Devotions By Jan


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“Great Rock”

Scripture for Today:  Isaiah 28:16 “So this is what the Sovereign Lord says; ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.”

This strange structure sits on an even stranger landscape; Burren, on the west coast of Ireland.  The name, Burren, means “great rock.”  Dry limestone rock covers this flat barren area making it resemble a moonscape.  This structure is called Poulnabrone, a portal tomb that has stood the test of time.  Originally covered with soil, it served as a collective burial site as well as a territorial marker.  All that remains today is its “stone skeleton.”

Today’s verse describes the only true and firm foundation.  The people were deluding themselves thinking that they could mock God’s words, live how they pleased and not be touched by calamity.  They were taking refuge in lies and falsehoods (verse 15&17).  They relied on themselves and their own righteousness and justice rather the foundation of God’s truth.  The “stone” we are to build our lives on is a tested precious cornerstone.  That Cornerstone is Jesus Christ (Eph.2:20) and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame (I Peter 2:6).

My whole life is like a building that is based on the Rock.  Jesus is not just an afterthought but the cornerstone from which everything else is fitted.  He is my point of reference for all truth.  Relying on my own rationale or reasoning is like building on sand (Matt. 7:24-27).  When the storms of life whirl around me, I want to be remain stable.  I will not panic at whatever life throws at me because I am founded on His unshakeable and eternal truth.

Lord, keep me stable today.

 

 

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The North Star

Scripture for Today:  Exodus 15:13 “In Your unfailing love You will lead the people You have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling.”

For centuries the North Star, or Polaris, has been helping travelers get their bearings.  Whether traversing a dry uncharted desert or sailing through waters without a horizon in sight, the North Star has kept travelers from losing themselves.  Because it is located nearly at the north celestial pole, it marks the way due north.  It is bright but only the 50th brightest star above us.  The North Star is famous for holding nearly still while the entire northern sky turns around it.

Today’s verse reminds us of the fact that the God of this universe is willing to lead and guide His people.  He shows us the way because of His amazing unfailing love.  He uses His incredible strength to lift us up out of the deep slimy pit of mud and mire and to set our feet back on firm solid ground (Psalm 40:2).  His love for us never falters, even when we ignore His leading and fall away.  We may step out of His will but we never step out of His care.  His correction and instruction light the way back to His presence (Prov. 6:23).

What a precious thought that He cares enough to see every wayward step.  He does not want me to go through life unclear and confused about my direction.  He has redeemed me and I am HIs.  His love will never fail me, even when I am not looking up for His direction.  In my pride I may think I have it all together when in fact I may be inadvertently putting distance between us.  His guidance keeps me warm and close.

Lord, keep me looking to You for each step.


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Honeycomb

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 16:24 “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

The honeycomb is honey in its purest form.  Those chunks of comb are wonderfully chewy and sweet.  Cutting off a chunk and smearing it over baked goods is always a good idea.  The lighter the color of the comb the sweeter it is.  The darker colored comb has an earthier flavor.  The problem of course, is getting past those pesky bees to get to their sweet work.  Their perfectly joined hexagons are so painstakingly constructed.  Bees for good reason have been called, “heaven-instructed mathematicians.”

Today’s verse likens gracious words to the sweetness of the honeycomb.  Gracious words are words that touch the soul of a person and bring healing where there is hurt.  They are spoken with the intent of building up the other person.  In a world where so many use words to criticize, demean and gain power, the gracious word is about reaffirming someone’s worth.  Our conversation is to always be full of grace, just like a seasoning (Col. 4:6).  We are told to avoid unwholesome talk and say only what is helpful and encouraging (Eph. 4:29).

Words like that are all too rare.  But one place I always find words that are sweet is in God’s love letter to me (Psalm 19:10)  His words are sweet because they tell me I am important to Him.  His words touch my soul and heal those damaged secret places inside.  And He wants my speech to be just as gracious to those around me.  Encouraging words have made such a difference for me.  Why do I hesitate?  It costs me nothing to be gracious but makes my words so much more valuable.

Lord, I need Your help today to make my words sweet and gracious.


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Fear of Holes

Scripture for Today: Haggai 1:6 “You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put clothes on, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

These lotus seed pods do not mean to be frightening.  But for those who suffer from “trypophobia” or a fear of holes, the sight of them can trigger all kinds of symptoms including: discomfort, goosebumps, eye strain, distress, crawling skin, panic attacks, sweats, nausea, and body shakes.  This is not a phobia that is officially recognized.  But as with other phobias, the preferred treatment is exposure therapy in an attempt to change one’s response.

There was a response that needed changing in today’s verse.  The  returned exiles were to rebuild their temple.  But instead of making this a priority, they concentrated on building up their own homes.  Somehow, the time was never right to work on God’s house (verse 2).  There was always something more to do for themselves.  The prophet, Haggai, spoke to them God’s word; “Give careful thought to your ways.”  Because of their selfish living, they were not experiencing God’s blessing!  They could never have their fill.  There were holes in their purses.

I can fall into this same way of thinking.  How easy it is to put myself and my own comfort and convenience first!  But when I do, that elusive contentment with what I have is no where to be found!  “Holes in my purse” drain away any sense of fulfillment.  The Lord calls me to put Him first (Matt. 6:33).  Living for Him brings such blessing that everything He gives me can be enough.  I want Him and His incredible love to be my “enough.”

Lord, help me to put You first today.


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The Boysenberry

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 1:10  “I appeal to you brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

The Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm is in full swing.  This delicious berry is celebrated with 75 one-of-a-kind boysenberry inspired dishes and drinks.  Walter Knott was gifted six hybrid plants developed by Rudolph Boysen in the 1920’s.  Boysen  created this berry by crossing the European raspberry and blackberry with the American dewberry and loganberry.  The result is a wonderful sweet and tangy flavor and is great for canning, cobblers and pies.

Today’s verse admonishes believers to get along with one another.  There were reports of quarrels in the church in Corinth damaging their reputation or “fruit.”  The local church brings together such a diversity of people that there are bound to be differences of opinion.  Even though different varieties are thrown together there is to be fruit from our unity and cooperation.  Of course there are differences in our politics, education, preferences and backgrounds but they are not to divide us.

When believers can actually work together, we enjoy a wonderful yield.  The world sits up and takes notice when we can show respect and love to one another (John 17:23).  We live up to being associated with the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!  Standing close and united, our differences make our fruit beautiful and delicious!  I can be perfectly united with others so much different than myself when I consider His name as more important than my own!

Lord, regardless of our differences, keep me one with other believers for Your name’s sake!


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Caribou

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 11:13 “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”

Caribou seem to always be on the move.  They are called the “Nomads of the North” for good reason.  The caribou lay claim to the longest terrestrial migration on the planet!  Some of these beautiful animals, also called reindeer, travel up to 2,737 miles per year!  Different factors affect the timing of their movements but the migrations in general follow the seasons.  Perhaps the reason the caribou have survived tough conditions for so many thousands of years is the fact that they keep moving.

Today’s verse is in a chapter that lists the great men and women of faith.  What is true of all of them is that they were looking for a country of their own.  They were not comfortable where they were.  In a sense they were nomads.  Rather than becoming too comfortable where they were, they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God (verse 16).

As believers our citizenship is in Heaven (Phil.3:20) and we are not to feel too comfortable in whatever country we live.  I am not home yet.  But there are times when I am so steeped in this world and its values that I forget that this is not my home.  As much as I want to live comfortably here, I can become too complacent and forget to have that eternal perspective.  By living like a stranger or foreigner here, I can keep my eyes on my forever home!

Lord, keep me looking forward to my true home.


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Meteor Sighting

Scripture for Today: Psalm 43:3 “Send me Your light and Your faithful care, let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell.”

Our friends in Tallahassee were treated to an incredible sight a few days ago.  A meteor crashed through earth’s atmosphere lighting up the sky.  The five seconds it took to streak across the night turned the whole area into daylight.  One witness said it was if someone had turned on stadium lights!  This chunk of space rock is called a “meteoroid” when floating in space.  But as soon as it hits earth’s atmosphere it is called a “meteor.”  And should it strike the surface it becomes a “meteorite.”  In any case, the light it generates is impressive!

Today’s verse is a prayer for light.  We need His light to guide us back to the altar, back to His presence.  When we wander away it is easy to lose the way back to Him.  Our souls become downcast and disturbed (verse 5).  Without His light, everything seems somber, confusing, and even despairing.  Disquieting thoughts and doubts keep us feeling alienated.  But His light and His care brings us back into His comforting presence.  It is at His altar that we find what we need.  He is our joy and delight (verse 4).

How quickly it can get dark!  But it does not have to stay that way.  I have but to move back to His light-giving presence.  His Word is that light to my feet, leading me back to Him (Psalm 119:105).  Knowing Him better and better allows that light to grow inside (II Cor. 4:6).  And with that light comes confidence and courage.  Hope is reborn in His light!  Darkness will not win.

Thank you Lord, that Your light brings me back to You!