Devotions By Jan

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Creature Comforts

Scripture for Today:  Matt. 8:20  “Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.'”

This cat is not letting a little thing like a bed, pillow or comfy blanket stop him from his nap!  He doesn’t seem to mind that the concrete is hard or that the wood chips may poke at him.  Me, on the other hand, I enjoy my creature comforts.   My poor children did not have any camping experiences until they were adults.  If I have a choice, I choose the comfortable bed and pillow.

This is why today’s verse is so shocking!  Jesus describes Himself as having no place to lay His head.  Jesus gave up the comforts of hearth and home to be on the road, sharing the good news of salvation and meeting people’s needs.  Jesus was speaking to a teacher of the law who declared he would follow Jesus anywhere.  But perhaps this teacher was being overly optimistic or unrealistic.  Jesus knew that His itinerant ministry would pose a problem for this man.

The cost of following God’s individual plan for me may mean I will have to relinquish some creature comforts.  How inconsequential they seem when compared to what He gave up for me!  Thankfully, as my Creator, He knows my limits.  He will not call me to do something that He would not empower me to do (Phil. 2:13).  But am I willing to follow Him whatever He asks me to give up?   I hope I can say, “Yes” to whatever He asks of me.  He is trustworthy.  But there is one “creature comfort” I could never do without and that is the reassuring comfort of His presence and blessing.

Lord, thank you for what You gave up for me!

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Penguin Crossing

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Who would not slow down and give way to penguins?  This sign warns motorists at Oamaru Harbour, New Zealand, to slow down for the Little Blue Penguins.  They are the world’s smallest and are also called Fairy Penguins.  Their size makes them easy to miss, crossing the road.  They come ashore to prepare their nests or to shed their feathers and grow a new waterproof coat.  For me, yielding right-of-way is a non-issue.

Today’s verse tells us we are to yield or submit to the Lord in each and every way we choose to take.  By acknowledging His control, His superior knowledge and His goodness, we travel a path much less complicated by twists and turns.  He makes our paths straight, unencumbered by lengthy unnecessary detours.  We reach our destination in good time, or in His time.  When we give way to Him rather than insisting on our own plan, we find He had a better idea all along!

I need to be reminded to yield.  My first inclination is to make decisions on my own.  And yielding my will to His is so often a struggle.  Even knowing that my own understanding is limited, I stubbornly resist.  I like being the one who makes the decisions.  Trusting Him with all my heart is scary without having some measure of control.  But He promises that when I do, He will make my paths straight, choosing the best way.  No time will be lost in making U turns or encountering dead ends.

Thank you Lord, that I can fully trust Your heart of love for me!

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Ultimate Sacrifice

Scripture for Today: Mark 12:33 “To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important that ALL burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Today on this Memorial Day we remember the ultimate sacrifice made by so many soldiers who gave their lives for our freedoms.  If it were not for their willingness to put their lives on the line, we would not be enjoying the rights and privileges that we do.  To honor their sacrifice is only right as we are the beneficiaries of their selfless acts of bravery.

Today’s verse talks about a sacrifice that is living.  This sacrifice puts to death one’s own rights and privileges in honor of the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.  Christ died to free us from the penalty of our own sin.  And in response to His incredible sacrifice of love, we give Him all of our heart and strength.  Like David, our sacrifice to Him in return is a broken and contrite heart (Ps. 51:17).  And in loving response to His ultimate sacrifice, our bodies become a living sacrifice, living out His good, pleasing and perfect will (Rom. 12:1-2).

To live for His pleasure and to die to my own selfish desires is a constant battle.  Yet, it is what He asks of me as His child.  He is worthy of any and all sacrifice.  And when I compare my small struggles with what He went through for me, well, there is no comparison!  Because of His ultimate sacrifice of love, He has every right to demand “my soul, my life, my all.”   He has my soul.  He even has my life.  It is that “all” part that can be so difficult sometimes.

Lord, help me to surrender all!

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Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119: 97 “Oh how I love Your Law.  I meditate on it all day long.”

This bunny reminds me of the one we used to have in Grenoble.   Cupcake had a beautiful long-haired coat and would sit on our laps like a cat.  But he was a bit of a free spirit too.  We would allow him to roam the enclosed back yard.  The problem was that every time we opened the door to the detached garage, he would make a run for it!  In his little bunny brain he was sure that freedom lay just beyond that door!  One day he made it and we never saw him again.  I sometimes wonder if it was a car on that street or a hawk from the mountains above us that did him in!

Today’s verse expresses love for God’s Law.  This is not the usual sentiment when thinking about law.  One can understand feeling respect but love seems a bit extreme.  However, God’s Law makes one wise, gives understanding and insight and keeps us from evil.  God’s Law gives us boundaries for our protection.  Unfortunately, we tend to constantly push at those boundaries, not understanding that they are there for our protection.

My independent spirit is SO strong!  I do not enjoy anyone telling me what I can or cannot do.  There’s a rebel lurking inside of me!  I want my own way, even if that way leads to ruin and despair.  My Creator must just shake His head at me when I am as foolish as Cupcake was.  His Law is really another expression of His loving care for me.  His arms are the Law that enclose me.  When I obey Him our communion is sweet.  Loving His Law is part of loving Him.

Lord, change my heart to love Your Law.

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Chocolate Only Please

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:21-22  “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”

My husband and I were having lunch with my French chorale group after a concert.  At that round table,  everyone was ordering the ice cream dessert, vanilla with chocolate sauce.  My husband, concerned about cost, told me we could get a cone later that night.  I was not happy as chocolate ice cream is my weakness.  As my husband left for the bathroom, others encouraged me to go ahead and order!  Thankfully, I resisted as they were out of the chocolate sauce and gave everyone strawberry instead.  Later that night I doubly enjoyed my chocolate ice cream cone!

Today’s verse tells us that we are to submit to others as a sign of reverence for Christ.  This submission is done reciprocally in a marriage but then wives are specifically addressed.  When a wife submits to her husband she is showing her love by respecting him (verse 33).  This submission is not unlike our submission to the Lord, also to show love and respect.  And just as the submission of Christ to the Father is a strength, so our submission is a show of strength and commitment to God’s plan.

The hardest part of submitting to my husband’s wishes that day was the public nature of it.  I was concerned that I would look like a weak push-over in front of the others.  But respecting my husband was more important than their opinion.  The Lord was so good to sweeten the experience that evening with what I really wanted.  And the added benefit was the sweetness in our relationship!

Lord, give me the strength to submit, showing my love for my husband and for You.