Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: Numbers 13:33 “We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of the Anak come from the Nephilim).  We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Grasshoppers are almost cute.  This one seems to be smiling!  Of all the insects I can run into, I am the least threatened by the grasshopper.  Perhaps the delight of seeing them jumping in the grass when I was a child has stayed with me.  They are not thought of as so cute when one realizes they are no different than the destructive locust!  Their ability to jump long distances with those powerful legs is surprising.  If humans could jump as they do, we would easily jump the length of a football field and then some!

In our verse for today, ten of the twelve men sent to check out the opposition in the Promise Land came back feeling like grasshoppers.  The inhabitants were “of a great size” and they concluded they were too strong to attack!  Caleb and Joshua were the only ones who gave an encouraging report to Moses and the people.  The size of the enemy did not matter to them.  They understood that the Lord was with them and there was no need to be afraid.  Believing in God’s promised victory and His protection kept them from feeling small and powerless.

I can relate to those ten men who felt like grasshoppers!  When trials loom in front of me or an obstacle to my faith seems insurmountable I can feel so small and impotent.  I may actually be a grasshopper when it comes to comparing strength and numbers.  But I am on the Lord’s side and that makes all the difference!

Thank you Lord, for the victory I have in You!


Morning Dew

Scripture for Today:  Hosea 6:4  “What can I do with you, Ephraim?  What can I do with you, Judah?  Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.”

Is there anything prettier than dew kissing the fragile petals of a rose?   We enjoy our rose bushes but I do not always know the best way to care for them.  My landlord kindly helps me with pruning and gives me tips.  I love cutting them and bringing them into the house!  They are so fragrant and add a touch of class.  But of course, I do not bring them inside if they are still wet with dew.

Today’s verse is addressed to two tribes of Israel.  They knew to make sacrifices and burnt offerings but they did not show mercy to others nor did they acknowledge God.  It was just routine and tradition.  Their love for the Lord was as transient as morning dew which quickly disappears.  The book of Hosea is the story of the Israelites’ unfaithfulness to God, just like a wayward wife.

I can identify with a love that disappears like morning dew.  In the morning when I read His Word and talk with Him, I can be satisfied with His unfailing love (Psalm 90:14).  But as I go throughout my day, that closeness can seem to evaporate in the distractions of a busy day.  His love is constant, but mine…not so much.  Sometimes it is easy to look at my time with the Lord as an obligation to be crossed off a list.  But He is not interested in empty ritual but in meaningful relationship.  Thankfully, despite  how fickle I am, He continues to tap my shoulder with His love.  He reminds me He is there.

Thank you Lord, that I can count on Your love all day.

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Toy Gyroscope

Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:9  “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

One of the joys of being a grandparent is shopping in toy stores.  I have ignored them for years.  Now, I have new interest in anything that may interest my grandsons!  The other day I saw an old fashioned toy gyroscope.  Never one to be too enthused about physics, I still managed to enjoy the whirling action of this toy when I was young.  I am not sure I understand much more about it as an adult!  But I do understand that the middle (rotor) will maintain its spin axis regardless of the crazy movements of that outer frame.

Our verse for today is about resisting the devil and standing firm in the faith.  Like the gyroscope center that resists the movement of the outer rings, we are to stay the course and keep turning in the direction of truth.  Resisting the devil is resisting the “Father of Lies.”  Using the suffering in our lives, he whispers that we are unloved and abandoned by God.  Suffering can surprise us if we somehow thought that as believers we were exempt.  But holding tight to faith in God’s Word and His promises keeps us standing firm and turning in the right direction.

One of the temptations when moving through suffering is to believe that no one else suffers as we do.  It is true that each of us is unique, but suffering is “common to man.”  God has His good purposes in allowing us to suffer different tests and trials.  He will always give us the ability to bear it (I Cor 10:13).

He is faithful.  Thank you, Lord, that with You I can resist and stand firm!

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Baking Disasters

cakePhoto1190Scripture for Today:  Hosea 7:8 “Ephraim, he has mixed himself among the people.  Ephraim is a cake not turned.”

I can relate to the baking disaster pictured here!  Apparently, the baker added maple syrup to the middle of the muffin and the batter spread all over the place!  There have been times I have undercooked or overcooked something with similar results!  I end up with too much or too little of some ingredient.  Maybe I have added something I should not have.  Perhaps the heat was unevenly distributed.  In any case, my family has usually been good sports about eating my mistakes!

In our verse for today is another baking disaster!  The cake that is not turned for even cooking represents the lack of commitment to follow God’s laws.  Ephraim has shown itself to be “half baked” or not in complete obedience to God.  This tribe of Israel was dominant among the ten who made up the tribes of the Northern Kingdom.  Unfortunately, because it mixed itself with the surrounding nations and influenced the other tribes to do the same, God scattered them.  The foreigners were sapping their strength and they did not even realize it!

Being “half-baked” is still a temptation today.  The pull of the world is so strong.  It is easy to compromise.  But having one foot in the world and one foot in the church does not work.  To love the world and mix myself up in it is contrary to a sincere love for my Lord (I John 2:15-17).  Loving the world weakens my faith, slowly sapping my strength without me even realizing it!

I do not want to compromise as Ephraim did with dire consequences.  I want my faith to stay strong.  Lord, keep me from conforming to the world around me.

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 77:19  “Your path led through the sea, Your way through the mighty waters, though Your footsteps were not seen.”

We live in an age of amazing technology!  Underwater robots, or “Remote Operating Vehicles” plunge the depths of the oceans and bring up all kinds of new information.  Their unmanned exploration has been used in a variety of ways.  Some are able to do repairs on oil rigs.  Some can predict the magnitude of an approaching hurricane.  Others can locate, map and sometimes raise the wreckage of a downed airplane!  Their discoveries have increased our appreciation of God’s creation!  But there is one thing these underwater robots will never find on the ocean floor; God’s footprints!

We do not see His footsteps but we see the evidence of His creative work and His mighty deeds.  The verse for today uses the images of the sea and the mighty waters to represent the unseen reasons for the hard times in life.  The author begins this psalm feeling rejected and forgotten by God.  He decides to meditate on all God’s miracles of the past.  He reaffirms God’s mighty power and ends with trust.  Even though he does not see God’s “footprints” he responds with faith.

I sometimes feel that I am “out of my depth” with why God allows hard things to happen.  But it is true that He leads us into deep waters.  It feels so deep that we cannot find our footing.  We do not see His footsteps or any evidence at all of His being there in that moment of distress.  But He is.  We are not walking on that ocean floor by sight, but by faith (II Cor. 5:7).

Thank you Lord, that You will deliver me from deep waters and will not allow them to engulf me!