Devotions By Jan


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Orangutan Nests

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:9 “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

Joeavison1, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Almost daily the orangutan ape builds a new nest high in the treetops. His engineering skills are surprising as he tears off larger branches for his base and smaller leafier branches for the middle and can even build a sort of pillow and blanket high up in the trees. He breaks off some branches to size, bends some and intertwines others for a stable bed. A benefit from his nightly nest building is larger openings in the tree canopy, letting in more light.

Today’s verse speaks of another source of light. This light not only enables us to see but gives life! Jesus identifies Himself as the light of the world. Following this light means we no longer walk in darkness. (John 8:12) He does not only illuminate a tree canopy but a lifetime with the Light of His presence.  God has made His light to shine in our hearts, to give us the knowledge of Him (II Cor. 4:6).  His light not only shows us who He is but it is also an expression of His priceless and unfailing love (Psalm 36:7).

Being in His Word intensifies that light He gives. His light is warm and loving, giving me closeness to Him and direction for my day. Without it, I can easily stumble around and lose my purpose. I can even get quite accustomed to the dimness and shadows. But the further I wander from His light, the more negative and discouraged I become.  But oh what a difference when I return to the source of Light! Not only does His light dispels darkness in my heart and mind but it also draws others to Himself!

Lord, keep me in Your light today.


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Protecting Vines

Scripture for Today: John 15:1-2 “I (Jesus) am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

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Mya, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

France is experiencing record lows late in the season. Drastic action is being taken to keep those vines from freezing. This includes lighting fires and “crop candles” in an effort to raise the temperature. Some vinedressers even concoct a special herb tea infusion for the vines! Giant fans and helicopters are used to pull warmer air from higher up, pushing it toward the ground.

Today’s verses describes some drastic action as well. God is the gardener or vinedresser for His true vine; His Son, Jesus. Believers are the branches that need special care to be fruitful. Not only do we as the branches need to stay connected to our Vine but we are worked on by our Vinedresser to be fruitful. Some branches are cut off because they produce absolutely no fruit, completely missing their reason to be! Others produce fruit but need His pruning and cleaning to produce more and better fruit for Him.

I would rather have His care, even if it involves drastic measures, than to completely miss my purpose! Being pruned is not a comfortable experience. But I know my Father’s discipline is not a punishment as my sins are paid for on the cross. His discipline is a teaching moment and always done with love and for my benefit. He turns around the freezing temperatures of indifference or pride in my life. With His care, I can look forward to my service becoming more and better fruit!

Lord, thank you for Your loving care.


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Notes of Hope

Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:1-2 “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.”

Music filled the hall in New York City, calming the nerves and giving encouragement to those taking the vaccine. Sing For Hope was founded just after 911 to encourage the first responders. Their mission statement says, “Sing for Hope harnesses the power of the arts to create a better world.” Being that music continues in Heaven where no improvement is needed, music must have a much more profound purpose.

Today’s verse gives us the best purpose of music; that of praising our Creator! We praise Him for His love in the morning, allowing us another day of life. We praise Him for His faithfulness at night for having brought us through another day. Our praise is non-stop all day long! But more than that, our praise in music continues on into eternity, echoing down golden streets! Our music on earth is only a warm-up before the big and eternal concert of praise to our Savior!

Despite a raspy voice, sour notes or being off key, my music is beautiful being “heart music” and it will continue forever! (Psalm 30:12) Praising Him lifts my spirits, refocusing my attention on HIm. Music directed to Him calms my heart and encourages me to be more faithful to Him. Music is such a gift to all humanity but as a believer, it stirs my soul to praise Him! And that praise brings a renewed sense of closeness to the Creator of all the arts! God-honoring music may or may not make a better world, but it does make a better me!

Lord, make this a day of continual praise!


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Palm Branches

Scripture for Today: John 13:13 “They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna.’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ‘ Blessed is the king of Israel.'”

I can just imagine the scene when the people, in their enthusiasm for Jesus, waved palm branches at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The branches they waved may have come from the Judean Date Palm. The only example is found at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel. It was brought back from extinction in 2005 from a 2,000 year old seed from Masada! Waving these large long palm leaves would have taken some effort!

Today’s verse comes from a surprising scene that was prophesied in the Psalms (Psalm, 118:25-26). The people were hailing Jesus as a political liberator. This great crowd shouted their praise of “Hosanna” meaning “Save!” They wanted a king. They wanted to break away from Roman rule. They did not realize that before He returns as King of Kings, He would suffer as their sacrificial Lamb, taking on the punishment of their sin and ours. When He did not do as they expected, this same crowd would later that week turn on Jesus.

Jesus will one day return as King of King and Lord of Lords. And although He is all powerful, He continues to do things differently from what I expect of Him. I want Him to establish His kingdom now, but he waits. He gives more opportunity for people to come to Him. He is just and I want to see Him punish the wicked now but He has His own timetable. I do not want to be fickle in my worship of Him. Whether I understand what He is doing or not, I want to trust His heart and plan in every circumstance!

Thank you Lord, that You are always worthy of praise!

Photo Credit: DA Sonnenfeld at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Methuselah-Ketura-2018-10.jpg


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Timing Is Everything

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

 

 

 

 

 

For 20 years in France we enjoyed our talkative Gaby. She so easily picked up words and phrases in French and in English. But she did do something very annoying and discouraging. Every time I finished a piece on the piano, she would yell out in a derisive tone, “Whatever!” I would turn around, look at her and fume. Things changed for the better when I taught her to say, “Bravo!” when coming to the end of a song.

Today’s verse tells us that what comes out of our mouths matters. Unwholesome talk is talk that is also rotten and useless. Not only do these words fail to build someone up, but they have no benefit at all. However, our words can have tremendous value in helping another to grow and thrive. Our words have the potential to meet the need we all have for encouragement and affirmation. Even just one word spoken at the time of greatest need can lift someone up and keep them from falling into a pit of depression.

Sometimes, all it takes is one positive word to turn around what is negative. I want my words to be gracious, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Prov. 16:24). I want my words to be like His; kind, compassionate and forgiving (verse 32). But that cannot happen without a heart that is changed by Him. My mouth reveals what is in my heart (Luke 6:45b). If my heart is full of selfishness and pride, I am less likely to even care about encouraging someone else.

Lord, change my heart and so change my words!