Devotions By Jan


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Eating Scraps

Scripture for Today: Psalms 145:15-16  “The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due time.  You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”

Not a single scrap of food was wasted during the second world war.  This young girl is putting scraps into the city pig bin in Surrey, England.  The image comes from the Imperial War Museum to depict life at the “Home Front.”  All those scraps were collected and treated and then fed to the pigs.  The pigs will eat just about anything.  They are not too picky and are easily satisfied, sometimes even with food that is nasty and spoiled.  But for the famished young man feeding pigs in Luke 15, even their food looked good!  The prodigal son had traded the comfort of his Father’s presence for the pleasures the world had to offer.

Today’s verse tells us where true satisfaction can be found.  What comes from His hand brings satisfaction.  The problem comes when we turn to the world for that satisfaction.  We mistakenly think that the pleasures the world offers will somehow meet our desires when nothing is further from the truth.  Like the Prodigal Son, we end up with the pigs, mindlessly eating the scraps.

So many are deluded and living contentedly with scraps in the pigsty when they could be dining at their Father’s table.  What the world offers not only fails to truly satisfy but leaves a bitter aftertaste.  My Heavenly Father gives good gifts that satisfy my deepest and sometimes unconscious desires.  His open hand is waiting to give to those who look to Him in faith.  I can say this as He has satisfied me with a love that will never fail!

Thank you Lord, that You satisfy my deepest hunger, that of my soul.


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Binging

Scripture for today: I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

We used to think of binging only in terms of eating and drinking.  But of course, binging can refer to indulging to excess in any activity.  Binging on a television series has become a common pastime for some.  A “binge racer” is someone who completes an entire season of a television show within a day of its release.  While living in France, friends would send us a show’s entire season.  To binge watch was a true temptation although real life usually interrupted the idea of “indulging to excess.”

Today’s verses seem to indicate that there is no such thing as excess when it comes to joy, prayer or thankfulness.  All three of these activities can be indulged to our heart’s content.  In fact, each please the Lord and are part of His desire for the way we live.  To always have deep-seated joy would include in the middle of any circumstance, even the negative ones (James 1:2).  Being in a continual attitude of prayer means that the lines of communication remain open and intact.  And to always give thanks recognizes God’s loving control in every circumstance.

I can never rejoice too much.  I can never pray more than I should.  And the Lord never tires of hearing my grateful praise!  Each of these activities can never be indulged too much.  He asks me to make them part of my every day life.  He knows how enriching they are to my day and how they direct my heart toward Him.  When I choose joy, when I take time to talk with Him and when I am grateful for every blessing, I can feel His pleasure!

Lord, keep me close to You today.

 


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Kentucky Derby Horse Poo

Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:8 “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

The horses that qualify to race in the Kentucky Derby must be the best of the best.  But I never knew this distinction would extend to their feces!  But apparently for some, owning a jar of the stuff is a rare privilege, that is if one is willing to spend 200$ a jar!  The special “nugget” is covered in resin to preserve it on some lucky owner’s mantle.  I guess one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure!

Today’s verse presents a huge contrast between what is valued in life and the superior worth of knowing Christ personally.  Paul had it all.  His background was stellar as a righteous, educated and privileged pharisee.  He was full of religious zeal and entrusted with a mission.  He had the admiration and respect of the world of his day.  But compared to having a relationship with Jesus, he considered it garbage.

Paul found that making his relationship with Christ his goal far outweighed any satisfaction the world could give him.  When I have that same goal, my whole perspective changes.  When I weigh the value of knowing Him against any of my accomplishments or possessions, the choice is clear.  He is eternal and making Him the priority has eternal benefits.  I do not want to be lured away from Him by all that glitters.  I want to let go of what will keep me distracted and far from Him.  He is worth far more than all else.  “You can have all this world.  But give me Jesus.”

Thank you Lord, for the precious value of knowing You.


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Overpacked!

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 30:8b-9 “…but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.”

How is it that we can check the maximum measurements with the airline, carefully measure our carry-on and still somehow end up wrestling our bag into that impossibly small bin?  With the fees tacked on for checked luggage, the challenge is to fit more and more into our carry-ons.  As annoying as it is to wait for that passenger to stuff it in, I always sympathize with their dilemma.  Such are the woes for those of us who have too much!

Today’s verse recognizes the danger of having too much or not enough.  Too much and we tend to forget God, being entirely self-sufficient.  When we have plenty and everything is good, why pray?  There is no need to depend on Him for anything.  Jesus warned that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter God’s Kingdom (Mark 10:25).  To have plenty or more than enough keeps us from realizing our spiritual needs.  But to constantly be in need for the basics of life can make one bitter towards God.  Neither extreme is good.

I am so thankful to belong to One who takes care of daily need.  He does not give me too much.  He only gives me what I need.  He knows much more than I do what I can handle and what I cannot!  He is good and His grace is sufficient.  I do not need to wish or yearn for anything except more of Him.

Thank you Lord, that Your provision today will be perfect!

 


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Fear of Holes

Scripture for Today: Haggai 1:6 “You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put clothes on, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

These lotus seed pods do not mean to be frightening.  But for those who suffer from “trypophobia” or a fear of holes, the sight of them can trigger all kinds of symptoms including: discomfort, goosebumps, eye strain, distress, crawling skin, panic attacks, sweats, nausea, and body shakes.  This is not a phobia that is officially recognized.  But as with other phobias, the preferred treatment is exposure therapy in an attempt to change one’s response.

There was a response that needed changing in today’s verse.  The  returned exiles were to rebuild their temple.  But instead of making this a priority, they concentrated on building up their own homes.  Somehow, the time was never right to work on God’s house (verse 2).  There was always something more to do for themselves.  The prophet, Haggai, spoke to them God’s word; “Give careful thought to your ways.”  Because of their selfish living, they were not experiencing God’s blessing!  They could never have their fill.  There were holes in their purses.

I can fall into this same way of thinking.  How easy it is to put myself and my own comfort and convenience first!  But when I do, that elusive contentment with what I have is no where to be found!  “Holes in my purse” drain away any sense of fulfillment.  The Lord calls me to put Him first (Matt. 6:33).  Living for Him brings such blessing that everything He gives me can be enough.  I want Him and His incredible love to be my “enough.”

Lord, help me to put You first today.


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Courtyard

Scripture for Today: Psalm 84:1-2 “How lovely is Your dwelling place, Lord Almighty. My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

This courtyard one would think to find on the grounds of a European castle.  But in fact, this idyllic spot is part of the Hammond Castle Museum in Gloucester, Massachusetts.  Built in 1925 by the inventor John Hays Hammond, it sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean and operates as a museum.  As beautiful as the castle is, it is the courtyard that beckons one to sit and enjoy the peace and stillness.

Today’s verse makes reference to the dwelling place of the Lord Almighty.  His courts are so lovely that it rivals anything that man can build or even imagine.  But I do try to imagine it as small, enclosed and intimate.  I can hear water lapping and there is welcoming shade under beautiful green palm trees.  To spend even one day there in His court is better than a thousand days anywhere else.  Being even a lowly doorkeeper in this place would make me more privileged than dwelling in the richly appointed homes of the wicked (verse 10).

This is a place I can come to anytime.  His court or dwelling place is His presence.  And unlike the temple of the Old Testament, His temple is now within me (I Cor. 6:19).  His court is a place that satisfies the deepest longings and yearnings of my soul.  But oh how distracted I am by what I can see and touch!  When life is good and I am comfortable or feeling self-sufficient, I am not crying out to God.  It is when I come to the end of myself that I reach out to Him.

Lord, keep me in Your court.


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The Super Bowl of Food!

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Did you know that the biggest diet day for men is the day after the Super Bowl?  That makes sense as Super Bowl Sunday is the second most eating day behind Thanksgiving!  In fact, the average football fan gains ten pounds during the entire season!  There is something about couch time that encourages snacking.  And the more crunch there is, the more the chewing can release pent up tension as that player tries for the field goal!  And of course there are extra bites to celebrate…or to commiserate!

There is hunger and thirst in today’s verse for something much more satisfying than football snacks.  Those that hunger and thirst for righteousness will be full and satisfied.  With His righteousness we do not pine for something more.  There is no feeling of missing out on something better.  A righteous life is the best kind of life.  Doing the right thing, following His way, and experiencing right standing with our Creator gives a sense of well-being that is complete.  No other kind of life can be quite as full or satisfying!

My problem is that I hunger and thirst for other things, good things, that give only temporary satisfaction.  And of course, I hunger and thirst again.  But I do not want my life to be characterized by always wanting.  I desperately want to experience that contentment and satisfaction He offers.  If I make the Lord the object of my longing, He will satisfy me.  He has promised life to the full (John 10:10).  This “blessedness” means that I can overflow with hope (Rom. 15:13) and with joy (II Cor. 8:2).  I want to be able to say with the Psalmist, “my cup overflows!” (Psalm 23:5)

Fill me up with You, Lord.