Devotions By Jan


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Speed Limit

Scripture for Today: Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

This has got to be the best kind of speed limit sign….open to interpretation!  Like many others, we tend to think that there is wiggle room with most freeway speed limits.  Popular belief says that going just five miles over the speed limit does not really count.  So imagine our surprise when we were pulled over for just that on our cross country trek!  No matter that road conditions were ideal or that we were keeping up with the flow of traffic.  The law is the law.  And whether going over the limit by one mile or ten, we were still breaking the law.

Today’s verse has bad news and good news. The bad news is that all are guilty of breaking God’s Law.  None of us can match up to the holiness and glory of a just and perfect God.  Some fall just a little short.  Others fall short by quite a bit.  No matter.  No one can stand before a holy and righteous God on one’s own merits.  But the good news is that Christ has redeemed us through His sacrifice on the cross and through His grace we have right standing with Him.

It does not matter how good I may look to others.  I am just as in need of God’s grace as the most hardened criminal.  There can be no spiritual pride when I understand that small word, “all.”  And I am so thankful for a grace that is also for “all.”  There is no difference between Jew or Gentile (verse 22) or any other distinction I could make.

Thank you Lord, that Your grace includes me.

 

 

 

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Crossroads

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 25 :5 “Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.”

We saw this enormous cross as we were driving across  the country along the Southern states.  It is probably one of the thirty built by James Potter, a man whose family is in construction and who has made building these crosses his personal mission.  What struck me is that this cross stands near a “crossroad,” giving a different slant to the meaning of the word.  The literal definition of intersecting roads is used a lot less frequently than the figurative sense used to denote choice.

Today’s verse is a prayer of David.  As with all of us he is daily faced with choice.  He asks to be guided and taught all day long.  David recognizes that he could easily take the wrong road and stray from what is true.  He reminds the Lord of His great mercy and love in the past (verse 6) and counts on Him to answer this prayer.  God promises to guide the humble (verse 9) on to His ways, which are always loving and faithful (verse 10).

Probably what keeps me from asking for God’s guidance in a decision is the assumption that I can work it all out on my own.  After all, I am reasonably intelligent, educated, and logical.  But there is no way to know and see all that He does.  The Lord can only guide me when I humbly acknowledge my limitations and ask for His help.  The path I usually take is the easiest, or the path of least resistance.  His path, though sometimes harder, is always one where I will experience His love and faithfulness!

Thank you Lord, that You are there at every crossroad!

 

 


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Straddling

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 30:19 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live”

There is nothing so frustrating as being behind a driver who is straddling two lanes!  My first inclination is to pass him and get well away.  But I sure would not try to pass in either of the two lanes he is using.  Chances are he would decide on my lane just as I am passing!  Better to bide my time and wait until he makes his intentions clear.

The choice of a traffic lane is one of a myriad of choices we make in a day.  But far more important is our choice of whether we turn toward or away from the Lord.  Today’s verse makes it clear that there is a choice to be made.  There is no possibility of “straddling lanes.”  We either turn our hearts toward God in obedience or we turn away from Him in rebellion.

I love how this verse reveals God’s loving heart as He urges us to choose life and blessing.  He reassures us that what He asks is not too difficult or beyond reach (verse11-14).  He promised life, blessing, and protection for the Israelites ready to cross over into the Promise Land.  And today He promises an abundant life for all those who belong to Him (John 10:10).  Choosing Him is choosing a life consumed with loving Him, listening to His voice and holding fast to Him (verse 20).  Choosing Him is living a life that is worth living.  The Lord is my life.  I cannot even imagine living life without Him!

Thank you Lord, for giving me the choice and the privilege of choosing You!

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


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All Directions

Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law My servant Moses gave you.; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”

These signs are common in France.  Apparently, everywhere I want to go is to the left!  “All Directions” is actually a helpful indication when trying to change course.  It helps to know how to change direction when confused.  Details come later.  This sign at least points toward major streets from which one can exit the area.  By following it, one can avoid going around in circles and getting tied up with one-way streets.

Today’s verse calls for strength and courage.  This is the charge the Lord gave directly to Joshua as he took over as leader of the Israelites.  The law came through Moses but was not to be considered invalid at his death.  Obedience to the law was to continue.  And following it would bring blessing and success.  But there was plenty of temptation to turn away from it.  A few steps to the left or to the right would be detrimental.  The verse warns us to be careful not to turn away from what God had said.

There are signs everywhere encouraging me to turn off with promises of an easier route.  The sign, “All Directions” is everywhere.  Surely, there is more than one way.  Try this route, or maybe that one is just as valid with less trouble.  There are roads that are narrow that lead to life or there are roads that are wide that lead to destruction (Matt 7:13-14).  How important it is for me to choose well!

Give me strength and courage Lord, to carefully follow Your way!

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


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Doing the Splits

Scripture for Today: I John 2:15 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”

Jean-Claude Van Damme’s amazing split between two trucks has been seen on YouTube by 68 million people!  This stunt, performed for a commercial, was done in only one take.  Although there was a safety line and two platforms for his feet, this incredible feat could not have succeeded had Jean-Claude not been in amazing physical shape.  Even so, the splits done between two moving trucks over hard pavement was risky.  The drivers had to be attentive to keep the distance constant.  A small difference in direction on the part of one truck would see Jean-Claude likely injured on the ground.

Today’s verse talks about two choices available; loving the world or loving the Father.  These two options are diametrically opposed.  Straddling the two is not even possible as they go in different directions.  Loving the world means being consumed by all that feels good, all that looks good and all that will feed our pride (verse 16).  Loving the world is adopting its value system.  But all of these desires as well as the world will one day be gone.  However, those who love the Father and live for Him will live forever (verse 17).

I do not want to love something that is here today and gone tomorrow.  I want to love and be loved and have it last.  The world offers everything but delivers nothing.  How easy it is to be swept up in the pursuits of gratifying myself.  But there is no satisfaction found in any worldly desire.  That is because I am made for the Father’s love.  He fills me and completes me, making life full! (John 10:10)

Lord, I choose Your love above all!

 

 


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Yield Sign

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”

It looks complicated.  I would have to stop a minute to figure out who would have to yield to whom!  It looks as if the bike has to yield to everyone and the horse and rider to no one!  But I do not suppose there are many intersections to worry about on this trail.  If there were confusion I would think common sense and common courtesy would go a long way.  In any case, yielding is often the safest choice.  When maneuvering through those huge traffic circles in Europe, I do not argue with a yield sign!

Today’s verse tells us we are to yield or submit to the Lord in each and every way we choose to take.  By acknowledging His control, His superior knowledge and His goodness, we travel a path much less complicated by twists and turns.  He makes our paths straight, unencumbered by lengthy unnecessary detours.  We reach our destination in good time, or in His time.  When we give way to Him rather than insisting on our own plan, we find He had a better idea all along!

Yielding my will to His is so often a struggle.  Even knowing that my own understanding is limited, I stubbornly resist.  I like being the one who makes the decisions.  Trusting Him with all my heart is scary without having some measure of control.  But He promises that when I do, He will make my paths straight, choosing the best way.  No time will be lost in making U turns or encountering dead ends.

Thank you Lord, that I can fully trust Your heart of love for me!


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Beyond the Storm

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 50:10 “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of His servant? Let the one who walks in the dark who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.”

With all the technology at our fingertips, we are often forewarned of a storm on its way.  Other times a storm will descend suddenly with little or no warning at all.  With our many road trips we are sometimes stuck with no option except to go through its path.  But I am not too concerned when I can see the skies clearing ahead.  Just the thought of the storm being temporary helps me calm down and get through it.

Today’s verse talks about walking in the dark with no light at all.  There is no vision of clear skies ahead.  This happens for even those that fear and obey the Lord.  When those confusing dark times come, we are to trust in His name and who He is.  We are to rely on God rather than our senses or our intelligence.  Walking by faith has nothing to do with what we can see ahead that reassures us (II Cor. 5:7).  We are given no “light at the end of the tunnel” on which to focus.

I cannot see that patch of blue ahead.  But I can remain calm in the middle of a storm.  Trusting and relying on the Creator of that storm keeps me serene.  He is trustworthy and He is in control.  I have no reason to be fearful for what the future might hold.  And the only light I really need in that darkness is the heart conviction of how good and gracious He is.

Thank you Lord for Your reassuring presence even in the dark.