Devotions By Jan

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Roseate Spoonbill

Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:8-9 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. Fear the Lord, you His holy people, for those who fear Him lack nothing.”

This wading bird lives in the mangroves, or tropical swamps of the southeastern United States.  His pink plumage, red eyes and partly bald head make him recognizable, but what really distinguishes him is that giant spoon-shaped bill!  With it he may look a bit comical but this bill allows him to sweep underwater from side to side and scoop up fish and crustaceans.

Today’s verse has no spoon but is an invitation to “taste and see.”  There are those who say they have tried God or tried religion.  And perhaps they have in some manner.  But to “taste and see” means coming to the Lord in humble fear, recognizing who He is.  We realize just how good He is when we throw ourselves on His mercy and take refuge in His love and power.  When He opens the “eyes of our hearts” (Eph. 1:18)), we are ready to fully engage and scoop up every spiritual blessing He offers (Eph. 1:3).

I have tasted and I have seen His goodness.  And unlike the temporary good feeling of eating something tasty, His goodness and blessing keep me satisfied in the deepest part of me.  He knows exactly what I am craving as He created me to hunger for Him.  When I fear and respect Him, I will lack nothing.  He is that good!  He satisfies my deepest desires for love, peace, beauty, and significance!  How amazing He is!  I am blessed when I make Him my refuge.  And what is so amazing is that His goodness never fails to satisfy!

Lord, thank you for blessing me.


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The Pied Kingfisher

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 31:5 “Like birds hovering overhead, the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem; He will shield it and deliver it, He will pass over it and rescue it.”

This is one amazing bird!  The Pied Kingfisher lives in Asai and Sub Saharan Africa and is referred to as the “King of Kingfishers!”   The black and white markings make him easily recognizable.  But it is his specialized hunting skills that make him remarkable.  He is the largest hovering bird, scouting his prey from 50-60 feet above water.  He uses no air currents but instead will flap his wings 8 times a second to hold himself in place.

Today’s verse describes God’s promise to His people to shield, deliver and rescue them.  They had turned to Egypt for help from their enemies rather than to God.  They had turned to the silver and gold idols they themselves had made rather than to God.  This promise is made despite their revolt and with the promise comes a call to return to Him (verse 6).  He is the One who hovers and sees every distress.  He is the One who not only surveys from above but like the Kingfisher, descends with amazing precision.  Nothing escapes His watchful eyes and nothing is beyond His power.

He sees it all.  And He uses that knowledge to show me His goodness, mercy and love.  The plan He is unfolding in my life takes into account every tear.  He is my “El Roi,” the God who sees.  He saw Hagar’s tears and He sees mine (Gen. 16:13).  He hovers.  He stays in the place of tender concern.  I can be assured that my circumstances, though difficult, are working towards a good that I may not ever see this side of eternity.  He has promised.

Thank you Lord, that your love and protection hover over me!


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Cordon Bleu

Scripture for Today: Psalm 108:1 “My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.”

I normally think of Cordon Bleu as crumb-enrobed chicken rolled with Swiss cheese and ham.  But this name is also given to these sweet finches.  The red-cheeked variety is among the most popular exotic finches.  They are native to Africa and our friends living in the Ivory Coast enjoy seeing them in their yard.  A pair will sing to each other and it is thought that this helps with “pair bonding,” developing a strong affinity and a life-long bond.

Today’s verse talks about singing and making music.  This is a love song and it comes from a heart that is steadfast.  It is music that involves all of the soul.  And like the song of the finch, it strengthens a bond, our bond with our Creator.  He is the only One who can discern when music is made with all of our soul.  Because He loves us, He listens intently to our impromptu concert, and we feel His pleasure.  With the singing, our heart becomes even more steadfast as the bond of love grows stronger.

If I do not feel much like singing or making music for this audience of One, it may be that my heart is far from steadfast.  When I am discontented, focused on the negative or unstable from worry and fear, there is no incentive to praise Him.  Thankfully, my heart becomes steadfast again after spending time in His Word.  He reminds me of His love and strengthens my faith.  His Word, full of reassurance and promise, is His love song to me.  It is only then that music returns to my soul and can be directed back to Him!

Lord, keep me singing today!

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The Blue Jay

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”

This clever scrub blue jay is carefully looking left and right before hiding away his treasured peanuts.  His behavior is called “caching” rather than “hoarding,” a term used for rodents.  Caching is normally more short term and seasonal.  And though he lives in a family group, he will not share.  He selfishly hides the food and retrieves it in secret!  There are no posted store signs to discourage this behavior and there is no one to see an overloaded shopping cart!

Today’s verse reassures the believer that not only is the Lord aware of shortages, but He promises to meet our basic needs.  There is never a question that God will not have enough.  Riches in Christ Jesus are infinite and not subject to the variance of supply and demand.  Paul says he is “amply supplied’ and that he even has more than enough (verse 18) thanks to their gifts.  He then assures them that because of their sharing, God will see to it that they do not lack for anything needed.

When I see shortages at the stores during this unusual time of pandemic, there is the temptation to “squirrel away” much more than I need.  To some extent, stockpiling can be a reasonable response.  But when it becomes hoarding or caching is when I have no intention of sharing with others.  I know the Lord does not honor that kind of selfish spirit.  Panic-induced hoarding can signal in me a lack of trust in my Heavenly Father.  He does not ask me to put toilet paper first, but His Kingdom (Matt. 6:33).  And when I do He takes care of all the rest.

Thank you Lord, that You meet all my needs.

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The Whimbrel

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 2:10 “these are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

Half the fun of walking close to the water on Southern California beaches is watching the Whimbrel.  He is very recognizable with his striped head and long curved bill.  When he flies it will be just over the water or ground.  More often I see him running near the water’s edge.  He uses that long bill to pick and probe in the sand, finding crustaceans, insects and worms.  He will dig deep in the wet sand to reach his dinner.

Today’s verse teaches that there are deep things of God that His Spirit searches and reveals to us.  These things cannot be physically seen, heard or even imagined (verse 9).  These are things that God has prepared for those who love Him and can only be known through His revelation.  No one can know the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God (verse 11).  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts ( Isaiah 55:8) yet His Spirit resides in the believer.  And it is only through God’s Spirit that we can have even a small inkling of all that God has prepared for us.

When the Spirit reveals the deep things of God it is through His written Word.  I need to dig deeper to know Him more.  I do not want to be satisfied with surface knowledge.  His Spirit wants to reveal more of Himself to me.  But too often I am rushed or distracted and do not take the time to dig deeper or listen to that still small voice.  The deep things of God are so deep it will take all of eternity to know Him.  But how incredible to start now!

Lord, keep me going deeper.

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Bufflehead Duck

Scripture for today: Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

This duck is remarkable with its beautiful colors!  The name of the Bufflehead was derived from “buffalo head” due the male’s odd puffy head shape.  But what interested me was his feeding habits.  He rarely feeds with only his head submerged but instead will completely submerge himself.  Many times a whole flock will all surface dive at the same time!  This energetic feeder is “all in.”

Today’s verse describes one who is all in!  God’s command did not allow for any half measures.  He wants a love that is total and complete with no holding back.  We are to love Him with ALL our heart, soul, and strength.  When Jesus cited this command He added “all your mind” as well (Mark 12:30).  This is a commitment like no other.  God’s commands are to be on our hearts and impressed on the next generation through living them everyday in the home (verses 6-9).  The love He wants is one that involves our entire being.

It is because He loves me that He wants all of me.  But to give the Lord my all is a life-long challenge.  It means trusting Him not to hurt or disappoint.  And to completely relinquish all of me to Him also means the giving up of my own control.  But He has the right to ask this of me.  He so loved and so proved His love for me by His sacrifice, that it is ludicrous for me to hold back anything!  And I find that when I can be “all in” there is a closeness and warmth unlike any human relationship!  It is worth the effort!

Lord, may my love for You involve my entire being.


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Canadian Geese

Scripture for Today: Matthew 13:4  “and as he sowed some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.”

Homeowners in a Tallahassee neighborhood did not share my appreciation for these beautiful birds.  That’s because they roamed the streets, entering garages and making a nuisance of themselves.  And for anyone trying to plant a lawn, they considered the seeds as their personal lunch buffet!  But they would only go after the seeds lying on the surface.  All it takes is a fourth inch of soil to discourage them.

Today’s verse is part of the parable of the sower.  The seeds sown did not sprout and grow as they were quickly devoured by birds.  Jesus explains that those who hear the Word but do not understand it are prey to the evil one who snatches away what was sown, before it can take root (verse 19).  That seed is exposed and vulnerable without the topsoil of understanding.  The understanding of His Word keeps the seed safe, rooted and growing.  And this understanding comes from the Son of God who is true (I John 5:20).  When one quickly gets into God’s Word with the understanding He offers, than those birds have no chance to snatch it away!

How vitally important it is that the seed of salvation in me is protected by understanding His Word!  The more I read, study and meditate, the more I am protected from the deception of the evil one.  He can not snatch away what is taking root and growing.  And understanding His Word is a lifelong process.  I can never close the book and think, there….I know it completely.  It is the Spirit of His Son that speaks to me and brings to light something new each time I open it.

Thank you, Lord, that You give me Your understanding.