Devotions By Jan

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The Cooper Hawk

Scripture for Today: Acts 13:39 “Through Him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.

He looked almost as surprised to see me as I was to see him! This Cooper Hawk or Chicken Hawk watched me on my morning walk from the fence of my neighbor’s yard. I recognized this hawk from a television story I had just seen about one that had inadvertently trapped himself in a huge skating rink in Canada. A team of wildlife rescuers were called in after two days. They spent hours with their nets trying to get the tired, hungry and frightened bird to fly into their nets. He was finally captured and released into the wild.

Today’s verse comes from Paul’s sermon explaining how Jesus was the promised Savior of the Old Testament. He explained the good news that Jesus was resurrected (verse 32-33) and that it is through Him that sins are forgiven. (verse 38) It is this forgiveness that sets us free from the power of every sin to ensnare and imprison. What the law could not do, Jesus accomplished by fulfilling it and setting us free!

Just like that trapped hawk, I could easily live in the confines of rules, regulations, and trappings of self-righteousness. But there is no set of rules that can make me righteous before God. The walls of my own prison are made up of unforgiven sin. Jesus is the only One who can free me. My own feeble attempts at fixing myself can be exhausting. Thankfully, His forgiveness offers true freedom from guilt and condemnation. He has captured me with His sacrificial love and has set me free in the wilds of His incredible grace!

Thank you Lord, for setting me free!


The Roadrunner

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 20:24 “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?”

The roadrunner is in the cuckoo family but he doesn’t say, “cuckoo” or “beep beep.”  This long-legged bird is built for speed and can even outrun humans!  The roadrunner is believed to have special powers to make the listener feel tired when hearing his call!  Some Indian tribes believe he can protect against evil spirits.  Their distinctive “X” tracks supposedly confuse the spirits as to which direction they are taking!  I wonder if the roadrunner is himself confused when seeing his own tracks?

Today’s verse acknowledges that the Lord directs the steps of those who belong to Him.  But often, the one directed has no idea of His direction!  The question expresses what is often felt:  How can anyone understand their own way?  It often is puzzling.  We do not have the same vantage point and we can never understand it all.  We are told in any case not to lean on our own understanding but to acknowledge Him so that He can direct us (Prov. 3:5-6).

Because I cannot see what lies ahead, I need to trust the One who is already there and knows the way.  If I were to wait until I understood the reasons behind every directive, I would be at a standstill and make no progress!  But I can be confident of my direction even without full understanding.  That is because I trust Him.  His eyes are always on me and the twists and turns are not random.  He has a loving purpose for me in every change of course.  And His direction is always towards a more loving relationship with Himself!

Lord, help me to trust You completely!

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The Fearless Harpy

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 22:4 “Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.”

This eagle knows no fear.  And there is good reason.  The Harpy is among the largest and most powerful eagles with rear talons as big as a grizzly bear’s claws.  Its legs are as thick as a person’s arm and its wing span can reach up to six and a half feet.  It has no natural predators, yet is on the decline due to its lack of fear.  The Harpy will sit on a perch and let humans approach and in consequence is shot.

Today’s verse points out the blessings of fearing the Lord.  They are riches, honor and life itself.  But the fear of the Lord does not happen without humility.  Fearing the Lord is understanding just how big He is and just how small we are.  Fearing Him is having a healthy respect for His power over our lives.  Fearing Him is giving Him the awe and recognition He deserves.  This attitude is lacking in the one who thinks too much of himself and his own prowess.  Pride in our own strength or talent to the exclusion of the Giver of those gifts will rob us of the riches, honor and life with which He wants to bless us.

My perspective often needs changing.  I can start to feel capable, strong and in control with no thought of Him.  Fearing Him is an act of humility and involves seeing myself as  dependent on Him.  I need to be reminded through His Word of just how incredible He is!  My fear of Him intensifies my worship and He is gracious to respond with blessing!  My life is richer for fearing Him for the awesome God He is!

Lord, keep me humble and fearing You.



Snatched Away!

Scripture for Today: John 10:28-29 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”

I was minding my own business, sitting in my beach chair and eating my sandwich.  While eating slowly and enjoying my family I suddenly saw and felt a seagull knock into my hand!  He had swooped in from behind and while in flight, grabbed my sandwich in his beak, leaving behind a pecking print on my thumb!  He quickly made short work of my lunch but not without cackling at me, adding insult to injury!  I was amazed at how quickly he could dive in from behind and snatch it right out of my hand!

Today’s verse serves as a reassuring promise and a sobering reminder of danger.  The danger comes from Satan who would like nothing better than to snatch and destroy the unaware.  But those who belong to Jesus are in His hand.  Nothing and no one can ever snatch us out of that hand.  The Father is greater and more powerful than any foe and we are secure and protected.  If God is for us, who can be against us ? (Romans 8:31).

He has promised that I will never perish and what God says is always true.  Every sin is removed by His sacrifice when I turn to Him in faith.  Doubts or guilty feelings do not change the fact that He has given me eternal life.  No other sacrifice is required.  I am secure and peaceful in His wonderful grip.  No circumstance will ever pry those fingers open.  His power and promise mean I can trust those hands.

Thank you Lord, that I can never be snatched away from You!

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The Majestic Kea

Scripture for Today: Psalm 79:13 “Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise.”

Meet the majestic Kea, the only alpine parrot in the world!  Residing in New Zealand, this olive green bird is a flash of scarlet color when in flight and is considered highly intelligent.  They have adapted well to hikers, learning how to get into windows and doors and undo packs to steal food.  They even attack the rubber on cars.  But more concerning are their attacks on sheep!

There is an attack on sheep referred to in today’s verse.  Neighboring nations were hurling contempt at God and His people. (verse 12)  Much like scoffers would do later (II Peter 3:3-4 ) they were asking, “Where is your God?” (verse 10)  The cry of this psalm is that God would avenge them and protect His name from this mockery.  Then, as His sheep, they would praise Him forever, proclaiming His praise to the current generation and the ones to follow.

The attacks on God’s own occur in every generation.  Mockers belittle the God of the universe and do their best to ridicule His people.  It would seem that as sheep, I am exposed and defenseless.  But in fact, God will not be mocked.  The God of the universe is also my Shepherd who shepherds the flock with justice. (Ezekiel 34:16)  He is also the Shepherd who judges. (verse 17)  That means that He will deal with those who attack with mockery, false rumors or anything else.  What reassurance to know that God will take care of every injustice!  And what a comfort to know that at the name of Jesus EVERY knee will bow and give Him the praise that is due Him!

Thank you Lord, that You see and take care of every worldly attack!