Devotions By Jan


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Chicken Feet

Scripture for Today: Psalm 18:33 “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer. He causes me to stand on the heights.”

I have loved our excursions in the Alps of Haute Savoie, France.  And once we have even surprised a herd of Ibex mountain goats.  But we have never come across a brood of chickens on those heights!  Even though some breeds have an extra toe, none could grip, climb and keep their balance on a mountainous terrain.  The feet of deer and mountain goats are sure-footed and allow them to scale the heights.

Today’s verse comes from David’s song of praise for God’s deliverance from Saul.  He begins it saying, “I love You Lord, my strength.”  He describes God as His shield, rock, fortress, and stronghold.  David recognizes that it is God giving him strength to stand on the heights of victory over his enemies (verse 32).  His feet are as sure-footed as the deer and David even thanks God that his ankles do not give way (verse 36).  It is God who helps Him and makes him great.

When I look down at my feet, I see chicken’s feet!  Without His help and strength, I am unsure and wobbly.  When the path is level I can do pretty well on my own.  The problem is that life is seldom smooth.  My path is strewn with pits and obstacles.  My enemies are often the unseen ones of doubt, discouragement, fear and frustration.  They trip me up.  I need God’s help and strength everyday.  When He answers my cry, He infuses strength in my soul to face the hard times.  He not only gets me through but He gives me victory!  How incredible to stand on the heights and enjoy the view of His faithfulness!

Lord, make my feet like the deer today.

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The Secretary Bird

Scripture for Today: Psalm 18:38 “I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet.”

Do not let this stately bird with beautiful eye lashes fool you!  The Secretary Bird is an accomplished hunter who corners its prey in the tall grass of Southern Africa.  From a standing position they will use five times their body weight (an average of 8.9 pounds) to kick and stomp on a snake.  More than just stunning the snake, they jump, kick and stomp on it until the neck or back is snapped.  As I am not a fan of snakes, I do not feel too sorry for them.  But the whole process seems a bit ruthless.

Today’s verse seems a bit ruthless as well.  David is describing what happened in battle when the Lord delivered him from his enemies.  It was kill or be killed and David recognizes that it was God who armed him with strength (verse 39).  Instead of taking credit, David praises and exalts God for avenging him and saving him from his enemies. (verses 46-48)

The image of victory in battle seems far removed from my everyday life.  Yet, each time I succeed in resisting temptation, it is a victory.  Each time I do the right thing when it would have been so much easier to compromise, it is another battle won!  I am in a continual battle against forces that I cannot see (Eph. 6:12).  Ruthlessness is called for with an enemy that wants to destroy me.  I dare not underestimate him.  And as with David, there is no victory without God’s strength.  He graciously gives me His armor along with His strength and mighty power.

Thank you Lord, that in You there is victory!


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Chickens and the Compost Pile

II Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

A chicken is in “hog heaven” if he can work a compost pile.  Rather than being fed at a common trough where the food is already prepared and laid out, the chicken is happier when he can hunt and peck his own dinner!  He can scratch and search without fighting the others.  Sorting through the compost for those favored morsels is actually healthier for the chicken.  A friend of mine told me that his chickens prefer eating this way and it helps flatten the pile in just minutes!

Hearing my friend’s story, I could not help but think of today’s verse.  God’s Word is our spiritual food and we want to correctly handle it.  Whether we listen to a sermon or follow a well-thought out study guide, we want to ingest God’s Word for good spiritual health.  Just as newborn babies grow through milk, so we grow spiritually through the pure milk of his Word (I Peter 2:2-3).  But as we grow, we eat differently.  Not every meal needs to be pre-prepared.  God has given to us His Spirit to teach and guide us into His truth.  Nothing causes a growth spurt as much as the work of our own personal study!

I enjoy a good meaty sermon and appreciate all the hard work put into it.  There are a number of authors I enjoy and respect that help me dig into Scripture.  But somehow, when I find that treasure, that tasty morsel on my own, my faith is strengthened.  The Lord is giving me exactly what I needed when I needed it.

Thank you Lord, for rewarding my study with the tastiest morsels!

 


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The Sparrow

female-sparrows-fight-over-the-nest-build-by-a-male-sparrowScripture for Today: Matthew 10:29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”

These sparrows look as if they are about to fall!  The two females are fighting over the nest that the male has just built.  The male with the yellow markings is vainly trying to break up the fight.  It does not look as if he is succeeding!  These small gregarious birds are especially aggressive when protecting their nests from other birds and even from other sparrows.  The sparrow is one of the more familiar birds as they prefer nesting close to humans. They are a common sight as they are partial to man-made structures for their nest-building.

Today’s verse uses the example of a sparrow to illustrate just how minute and detailed is God’s knowledge and care of His creation.  Jesus uses something common and inconsequential to explain that nothing escapes His notice.  At fifty cents each, two sparrows are not worth much in the grand scheme of things.  And yet, the Lord is aware of the movements, needs, birth and death of each one.  If He cares that much about something so small and insignificant, we can be assured that He sees and cares so much more for His own children.  We are worth more than these two little birds (verse 31).

I know that I have value to the Lord because He died for me.  Because this is true, there is no reason to fear (verse 31).  I will not fear what man can do to me (verse 28).  I will not fear bad news (Psalm 112:7).  I will not fear any evil (Ps. 23;4) nor will I fear sudden disaster (Prov. 3:25).

Thank you Lord, that I can stand firm, steadfast, and confident in You!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Bald Eagle’s Nest

Scripture for Today: Joshua 24:15 “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

The nest or aerie of a bald eagle is the largest of any North American bird.  They can measure up to 13 feet deep and 8 feet wide!  Along with sticks the eagle uses moss, grass, plant stalks, lichens, seaweed and sod.  The bole area for their young is lined with softer material and down feathers.  Recently, the public was reminded to keep the areas in their vicinity clear of trash.  Apparently, the eagles will sometimes make use of the trash on the ground to build up their nests.

Today’s verse is part of a charge Joshua gave the Israelites just before his death.  He admonished the people to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully by throwing out the gods of their ancestors.  Joshua challenged them to choose!  Then comes the often quoted declaration that he and his household choose to serve the Lord.  There will be no compromise by allowing the trash of false gods to cross his threshold.

I want to have that same resolve as Joshua.  One would think that false gods would not really be an issue.  But a “god” can be anything I prioritize and value more than my Savior.  In allowing other things to take His place, my nest or house might grow larger and more impressive to some.  But it is foolish to be building my house on what is essentially sand (Matt.7:26).  It is by wisdom that a house is built (Prov. 24:3).  And when I am fearing and obeying Him I am being wise (Psalm 111:10).  May all who enter my house see exactly who we choose to serve!

Lord, I choose You.

 


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The Mandarin Duck

Scripture for Today: Matthew 19:5 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

The male species of this duck originating in China and Japan is considered the world’s most beautiful.  Pairs of these birds are sometimes given at the occasion of a marriage as they are symbols of fidelity.  The thought that these ducks promote love and marriage is a centuries-old idea.  Perhaps it came about as they swim in pairs so close together.  And they do return to the same mate in the next mating season rather than establishing a new bond.

Today’s verse is the answer Jesus gave to the Pharisees seeking to trap Him with questions on marriage.  He quotes what God established in the beginning in Genesis 2:24.  The step of marriage is to be a binding commitment.  The original and best plan for marriage is that it be exclusive and permanent.  One new flesh is created from two.  Tearing apart the two can cause excruciating pain.  The Lord in His love and compassion gives us the best plan to avoid that kind of pain.

God’s plan for marriage can seem restrictive to some.  But to give love the best chance to flower and last is within that safe place of total commitment.  It shows that we are serious to stay together.  The world says that one is somehow missing out.  But I know differently.  It is through many years of ups and downs, trials and joys that my love for my husband grows.  Short term love cannot even be compared to the depths of love that commitment can foster.  God’s plan, though sometimes difficult, is the best plan there is!

Thank you Lord, for creating the best opportunity to grow my love.


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The Cardinal

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

It is not fair.  The male cardinal gets all the attention with its bright red plumage whereas the female is largely overlooked.  And yet,  although the colors are more subtle, she is beautiful too.  Normally among songbirds, the male is the only one to sing.  He will sing to defend his territory and during courtship.  However, the female cardinal also sings.  She sings mainly during the spring, during courtship and while sitting on her nest.  Her song is a bit longer and more complex than the male’s song.

Today’s verse downplays the differences between races, social status and between the sexes.  These words describe a coming together that is not so natural.  Believers can achieve oneness in Jesus Christ.  Regardless of our differences, followers of the Lord can have a unity that is remarkable!  Unlike the “birds of a feather who flock together,” the body of Christ is incredibly diverse.  People that would not normally come together find themselves sharing a deep bond in our shared love of Jesus!

What a beautiful testimony to find this unity in a world that is so divided!  Love that reaches across generation, gender and race is the mark of a Christian (Mark 13:35).  It is not natural.  I want that mark on my life, but it can only happen with the fruit of the Spirit in me.  It helps to remember that down deep, my soul is exactly the same as my neighbor’s.  I see differences but the Lord looks on the heart (I Sam 16:7).

Lord, thank you that You can bring together what the world does not!