Devotions By Jan


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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.


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Saying Thank You

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Somehow, that small addition of “thank you” at the bottom of this sign makes the message more tolerable and a little softer.  There have actually been studies on the effect “thank you” has on relationships.  Using the “find-remind-bind” idea, gratitude helps find new contacts, remind old contacts of friendship and binds active friendships.  An attitude of gratitude can go a long way in making one happier and positive, generous and compassionate, as well as healthier with a lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system!

Today’s verse is more than a suggestion.  It is a command to give thanks in any and all circumstances.  Our thanks in this passage are directed to the Lord in prayer (verse 17).  Quite clearly, it is what God wants from His children.  And when we withhold our thanks, we are somehow quenching His Spirit in us (verse 19).  Thanking God for what just happened is a recognition of His control over the situation.  It is a reminder that He has a plan that is good in allowing that circumstance, good or bad.

When I thank Him, I am reaffirming my faith that He knows what He is doing.  Even when I am pleading with Him for action or change, I am told to include thanksgiving in my prayer as an expression of trust (Phil. 4:6).  Just as thanking others can improve a friendship, so thanking the Lord brings me closer to Him.  As I thank Him, I can feel the tension in me dissipate.  He knows and He cares.  Whatever I am facing He has a plan in it and He is using it.  A heart-felt “thank you” completely changes my attitude.

Lord, remind me to thank You today.

 


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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!