Devotions By Jan


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The Gavel

Scripture for Today: Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The tapping of a gavel in a courtroom can mean different things.  When tapped twice, everyone is to rise.  When it is tapped three times, all are to be seated.  There can be repeated vigorous tapping to restore order.  One tap may be used to declare a matter settled and finished.  With the tap of a gavel comes all the power of that court.  When that gavel is brought down there is a decision made.  And that symbol of authority brings with it a certain finality.

In the courts of heaven, the gavel comes down with unquestionable authority.  God has every right to proclaim someone guilty or not guilty.  He is our righteous Judge and all His judgements are true and just.  Today’s verse is a wonderful assurance for the one who has placed their faith in Jesus.  There is no fear of that gavel coming down.  The believer is justified, or declared righteous, not because of our own deeds but because of being credited with His righteousness (Romans 4:22-25).  The just punishment that we rightly deserve has been fully met by His death on the cross.  The righteousness Jesus achieved has been laid to our account!

It has been decided.  The gavel has already come down.  I do not have to live in fear and doubt.  He declared, “It is finished,” on that cross.  How amazing that I can stand before Him, declared righteous!  There is peace with God now and throughout eternity.  My heart is not troubled because of my guilt and sin.  His forgiveness and declaration has established heartfelt peace, relief, and the joy and hope of heaven!

Lord, how can I ever express my gratitude?

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


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A Peaceful River

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 48:18 “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.”

There is something so restful about water.  It has such a calming affect on the spirit.  The reflections on the surface of the still water can make me sigh.  And the repetitive sounds of the waves gently lapping the shore lull me into a sense of well-being.  Stay long enough and tensions leave the body and time seems to stand still.  The water mesmerizes me and when I leave it, I somehow leave refreshed.

Today’s verse describes our peace and well-being like a river.  That peace comes as a result of following God’s way.  His way includes leading us by quiet waters and restoring our souls (Psalm 23:2).  His commands are designed for our good.  He teaches us what is best for us (verse 17).  But in our independent spirit, we do not pay attention to how He leads, or if we do, we think we know better!  That peaceful river alludes us as we move away from the Lord of peace.

When I am listening and obeying God’s voice, I experience peace with Him.  There are sweet times and a clear sense of His pleasure when I am not fighting Him.  Submitting to Him can be a struggle, but worth the effort when I can feel that deep heart peace in the middle of turmoil around me.  He calms my spirit and anxious thoughts.  Regardless of my circumstances, the still waters of His peace get me through, guarding my heart.

Lord, keep me obedient and close to the quiet waters of Your peace today.

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


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Holding Hands

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

They died holding hands.  After sixty-two years of marriage, this couple fell ill at the same time and were placed in a nursing home.  The staff pushed their beds together as he wanted to hold her hand.  Hand-holding began their life together and ended it.  He died while still grasping her hand.  She held on to life and his hand for another ninety minutes before dying as well.  How beautiful is this expression of love!  Holding hands can give courage, help and support.

Today’s verse is a beautiful assurance of God’s power and control.  The hand of God is a place of salvation, refuge and protection.  It is also a hand of healing and deliverance.  By taking our hand He assures us of His help.  His hand takes our right hand but not our left.  That is because the right hand is the one in Scripture that is used in battle.  He hold us by the right hand so that we allow Him to fight our battles!

I need Him to do the fighting.  My hands are weak and my grip is loose with discouragement on that “sword of the Spirit,” which is God’s Word (Eph. 6:17).  But He promises His help.  He takes a hold of my right hand and infuses me with strength and courage.  His help means that my enemies will be “as nothing.” (verse 11-12).  That impossible relationship that looms so large is no problem for Him.  He is in the business of righting wrongs and changing hearts.  He has my back and has promised to always be with me (Psalm 73:23).

Thank you Lord, for the warmth and comfort of Your hand holding mine.

 

 


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Snatched!!

Scripture for Today: John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”

The sea lion looked cute and adorable, enjoying the breadcrumbs tossed in by a family vacationing at a fisherman’s wharf in Canada.   This little girl squealed with delight as he approached.  But moments later a terrifying scene saw him snapping at her dress and snatching her into the water when her back was turned!  In a matter of seconds she was pulled from the water by her Grandfather who had immediately jumped in after her.  Thankfully, she emerged unharmed but in total shock.

Today’s verse serves as a reassuring promise and a sobering reminder of danger.  The danger comes from Satan who is like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (I Peter 5:8).  He would like nothing better than to snatch and destroy the unaware.  But those who belong to Jesus are in His hand.  Nothing and no one can ever snatch us out of that hand.  The Father is greater and more powerful than any foe and we are secure and protected.  If God is for us, who can be against us ? (Romans 8:31).

He has promised that I will never perish and what God says is always true.  Every sin is covered by His sacrifice when I turn to Him in faith.  Regardless of doubts or feelings He has given me eternal life.  No other sacrifice is required.  I am secure and peaceful in His wonderful grip.  No circumstance will ever pry those fingers open.  His power and promise means I can trust those hands.

Thank you Lord, that I can never be snatched away from You!


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Give Peas a Chance!

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

As a little girl, I got away with hiding those detested peas in my napkin.  When excused from the table, I would take the napkin with me and flush those peas down the toilet!  As the youngest of four, my poor Mother was none the wiser.  Thankfully I got over my distaste as peas are such a great healthy food!  To give peace a chance however, is a much more important idea!  John Lennon of the Beatles popularized this phrase with his first solo single hit released in 1969, “Give Peace a Chance.”

Today’s verse encourages the believer to live at peace with everyone.  Paul includes some qualifying conditions; if it is possible and as far as it depends on you.  Sometimes peace just is not possible if both parties are not willing to work at it.  But there is plenty that can depend on our own responses.  Being able to live peacefully with those intent on provoking us seems nearly impossible.  But when we remind ourselves that God is just and He will repay and avenge (verse 19) then we can at least find that peace of mind for ourselves.

I wish I could say that all my relationships are always peaceful.  But even the best of them occasionally go through turbulent times.  However, I know when I am making things worse.  And the first step in making peace usually starts with a humble apology for the part I played in the drama.  That first step requires me to put aside my pride.  That is the part that depends on me.  I can then trust the Lord to work through the rest.

Help me Lord, to do all I can to live peaceably.

 


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Knee Jerk Reaction

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

No one enjoys this part of a physical exam!  When that reflex hammer strikes just below the patella, the leg is supposed to extend as an automatic reflex.  This reaction is what helps maintain balance and posture without conscious thought.  But the term has also come to mean an immediate unthinking and emotional response.

Today’s verse addresses the problem of worry, which for me tends to be my knee jerk reaction!  Worry just seems to come naturally as a first response.  Sometimes my worries do not even have a basis in reality but arise from my imagination!  But Paul, who had plenty to worry about as a prisoner, gives us the solution.  Paul could experience God’s peace even when in chains.  And that is because He gave over his worrisome thoughts to the Lord in prayer.

Worrying changes nothing, but praying can.  Talking to the Lord and unburdening myself to Him helps my heart to trust Him.  He already knows what worries are running through my head.  But He asks me to name those worries in the form of petitions.  What freedom can be mine when I give it all to Him!  He replaces that worry with His peace that guards my heart and mind.  Instead of being consumed with worry, I can get some distance from that problem.  And in faith I can thank Him in advance for His answers.  My mind and heart can be at rest, knowing I can trust His hand to work.

Lord, keep me from that knee jerk reaction of worry.  Help me turn every anxious thought into heartfelt prayer.


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Giant Jenga!

jenga4Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:24 “though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord is the stay of his hand.”

I would hate to be the one to make this jenga tower fall!  The giant version has been showing up on lawns for different social events but I have never seen one at a wedding.  My grandsons enjoy building the smaller version on the coffee table.  But at their age they are more interested in making it fall as quickly as possible.  Of course, the idea is to dismantle the tower one brick at a time, placing the brick on the top without the tower falling.  It takes a steady hand and an eye for balance.

Today’s verse is a promise that the Lord will establish the steps of the one who belongs to Him.  If there is a fall, it is a controlled one.  It will not be a free-fall, being cast headlong.  The Lord’s hand is involved and He breaks the fall with His hand.  Regardless of how many bricks are pulled out from under us, He is there.

This is a wonderful assurance for me that the Lord is my true support.  I may feel that my stability rests on my work, my plans or my finances, when in fact, none of those are holding me up.  Circumstances change, and sometimes with no warning at all.  Rather than feeling panic I can remain confident.  No bad news can shake me as my heart is steadfast and trusting in Him (Ps. 112:7).  And even if He were to allow me to teeter and fall, His open loving hand is there to soften the landing.  In His unfailing love, He stands me back up, brushes me off and strengthens my faith through the whole ordeal.

Thank you Lord, for holding me up.