Devotions By Jan


Our Future Plans

Scripture for Today: James 4:15 “Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

We’re late. In our household we move from one year’s agenda to the next at the beginning of July. But somehow, time got away from us. Here it is August and I am only now making the transfer. Perhaps subconsciously, I was putting off recording our planning in the new agenda as the world continues to change and restrictions come and go. Too often, plans have fallen apart through circumstances outside my control.

Today’s verse talks about making plans for the future. Of course it is important in making any plan to carefully weigh the pros and cons, to count the cost and to prepare for contingencies. Scripture encourages us to count the cost (Luke 14:28). But this passage is speaking to the arrogance of making plans without thought to the plans the Lord may have. We do not know what tomorrow will hold or whether we will have life and breath to carry out our future plans (verse 14). The unexpected will always surprise us, but will never take the Lord by surprise.

When I make plans I want to acknowledge that the Lord may have something different in mind. Recognizing this truth keeps me humble and keeps me in an attitude of submission. Accepting His control also keeps me asking and listening to Him. As wonderful as I think my plan is, I do not want to miss out on something better!  He knows what tomorrow holds. He knows what health issues I may be facing. He is already aware of possible changes in our finances. Being overconfident about my plans is seen as “boasting” in the Lord’s eyes (verse 16). He wants me to make Him my confidence. 

Lord, keep me following Your agenda.

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Body Language

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 33:3 “Surely it is you who love the people; all the holy ones are in your hand. At your feet they all bow down, and from you receive instruction.

The body language of this woman seems to indicate respect for the killer whale as she bows to it.  My body language when encountering a killer whale was not so much respect as fear!  Years ago I was volunteered to be kissed by one of these amazing creatures.  I was carefully held by a park employee over the end of a plank jetting out above the water.  I think I was as stiff as that board as I closed my eyes in fear!

Today’s verse describes a bow to One who is so much more worthy than any creation of His.  This bow is done in worship and does not stop at the waist.  Those showing reverence to the God of the universe bow all the way down to His feet in abject humility.  Our posture before His majesty is one that is self-abasing and glorifying to Him.  He is worthy of this worship for many reasons but in this verse He is bowed to for His love.  He loves and holds His own in His mighty and powerful hand!

One day I will physically bow to Him in His presence.  One day everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth will do the same (Phil. 2:10).  For some it will be under compulsion.  But for believers it will be a continuation of our worship here on earth.  The challenge for me here and now is whether I can bow my will to His in humble submission.  He is my King and my Lord.

Lord, may Your will  be done in my life today.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018.)

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Independence Day

Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:17-18 “Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sin.”

How wonderful to put aside differences and nationally celebrate our independence as a country! Parades, picnics and fireworks mark this special day. Flags make their appearance on lawns and often neighborhoods will celebrate collectively. It looks as if this little girl is celebrating her independence from parental control! Those toddler years are full of struggle for independence, as any parent in the trenches knows.

Today’s verse shows us the results of independence from our Creator. This is man’s natural inclination, to be autonomous and govern his own life his own way. The problem comes from the anguish, affliction and distress that sinful choices can produce. David so acutely feels the troubles of his heart that he pleads with the Lord to free him. When in our independence we choose our own way rather than His, we risk following a path of destruction, even when it looks oh so right (Prov. 14:12). The Lord never intended man to be independent from Him.

My desire to live without any constraints is normal. No one likes anyone telling them what to do or what behaviors to avoid. But every one of His commandments are meant to give me freedom! (Psalm 119:45) They free me from the heart trouble and the anguish of being separated from the Lover of my soul! Being dependent on Him gives me true freedom to live in the light of His love and favor! But like the stubborn toddler who thinks they know better than the parent, I pull away. How good He is to bring me back to Himself with powerful loving arms!

Thank you Lord, for the freedom that comes with dependence on You!

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Walking Sideways

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:15 “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.”

I am not a fan of crabs.  Their pincers make me a bit nervous and their appearance is a bit off-putting. But one of their behaviors always brings a smile; their ability to walk sideways. In trying to avoid them, this unusual behavior makes me unsure of which way to go to get out of their way! Perhaps they are confused too, not knowing whether they are coming or going! The fact that their joints bend outward rather than forward makes for this bizarre gait.  They can shuffle forward but sideways allows for more speed and efficiency. They can quickly dip into a hole or crevice and escape a predator.

Today’s verse reminds us to walk with care. As believers we are to walk with wisdom. Perhaps walking wisely can look like a sideways gait to some. Our walk is to be different than those around us who are walking foolishly, outside of God’s will. The context tells us to wake up and make the most of every opportunity. This passage goes on to cite the particulars of this different walk: being filled with His Spirit, speaking differently, singing, making music and being thankful. Walking in this way is walking in a direction that is different and distinctive!

The subtle influence of those walking around me can affect my walk. Who wants to be seen as walking sideways? It looks like I am going nowhere. I am not walking towards worldly values or recognition. Instead, I am walking towards the commendation of the Master, hoping to hear one day, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

Lord, make me wise by walking Your way today.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)

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Over or Under?

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 48:18 “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.”

Approaching that wave and calmly riding it out takes some good judgement and timing. I remember swimming in the waves with my daughter when she was just 10. We were cresting the tops and enjoying ourselves. But suddenly a set approached that were too much for us. I yelled out to take a deep breath, dive under and hold your breath until it passed over us. We were in still quiet water as the wave thundered over our heads. I am sure if she had disobeyed, she would have survived but she certainly would have been tossed around!

Today’s verse describes our peace and well-being like a river and waves. That peace comes as a result of following God’s way. His way includes leading us by quiet waters and restoring our souls (Psalm 23:2). His commands are designed for our good. He teaches us what is best for us (verse 17). But in our independent spirit, we do not always pay attention to how He leads. We try cresting that wave rather than going under it. That peace alludes us as we move away from the Lord of peace.

When I am listening and obeying God’s voice, I experience peace with Him. There are sweet times and a clear sense of His pleasure when I am not fighting Him. Submitting to Him can be a struggle, but worth the effort when I can feel that deep heart peace in the middle of turmoil around me. He calms my spirit and anxious thoughts. Regardless of my circumstances, the still waters of His peace get me through, guarding my heart.

Lord, keep me obedient and feeling Your peace today.