Devotions By Jan

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Pumpkin Season

Scripture for Today: II Timothy 4:2 “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”

With availability all year round for some produce, the concept of “in season” or “out of season” can sometimes no longer apply!  But for the pumpkin, there is no question of when it is in season!  I see the fields off the freeway dotted with orange and they have invaded the grocery stores.  In fact, in warm Southern California, it is about the only indication that autumn has arrived!

Today’s verse talks about something that is not to change regardless of the seasons, and that is sharing the truth of God’s Word.  It is always timely and speaks to every season, every year and every century!  There is an urgency to this command as there will come a time when people will not put up with biblical truth. (verse 3)  Paul encourages young Timothy not to wait for some other time that seems more favorable.  The time is now to correct and rebuke with truth while they will still listen.  Hearing the truth of God’s Word will encourage the hearer when done with patience and careful instruction.

Because people are not so open to hearing God’s truth, I tend to forget to be prepared for those small windows of opportunity to share when they will still listen.  God continues to draw people to Himself, even in the middle of an increasingly hostile-to-the-Gospel culture.  It is “not easy and pleasant to hear” about one’s need (verse 3)  And more often than not, those around me may turn their ears away from the truth. (verse 4) But the Lord only asks me to be faithful to share the truth of His incredible forgiveness.

Help me Lord, to be prepared and available.




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Elephant Ear Plant

Scripture for Today: Psalms 85:8  “I will listen to what God the Lord says; He promises peace to His people, His faithful servants –  but let them not turn to folly.”

The reason for the name of this plant is obvious.  The size and shape of this plant’s leaves resemble the ear of the elephant.  In fact, this invasive plant can overshadow the surrounding flowering plants with its big leaves, blocking their sunlight.  The leaves of the Elephant Ear can grow three feet long and two feet wide, or more!  If their ears could actually hear, I wonder if they would hear their gardener grumbling about their size and tendency to take over the garden!

I wish my spiritual ears were as big as this plant so as not to miss God’s voice!  In today’s verse God’s voice promises peace to His faithful servants.  It begins with the psalmist’s statement of intention, “I will.”  There are a myriad of sounds out there clamoring to be heard.  But listening to the Lord through His Word takes intentional effort and discipline.  And listening to Him keeps us from folly or doing anything foolish.

He speaks peace to those that belong to Him.  What a promise!  So many times I have come to Him in prayer totally agitated and stressed.  He calms me down and listening intently I hear reminders of His love and control in my circumstances.  I get in that troubled state usually because I have not been listening to Him in the first place!  If I am honest with myself, I realize I am quite capable of doing all kinds of foolish things with impeccable rationale!  Listening to Him daily through His Word is the best way to avoid my own folly.  And I need the peace and calm He offers.

Lord, keep me peaceful by listening to You!



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Occupied Octopus

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 86:11 “Teach me Your way Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name.”

The octopus, delicacy as it is to some, disgusts and fascinates me!  If ever there was a creature with many parts, this one wins!  He has three separate hearts and obviously has his eight arms.  What is really fascinating is that their arms have a mind of their own!  Two thirds of their neurons reside in their arms and not in their heads!  That means the arms can be solving a problem, like how to open a shellfish, while their owner is busy doing something else, perhaps scoping out a cave.  Talk about multi-tasking!

In today’s verse David prays for a heart that is undivided.  He wants to be wholly committed to the Lord but like so many of us, our lives can tend to be compartmentalized.  But God does not want just some of our attention. He wants all of it!  We are to love Him with ALL our heart, soul, and strength (Deut. 6:5).  And when our hearts are completely His, there is focus that unifies all of life’s activities!  When we are wholly committed to Him, we are teachable and able to follow all His ways in reverent obedience.

I tend to think that some of my activities are spiritual and some are not.  But when all is done with the intent of honoring Him, there is no separation.  Life does not need to be fragmented.  Each and every activity is given value and focus when my heart is fixed on Him.  With an undivided heart, I can rely on His faithfulness regardless of how much is going on at once!

Lord, despite all the busyness, keep my heart wholly yours.


The Roadrunner

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 20:24 “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?”

The roadrunner is in the cuckoo family but he doesn’t say, “cuckoo” or “beep beep.”  This long-legged bird is built for speed and can even outrun humans!  The roadrunner is believed to have special powers to make the listener feel tired when hearing his call!  Some Indian tribes believe he can protect against evil spirits.  Their distinctive “X” tracks supposedly confuse the spirits as to which direction they are taking!  I wonder if the roadrunner is himself confused when seeing his own tracks?

Today’s verse acknowledges that the Lord directs the steps of those who belong to Him.  But often, the one directed has no idea of His direction!  The question expresses what is often felt:  How can anyone understand their own way?  It often is puzzling.  We do not have the same vantage point and we can never understand it all.  We are told in any case not to lean on our own understanding but to acknowledge Him so that He can direct us (Prov. 3:5-6).

Because I cannot see what lies ahead, I need to trust the One who is already there and knows the way.  If I were to wait until I understood the reasons behind every directive, I would be at a standstill and make no progress!  But I can be confident of my direction even without full understanding.  That is because I trust Him.  His eyes are always on me and the twists and turns are not random.  He has a loving purpose for me in every change of course.  And His direction is always towards a more loving relationship with Himself!

Lord, help me to trust You completely!

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Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 9:24 “but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have understanding to know Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”

The blowfish looks pretty comical when puffed up.  In fact one of his names is “pufferfish.”  This unusual fish has a very elastic stomach, able to quickly ingest huge amounts of water and air.  In doing so they become several times their normal size and so avoid becoming someone’s next meal.  When puffed up, their spines make them look like a pointy ball.  This fish gives new meaning to the idea of being puffed up and full of one’s self.

Today’s verse describes a different kind of boasting that does not puff us up or make us disagreeable.  Boasting that draws attention to the Lord, to His kindness, justice and righteousness is the best kind of boasting!  The Lord is honored and glorified when we extol His beautiful attributes to others.  Even the small understanding we have of His character is something that He reveals to us from His Word.  He is the One who gives understanding. (Prov. 2:6)

It is in God and not in myself that I am to make my boast all day long. (Psalm 44:8)  This is my way to exalt and praise Him.  When I see His many kindnesses to me, none of which I deserve, then I want to tell others!  Look what He did for me today!  Do you see how He righted that wrong?  I am in awe of His purity and justice and they motivate me not to compromise.  All the praise for anything that is good and positive in my life goes to Him!

Thank you Lord, that I can boast in You!