Devotions By Jan


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Guard Rooster

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

It is normal to think of guard dogs, but who ever heard of a guard rooster? A delivery man recently found out all about it! Caught on a doorbell camera video, Fred the rooster, showed just how protective he could be! The delivery man tried to take a non-threatening stance with hands up in the air, but being new, he was harassed anyway. With his delivery he also delivered the message, “Not cool,” before sprinting back to his truck with Fred in hot pursuit!

Today’s verse talks about our hearts and minds that need guarding. It is the peace that Christ Jesus provides that does the guarding. His peace stands guard against worry and fear. His peace also guards against the flight of our imaginations and all the “what if’s.” Without His peace we are vulnerable to troubling, sleep-stealing worries. But His peace surpasses any attempt at explaining it, as it is possible to have in the middle of the most worrisome circumstances. And this peace is the result of giving all our anxieties to the Lord in prayer.

I sometimes think I unwittingly shoo away this guard by neglecting to pray.  These verses encourage me to bring everything to Him, not just the big worries that I think are worthy of His notice. His love is so intimate that He cares about whatever is preoccupying me. His peace is the best answer there is to keep even the small worries from accumulating!

Thank you, Lord, that Your peace calms me down.


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Firefall

Scripture for Today: Song of Solomon 8:6b-7a “…for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away…”

Photo by Dave Soldano at https://www.flickr.com/photos/davesoldano/33147072896

The Firefall at Yosemite National Park originally referred to the nightly spectacle put on for tourists. Starting in 1872 and for almost 100 years, burning hot embers were poured from the top of Glacier Park. Now, Firefall refers to a natural phenomenon that appears annually from mid to late February. The 1,500 foot Horsetail Falls transforms itself into a natural firefall when conditions are just right with enough melted snow, a cloudless sky and the sun hitting at just the right angle. It lasts for just a few minutes appearing 5-15 minutes before sunset.

Today’s verse describes a love that is strong and jealous. It burns like fire and water cannot put it out. This beautiful depiction of love comes from a book that is full of imagery. The principle characters in this book can represent Jesus Christ and the Church, His Bride. And throughout the Old testament, Jehovah is likened to a bridegroom and Israel His chosen bride. The intimacy described is enough to make one blush! But God uses the closest human relationship to help us understand how deep and intimate His love is for us!

Of all the characteristics God has revealed about Himself, it is His incredible love that overwhelms me! His is a love that is unquenchable. (I Cor. 13:8) It is not just talk as He proved His love by dying for me. (John 15:13) Because He loves me so much, He is jealous for me and for my heart to be fully committed to Him. (II Chron. 16:9) There is no human love like it!

Thank you Lord, for Your love that will not let me go!


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Goat Head Weed

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 12:7 “….Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me.”

Photo by Paul Garland at https://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_garland/4460543568

The goat head weed produces stickers that seem innocuous being so small! But what pain it can produce! These nasty seeds are shaped like a miniature goat’s head. They are much like the sandbur but are meaner and tougher, harming people, pets and livestock. The 200 to 5,000 seeds produced each season germinate quickly and can lie dormant in the soil for many years. How amazing that something so small can puncture bicycle tires and footballs!

In today’s verse, Paul is describing a tormenting thorn. It was sent by Satan but in God’s hands it was used for a good purpose; to keep Paul from becoming conceited. Paul had received some incredible visions and revelations from the Lord. The temptation for Paul was to boast and feel spiritually strong because of them. There are lots of ideas as to what Paul’s thorn might have been. Perhaps it was a physical ailment. But thorns were used in the Old Testament to describe Israel’s enemies (Num. 33:55) and malicious neighbors! (Ex. 28:24) Paul dearly loved the Corinthians church and was having to deal with false teachers.

A relationship that has gone sour, a conflict that goes unresolved, or a family member that has no interest in reconciliation can all be like a thorn in the flesh.  And like the goat head seed, the problem can lie dormant for years before becoming visible and causing pain. The ongoing discomfort from those thorns is a constant reminder that I am weak and not strong.  But like Paul, God’s strength is available to me at the very point of my pain and weakness.

Thank you Lord, that I can experience Your strength regardless of the “thorns” in my life!


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Stunned by the Cold

Scripture for Today: Matthew 24:12-13 “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

The recent frigid temperatures in Texas have had some surprising victims! Over 5,000 sea turtles have had to be rescued off the coast. The cold has stunned the residents of Texas, causing all kinds of power outages and clean water problems. But the cold has literally stunned these turtles! The extremely low temperatures mean that these sea turtles can no longer move, eat, or keep their heads above water. They have grown too cold.

Today’s verse is part of the response Jesus gives to his disciples’ questions regarding the end times. Just as with birth pangs, there will be signs that will signal the end of the age. (verse 3) Those signs are disturbing. But perhaps the most disturbing is that love will grow cold. When there is no love there is no regard for one’s neighbor and there is no check on wickedness. But when there is love for one another, “..love covers over a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8) Without love, sin runs rampant.

I am so glad this hard passage ends on a positive note! Those who stand firm to the end will be saved! I will not stand firm without drawing from His strength! My knees become weak when it seems as if evil is winning. When I see God’s justice delayed and the wicked prosper, it is easy to give up. When so many around me are deceived by so-called science and humanism, I could easily throw in the towel. But the story is not over yet, and the ending will be a triumphant one when HE returns on the clouds with power and great glory! (vs 13)

Lord, keep me standing firm.

 


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It’s Who You Know

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 2:1b-2 “When I came to you, I did not come with human eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

There are just a few books in this library! Established in 1800, the Library of Congress has grown from just 740 books and 3 maps to more than 167 million total items! It takes three buildings in Washington D.C. to house all its written treasures. It is understandably one of the world’s largest. There are copies housed here of every publication in the English language that is deemed significant.

Today’s verse describes how Paul proclaimed his testimony about God to the Corinthians. He did not rely on his own eloquence or on any treasure of human wisdom. Paul was determined that nothing overshadow the excellence of knowing Jesus Christ. A fancy discourse could have distracted his listeners. Citing philosophers or the newest discovery would only detract from his central message; Jesus Christ crucified for sin. As enriching as learned men may be, there is no loftier subject than Christ, the wisdom of God. (I Cor. 1:30)

There is so much to know and discover in this world. I could spend my entire life learning and never come to the end of what man has discovered. But in the end, it is not What you know but Who you know! I can make it my quest to enlighten my mind but never at the expense of “the eyes of my heart.” (Eph. 1:17) Knowing Him better through His Word is a goal that begins now and continues into eternity. Knowing about Him does not even come close to the richness that knowing Him brings!

Thank you Lord, that You invite me to know You better every day.