Devotions By Jan


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Locked Antlers

Scripture for Today: James 4:1 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

The bull moose antlers are impressive with a spread of up to 6 feet!  They can weigh as much as 40 pounds.  Each year they are shed and grown anew until old age.  Their size shows their status and strength, especially during mating season.  They are made of bone and are one single structure.  Two bull moose with similar sized antlers will face off and lock antlers over a female.  It is really sad when two moose get their antlers so entangled that they are unable to free themselves and they die!

Today’s verse was addressed to believers in the church.  These early Christians struggled with the very same thing we do today.  Desires battling within eventually show themselves in tensions and quarrels without.  The desires mentioned here are probably the result of “friendship with the world” (verse 4).  They desired what they did not have.  Praying for their desires would not have resolved the situation.  That is because they were asking with wrong motives and would spend what they received on themselves (verses 2-3).  There is only one solution and that is for our desires to change.

Most of my desires would probably fall into this same category.  I wish I could say differently.  The pull of the world is strong and so is envying what others have.  In my heart of hearts I know that possessions do not bring me true joy but it sure is easy to be distracted!  And when my selfish desires get in the way of a relationship I know it has gone too far.  I want those secret desires in my heart to be God-honoring and to be centered on Him.

Lord, help me to keep my desires in check.

 

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Mother’s Day

Scripture for Today:  Luke 11:27-28   While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.”  But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it.”

This is a special Mother’s Day for me as it is the first one without my Mom.  I cannot complain as having died at 95 we have had many wonderful years together.  Not everyone can say that their relationship with their Mother was or is so positive.  There are those who are reminded only of pain each Mother’s Day.  I realize that I am so very blessed, which makes her absence that much more bittersweet.

God’s Word exalts and honors motherhood.  However, in today’s verse, Jesus calls something even more blessed than being a mother.  Someone in the crowd of listeners spoke a blessing on the mother of Jesus.  And in doing so, the speaker was also blessing Jesus.  But Jesus responded with something that was a bigger blessing that everyone can experience; hearing and obeying God’s Word.

I tend to look at my roles as wife and mother as the most exalted and fulfilling roles I could possibly have on this earth.  Certainly, I do not want to take anything away from this.  But the relationship I have with the Lord is always the most intimate one possible.  My role as a follower of Christ far outweighs my role as anything else.  My relationship with Him never disappoints.  It is deeper, more faithful and more satisfying than any human relationship.  He fills in all the emotional holes in my heart when losing one so dear.

Thank you Lord, for the blessing of knowing You.


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Bless You!

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” 

Our cat, Tiger, would sometimes have a sneezing fit and would always look very surprised when it happened.  I never felt obligated to say the words, “bless you.”  After all, I figured it was usually the cat making everyone else sneeze.  There are many ideas on the origins of blessing people after a sneeze.  Some believed the sneeze had to do with evil spirits leaving the body.  Others felt it was the soul momentarily escaping the body.  My favorite is the belief that the heart temporarily stopped during a sneeze!

Today’s verse declares that the source of every spiritual blessing is Jesus Christ.  He has blessed every believer with unmerited favor and goodness.  The blessings He gives are not tangible but spiritual.  And because that is true, these blessings are eternal.  They include His choosing us, adopting us, redeeming us and forgiving us (verses 4-7).  He has blessed us by sealing us with His Holy Spirit and has promised us an inheritance (verse 13-14).  These blessings are not seen with our physical eyes but they are more real than things that are!

I need to be reminded of His blessings, especially when I see non-believers seemingly prosper around me.  Like David, I can feel discouraged and tempted to be envious (Psalm 37:1-2).  But their success is temporary and my inheritance is eternal!  Spiritual blessings are the ones that matter.  And the blessing of being His very own outweighs anything else.  I can live this life with faith and love because they spring from the hope stored up for me in Heaven! (Col. 1:5)  How blessed I am!

Lord, open the eyes of my heart to see Your blessings today..


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Rabbit Trails

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:25 “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.”

We have all experienced the chagrin of having to return from a “rabbit trail” while in a group discussion!  Veering off the topic is easy to do when a story or explanation is interjected that goes nowhere.  These mazes of unrelated detail can derail a conversation and be totally frustrating for someone trying to guide a discussion.  These side trips may be interesting but can easily confuse as they add no light or clarity.  It is a confused path that leads nowhere.

Today’s verse could be thought of as a purpose statement to a life.  With a focus like this, there are not as likely to be too many distractions or rabbit trails.  Asaph declares that God holds him with his right hand, (verse 23)  guides him, and will take him one day to glory (verse 24).  He describes God as the strength of his heart (verse 26).  His relationship with God is so intimate and fulfilling that nothing in heaven or earth can compare!

My deepest desire is to have a relationship with the Lord that is just that focused!  Too easily, I get distracted by pretty baubles.  Wonderful relationships and exciting experiences make life rich, but can also draw my attention away from the One who is blessing me!  I do not want to be so diverted by good gifts that I forget the Giver.  Chasing after what the world values is a true rabbit trail leading nowhere.  Of course, I desire lots of things that are truly good.  But above all else, I want to desire Him.  He is the only one who reaches deep within me and fills me with His love!

Lord, keep me close to You today.


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Restless Leg Syndrome

Scripture for Today: I John 3:19 “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence.”

Restless legs shown here are no longer a problem!  I am not quite sure what the artist was trying to convey with this display, but these legs will not be moving any time soon!  Perhaps everyone feels at some point that tingling uncontrollable urge to move one’s legs while trying to sleep.  How annoying to feel that itchy, creepy crawly feeling.  Moving seems to at least temporarily give relief.  But I tend to be less sympathetic when being kicked!

Today’s verse talks about a heart that is at rest.  When we know and are convinced that we belong to the truth, there is a resting settled feeling in our hearts.  In His presence, we feel His peace, knowing that we belong to Him.  No longer are our hearts restless, wandering or searching.  When we belong to Him, our hearts can no longer condemn us as He is greater than our hearts (verse 20).  We can have confidence before God as He knows everything and He knows our hearts better than we do ourselves!  When we believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our hearts are finally at rest (verse 23).

When my heart is at rest, there is a confident peace.  He does not want my heart to be restless or troubled (John 14:27).  His Spirit testifies with my spirit that I am God’s own (Rom.8:16) and reassures my heart.  How good He is to give me that heart at rest!  And how much I want that for friends and family members who live restless lives without Him.

“Jesus, I am resting resting in the joy of what Thou art.”  Lord, may I feel that heart rest today.

 


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Currency Exchange

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 55:2 “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”

It was not so long ago that I came across this old bill tucked into an inner pocket of some jeans.  It looked like it had been through the wash a few times.  But that was not a big problem as it was still in one piece.  The problem was its worth.  I remember using it for the equivalent of roughly five dollars, depending on that day’s currency rate.  Of course, with the advent of the euro, the worth of this bill is only in the memories it evokes.

Today’s verse asks a very good question.  Why do we spend our money on what does not really satisfy?  In God’s economy, all of our money is worthless as it cannot buy what truly satisfies us.  He invites us to come, buy, eat and drink, all without money!  The bread that satisfies is Jesus Himself as the Bread of Life (John 6:48).  Jesus calls Himself the  “living water” that quenches our thirst for meaningful life and significance (John 4:10).

This is an invitation to come and to listen.  But His voice competes with the noises of this world telling me differently.  Everyday I am bombarded with the message that happiness is just one purchase away!  But I know in my heart of hearts that true satisfaction goes deeper, where He is found.  He offers what is truly good, delightful and rich!  He offers a satisfaction that has nothing to do with my bank account or how hard I work!

Lord, help me find the satisfaction You offer me today.

 


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Black Hole

Scripture for Today: Psalm 90:14 “Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

Theory has it that falling into a black hole would stretch one out like a long piece of spaghetti!  These strange phenomena in space cannot really be seen, being black.  But scientists know they are there from the gravity pulling on the stars and gasses surrounding it.  They are thought to be the result of collapsed stars and their gravitational pull is extremely powerful.  The black hole grows enormous as nearby dust and gas fall into it.  That black hole grows larger but never becomes full!

Today’s verse describes where satisfaction is to be found.  God’s love does not change or falter.  It is unfailing and can be the best beginning of the day.  God’s love satisfies the relentless searching of our souls.  When we are satisfied with His love, our lives are marked by songs of joy and gladness.  Without His love, the search for satisfaction can be like that black hole.  We can grab at whatever we can grasp to fill the hole inside ourselves.  But nothing else can quite fill that void.  We are made for close intimate relationship with our Creator.

The minute my eyes fly open in the morning is the best time to appreciate and revel in His love!  Before the distractions and obligations of the day begin, I want to acknowledge His love and care.  He has given me another day of life.  He is there to walk through the day with me, His presence being my security.  His love will never fail me.  He has promised.  Thinking on this truth brings satisfaction to my day before it even begins!

Lord, satisfy me today with Your love.