Devotions By Jan

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pencilindexScripture for Today: Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

This pencil is just a little bit special.  If you look closely, you will see that there is an eraser on both ends!  This must be what I am figuratively using right now, as my own plans seem to be in a constant state of change.  That is pretty normal when taking care of a fifteen month old baby.  His needs take priority over any plans I might have envisioned for the day.  I might have planned to shower.  I might have planned to sleep.  I certainly did not plan on a crying meltdown!

Today’s verse reveals the Lord’s plans for His own.  He is good, merciful, loving and compassionate.  It only follows that His plans are good as well.  He sees the beginning and He sees the end.  He knows the outcome that we cannot know.  But His plans will include hard times that grow our faith and glorify Him.  He erases our ideas of what is good and replaces them with what He knows is best.  He is the only One who has the power and the control to do that.  He is the only One I can trust to do that.

In looking back, I can see that His plans have been for the best.  I do not regret His eraser.  If left to my self and my own warped desires, I  am pretty sure I would have made a mess of things.  His way leads to a life that is richly blessed with His presence and love.  With His plans, there is always hope and an incredible future!

Lord, help me to trust Your plan for today!

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Spring is in the Air!

Scripture for Today:  John 3:3  Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Today is the first Monday of Spring and I am ready!  Spring is the season of rebirth.  What one thought was dead and gone, suddenly shows new signs of growth!  Spring is a time of renewed expectations and hope.

We used to have several Butterfly Bushes (Buddleja) in our yard producing white and purple flowers.  I loved watching the butterflies come and drink the nectar from its flowers in the Spring.  And to think that those lovely butterflies were once unremarkable caterpillars!  Their transformation is a beautiful image of our spiritual rebirth!

In today’s verse, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he will not see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.  It must have been a shock to hear.  Nicodemus was a respected Pharisee and ruler.  He probably thought that if anyone could enter the Kingdom, he would be a likely candidate.  He did not realize that in fact, he needed “wings” and as a caterpillar, he did not have them.  Being born again is a work of His Spirit.  A complete transformation is what Jesus offers.  It is His Spirit who gives life.  There is no profit at all in the flesh and our own effort (John 6:63)

Every Spring I am reminded of the new life He has given me.  My old life is dead and buried.  I have been changed forever!  I am not at all tempted to return to the form of that caterpillar.  He has given me wings, color, sweet nectar and new life!

Thank you Lord, for Spring and the new life found in You!

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Scripture for Today: Matthew 19:5 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

The termite can wreak havoc in Southern California as they feast on the wood of our homes.  They seem secretive and destructive.  There are three kinds; workers, soldiers and reproductive termites.  Only the reproductive ones are able to fly.  Both the young kings and queens will fly from their home in a large swarm as they search for a mate.  Each royal pair will emerge from the swarm together and establish their new home, breaking off their wings as they settle down!

Today’s verse is the answer Jesus gave to the Pharisees seeking to trap Him with questions on marriage.  He quotes what God established in the beginning in Genesis 2:24.  The step of marriage is to be binding.  The commitment it requires is much like those termites breaking off their wings.  The original and best plan for marriage is that it be exclusive and permanent.  One new flesh is created from two.  Tearing apart the two can cause excruciating pain.  The Lord in His love and compassion gives us the best plan to avoid that kind of pain.

God’s plan for marriage can seem restrictive.  But to give love the best chance to flower and last is within that safe place of total commitment.  We endure whatever pain or inconvenience there may be by “tearing off our wings.”  It shows that we are serious to stay together.  The world says that one is somehow missing out.  But I know differently.  It is through many years of ups and downs, trials and joys that my love for my husband grows.

Thank you Lord, for giving me the strength and power to tear off my wings and stay.

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Saint Patrick’s Day

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!

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 78:18 “They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved.”

I often crave sweets, especially chocolate.  But the food cravings I had while pregnant were very different and no small thing.  It was not pickles and ice cream, thankfully.  It was citrus fruits and Mexican food.  It would come on me suddenly and at odd hours.  The sensation was strong and I have never felt anything quite like it since!  I remember getting quite cranky just up to the point when those cravings were indulged.  My poor husband was a good sport about it!

Today’s verse is speaking of the Israelites when they were in the wilderness.  The Lord had miraculously provided for their needs with manna from heaven.  But they craved meat.  They did not just crave it.  They wailed saying, “If only we had meat to eat.” (Numbers 11:4)  They were willful and even rebellious with their demands (verse 17).  Their cravings went so far as to cause them to speak against God (verse 19) and doubt His power.  “Can God really spread a table in the wilderness?”  How insulting to our Mighty God who had all along been showing His power in parting that Red Sea, and in guiding them with a pillar of cloud and pillar of fire.  God responded with righteous anger.

Cravings are part of human nature and not necessarily wrong in themselves.  But certainly when accompanied with a demanding rebellious attitude, they are not right.  I am wrong if I crave something that puts into question God’s goodness and power.  But one craving is always good, that of craving the “spiritual milk” of His Word (I Peter 2:2).  I wish I craved it more than I do!

Lord, create in me a craving for Your Word today!