Devotions By Jan


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Pill Bugs

Scripture for Today: Psalm 17:17 “Show me the wonders of Your great love, You who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes.”

I thought I was just sweeping up dirt on my patio.  But when the dirt started fleeing the pile I knew differently!  The pill bug is the common name for a variety of wood lice called, “Armadillidum vulgare.”  As a child I liked calling them , “roly polies” as they would roll up into a ball when I mishandled them.  Their shells look like armor but it is because of their segmented bodies that they can roll up into a ball to protect themselves.

Today’s verse is a cry for help as David’s enemies had tracked him down, surrounded him and were trying to destroy him.  He calls out to the Lord, recognizing that God’s powerful right hand is his best protection.  As David had already experienced when confronting Goliath, he could not trust in the armor offered him (I Sam. 17:38-39).  His trust was in the power and love of God.  That was his refuge from where God would demonstrate His power to save.  God answered his prayer, not only for protection but for vindication! (verse 2 & 15).

Rolling up into a ball at the first sign of trouble is my natural inclination.  When going through something difficult I tend to go quiet, push people away and isolate myself.  But the Lord wants to be my refuge in time of trouble (Ps. 59:16).  He never intends for me to go it alone.  I need to run to Him to show me the wonders of His great love and reassure me.  His refuge is strong like a rock but as soft as the downy underside of a bird’s wings.

Thank you Lord, for being my sure and constant refuge.

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Giant Clam

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 15:2 “By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the Word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

It is called a “giant clam” for good reason.  This is the largest of the mollusks on earth.  It can grow up to 500 pounds and can measure up to four feet!  Just think of all the clam chowder it could produce! The giant clam is not endangered although it is classified as vulnerable as it has been over harvested for food and decoration.  What struck me is that the giant clam has only one chance to chose its home.  Once it has fastened itself to a spot on a reef, it will sit there for life.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to hold firmly to God’s Word.  By the Gospel or “good news” of salvation we are saved from the punishment our sins deserve.  It is on the truth of God’s Word that we take our stand (verse 1).  When we commit our lives, our future and our eternal destiny to what God says, we flourish and grow.  There is no reason to attach ourselves to some other philosophy or system of thought.  His Word gives hope, encouragement and all the nourishment our faith needs to grow and thrive.

Trusting in my own ideas and reasoning gets me in trouble.  The waves of the sea or the blowing winds can toss me about making me unstable (James 1:6).  But when I put my entire confidence in what the Lord says about a matter, I know I am on firm footing.  The decrees of the Lord are firm (Psalm 19:9) and make me firm as well.  I want to attach myself to Him and make His truth my home!

Lord, keep me in Your Word and remembering Your truth today.

 


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Floundering

Scripture for Today: “II Corinthians 5:15 “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”

This fish continued his valiant fight for life even after being pulled from the water.  I enjoy seafood so much but I hate thinking about how it got to be on my plate!  In the end, this fish flopping and floundering did him no good.  The word “floundering” was perhaps influenced in the 1590’s by the Dutch word, “flodderen” meaning to flop about.  Later this verb referred to being completely unable to decide what to do or say.

Today’s verse gives a goal and direction to life.  Rather than flounder through life following different visions and dreams, there is a sense of purpose.  This goal in life does not change with the times or fashions of the day.  It is not a goal that disappoints but a purpose that is deep and lasting.  There is no ambiguity.  We are to live our lives for the Lord Jesus who died and was raised again for us.  Living to please ourselves leaves us empty and unfulfilled.  Solomon found that living for any desire or pleasure was meaningless and like chasing after wind. (Eccl. 2:10-11)

It breaks my heart to see family and friends floundering, living for the next relationship, the next adventure or the next big purchase.  A whole life can be spent on the dubious goal of pleasing one’s self.  But living for the Lord is always an adventure of faith!  He gives that sense of purpose to my life.  Living for His purposes gives a satisfaction and a significance like nothing else can.

Thank you Lord, that in sacrificing Your own life, You have made mine worth living!

 

 


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The Serval

Scripture for Today: Psalm 62:11-12 “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that You, O God, are strong, and that You, O Lord, are loving. Surely You will reward each person according to what he has done.”

This cat is all ears!  The serval is a wild African cat believed to be the ancient ancestor of the cheetah.  Their ears are the largest of any cat. They live in tall grass and are not as likely to see their small prey.  So their ears are huge to hear what they cannot see.  The ears of a serval are so sensitive they can recognize sounds made by animals moving in their underground tunnels!  But it was for their grace and strength that the ancient Egyptians worshiped them.

Today’s verse was written by David, a very wealthy and powerful king.  His ears were attuned to God’s Word.  Rather than trust in his own strength and riches, David acknowledges that only God has real power.  David had been listening to many things God had spoken to him personally, but these two truths kept him in an attitude of trust.  Not only does God have all the power but it is used to fight for and protect those He loves.

I need to be listening for these same truths.  Unwittingly, I put God in a box with my thinking, forgetting just how formidable He is.  I need to remember that He is all powerful and nothing escapes His perfect justice.  But how thankful I am that His power is coupled with His love!  His sacrificial love has made a way for me to escape the punishment my sins deserve.  Nothing and no one can prevail against me or separate me from this incredible love  (Romans 8:38-39).

Lord, help me hear Your reassurances of power and love today!


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Holes in My Bucket

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:3 “His power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”  

I remember the song, “There’s a Hole in the Bucket,” growing up.  This song is a dialogue between Henry and Liza about the sorry state of their bucket, no longer useful for drawing water from the well.  I would always laugh at the ultimate solution which brings them back to the original problem!  The song in its original version dates back to 1700!  I am sure the bucket pictured has its uses, but carrying water would not be one of them!

Today’s verse reassures the believer that through God’s power we have everything we need to live a godly life.  It is through our knowledge of Him and not our own efforts that this godly life is possible.  He gives to us faith, goodness, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love (verses 5-7).  Those beautiful qualities make us more like Him, but they only become visible as we grow in our knowledge of Him.

Yes, He’s given me all I need but the problem is all the holes in my bucket!  I go to draw from Him as my unending Source, but my sinful pride and self-sufficiency keep me from staying full.  Instead of drawing from Him I make the mistake of drawing away from the Source and depending on myself.  Before long I can feel completely drained.  There is no way to be filled with His godly Spirit when I try to go it alone!  I need Him for absolutely everything.  His power is there, ready to draw from.  And I want to know Him more and more.

Lord, keep me from relying on myself.  Fill me with Yourself!


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Cocoon

Scripture for Today: Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 3:18  “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is Spirit.”

I wonder if this caterpillar knows what is happening to him?   His little life was perfect, happily munching leaves in the sun. But before long he finds himself in the dark and hanging on for dear life!  He only did what was natural, making a silk mat and spinning the silk to attach himself to a branch.  But now, everything seems to have stopped and all that is familiar has disappeared.  Life has not only spun out of control, but he himself is hanging upside down.  Now he waits.

Today’s verse speaks of another transformation.  It is one that is just as spectacular as a caterpillar changing into a butterfly.  We, as believers, are slowly being transformed into the image of the Lord.  Each stage of this process brings ever increasing glory, not to ourselves but to Him.  The glory and beauty come from becoming more like our Creator!  It happens on the inside as a work of His Spirit.  We do not know exactly what we will be, except that we will be like Him as His children. (I John 3:2)

In the meantime it can feel a bit dark and confusing.  This cocoon stage seems to last a lifetime and the waiting all by itself can feel exhausting.  I know He is at work in me, but it is dark and I do not always understand what He is doing and why.  But I do know that He is good and the outcome will be beautiful.  His promises are the branch to which I cling!

Lord, help me be patient for what is to come!!

 

 

 


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Bow and Arrow

Scripture for Today:  Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came through Christ Jesus.”

As a skinny-armed adolescent my archery experience was short lived at camp.  It just hurt my arms too much to pull back that bow.  Living in Europe so long I have had more opportunity than most to see archery competitions and shows.  These expositions seemed to always be a part of local village fairs.  And I have seen some impressive displays of strength and precision.  It is beautiful to watch, as long as the target was not something living!

Today’s verse describes missing the target of God’s glory.  This word for “sin” denotes falling short of the intended goal.  Some may get closer than others but all of us fall short of God’s absolute perfection.  We can strive an entire lifetime to live up to God’s standard, but we do not have the momentum to get there without His grace.  In the Archer’s hands we are stretched with His power and pointed in the right direction.  Believers are declared righteous because of Christ reaching that goal of perfection for us.

Although I am redeemed through Christ’s sacrifice, the Archer still pulls back on my bow.  I know that He uses my problems and difficulties to stretch me.  He uses the tension to mature me in my faith.  The goal is to make me more and more like His Son.  There is no pain that is wasted.  He uses it all for His plan and His glory.  I may not understand it all but I know I can trust His strong capable hands.  He knows what He is doing.

Thank you Lord, for slowly transforming me.