Devotions By Jan


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Misty

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 44:22 “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me for I have redeemed you.”

After living in Europe so many years, we have ridden our share of Alpine gondolas or cable cars.  It is always exciting to be suspended over deep gorges and valleys.  It is always a rush to be teetering over herds of cows with their bells around their necks.  Although the destination is usually a peak or high point on a mountain, the view going up is just as important.  It is always a letdown to have that view obscured by the mist.

Today’s verse is a call to return to the Lord.  The prophet, Isaiah, is reminding the people of how useless their false gods are.  Fabricating and worshipping a block of wood reveals to what point their “eyes are plastered over so they cannot see” or understand (Verse 18).  Their sins were like a cloud that obscured their vision.  Their rebellion created a mist that blocked their view of the True God and His love and power.  Despite their betrayal in turning away from the One True God, He is inviting them to return to Him.

I know where I am going.  My destination is already secured.  I can say that as my salvation is based on His finished work on the cross and not my own works.  But the views on my way there can be obscured by that mist of my own sin.  I miss out on those breathtaking vistas of His power, love and beauty when I turn away from Him.  Life is not quite so exciting when my view of the eternal is shrouded by my own rebellion.

Lord, thank you for sweeping away the clouds and mist and allowing me to enjoy You!

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Training Wheels

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 4:7 “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourselves to be godly.”

If I were to ever try and maneuver a big heavy motorcycle, I would probably have to resort to what this lady is doing!  Training wheels on a motorcycle seem ridiculous but maybe it would save me a lot of scrapes and bruises!  I can still remember learning to ride a simple bike with training wheels.  The first time I tried riding without them was a wobbly milestone moment!  Mom or Dad had to be close enough to grab me in case I fell or I would not have attempted it!

Today’s verse reveals that to be godly takes training.  Paul was addressing the false Gnostic ideas that condemned marriage and certain foods.  Perhaps this group thought such heresies would give them a shortcut to godliness.  But godliness, or conduct that honors God, can only come through knowledge of the Truth (Titus 1:1)  The Lord has already provided everything needed for the believer to live a life of godliness through our knowledge of Him (II Peter 1:3).  There is no shortcut to knowing, studying, meditating and obeying the Scriptures, which give us our training in righteousness (II Tim. 3:16).

The training never stops.  I can never come to the end of knowing Him and there will always be more to learn.  But just as I can progress from spiritual milk to spiritual meat, so I can eventually let go of those training wheels and not fall over!  Rather than depending on someone else’s study, I can study on my own and hear His very personal message to me!  HIs Word shows me how beautiful He is!  And His Word shows me how to live a beautiful life that honors Him!

Help me Lord, to honor You today.

 


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“Walking the Line”

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 2:26-27 “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

It was 1956 when the famous country singer, Johnny Cash, sat backstage and wrote the song, “I Walk the Line.”  As a newlywed, he wrote it as a pledge to his wife.  The lyrics are all about personal responsibility and avoiding temptation.  I love the line, “Because you’re mine, I walk the line.”  This expression has long been used to mean behaving or abiding by moral standards.  Or in other words, walking the straight and narrow.

Today’s verse tells us to think carefully about where and how we walk through life.  We do not walk close to edge, courting disaster as the thoughtless might.  Rather than wondering just how far one can go in a particular behavior before it becomes sin, we need to walk with a healthy fear of falling.  We need to stay away from that tempting edge.  We do not turn to the left or to the right.  We stay right in the middle and away from temptation.  In other words, we walk the line.  Walking on a dangerous edge gives no room for error.  One moment of inattention or one small misstep can mean disaster.

When I am walking the line, I feel His pleasure.  Walking in obedience to His commands is how I show my love for Him (II John 1:6).  And His commands make the path smooth, straight and manageable.  It is when I veer left or right and start to compromise on His standards that life becomes more difficult.  Thankfully, He offers His forgiveness and helps me get back on track.

Lord, help me love You by walking the line today.

 

 

 


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Blasphemy Law

Scripture for Today:  John 10:33 “‘We are not stoning You for any good work’, they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because You, a mere man, claim to be God.'”

Ireland just voted on a referendum to change a blasphemy law in their constitution.  It had been on the books since 1937.  The idea was to avoid causing offense to any religious group by showing disrespect.  Stephen Fry in 2017 came closest to being prosecuted when on a RTE program he said, “Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain?”  Police dropped the matter when they were unable to find, “a substantial number of outraged people.”

Today’s verse has an accusation of blasphemy against Jesus.  These Jewish opponents understood very clearly that Jesus was presenting Himself as God when He said, “I and the Father are one.” (verse 30)  However, it is no blasphemy to speak truth, even when it does offend!  The word, “blasphemy” in the Old Testament is used for cursing, reviling or despising God.  In the New Testament it is expanded to include insults and unjust accusations towards others.  So in fact, in these verses, the only blasphemy spoken was on the part of His Jesus’ opponents unjustly accusing Him!

Reading horrible quotes like the one above makes me indignant.  It is not easy to read or hear blasphemy spoken about the Lord.  He is so dear to me that it hurts to hear His name maligned, misrepresented, and dragged through the dirt.  But it comforts me to know there is coming a day when EVERY knee will bow at His name (Phil. 2:10)  In the meantime, I want my attitude to be as gracious and forgiving as His was on the cross.

“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

 


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Remarkable Friendship!

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:3  “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

How strange to see these turtles fearlessly climbing all over this alligator!  The alligator is a meat-eater and turtles certainly qualify as meat.  Could it be that the warmth of the sun has just made everyone too lazy to eat?  Sometimes a turtle will even hitch a ride on the back of an alligator.  This uneasy peace is the result of the shape of the turtle’s shell.  If it is too high the alligator’s jaws will not be able to snap shut!

Today’s verse talks about something as unnatural as turtles and alligators hanging out together; getting along, harmony, oneness, peace.  It is not in our natures to strive for this.  It is much easier to divide into factions or to stand up for one’s rights.  We want recognition and special treatment even at the cost of unity.  But thankfully, we have the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  He is our peace and because of Him we can feel a oneness with believers who are so different than ourselves.

Our differences do not need to separate us.  Our differing race, language, or social status do not have to be a barrier to oneness.  Even differing styles of worship do not have to divide us when we are walking by the Spirit.  I am thankful to experience this oneness with French believers.  It is truly a work of the Spirit that unites us.  We are so different from one another.  Yet it is our common love for Jesus that binds us together.  The bond of peace is so sweet and worth the effort to guard and keep!

Lord, help me to value unity and peace as much as You do.


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Chip on the Shoulder

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath.  But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

This picture made me laugh!  It is not quite what a “chip on the shoulder” refers to but certainly brought the old saying to mind.  It used to mean the practice of placing a wooden chip on the shoulder.  It was done as a provocation to fight.  The idea was to knock it off as a signal for the fight to begin.  A feeling or conviction was so deeply held that to disagree meant that one would be challenged.  Examples of this practice are seen in old British movies in the early twentieth century.

Today’s verse gives a different response to the one with a chip on his shoulder.  Anger can be diffused with a gentle answer.  To respond in any other way to an argumentative person would only serve to stoke the fire of his anger.  Challenging his logic may very well fall into the category of “harsh words.”  When emotions run high is not the time to reason with a belligerent person.  However, it is always a good idea to calm the situation with a gentle soothing word.

It has been said that, “the best way to knock off the chip on your neighbor’s shoulder is to pat him on the back.”  Soft gentle answers can help validate someone who feels they have been unfairly treated.  The problem is that I want to be seen as right.  It is my pride that makes it so difficult to respond with gentleness and not try and prove my point.  I need His Spirit to keep me calm in the face of the one so angry if there is to be any “turning away of wrath”!

Lord, make my words soft and gentle today.

 


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Iceberg

Scripture for Today:  I Timothy 1:19 “holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.”

I can understand these men getting as close as they dare to this iceberg.  It is impressive, especially with its beautiful blue tint.  However, there is more to this iceberg than meets the eye!  I would be concerned that some jagged piece of it hidden below the surface may capsize the boat!  This iceberg is termed a “bergy bit” as it is roughly the size of a house.  But, of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg as about 90% of an iceberg is found under water.

Today’s verse is Paul’s charge to young Timothy.  Although Timothy had been raised by a believing Mother and Grandmother, he is encouraged to hold on tight to the faith with a good conscience.  The possibility of “shipwrecked faith” was a danger for Timothy even though he was a leader in the church.  The believer is never exempt from the threat of wrong doctrine or the temptation to sin.  All that is needed to be vulnerable to shipwreck is to think that it could never happen!

I want to hold on tightly to my faith.  There are so many unseen and hidden dangers that can put me at risk when I become overconfident.  I want to hold on tightly when I am rocked by circumstances that make no sense and tempt me to doubt.  I need to hold on firmly to the word of life so as not to capsize (Phil. 2:16).   I do not want to be stuck on a sandbar and out of commission.  I want to finish this journey right to the end!

Lord, keep my faith strong and my conscience clear.