Devotions By Jan


Unusual Fountain

fountain-543c3d4dccddce5081fd7b425285a310Scripture for Today: James 3:10-11 “From the same mouth come praise and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”

We had been to this small Alsacian village many times, having coffee at the “place de la Marie” with a view of this fountain.  But on the occasion of the “Fête de Ribeauvillé” there was a happy crowd surrounding it.  The streets were full of costumed people participating in a parade.  But there seemed to be just as much interest in the fountain.  We checked it out and found to our surprise that instead of dispensing water, there was white wine flowing from those spouts!  No wonder there was a crowd and no wonder they seemed happy!

Today’s verse talks about what pours out of our mouths.  With that one opening we can curse or praise others.  The same mouth that prays piously on Sunday at church can also be a source of filth at the wheel when cut off by another driver.  James tells us not that this is impossible or never done.  He tells us that this should not be.  As believers, that uncontrollable tongue can be controlled by the indwelling Spirit.  As believers, we are to be characterized by fresh water speaking only what is helpful and good to hear (Eph. 4:29).

That bitter water pouring out is a sign that something is not right in my heart (Matt. 12:34).  Even if no one hears those ugly bitter words, it reveals a problem needing to be resolved.  I cannot control this tongue on my own.  It is impossible without Him.  But with His help my mouth can always be a blessing to those listening.

Lord, I need You to control my mouth today!

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Carob Pods

Scripture for Today: Luke 15:16 “He longed  to fill his stomach with the  pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.”

I have never seen a carob pod growing although they have been cultivated in California since being imported in 1873.  They almost look like locusts the way they hang off a branch, which is why they are also called, “locust bean.”  This tree grows well in the Mediterranean climate and the pods are used to feed livestock, but we enjoy them too.  The seeds when pulverized are a great substitute for chocolate.  Carob chocolate has only half the fat of regular chocolate, but then I only enjoy it half as much!

Today’s verse from a parable describes a young man who was desperately hungry.  After asking for his inheritance from his Father and then squandering it, he finds himself feeding carob pods to the pigs and wishing he could fill up his stomach with them as well.  It is finally at this point that the “prodigal son” comes to his senses and returns to his Father.  His Father, representing our Heavenly Father, runs out to welcome him.

So many are living contentedly with carob pods in the pigsty when they could be dining at their Father’s table (and with real chocolate!)  So many do not come to their senses.  And the Father did everything right.  There was no lack of love or failure to communicate truth.  He raised that son perfectly.  Yet, the son rebelled.  It serves no purpose to second guess or feel guilty that something more could have been done.  It is the Lord who does all the “doing” to draw us to Himself.  And thankfully, there is always hope that a loved one will return to God’s waiting arms.

Lord, keep me hoping and praying.

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Reality Shows

lifetime-unrealScripture for Today: Proverbs 19:23 “The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”

The popularity of the reality show has soared since the early 90’s.  Candid Camera was an early prototype, first airing in 1948.  But since then there have been many different genres including: court shows, soap opera styles, elimination competitions, documentary styles, self improvement or renovation shows, to name a few.  The most popular seem to be the “Fly on the Wall” shows directly involving big names, also called “Celebreality.”  Of course reality has little to do with these shows as scenes are staged and re-staged.  The participants are coached and the editing is deliberately misleading.

Today’s verse has the secret to what constitutes real life.  The fear of the Lord leads to life as it is meant to be lived.  Anything else is a life without that spiritual dimension.  Without a relationship with our Creator, we have edited out what is essential to a life well-lived.  The fear of the Lord is an attitude of respect, awe and obedience to Him.  This fear leads to  true real life and is also the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7)  Fearing and obeying Him allows us to be and stay content, untouched by the trouble that comes from a grasping envious life.

The media and our world system in general tends to stimulate in me a state of discontent.  I can be swayed by watching those who are wealthy, influential trend setters.  It is easy to look on my own life and wonder if I am missing out.   What I am seeing may seem perfect but it is not real.  Nor is it satisfying.  My life becomes richer and fuller as I turn to the Life-Giver!

Thank you Lord that I find real life in You!

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confetti-2pcs-lot-tiptop-continuous-feed-confetti-cannon-for-large-venues-no-electrical-power-isScripture for Today: Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

This is not really confetti.  It is “wishfetti!”  For the second year New York City is including people’s wishes in the 3,000 pounds of confetti dropped at midnight over Times Square on December 31st.  There is a Wishing Wall where they are posted and collected.  Some wishes are silly as in, “I wish kale tasted like chocolate.”  Many wishes are altruistic as in, “I wish every dog in a shelter could find a home.”  But the ones that make me pause are the ones full of pain as in, “I wish for a cure for cancer,” or the one saying, “Please don’t let anyone cheat on me.”

Today’s verse peels back the layers of wishful thinking to the deeper desires of the heart.  Often, we do not even realize what those desires are as the heart can be so deceitful (Jer. 17:9).  But those desires are what drive and motivate us.  And those same desires when unfulfilled cause profound discontentment and lack of peace.  This verse is amazing in that God promises to give us the desires of our hearts.

Like so many promises in the Bible, this one has a condition.  Our first and most important heart’s desire is to be for the Lord.  I can find delight in my relationship to Him.  I can find delight in the works of the Lord (Psalm 111:2) both in His amazing creation and in my life.  And when I experience that delight in our relationship, a funny thing happens.  My desires change.  My heart’s desires more closely resemble His.  And I find I want more of Him!

Thank you Lord, that You will give me the Desire of my heart!