

Top-10-Curious-Cats-Covered-in-Packing-Peanuts-4Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:11-12 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.”

“Curiosity killed the cat,” although not so much in this case!  But his curiosity is obvious, as there is no hiding what the cat has been up to.  The lure of the box is a temptation too strong for most felines, our Tiger included.  Their little cat brains must curiously ask themselves what that box might hide.  Satisfying his curiosity did not work out so well.   How very undignified having all these styrofoam pellets stuck on fur!

Today’s verse is surprising.  Not only are believers to have nothing to do with evil deeds of darkness, but we are to expose them to the light of His goodness, righteousness, and truth (verse 9).  We expose them by living a contrasting life, as “children of light,” seeking to please the Lord.  What is surprising is that we are not to even mention what the wicked do in secret!  As part of holy living we are to rid ourselves of “filthy language” (Col. 3:8).

It seems extreme.  We easily talk about how wicked the wicked are!  But there is a subtle danger in speaking of what goes on in secret.  Doing so can desensitize me to the seriousness of sin.  I eventually lose any sense of shock.  I can slowly move towards acceptance of what is evil or immoral.  And discussing the details of any sin can pique my interest and stimulate curiosity.

My mouth reveals what I am thinking about.  When I am thinking about what is true, honest, just, pure and lovely, than I will not be interested in discussing the evil surrounding me (Phil. 4:8).

Lord, keep my thoughts and my mouth pure and full of light!

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


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Face Plant

Scripture for Today: I Kings 18:39 “When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord – He is God! The Lord – He is God.'”

I have never understood why cats do this!  Our Tiger would often bury his face into the couch, so much so I worried that he was not getting enough air.  He would face plant on the hard uncomfortable floor as well.  I guess when sleep overwhelms, any position will do.  But he sure did look silly.  However, face planting by his owners is embarrassing, unintentional and takes looking silly to a whole new level!  Who wants to look that undignified?

Today’s verse describes an intentional face plant!  There was no concern about looking undignified.  The Israelites fell prostrate, face down on the ground in response to the awesome power of God.  In answer to Elijah’s simple prayer, the only true God sent fire down from Heaven in a contest between Baal and Himself.  This fire was unique not only because it fell from Heaven, but because it burned up sacrifice, wood, stones, soil and water!  What other response is possible but to fall face down to the ground in fearful humility and worship?  The Lord, He is God.

In our French church, we stand when we take communion.  There is standing and lifting up of hands in many churches as an expression of worship as well.  Paul tells us that one day every knee will bow in humble recognition at the name of Jesus (Phil. 2:10).  But when God reveals Himself completely and I see for the first time all His magnificent power and beauty, I cannot see myself in any other position but prostrate with wonder!

Standing, kneeling or prostrate, Lord, may my heart be completely Yours today.

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