Devotions By Jan


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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.


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Flying in Formation

Scripture for Today:  Philippians 2:1-2  “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and consolation, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”

This image of perfect synchronized flying is amazing!  These birds must have the same destination in their little bird brains!  But more than that, they are flying at the same height and the same speed to get there!  No one is jostling for position or lagging behind the others.  Their united purpose brings them together and keeps them together.

In today’s verse, Paul seems to think that Christians can be united in spirit.  Not only that but he appears to be saying that believers can be in agreement, loving one another and intent on going in the same direction!  How does that happen?  When there is encouragement.  When there is consolation.  When there is fellowship and affection for one another.  We not only need the love and encouragement of other believers to keep going , but “flying together” brings honor to Christ!  It is what signals to the world that we are His disciples (John 13:35).

I am going in the same direction as so many other believers.  Like them, my desire is to grow in faith and be more like Jesus.  It is a long life-time purpose.  But going it alone is not what the Lord wants.  Just as I take notice of these three birds flying in perfect harmony, so the world sits up and takes notice of believers that are showing love and unity.  Being united and showing love to one another is something supernatural but He makes it possible!

Thank you Lord, that I do not have to do this alone!

 

Photo credit: David Joyce at https://www.flickr.com/photos/deapeajay/2694162918


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The Peahen

Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 10:17  “But let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

It does not seem very fair!  The peacock gets all the attention!  His plumage is gorgeous and of course he knows it.  However, the peahen does not look too impressed.  Here he is strutting his stuff to attract her and she does not even turn to look!    It seems he has a right to his pride with his huge fan of color while the poor peahen is a nondescript grey.

Today’s verse addresses the issue of pride.  Boasting according to Scripture is allowed, but only in a very limited way; only in the Lord.  The only boasting that makes any sense is to boast in the Lord.  HE is the source of anything we have to boast about.  There is nothing we have that is not a gift from Him.  Whatever we have and whatever talent we may posses is something received.  That means we have no right to boast in ourselves, as though we earned it or deserved it (I Cor. 4:7).

Just as the peacock should not hide his feathers, neither does Christ want me to hide my God-given talents.  But it is easy for me to slip into an attitude of boasting.  Anytime I take credit for something, whether in my thoughts or in front of others, then I am boasting in myself.  And it is ludicrous to boast in something that is a gift.  Paul preferred to boast in his weaknesses so that others would recognize that any and all strength in his life came from the Lord (II Cor. 12:9).  I want whatever He has gifted me with to point to Him.

Lord, may ALL glory and praise go to You!

Photo credit to Kenneth Lu at https://www.flickr.com/photos/toasty/2166137862


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On the Move

Scripture for Today:  Jeremiah 8:7  “Even the stork in the sky knows when it is time to move on.  The turtledove, swallow and the crane recognize the normal times for their migration.  But My people pay no attention to what I, the Lord, require of them.”

I am fortunate to have lived in an area known for its stork population.  I so enjoyed watching them fly past our windows.  The cranes around there were almost as big but do not have the same “wow” effect for me.  Every year I watched for them to return with the warmer weather.  They would spend the winter in Sub-Saharan Africa, something I wished I could do in the middle of those long cold months!  And they often returned to the exact same nest.

Today’s verse talks about four different kinds of birds but with one thing in common; they all migrate.  Their little bird brains know instinctively when it is time to move on so as to avoid the freezing temperatures.  Jeremiah mentions these birds as a contrast to the Israelites.  The people prided themselves in possessing the Law of God.  But they continually turned to their own individual course, rather than following God’s way.  The Law, instead of being written in their hearts, became a mere code or outward ceremony.

I wish obeying God was as instinctive for me as migration is for the birds.  But then it would not mean as much.  God wants my obedience to be an intentional choice.  Knowing what God expects of me is a good thing.  But I do not want to make the same mistake as the Israelites.  The point is not how many Bible verses I can recite by heart.  He is more interested in how many I obey!

Help me, Lord, to be obedient.


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Too Close?

Scripture for Today:  Phil. 2:3  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”

I cannot imagine that these parakeets are too happy!  Hopefully, the crowding is only temporary at this bird market in South Jakarta.  Perhaps birds have a different perception of personal space.  But even among us, our comfort level in a crowded space can differ according to culture.  Some people are fine getting right up to your face to speak with you.  Most Americans would back up.  Two spaces free on a three-seat sofa?  It’s obvious to the American that the space in the middle should be empty.  Not so with other cultures.

Today’s verse has a direct effect on the rights to personal space that we feel are ours.  Whether the issue is space, right-of-way on the road, or living with a “morning person” when one is a “night owl” we are challenged to respond in a way that pleases the Lord.  Our world encourages us to insist on our rights.  Yet today’s verse talks about responding with humility and even seeing the other as more important than oneself!

It goes against my nature to give precedence to another.  I do not want to be viewed as a push-over.  I certainly do not want people walking all over me and ignoring my rights.  But I cannot be peaceable and considerate to all men (Titus 3:2) if I insist on my own way with others.  For me to obey this verse takes faith.  It means trusting the Lord to take care of my wants and needs.  Christ is more than able to take care of “rights” or to help me let them go if that is what He wants.

Lord, I need Your help to have this attitude.

Photo credit: Krotz at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wildlife_trade_-_crowded_birds.jpg


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No Entry

Scripture for Today: Psalm 10:4 “In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”

The plumage of the peacock is breathtaking!  That gorgeous tail  exhibited for the benefit of the peahen measures over five feet!  Because of the wing size, the peacock cannot stay airborne for long.  Instead he will run, hop and flutter a bit.  But the peacock has every reason to be proud with his magnificent tail on display.  However, it must be a bit awkward to move around when his big tail fans out!  In this image the sign says, “no entry.” Apparently there is no room for him!

Today’s verse is part of a passage describing the wicked.  In the thinking and in the pride of the wicked there is no room for any thought of God.  He does not seek the Lord as he feels he has no need of Him.  His life is easy and prosperous (verse 5).  He lives his life his own way, scorning God’s laws.  He feels he can get away with it believing God never sees (verse 11).  What this man does not realize is that his pride tops the list of sins that are detestable to the Lord (Prov. 6:16-17).

It is only because of the grace and salvation of Christ that I am not counted among the “wicked.”  However, that does not mean that I do not struggle with pride.  Every time I disobey what God has clearly commanded, my pride is showing in thinking I know better!  Pride has crept in when I neglect to seek Him with my whole heart.  When there is room for every thought except thoughts of Him, then pride has kept me from realizing His presence.

Lord, fill my mind and heart today with thoughts of You.