Devotions By Jan


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The Condor

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 15:25-26 “For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

This vigilant squirrel is right to keep an eye on the condor flying overhead!  But perhaps he does not need to worry too much as the condor will only feed on a carcass.  They are scavengers and I suppose they have their place in the scheme of things.  But to me they are disgusting because of their eating habits, not to mention their grunts, growls and hissing!  There are two species of vultures to which the condor refers and they are associated with death in Scripture.

Today’s verse speaks of death as an enemy.  It is an enemy that touches every one and each time brings with it unspeakable sorrow.  It is an enemy mankind has brought on ourselves by our own sin and rebellion against God (Rom. 6:23).  But thankfully, death will one day be vanquished forever.  There will be a time when there will be no more mourning or death (Rev. 21:4).  The pain and sorrow of separation will in the future be a distant memory.  Death will take its rightful place, fully vanquished and overcome under His feet.

I know this is true as Jesus has already vanquished death for Himself when He rose up from the grave.  And God has already made me alive spiritually when I was dead in my sins (Eph. 2:5).  But what is true in a spiritual sense will one day be true in a physical sense as well!   I will enjoy a new body that will never wear out (I Cor. 15:54) and death will be “swallowed up in victory!”  No more funerals, obituaries or burials!  And best of all, no more goodbyes!

Thanks you Lord, for the coming victory over death.

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Stork Sightings

Scripture for Today:Psalm 84:2 “My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

How fun to be back in the land of the storks!  Here on the French/German border I see them daily on my walks and they always take my breath away, soaring above my head or foraging in the fields.  There are lots of beliefs and legends surrounding this magnificent bird.  In ancient Egypt a stork was used as a hieroglyph for the “Ba”or “soul.”  And in Germany storks have long been protected because of the belief that their souls were human!

Today’s verse describes a soul that yearns and even faints for the presence of the Lord.  The soul of man is created to have intimate relationship with his Creator.  The courts of the Lord are a lovely place (verse 1).  Being in His courts for even just one day is better than a thousand days anywhere else! (verse 10)  We are told to “dwell” in His house as a sparrow and swallow would nest in her home (verse 3).  This is not just a Sunday church experience but a daily closeness with Him.  Those that dwell in His house are happy and blessed, praising Him for His goodness (verse 4).

I know I am far from His house or presence when I am dissatisfied and negative.  When I am feeling far away from my Creator, there is a lack of joy and praising Him is not a natural impulse.  When I have had enough of my own company I feel my soul being drawn again to His wonderful and lovely presence.  I yearn for those soft sweet whispers of love and reassurance.

Thank you Lord, that You always welcome me back to Your presence!


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Chimney Swifts

Scripture for Today: Job 12:7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;”

It was a real show!  In my sister’s yard in Portland, we arranged our chairs to watch as hundreds of small swifts circled in the air.  They would gather in small groups, adding new members as they swooped around the rooftops.  After about twenty minutes of this confusing ballet, someone in the group deemed it time to drop, fluttering, into the chimney.  All it took was one to begin a mass entrance!  How did they know when to begin?  How did they choose their leader?  Somehow, they were communicating with each other to orchestrate this orderly nightly processional.

Today’s verse points out that animals and birds can teach us!  If these birds could speak, what would they tell us?  Each one of them knows that, “In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (verse 10)  They are not at all confused about where they came from and Who it is that gives life and breath.  Their existence depends entirely on their Creator.  Perhaps that is the meaning of their high-pitched chattering calls!

These birds can testify to truth that escapes many people!  He is not far from any of us as, “in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)  Not one sparrow is forgotten by God (Luke 12:6) and the swallow nests in the shelter of God’s presence (Psalm 84:3).  In God’s sight we are worth so much more than these tiny flying creatures.  His care is so obvious in my life.  How silly of me to doubt!  Regardless of my circumstances, He is there and He is faithful.

Thank you Lord, for your constant unfailing love.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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The Woodpecker

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 10:12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”

I had never seen a woodpecker until living in France.  There was one who frequently visited our yard and with his red markings he was easy to spot.  There was one fruit tree that he especially liked to peck for insects.  I was always happy to see him, not realizing what he was doing to that tree.  One night we had an huge windstorm and with an impressive crack, that tree came down, snapping at exactly the very place that woodpecker had been working!  I feel differently about woodpeckers now.  I missed that mirabelle plum tree!

Today’s verse is a loving warning.  After describing the failures of the Israelites in the wilderness, Paul cautions that falling is a real possibility.  We can think that we are standing firm while at the same time being slowly weakened by compromise.  Like the small attacks by the beak of  a woodpecker, our resolve can slowly erode leaving us vulnerable.  A strong wind of temptation can come along and knock us flat.  We fall to the ground and we no longer bear fruit.

No one wakes up in the morning and decides to give in to temptation.  Being drawn away from Him is usually a slow sneaky process.  And it can come from something normally beautiful or agreeable.  The next verse is such a comforting promise.  God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can bear.  He provides a way out.  I have a choice.  That enticement to sin is never so strong that with His help I cannot resist!

Don’t let me fall, Lord.  Keep me firmly standing and bearing fruit.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

 


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Penguin Cries

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:7-8a  “So, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.'”

The courtship rituals of the Emperor penguin are fascinating!  I find it sweet that they bow to one another before mating.  But what is really interesting are their cries.  In large nesting colonies, the male will call out to his female partner from the previous year.  If she is there at the same time they will find each other in this huge sea of black and white.  They are able to reunite as each cry is distinctive and recognizable.

Today’s verse speaks of a voice that is also distinctive and recognizable.  It was a voice heard and ignored by the Israelites in the wilderness, wandering for forty years.  They rebelled against that voice and their hearts became hardened with sin (verse 13).  It is not that they could not hear His voice or recognize it.  It was that they did not want to obey it.

Hearing His voice is not always a comfortable experience.  His voice sometimes nudges believers when we are disobedient.  His voice calls for deeper commitment and faith.  But His voice also speaks words of love and encouragement, hope and reassurance of His control.

I want my heart to stay soft and responsive towards Him.  And I want to be able to recognize which voice is His.  There are so many conflicting voices vying for my attention.  But I know it is His voice when He speaks to me through prayer and the reading of His Word.  His voice spurs me on to greater trust and obedience.  Condemnation is not heard but rather forgiveness and love.  That is a voice I want to hear.  That is a voice I need to hear!

Please Lord, let me hear Your voice today.


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Ducks in a Row

ducks-in-a-row-webScripture for Today: I Corinthians 1:12 “….One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.'” 

These ducks seem to have it figured out who the leader is and who will bring up the rear.  No one seems to be jostling for position.  None of the followers look as if they are trying to redirect the line.  When flying in a formation or swimming in a line, I can understand that progress forward is easier with the lead doing all the work.  But by waddling on the ground there does not seem to be an advantage to being in a line.

Today’s verse was written by the apostle Paul to the church at Corinth.  The believers there were dividing themselves into factions.  Each group followed a different church leader.  Paul turns their thoughts and loyalties to the One who could bring them together in unity.  After all, it was not Paul crucified.  They were not baptized in his name but in the name of Jesus (verse 13).  When we all have our eyes fixed on Jesus, following Him, we will remain united.

Splitting up into separate groups seems like the natural thing to do.  Somehow, my pride gets in the way of unity.  It is too easy for me to major on differences rather than celebrating common ground with other believers.  But I do want my allegiance to be to Christ first.  I find that in following Jesus Christ above all else, I bond with others who do the same, regardless of church affiliation, regardless of race, age or locale.  Lines of division disappear and we are united in the same line.

Thank you Lord, that following You above anyone else brings sweet unity with others!


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Renewed Like the Eagle

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:5 “who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

These baby eaglets are completely dependent on their parents to protect and care for them.  They will fledge or fly away from their nest at ten to fourteen weeks.  But the eaglets will still hang around the nest, honing flight skills and constantly begging food for the next one to two months.  Finally, they will venture forth for a good year before returning to visit.  The soaring on those thermal air currents make the flight of the eagle seem effortless.  Even an old bird can seem young and vibrant when soaring majestically through the skies.

Today’s verse is a call to praise the Lord for all of His benefits.  David then lists several, ending with this amazing declaration.  God satisfies our desires so that even our youth is renewed like the eagle’s!  Rather than constantly flapping our wings, we ride that thermal air current, soaring in His power.  To be like the eagle means gaining new heights and flying long distances with minimal effort.

Looking to the Lord to take care of each desire is an exercise in renewal.  No longer is there an energy drain fussing about what I do not have or pining away for what I wish I had.  I am freed from discontent when I hand over my desires to Him.  He knows what I really want.  He knows what it is I truly need.  He sees what complications can come from some of my wants.  He only gives to me what is good.  I want to relinquish every desire to Him and not be dragged down from the heights where I can be soaring!

Thank you Lord, for the renewal You offer me today.