Devotions By Jan

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Time for Change

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

If it were not for the song, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” written by Pete Seeger and made popular by the Byrds, perhaps we would not be so familiar with the first eight verses of Ecclesiastes 3. We enjoy the seasons in God’s creation but are maybe less enthusiastic with changes in our lives. This beautiful red leaf used to be green. And soon it will be a somber dry brown. And the old will eventually be making way for the new.

Today’s verse reminds us of the passing of time and seasons. The earth is locked into a cycle of time that has no equivalent above the heavens. The seasons are unique to us. Heaven and eternity are not bound or limited by time. And each season that God ordains in our lives has a God-given purpose for His glory. There is a time for birth or death, mourning or dancing, speaking or remaining silent, among many other activities “under heaven.” (verse 2-8) How encouraging that God is above heaven and above time!

The most unsettling thing about the seasons of life changing is that period of transition and adjustment. I get comfortable with what used to be new and different. Just when I start to feel settled, everything shifts. The scenery changes or what is unexpected throws me off balance. I forget that I have felt this way before. And I forget how faithful the Lord has been in the past to move me to a new stage. Seasons may change but HE does not and He will remain faithful! What a comfort to be able to stand firmly on His Word and promises, even in the middle of change!

Thank you Lord, that You remain faithful.

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“Stay Grounded”

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

There is a worldwide movement today called, “Stay Grounded.” The idea is to swear off flying, making that commitment for a year at a time. Normally, 2% of all carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to this form of travel. Some intend to remain flight free forever in an attempt to be eco-conscious. For these folks, slow travel is the way to go, preferring boat or train for long distances. For me personally, it would be quite a sacrifice to be grounded as my perspective often changes while up in those clouds!

Today’s verse encourages the believer to change perspective from the earthly to the eternal. Our thinking and our feelings are to be changed by an eternal perspective. What we see on earth does not match up with spiritual realities. What we see, touch and feel around us is not eternal. These things are real but they will not last. When we set our minds and hearts on the realities of Heaven, it changes how we view that difficulty. It is reduced it to only “light and momentary trouble.” (II Cor. 4:17) 

I need to see the hard things in my life as smaller than they appear. I do not want my thoughts and feelings to be grounded and restricted to the temporal. My perspective needs to change to what is eternal and lasting in order to see past the problems I face today. What is above is far more worthy of my heart and mind! He is there.

Change my perspective, Lord. Help me see You today instead of my problems.


Sweet Cocoa

Scripture for Today:Psalm 34:8-9 “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.”

A dusting of this cocoa on a tiramisu is wonderful and tasty. But eating spoonfuls of it directly from the box is not so much. I am not proud of it but growing up, a friend and I decided we would play a trick on her two younger sisters. The package looked like it would deliver what they were expecting, especially with the picture. But you can guess their reaction when trying to swallow the stuff!

There is an invitation in today’s verse to taste and see how good the Lord is. Unlike unsweetened cocoa, He does not disappoint! His words are true and sweet, sweeter even than honey (Psalm 19:10). He is so good to His own, providing refuge and meeting every need! Making the Lord our hiding place gives us shelter from whatever storm surrounds us. When His children fear and obey Him, He pours out blessing. Those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing! (Ps. 34:10)

I do not need to “taste test” what the world has to offer. Nothing is as sweet and satisfying as His Words, especially the promises and declarations of His love. The empty philosophies of this world promise to be sweet but leave one with a very bitter aftertaste. His Words are faithful and true, never changing and the source of life! When I make His truth my refuge, I am in a good place. He satisfies so completely that I am never in want of anything that is truly good for me. I have tasted and He is good!

Thank you Lord, for being so good to me!

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 39:6 “Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be.”

It has got to be one of the easiest costumes to put together! And that old white sheet hanging out in the cupboard is finally being put to good use! The ghost costume allows for a coat to be worn underneath in a cold climate with none being the wiser! However, all that material slipping around can trip up its wearer. But it does the job. And in rushing from house to house candies are happily heaped up!

Today’s verse describes another kind of phantom. He doesn’t appear just once a year but spends a lifetime accumulating wealth. It is a vain goal as he does not even know what will become of it after he leaves this earth. To place our hope and confidence in what we own is foolish as our wealth can quickly sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle (Prov. 23:5). What a contrast to the one whose hope is in the Lord (verse 7). The riches of His love, care and faithfulness are eternal.

I am a mere phantom with no real substance when my focus is on what will not last. I want my life to be lived on a different plane with a deeper meaning. I want to live with eternity in view but I get so distracted by what I can see and touch. Spending all my energies on the temporal keeps me from that true life. My heart needs to be with the treasure and reward that last, that which is stored up in Heaven (Matthew 6:21-22). As C.T. Studd wrote, “Only one life ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Lord, keep me from being “ghostly!”

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Muzzled Horse

Scripture for Today: Psalm 39:1 “I said, ‘I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.'”

I have never seen a muzzle on a horse but apparently, it is not all that uncommon. Two different muzzles are used for two very different problems. The grazing muzzle is used when there is a problem with overeating. It will restrict their grass intake while still allowing for pasture time. Then there is the cribbing muzzle to prevent the horse from biting. Their bite will not normally break the skin but those powerful jaws can leave a deep bruise!

Today’s verse talks about a voluntary muzzle needed for our mouths, especially in the presence of the wicked. David was feeling down and discouraged with what he felt was God’s rebuke and discipline (verse 11). He expressed anguish over the fact that life is short and seemingly vain (verse 6). But David did not want any of these feelings voiced in the presence of the wicked. Even when upset with God, David did not want to malign His name.

I need to muzzle my mouth as well, especially when I am questioning the Lord or discouraged in my walk. That does not mean I cannot share these feelings with a trusted believing friend. But when I am with those who do not know the Lord, I would not want my emotional outburst to keep them from faith. I would not want my words to be an obstacle to someone else. The tongue is described as a small spark that can set on fire an entire forest (James 3:6). The damage my tongue could do could have eternal consequences!

Lord, do not ever let me malign Your beautiful and holy Name.