Devotions By Jan


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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.


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Too Many Tabs?

Scripture for Today:Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”

How many tabs do you have open right this minute?  There are all kinds of solutions out there for organizing all those open tabs into one single tab.  It is said that having too many open at once is not good for the health of one’s computer.  Perhaps there is an increased risk of a crash or reboot.  In any case, I enjoy having them all open in front of my eyes when immersed in a project.  But many times I am just lazy and need to close what is not immediately relevant.

Today’s verse, if put into computer language, is about having only one tab open.  All of David’s attention is on the Lord.  Above all else he wants to enjoy His presence.  David asks of the Lord only one thing.  Nothing is quite as important than spending time in His presence and enjoying His beauty.  All else pales in comparison to the importance of his relationship to the Lover of his soul.

It is hard for me to have this same mindset.  With so many roles to fill and expectations to meet, multiple tabs are always open.  But what is most important is spending time in God’s presence.  It is not just an obligation but a pleasure!  When I spend time with the Lord, whether individually or with others, I feel as if my day has value.  All the other tabs can close when I gaze into His loveliness.

Keep me seeking You, Lord, above all else.


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Hockey Stick

Scripture for Today: Luke 12:15 “Then He said to them, ‘Be on guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'”

There are some players in this picture that seem more prepared than their fellow hockey enthusiasts.  They are the ones with their hockey sticks touching the ice.  Regardless of where the hockey puck is, they have their sticks in position and at the ready.  That puck can come out of nowhere and with lightening speed, catching a player off guard.  The smart player will keep his hockey stick touching the ice as much as possible.

Today’s verse is a warning from Jesus to a crowd of listeners.  It was a specific response to a question about making an inheritance fair.  Jesus follows this warning with a parable about the rich fool whose goal in life is to store up more and more things, to the point of building bigger storehouses.  There are different kinds of greed to guard against.  And knowing that a life of significance is not found in possessions is one of the ways we can keep our “hockey stick on the ice” and be on our guard!

Greed is sneaky and insidious.  It is something that I need to guard against or it will influence my thoughts and my behavior.  Regardless of how much I have, the world tells me that more is better.  But in God’s economy, I am to be, “rich towards God.” (verse 21)  And I can be on guard by being in His Word and reminding myself of what really constitutes life; a loving trusting relationship with my Creator.  If I am greedy for anything, may it be more of Him, more of His love and beauty in my life!

Lord, be my defense against greed today.


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Climbing Mountains

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 2:22 “What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?”

I love a good challenge.  Having worthy goals can stimulate and engage us.  Without them we can become bored and disinterested in life.  But it is not always easy to balance the need for new mountains to climb and the ideal of being content.  When the summit is reached, there can be a sense of deep satisfaction at the accomplishment.  The problem comes when that feeling dissipates.  And from the summit we see new mountains to climb.  Do we stop climbing and find contentment on our summit?  Or can we be content while continually seeking new mountains to climb?

Today’s verse from King Solomon asks a good question.  Why do we work?  Why do we strive and toil?  Whether it is for altruistic or selfish motives, what is our purpose for our mountain climbing?  After all of Solomon’s accomplishments he concluded that though his “heart took delight” in what he had done (vs. 10) he felt it was meaningless.  A life of significance that is meaningful has nothing to do with reaching our financial or vocational goals.  But it has everything to do with relationship.

There is no higher more satisfying goal than to know Jesus personally.  It is a relationship that is all consuming and never ending. Knowing Him is not only a life-long process, but an eternity-long process.  Our God is so grand and awesome that one can never come to the end of knowing Him!  He is the life-giver, the life-sustainer and the reason for which I live.  Knowing, loving and serving Him is the mountain I climb.  I will never reach the summit and that is fine with me as He gives me such joy along the way!

Lord, let me climb higher today!

 

 


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Forever Young

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:5 “…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

This image communicates such a contrast between young and old, vibrant and struggling.  However, for a 60+ year old man from the Netherlands, this was not how he saw himself.  In his head and spirit, if not in his body, he was still young.  On a job application he put his age down as 49.  When he was called on it, he explained that this was how he felt inside!

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!  There is satisfaction in remembering each of the good things that are already ours.  He forgives, He heals. He redeems, and He crowns us with His love and compassion (verses 3-4).  Those intangible benefits provide a satisfaction that constantly renew the spirit.

If I did not know His love and compassion I would feel prematurely old.  And realizing all His good gifts is a lift and renewal to my spirit!  Focusing on HIs benefits means there is no longer 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 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!  Remembering His benefits is the best way I know to feel young!

Thank you Lord, that You satisfy and renew me.