Devotions By Jan

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Coloring Outside Lines

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

One of my earliest memories involved coloring outside the lines of my color page.  I was so impatient to have the praise of my teacher that I raced through to be the first one finished!  But rather than receive praise, I was reminded that it was not a race and that I should color inside those lines.  Perhaps there is less insistence on this point today.  But at least when coloring within the lines, the image is clear.

Today’s verse reminds us that as believers we are to be conformed to the image of God’s Son, Jesus.  All of mankind has been created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27) but when sin entered the world, that image became blurred.  Man has colored outside the lines with his pride and rebellion against God.  The image is not so clear anymore.  But for the one who turns to God in repentance, this image of His Son is slowly being restored.  Just as brothers and sisters can resemble one another, so the believer is to increasingly resemble the character of Jesus.

I have a long way to go!  I pray people realize I am His child but there are definitely days when I am far from being like Him.  Hopefully, there is progress but often it is three steps forward and two steps back.  How infinitely patient He is with me!  And I am so glad His love does not depend on my progress or lack of it.  How reassuring it is that one day, the transformation will be complete when I meet Him face to face! (I John 3:2)

Lord, make me like You today!


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My Heritage

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:111-112 “Your statues are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping Your decrees to the very end.”

When leaving this earth at the ripe old age of almost 105, my Grandmother did not have much money left to leave her grandchildren!  She did however leave each of us a small sum and I along with my siblings were told to spend it on an object that would remind us of her.  I chose this music-playing clock and for years it has kept good time.  Unfortunately, it no longer plays the music disks to the end of the song.  And someday, it will not work at all.  Nothing lasts forever.

Today’s verse talks about a heritage that will last forever.  God’s statues or laws do not become void in the next century.  They never become out of date or no longer valid.  God established His laws to last forever.  And what God says will stand for eternity.

Unlike my clock, this is an inheritance that will endure forever. (Ps. 37:18)  I am not sure though that His precepts are always “the joy of my heart.”  There are plenty of times I think I know better.  It is so easy for me to rationalize my behavior in the light of what everyone else is doing.  Somehow, I can water down what He says to make it easier to follow.  But His standard remains high and unchanged.  Thankfully, Christ has fulfilled all the Law of the Older Testament for me as I can never completely keep it.  His righteousness is mine through faith in His Son.  Even so my heart’s desire is to follow Him and His way more closely.

Thank you Lord, for Your standards.  Keep me faithful to the very end.

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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!

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Prairie Dog

Scripture for Today: Psalm 1:3 “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.”

Although the prairie dog is just a burrowing rodent, I find them adorable when they stand up on their hind legs to look around.  I have seen them do just that in a large grassy field in Colorado, several popping up to check out their surroundings.  They gain a little extra height at the raised entrances of their burrows.  And when standing up they can watch for signs of danger and bark at the others when feeling threatened.

Today’s verse talks about where the wicked cannot stand.  At the judgement, those who have not received Christ’s righteousness through faith will not be able to stand before a holy righteous God.  The judgement will be a time of stripping away all pretense of goodness.  Only those who have already humbled themselves in confessing their sin will be able to stand before Him.  God will Himself humble the wicked as He “casts the wicked to the ground.” (Ps. 147:6)

It is a sobering thought which reminds me just how holy and righteous God is.  Without the grace of His Son I would have no leg to stand on in His presence.  I can only stand on His righteousness and not on my own merit.  But those who reject Him and stand in defiance on this earth, will one day be unable to continue standing.

I am told not to stand in the way of sinners (vs 1-2) but instead to find delight in following God’s Law.  If I am really conscious of His holiness I will “stand in awe of Your Laws.” (Ps.119:120).  I may be surrounded by the wicked but I don’t have to stand with them.

Lord, keep me aware of where I am standing!

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Holes in My Bucket

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:3 “His power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”  

I remember the song, “There’s a Hole in the Bucket,” growing up.  This song is a dialogue between Henry and Liza about the sorry state of their bucket, no longer useful for drawing water from the well.  I would always laugh at the ultimate solution which brings them back to the original problem!  The song in its original version dates back to 1700!  I am sure the bucket pictured has its uses, but carrying water would not be one of them!

Today’s verse reassures the believer that through God’s power we have everything we need to live a godly life.  It is through our knowledge of Him and not our own efforts that this godly life is possible.  He gives to us faith, goodness, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love (verses 5-7).  Those beautiful qualities make us more like Him, but they only become visible as we grow in our knowledge of Him.

Yes, He’s given me all I need but the problem is all the holes in my bucket!  I go to draw from Him as my unending Source, but my sinful pride and self-sufficiency keep me from staying full.  Instead of drawing from Him I make the mistake of drawing away from the Source and depending on myself.  Before long I can feel completely drained.  There is no way to be filled with His godly Spirit when I try to go it alone!  I need Him for absolutely everything.  His power is there, ready to draw from.  And I want to know Him more and more.

Lord, keep me from relying on myself.  Fill me with Yourself!


Counting Stars

Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:14-15 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”

It seems an impossible task, to count the stars.  But who among us has not at least tried as a child?  I was surprised to learn that there is an answer!  9,096 stars are visible to the naked eye if one could see both hemispheres at once!  So of course, we have to divide that number in half.  Maybe the number 4,548 seems underwhelming but in fact that number becomes even less impressive with poor visibility or in lighter skies over cities.  However, with only a three-inch telescope that number jumps to about 5 million!

Today’s verse describes those who do not grumble or argue as shining stars in the sky.  Perhaps it would not be so difficult to count these stars!  Someone who does not grumble and argue stands in stark contrast to everyone else.  And the light from even just one of these stars pierces the spiritual darkness around it.  People notice when there is a sweet uncomplaining spirit in the face of adversity.  I know because my Mother is one of these stars.  Even though at 95 she has to depend on others, lose her mobility, and suffer all kinds of indignities, she does not grumble or complain.

I often wonder how best to “let the light shine” (Matt  5:16) so that people see and God is glorified.  This answer seems too simple.  But I find it is one of the hardest to live out.  Thankfully, it is God who works in me to bring about what is not natural! (verse 13)

Lord, make me a star!  Keep me sweet and uncomplaining today.

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:15-16 “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence, Lord. They rejoice in Your name all day long; they celebrate Your righteousness.”

Who doesn’t enjoy a good party!  The celebration pictured here captures excitement and enthusiasm.  I can almost hear the beat of the music and the laughter.  A good party for me would always include balloons, confetti and Abba music!  Add good food and good friends and it’s a guaranteed success!  If my husband were ever to throw a surprise party for me, he would know to include all those important ingredients.

Today’s verse gives us reason to celebrate.  This party centers around the most important guest, the Lord Himself.  It is His righteousness and name that are celebrated.  I love how this verse talks about “learning” to worship and acclaim Him!  As we grow in our faith we grow too in our adoration and praise for all He has done.  Praising Him leads to joy and celebration.  Gone is the long religious pious face.  Our demeanor and our expression radiate the joy and blessing He puts in our hearts!

This is a celebration that is not confined to just one season, time or place.  We can walk in His presence and rejoice all day and every day!  I can just imagine how crazy happy Heaven will be with blasting trumpets and shouts of joy!  There will be no sad interruptions.  But we do have a “foretaste” now of that eternal party.  Whenever I consider and think on who He is and what He has done for me, my heart turns to Him in praise and my whole being fills with joy!

Lord, make this day a day of celebration!

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