Devotions By Jan


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Cloudy Days

cloudsScripture for Today: Matthew 26:64  “You have said so, Jesus replied.  But I say to all of you: from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Being from southern California, I am not such a fan of clouds.  Little puffy white ones can be pretty if they do not block the sun.  But when they grow grey and menacing and the sun is hidden, my mood is usually affected.  I remember when we lived in Grenoble at the base of the Alps.  We would drive up the mountains on a cloudy grey day and be thrilled to find ourselves above the clouds and in the brilliant sunshine!

Today’s verse tells us that Jesus will one day come with the clouds, so I am starting to change my mind about them! When Jesus ascended into heaven, a cloud received Him and took Him away.  Two angels explained that Christ would return in the same way (Acts 1:9-11).  And one day believers will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (I Thes. 4:17).  One day every eye will see Him coming with the clouds (Rev. 1:7).

So clouds are a good thing as they could possibly be the signal that today is the day of His return!  What a great reminder that He is coming soon!  But regardless of the weather, I want to be ready for His return.  Frankly, I am not always thinking about it.  But expecting His return sure makes a difference as to how I live.  I want my life to please Him.  When I see those clouds overhead, I want to say with firm conviction, “Maranatha, the Lord is coming!

Come, Lord Jesus!  Come quickly!


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Fading Flowers

faded-flower-colors1-400x266Scripture for Today: Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades but the Word of our God shall stand forever.”

Flowers that fade are not uncommon.  It can happen when there is too much exposure to sun and heat.  A once vibrant color can fade after being pollinated, no longer needing its suitors.  But the flower can also fade from stress after being transplanted.  Flowers growing from bulbs, such as the daffodil, fade with age.  The hydrangeas in my garden in France would fade being sensitive to the acidity of the soil.  The writer, Robert Bridges, used this image of fading flowers to describe diminishing love.

Today’s verse uses the grass that withers and the flower that fades to illustrate how brief and temporary life is.  The green grass can spring up overnight after a good rain and blanket a hillside.  And just as quickly, the grass can wither in an unrelenting sun.  The flower can enjoy a stunning burst of color, but eventually fades.  What a contrast to God’s Word that never withers and never fades!  It is always true and never changing.

God’s Word is living and enduring, making my life full of vibrant color (I Peter 1:23).  Through His Word He has put in me seed that never dies.  In a winter of bare trees and dry grass, I know that in the spiritual realm it is always spring!  His Word refreshes and strengthens me (Ps. 119:28).  Nothing can ever happen to make it untrue, unreliable or irrelevant.  What God says brings me comfort and hope in the most dire situations.  His promises keep me strong and His reassurances give me courage.  I cannot even imagine life without His precious Word to help me live it!

Lord, keep me faithfully reading Your Word.


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Mud Bath

hippoScripture for Today: Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Although these majestic creatures are so huge and ugly, I am saddened to think that they soon could be extinct.  The horn of the rhinoceros, because of its purported medicinal properties, make them a target for poachers.  When the rhino is not foraging or resting in the shade of a tree, he can be found wallowing in the mud.  The mud cools them down in a hot climate and it also protects them from insects.  The mud works as a sun block as well.

Today’s verse gives a different view of mud.  Along with the mire it is a slippery place for human feet.  David cried out to the Lord when he found himself figuratively in that slimy pit.  There was no way out and the Lord did not respond immediately.  David waited patiently ( verse 1).  In that time of waiting he did not turn to the proud or to false gods for help (verse 4).  David continued to trust while waiting.  And he praises the Lord for lifting him out of the mess and giving him a firm stable place to stand.

It often feels as if the Lord does not immediately come when I cry to Him.  He sometimes asks me to wait as well.  Of course He hears me cry to Him.  He sees my predicament and He cares.  But He also wants my faith and trust in Him to grow and strengthen.  So many times it is in the waiting that this happens.  And His delay means that others see and can praise Him with me when rescue comes! (verse 3)

Lord, help me wait with patience.


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Read My Lips!

img_20170214_071735Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 10:12 “Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips.”

I am not too sure what message was intended with this window display!  I hardly noticed what these mannequins were wearing I was so distracted by those huge lips.  I am just as distracted by women who overdo the Botox in their lips to get that pouty look!  Perhaps the idea is a bold in-your-face attitude that is thought to sell the clothes.  Or maybe it was intended for Valentine’s Day kisses.  But as far as this customer is concerned, they lost me!

Today’s verse is one of many in Scripture that teach on our lips and what they reveal about us.  This verse was written by King Solomon, known for his God-given wisdom.  A wise person and a fool are distinguishable from one another by what comes out of their mouths.  The words from a wise person are gracious and win him favor.  But what comes from the lips of a fool destroys him.  He starts out speaking foolishness but as he keeps babbling, his words become wicked madness.

In our image-conscious culture I am often surprised by classy well-dressed people who destroy that perfect picture by what comes out of their mouths.  But I know I can sound the same way.  My words are not always gracious, especially when responding to hurt or injustice.  I can look the fool when I jump to a wrong conclusion and I react instead of thoughtfully responding.  Speaking like a fool comes easy.  It is a much more difficult challenge to speak wise gracious words.  Thankfully, God offers His wisdom when I ask Him (James 1:5) and the control of my tongue through His Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Lord, make my words gracious today!


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The Elephant Seal

elephant-sealScripture for Today: I Corinthians 8:1  “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge.  Knowledge puffs up but love edifies.”

This seal looks as if he has an oblong balloon attached to his face!  He is called an “elephant seal” as his snout can inflate and resemble a trunk.  When putting on a mating display, the male will inflate his nose with lots of air and then compete with other males in a snorting contest!  For some northern species, the trunk can extend as much as a foot.  I am not too sure why snorting attracts the female!

Today’s verse describes a knowledge that can puff us up.  Knowledge can make us arrogant.  Knowledge can make us so prideful that we end up tearing others down.  Usually, knowledge in Scripture is presented in a positive light.  It is often mentioned with wisdom and understanding.  All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Jesus Christ (Col. 2:3).  But this knowledge is one without love.  That kind of knowledge makes us ugly.  Someone who is puffed up with knowledge always has to be right and everyone has to know about it.  The person puffed up with their knowledge makes others feel small and foolish.  It is a poisonous attitude that isolates us.

My own spiritual pride says that this is a real problem in OTHER people!  I never see myself as puffed up.  The following verse says, ” If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know.”  No one has a corner on knowledge except God Himself.  Rather than focusing on how knowledgeable I am, my concern ought to be loving others.  If that is my focus, my size stays the same!

Lord, forgive my pride and make me loving

 


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Forget-Me-Nots

forget-me-notScripture for Today: Psalm 103:2 “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

This sweet blue flower was described by Henry Thoreau as “unpretending” and “modest.”  Their name is said to come from an old German legend where God named all the plants.  But this tiny one cried out, “Forget me not, O Lord!”  So God replied, “That shall be your name.”  They are small being only one centimeter or less in diameter.  King Henry IV used this flower as a symbol during his exile in 1398.   And ladies in medieval times wore this flower as a sign of faithful love.

Today’s verse tells us to “forget not” all His benefits.  This passage goes on to list just a few including forgiveness, healing, redemption, love, compassion and satisfaction.  David is reminding his soul to praise the Lord for what He has done for him and to remember.  David knew of God’s ways with Moses and His miraculous deeds with the people of Israel.  He also experienced God’s grace in his own life.  But like so many of us, his soul was forgetful and needed reminding.

How could I forget these incredible benefits in my own life?  It is really very easy.  I forget His forgiveness when I am plagued with guilt.  I forget His healing when doubt clouds my prayers.  When I feel worthless I forget that He thought enough of me to redeem my soul.  I forget His love when I beat myself up.  When I wonder if He cares what I am going through I am forgetting His compassion.  I forget that only He satisfies the deepest longings of my soul when I look for that satisfaction elsewhere.

Lord, do not let me forget today.


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Walking the Cat!

cat-on-leashScripture for Today: James 3:7-8 “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

When our cat, Tiger was young we were worried about him running away.  We tried putting a leash on him so he could be with us while we worked in the garden.  You can imagine how that worked out!  He was more likely to hang himself on it than be safe in the yard.  But I suppose like Pavlov’s dogs, any animal can be trained to some extent.  There are some cases where cats will consent to the leash but not ours!

Today’s verse talks about the impossibility of taming the tongue.  Unlike animals, there is no taming it.  It is wild and unpredictable.  It is full of evil and poison.  The potential it has to destroy people is sobering.  The fact that it is restless suggests to me that it is very often in motion, almost looking for trouble.  What comes out of the mouth reveals what resides in the heart (Matt. 15:18).  No man can tame the tongue because the root problem is a heart issue.

Too many times I have tried and failed to control my tongue.  Too late I see the look of hurt and disappointment on another’s face.  My regret does not call back those words.  They hang in the air and echo in my memory.  But there is hope with the Creator of that nasty tongue.  God’s Spirit offers His control for the uncontrollable.  He changes the root problem; my heart.  And He gives me the the ability to check my tongue and control that outburst!

Lord, tame my tongue today!