Devotions By Jan


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I Did It My Way

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 16:25 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

The music of the famous song, “My Way,” was based on the French song, “Comme D’Habitude.”   But the lyrics were written by Paul Anka.  After dining with Frank Sinatra and hearing about his unhappiness that things were not going his way, Anka penned the now-famous lyrics.  They describe a man facing his own mortality and reflecting on a life done his own way.  It says, “For what is a man, what has he got?  If not himself, then he has naught.”

Today’s verse talks about how right and good our way can seem.  There is a rebel lurking in all of us and we would rather question God’s way than question our own.  But this verse is saying that even though our way may seem right, it can still be wrong.  Our subjective stamp of approval does not change the objective truth that certain choices will lead to death.  We all need to be taught and led in His way (Psalm  27:11) and led in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:24).

How glad I am that I have more to live this life than the lyrics suggest!  I am not on my own.  My life has a plan and a purpose, created by the One who created me!  It is true that I do not always understand His way and His logic, but I am to walk His way in faith.  His way leads me on to level ground instead of the steep inclines of my ill-conceived short cuts! (Psalm 143:10).  His way leads me by still quiet waters instead of the turbulent waters my choices create (Psalm 23:2).

Lord, in looking back on my life, may I be able to say, ‘I did it YOUR way.'”

 


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Plane Trees

Scripture for Today:  John 15:2  “He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

These plane trees are a common sight in France, often lining a country road.  They do not look like much here, however when they leaf out they are beautiful and give welcomed shade.  But during the pruning season they are cut back so far they look as if they may not survive.  The knobby ends to those branches make the tree look so strange and forlorn.  Yet if they were not cut back so aggressively, they would become thin and scraggily with their old growth.

Today’s verse refers to the pruning of vine branches to produce more and better fruit.  But the idea is the same; that old growth needs to be removed before new growth can happen.  The one who does the pruning is the Father or the gardener.  He does not want me to be content with the fruit He has already produced.  He wants me to cooperate with His pruning shears in order to produce more fruit that is richer and more excellent.

Pruning does not feel so good.  It is a painful process.  Just after pruning the plant does not look so good either. But when the Lord allows the hard times in my life, He has in mind to produce new growth in me.  Every painful circumstance He can use.  There is new dependance on Him with every failure, with every disappointment.  I may not see the new growth for awhile, but He has promised a beautiful result; a fruitful life.

Help me, Lord, not to question your pruning shears.  Help me to trust what You are doing in my life.

 


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Multi-Tasking

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 86:11 “Teach me Your way Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name.”

Multi-tasking can be a valuable life skill, from the office worker juggling several projects at once to the busy mother handling multiple demands.  But of course, one place multi-tasking does not belong is behind the wheel!  We have all been there, driving distractedly with either last minute grooming, texting, phoning or even eating at the wheel.  However, driving is one of those activities that for safety’s sake requires undivided attention.

Today’s verse is part of a prayer of David’s.  He understands that in following God’s way he will be walking in His truth and relying on His faithfulness.  But to do that David prays for a heart that is undivided.  David wants to be wholly committed to the Lord but like so many of us, his heart is distracted.  God does not want just some of our attention, but all of it!  We are to love Him with ALL our heart, soul, and strength (Deut. 6:5).  And when our hearts are completely His, we can fear and worship His name and all He represents.

Loving Him with all of my heart is the only possible response to what He has done for me.  He has shown me a “great love” (verse 13) that has delivered me and made me alive!  My heart can be full of love for family and friends but this love for Him is something different and something all-consuming.  It is a love that reaches down to my soul and it is a love that will be eternal.  The more of my heart that I give Him, the more this love grows!

Keep my heart undivided, Lord.  Take all of it and make it Yours.

 


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Following the Recipe

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:137-138 “You are righteous, Lord, and Your laws are right. The statues You have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.”

I love following a good recipe that is tried and true.  And if I want a German dish to be authentic I would go to the trouble of translating those instructions (as well as converting the measurements).  I would not worry about all the verbs being in the command form.  It is a recipe after all.  I do not expect it to say, “please beat the eggs.”  Or “would you mind chopping the nuts.”  But I am not offended.  The directives are there to obtain a good, tasty result!

Today’s verse describes God’s directives.  Sometimes they can seem very blunt.  There is no softening of what God requires of us.  But His commands are always with a good goal.  They are always for our good and for our protection.  We know that because HE is good.  What He commands is fully trustworthy and an expression of His love and care.  This is why David could say that they are a joy to the heart and light to the eyes, sweeter than honey and more precious than gold! (Psalm 19)

If God’s commandments are really for my good, then why am I always trying to change the recipe?  Because that is in fact what I sometimes try to do.  I think I know better or that somehow I am an exception to the rule.  Maybe I can “sort of” follow the instructions but introduce a variation which makes it easier on me.  The result is never as good.  His way is always the best and I am the one who benefits when I carefully follow what He wants.

Lord, thank you for Your love expressed through your commands.


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KAOS or CONTROL?

Scripture for Today: Romans 6:20 “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.”

The old television series, “Get Smart” ran from 1965-1970 and was a favorite of my family growing up!  KAOS (not an acronym) was a international organization of evil.  It was the job  of Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 to thwart their sinister threats to the world.  Their organization was called CONTROL (also not an acronym) and was a secret government counterintelligence agency.  It makes sense to me that the evil ones were KAOS or chaos, while the good guys were CONTROL or under control!

Today’s verse talks about being a slave to sin.  That is the condition of anyone without God’s freeing power.  Sin enslaves and creates all kinds of chaos and complications to a life.  But this same verse alludes to the control we can experience with righteousness.  Because of the grace of God, we can be taught to say “No” to ungodliness and live self-controlled godly lives (Titus 2:12).  Rather than be controlled by sin, we can be controlled by righteousness, leading to holiness and eternal life (Romans 6:22).  And self-control is an evidence of the presence of God’s Spirit in the believer (Gal. 5:22-23).

It is obvious to those around me when I am out of control!  There is chaos in my thoughts, emotions and behavior.  But when I am submitted to the Lord and filled with His Spirit, there is a measure of self-control that was not there previously.  He brings order from disorder.  There is a sense of calm and peace when I allow Christ to have His way.  That illusive self-control is really just allowing Him to have the full control that is His right.

Lord, please be the One in control of my day.


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Waiting in Line

Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

I have never met a person who enjoys waiting in line.  I know I do not, especially when I constantly check the time or shift position to be more comfortable.  I tell myself I have better things to do.  The time seems to drag, I am bored, frustrated and wishing I had brought something to occupy my mind.   But the wait is bearable when two things are true: the wait will be worth it and something worthwhile can happen during the wait.

In today’s verse David is waiting for the Lord to act on his behalf.  He is surrounded by enemies, the wicked and his foes (verse 2).  David remains confident while he waits because he believes he will again see the goodness of the Lord (verse 15).  To see the goodness of the Lord once more makes the waiting worthwhile.  And something David is doing while waiting is making that wait bearable; he is in the Temple gazing on the beauty of the Lord (verse 4).  That long wait is doable as David finds strength and takes heart in the Lord’s presence.

There are different ways to wait for God to answer my prayer.  I can question, doubt or tap my foot in impatience.  I can wonder if He hears me or if He even cares.   I can give up and stop asking.  Or, like David I can be strong through the wait and take heart.  It is worth the wait when I can be confident of again seeing proof of His goodness.  And the time waiting is never wasted when it is spent in His presence and in gazing on Him.

Lord, may I never doubt Your goodness and Your timing.  Help me wait with confidence!


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The Manatee

Scripture for Today:Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

Who would ever want to harm this gentle creature?  The Florida manatee, or sea cow, measures up to 13 feet and 1,300 pounds.  Their slow lolling nature make this large marine mammal a favorite of tourists.  But there are Manatee Zone signs saying “Slow Speed” and “Minimal Wake” in an effort to protect them.  Even so, the manatee is classed as “vulnerable.”  Their greatest threat is human as they are hunted, drown in fishing nets, face habitat degradation or collide with fishing boats.

Today’s verse reminds us that our greatest enemy is not human.  Our biggest threat is spiritual against our souls.  We protect ourselves from evil by the different pieces of God’s armor: truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. (verses 10-19)  We can stand firm against evil with the protection He provides.  We can stand with confidence as well, knowing that He not only has determined the outcome of this war, but He fights with and for us!

My courage is so non-existent that I need to enlist my husband when in combat with a spider!  There is nothing in me to inspire fear in those dark forces of evil.  Yet, the Devil will flee from me when I am wholly submitted to God (James 4:7).  I can face the dark and stand strong, never with  my puny efforts but in the power of His might!  Although this is a subject that can illicit fear, God reassures my heart.  If God is for me, who can be against me? (Romans 8:31)

Thank you Lord, that my heart, mind and soul belong to You.