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.


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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.


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HAZMAT Suit?

Scripture for Today: I Peter 1:4b-5 “This inheritance is kept in Heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last times.”

This yellow protective suit makes me smile, especially as the wearer has seemingly incorporated it into his daily routine!  But this “HAZMAT suit wanna-be” looks less scary than the real thing.  The hazard materials suit is meant to shield against chemical, nuclear and biological agents as well as fire and high temperatures.  The suit can only be worn up to two hours as it is hot and poorly ventilated.

Today’s verse tells us that the believer is shielded at all times by God’s power.  Our faith is that shield, the same piece of armor that protects us from our enemy, Satan (Eph. 6:16).  God’s power insures that the inheritance of our future salvation is kept safe and secure in Heaven.  Nothing can touch it.  No chemical, nuclear or biological agent is greater than His power.  But this does not mean that we will not “suffer grief and all kinds of trials.” (verse 6)  What it does mean is that there is a future and a hope.

There is lots of uncertainty in our covid-conscious world right now.  We are all wondering what measures are needed to protect ourselves and for how long.  It is sobering to see how quickly the world can change and how powerless we can feel.  But the one thing I am sure of is God’s power to protect, to guard and to save.  His plans for me are never frustrated.  Even though I may be touched by suffering and trial, He has secured for me an untouchable inheritance that is eternal.

Lord, I am so thankful for Your power to save!


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A Blue Door

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with Me.”

There are not too many people knocking on our door during these days of self-isolation.  But according to the design experts I may have the wrong colored door!  Each color communicates something different.  Red shouts welcome. Purple signals privilege.  Yellow says positivity while green says ambition.  Orange is called for if one wants to communicate  warmth and wisdom.  A blue door represents trust, loyalty and stability.

Regardless of the color, today’s verse tells us there is Someone who stands at the door and knocks.  These words are an invitation from the Lord to open the door to Him.  His message is full of warmth and makes clear His desire for relationship.  What better way to become close than to share a meal around the table!  He awaits our arrival at the door.  He does not come in until we hear His voice and open that door.  We open it to show our same desire for relationship.

I am sure His knock and His voice are loud enough to hear.  But I can see how I might miss it.  The distractions of life can drown out the sound.  My busy schedule keeps me from hearing His voice.  That knock of His becomes just one more noise in the general din of busyness.  Sometimes it is hard to really believe that He wants to dine with me!  But what a warm intimate thought!  I do not want to miss out for any reason.  He is waiting for me on my doorstep.

Lord, may I listen for your knock and open the door today!