Devotions By Jan


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Juggling

Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”

I had no idea that there is an International Jugglers’ Association and has been since 1947!  They have their own newsletters, meetings, and festivals, all dedicated to promoting juggling.  They have even established a “World Juggling Day” with events around the world.  Being a certified “klutz” I do not think they would allow me to join!

Any busy person feels they already do a juggling act.  The balls up in the air represent jobs, projects, responsibilities, expectations, and deadlines.  A young mother especially feels she is managing more than others with multiple balls in the air.  She may be using not only her hands but her feet and head as well!

Each ball I am juggling has its importance but I find myself always dropping the same ball.  And it is the most important one.  Our verse for today reminds me of what is most important; spending time in God’s presence.  It is not just an obligation but a pleasure!  When I spend time with the Lord, whether individually or with others, I feel as if my day has value.  All the other balls can drop to the ground when I gaze into His loveliness.  Nothing seems quite as important.

His wisdom shows me what balls need to be in the air and which ones I can let drop for a time.  But what I never want to drop is dwelling in Him, gazing on His beauty and seeking His presence!

Keep me seeking You, Lord, above all else.


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O Happy Day!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 68:3 “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”

This last Friday was “International Day of Happiness.”  It was established by the United Nations in 2012 to focus world attention on economic growth for all.  This was done in recognition that happiness is a fundamental human goal.  This day is to promote development and alleviate poverty worldwide.  Part of this year’s observance was a speech on climate change by the popular singer, Pharrel Williams, who is known for his song, “Happy.”  It is such a catchy tune but the lyrics ironically describe happiness as “a room without a roof.”

There are many things that come to mind when thinking about the word, “happy.”  The pursuit of happiness is usually associated with the pursuit of economic stability.  The thought that happiness is just one purchase away is a hard one to dismiss from my thinking.  But I know better.  I know that material wealth does not mean happiness as seen by the heartache of many well-to-do friends.  True happiness has little to do with what is owned.

Our verse for today makes an association with the word, “happy’ that for many is the last word to come to mind; righteous.  Those who have placed their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin can experience true happiness.  To have a heart freed from the guilt of sin is happiness.  To have experienced God’s unmerited favor regardless of a spotted past is a real reason for happiness.  To know that my future in Heaven is secured by His pardon gives a whole other meaning to “happy.”  This is a happiness that cannot be shaken by any circumstance on earth!

Jesus, thank You for that happy day when You washed my sins away!


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The Artichoke

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

The artichoke was something I avoided as a child.  I actually did not mind peeling off the leaves and scraping them off with my teeth.  But when I arrived at that hairy center, I was repulsed and would not cut out and eat the artichoke heart.  My siblings were thrilled and would argue over who got to eat it!  They were happy to eat it without all the work of peeling off the leaves.

Our verse for today is a commandment often repeated in the Old Testament.  It is repeated in the New Testament as well.  The Lord wants us to love Him with all our heart.  He wants our entire being to respond to Him.  Half measures do not mean so much.  A divided heart does not have as much value to Him.  He gives His all to us and the only possible response is to give our all to Him in return.

My problem is that I think I am giving Him my heart when perhaps I have only given Him a part.  Being humbled and tested is the only way I can really know if I have given Him all my heart.  The Lord led the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years in order to know what was in their hearts (Deut. 8:2).  My difficulties today serve the same purpose.  Each problem peels off another outside leaf and the heart is more and more exposed.  It is in the midst of suffering or loss that my heart is revealed.  Will I only love Him when times are good?  Do I only love Him when my desires are met?

Lord, may my heart be completely Yours today.

 


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Transplanted

palmunnamedScripture for Today: Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

I thought it odd to see this huge palm tree being trucked to a different home.  The new owners must have gone to quite a bit of trouble and cost to transplant such a huge tree.  The driver told us that the price tag to move and transplant it was $1,000!  How awful if this majestic tree were to fail to take root in its new home.

Our verse for today describes how as believers we are rooted in a different soil.  No longer are we in the soil of the world, but we have been transplanted.  Those who have received Christ as Lord and Master live their lives for Him.  Being rooted and built up in Him means that faith is continually strengthened as we learn and grow. Being transplanted from the world into Him is made evident by our thankful spirit.

The Lord has gone to enormous lengths to transplant us.  He has sacrificed Himself and bought us at a great price (I Cor. 6:20).  He has taken us out of the darkness and transplanted us in the light (Eph. 5:8).  He has given us everything that is needed to live a godly life in Him (II Peter 1:3).

Like the Israelites who longed to return to Egypt when the going got tough, so I sometimes feel that life would be easier in the world’s soil.  Instead of being thankful for the amazing new place He has planted me, I sometimes look back over my shoulder to what I have left.

Thank you Lord, for transplanting me in You!  Grow my roots deeper and deeper into Your incredible love.


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Green!

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:28 “Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”

Today everyone wants to be Irish!  There are parades and celebrations everywhere this week marking Saint Patrick’s Day.  This patron saint of Ireland is often depicted holding a green shamrock.  It is said that he used it as a visual aid to teach on the Trinity.  But since the holiday has moved away from any religious associations, the green shamrock is now touted to be good luck and the day sees many of us wearing green.

Our verse for today gives us another reflection when thinking of the color green.  Green is the color for growth and health.  Those who thrive with the color green are those who make the Lord the focus of their trust.  It is not the green of money that is the object of our confidence.  We are not green and healthy because we have a healthy bank account balance.  We thrive and grow when we lean and rely on the Lord Himself.

When I look to my own resources, my color turns to a sickly brown.  No other resource in life can sustain me and hold me up as the Lord can out of the riches of His mercy.  Because of the unlimited blessings He gives, I will not fall.  He never disappoints, taking care of all my needs.  He promises that even in old age, I can stay fresh and green when I proclaim to others that the Lord is my upright and righteous Rock! (Psalm 92:14).

I just may wear green today, but with this verse in mind.  Thank you Lord, for keeping me fresh, green and thriving because of Your riches!