Devotions By Jan


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Free Range

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:45 “And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.”

I like the idea that chickens can roam freely to graze and forage for food.  The label, “Free Range” for poultry implies a freedom of movement in outdoor spaces.  It is said that if they do not have the opportunity to peck at the ground, they will often peck at their own feathers.  Of course, allowing them to freely graze outdoors does not mean they can run around where they like.  They are cage-free but for their own protection they are not barrier-free!

When I think of liberty and being free, I do not normally think of something or someone telling me what to do!  But in today’s verse, walking in liberty is equated with following God’s laws.  It seems a paradox.  How can I walk at liberty and be seeking His Law at the same time?

This liberty is not freedom to do whatever we please.  It is a liberty from the sin that enslaves and entangles us.  It is a liberty that allows us to follow Him.  Sin can have the power to keep us in chains, obligating us to do evil.  But because of what Christ did on the cross, I have a choice to follow His Law.

To be honest I do not always use my liberty like He intends.  The pull of the world, my old habits and just my ugly sin nature  all conspire to convince me that I have no choice!  But as a believer, I have the power of the Holy Spirit living within me.  And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (II Cor. 3:17).  His precepts are the arms that enclose and protect me for my good!

Thank you Lord, for making me free!

 

 

 

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Charging Stations

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:27-28 “Cause me to understand the way of Your precepts, that I may meditate on Your wonderful deeds. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word.”

When I enter the airport lounge, no longer do I look for the most comfortable chair, or the place with a view out the window.  I do not worry about who I am sitting next to or how close I am to my gate.  Like so many others, I am scanning the waiting area for those power stations for my phone.  I have a horror of my phone being without enough power to text people about schedule changes or missed flights.  There is something reassuring about having my phone charged up and being ready for any eventuality.

Today’s verse reminds me that it is God’s Word that can strengthen my soul.  Understanding His precepts, meditating on His wonderful deeds and being in His Word gives solace to a soul lethargic with sorrow.  Sadness depletes our strength and we need to be built up and encouraged.  His Word does that.  And even when it is inconvenient to be actually reading the Bible, there are always the memories of His faithfulness in the past that can bolster my faith and strengthen me.

My alone-time with Him is my charging station, renewing my spirit and my strength.   I do not, however, need to wait until I am dangerously low on power.  Being “prayed-up” and “charged up” keeps me in a state of preparedness for whatever unknowns are ahead of me.  I want to have full strength to face anything, but that can only happen as I stay connected to Him and His Word.

Lord, I am tired of being sad.  Strengthen me with Your Word 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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Kintsugi

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:49-50 “Remember Your word to Your servant, for You have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

This bowl went from broken to beautiful!  The art of golden joinery is the definition of the Japanese word, “kintsugi.”  Fragmented and broken pottery or ceramics are repaired in this process by filling the holes and cracks with a resin mixed with gold, silver or platinum.  What used to be broken pieces thought to be worthless become a thing of beauty!  The very brokenness makes the item become more precious and valuable!

Today’s verse is a comfort and reassurance when going through suffering.  There is hope.  The author of this psalm was experiencing ridicule (vs. 51).  There was intense pressure from the wicked and perhaps he felt himself cracking from it. He vows to stay faithful to the Lord through it all.  In the night he reminds himself of who God is (vs. 55) and he resolves to stay the course.  Through all the pain he remains hopeful because of God’s promises.

It is hope that brings me through the darkest times of my life.  I can feel forgotten, rotten and dead inside just like David did when he described himself as “broken pottery” (Ps. 31:12).  But then, there are the promises of God.  Whatever feels broken He can repair.  More than that, He transforms our very brokenness into something useful and a thing of beauty.  Nothing is too hard for Him or beyond the skill of His capable hands.  He works in the good where everything went bad.  That stupid decision, that utter failure or that shame at letting Him down is all part of a pattern that He redeems and makes beautiful.  This is my hope.

Thank you Lord, that Your promises give me hope.

 

 


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The California Poppy

poppygelincik-c%cc%a7ic%cc%a7eg%cc%86iScripture for Today: Psalm 119:130 “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

What could be more breathtaking than a boring brown field suddenly coming to life with a vibrant carpet of red?  The spring rains in California change the landscape into a burst of color with the blooming of this state flower.  Not only is it beautiful but it has many uses.  Its leaves are used medicinally, its pollen cosmetically and its seeds are used in cooking. If you pick one, this simple fragile flower will lose its petals almost immediately.  And without the sun, the flower folds into itself each night or on a cloudy day.

Today’s verse is part of that very long psalm extolling the wonders of God’s Word.  His Word gives light and understanding, even to the simple.  The light of His statutes and commands allows us to be who we are meant to be.  Obeying Him and His way warms us and causes us to grow and be beautiful.  Without the light of understanding, we close up and shrivel.   When the clouds of darkness or disobedience block the warmth of His light, we suffer without even knowing why.

It takes faith and trust to obey Him.  Our way seems better and easier.  Certainly, life would be less complicated if a believer could just do as he pleases.  At least that is how we reason.  However, the more I compromise His standards, the darker my day becomes.  The light of His loving words and counsel to me fall on deaf ears as I close in on myself.  But when I choose obedience, despite the cost, then my spirit opens to a renewed closeness to His heart.

Lord, keep me in the light of Your Word!

 


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Slowed Down

mud-carrera-de-obstaculoScripture for Today: Psalm 119:31-32 ” I hold fast to your statues, Lord, do not let me be put to shame.  I run in the path of your commands for You have broadened my understanding.”

These runners chose a strange place to run.  Their path took them right through the mud.  The slipping and sliding have them covered with it.  If the goal was to get as dirty as possible then they nailed it!  But the run looks to be over, or at the very least slowed down.

It only makes sense that for the serious runner, the ground chosen would be free from mud or any other kind of obstacle that would slow progress.  That piece of lifted concrete, that hole or dip in the ground, or that unfortunate rock can trip us up and we fall flat on our face.

Today’s verse mentions running in the path of God’s commands.  This path has none of those unfortunate obstacles.  It is smooth and flat.  The path of God’s commands may be challenging, but there is nothing that God places there to trip us up or cause us to fail.  He is  interested in our success.  He wants us to reach great speeds and distances.  Maybe we can even enjoy the endorphins of the “runner’s high!”

The more we run according to His way, the more He broadens our understanding of what He wants and why it is the best course.  To be on that path with others is a tremendous encouragement but sometimes it feels we are running all alone.  Regardless, I do not want to follow a more popular path and be put to shame.  I want to remain resolute and determined to obey, regardless of the cost.

Lord, keep me from veering off Your path today.


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Plenty of Fish

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:116 “Sustain me, my God, according to Your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.”

“There are plenty of fish in the sea,” is a phrase often used to console those who have loved and lost.  The idea is that there are plenty of potential mates still to be discovered out there.  There is even an online dating service called, “Plenty of Fish,” with 40 million fish in its waters.  The problem comes from those “predators” who raise hopes in others only to dash them.  One predator in particular decided to dine and dash, leaving his online date stuck with the bill!

Today’s verse is found in the longest psalm extolling the joys of knowing and following God’s law.  The author prays that God would sustain him.  He acknowledges that true meaningful life is found in following God’s ways.  He can pray for God’s sustaining power with hope as it is a prayer calling on the Lord’s promises.  When God makes a promise, He will always be true to His word.  Hope placed here will not be dashed.

If I were to place all my hope exclusively in human love, my hopes would sometimes be dashed.  No one can love me the way the Lord does.  Placing my hope in His promise to never leave me is a hope that will never be disappointed.  He sustains me when I am feeling weak.  He upholds me when I am discouraged.  His peace has kept me close to Him.  No other relationship can be this consistent.  His love will never let me down.  I can always count on Him because His word means something!

Thank you Lord, that with You my hope is never disappointed.