Devotions By Jan


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Shade Trees

Scripture for Today: Psalm 121:5 “The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand.”

These sheep are taking advantage of the only shade available on Cleeve Hill in Gloucestershire, England.  This beautiful spot overlooks Winchcombe in the valley below.  As the sun makes its trek across the sky, the bench sits in that lovely shade, providing welcome relief from the sun’s rays.  Sheep are often portrayed as dumb, but at least they know enough to move out of the sun and find comfort in the shade of that tree!

Today’s verse describes God’s care, protection and presence as shade.  His shade is at our right hand as that is the side used for battle.  The unrelenting heat of battle is lessened with assurances of His presence and power.  We are not dealing with an enemy that we can see (Eph. 6:12).  Putting on all that spiritual armor is essential for the conflict, but even more important is His divine protection.  The light of the sun or the moon will not harm us (verse 6).  Day or night He is watching over His own.  Nothing can touch our souls as He has already assured the outcome.  We are on the winning side.

What a comfort to have Him always with me!  I am so often unaware, not only of the raging battle around me but of His presence.  He is protecting me twenty-four seven from dangers I unknowingly encounter.  He is my shade and protection from any and all evil in the world.  If any of it should touch me, it is only with His permission and for His higher purposes.  He is always watching and nothing gets past Him.  He is my Deliverer and I can trust HIm.

Thank you Lord, for being my shade today.

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Restless Dogs

Scripture for today: I John 3:19 “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence.”

This poor pug looks grumpy and sleep-deprived!  Have you ever seen a dog circle and circle his bed before finally laying down?  Or there’s the dog that paces back and forth.  The restless dog will repeatedly adjust his sleep position, unable to lie still.  The reason for this behavior could be the pain of arthritis or a sign of doggy anxiety.  But this restlessness is not just a problem for dogs!  Everything can be positive in life and yet one can still have a restless spirit.

Today’s verse talks about a heart that is at rest.  When we know and are convinced that we belong to the truth, there is a resting settled feeling in our hearts.  In His presence, we feel His peace, knowing that we belong to Him.  No longer are our hearts restless, wandering or searching.  When we belong to Him, our hearts can no longer condemn us as He is greater than our hearts (verse 20).  We can have confidence before God as He knows everything and He knows our hearts better than we do ourselves!  When we believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our hearts are finally at rest (verse 23).

When my heart is at rest, there is a confident peace.  He does not want my heart to be restless or troubled (John 14:27).  His Spirit testifies with my spirit that I am God’s own (Rom.8:16) and reassures my heart.  How good He is to give me that heart at rest!  And how much I want that for friends and family members who live restless lives without Him.

Lord, may I feel that heart rest today.

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The Morning Glory

Scripture for Today: Psalm 143:8 “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life.”

This beautiful flower is  just like its name.  At night it closes, perhaps to keep in the moisture, perhaps to keep out damaging insects.  Then with the light of dawn, it opens its petals and appears in all its glory!  The name Morning Glory actually refers to over 1000 species of flowers that do this same thing.  The species pictured has blossoms shaped like funnels and come in purple, pink or white.  They grow on vines that climb all over a fence or trellis.

Today’s verse looks to the morning, not only as the start to a new day, but also to the hope of God’s unfailing love.  It is a hope that is never disappointed as God is faithful to all HIs promises.  Our trust is well placed in His unfailing love.  No other love is so constant.  No other love is so wide, long, high or deep as His love (Eph. 3:18).  And He demonstrates His unfailing love for us by showing us the way we should go.  His love guides and protects in that brand new day.

The word of his unfailing love may not always be found in my circumstances.  The word of His unfailing love may not always be found in my feelings.  The word of His unfailing love is most consistently found in the Bible.  Starting my day with the reminders of His love reassures me that He is there.  He is waiting for me to wake up so He can show me again.  Because I can trust His love, I can entrust to Him my life!

Thank you Lord, that Your love never fails me.

 

 


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Say Yes to the Dress

Scripture for Today:  Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

I guess I am a traditionalist.  My opinions are usually very different than the preferences shown by the soon-to-be-brides on the television show, “Say Yes to the Dress.”  I always prefer a white wedding dress to any other color.  It is not that the bride needs to have been lily white in her past.  It just seems that this solemn occasion marks a new and exciting beginning.  The commitment at the altar before God and witnesses can be viewed like clean slate.

Today’s verse gives hope that each day can be a new start.  The Lord’s compassion is renewed for His own every morning.  Regardless of what happened the day before, He is faithful to His commitment towards us.  Because of His unfailing love, we receive from Him His amazing grace.  We do not deserve forgiveness, but He continues to offer it to those who come clean with Him.

His renewed compassion gives me that new start every morning.  He washes me whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7).  He continually clothes me in dazzling white with each pardon.  Each morning I can start again.  That is what His forgiveness does for me.  I do not have to put on dirty clothes.  My past mistakes and failures are never an issue with Him.  He promises to not even remember them (Heb. 10:17).  How wonderful to begin each day with a clean slate!  Because of what Jesus did for me on that cross I can count on His continued faithfulness each and every morning.  He thinks I look good in white!

Thank you Lord, for Your pure perfect pardon.

 


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Case Closed

Scripture for Today:  Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

“Case Closed” is the English title given to this ongoing Japanese detective manga series where an amateur detective is transformed into a child and helps solve crime.  But in a larger sense the phrase, “case closed,” is said after any question, debate or mystery has been solved or answered.  It is meant to be final and not able to be amended or varied in any way.  It puts a stop to any more discussion.

Today’s verse could be viewed as a case closed.  It is a wonderful assurance for the one who has placed their faith in Jesus.  There is no fear of this case being reopened.  The believer is justified, or declared righteous, not because of his own deeds but because of being credited with Christ’s righteousness (Romans 4:22-25).  The just punishment that we 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.  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!  Satan tries his best to try and pry open a case that is eternally closed by making accusations.  But it is to no avail.  God’s mighty hand has closed the affair and I have peace with God, now and forever.  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!  What God has declared is a case closed and His Word is final.

Thank you Lord, for Your precious assurance!

 


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Message in a Bottle

message12.05.17-mjs_ft_message-in-a-bottle_27865657_582_388Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 31:3 “The Lord appeared to us in the past saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'”

The idea of putting an important message in a bottle is nothing new.  There are records of it being done as far back as 310 BC!  But the story of a British WWI soldier, sending a message in 1914 was especially touching.  It did not discuss enemy movements, or a shipwreck story nor was it an experiment to test the movements of the currents.  It was a love note addressed to his wife.  This soldier died two days later and although the wife had since died by the time it was discovered in 1999, his daughter at the age of 86 was thrilled to have it!

Today’s verse describes the Lord’s love for us as everlasting.  Much more dependable than a floating bottle, He has written His message of love in the Bible that dates back centuries.  It is a timeless message of a love that is kind and unconditional.  The everlasting nature of His love draws the receptive and searching heart.  But like the passerby pictured, too many walk by that message, never stopping to investigate.  He has been faithful to communicate His love clearly, but the message is not always received.  Or the message is misheard to be, “I will love you if…”

His love for me changes how I look at myself.  I am important enough for Him to actually write down how He feels about me!  Of course my husband’s love and my family’s love is important.  But nothing is as wide, long, high or deep as His love (Eph.3:18).  It is always kind.  It will never fail.  And He loves me in spite of who I am!

Thank you Lord, for Your everlasting love!

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


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Bent by the Wind

Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:6 “I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go about mourning all day long.”

So many of the trees at this beach on the island of Sardinia were bent over as a result of the strong winds.  It was almost impossible to walk through a grove of them and avoid running into their lowered branches.  Some of them were practically horizontal.  Only a few provided the shade we needed at the right height for our picnic.  Even so, they managed to keep growing, in spite of the buffeting from those strong gusts of wind.

Today’s verse talks about being bent over and bowed down as an image for guilt over sin.  David feels the seriousness of his failures so keenly that he mourns all throughout the day.  He describes the guilt he feels as a burden too heavy to bear (verse 4).  He feels that the guilt is even affecting his health when he says there is no soundness in his bones because of his sin (verse 3).  He calls his sin, “folly” (verse 5).

This is exactly what guilt feels like.  But this description is before David confesses (verse 18).  David ends the psalm with confidence in God’s help and forgiveness.  Those strong winds of guilt have him bowed down but he is still standing.  Perhaps David was a “man after God’s own heart” because he recognized the seriousness of his sin and was willing to completely humble himself.

I do not often have this kind of guilt.  It is not that I do not sin as much or as seriously as David.  But I think I am sometimes desensitized to it.  Or my pride just does not allow me to think that I am quite that bad, or that what I have done is so serious.

Lord, examine my heart today.

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