Devotions By Jan


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Fireflies

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 5:16  “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.”

Fireflies are so intriguing!  When they light up a tree it is magical and looks like a fairyland.  Up close they are not so pretty, being a winged beetle.  I have only seen them twice: once in Kentucky as a child and more recently in Michigan on a Fourth of July.  I was more interested in the firefly show than the fireworks!

What is so interesting about their light is that the chemical reaction that produces it does not produce heat.  They glow without wasting any energy.  All one hundred percent of their energy goes into making their light.  The purpose of their glow is to attract, either a mate or their prey.  Their light attracts me too although I do not fit either category!

Our verse for today talks about the light of our good deeds.  When our kindness to others is done to give honor to the Heavenly Father, we shine as lights.  In a dark and selfish world our lives stand out and shine. The purpose of our light is not to attract people to ourselves, but to our Lord.  We are to be open about the reasons behind our giving to others.  It is not about me.  It is about Him.

People see a difference when we do not look to be thanked or recompensed for what we do for others.  There is no personal agenda behind our actions.  Public accolades are nice to receive but are never the goal.  Our light is to pierce the darkness and point others to Christ.

Lord, show me how to shine for You today!


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Wings

Poultry Hen Pinnate Chicks Boy Chicken Animal

Scripture for Today: Psalm 57:1  “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in You I take refuge.  I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster is passed.”

Hens are known for being especially protective of their baby chicks.  In fact, in entering a chicken coop, it is best to wear protective clothing to avoid being pecked by a mother hen when approaching their young!  At the first sign of danger, the mother hen will gather her chicks under her wings.  There the chicks find refuge and safety.

The verse for today makes reference to the time when David was fleeing the murderous intentions of King Saul.  David was on the run for his life and found refuge in a cave.  God protected him there and David praises Him with this psalm.  He extols Him for sending His love and faithfulness in the form of deliverance.

I do not have a murderous king chasing me down.  Living in first world countries with freedom of religion, I do not face these same dangers.  However, I do have enemies.  Ephesians 6:12 describes my enemies as being the dark forces of this world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  There is a time for standing firm with the full armor of God.  There is also a time for renewal and retreat under His protective wings.

Many times I am unaware of the activity of my enemies.  As they are unseen it is easy to think that I am doing quite well on my own.  But disaster is always close by.  How much better it is to be in that place of refuge; the shadow of His wings!  Thank you, Lord, that Your love and faithfulness will protect me today.


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Withered Grass

Withered_grass_Scripture for Today:  Psalm 92:6-8  “The senseless man does not know, fools do not understand, that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will forever be destroyed.  But You, O Lord, are exalted forever.”

The hills in Southern California are beautiful when covered in green grass.  But because it is a dry climate, that green grass can quickly transform itself into dry withered grass.  In a matter of a few days the lack of water turns it all brown.  But when conditions are favorable, grass can grow so quickly.  Some varieties can produce a nice lawn in as little as a week!

Our verse for today talks about how quickly grass can spring up.  This image is used to describe how the evil seem to flourish.  Everything looks smooth and prosperous.  The wicked seem to get all the breaks.  It is a huge temptation to think the grass is greener on the other side!

David in Psalm 73 looked over at the other grass and envied the prosperity of the wicked.  They seem to have no struggles even though they mock God.  They are carefree and wealthy.  One can feel the exasperation that David felt.  Is it really worthwhile to take that righteous path?

There are times I feel that same frustration!  Why are those who turn their back on God doing so well?  Where are my blessings for keeping my heart pure?  Like David, my feet can almost slip with these thoughts.  But also like David, I understand when I enter the sanctuary of God (verse 17).  I understand the final destiny of the wicked.

It is when I am in His presence I realize the earth holds nothing that can compare to Him!  Let the wicked prosper while they can.  As for me, the Lord God is my prosperity!


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Bamboo

bambousScripture for Today:  Proverbs 22:6  “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Bamboo is about the most versatile plant imaginable.  It is used for medicine, food, textiles, paper, musical instruments and construction.  In the Chinese culture, the bamboo is a symbol for a gentleman.  This is because it is strong, upright, perseverant and open hearted.

It is a very fast-growing plant and lends itself to all kinds of ornamental uses.  Bamboo can be trained to take different shapes.  It can be trained to take the form of a square when bundled tightly that way.  It can be trained to take the form of an arch when keeping it bent.

Our verse for today is also about training.  As parents we are to train our children in the way they ought to go.  Children do not always know what that way should be.  They do not see their own weaknesses nor do they always understand their own strengths.  The encouragement and feedback from parents have a huge influence on choices made.

There are some who take this verse to mean that good Christian training in the home will automatically produce Christian children.  This idea produces an unbearable weight of guilt for many whose children are not believers.  Proverbs in Scripture are not promises but principles.  In the end, it is the responsibility of each individual to make that decision for Christ independently of their parents.  There is truth in the saying, “God has children, not grandchildren.”

Bamboo and children grow so quickly.  Encouraging the natural and unique bent of each child is such an awesome privilege.  May our lives and influence do even more.  May it give them every advantage and opportunity for choosing Jesus!


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Harps

harptherScripture for Today:  Psalm 98:4-5a  “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing….”

The other day I met a believer who does hospice care.  As she had some pain issues in her neck I asked if it weren’t difficult to lift a patient.  She smiled as she explained that the care she gives is in the form of playing her harp for the patient.

There is something incredibly soothing about harp music.   David played the harp for King Saul to calm him and make him feel better. Today there is what is called, “Harp Therapy.”  Harp music has been found to increase relaxation, improve sleep, decrease pain and anxiety, stabilize vitals and improve one’s mood.

In our verse for today the harp is used to give praise to God. Not only does the harp praise God on earth but in heaven as well.  God Himself gives them to victorious ones as they sing the song of Moses (Rev.15:2).  But on earth, as we praise Him with the harp and with singing we find ourselves in good company.  The sea resounds, the rivers clap their hands and the mountains sing for joy!  This beautiful psalm ends with the reason for our praise: He will judge the world with righteousness!  One day He will right all wrongs.  Evil will be judged and what is right will prevail!  That is a cause for joyful celebration!

I am thankful I can take part in this jubilant music.  I am spared His judgement as He took the punishment for my sin.  I can rejoice in His justice because I have been given His grace.  My praise begins now and continue for all eternity!