Devotions By Jan


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Hawker Centers

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”

This young man looks confused as to which food stand to choose.  He is standing in a “Hawker Center,” in Singapore where he can find many different inexpensive hot foods.  These centers are the government’s solution to the mobile food carts on the streets.  The street hawkers would often attract customers with loud cries, chants or banter.  Of course, this practice is not unique to Singapore.  I have heard “hawkers” even in the Latin Quarter of Paris!

Today’s verse is an invitation to eat and drink but with no monetary gain the one offering.  This is an invitation to come quench one’s thirst and satisfy one’s hunger without any cost!  But somehow, we miss this invitation.  Instead of being satisfied with no cost, we spend money on what does not satisfy (verse 2).  Instead of listening for the invitation, we fill ourselves with what is not good.  Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life.  And to the woman at the well, Jesus offered a water that would end thirst!

The noise of other offers drown out this invitation.  Too often I am distracted by the world’s ideas of what will satisfy.  I am duped into spending money, time and energy on what in the end brings no satisfaction at all.  Even though I know better, I am lured into mainstream thinking and carried away by consumerism.  Instead of meeting the deepest needs of my soul, I content myself with the trappings of success.  Then I wonder why I feel so impoverished.  My God and Creator is the only One who truly satisfies.

Lord, may I respond to Your gracious invitation today.

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Eden

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:8 “They feast on the abundance of Your house; You give them drink from Your river of delights.”

This hidden gem on the Havasupai Reservation is called the desert’s “Garden of Eden.”  One can only access it by a ten mile descent by foot or mule.  I made this trek as a teenager with a group of others.  I can still remember the awe I felt when coming across the cascading turquoise water!  It was a welcomed sight after the dry, hot and dusty trail.  We had to pack in our own water for drinking, but splashing in the water was a relief from the relentless sun.

Today’s verse mentions rivers of delights.  The Lord’s presence is described as a dwelling place where there is feasting and abundance.  His presence quenches the thirst of our souls.  His unfailing love (verse 7) is a refuge and a delight.  The Garden of Eden in Scripture was a literal place near four rivers given as landmarks (Gen. 2:10-14).  The word, “Eden” in Hebrew means “delight.”  And there, His presence was a delight to Adam and Eve.  It was His presence that made it not only a garden but a garden of delight.

That same delight in my Lord’s presence is still possible.  Because He has paid the penalty for my sin, I can walk and talk with Him in that garden of delight.  There is delight when I can forget about past failures.  I am delighted to realize that nothing can ever separate me from His love.  No other relationship can give me the level of consistent delight that He offers!  My Garden of Eden is a deep, peaceful place of relationship.  He is always there, waiting for my return.

Help me Lord, to find that place of delight today.

 


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Restless Dogs

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.”

This poor pug looks grumpy and sleep-deprived!  Have you ever seen a dog circle and circle his bed before finally laying down?  Or there’s the dog that paces back and forth.  The restless dog will repeatedly adjust his sleep position, unable to lie still.  The reason for this behavior could be the pain of arthritis or a sign of doggy anxiety.  But this restlessness is not just a problem for dogs!  Everything can be positive in life and yet one can still have a restless spirit.

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.

Lord, may I feel that heart rest today.

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Pack Rat

Scripture for Today:Matthew 6:20-21  “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

This garage is definitely the work of a pack rat.  In fact, it looks like it could possibly have rats!  No, this is not our garage, fortunately.  We try very hard to clear out and sort on a regular basis.  It is never easy to let things go, but I have a horror of ending up like this picture!  As it is, I think we are the only ones in our cul-de-sac able to fit two cars in our garage!

Today’s verse talks about treasure without actually defining it.  It is treasure found in Heaven and cannot be destroyed.  Here on earth everything is temporal.  And one day everything will pass away to make way for the new earth (Matt. 24:35).  Yet, we all have the tendency to store up things even when we realize that, “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15b”).  There is something about the tangible that reassures us, provides a sense of security and even adds to our feelings of self-worth.

It is a sobering thought to realize that the objects I treasure are not going to last.  The lasting treasures are found in Heaven where my heart and focus need to be.  That treasure is not gold, the streets are paved with it.  It is not precious stones as those are just building materials for the gates.  Crowns will be readily given up and placed at the feet of Jesus.  The true lasting treasure is the loving presence of Jesus.  And that is a treasure I can enjoy today!

Lord, I want to treasure You.


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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.