Devotions By Jan


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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.


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Bald Eagle’s Nest

Scripture for Today: Joshua 24:15 “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

The nest or aerie of a bald eagle is the largest of any North American bird.  They can measure up to 13 feet deep and 8 feet wide!  Along with sticks the eagle uses moss, grass, plant stalks, lichens, seaweed and sod.  The bole area for their young is lined with softer material and down feathers.  Recently, the public was reminded to keep the areas in their vicinity clear of trash.  Apparently, the eagles will sometimes make use of the trash on the ground to build up their nests.

Today’s verse is part of a charge Joshua gave the Israelites just before his death.  He admonished the people to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully by throwing out the gods of their ancestors.  Joshua challenged them to choose!  Then comes the often quoted declaration that he and his household choose to serve the Lord.  There will be no compromise by allowing the trash of false gods to cross his threshold.

I want to have that same resolve as Joshua.  One would think that false gods would not really be an issue.  But a “god” can be anything I prioritize and value more than my Savior.  In allowing other things to take His place, my nest or house might grow larger and more impressive to some.  But it is foolish to be building my house on what is essentially sand (Matt.7:26).  It is by wisdom that a house is built (Prov. 24:3).  And when I am fearing and obeying Him I am being wise (Psalm 111:10).  May all who enter my house see exactly who we choose to serve!

Lord, I choose You.

 


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The Mandarin Duck

Scripture for Today: Matthew 19:5 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

The male species of this duck originating in China and Japan is considered the world’s most beautiful.  Pairs of these birds are sometimes given at the occasion of a marriage as they are symbols of fidelity.  The thought that these ducks promote love and marriage is a centuries-old idea.  Perhaps it came about as they swim in pairs so close together.  And they do return to the same mate in the next mating season rather than establishing a new bond.

Today’s verse is the answer Jesus gave to the Pharisees seeking to trap Him with questions on marriage.  He quotes what God established in the beginning in Genesis 2:24.  The step of marriage is to be a binding commitment.  The original and best plan for marriage is that it be exclusive and permanent.  One new flesh is created from two.  Tearing apart the two can cause excruciating pain.  The Lord in His love and compassion gives us the best plan to avoid that kind of pain.

God’s plan for marriage can seem restrictive to some.  But to give love the best chance to flower and last is within that safe place of total commitment.  It shows that we are serious to stay together.  The world says that one is somehow missing out.  But I know differently.  It is through many years of ups and downs, trials and joys that my love for my husband grows.  Short term love cannot even be compared to the depths of love that commitment can foster.  God’s plan, though sometimes difficult, is the best plan there is!

Thank you Lord, for creating the best opportunity to grow my love.


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The Cardinal

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

It is not fair.  The male cardinal gets all the attention with its bright red plumage whereas the female is largely overlooked.  And yet,  although the colors are more subtle, she is beautiful too.  Normally among songbirds, the male is the only one to sing.  He will sing to defend his territory and during courtship.  However, the female cardinal also sings.  She sings mainly during the spring, during courtship and while sitting on her nest.  Her song is a bit longer and more complex than the male’s song.

Today’s verse downplays the differences between races, social status and between the sexes.  These words describe a coming together that is not so natural.  Believers can achieve oneness in Jesus Christ.  Regardless of our differences, followers of the Lord can have a unity that is remarkable!  Unlike the “birds of a feather who flock together,” the body of Christ is incredibly diverse.  People that would not normally come together find themselves sharing a deep bond in our shared love of Jesus!

What a beautiful testimony to find this unity in a world that is so divided!  Love that reaches across generation, gender and race is the mark of a Christian (Mark 13:35).  It is not natural.  I want that mark on my life, but it can only happen with the fruit of the Spirit in me.  It helps to remember that down deep, my soul is exactly the same as my neighbor’s.  I see differences but the Lord looks on the heart (I Sam 16:7).

Lord, thank you that You can bring together what the world does not!

 


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Ravenous Ravens

Scripture for Today: Luke 12:24 “Consider the ravens; They do not sow or reap. they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds.”

I don’t appreciate seagulls, but ravens even less so.  They are big, black, shaggy and noisy.  Recently their numbers have increased in California.  They prefer building their nests along sea cliffs, being close to the water and being near a variety of food sources.  When their territory overlaps with the seagull, it can get noisy!  In referring to a group of them, old expressions used the term, “unkindness” or “conspiracy” rather than a flock of ravens.  The raven is known for being intelligent and opportunistic in finding its food

Today’s verse talks about our God being a God who cares for His creation, including the ravens.  Birds do not need to plant for the coming season or hoard their food for the lean times to come.  Yet, they do not go hungry.  God cares for their short little insignificant lives.  By contrast we, being created in God’s image, are of so much more value to the Lord.  He is intimately involved in every little aspect of our lives.

I need to remind myself that God will take care of what I eat, what I drink, what I will wear and every other detail.  For Him it is just small stuff.  Those who do not belong to Him are consumed with these issues.  The food and fashion industries encourage us to “seek after these things.”  But as a believer, I want to have different priorities.  I want my mental energies to be spent on His Kingdom and what is of eternal value!  He has always provided all that I need.

Thank you Lord, that Your care shows me that You value me!


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Swallows Day Parade

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 84:3 “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, My King and My God.”

The 60th annual Swallows Day parade takes place in San Juan Capistrano this weekend.  It is the largest non-motorized parade in the United States.  This event celebrates the return of the swallows from Argentina where they winter each year.  Parade spectators enjoy the festive ambience and a sense of community as local clubs, schools and associations participate.  There are dogs, wagons, horses, bands, dancers, and of course the pooper-scoopers at the end!  The only thing missing are the swallows, most of whom have unfortunately migrated further north to Chino Hills.

Today’s verse talks about the ideal place where the swallow builds her nest for herself and her family.  The swallow builds her nest near God’s altar.  When one thinks of a nest, there is the thought of comfort, care and protection.  A nest represents home and hearth.  The altar of God represents His presence and His dwelling is described as “lovely” (verse 1).  His altar is a place of adoration and worship and the one who dwells there is said to be blessed or happy.

My nest could be feathered very comfortably with all kinds of creature comforts.  But like the swallow in today’s verse, the most important component is God’s presence.  Far more important than open concept, decor or the latest appliances is enjoying the presence of my Lord God and King every day.  He has knocked on my door (Rev.3:20) and I want to make sure that my door remains open to Him!

Lord, may my home be marked by the happiness and peace I have in You!