Devotions By Jan

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Kneeling Cows

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 45:23 “By myself I have sworn , my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked; Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.”

It seems this cow has an audience to his ungainly rise! Unlike other farm animals, cattle will get up and lie down by kneeling on their front legs. Their clumsy movements can look comical but it is this change of position which possibly gave rise to an old folklore. It says that when the bells sound at midnight on Christmas Eve, all the cattle bow in homage to the baby Jesus.

In today’s verse, God swears. He swears by Himself as there is no one higher than Him. Of course, everything God says is true and trustworthy. But here, added weight is given to His words. What He says cannot be disputed. There is no human knee every created that will NOT bow to God. There is no human tongue that will NOT swear, confess or agree with God as to who He is! This acknowledgement takes place when we give an account of ourselves to God. (Rom. 14:11-12) What a sobering thought for the ones who have mocked and denied Him their whole lives!

Because I have acknowledged Jesus here on earth, bowing before Him will be a joyful worshipful experience. I am not worthy in the least. But because of receiving His righteousness through faith (Rom. 4:5) I am “in Christ” and not condemned. (Rom. 8:1) However, there is bowing here on earth as well. Bending the knee is bending my will to conform to His. This is my daily struggle as a subject of the King. I want to want what He wants, but my own silly selfish desires are oh so strong!

Lord, help me submit to what You want today.

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The Clinging Jellyfish

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 13:4 “You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him, and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him and cling to Him.” (NASB)

The variety of shapes, sizes and colors among starfish is amazing! To see their long tentacles floating in water makes them seem eerie and other-worldly. This guy is one of the smaller ones being only about an inch in diameter. He is found off the coasts of the Northeastern states and can easily escape detection being almost entirely transparent. But two characteristics are notable; the orange-brown cross on their bodies and their ability to cling tenaciously to the seaweed.

Today’s verse is a command of the Lord to His people, the Israelites. Together they were to be set apart from all the nations around them and worship Him alone. In no way were the people to tolerate the worship of other gods. To love Him with all the heart and soul (verse 3) was shown by following His commands, listening for His voice, serving Him and clinging to Him. To do that they had to resist the pull of the cultures around them, holding fast to Him.

The Lord asks me to cling to Him as well. Following and obeying Him is a choice that can weaken. My world entices me to let go and live a little! The temptation to compromise and indulge myself is always present, like the current in the water, pulling me away from Him. Anything I value more than Him becomes an idol. But clinging to the worthless idols of this world means turning away from God’s love for me. (Jonah 2:8) Why would I want to let go of the love and goodness He shows me! That effort to hold fast is well worth it!

Keep me clinging to You, Lord.

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Great Slave Lake

Scripture for Today: II Peter 2:19 “They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity – for people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

What an odd name for a lake! This immense body of freshwater is Canada’s second largest and is located in the Northwest Territory. This lake and many other bodies of water in that region are named after the Slave Indians. I was expecting to learn of a past full of slavery. However, the Slavey Indian Tribe were never actually slaves. Their name for themselves is “Dene.” The Slave name was given them by their more aggressive neighbors, the Chee.

I have never been a slave either. At least I used to think that way, but today’s verse tells me something different. We are slaves to whatever masters us. One can think one is free when at the same time being a slave to depravity. The “lustful desires of the flesh” (verse 18) can unknowingly be our master. We are told we are slaves either to sin or to obedience and righteousness. (Rom. 6:16) We serve one or the other of these two masters!

It is disconcerting to see that there is no middle ground! But if I have to be a slave, controlled by something outside of myself, I would rather it be something good and positive! When Christ took my place by dying on the cross, He broke the power of sin to master me! Now, I am truly free to serve Him. And what a loving and gentle Master He is! His will for me is always pleasing, good and perfect. (Rom. 12:2) His burden for me is light (Matt. 11:30) and He promises that in following Him my life will be a full one! (John 10:10)

Lord, You are my Master. Help me live this truth today.

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Shoeing Horses

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:11-12 “I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.”

It looks like it hurts. But when done correctly, the shoe can be nailed in place without pain. The hooves of a horse are similar to our human nails but much thicker. And the horseshoe protects the feet of the horse much like shoes protect our feet. Before nailing the shoe there is a whole procedure to follow: carving, trimming and leveling surfaces. Good shoeing will result in a symmetrical hoof, which is so important to unhampered steps!

Today’s verse is part of instruction from a father to his son. His encouragement is to get wisdom and to hold on to understanding. In doing so, paths will become straight, steps will not be hampered and stumbling can be avoided. It is God’s wisdom that keeps us balanced and walking the way we should. When we do not allow God’s Word and wisdom to trim and carve away what does not belong, our walk becomes painful. We need constant “maintenance” or unchecked pride grows and we become wise in our own eyes! (Prov. 3:7)

I love to read God’s Word. I even appreciate His commandments and warnings as they are spoken in love. But the independence in me is strong. When I start doing life without Him, my steps begin to look a bit foolish and off. My footing is not as sure and there is potential for falling. It is His wisdom in His Word that makes my steps firm and purposeful. I can trust His hands to cut away my pride and any wrong thoughts I may harbor.

Thank you Lord, that your wisdom makes my steps sure!

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Seven Magic Mountains

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:164-165 “Seven times a day I praise You for Your righteous Laws.  Great peace have they who love Your Law, and nothing can make them stumble.”

How strange to see these seven pillars standing tall outside of Las Vegas, Nevada!  Their brightly painted colors are in stark contrast with the plain brown desert.  These seven pillars, called the Seven Magic Mountains, were built by a Swiss artist as a public art project.  They are 30-35 feet tall and each of the thirty three boulders  weigh 10-25 tons each!  Perhaps there are seven of them as this number is considered lucky.  But in Scripture, the number seven represents completion or perfection.

In today’s verse David does not use the number seven literally.  David mentions praying three times a day in Psalm 55:17.  In fact, David writes that His praise shall continually be in his mouth (Psalm 34:1).  He uses the number seven here to express a desire to worship the Lord perfectly, or completely.  In turning towards a holy and righteous God, David is showing a special care in his devotion.  His praise is specific; for God’s Law.  He recognizes the stability His Law gives to life.  In following God’s righteous way, one will not stumble as the wicked do whenever calamity strikes (Prov. 24:16).  David praises God for the great peace that comes from being obedient.  He knew the difference.  He experienced first hand the agony and awful consequences of breaking God’s Law.

What a beautiful and worthy subject of praise!  God’s Law gives stability and direction to my life.  It keeps me from stumbling.  Following His Law gives me heart peace instead of guilt and confusion.  Seven times a day is only the beginning of my praise and worship!

Lord, may I continually praise You today!  You are worthy!