Devotions By Jan


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A Fork

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.”

I can understand a fork in the road, but a fork in a lake confuses me, especially a literal one!  This  twenty six foot fork stands upright in Lake Geneva, Switzerland.  Sculpted by a Swiss for the tenth anniversary of a food museum in Vevey, it graced the shoreline for two years before coming down amidst controversy.  After ten years, it made its return in 2008 and has now been approved to stay permanently.

I see this fork as an invitation to taste and see how magnificent the water and surrounding Alps are for the soul.  Being around such beauty is refreshing, especially after city noise and congestion.  Perched right on the water and the home of Charlie Chaplin, Vevey is one of my favorite places in Switzerland.  The problem comes when I have to leave and I lose that sense of calm and peace nature gives me.

Today’s verse is also an invitation to “taste and see.”  Unlike the temporary good feeling being in nature brings, taking refuge in God’s strength and beauty is nothing I have to leave behind.  His goodness and blessing keep me satisfied in the deepest part of me.  Not only am I able to enjoy to the fullest His creation, I can at the same time commune with the Creator!  He is so good that I lack nothing.  Every spiritual blessing is already mine (Eph. 1:3) and He satisfies my deepest desires for love, peace, beauty, and significance!  How amazing He is!  Taste and see, but with a spoon, so as to enjoy every drop!

Lord, thank you for the satisfaction You give me!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.

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Another World

img_20161001_112154Scripture for Today: John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I wish this man would turn around so I could see the shock on his face when he realizes that not all is as it appears!  This image reminds me of the movie, “The Truman Show” with Jim Carey where he unknowingly lives in an artificial domed world.  The man in this image would never have known there was another world had he not been curious and courageous enough to lift that curtain!

Today’s verse is spoken by the Lord, our Good Shepherd.  Those who belong to Him are pictured as sheep who enter only through Jesus, the Gate.  They have freedom to go in and out and find green pasture.  But there is another group who do not belong to Him and are fooled by the “thief,” or Satan.  They are fooled into thinking that this life and what we see is the only reality, when in fact there is another whole world.

Satan does not want anyone lifting that curtain and seeing the spiritual realm.  By hiding the reality of the abundant life Jesus offers, he steals from men their capacity to enjoy their days to the fullest!  With eyes blinded we miss out on what is real and eternal, until the Lord opens our eyes (Acts 26:18).  Without realizing it, so many are content to live with the pigs and eat their scraps rather than feasting and partying at the Father’s table! (Luke 15:11-25)

I am so grateful for Jesus giving me a life that includes that other unseen world.  This world is just not enough.  But He is!

Thank you Lord, for the full abundant life You give me!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Skinning a Watermelon

watermelon-600x450Scripture for Today: James 3:14 “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”

I have never tried this.  It looks complicated and time consuming.  I suspect it requires some handling skills I sure do not have!  But I can see the benefits of skinning a watermelon.  There is nothing so annoying as scooping out the flesh too deeply and ruining that sweet mouthful with a taste of the bitter rind.  I usually end up throwing out some of the fruit in order to avoid that bit of bitterness.

Today’s verse comes in the middle of defining two kinds of wisdom; earthly and heavenly.  The earthly wisdom is full of envy and selfish ambition, leading to all kinds of chaos and evil.  Heavenly wisdom exhibits itself in a life of good works done in humility (verse 13).  Harboring bitter envy in one’s heart signals the presence of pride.  That selfish thought that one deserves better is a sure way to become embittered.

I would be less than honest if I did not admit to thoughts of envy.  I am constantly surrounded by those who enjoy the world’s “goodies” that I do not have.  But what makes envy “bitter?”  I cannot enjoy that sweet bite of watermelon with the bitter rind included.  In the same way, I cannot completely enjoy all of God’s wonderful blessings while entertaining envious thoughts.  It turns even the good things I enjoy into something sour.  Wanting what others have even has an adverse effect on health, “rotting the bones” (Proverbs 14:30)  But a “heart of peace” gives life to the body.  I do not want anything this life has to offer as much as I want contentment!

Lord, help me to be thankful and contented with everything You have given me.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Gaining Weight

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 6:6-7 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”

Weight gain is usually a negative thought except when it concerns a new baby.  The baby’s check-ups nearly always includes a weighing in, often on cold hard metal, without a diaper and amid much protest.  How much and how quickly a newborn gains weight is carefully monitored.  The growth charts are regularly checked to verify that the gains are within the norm.  Often, being in the ninetieth percentile for weight is a point of understandable pride for the mother.

Today’s verse talks about “great gain.”  In our world, a great gain would be a reference either to financial gain or perhaps a gain of physical strength.  But this great gain is described as godliness with contentment.  Any other kind of gain is left behind.  We can bring nothing into this world nor can we take anything out of it.  Godliness with contentment is a gain that changes how we live and lasts into eternity!

Contentment is learned (Phil. 4:11-12).  Godliness too is something for which we train ourselves (I Timothy 4:7-8).  It is a process and I have a long way to go.  But the effort is worth it as “godliness has value for all things” (verse 8).  To be both content and godly at the same time is of tremendous worth, adding a whole other dimension to my life. Unfortunately, my envy and discontent distract me.  My tendency to compromise or rationalize a less-than-godly activity keeps me from progressing.  I often feel it is “one step forward, two steps back.”  The rare times when both contentment and godliness are present in my day make it a very good one!

Lord, make this day a day of great gain!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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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..