Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

The Whimbrel

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 2:10 “these are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

Half the fun of walking close to the water on Southern California beaches is watching the Whimbrel.  He is very recognizable with his striped head and long curved bill.  When he flies it will be just over the water or ground.  More often I see him running near the water’s edge.  He uses that long bill to pick and probe in the sand, finding crustaceans, insects and worms.  He will dig deep in the wet sand to reach his dinner.

Today’s verse teaches that there are deep things of God that His Spirit searches and reveals to us.  These things cannot be physically seen, heard or even imagined (verse 9).  These are things that God has prepared for those who love Him and can only be known through His revelation.  No one can know the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God (verse 11).  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts ( Isaiah 55:8) yet His Spirit resides in the believer.  And it is only through God’s Spirit that we can have even a small inkling of all that God has prepared for us.

When the Spirit reveals the deep things of God it is through His written Word.  I need to dig deeper to know Him more.  I do not want to be satisfied with surface knowledge.  His Spirit wants to reveal more of Himself to me.  But too often I am rushed or distracted and do not take the time to dig deeper or listen to that still small voice.  The deep things of God are so deep it will take all of eternity to know Him.  But how incredible to start now!

Lord, keep me going deeper.


Leave a comment

Hair Color Reveal!

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:36-37 “And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

During these strange times of self-isolation, we hair-coloring women will soon be facing a big “reveal!”  Some may even feel that covering one’s face during a pandemic is secondary to covering emerging roots!  In a pinch we can go to the do-it-yourself boxed method.  Somehow, the results are never the same as the salon.  But of course, these problems are minor compared to the bigger ones of infection.

Today’s verse tells us not to swear by our heads.  It was a common practice in Matthew’s day to include oaths to add credibility to statements or promises made to one another.  But to swear to something puts us in a vulnerable position.  Just as one cannot change the true color of hair, so we are unable to change circumstances out of one’s control.  To the Lord, not fulfilling a vow is something very serious.  In essence it is like lying to Him.  Rather than risk that we are told to avoid making oaths at all.

I would like for my words to be able to stand on their own.  Rather than making myself more believable, speaking an oath tends to cheapen my words.  That is because I do not have complete control in my life.  There will always be a possibility that I will not be able to come through.  If I want to be taken seriously my “yes” should always be truthful, as well as my “no.”  Thankfully, God’s words are always trustworthy (I Cor.1:20) as every promise is a “Yes” in Christ!

Lord, make me a person of integrity.


2 Comments

Sunk!

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 10:12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”

Two weeks ago, it never occurred to us that this would be our last view of the Pilgrim in all its grandeur.  After forty years at the Dana Point Harbor, it sunk.  What a heartache!  This tall-masted ship was a full sized replica of the merchantman brig from the novel, “Two Years Before the Mast” by Richard Henry Dana.  The Ocean Institute there had been battling a slow leak but thought it was under control with regular maintenance of the hull (recently postponed) and with a pump.

Today’s verse is a loving warning.  After describing the failures of the Israelites in the wilderness, Paul cautions that falling is a real possibility.  We can think that we are standing firm while at the same time being slowly weakened by compromise.  Like the small leaks in the hull of a ship, our resolve can slowly erode leaving us vulnerable.  No one wakes up in the morning and decides to give in to temptation.  Being drawn away from Him is usually a slow sneaky process.

Thankfully, standing firm does not depend entirely on me.  The Lord is faithful to always provide a way out of temptation (verse 13).  But I need to be humble enough to realize that I cannot handle it on my own and look for that escape route!  Like David I want to regularly ask the Lord to examine my heart and my mind (Ps.26:2).  This is an uncomfortable prayer but I can pray this with confidence, being convinced of His unfailing love and faithfulness (verse 3).   There are times when I feel overwhelmed.  But because of His love, His strength and His faithfulness I will not sink!

Thank you Lord, that You are my confidence.

 


Leave a comment

Relieved

Scripture for Today: Psalm 4:1 “Answer me when I call to You, my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.”

Being relieved of duty is not always something negative.  It can simply mean a change of command.  One person relieves the other of duty and then takes it on themselves, as in someone taking over a shift.  Pictured here is a change of command ceremony for the Blue crew of the USS Nebraska submarine.

Today’s verse is a cry of David for relief.   He ends the psalm with lying down in peace and sleep (verse 8).  David has found relief in his confident trust in the Lord.  His circumstances had not changed at all.  What changed was his focus.  And his focus changed as a result of his prayer.  Prayer does that.  It relieves a heart bowed down with worry.  Prayer relieves the heavy burden of sadness.  Prayer reminds us that we are not alone or forgotten.  He is there to relieve us from any distress we feel.  That is true relief.

My problems can seem insignificant compared to those of David.  But I do need relief during this unique time of pandemic.  There needs to be a “change of command” as I give everything over to the Lord.  He never means for me to have the “duty” of keeping it all together.  And just like David I can experience peaceful sleep.  He gives a peace that defies explanation (Phil. 4:7) and that guards my heart and mind.  I am relieved of duty as HE takes over the job Himself of creating peace in my heart.  He is willing and waiting to relieve me.

May my prayer to Him today end with a sigh of relief.


Leave a comment

“Yoke’s on You!”

Scripture for today: Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Today is April Fools Day and for some the joke or “yoke” is on them!  I wonder if during these days of social distancing there will be the same level of frivolity!  I hope so.  We could all use a laugh!  France has its own version of this day.  They observe this silliness by taping a paper fish on someone’s back without their knowledge.

Today’s verse mentions a yoke that is no laughing matter.  This is a yoke of slavery from which Christ has set us free.  The believers in the churches in Galatia were being influenced to put back on a heavy yoke.  That yoke was the belief that they could be justified by following the Law (verse 4).  Christ came to fulfill the Law and free us from this heavy impossible burden.  We have exchanged this yoke for an easy one, shared with Jesus.  His burden is light because He carries it with us and gives rest to our souls (Matt. 11:28-30).

How wonderful to know that He cares about what is burdening me!  Whatever is weighing me down does not come from Him.  He does not want me to go through life feeling that I must always do more to be accepted by Him.  That would be an unbearable weight!  He has done it all.  He is sufficient.  And the commands He has given me are not burdensome (I John 5:3).  It is in keeping them that I show my love for Him.  This love relationship is what gives me rest.  Despite the unease of risk and of the unknown, I can rest yoked to Him.

Thank you Lord, for Your reassurance.


Leave a comment

Is Chivalry Dead?

Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:3b-4 “…in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Chivalry is many times thought to be an outmoded idea.  But not for the male field cricket!  After a thousand hours of infrared camera observations of tagged crickets, scientists made some surprising findings.  When threatened by a bird or frog, the males give their females priority when crawling into safe burrows!  This self-sacrificing behavior, never seen in lab studies, leads to reproductive success!

Today’s verse does not use the word, “chivalry,” but certainly has the idea of treating others well.  Our concern should not be only for our own interests.  A believer is to be concerned about the interests of others as well.  To treat others’ needs as more important than our own can only come from an attitude of humility.  And that humility is not something that comes naturally.  What comes naturally is to put oneself first.

In these strange times of worldwide pandemic, it is easy for me to think uniquely of myself and my own needs.  Staying inside is not only for myself but also in the interest of others.  However, sacrificing my freedoms for the sake of another is not so easy.  It is not easy to ask interested questions about another’s welfare and not have them return the favor.  It is difficult to allow another to go first when pressed for time.  Yet, this is what Jesus asks of me.  My life and my health are in His hands along with all my interests, goals and needs.  I can afford to be gracious and others-centered.  He has all my desires and interests at heart and I can trust Him.

Lord, help me show the kind of self-sacrificing love You showed to me!

Photo Credit: Elgaland Vargaland, https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/


Leave a comment

United States of Anxiety

Scripture for Today: Psalm 94:19 “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” (NASB)

“We are all in this together.”  It is a phrase I repeatedly hear on social media.  As a society we are divided on so many fronts; political, religious, racial and economical.  But one thing seems to united us and unfortunately it is anxiety.  It may be that our anxiety is only an occasional thought.  Or it may be an underlying state of mind that colors our whole day.  For some, this anxiety is showing itself in disturbing dreams (ahem….) or interrupted sleep.  In any case, it is a natural state of affairs when we feel we are not in control and we do not know what is next!

Today’s verse gives an answer to our anxious thoughts that seem to multiply within us.  The soul can be delighted with His words of comfort and consolation even in the middle of such uncertain times.  We can move from anxiety to delight when we turn to His Word and His promises.  His lovingkindness holds us up (verse 18).  The Lord will not abandon or forsake His people who are His inheritance (verse 14).  Whatever the future holds, He is there and He is faithful.

I am a great one for asking myself, “what if?” or “what then?”  My questions come from a desire to know and control.  But there is no way of knowing or controlling.  And I do not really need these answers to experience delight in the deepest part of me.  Rather I need the One who does know and control.  He reassures my heart that He has a plan for my future and He is good.  I can let go of anxious thoughts when I spend time with Him.

Lord, thank you for relieving my anxiety.