Devotions By Jan


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Persimmons

persimmonsScripture for Today: Proverbs 24:14 “Know also that wisdom is like honey for you; If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”

I recently rediscovered persimmons.  Remembering their strange bitter aftertaste, I thought I did not like them.  What I had not realized is that there are several varieties.  The one I disliked so much was the hachiya  pictured here.  They have a pointed bottom and are mushy inside.  But the fuyu variety with the flat bottom is wonderfully sweet and can be eaten like an apple.  However. even the hachiya can be tasty when baked in pudding, cookies and breads.

Today’s verse likens wisdom to the taste of sweetness in honey.  Finding wisdom is worth the effort as it will mean a future hope.  There is not much hope of a positive future for the fool who discounts God’s words.  But the one who is wise is the one who treasures His words, finding them “sweeter than honey” (Psalm 119:103)  God’s Word is what makes wise the simple (Psalm 19:7).  And with wisdom one makes the best decisions, starting with obeying His Law.

Gaining wisdom is a lifelong process involving not only reading and knowing His word, but intentionally putting it into practice.  His Word does not read like an advice column that one can take or leave.  God’s Word is not just full of  suggestions on how to live.  It is authoritative.  God’s precepts give me not only a good course of action but the very best one!  I have no wisdom of my own but I can walk in His wisdom when I submit to His way!  Living wisely means there is hope for my future!

Lord, make this a sweet day by helping me be wise.

 

 


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Oh Rats!

rats2df3d36Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

The ship was crossing the channel, taking all of our family to England from France on for a house exchange.  We were thankful that no one suffered any sea sickness, there were no sudden squalls and we did not see rats making for the exits!  Of course, if we had, we would have been plenty worried.  It is a common belief that rats know when to flee a sinking ship.  Some research seems to indicate that animals can pick up “infrasonic” sound pulses created by storms and earthquakes, giving them a head start toward safety.  If I saw rats running for their lives, I would consider that a warning and follow!

Our verse for today promises reward for keeping God’s laws and decrees.  That is the positive side.  The negative side in this verse is that they also serve as a warning.  Like the rats headed for the exit, God’s commandments give us warning.  They let us know when we are headed toward trouble.  God, in His grace, alerts us through His Word so that we can avoid needless heartbreak.  Following His way rather than our own keeps us out of harm’s way.

Our sin hurts.  It complicates a life and results in brokenness.  But it does not have to be if we heed His warning signs.  It is unpopular to speak of absolutes but they are not my words.  God delineates quite clearly in His Word between what is good and evil, black and white, dark and light.  He makes it clear so I do not add senseless pain and guilt to my life.

Help me Lord, to see Your commandments as a positive loving gesture from You.


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Elephant Feet

feet26bba12100000578-2998797-dr_olga_panagiotopoulou_from_the_university_of_queensland_s_scho-a-39_1426596170368Scripture for Today: I Samuel 2:9  “He keeps the feet of His godly ones.  But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; For not by might shall a man prevail.”

One would think that it would take a serious problem to bring down the mighty elephant.  But in fact, the single most important ailment of the captive elephant is the foot-related problem.  With limited movement their soles and nails do not naturally wear down and need constant cutting back.  If abscesses, nail infection and arthritis are not guarded against, any of these seemingly inconsequential problems could bring down this amazingly strong animal.

Today’s verse is part of a song by Hannah.  She is leaving Samuel, her precious son, at the temple to serve as she had promised.  Surprisingly, her heart is exalting in the Lord instead of melting in sorrow at the separation!  Hannah is affirming the truth of the sovereignty of God.  She understands that God will protect her little boy.  He will be keeping the feet of His godly ones, protecting their comings and goings.  It is not the strong and mighty ones that will prevail.    The wicked can only count on stumbling around in the darkness.

It is a tremendous comfort to know that the Lord sees every step before I take it.  He makes firm the steps of those who delight in Him (Psalm 37:23).  I can even walk through the “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4) without fear knowing He sees, He knows and He is right there beside me.  As His own, I walk in His light and will prevail through His strength.  Whatever I may face today, this truth will not change.  I can step out that front door with confidence in His loving sovereignty.

Thank you Lord, for Your intimate knowledge and care for me.


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Food Coma!

commamrScripture for Today: Psalm 107:9 “For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.”

The food coma often makes its appearance after the big copious Thanksgiving meal.  We tell ourselves that we are going to be reasonable this year.  But who ever takes only one piece of pie?  Then there is there is the “tryptophan” in the turkey which is blamed for us conking out on the couch (although this amino acid is also in other poultry, meat, cheeses, yogurt, fish and eggs).  The really annoying part is emerging from this food coma with stirrings of hunger you did not anticipate coming until the next day!

Today’s verse describes a satisfaction for the hungry soul.  There is no uncomfortable food coma as food is not involved.  Nor does this satisfaction for the soul wear off.  The hungering of our souls is satisfied forever with no lingering longing for something else.  The Lord fills us with good things that are good for us.  He knows exactly what to fill us with and how much.  His filling satisfies our deepest and even unconscious desires.

It is hard to even put my finger on what my soul longs for.  But I know I want peace there.  And of course love.  I also long to move through this life with a light spirit and joy.  More than anything I want be a kind soul that shows faithfulness to friends and gentleness to enemies.  All this goodness takes a patience and self-control that I cannot muster on my own.  But then as His child I do not have to.  These are the fruits of being filled with God Himself.

Lord, fill my hungry soul with Yourself today.


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Turkey Hotline

YK_072611_FNM_Turkey_032.tifScripture 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.”

Thanksgiving seems to be synonymous with a big fat turkey on a platter.  This turkey tradition has confounded the less experienced cook giving rise to the Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line, begun in 1981.  Most questions have to do with thawing procedures and cooking times.  But some problems are unique, as with the man who tried to use the oven’s cleaning cycle to cook the turkey more quickly!  One caller complained that her bird had no breast meat, not realizing it was upside-down!

Today’s verse has the word, “thanksgiving.”  Our tendency is to be anxious when confronted with difficulty, especially when others have a front row seat to our dilemma.  Whether our anxiety is understandable or completely manufactured by an over active imagination, there is only one thing to do with it; give it to the Lord in prayer.  Regardless of the size or importance of our situation, our Heavenly Father does not want us to feel anxiety.

When we give our requests to the Lord, He asks that we do it with thanksgiving.  We are to thank Him in advance for His answer, even if it is not the response we want or expect.  Thanking Him before His response shows Him that we trust His power to act, His wisdom to know the right outcome, and His goodness to do what is best.

Today we thank Him for all His blessings.  Everything that is good in my life is because of His grace.  But He also wants me to thank Him for the answers still pending.  I want to include in my thanksgiving praise for His good plan and future blessings yet unseen!

Thank you Lord, for how You will answer!


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Pilgrims

dancing-pilgrimsScripture for Today: Ephesians 4:18 “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”

This is not the image that comes to mind when thinking about the early Pilgrims!  Although, perhaps the dissenter in the background is!  Pilgrims were also called “Separatists” wishing to separate from the Anglican Church.  The Puritans joined them after failing to reform the church with their efforts to make it more pure and simple.  Together, their desire for purity often demonstrated itself in a rigid and rule-following society.  Unfortunately, they traded their freedom from the Church of England into a bondage to another kind of legalism.

Today’s verse talks about unbelievers whose lives are marked by futile thinking.  Paul admonishes the Ephesians to no longer live like they do, as they “indulge in every kind of impurity and are full of greed.” (verse 19)  Believers separate themselves from a way of living that dishonors their Creator (II Cor. 6:17).  But they also separate themselves to something; the life of God.

The life of God that we enjoy is possible only because He has made the attitude of our minds brand new! (verse 23)  Because of Him we can experience and show kindness, compassion and forgiveness (verse 32).  The life of God is unavailable as long as one continues to live with a “hardened heart.”  With that kind of resistance and stubbornness to God’s Spirit, one is separated from the best kind of life.

I want my life to be different, separated to God and enjoying His love and forgiveness.  But just as important to me is to see my friends and family enjoying this life of God as well!

Lord, thank you for giving me this life I do not deserve!

 

 


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The Mayflower

mayflowerd47bc147e45fa1686b6b85e58e5240c9Scripture for Today: I Timothy 1:19 “holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.”

In 1620 the Mayflower set sail for a new land with high hopes to start a life free from religious restrictions.  Originally, another ship sailed with her named “Speedwell” but twice, proved unseaworthy because of leaks appearing.  Its master, Mr. Reynolds, was suspected of having caused those leaks, motivated by fear of starving in America.  The Mayflower continued on enduring a very rough crossing.  But despite crashing high waves that fractured a main support beam, the passengers survived to begin their new life.

Today’s verse is from a charge given by Paul to a young Timothy.  Faith is something that can be shipwrecked.  Our doubts and fears can cause us to poke holes in our faith and cause it to slowly leak out.  We are to hold on to what we know is true with a good conscience.  We do not allow ourselves to be plagued with guilt for sin that has been confessed and forgiven.

No one is exempt from shipwrecking their faith.  Timothy, even as a leader in the church, is warned.   It is easy for me to become overconfident about my faith, until those crashing waves come overboard.   I need to hold on tightly when I am rocked by circumstances that make no sense and tempt me to doubt.  I need to hold on firmly to the word of life so as not to capsize (Phil. 2:16).  And I can hold on to what is good and reject every kind of evil (I Thes. 5:21-22) so I can have that good conscience.  I have His promises to keep me firm and on course.

Lord, keep me holding on tight to my faith in You.