Devotions By Jan

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Eagle Wings

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 23:5 “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”

How amazing to see an eagle in flight!  Their wings are impressive, often measuring six and seven feet across.  They can climb ten thousand feet up into the air and soar for hours.  This amazing “King of Birds” can cruise at forty miles per hour.  The eagle wing, being concave on its underside and convex on its outerside, is created to maximize the wind passing over it thereby giving it lift.

Today’s verse describes how riches often up and fly away.  We are better off to cast but a glance at them rather than to focus all our attention on riches.  We are told not to wear ourselves out to get rich (verse 4).  Those riches somehow sprout wings and fly right out of the wallet.  I am always amazed to hear stories of lottery winners who end up bankrupt!  But some part of me can understand.  I just broke a twenty dollar bill for a small purchase and before I realized it, it was gone.  How does that happen?  Where does it go?  A glance is all I get as money seems to disappear almost as quickly as it appears!

Riches are often a blessing coming directly from God’s hand.  The problem comes when I place my confidence in my own resources rather than in Him.  Riches are uncertain (I Timothy 6:17) but the Lord is worthy of my trust.  He wants me in a place of dependency on Him.  As it turns out, knowing and loving Him is the best kind of riches!

Help me Lord, to give riches but a glance and instead fix my eyes on You.


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Gluten Sensitivity

Scripture for Today: John 6:35-36 “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen Me and still you do not believe.'”

I would hate to have problems with gluten and I feel badly for those that do!  Those gastrointestinal symptoms plus the fatigue and headaches are no fun.  The more serious condition of Celiac even damages the small intestine.  Doctors caution that the gluten free diet does not automatically mean a more healthy diet or lead to weight loss unless it is done properly.  I am fortunate not to have to deal with this as I really enjoy my bread!

In today’s verse, Jesus uses the image of bread and water to show just how much we need Him.  He satisfies the hunger of our souls in a way that nothing else can.  But there is a condition.  We are to come to Him in faith.  Jesus is speaking to those who He had just miraculously fed.  They were only interested in having their stomachs filled (verse 26).  Somehow they were not seeing that Jesus was offering, “food that endures to eternal life” (verse 27).  They could not bring themselves to believe in Him as the bread of life from the Father (verse 33).  Their physical appetites were masking their deeper spiritual need.

I can’t be too hard on them.  I wonder if I only come to Him for what He can do for me.  Or do I find satisfaction just in loving Him and serving Him.  Do my temporal physical needs get in the way of enjoying a deep satisfying relationship?  I want to seek Him first and above all else.

Lord, help me to go deeper with You today.


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The Ladybug

Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:17 “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.”

When a ladybug lands on me, I don’t usually brush it off.  Many cultures consider it good luck!  In France it is called, “bête à Bon Dieu,” meaning insect of a good God.  Farmers encourage them as they protect their crops by eating aphids.  I just enjoy them for their bright red and black design, even if they are part of the beetle family.  Their name originated in the Middle Ages when farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for crop protection.  When these insects arrived, they were called, “Beetle of our Lady.”  Eventually it became shortened to, “ladybug.”

Today’s verse recognizes that favor in our lives has one true Source, the God of the universe.  We are told that “every good and perfect gift” originates with Him (James 1:17).  How incongruous to attribute any good in our lives to dumb luck!  For the believer, His favor rests on His own all throughout our lives.  In His gracious beautiful favor He establishes the work of our hands.  He even promises that our labor in the Lord is not in vain (I Cor. 5:58).  What is done for His glory will have eternal significance regardless of how mundane it may seem.

All labor is vain without Him, whether it is building homes, guarding gates or what I do in a day (Psalm 127:1).  How amazing that the Lord wants to be involved in every part of my life, including work, projects and hobbies.  He blesses, He guides hands and thoughts.  He confirms and makes successful my efforts.  He gets all the glory and that is how it should be!

Lord, help me recognize your favor and goodness today!



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The Other Side of the Fence

Scripture for Today: Psalm 131:2 “But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.”

It must seem to this goat that the other side of the fence is somehow better.  Perhaps, getting his head stuck is a small price to pay for the greener grass he thinks is on the other side of that fence.  “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” is a saying to which we can all relate.  We tend to want what the other has, thinking that it is somehow better.  If taken literally, this old proverb of discontent has been shown to have some basis when looking at grass from a distance. (James Pomerantz)

Today’s verse describes contentment as a calm and quiet attitude.  Like a weaned child who is no longer needy, the contented person feels no lack.  Instead of that panicked feeling that we are missing out on something, contentment looks around with peace and satisfaction.  There is no need to look at that neighbor and compare circumstances.  There may be a fence making differences obvious, but there is no unrest about it.

I live in an area that is incredibly well-to-do.  I can easily slip in to that attitude of disquiet and unrest by looking at what I do not have.  However, I also see the unhappiness, stress, and lack of fulfillment in the very same people who have so much.  Their grass is greener of course.  But the greenest grass is not the point of life.  I would rather have a life that finds its fulfillment in relationship.  And of course, the most satisfying relationship is with my Creator.

Lord, keep me content in You and forgetting what is on the other side of that fence!

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Bowed Down

bowed cactusindexScripture for Today: Psalm 145:13b-14 “The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.”

I was intrigued to see this odd plant on my walk at the harbor.  It is an agave succulent native to Mexico.  The nectar or “honey water” from this plant has long been used as a sweetener.  Its vertical flower stalk can grow up to ten feet!  Because it arches back toward the ground it is sometimes called, Fox Tail, Lion’s Tail or Swan’s Neck.  To me it looks just a bit sad and depressed .  But in fact it is producing so many small blooms that the weight of them bows it down.

Today’s verse is an encouraging promise.  The Lord is trustworthy because He is faithful to all His promises.  He promises to uphold all who fall and lift up those who are bowed down.  He sees when life becomes a heavy burden and we fall and stumble under its weight.  He understands when the struggles we face bow us down so we see only the ground.  But He promises to lift us up!

What is so incredible is that like this plant, I can still be producing something beautiful even when I am bowed down!  When I successfully move out of that depression or funk, I can share with someone else who is struggling (II Cor. 1:4).  My life can speak to others of the faithfulness of the Lord.  He does lift me up when I am down.  But even the experience of being down can be turned around by Him to be something beautiful and useful to Him!  How gracious He is!

Thank you Lord, that You are faithful to lift me up!