Devotions By Jan


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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.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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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!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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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.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Chicken Feet

Scripture for Today: Psalm 18:33 “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer. He causes me to stand on the heights.”

I have loved our excursions in the Alps of Haute Savoie, France.  And once we have even surprised a herd of Ibex mountain goats.  But we have never come across a brood of chickens on those heights!  Even though some breeds have an extra toe, none could grip, climb and keep their balance on a mountainous terrain.  The feet of deer and mountain goats are sure-footed and allow them to scale the heights.

Today’s verse comes from David’s song of praise for God’s deliverance from Saul.  He begins it saying, “I love You Lord, my strength.”  He describes God as His shield, rock, fortress, and stronghold.  David recognizes that it is God giving him strength to stand on the heights of victory over his enemies (verse 32).  His feet are as sure-footed as the deer and David even thanks God that his ankles do not give way (verse 36).  It is God who helps Him and makes him great.

When I look down at my feet, I see chicken’s feet!  Without His help and strength, I am unsure and wobbly.  When the path is level I can do pretty well on my own.  The problem is that life is seldom smooth.  My path is strewn with pits and obstacles.  My enemies are often the unseen ones of doubt, discouragement, fear and frustration.  They trip me up.  I need God’s help and strength everyday.  When He answers my cry, He infuses strength in my soul to face the hard times.  He not only gets me through but He gives me victory!  How incredible to stand on the heights and enjoy the view of His faithfulness!

Lord, make my feet like the deer today.


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The Secretary Bird

Scripture for Today: Psalm 18:38 “I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet.”

Do not let this stately bird with beautiful eye lashes fool you!  The Secretary Bird is an accomplished hunter who corners its prey in the tall grass of Southern Africa.  From a standing position they will use five times their body weight (an average of 8.9 pounds) to kick and stomp on a snake.  More than just stunning the snake, they jump, kick and stomp on it until the neck or back is snapped.  As I am not a fan of snakes, I do not feel too sorry for them.  But the whole process seems a bit ruthless.

Today’s verse seems a bit ruthless as well.  David is describing what happened in battle when the Lord delivered him from his enemies.  It was kill or be killed and David recognizes that it was God who armed him with strength (verse 39).  Instead of taking credit, David praises and exalts God for avenging him and saving him from his enemies. (verses 46-48)

The image of victory in battle seems far removed from my everyday life.  Yet, each time I succeed in resisting temptation, it is a victory.  Each time I do the right thing when it would have been so much easier to compromise, it is another battle won!  I am in a continual battle against forces that I cannot see (Eph. 6:12).  Ruthlessness is called for with an enemy that wants to destroy me.  I dare not underestimate him.  And as with David, there is no victory without God’s strength.  He graciously gives me His armor along with His strength and mighty power.

Thank you Lord, that in You there is victory!


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Chickens and the Compost Pile

II Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

A chicken is in “hog heaven” if he can work a compost pile.  Rather than being fed at a common trough where the food is already prepared and laid out, the chicken is happier when he can hunt and peck his own dinner!  He can scratch and search without fighting the others.  Sorting through the compost for those favored morsels is actually healthier for the chicken.  A friend of mine told me that his chickens prefer eating this way and it helps flatten the pile in just minutes!

Hearing my friend’s story, I could not help but think of today’s verse.  God’s Word is our spiritual food and we want to correctly handle it.  Whether we listen to a sermon or follow a well-thought out study guide, we want to ingest God’s Word for good spiritual health.  Just as newborn babies grow through milk, so we grow spiritually through the pure milk of his Word (I Peter 2:2-3).  But as we grow, we eat differently.  Not every meal needs to be pre-prepared.  God has given to us His Spirit to teach and guide us into His truth.  Nothing causes a growth spurt as much as the work of our own personal study!

I enjoy a good meaty sermon and appreciate all the hard work put into it.  There are a number of authors I enjoy and respect that help me dig into Scripture.  But somehow, when I find that treasure, that tasty morsel on my own, my faith is strengthened.  The Lord is giving me exactly what I needed when I needed it.

Thank you Lord, for rewarding my study with the tastiest morsels!

 


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The Sparrow

female-sparrows-fight-over-the-nest-build-by-a-male-sparrowScripture for Today: Matthew 10:29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”

These sparrows look as if they are about to fall!  The two females are fighting over the nest that the male has just built.  The male with the yellow markings is vainly trying to break up the fight.  It does not look as if he is succeeding!  These small gregarious birds are especially aggressive when protecting their nests from other birds and even from other sparrows.  The sparrow is one of the more familiar birds as they prefer nesting close to humans. They are a common sight as they are partial to man-made structures for their nest-building.

Today’s verse uses the example of a sparrow to illustrate just how minute and detailed is God’s knowledge and care of His creation.  Jesus uses something common and inconsequential to explain that nothing escapes His notice.  At fifty cents each, two sparrows are not worth much in the grand scheme of things.  And yet, the Lord is aware of the movements, needs, birth and death of each one.  If He cares that much about something so small and insignificant, we can be assured that He sees and cares so much more for His own children.  We are worth more than these two little birds (verse 31).

I know that I have value to the Lord because He died for me.  Because this is true, there is no reason to fear (verse 31).  I will not fear what man can do to me (verse 28).  I will not fear bad news (Psalm 112:7).  I will not fear any evil (Ps. 23;4) nor will I fear sudden disaster (Prov. 3:25).

Thank you Lord, that I can stand firm, steadfast, and confident in You!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.