Devotions By Jan


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Cranberry Bog

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 44:3 “For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants.”

It about took my breath away!  We were driving the back roads near Plymouth, MA when we rounded the corner and saw a shimmering field of red!  The cranberry bog was being flooded with water and the brilliant October sun was hitting it just right.  The farmers flood the area with up to eighteen inches of water to free the cranberries from the vine.  Then because of the small pocket of air contained in the cranberries, they float to the surface, ready to be harvested.

Water is of course essential to growing most anything but with “wet harvesting” it also plays an important role in getting access to the fruit.  Today’s verse pictures God’s Spirit like that water so important to fruit production.  Without His work we remain a thirsty land.  Without His blessing we continue life as dry ground.  But oh how it all changes when the Holy Spirit moves and works in people’s hearts.

When I try producing fruit and good works in my own strength, I am using thirsty land and dry ground.  I need the Holy Spirit to flood my efforts with His life-producing water and power.  I can do nothing in my own strength.  It is not how busy I am doing things for others.  It is not how many Bible verses I know.  It is allowing Him to work through me as I depend on Him.  It is getting my ego out of the way and being about His glory.

Lord, please pour out today the blessing of Your Spirit.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Dangling Thread

Scripture for Today: Psalm 69:5 “You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from You.”

My Mother tried in vain to interest me in sewing.  Somehow, it never took.  But at least I know not to pull or cut a dangling thread!  I thought about her as I carefully poked with my needle that offending loose thread through the backside of the material to hide it.  Had I cut it, a hole would have appeared spoiling the look.  And if I had pulled that dangling thread, it would have bunched up the material.  Now, no one would know about the thread, hidden out of sight.  Who looks at the back side anyway!

Today’s verse tells us who looks behind and underneath, seeing everything we are trying to hide.  Nothing is hidden from God.  He sees it all.  The mistakes, the folly and the guilt are all visible to Him.  We are quite adept at presenting a correct image to others.  No one would imagine all those loose hanging threads with being so put together.  We can recite verses.  We can speak the Christian lingo.  We can say the most beautiful prayers.  But underneath, it’s a different story.

He knows when I seethe inside from anger.  He sees when I look at others with a critical spirit.  He knows my ugly selfish thoughts.  Sometimes, I hide it all so well that I myself am not even aware.  That is why the heart is described as “deceitful” above all things (Jer. 17:9).  But what I hide from others and from myself is not hidden from Him.  In His grace and love He waits for me to come clean.  Then, with His forgiveness I truly am clean!

Thank you Lord, that You are faithful and just to forgive it all!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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The Woodpecker

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 10:12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”

I had never seen a woodpecker until living in France.  There was one who frequently visited our yard and with his red markings he was easy to spot.  There was one fruit tree that he especially liked to peck for insects.  I was always happy to see him, not realizing what he was doing to that tree.  One night we had an huge windstorm and with an impressive crack, that tree came down, snapping at exactly the very place that woodpecker had been working!  I feel differently about woodpeckers now.  I missed that mirabelle plum tree!

Today’s verse is a loving warning.  After describing the failures of the Israelites in the wilderness, Paul cautions that falling is a real possibility.  We can think that we are standing firm while at the same time being slowly weakened by compromise.  Like the small attacks by the beak of  a woodpecker, our resolve can slowly erode leaving us vulnerable.  A strong wind of temptation can come along and knock us flat.  We fall to the ground and we no longer bear fruit.

No one wakes up in the morning and decides to give in to temptation.  Being drawn away from Him is usually a slow sneaky process.  And it can come from something normally beautiful or agreeable.  The next verse is such a comforting promise.  God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can bear.  He provides a way out.  I have a choice.  That enticement to sin is never so strong that with His help I cannot resist!

Don’t let me fall, Lord.  Keep me firmly standing and bearing fruit.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

 


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Vintage Label Maker

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 43:1 “But now, this is what the Lord says — He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel; ‘Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.'”

I did not realize our label maker was vintage!  It does look strange but it gets the job done, marking items with our name.  We do it because we have the silly optimism that those same items when loaned to others will have a better chance of making it back to our home!  We do not try to label everything with our name, just the little treasures we would like to have returned to us.

Today’s verse reassures us that the Lord knows us intimately.  He has called us by name and we as believers belong to Him.  This verse refers specifically to the nation of Israel but it is true of all those who are His own.  He is our Shepherd and calls His own sheep by name (John 10:3).  He not only formed and created each one of us, but He has bought us back at a tremendous price to Himself! (I Cor. 6:20)  He thought us valuable enough to call us by name, redeem our lives and mark us as His very own forever! (Rev. 3:12)

Because of His intimate knowledge and love for me, I do not have any reason to fear.  If God is for me, who can be against me? (Rom. 8:31)  Plenty of people I suppose but they will not get far.  I belong to the Creator of the universe and nothing and no one can separate me from His love! (Rom. 8:35-39)  No one will ever touch my soul.  He has labeled me as His very own!

Thank you Lord, that You know my name and make me Yours!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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House vs. Home

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:8 “We are of good courage, I say. and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

I have lived in a variety of houses on both sides of the ocean.  Not all of them have really felt like “home.”  The essential element was not the window flower boxes, a fire in the hearth or baking smells wafting from the kitchen.  For me the word denotes a feeling of permanence, being settled and enjoying warm loving family relationships.  Being that we were many times on the move, my husband would often tell me that “home” is where I am.

Today’s verse tells us where our true home is.  We are at home when we are in the presence of the Lord.  One day that will happen literally as He has thoughtfully and lovingly prepared a place for us (John 14:2).  What will make this place home will not be the size of the mansion or its appointments.  It will be the fact they we will be forever with Him.  There will be no interruption to this warm loving relationship.  It will be permanent and we will feel settled.

No matter how wonderful some of my houses have been, none of them have given me a feeling of satisfaction.  There is always a nagging sense of being unsettled.  Sure, it is nice to come back after time away.  But that feeling of coming home quickly wears off.  I know for a fact that I am not home yet.  When I finally feel at home will be when I enter my eternal home!  But for now, I can enjoy a small taste of home when I sense His presence.

Lord, You are my home.  Help me find contentment in You.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Doggie Discipline

Scripture for Today: Titus 2:12 “It (grace) teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,”

This dog understands the word, “No!”  I am amazed at his self-control sitting there with that piece of meat on his nose.  I wonder how long that lasted?  With smelling it, seeing it, and imagining that first bite, the dog must be trembling with the effort to refrain from gobbling it up in a moment!  I do not think the owner was too far away as the tension mounted.

Today’s verse is surprising.  The grace that normally comes to mind is the grace that offers salvation, that amazing unmerited and undeserved favor from God. (verse 11)  But this grace is a grace that teaches.  This grace allows the believer to live a godly life that pleases the Lord.  And like saving grace, it is completely unmerited.  We do not earn the ability to live a self-controlled life.  It is a gift that is part of the evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5:23).  We cannot take credit for staying away from sin.  We cannot take credit for our obedience to God.  It is all grace.

I am so thankful for the gift of self-control without which my life would be a mess.  His Spirit enables me to say “No” to temptation.  His Spirit gives me the power to turn my back on ungodly desires and choose obedience.  And despite the occasional slip, He has changed my heart to want what is right.  My highest desire is to honor Him with my choices.  And it is with His help that I can achieve that desire even just a little.

Thank you Lord, that Your self-control is another evidence of Your grace!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Bumper Bowling

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 2:7-8 “He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.”

Maybe I would feel differently about bowling had I grown up using these bumpers.  Imagine no more gutter balls!  But I did not have this luxury and I was on my  own trying to get that blasted ball to reach any of those bored pins.  It was not as if my Dad did not try to teach me.  He was in a bowling league at his work and had his own ball.  He and his team won trophies, but of course no serious bowler would consent to using these bumpers.  But I love the idea of having that little edge to correct the course of my wayward ball.

Today’s verse is beautiful!  The Lord God wants us to succeed but true success is only found in a relationship that follows His course.  None of His commands are arbitrary.  They exist for our good and for our protection.  Through His Word He speaks and guides.  When we obey and follow His perfect way, we enjoy the blessing of intimacy with Him.

I look at those bumpers as His grace to forgive, correct and restore.  Even with the best of intentions I fail.  I am “prone to wander” off His path.  But because I belong to Him, He does not let this silly sheep stray too far.  Sometimes that corrective bump can be a bit of a shock and not at all comfortable.  But it is just what is needed to get me back on course.

Lord, I want to always be one of Your faithful ones.  Keep me on that path of righteousness today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)