Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

“Yoke’s on You!”

Scripture for today: Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Today is April Fools Day and for some the joke or “yoke” is on them!  I wonder if during these days of social distancing there will be the same level of frivolity!  I hope so.  We could all use a laugh!  France has its own version of this day.  They observe this silliness by taping a paper fish on someone’s back without their knowledge.

Today’s verse mentions a yoke that is no laughing matter.  This is a yoke of slavery from which Christ has set us free.  The believers in the churches in Galatia were being influenced to put back on a heavy yoke.  That yoke was the belief that they could be justified by following the Law (verse 4).  Christ came to fulfill the Law and free us from this heavy impossible burden.  We have exchanged this yoke for an easy one, shared with Jesus.  His burden is light because He carries it with us and gives rest to our souls (Matt. 11:28-30).

How wonderful to know that He cares about what is burdening me!  Whatever is weighing me down does not come from Him.  He does not want me to go through life feeling that I must always do more to be accepted by Him.  That would be an unbearable weight!  He has done it all.  He is sufficient.  And the commands He has given me are not burdensome (I John 5:3).  It is in keeping them that I show my love for Him.  This love relationship is what gives me rest.  Despite the unease of risk and of the unknown, I can rest yoked to Him.

Thank you Lord, for Your reassurance.


2 Comments

Sheltering in Place

Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:1-2 “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.'”

A new phrase has crept into our everyday vocabulary in the wake of this nasty worldwide virus; “shelter in place.”  The idea is to limit exposure and to slow the spread of what for some can be fatal.  This is new territory and the questions and challenges can seem overwhelming.  Cabin fever, FOMO or fear of missing out, and fear of possible financial challenges to come can all create a pervading sense of unease.  That loss of connection is especially unnerving.

Today’s verse is a promise of rest from the anxieties of this unique time.  When we make the Most High our shelter we find rest in His presence.  Rather than trust in four walls, self-isolation, or the government, we can trust in God’s reassuring presence.  This is not just a place to drop in but to dwell.  Sheltering in this place gives the rest and peace so needed in the face of the unknown.  The best four walls around me are His care, His compassion, His comfort, and His control.

The best part of sheltering in His presence is that this can happen anywhere!  For now, my world has become so much smaller, but He has not!  His peace guards my heart and my mind (Phil. 4:7) regardless of where I am.  I never want to leave the shelter of His presence.  Nearer Still Nearer’s lyrics from 1898 say it best.  “Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast. Shelter me safe in that ‘haven of rest.'”

Thank you, Lord, for being my shelter and my rest.

 


Leave a comment

The Thinker

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:8 “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

This iconic and very recognizable sculpture sits proudly at the Rodin Museum in Paris.  The Thinker was originally only 27 inches tall!  In 1881 he was created to sit at the top of an entryway called, Gates of Hell.  Rodin named him The Poet as he  represented Dante.  But this piece was so well received that he grew figuratively and literally to the size we see today!  His deep concentration gives rise to all sorts of ideas as to the subject of his thoughts!

Today’s verse encourages the believer to think about a list of things that are excellent or praiseworthy.  If we are what we think, than the subject of our thoughts makes an incredible difference to how we live!  This list of what we are to think about is sandwiched between two verses on peace (verse 7 & 9).  What occupies our thoughts has a direct bearing on experiencing God’s peace.  And each of these excellent and praiseworthy thoughts can easily describe one Person, Jesus Christ!  His Word tells us to fix our thoughts on Jesus (Heb. 3:1).

How often other thoughts crowd in that are diametrically opposed to this list!  The world pushes at me thinking that is untrue and just ugly.  But I can be proactive and intentional about my thoughts!  I can control what I read.  I can control what I watch.  I can control to whom I listen.  And the more my mind remains steadfastly on Him the more I have His peace (Isaiah 26:3).  The lyric from Be Thou My Vision is so true: “Thou my best thought by day or by night.”

Lord, keep my thoughts on You today.

 

 

 


Leave a comment

The Chuckwalla

Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:5 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

I had never heard of a chuckwalla until it was spotted and photographed by a family member in an arid rocky area of Arizona.  They can weigh up to two pounds, measure up to sixteen inches and live as long as twenty five years!  But what is most surprising is the way they escape predators.  They dodge into the crevice of a rock and inflate themselves with air!  This wedges them in so firmly that it is nearly impossible to remove them!

Today’s verse describes our God as a rock.  He provides refuge, protection and the strength of our salvation.  When we feel threatened or vulnerable, we can run to the permanence of this Rock.  His strength and protection are constant and constantly available.  It is a place that is safe when we feel under attack.  In the crevice of this rock we not only catch our breath, but are filled with His Spirit in this place of refreshment.

Sometimes it takes a crisis for me to realize that I am far away from my Rock.  When life is smooth I can be lulled into thinking that there is no danger.  Self sufficiency begins to subtly influence my thinking.  But even when I do sense any kind of threat, I am ashamed to admit that my first reaction is not always to run to my Rock.  But it is no weakness to run to His strength.  He invites me to firmly wedge myself in and enjoy His love and protection!  In the crevice of this rock, I will not be moved or removed!

Lord, be my Rock today.

 


Leave a comment

Tasmanian Devil

Scripture for Today: Galatians 5:15 “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Despite his name I would hate for the Tasmanian Devil to become extinct.  His only natural habitat is the Australian island-state of Tasmania.  Because of his husky snarl and bad temper, he often has what is called a “devilish expression.”  Since 2008 he has been on the endangered list.  The reason?  A cancer called, “devil facial tumor disease,”  which results in grotesque tumors around the head and mouth.  It is thought to be transmitted when they bite each other!

Today’s verse teaches that the words from our mouths can inflict pain and even destroy another.  Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).  So much of what displeases the Lord comes from the mouth, whether it be gossiping, lying, mocking, arguing, criticizing, ….the list goes on.  And each of these has such a devastating effect on the one to whom it is directed.  What is more, the “tit for tat” reciprocity only escalates the problem until both parties are destroyed.

It is only by His Spirit that I can love and forgive the one who has inadvertently or intentionally hurt me.  My memory is long when it comes to hurtful words.  But I have definitely taken things a step further when I want to retaliate.  There might be a momentary feeling of satisfaction but the relationship remains tense and broken.  Forgiveness is so difficult but without it, the relationship is “endangered” and at risk of extinction.  Realizing God’s forgiveness for me helps me get a better perspective on the whole mess.  And His love and His power are there to make forgiveness and restoration possible.  It is just not possible on my own.

Thank you Lord, that You heal those difficult relationships.

 

 


3 Comments

Inner Peace

Scripture for Today: John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

There is a store in our area whose name is pictured here; Art of Inner Peace.  They sell Eastern spiritual items, gifts and jewelry, as well as Buddha figurines, incense and crystals.  They advertise themselves as a zen place to find harmony, peace and balance.  I am assuming that the owners think their name appropriate in the belief that selling these particular items will contribute to inner peace.  It was a new thought to me that peace could be considered an “art.”

In contrast, todays’s verse tells us that peace is a gift.  Its Giver is Jesus Christ.  Because of the peace Jesus offers we can now have peace with God and are no longer His enemy (Rom. 5:10).  From this peace flows peace with others and the inner peace of mind we so desperately want.  True peace of mind is having a heart untroubled and unafraid in the midst of whatever life brings.  The peace He gives is a calm assurance that He is in control and that it is a good control.

Life does not need to slow down to experience His peace.  There can be noise, confusion, and even frenzied activity.  His inner peace is not tied to the physical nor does it depend on outside circumstances.  His peace goes deeper.  It is the peace of belonging to Him heart and soul.  He will never leave me or abandon me.  He is there to sustain me and bring me through whatever I am facing.  His peace reassures me of His loving care, today and tomorrow!

Thank you Lord, for Your gift of peace.


Leave a comment

Bonded Leather

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

I was horrified to pull back my couch cover and see how the bonded leather was “unbonding!”  After just two years the couch was showing signs of this kind of wear.  It was my own fault for not researching the meaning of “bonded leather” before buying it.  But because the price was hefty and it was from a reputable well-known brand, I did not think it through.  This kind of leather is made up of many small pieces bonded or glued together.  Those that sell it admit that it will only hold up three to five years.  What a disappointment!

Today’s verse talks about a supernatural bond of peace that is the work of the Holy Spirit in believers.  Those belonging to Jesus come in all shapes and sizes, different races and cultures, social standings, income and education.  We are little pieces bonded together making a whole.  We are part of one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father! (verses 4-6).  And this peace is something we are to strive to keep.

The Lord knows me.  He knows how easily I can nitpick and criticize.  I so easily focus on differences rather than recognize what unites me with my brothers and sisters.  The Lord has shown me incredible grace, and yet I am slow to show that same grace to others.  Our unity is more important than me being right, recognized or visible.  Our unity can be a powerful draw to the world.  And oh how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! (Ps. 133:1)

Thank you Lord, that You make possible this bond of peace.  Help me to keep it!