Devotions By Jan


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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

fish51516143_299de31c7a_zScripture 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.


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Lost Sheep

Lost_sheep_on_farm_track._-_geograph.org.uk_-_368111Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:176 “I have strayed like a lost sheep.  Seek Your servant for I have not forgotten Your commands.”

This sheep looks a bit lost.  His companions are no where in sight and it looks like the road could veer left or right.  Thankfully, he does not seem to be in any apparent danger.  He is not stuck in thorns or falling off a cliff, yet.

I can imagine that this sheep strayed because he did not follow the commands of the shepherd.  But even knowing he is lost does not solve his problem.  He needs to be sought out by his shepherd.

Our verse for today is the last verse of the longest psalm. The author, even though he has tremendous love and respect for God’s commands, still has a problem always following them.  After so many verses extolling and exalting God’s precepts, he ends with a cry for help.  He confesses his weakness and closes with a heartfelt prayer.

Seeing this verse reassures me.  The author is made of the same stuff I am.  I wondered if he was “super spiritual” to love and exalt God’s Law so much.  But in fact, like Paul, even knowing what is right to do does not mean we do it! (Romans 7:18-21)  We all stray from what is right.

Our Shepherd always seeks us out.  He will even leave the other ninety-nine to go out after the one who strays.  He keeps searching until that lost one is brought back! (Luke 15:4)  Christ’s whole purpose in coming to earth was to seek and save the lost! (Luke 19:10)  But to be found I need to realize that I am lost.  When I cry out for help, He is faithful to bring me back to His waiting arms.

Thank you Lord, for finding this lost sheep!

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


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Seven

number 7Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:164-165 “Seven times a day I praise You for Your righteous Laws.  Great peace have they who love Your Law, and nothing can make them stumble.”

There is something about the number seven.  Gamblers consider it a lucky number.  The character, George Costanza, thought “Seven” a beautiful first name.  Many ancient cultures had seven gods.

In Scripture, the number seven has special significance.  Creation, with the Sabbath, took seven days.  Solomon’s Temple took seven years to build.  The walls of Jericho came down after seven days of marching.  Revelation records seven stars, lampstands, churches, seals, trumpets, and bowls.  Seven is thought to be the number of perfection or completion.

In our verse for today David does not use the number seven literally.  David mentions praying three times a day in Psalm 55:17.  In fact, David writes that His praise shall continually be in his mouth (Psalm 34:1).  He uses the number seven here to express a desire to worship the Lord perfectly, or completely.  In turning towards a holy and righteous God, David is showing a special care in his devotion.  His praise is specific; for God’s Law.  He recognizes the stability His Law gives to life.  In following God’s righteous way, one will not stumble as the wicked do whenever calamity strikes (Prov. 24:16).  David praises God for the great peace that comes from being obedient.  He knew the difference.  He experienced first hand the agony and awful consequences of breaking God’s Law.

What a beautiful and worthy subject of praise!  God’s Law gives stability and direction to my life.  It keeps me from stumbling.  Following His Law gives me heart peace instead of guilt and confusion.  Seven times a day is only the beginning of my praise and worship!

Lord, may I continually praise You today!  You are worthy!

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


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Panting Dogs

panting2iS-MScripture for Today: Psalm 119:131-132 “I open my mouth and pant, longing for Your commands.  Turn to me and have mercy on me, as You always do to those who love Your name.”

I will admit it.  I am not a “dog person.”  Cats are my animal of choice.  One of the many reasons I prefer cats is that they do not normally hang out their tongues and pant.  I do not enjoy dog slobber or doggy breath either! But the tongue hanging out is especially not an endearing quality.

Of course, God in His wisdom and creativity designed the dog to pant in order to cool down.  Except through their paw pads, a dog will not sweat through their skin and so they need to pant.  The circulating air enters their bodies and cools them down.

Our verse for today speaks of panting for God’s commands!  It is a surprising sentiment as one does not normally embrace laws and commands with such enthusiasm.  One tends to balk against any restrictions on one’s freedom.  Rather than seeing them as something negative, the author embraces them, knowing that wisdom and blessings come from obedience.  He pants for them.  They are as important as the air one breathes.  They make true life possible.

I love the image of the deer panting for water (Psalm 42:1).  In just the same way, our soul pants for God.  He is the Source of all that nourishes and satisfies.  If I am panting and longing for that intimacy with God, then my attitude towards His commands will be just as enthusiastic!  By following His commands I stay close to Him and our relationship grows deeper and deeper.

Lord, help me to be enthusiastic about following Your way, knowing it will lead to a closer relationship with You.

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