Devotions By Jan


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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 was longing to eat the carob pods 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 with a little preparation.  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!

The young man in today’s verse 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 in that household.  There was no 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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Shower Heads

showerheads-from-gessi-2Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:23 “Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.”

Buying a shower head can be a complicated business with all the choice there is!  Not only does one choose between fixed or hand-held, but now there are a variety of special effects available, including: rain effect, massage options, waterfall effect, LED lighting or multi head showers!  Then there is the pressure and efficiency to decide.  The idea is that the shower should be a luxurious experience rather than just a tool of cleanliness!  But who doesn’t enjoy feeling pampered when using a fancy shower head?

Today’s verse refers to something being poured on us but it is not hot water.  Wisdom is being poured out and its teaching and thoughts can be pictured as cascading and drenching a person when heeded.  Wisdom in Proverbs is personified as a “she.”  We are to repent when wisdom advises and rebukes (verse 25).  She calls out to us the thing to do (verse 24) and those who disregard her risk disaster (verse 26).  But those who fear the Lord will listen to wisdom and live in safety and ease (verse 33).

All the higher education available does not guarantee that a life will be lived skillfully and with wisdom.  That is because the Source of wisdom is God Himself.  Fearing, respecting and obeying Him will avoid so much heartache and mess in my life.  So much distress and trouble is of my own making as a result of poor choices, disregarding His way for my own.  I know myself and I know I am just one decision away from acting the fool.  I am “prone to wander.”

Lord, make me wise.  Don’t let me stray from You!


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Mortar and Pestle

brew11Scripture for Today: Proverbs 27:22 “Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.”

Both my daughters use a mortar and pestle in their kitchens, although they did not learn this from me!  I was always too rushed to grind or purée anything by hand.  This ancient method takes more effort but proponents say that the releasing of the oils and smells is a heady experience.  Plus, it looks so gourmet sitting on the counter!  An added benefit is working through one’s frustrations with all the pounding and grinding!

Today’s verse refers to a mortar and pestle being unable to grind out the folly from a fool.  No matter how hard one tries, whether banging heads on walls or a school of hard knocks, the fool will not learn from the experience.  He is destined to repeat his folly (Prov. 26:11).  The fool does not listen to advice or counsel (Prov. 1:7) and their way seems right to them (Prov. 12:15).  The fool detests turning from evil (Prov. 13:19) even when devastated and hurt by it.  But the biggest folly of the fool is saying in his heart that there is no God (Psalm 53:1).

Fools may appear intellectual, sophisticated and reasonable.  Their lives may exude success.  They may even be the darlings of the media.  But their behavior manifests what is in their hearts.  Without God, they are enslaved in their sin.  Their eventual end reveals their foolishness in rejecting God.  And the only way to remove this folly is to replace it with the wisdom that comes from fearing God (Proverbs 9:10).  When I acknowledge Him and bow the knee in humility and submission, I can be wise.

Thank you, Lord, for Your grace that transformed this fool into someone wise!


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Pot and Kettle

aroma-awk-115s-hot-h20-x-press-cordless-water-kettle2Scripture for Today: Matthew 7:3-4  “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own?

The black pot can be seen in the reflection of this shiny kettle.  The expression about the pot calling the kettle back is an old one, thought to be Spanish in origin and dating back to the 17th century.  The most common interpretation is that both the pot and the kettle are blackened by the sooty fire.  The pot has no business accusing the kettle when both are in the same predicament.  But another meaning is possible.  Only the pot is black and sooty from the fire.  The kettle, being placed only on the coals, remains bright and shiny.  What the pot is really seeing is a refection of itself!

Today’s verse shows us how ludicrous it is to reprimand someone while ignoring the same problem in ourselves and on a much larger scale.  It is silly to be overly concerned with a small fault in a fellow believer while unaware of one’s own bigger problem.  It is not that these verses discourage helping a brother see a weakness in a spirit of love.  But the passage goes on to say how important that self-examination is before the attempt.  Otherwise, one is rightly viewed as a hypocrite.

What is so convicting about this is that I am more sensitive to the very faults in others that I myself share.  I project on to others the problems with which I myself struggle!  What an uncomfortable thought!  I am so thankful for the clarity God brings and also His forgiveness!

Search my heart today. Lord.

 


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Pizza Dough

M~ SUN0202-pizza1Scripture for Today: II Cor. 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

It all seems a bit complicated.  After punching down the rising pizza dough and kneading it, the dough is further manhandled by the throwing it up in the air!  It looks like an art designed to impress the onlooker.  But in fact, this process of spinning it in the air creates the round shape and allows just enough airflow for easier handling.  With this method, the dough retains more moisture making the crust softer.

In today’s verse, Paul is recounting some of the hardships he and Timothy had faced.  At the beginning of the chapter and at the end, he says, “We do not lose heart.”  It would have been completely understandable if they had!  Paul had been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned and imprisoned for his faith.  Being perplexed, he perhaps did not always understand the “why” behind what was happening.  Yet, he remained confident that the pulling and stretching was producing something of value, forming the likeness of Jesus  in him (verse 10).

When I am faced with hard times, I often feel perplexed.  I usually cannot explain why the Lord allows certain difficulties in my life.  But He promises that all the pulling and stretching will be producing a “weight of glory” one day (II Cor. 4:17).  All that is painful or devestating is only a “light affliction” compared to what lies ahead.  I can be confident that even when panicked and confused, He is in control and His control is good.  How good of Him to reassure me!

Thank you Lord, that You use it all to make me more like You.  Help me not to lose heart.


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Laugh Track

audience-laughing_3068752bScripture for Today: Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

In the days of early television when everything was live, there was no need for any kind of canned or prerecorded laughter.  But later that instant feedback was lacking.  The solution became the laugh track.  The mixing of prerecorded laughs included the housewife giggles, the belly laugh, and the guy who gets the joke early.  For years the  laugh track was used and over used.  Thankfully, it is now not as prominent.  Along with many others I find the sound fake, distracting and an annoying intrusion.

Today’s verse is about someone who laughs at the future.  This woman is clothed with strength and dignity as she lives her life with wisdom (vs.26).  She works vigorously (vs. 17) and she is not idle (vs. 27).  The public praises her because of her works (vs. 31) and more importantly she is praised by her children and husband (vs. 28).  But what is most surprising about this “super woman” is that she laughs at the days to come.  Her heart is light because she fears the Lord (vs. 30).

My tendency is to fear rather than laugh at the future.  I do not know what changes may be in store for our country or personally for my life.  Rather than have a light heart, I often have this vague disquiet about what lies ahead.  But when my heart is steadfast and trusting in His power and sovereignty, than I do not fear bad news (Ps. 112:7).  How much better to laugh at the future and fear God than to fear the future and laugh at the idea of God’s control!  He is directing it all and because that is true, I can be glad.

Thank you Lord, for Your loving control of my future!