Devotions By Jan


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Lap Cat

 

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:12  “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

This is not our cat.  Tiger would never consent to sit in our laps, let alone relax and sleep there.  I tried so hard to make him a lap cat, but he would have none of it!  There is something soothing about having that little heater rest on one’s knees.  But when a cat is that relaxed and contented I feel pinned in place, not wanting to disturb him by getting out of the chair.

Today’s verse is about experiencing contentment regardless of our circumstances.  Having every need and desire fulfilled is no guarantee to having contentment.  Nor is experiencing lack a recipe for discontent.  Paul knew what he was talking about as he lived both of these scenarios.  What is encouraging is that contentment can be learned.  It is not always our first reaction but with enough practice it can be.  There is a secret to learning this contentment and that secret is found in our relationship to Christ.  He gives me the ability to find contentment in Him.

What this suggests to me is that when I am feeling disgruntled and deprived, I just need to crawl back up into His lap!  Rather than focusing on the negatives in my life, I turn to Him.  Reminding myself of who He is and all the blessings He has already given me helps me find that lap of contentment.  For me, it is really a choice as to where I am focusing my thoughts.

Lord, help me to find that elusive contentment in You.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Counting Stars

Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:14-15 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”

It seems an impossible task, to count the stars.  But who among us has not at least tried as a child?  I was surprised to learn that there is an answer!  9,096 stars are visible to the naked eye if one could see both hemispheres at once!  So of course, we have to divide that number in half.  Maybe the number 4,548 seems underwhelming but in fact that number becomes even less impressive with poor visibility or in lighter skies over cities.  However, with only a three-inch telescope that number jumps to about 5 million!

Today’s verse describes those who do not grumble or argue as shining stars in the sky.  Perhaps it would not be so difficult to count these stars!  Someone who does not grumble and argue stands in stark contrast to everyone else.  And the light from even just one of these stars pierces the spiritual darkness around it.  People notice when there is a sweet uncomplaining spirit in the face of adversity.  I know because my Mother was one of these stars.  Even though at 95 she had to depend on others, lose her mobility, and suffer all kinds of indignities, she did not grumble or complain.

I often wonder how best to “let the light shine” (Matt  5:16) so that people see and God is glorified.  This answer seems too simple.  But I find it is one of the hardest to live out.  Thankfully, it is God who works in me to bring about what is not natural! (verse 13)

Lord, make me a star!  Keep me sweet and uncomplaining today.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Stork Sightings

Scripture for Today:Psalm 84:2 “My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

How fun to be back in the land of the storks!  Here on the French/German border I see them daily on my walks and they always take my breath away, soaring above my head or foraging in the fields.  There are lots of beliefs and legends surrounding this magnificent bird.  In ancient Egypt a stork was used as a hieroglyph for the “Ba”or “soul.”  And in Germany storks have long been protected because of the belief that their souls were human!

Today’s verse describes a soul that yearns and even faints for the presence of the Lord.  The soul of man is created to have intimate relationship with his Creator.  The courts of the Lord are a lovely place (verse 1).  Being in His courts for even just one day is better than a thousand days anywhere else! (verse 10)  We are told to “dwell” in His house as a sparrow and swallow would nest in her home (verse 3).  This is not just a Sunday church experience but a daily closeness with Him.  Those that dwell in His house are happy and blessed, praising Him for His goodness (verse 4).

I know I am far from His house or presence when I am dissatisfied and negative.  When I am feeling far away from my Creator, there is a lack of joy and praising Him is not a natural impulse.  When I have had enough of my own company I feel my soul being drawn again to His wonderful and lovely presence.  I yearn for those soft sweet whispers of love and reassurance.

Thank you Lord, that You always welcome me back to Your presence!

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Bent Out Of Shape

Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:14-15a “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure , ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation…'”

It is a mystery!  No one knows why this grove of about 100 pines in Poland became so bent and crooked!  Each tree sharply bends towards the North for three to nine feet before curving back upright.  They were planted in 1930 and no one is around to explain.  As nearby trees grow normally, the best explanation is that it was done by man to ready the wood for curved ship-building parts.  Although, I personally like the alien explanation!

Today’s verse describes a whole generation as being warped and crooked.  Being “bent out of shape” is the natural state of those who follow their own way rather than God’s way.  The works of the Lord are perfect and He is perfectly upright (Deut. 32: 4-5)  Those who belong to Him have His righteousness and stand upright as well, just as those surrounding straight trees.  One of the most telling differences between the children of God and the surrounding crooked generation is doing everything without grumbling or arguing.

We all grumble, complain and argue.  I cannot imagine never indulging in this natural behavior.  But the idea is that a believer is not to be characterized by it.  If I really believe that the Lord is in control of my life, then it stands to reason that He allows those complaint-inducing circumstances!!  I can complain about being stuck in traffic or I can trust God’s timing for my day.  I can pine away about what I do not have, or I can thank Him for all He does give me.

Lord, You are so good to me.  Keep me from complaining today.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Roseate Spoonbill

Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:8-9 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. Fear the Lord, you His holy people, for those who fear Him lack nothing.”

This wading bird lives in the mangroves, or tropical swamps of the southeastern United States.  His pink plumage, red eyes and partly bald head make him recognizable, but what really distinguishes him is that giant spoon-shaped bill!  With it he may look a bit comical but this bill allows him to sweep underwater from side to side and scoop up fish and crustaceans.

Today’s verse has no spoon but is an invitation to “taste and see.”  There are those who say they have tried God or tried religion.  And perhaps they have in some manner.  But to “taste and see” means coming to the Lord in humble fear, recognizing who He is.  We realize just how good He is when we throw ourselves on His mercy and take refuge in His love and power.  When He opens the “eyes of our hearts” (Eph. 1:18)), we are ready to fully engage and scoop up every spiritual blessing He offers (Eph. 1:3).

I have tasted and I have seen His goodness.  And unlike the temporary good feeling of eating something tasty, His goodness and blessing keep me satisfied in the deepest part of me.  He knows exactly what I am craving as He created me to hunger for Him.  When I fear and respect Him, I will lack nothing.  He is that good!  He satisfies my deepest desires for love, peace, beauty, and significance!  How amazing He is!  I am blessed when I make Him my refuge.  And what is so amazing is that His goodness never fails to satisfy!

Lord, thank you for blessing me.