Devotions By Jan


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Fresh Strawberries

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:103 “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”

There is nothing better than the surprise of biting into an especially sweet fresh strawberry!  I am surprised as I have grown accustomed to strawberries that are not as flavorful being picked too soon.  But when they are local and picked at exactly the right time, the flavor is amazing!  I will sometimes buy less-than-sweet strawberries for their pop of color and still enjoy them.  I will even use frozen strawberries on occasion.  But it is never the same as that fresh sweet strawberry with the juice and texture exactly right!

Today’s verse likens God’s words to that kind of sweetness.   His words are like honey for the soul.  Whether we hear them from a Bible teacher, a song or a devotional, it is always sweet.  But there is a different more intense flavor when we discover a nugget of truth for ourselves in His Word.  The taste is better and sweeter when He speaks to us directly from His Word without any other intermediary.  It is just picked.  It is fresh and there is a special sweetness.

I am encouraged by others’ teaching.  God uses the study and clear exhortation of Bible scholars in my life.  There is a myriad of wonderful study guides.  They are all sweet and have their place.  But there is a more satisfying and intense flavor to His Word when I take the time to open it on my own.  It is especially sweet when the Lord meets me and speaks to me directly.  His Spirit is so personal, guiding me into a truth for that moment and for my exact need.

Lord, I need Your sweet words.  Make them fresh for me today.

 

 

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Painting Perspectives

cliff,illusion,pavementart,perspective-b55cb33ff016c33bb6f6ae839c88c457_hScripture for Today: Colossians 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

Artists understand that perspective is everything in creating their work.  Without it, a painting seems dull, flat, and uninspiring.  Edgar Mueller, a German sidewalk artist, creates the illusion of a 3D image with his art.  This painting is called, “The Crevasse,” and was created in Ireland in 2008 for the Festival of World Culture.  The art plays with our minds, creating perspectives that do not match up with reality.

Today’s verse is all about perspective.  Paul tells believers to set their minds on things above.  Our minds and our hearts are to be changed by an eternal perspective.  What we see on earth does not match up with spiritual realities.  What we see, touch and feel around us are not eternal.  They are real but they will not last.  When we set our minds and hearts on the realities of Heaven, it changes how we view that difficulty.  It affects how we see our problems.  What can loom so large in our perspective is only “light and momentary trouble.” (II Cor. 4:17)  All the hard things in this life are, “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

I do not think I am at risk of being so heaven;y minded that I am of no earthly good!  On the contrary, the more I consider what is eternal, the more I see hope in the middle of heartache.  It will be worth it all when I see Jesus!  Life trials will seem so small when I see Him.

Change my perspective, Lord.  Help me see You today instead of my problems.


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Daily Vitamins

vitamin article-2147771-13376F48000005DC-639_468x445Scripture for Today:  Psalm 68:19 “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”

This image expresses some of my frustration over the vitamin market.  We are bombarded with all kinds of publicity and the latest findings regarding what our daily needs are and what supplements we need to be taking each day.  It can be confusing!  I am not sure I want to swallow everything I hear or I may end up like this guy!  But one thing is true about vitamins; most of them are to be taken daily.  It sure helps me to have those pill organizers to keep me on track!

Today’s verse is about something else that is daily.  The Lord daily bears our burdens.  What an amazing promise!  He is so invested in His children that He commits to lightening our load each and every day.  There is no day off.  There is no skipping a day.  He does not need a reminder.  Daily He is available to bear that burden.  Perhaps it is a daily activity for Him as we keep taking it back on to our own shoulders!

The Lord never intended for me to be bowed down with the weight of my anxiety and sadness.  He does not want me to feel overburdened about anything.  Even that burden for the salvation of a family member is not intended for me to bear.  He wants me to leave it with Him.  My shoulders are too weak, but He is strong.  My heart can be light as I trust Him to work.  But He knows me.  He knows that I will have to give over that same burden tomorrow and the next day.  Daily I give it to Him and daily He promises to bear it.

Today, Lord.  Take it off my shoulders today.

 


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Default Setting

default-settingScripture for Today: Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

In computer lingo, the default setting is the setting automatically given to a software application, program or device.  It is a kind of preset that one can always return to when faced with a sticky problem.  The term has morphed into another meaning that makes me smile.  Default setting can refer to a habitual behavior or attitude.  In an unguarded moment or when the pressure is off, we return to that preset that is more comfortable and familiar.

Today’s verse addresses the problem of worry, which for me tends to be my default setting!  Worry just seems to come naturally as a first response.  Sometimes my worries do not even have a basis in reality but arise from my imagination!  But Paul, who had plenty to worry about as a prisoner, gives us the solution.  Paul could experience God’s peace even when in chains.  He presented his worrisome thoughts to the Lord in prayer.

Worrying changes nothing, but praying can.  Prayer disposes my heart to trust Christ.  He already knows what worries are running through my head.  But He asks me to name those worries in the form of petitions.  What freedom can be mine when I give it all to Him!  He replaces that worry with His peace that guards my heart and mind.  Instead of being consumed with worry, I can get some distance from that problem.  And in faith I can thank Him in advance for His answers.  My mind and heart can be at rest, knowing I can trust His hand to work.

Lord, keep me from that default setting of worry.  Help me turn every anxious thought into heartfelt prayer.


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Energy Drinks

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:11 “Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

I am amazed at all the energy drinks flooding the market!  The amount of sugar and caffeine they contain can have you flying high all day.  They promise mental and physical stimulation.  Some even purport to increase muscle strength and endurance, although there is no scientific proof to support the claim.  There are some concerns over possible health risks so I personally don’t drink them.  I am more into coffee which as the saying goes, “makes people do stupid things faster and with more energy.”

Would that spiritual energy could be found in a simple drink!  Today’s verse encourages believers to be zealous in their service to the Lord.  Our spiritual fervor is to be high so as to persevere and not give up when the hard times come.  We are to keep fueled, tanked up, or aflame, not burning out.  That enthusiasm we started with is to continue pushing us forward.

How do I keep to that level of zeal?  How do I resist lagging behind and taking it easy?  When I do not see results from my service, I lose my enthusiasm.  When I do not see that it makes much difference, I can easily lose heart.  There is only one way to be refueled and rediscover that joy and motivation to serve Him.  It is by asking for the Spirit’s filling (Eph. 5:18).  His filling gives me strength to keep on keeping on!  His power provides that excitement and motivation to advance His agenda today.  His filling even helps me to face Mondays!

I do not need to fill up with an energy drink.  I need to fill up with His Spirit!  Thank you Lord, for being the source of my zeal and fervor.


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Earth Day

earth3965373445_2cf51c0572Scripture for Today: Psalm 24:1-2 “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.”

Today is Earth Day.  It was founded in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson to increase public awareness for all living things, and because of concerns over the environment and pollution.  So many good things have resulted including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.  The goal this year and for the next five years is to plant 7.8 billion trees worldwide to commemorate its 50th year anniversary!

Protecting our environment is such a good thing although we differ as to how that is played out.  For the believer, we have a mandate from the Creator of this world to take care of it and have dominion (Gen. 1:26).  But we are only stewards.  The earth is the Lord’s.

Our earth is so amazing and full of wonder that it is difficult for me to understand how one can deny God’s existence.  Creation is a visual aid that leads me to faith.  He proves Himself over and over in what He has made.  All the time and chance in the world could not produce the minute details in nature!  The earth is His handiwork.  But as beautiful as the earth is, He is even more beautiful!  As awe-inspiring as nature is, He inspires even more awe!  I love our earth because it moves me to worship the Creator!  But I do not belong to the earth.  This is temporary.  Here, I am an alien and stranger (Heb. 11:13 & 16).  I am to long for the “better country” that is coming; the heavenly one.

Thank you Lord, for creating such a beautiful world and for the perfect one in my future!

 

 


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Those Wings

wings0c278b0d9b712037f7a503728b26e8e5Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

What an unlikely pair!  I wouldn’t think a rodent would snuggle up to a bird!  But this one does and enjoys the added warmth and comfort of the bird’s wing.  The bird’s instinct to cover and protect extends to an unlikely recipient but he seems content to stay there.  Maybe they have both been domesticated and have grown up together.  How else would there be that level of trust with each other?

Today’s verse describes another unusual pair, the Lord and me.  He is all powerful and I am weak and vulnerable, in need of protection.  God is pictured as a bird with strong encompassing wings.  Under those wings is found protection, warmth and comfort.  His wings provide refuge from everythin negative in life.  He is faithful to love and protect His own.

Under His wings is a comforting place.  I run there especially when I am confused and sad.  He never disappoints me.  I may not get answers to the questions I am asking, but somehow the warmth of His love makes those questions less important.  Just being encircled there close to His side puts everything in perspective.  He is in control and His control is good.

The second verse of William Cushing’s hymn says, “Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow.  How the heart yearningly turns to His rest.  Often when earth has no balm for my healing.  There I find comfort and there I am blessed.”  He is always there opening up those wings and beckoning me to come close.  How beautiful He is!

Help me Lord to find the shelter of Your wings today.