Devotions By Jan


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Building Muscle

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 4:8  “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

I will never have to worry about this happening!  Taking on too much is not the problem but rather taking on too little.  For me, exercise is a dirty word.  Although I enjoy staying active, I am no gym rat.  If I become winded and sweaty I am not too happy about it.  How different I am from my husband!  The more he sweats the more he feels alive!

Today’s verse talks about the value of physical training.  Yes, it has value.  But unfortunately the results from exercise do not last forever.  The benefits, as important as they are, are temporal.   In contrast, the value of godliness touches every part of our lives here and it is rewarded in the life to come!  Its benefits are of a much greater importance.  But just as there is uncomfortable effort with exercise, so there is with leading a godly life.  There may not be sweat or labored breathing, but there is certainly work involved.  Godliness takes resolve and concentrated effort.

It is so much easier to do things my own way rather than to obey God’s Word.  But then getting “spiritually flabby” takes its own toll.  When I make a habit of doing things God’s way, I can feel myself growing stronger and stronger when facing that next temptation.  The results of physical exercise are seen on the outside but godliness is developed on the inside.  So regardless of what may be breaking down physically, I can be renewed and strengthened on the inside! (II Cor. 4:16)

Lord, train me to be godly today.

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

 


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Petrified Wood

Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

This piece of petrified wood hardly resembles wood any longer.  The inside is as hard as rock.  Petrified wood is classed as a fossil and it is formed when a tree falls to the ground and is covered with mud or ash.  Rather than decaying, the organic plant material breaks down, forming a void. Over much time, as mineral laden groundwater flows through the inside, the deposits build up forming rock in that void.

Today’s verse is a process that takes much time as well.  But the result is a strength every bit as strong as that rock.  The Lord allows suffering for awhile.  He uses it to empty us of all of our own resources, pride and self-sufficiency.  Then when there is a void, He moves in with His strength.  Little by little we are filled with those rock-making materials.  We no longer resemble ourselves when we are filled with His strength and power.

It is in the middle of those difficult hurting moments that I realize I am weak.  Any other time I think I am strong.  All it takes is a bit of suffering to realize that I am not.  The Lord is so gracious to come to me Himself and personally restore me.  He gives me His strength and helps me be strong and steadfast.  I may look the same on the outside, but something has changed inside.  And it would not have happened had He not allowed the void and emptiness first.

Thank you Lord, for filling me with Your strength.

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

 


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Giant Jenga!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:24 “though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord is the stay of his hand.”

I would hate to have been the one to make this jenga tower fall!  The giant version has been showing up for different social events but I have never seen one.  My grandsons enjoy building the smaller version on the coffee table.  But at their age they are more interested in making it fall as quickly as possible.  Of course, the idea is to build the tower one brick at a time, placing the brick on the top without the tower falling.  It takes an eye for balance and a steady hand.

Today’s verse is a promise that the Lord will establish the steps of the one who belongs to Him.  If there is a fall, it is a controlled one.  It will not be a free-fall, being cast headlong.  The Lord’s hand is involved and He breaks the fall with His hand.  Regardless of how many bricks are pulled out from under us, He is there.

This is a wonderful assurance for me that the Lord is my true support.  I may feel that my stability rests on my work, my plans or my finances, when in fact, none of those are holding me up.  Circumstances change, and sometimes with no warning at all.  Rather than feeling panic I can remain confident.  No bad news can shake me as my heart is steadfast and trusting in Him (Ps. 112:7).  And even if He were to allow me to teeter and fall, His open loving hand is there to soften the landing.  In His unfailing love, He stands me back up, brushes me off and strengthens my faith through the whole ordeal.

Thank you Lord, for holding me up.

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


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Cloudy Days

Scripture for Today: Matthew 26:64  “You have said so, Jesus replied.  But I say to all of you: from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Being from southern California, I am not such a fan of clouds.  Little puffy white ones can be pretty if they do not block the sun.  But when they grow grey and menacing and the sun is hidden, my mood is usually affected.  I remember when we lived in Grenoble at the base of the Alps.  We would drive up the mountains on a cloudy grey day and be thrilled to find ourselves above the clouds and in the brilliant sunshine!

Today’s verse tells us that Jesus will one day come with the clouds, so I am starting to change my mind about them! When Jesus ascended into heaven, a cloud received Him and took Him away.  Two angels explained that Christ would return in the same way (Acts 1:9-11).  And one day believers will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (I Thes. 4:17).  One day every eye will see Him coming with the clouds (Rev. 1:7).

So clouds are a good thing as they could possibly be the signal that today is the day of His return!  What a great reminder that He is coming soon!  But regardless of the weather, I want to be ready for His return.  Frankly, I am not always thinking about it.  But expecting His return sure makes a difference to how I live.  I want my life to please Him.  When I see those clouds overhead, I want to say with firm conviction, “Maranatha, the Lord is coming!

Come, Lord Jesus!  Come quickly!

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


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Fading Flowers

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades but the Word of our God shall stand forever.”

Flowers that fade are not uncommon.  It can happen when there is too much exposure to sun and heat.  A once vibrant color can fade after being pollinated, no longer needing its suitors.  But the flower can also fade from stress after being transplanted.  Flowers growing from bulbs, such as the daffodil, fade with age.  The hydrangeas in my garden in France would fade being sensitive to the acidity of the soil.  The writer, Robert Bridges, used this image of fading flowers to describe diminishing love.

Today’s verse uses the grass that withers and the flower that fades to illustrate how brief and temporary life is.  The green grass can spring up overnight after a good rain and blanket a hillside.  And just as quickly, the grass can wither in an unrelenting sun.  The flower can enjoy a stunning burst of color, but eventually fades.  What a contrast to God’s Word that never withers and never fades!  It is always true and never changing.

God’s Word is living and enduring, making my life full of vibrant color (I Peter 1:23).  Through His Word He has put in me seed that never dies.  In a winter of bare trees and dry grass, I know that in the spiritual realm it is always spring!  His Word refreshes and strengthens me (Ps. 119:28).  Nothing can ever happen to make it untrue, unreliable or irrelevant.  What God says brings me comfort and hope in the most dire situations.  His promises keep me strong and His reassurances give me courage.  I cannot even imagine life without His precious Word to help me live it!

Lord, keep me faithfully reading Your Word.

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


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Mud Bath

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Although these majestic creatures are so huge and ugly, I am saddened to think that they soon could be extinct.  The horn of the rhinoceros, because of its purported medicinal properties, make them a target for poachers.  When the rhino is not foraging or resting in the shade of a tree, he can be found wallowing in the mud.  The mud cools them down in a hot climate and it also protects them from insects.  The mud works as a sun block as well.

Today’s verse gives a different view of mud.  Along with the mire it is a slippery place for human feet.  David cried out to the Lord when he found himself figuratively in that slimy pit.  There was no way out and the Lord did not respond immediately.  David waited patiently ( verse 1).  In that time of waiting he did not turn to the proud or to false gods for help (verse 4).  David continued to trust while waiting.  And he praises the Lord for lifting him out of the mess and giving him a firm stable place to stand.

It often feels as if the Lord does not immediately come when I cry to Him.  He sometimes asks me to wait as well.  Of course He hears me cry to Him.  He sees my predicament and He cares.  But He also wants my faith and trust in Him to grow and strengthen.  So many times it is in the waiting that this happens.  And His delay means that others see and can praise Him with me when rescue comes! (verse 3)

Lord, help me wait with patience.

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


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Read My Lips!

img_20170214_071735Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 10:12 “Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips.”

I am not too sure what message was intended with this window display!  I hardly noticed what these mannequins were wearing I was so distracted by those huge lips.  I am just as distracted by women who overdo the Botox in their lips to get that pouty look!  Perhaps the idea is a bold in-your-face attitude that is thought to sell the clothes.  Or maybe it was intended for Valentine’s Day kisses.  But as far as this customer is concerned, they lost me!

Today’s verse is one of many in Scripture that teach on our lips and what they reveal about us.  This verse was written by King Solomon, known for his God-given wisdom.  A wise person and a fool are distinguishable from one another by what comes out of their mouths.  The words from a wise person are gracious and win him favor.  But what comes from the lips of a fool destroys him.  He starts out speaking foolishness but as he keeps babbling, his words become wicked madness.

In our image-conscious culture I am often surprised by classy well-dressed people who destroy that perfect picture by what comes out of their mouths.  But I know I can sound the same way.  My words are not always gracious, especially when responding to hurt or injustice.  I can look the fool when I jump to a wrong conclusion and I react instead of thoughtfully responding.  Speaking like a fool comes easy.  It is a much more difficult challenge to speak wise gracious words.  Thankfully, God offers His wisdom when I ask Him (James 1:5) and the control of my tongue through His Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Lord, make my words gracious today!

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