Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today:  Psalms 50:8-10 “I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before Me.  I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is Mine and the cattle on a thousand hills.”

I remember long road trips with my family when I was young.  Staving off boredom was often an issue.  To help, every time we passed a herd of cows, my Mother would ask, “Do you see the purple cow?”  And being my gullible self I would always carefully look!  I must have done the same thing when our kids were small, as they were pleasantly surprised to see a purple cow on a German brand of chocolate!

The song lyrics,”He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,” probably comes from our verse today.  The world is His and all that is in it.  The context of our verse speaks of sacrifice.  There was the mistaken notion that God was somehow dependent on them.  The sacrifices were not for God’s benefit but for the one worshiping Him.  All creation belongs to Him!

The really exciting truth here is that as God’s children we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ!  (Rom.8:17)  In a sense, all that belongs to Him is part of my inheritance!  I need to remember that when I am feeling particularly vulnerable to financial pressures.  It is helpful to remember this promise when I fall into the trap of comparing my “stuff” with that of someone else.

I have an incredible future ahead of me!  I will have a share in everything He owns, from the smallest piece of gold dust to the most magnificent street of gold!  I serve a wonderful generous God!

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Scripture for Today:  Isaiah 40:12-13  “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span?  And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in a pair of scales?”

The best thing about mountains is feeling so small!  I love living just two short hours from the Swiss Alps!  On a very clear day one can just see them from the vineyards behind the house.  Up close they are magnificent and the views from their summits seem to go on forever.  It always amazes me to think about how long they have towered above me and Who made them.  Their grandeur is only a small piece of God’s glory.

As wonderful as creation is, the Creator is infinitely more wonderful.  It is He that measures and limits the flow of water.  He is the one who decided the size of the universe.  The size of the earth and the weight of the mountains and hills are all decided by Him.  When I am gazing up at the Alps I am reminded of His greatness and control.

The next verse in this passage leads to a logical conclusion.  If God does all of this, who can direct Him or who can inform Him of anything?  The obvious answer is “No one.”  He is mighty, powerful and all-knowing.  He knows what He is doing with creation and He knows what He is doing in my life as well.

The mountains remind me.   I am so small and He is so big.  Is anything too hard for Him?  I am not the one to tell Him what to do.  I am not His counselor.  He is in control and His control is good.

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Master Mechanic

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 139:14  “I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works and my soul knows it very well.”

So many times I have regretted learning nothing about car engines.  When living as a single it was certainly a disadvantage.  There were times I was stuck.  There were times when a mechanic would take advantage of my ignorance.

Even the smallest car problem would confuse me.  I remember when my 1963 VW bug decided to quit…..quit turning off that is!  The key continually turned in circles without turning off the engine!  I thought I would have to wait until the car ran out of gas!  The car was so old that its vibrations had pushed out a screw!

Our verse for today reminds us of how our bodies are so wonderfully made!  I may think a car engine is fearfully and wonderfully made.  But of course it does not compare to the complicated work of art that is our body.

I often wonder, as wonderful as His work is, why I seem to have defects.  With age, there is knocking in this engine!  There are new cracks here and there.   Like a car engine, things begin to break down.  However, He designed me that way for His purposes.  We are told that our bodies are frail vessels of earth so that any power in us can be seen as coming from Him (II Cor. 4:7).

I am fearfully and wonderfully made, yes.  But at the same time I am frail.  Rather than be discouraged about my weaknesses, I can keep positive knowing God uses them to show His power.  I am one of His little ones in this well known song:  “Little ones to Him belong.  They are weak but HE is strong.”

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Sugar Overload!

Scripture for Today:   Proverbs 27:7  “A sated man loathes honey, But to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet.”

When I was a little girl I had a very strong taste for sugar!  My siblings remember to this day how my voracious appetite quickly depleted not only my candy but their hidden stores as well!   The resulting cavities were so alarming that my dentist put me on a “sugar diet!” During that time sugar was off limits, even in the form of some fruits!

Thankfully, I do not crave sugar quite as much today.  Perhaps I got to that sated stage mentioned in our verse.  I reached a “sugar overload” that diminished my cravings. The more I abstain from sugar the more I can discern its presence in products.  I had no idea that some potato chips contain sugar.  Now, a little sweetness goes a long way!

There is a profound truth in this verse.  One can quickly become sated and spoiled by all the good things this life has to offer.  What is new and exciting today becomes old and mundane when always available.  I may be initially thrilled with something that later loses its appeal.  By contrast, those less fortunate than I am are perhaps more appreciative.  A little hunger can sure change one’s perspective!

The Lord knows how to make my life sweet without any overindulgence.  He puts into life a mix of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.  (from Day By Day)  He does not want me sated or famished but in an attitude of trust.  He cares not only about my needs but my desires and cravings!

Overindulgence usually sounds so good at the time, but in the end, satisfaction does not come with “more.”  It is You, Lord, who makes my life sweet!

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IMG_20130510_142028Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 22:5  “Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards himself will be far from them.”

I saw this thorny cactus right in the middle of a sidewalk in Fort Worth, Texas.  I guess the home owners there are not too enthusiastic to have people walking by their place!  Having those prominent thorn-like spines was a good way to discourage people from parking there as well!  We parked and walked by even so, but very carefully!

The southwest section of the States has some beautiful cacti with colorful flowers.  The tallest cactus on record is 63 feet and the smallest is .4 inches.   Their spines, like thorns, differ according to the variety.  But they all have one thing in common.  They prick one’s skin.

Our verse for today is a warning.  Those who do not follow God’s laws are at risk to hurt themselves.  It is as if they are running headlong into a cactus.  Their behavior may seem reasonable and even pleasant.  But in fact, the way of those that pervert God’s laws leads to pain.  Rather than see this verse as negative, I see it as a loving warning to spare us unnecessary pain.

So often, the Bible is viewed as  a list of restrictive rules.  In the name of “freedom” one throws off what is considered archaic and old-fashioned.  We feel we are more advanced and enlightened in our day.  Then we are surprised at the pain resulting from our choices in life.  We have disregarded God’s way and instead have embraced a way full of thorns and snares.

I am to guard myself from taking that disobedient path.  That means those thorns and snares are not always so obvious.  Lord, lead me in those pleasant paths of righteousness.