Devotions By Jan

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Cordon Bleu

Scripture for Today: Psalm 108:1 “My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.”

I normally think of Cordon Bleu as crumb-enrobed chicken rolled with Swiss cheese and ham.  But this name is also given to these sweet finches.  The red-cheeked variety is among the most popular exotic finches.  They are native to Africa and our friends living in the Ivory Coast enjoy seeing them in their yard.  A pair will sing to each other and it is thought that this helps with “pair bonding,” developing a strong affinity and a life-long bond.

Today’s verse talks about singing and making music.  This is a love song and it comes from a heart that is steadfast.  It is music that involves all of the soul.  And like the song of the finch, it strengthens a bond, our bond with our Creator.  He is the only One who can discern when music is made with all of our soul.  Because He loves us, He listens intently to our impromptu concert, and we feel His pleasure.  With the singing, our heart becomes even more steadfast as the bond of love grows stronger.

If I do not feel much like singing or making music for this audience of One, it may be that my heart is far from steadfast.  When I am discontented, focused on the negative or unstable from worry and fear, there is no incentive to praise Him.  Thankfully, my heart becomes steadfast again after spending time in His Word.  He reminds me of His love and strengthens my faith.  His Word, full of reassurance and promise, is His love song to me.  It is only then that music returns to my soul and can be directed back to Him!

Lord, keep me singing today!

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Blind as a Bat

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:7 “For we live by faith, not by sight.”

It certainly does not seem as if these Mexican free-tailed bats are blind.  Although pitch dark, they seem to know exactly where they are going.  They are not bumping in to each other or the walls of Bracken Cave, their summer home in Mexico.  Theirs is the world’s largest bat colony housing more than 15 million.  It is actually a myth that bats are blind, although some species prefer relying on echolocation rather than their sight.

Today’s verse states that a believer will not rely only on his sight to navigate this life.  The one who places their confidence in his Creator has the advantage of faith or “spiritual sight” to guide him.  It may sometimes seem like a “blind faith” as we cannot understand the work of God completely (Eccl. 11:5).  We do not see the path of the wind or how the body is formed in the mother’s womb.  There is so much we do not understand.  But we trust our Heavenly Father without knowing all the details.

What is reassuring about our faith is that it is not really blind at all.  We know the One in whom we place our trust and that makes all the difference!  When I cannot understand what He is doing, I can still trust that He will be true to His character; loving, good, faithful and true.  I can trust that He will be true to His Word.  He is never random or capricious. My faith is not blind as it is placed in the One who sees all.  I can even, like Corrie Ten Boon, “trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Thank you Lord, that my faith in You is never blind.


Walls Closing In

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:5  “When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; He brought me into a spacious place.”

It feels as if the walls are closing in.  I love my house but lately, it has been feeling smaller and smaller.  With stay-at-home expectations and social distancing, there is a deep longing for not only connection but for wide open places and big sky.  This must be a little bit like what the claustrophobic feels.

In today’s verse it was not so much walls closing in but enemies.  This psalm is full of praise for deliverance as God has proven Himself faithful yet again.  Enemies have been vanquished and the people are celebrating!  The king had cried out in distress because of the enemies’ attacks and the Lord answered and put him in a wide open place.  No longer does he feel surrounded and closed in by the enemy (verse 10-11).  The Lord becomes his strength, his song and his salvation (verse 14).

I may not have the distress of enemies attacking, but I do feel surrounded on all sides by different pressures.  There is fear of the unknown.  The distress of finances, health issues, coming changes or family issues can all feel like walls  closing in on me.  If I allow my imagination to join in I can easily slip into a state of panic!  The only and best thing to do is to cry out to the Lord.  He is there to be my strength, my song and my salvation.  In His lovingkindness, He pushes back the walls.  He leads me to wide open places where there are green pastures and quiet waters. (Psalm 23:2)  I no longer feel confined when he restores my soul!

Lord, help me to stay in that wide open place of trusting You.

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Cape of Good Hope

Scripture for Today: II Thessalonians 2:16-17 “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

This rocky promontory is one of the southernmost points of the African continent.  It was discovered in 1488 by navigator, Bartolomeu Dias.  He originally named it Cape of Storms as it is often pounded by high waves and stiff winds.  But because of the excitement over finding a sea route from Europe to India, it was renamed Cape of Good Hope.

There is good hope in today’s verse along with eternal encouragement.  This is a hope that is good because of its source.  Our hope is a good hope as it comes from a good God.  The Lord declares Himself good to those whose hope is in Him (Lam. 3:25).  This hope is good as it does not shame or disappoint (Rom. 5:5).  Unlike flimsy hope, this is a sure conviction of what is to come based on His loving character and His Word.  Hope in Him encourages our hearts and strengthens our resolve to continue serving Him.

No other hope is as sure as this one.  Hoping in a change of circumstances is not a good hope.  It may not happen as I envisioned.  Hoping that somehow this pandemic could end today is not a good hope.  It may not be realistic.  I do not want my hopes to be disappointed or dashed.  But that does not mean I do not hope at all!  My unshakeable sure hope is good when firmly anchored to Him!  He will never let me down as He is love.  His Word is true and my future is secure in His loving hands.

Thank you Lord, for this good hope.


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The Blue Jay

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”

This clever scrub blue jay is carefully looking left and right before hiding away his treasured peanuts.  His behavior is called “caching” rather than “hoarding,” a term used for rodents.  Caching is normally more short term and seasonal.  And though he lives in a family group, he will not share.  He selfishly hides the food and retrieves it in secret!  There are no posted store signs to discourage this behavior and there is no one to see an overloaded shopping cart!

Today’s verse reassures the believer that not only is the Lord aware of shortages, but He promises to meet our basic needs.  There is never a question that God will not have enough.  Riches in Christ Jesus are infinite and not subject to the variance of supply and demand.  Paul says he is “amply supplied’ and that he even has more than enough (verse 18) thanks to their gifts.  He then assures them that because of their sharing, God will see to it that they do not lack for anything needed.

When I see shortages at the stores during this unusual time of pandemic, there is the temptation to “squirrel away” much more than I need.  To some extent, stockpiling can be a reasonable response.  But when it becomes hoarding or caching is when I have no intention of sharing with others.  I know the Lord does not honor that kind of selfish spirit.  Panic-induced hoarding can signal in me a lack of trust in my Heavenly Father.  He does not ask me to put toilet paper first, but His Kingdom (Matt. 6:33).  And when I do He takes care of all the rest.

Thank you Lord, that You meet all my needs.