Devotions By Jan


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The Pelican

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 15:4 “The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.”

How can something be so majestic and wonderful and yet make me laugh at the same time? The pelican is an impressive bird, soaring overhead with a huge wing span. But up close and personal, that large elastic throat pouch of theirs looks amusing. However, God in His creativity designed that pouch to catch up to three gallons of water with their prey. They then throw back their heads and squeeze the water out of the sides of the pouch, leaving the fish ready to be swallowed. A pelican will swallow lots of things from fish and crustaceans to tadpoles and turtles. If they are hungry enough, they might even drown and swallow a seagull! Having all that water with their catch allows them to swallow just about anything!

Today’s verse contrasts one who is discerning to the one who is a fool, swallowing anything! The discerning heart will seek knowledge and wisdom. The fool, however, seems to be satisfied with foolish things. The fool has no discernment and will swallow whatever folly the world presents, whether it is in the form of mindless television, slick magazines, or the latest fad.

I do not want to be a fool. I want to be discerning in what I “swallow.” Feeding on God’s Word gives me that discernment as it teaches me what is truth. But it requires effort on my part. I am to seek this knowledge rather than just mindlessly going through my day. It is intentional living. I want to be mindful as to what I will allow myself to accept.

Lord, make my heart discerning as I feed on the Truth of Your Word. Don’t let me swallow anything else!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)


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The Grandala

Scripture for Today: Job 12:7 and 9 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you…Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?” 

Photo by Nick Athanas at https://www.flickr.com/photos/antpitta/42774409555

Could this bird be any bluer? The Grandala lives across Northeastern India and its scientific name means, “sky-colored grand wing.” But I have never seen a sky the color of this electric cobalt blue! They gather in large flocks and fly at high elevations. But they can be seen up close at lower elevations when they feed on berries. And if they could talk, what might they say?

Today’s verse suggests what birds and animals might say if they had the power of speech. They would proclaim who their Creator is! They would all acknowledge who it is that gives and sustains their lives and the lives of all mankind (verse 10). Unlike some people who would rather believe that creation results from a formula of time and chance, they would acknowledge the hand that brought them into being. It is through God’s creation that He makes plain His power and divine nature (Rom. 1:20).

The hand of the Lord has done this! So often, I do not recognize that the hand of the Lord has done so many wonderful things in my life! I am quick to think that life is good because of my own choices or that my hand brought it about. But when I see the wonders of nature I am reminded of His incredible power and creativity! Mankind had nothing to do with it! And the work of His hands far exceeds any of my puny efforts without Him. This bird knows it. And I need to be reminded too!

Thank you Lord, for nature’s reminders of You!


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Do You Smell Lemons?

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 27:9 “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.”

We have all heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” For the Crested Auklet seabird in Alaskan waters, the smell of lemons is a good thing! This gregarious bird does not attract a mate with its noisy honking, barking or whistling. It attracts a mate by secreting a strong citrus smell during breeding season! The scent is so strong that it is noticeable some distance away from the bird colonies.

Today’s verse acknowledges the joy that can come from a good pleasing scent. This proverb likens that pleasing smell to the pleasantness of hearing good advice from a true friend. Heartfelt advice is advice that is sincere and disinterested, not looking for personal advantage. Giving advice to a friend puts one squarely in a place of obligation and caring. There is no agenda nor are there hurt feelings if the advice is not taken. Heartfelt advice is motivated by simply wanting the best for the other. Asked for or not, advice from the heart shows thoughtful concern.

Quite frankly, I am not always open to advice, heartfelt or otherwise. There are plenty of times that I think I know better. And sometimes I do. But when a suggestion comes from someone’s heart, sincere and earnest in the spirit of friendship, I am more likely to consider it. That offered advice usually shows true friendship and a willingness to get involved. And when I do the same for a friend and it is well received, the friendship grows stronger. That give and take brings joy and we both smell good!

Thank you Lord, for the counsel of true friends.


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Wandering Albatross

Scripture for Today: Psalm 63:7-8 “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.”

Attribution:
GFDLCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Wandering Albatross is perhaps thought to be wandering as he spends most of his life in flight! He can fly up to 25 miles per hour and is especially adept at gliding, going several hours at a time without flapping those gigantic wings. This amazing bird can boast the largest wingspan of any bird in the world, reaching nearly 12 feet! When he flies overhead, his shadow can be impressive!

Today’s verse describes God’s presence as wings that cast a protective shadow over those who belong to Him. David is again being opposed by his enemies. When he can finally rest on his bed at night, he remembers God’s power and protection and David praises Him for being His help (verse 6). He clings to His powerful right hand to save him. David hides in this shadow (Ps. 17:8) finding refuge and shelter there (Ps. 61:4). He is even covered with warm feathers in His presence (Ps. 91:4). David is so comforted that he can even sing!

What a beautiful image of God’s faithfulness! This description invites me to run to Him when the world is so harsh and hopeless. His comforting presence soothes and heals from all the attacks of the enemy. Be it doubt, discouragement or despair, His wings are my safe place. In the shelter of His wings I am safe and secure. His powerful right hand will hold me up and sustain me right up to the time He takes me to my eternal home. This is a reason for singing! And the acoustics from under His wings make my singing sound pretty good!

Lord, keep me close to You.


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Hummingbird Drama

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

All the windows and doors were opened and this little guy got confused. Poor little thing tried to find his way out but was totally disoriented. In his fright he repeatedly flew into the skylight, knocking himself to the floor. My husband carefully transported what looked to be a dead hummingbird to some shade in the backyard. The story ends well as the bird eventually revived and flew away!

Today’s verse tells us that we are made alive with Christ. And unlike the hummingbird, we were truly dead. Our sin kept us from having a relationship with our Creator. There was not a thing we could do to make ourselves alive. Christ, because of His incredible love and mercy, decided to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. He showed His grace by making us spiritually alive to Him. There is no true life without that spiritual awakening that He gives.

I felt so bad for the confused hummingbird going toward that skylight that could not save. In the same way, man thinks he can find some sort of light, joy, and peace within himself and apart from his Creator. Satan masquerades as an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14) and is thrilled when man misses the true Source. The Light of God’s presence will not deceive or disappoint me. He makes me alive to Himself, to love and enjoy Him. I am forever thankful that in His grace He took the initiative! Because of His great love and His rich mercy, He has made me alive!

Thank you Lord, for Your undeserved favor toward me!