Devotions By Jan


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Encouraging Sign

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

This added homemade sign in Scotland says, “Keep right on to the end of the road.”  These are lyrics from a traditional Scottish song which goes on to say, “though the way be long, let your heart be strong.”  There is good reason to continue on.  This road leads to Kirkton Manor, an historic stone manor built into a wall.  Even the three-acre-country gardens there make the trip well worth the effort!

Today’s verse tells us to encourage each other by reminders of who we are and what is ahead.  In the middle of dark times we are children of the light and of the day (verse 5).  We have the hope of our salvation (verse 8) and we have an incredible future ahead in living together with Him! (verse 10)  It is these truths which encourage us to keep plodding on.  There will be an end to what we are facing.  There will be a destination that makes every heartache and trial worth it.

I do not like having disruptions to my routine or being inconvenienced in any way.  My comfort is way too important to me.  What small trials I face in comparison to those who are imprisoned for their faith!  But I can be encouraged that in the face of any unknown earthly future, I can choose to focus on the heavenly one!  I have no control over the current self quarantine that is being imposed.  But there is an end in sight.  There will be a point where I reach my destination.  And though the way may seem long, it is the Lord who keeps my heart strong!

Lord, encourage me and make me an encouragement to others.

Photo © Jim Barton (cc-by-sa/2.0)


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Standoff!

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5;13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

This State Trooper in Western New York had quite the story to tell!  There on a snow covered road in a small town, this horse blocked his way and would not move!  He had wandered away yet again from his owners.  The trooper tried to lure him off the road with a hand full of alfalfa.  But the horse would not budge, preferring instead to lick the salt off the hood of the car!  Horses required two to four tablespoons of salt per day but that would normally come from a salt block.

Today’s verse tells us that as believers we are called the salt of the earth.  We are to have an influence on those around us.  Our tasty contribution to this world is to draw attention to the Father and His glory (verse 16).  We sprinkle our surroundings with acts of love and kindness that point to Him.  But we can lose that saltiness by living for our own comfort and pleasure.  We can become tasteless by taking credit for the good things we have done rather than giving Him the praise that is due Him.

For me to be salt and an influence for Christ, I need to be out there in the world.   Salt does no good sitting on the shelf with all the other salt shakers.  But there is always the risk of losing my saltiness.  Living to serve others is often not a comfortable way to live.  I am faced everyday with the temptation to live entirely for myself.

Lord, keep me salty for You.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/khq.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/80/48054c2a-5041-11ea-afad-fb2b43d6d280/5e486e97f1de1.image.png?resize=750%2C412


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Backwards View

Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:1  “I will sing of the loving kindness of the Lord forever.  To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.”

I am a careful driver but I have never been very comfortable using mirrors to drive.  I do not know why.  I just do not trust them as much as seeing something directly.  There is a lot of neck turning when I am at the wheel!  Many side mirrors have the warning; “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”  Perhaps it is this warning that shakes my confidence in the image I am seeing.

Today’s verse proclaims the faithfulness of the Lord.  This beautiful characteristic of our God is best seen when looking back.  Many times it is not until the trial is over that we see the positives.  It is often after the fact that we see God’s hand.  His faithfulness brings us through, developing patience, making us more like Him.  His faithfulness means we can count on His Word and His promises.  His faithfulness brings about that “good” that Romans 8:28 describes.

Not everyone enjoys looking back.  Quite frankly, some things are best forgotten.  Reliving the negatives can be depressing.  But in looking back I can see that the problem I deemed insurmountable while going through it, was not!  His faithfulness was like that object so much closer than I realized!  This past year He has been faithful.  He has been faithful every year.  I am confident He will be faithful next year!  It is His nature.  I can look back these last twelve months and pinpoint all the ways He has shown His faithfulness, not only to me but to my family and my friends.  Regardless of any negatives, He makes looking back a joy!

Thank you Lord, for being faithful to me!


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The Bench Seat

Scripture for Today:  Hebrews 3:5  “Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.'”

The classic cars are great for one very personal reason; they often have that bench-style seat!  Instead of being separated from my Honey by bucket seats, I can snuggle up close.  I have heard it said that one can see how long a couple has been married by the distance the wife puts between herself and the driver.  Of course, the driver has not moved.  But the wife would sometimes inch her way towards the door a little more each year!

In today’s verse Jesus promises never to leave us or abandon us.  He does not move.  His love remains constant.  It is because of the promise of His presence and care that we can be free of money worries.  Rather than loving money we love Him.  Rather than looking for contentment elsewhere, we find it in His love.

There are times I feel very far from the Lord.  I know He is there but I do not sense His presence.  Without even being aware, I find I have inched toward that door.  It has happened through my own neglect of His Word.  Or I have simply let drop my conversations with Him.  He has not moved.  I have.  Inching away from Him leads to feeling discontented. I start looking out the car window at all the things I think I should have.  Because He has not moved, the solution is simple.  Through His Word and through our conversations I come back to where He is.  He waits for me and He promises to be there.

Thank you, Lord, that you never move!


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A Peaceful Commute

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 32:17 “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness: quietness and assurance forever.”

I feel anything but peaceful while driving the crowded freeways of Southern California.  Seeing a license plate like this one might just calm me down.  But if it were on the car that just cut me off, maybe not!  There would be more chance of a peaceful commute if everyone (including myself) obeyed the rules of the road.  Peace is not what I am feeling when my hands tighten on that wheel!

Today’s verse associates peace with righteousness.  It is not normally the first place we look for peace.  But the result of following God’s commandments is peace with Him and peace with others.  There is quietness and calm confidence when we are obedient to Him.  When we pay attention to His commands our peace is described as a river (Is. 48:18).  But this righteousness is not possible without God’s Spirit (verse 15).  God gives His righteousness to those who have faith in His Son, Jesus (Rom. 3:22).  The peace that comes from righteousness is nothing we can manufacture on our own.  And this beautiful peace is seen in a quiet calm confidence.

There is tremendous peace in knowing that I am right with Him.  And there can be no peace with others until I have that vertical relationship.  When I am rebelling against Him, all of my relationships are at risk to suffer.  I cannot be loving, kind and forgiving towards others when I ignore the Source of those fruits (Gal. 5:22-23).  There is no peace without loving and obeying Him.  But when I am close to Him, there is assurance and quiet confidence regardless of my circumstances.  By submitting to His authority I have the best chance at peace with others.

Lord, may I feel Your peace today.


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Make a Name for Yourself

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:5b “I will never blot out the name of that person from the Book of Life but will acknowledge that name before my Father and His angels.” 

This REO Speed Wagon from 1941 was the inspiration for a family name!  My friend’s husband was named after Uncle Reo, the 13th child in his family.  The father was not allowed to take his newborn home until he had a name.  So, looking out the hospital window he saw his neighbor go by in a REO truck and took the name from its side!  (REO actually stands for Ransom E. Olds, founder of Oldsmobile).  This name continues in the family as the daughter’s name!

Today’s verse tells us that unlike names on earth that may eventually die out, there will one day be names that will never be blotted out.  These are names that remain in the Book of Life.  The ones who are victorious are the ones whose names will remain.  Not only that, Jesus will acknowledged those names before God the Father and the angels.  The victorious ones are those who will be dressed in white, like those from the Church of Sardis who remained faithful.  Those who have placed their faith in Jesus are the victorious ones! (I John 5:4)  God gives us this victory through His Son (I Cor. 15:57).

My name is only in the Book of Life because of Him.  Because of His unmerited favor towards me, He has written it there.  Nothing and no one has the authority to blot out my name except Him and He has promised to never blot it out.  Nothing will ever separate me from His undeserved love (Rom. 8:37-39).  My name is written in permanent ink because of His victory over sin and death!

Thank you Lord, for the victory I have in You!

 

 


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That Pothole

Pothole_1911993bScripture for Today: Isaiah 26:7 “The path of the righteous is level; You, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.”

There is nothing worse than seeing that pothole too late!  The resulting thud and bounce matches what my heart does!  Unfortunately, this scenario is quite common in California.  One would not think so as California does not deal with lots of snow as do other states.  But even so it is a problem and one that can result in some expensive repairs.  Insurance companies often have claims involving pothole damage to the tires and suspension.

Today’s verse describes a path that is level and smooth.  It is not that way as a result of our own efforts.  It is level and smooth because of what the Lord does for the righteous.  Without His intervention, life is full of ups and downs and unwelcome jolts to our progress.  On our own, the path we take not only becomes rough and uncomfortable but also takes us in the wrong direction! (Isaiah 53:6).  But in living out the righteousness that He gives us through Jesus Christ, we can have a totally different ride!

I wish this verse meant that there would never be any problems for the believer.  However, we are told we will have troubles in this world (John 16:33).  But in choosing to follow His Word, we at least avoid additional and unnecessary problems of our own making.  Sin just hurts and complicates life, whether our sin or that of someone else.  But in His grace the Lord will sometimes smooth over even those rough patches.  When He allows the jolts, He brings us through with new dependence on Him.

Lord, I need You to smooth out what looks like rough road ahead.  Thank you that I can trust You.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.