Devotions By Jan


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The Gecko

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 13:4 “It is the Lord your God you must follow, and Him you must revere. Keep His commandments and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him.”

Meet our uninvited house guest!  He and all his friends even faithfully attended our small church in Taiwan one summer long ago! I didn’t mind the geckos as they ate all those nasty mosquitos and spiders.  And I will admit they were a welcomed entertainment during sermons in Taiwanese that I did not understand.  Their ability to scamper up walls and dart upside down across the ceilings had me worried, but holding on never seemed to be a problem!

Today’s verse tells us to hold fast to the Lord our God.  We hold fast to Him by refusing to follow any other god.  It is through revering Him, obeying Him and serving Him that we hold firmly to our faith.  Regardless of what the world around us does, we are to stay true to Him.  This charge was repeated by Joshua as his farewell message (Joshua 23:8).  He knew the people would feel the pressure from surrounding nations to worship false gods.  And he knew that the people would experience blessing and not discipline if they would hold fast to God.

Holding fast to God is a challenge in any century.  Resisting the surrounding culture takes firm resolve.  Those false gods of money, recognition, or influence can be enticing.  But when I am occupied with obeying His Word and serving Him, I am less inclined to let go of Him.  Just as God created the toe pads of the gecko to grip ceilings and walls, so He has created me to desire Him.  The Lord will not let me fall when I hold fast!

Lord, keep me faithful to You today.


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Remote Control Mix-Up

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 37:5  “Commit your way to the Lord;  trust in Him and He will do this.”

This array of remote controls is impressive!  I cannot imagine trying to keep them all straight.  Seriously, I would probably mix them up to the point of inadvertently turning on or off the wrong thing.  Even with the few we have, I have been mixed up, pointing the fan remote at the television and wondering why nothing happened!  All these controls must give one a sense of command.  With voice recognition we can tell lights to come on or heating to turn off.  It is a powerful feeling to have the environment obey one’s every command!

Today’s verse teaches believers to give up control of our lives to the Lord.  There are plenty of things over which we have no control.  But for those things we do, we are to entrust even those to Him.  This is not a natural reaction to a problem.  In fact, in facing a difficulty beyond one’s control, the first inclination is to somehow find a sense of control.  But committing one’s way to the Lord is yielding it all to Him.  It is an intentional decision to allow the Lord His perfect way and to relinquish control.

My basic problem in yielding those controls to Him is a lack of trust.  Why ever do I think I can do a better job of it than He can?  Trusting in myself and my own limited understanding may keep control in my feeble hands but His way is always better.  Even when His way is difficult, I can trust that He knows what He is doing.  Nothing is random and I can be confident that He does have a plan.

Thank you, Lord, for your wise and loving control.


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The Tree Can See

Scripture for Today:  Ezekiel 17:24 “All the trees of the forest will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall.  I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree to flourish.  I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.”

The bark of this tree seems to have his eye on those passing through the forest!  Behind our French house was a beautiful forest where I loved to stroll.  On a hot day I appreciated the drop in temperature and the stillness.  The welcomed shade of the trees made it a bit dark but I did not mind that.  However, if I thought a tree were watching me, I don’t think I would stick around!

Today’s verse talks about trees in the forest knowing something that many humans fail to see.  God has the ultimate say over what dies and what grows.  He causes trees to dry up or to flourish, to grow tall or to be brought down.  This example in nature mirrors His control with men.  God has the power to bring down the haughty prideful man.  He humbles the circumstances of those who ignore Him.  He opposes the proud (James 4:6) and sends poverty to those He humbles (I Sam.2:7).

Thankfully, our God is also full of grace and He promises to show favor to the humble.  I show that humility by bending my knee in total submission to what He wants.  His plan for my life may or may not involve recognition or praise from men.  But it is His call how He may exalt me, whether on earth or in Heaven with rewards. I want to be more concerned about giving Him the glory, honor and praise that is due Him!

Lord, may my life be about You.

 


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Splinter-Free

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 36:6 “Look, I know you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him.”

I do not suppose that this lizard worries about getting splinters from the rough surface of this door!  With his thick, tough reptile skin he can move all over that weathered wood and never be bothered.  I, on the other hand, would not want to push or lean on the wood for fear of splinters piercing my skin!  I still have memories of my childhood and that painful process of splinter removal!

Today’s verse describes a hand that leans on a flimsy splintered reed of a staff and so is pierced.  The King of Assyria was absolutely right to say that leaning on Egypt for help against his attack would be no help at all for King Hezekiah and the Israelites.  But then he goes on to insult their dependence on the Lord God! (verse 7)  King Hezekiah turns to the Lord in His temple and to the prophet, Isaiah.  He prays that God will vindicate His name.  And the Lord does, delivering them with a miraculous victory!

When I am experiencing a crisis, my first thought needs to be His help.  He may direct me to all kinds of good sources of aid, but I want my dependence to be on Him and His power to work.  Putting my weight on any other kind of support may just give me those “splinters.”  But He will always answer my cries.  Nothing is beyond His strength.  And when He answers, His name is once again vindicated in my life and for all who are watching!

Lord, keep me depending on You!

 


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A Mother’s Comfort

Scripture for Today:  Isaiah 66:13 “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

This figurine of a mother and her child is one of my favorites.  It was a two-dollar treasure I found at a thrift store and it is named, “Tenderness.”  It reminds me of the comfort and tenderness God gives to His children.  It sits on a shelf next to John 3:16 in French.  I love its simplicity and the way the mother inclines her head towards her child.

Today’s verse describes the soft, tender and comforting side of our God.  We relate more often to God as our Heavenly Father.  But in this verse, God is also pictured as a Mother.  His comfort is as sweet and warm as a Mother’s is for her child.  His love is expressed through that comfort He shows when we are hurting. This verse is especially for His people, the Israelites, in the promise of restoration and healing of their land.  But these beautiful qualities of comfort are for us too, as He is the God of all comfort (II Cor. 1:3).  Our comfort also abounds through Christ (verse 5) and the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter (John 14:16).

It is funny that even though I am a mother and grandmother myself, I still have moments when I want my own Mom.  That desire for her sympathetic arms never seems to disappear, especially when I am hurt or ill.  She is no longer here but I will always have the Lord.  He sees my tears.  He understands my heart.  He comes in close to comfort and assure me when I am feeling down and vulnerable.  There are times when I am convinced I am feeling His arms wrapped tightly around me.

Thank you Lord, for mothering me.


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Essential Oils

Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”

Why are essential oils called, “essential?”  For some, it’s because they are concentrated down to the essence of the odor, characteristics and taste of the plant.  Others believe they are essential oils being essential to life.  In either case, to become essential is to be reduce to a highly concentrated form.  An example is one ounce of peppermint oil which takes sixteen pounds of fresh peppermint leaves to produce.

Today’s verse reduces all of life down to one concentrated desire on David’s part.  He views his relationship to the Lord as the most essential component to his well-being.  All of David’s attention is on the Lord.  Above all else he wants to enjoy His presence.  David asks of the Lord only one thing.  Nothing is quite as important than spending time in His presence and enjoying His beauty.  All else pales in comparison to the importance of his relationship to the Lover of his soul.

There is lots of talk today regarding what services in our world are “essential services.”  Some are obvious and some seem to be up for interpretation.   But one thing is essential to life here and to life eternally.  I can regain my health, my finances and my social connections, but what good is any of it if I forfeit my soul? (Mark 8:36)  I need Him.  The Lord is essential.  When everything else is stripped away, HE is still there.  His presence and beauty are essential to my life.  If I learned nothing else from this pandemic, it is this.

Lord, You are my life.


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The Alpha Dog

Scripture for Today: Revelation 1:8 “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'”

One of these wolf dogs is clearly showing traits of being the “alpha dog.”  Other members of a pack, called, “beta dogs,” will show submission to him.  The alpha will be the dominant dog, the first and most important member.  In a domesticated dog, these alpha traits may appear as refusals to follow the owner’s commands.  He may exhibit alpha behavior on a walk by forcing his owner to follow his pace!

Today’s verse calls the Lord God, the Almighty, the “Alpha ” and the “Omega.”  These two designations would be familiar to the readers as the first and last letter of their Greek alphabet.  “In the beginning, God…”  He is the beginning of everything and no one precedes Him.  He is the end and will bring human history to a close.  No one comes after Him.  He is the first and most important with no limits to His power and knowledge.  All of history, all of the present and all of the future is directed and controlled by Him.

Knowing this gives me the correct view of myself.  I am to be a “beta,” submissive to Him and willing to follow.  He directs and He sets the pace.  I do not obligate God but He commands me.  When I try to lead I get myself in all kinds of trouble.  Just as Jesus called others to, “Follow Me,” so He continues to ask this in my life.  As the Alpha, He sees what is ahead.  And as the Omega He sees from the beginning to the absolute end.  I can trust Him for what is happening in the now.

Lord, keep me faithfully following You.