Devotions By Jan


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Orb Weaver

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 3:18 “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise.”

There is no tangled web here with the orb weaver although there is a goal to deceive  This docile spider meticulously weaves his web in a perfectly shaped orb.  As much as I dislike any kind of spider, I can appreciate them taking care of those pesky insects.  What is so surprising is the larger ones will actually manage to deceive and ensnare the occasional frog or hummingbird!

Today’s verse is a loving warning not to be deceived.  There is an accepted and valued standard of wisdom in our world which differs from godly wisdom.  Worldly wisdom, which does not include the fear of God, can lull one into a false sense of security and directly into a web of deception.  It is only in becoming “fools” in the world’s eyes that we can know Christ who is called, “the power and wisdom of God.” (I Cor. 1:24)  No one can boast of wisdom without God, who “makes foolish the wisdom of the world.” (I Cor. 18:20)

The wisdom of God is not found by my own study.  It is not found by how many Bible verses I can recite.  Wisdom cannot be found “in the land of the living.” (Job 28:13)  True wisdom starts by the fear and obedience of its Source, God Himself.  Knowing Him, loving Him and obeying Him makes me wise.  Any other source is suspect.  When I turn to Him in making a decision, that is wise.  When I submit my will to His, that is wise.  When I choose His Word as the foundation for my life, that is wise!

Lord, do not let me be deceived.

 

 


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Maine Lobster

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:17  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”

Does this Maine lobster have a new shell or an old shell?Apparently, there is quite a difference in the taste.  The lobster will moult and shed their shells to reveal a larger one underneath.  If you happen to eat one with a new shell, it will be sweeter and more flavorful than an old-shelled lobster.  As a lobster grows into their newly formed shell, there is a gap between the meat and the shell.  This gap is filled with seawater allowing it to marinate the meat.  The result is the sweetest and most tender meat!

Today’s verse teaches that the old can be changed into the new.  Such a profound and lasting change can only happen through the work of God’s Spirit.  The old way of thinking and behaving changes when one is “in Christ.”  A new desire to live for Him changes priorities and one’s direction.  In Christ there is power to change through His Spirit.  No longer is one stuck in a pattern of thinking and feeling.  Where once there was a resistant heart of stone, with forgiveness there is now a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

Despite all the books on self help out there, change on the inside cannot be addressed except by our Creator.  This is a monumental change from spiritual death to life!  Being spiritually dead means there was nothing I could do for myself.  All this is from God. (verse 18)  Being made new was the only way God could reconcile me to Himself through His Son.  And by being made new in Christ, I can change to sweet and tender!

Thank you Lord, that You make me new.


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Caving

Scripture for Today: Lamentations 3:57 “You came near when I called You and You said. ‘Do not fear.'”

I cannot imagine doing what this man is doing!  Exploring underground caves and caverns is called “caving,” “spelunking,” or “potholing,” and is not for the claustrophobic!  The caves with shaft entrances as pit caves or vertical caves would especially be missing from my bucket list!  But the draw is strong for those who love exploring what is off the map and true wilderness.  To walk into the fear, the dark and the unknown can be a rush when done on one’s own terms.

Today’s verse comes from someone who finds himself in a pit (verse 55) and the prophet Jeremiah is not there on his own terms.  He is put there by his enemies.  There is no special equipment or preparedness to insure his safety.  He calls in desperation on the name of the Lord and God heard his plea for relief.  Then comes today’s verse.  God came near.  God’s presence was the answer to Jeremiah’s fear.  His circumstances had not changed but the Lord reassures Jeremiah that HE will take up his case. (verse 58)

There are many reasons I can find myself in a pit.  Times are dark when feeling outnumbered by those who mock the Name I love.  I can feel vulnerable to subtle attack, knowing that I am in the minority.  The darkness becomes especially thick when I doubt that God knows and cares.  Fear can be a constant companion when leaving God out.  But with assurance of His presence, both the darkness and the fear flee.  He answers my cries.  He responds to my pleas for help and takes up my case.  Wickedness may surround me but will never overwhelm as He will right every wrong and bring final justice!

Thank you Lord, for calming every fear.


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Sad Sunflowers

Scripture for Today: Psalm 42:5 “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put you hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

I usually think of sunflowers as happy flowers, probably because of their bright large blossoms being a sunny yellow.  It is commonly thought that this flower turns its head to follow the sun.  But obviously, these sunflowers are looking down and all they see is the ground.  Being that this photo was taken while skies were darkened with smoke from the Oregon fires, it is understandable that their heads just look down.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm called a “Maskil of David.”  A maskil is translated as enlightened or wise.  David is imparting something that is especially wise in the face of discouragement and depression.  He addresses his soul which he recognizes is disturbed.  Regardless of his difficult circumstances, David chooses to turn his gaze to the Lord.  Rather than focusing on his problems or giving in to despair, the psalmist reminds himself of the hope he has in God.  Because of that hope, he could look forward to a future where praise for God would come again to his lips.

I have that choice as well.  I can be “downcast” and look at the ground, seeing only what is depressingly negative, or I can lift my gaze to the only One who can lift my soul.  Placing my hope in God changes everything.  His love and faithfulness need to be squarely in my view.  Remembering His promises and His loving control gives me that hope.  This focus keeps me praising Him, not because of my circumstances but despite them!  And I know that one day, circumstances will change and my praise will continue into eternity!

Thank you Lord, for lifting my soul!


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The Fearless Harpy

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 22:4 “Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.”

This eagle knows no fear.  And there is good reason.  The Harpy is among the largest and most powerful eagles with rear talons as big as a grizzly bear’s claws.  Its legs are as thick as a person’s arm and its wing span can reach up to six and a half feet.  It has no natural predators, yet is on the decline due to its lack of fear.  The Harpy will sit on a perch and let humans approach and in consequence is shot.

Today’s verse points out the blessings of fearing the Lord.  They are riches, honor and life itself.  But the fear of the Lord does not happen without humility.  Fearing the Lord is understanding just how big He is and just how small we are.  Fearing Him is having a healthy respect for His power over our lives.  Fearing Him is giving Him the awe and recognition He deserves.  This attitude is lacking in the one who thinks too much of himself and his own prowess.  Pride in our own strength or talent to the exclusion of the Giver of those gifts will rob us of the riches, honor and life with which He wants to bless us.

My perspective often needs changing.  I can start to feel capable, strong and in control with no thought of Him.  Fearing Him is an act of humility and involves seeing myself as  dependent on Him.  I need to be reminded through His Word of just how incredible He is!  My fear of Him intensifies my worship and He is gracious to respond with blessing!  My life is richer for fearing Him for the awesome God He is!

Lord, keep me humble and fearing You.