Devotions By Jan


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The Border Collie

Scripture for Today:  John 16:8   “When He  comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement……”

This beautiful border collie has everyone’s rapt attention!  Unlike the “heeler” dogs who nip at heels, this breed is called a “header.”  He goes to the front of the animal to turn or stop its movement.  It is common for a border collie to stand in front of a large group and use what is called a “strong eye” to stare them down into submission!

Today’s verse talks about the role of the Holy Spirit.  Like the header dog that nudges the sheep in the right direction, so we need Him to direct and lead.  We are like sheep and left to ourselves would go astray (Is. 53:6).  We all need the Shepherd’s rod and staff for correction and for getting us out of danger!  His Spirit brings the conviction of what is wrong, what is right and the consequences a behavior brings.  The Spirit incites the positive godly guilt that leads to repentance (II Cor. 7:9.)

The Lord is my Shepherd but the Holy Spirit is like that border collie.  I love that the indwelling Holy Spirit brings comfort, power and His fruit in my life (Gal. 5:22-23).  However, the guilt and conviction from Him is not a comfortable experience.  The quicker I listen and obey, changing direction, the sooner the experience is over.  But that temporary discomfort is well worth avoiding that fall over a cliff!  His desire is always for my good.  As my Shepherd He leads me in the paths of righteousness where I can find quiet waters to refresh my soul (Psalm 23).  That is why His conviction as a rod and staff can actually bring me comfort!

Lord, help me see Your correction as proof of Your love..


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Anteater

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 10:19 “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.”

He could almost be cute if it were not for that tongue!  The anteater is also called the ant bear.  His Greek name means “three fingers” referring to his claws.  His long bushy tail and elongated muzzle give him such an odd appearance.  Even so, he can be fierce  which is why perhaps he is  UCI’s mascot.  That sticky saliva-covered tongue can stretch up to two feet.  He can flick his tongue 160 times a minute.  He would need to be rapid to eat his required 35,000 insects a day!

Today’s verse points out that stopping sin is not done by increasing our words.  In fact, the more we try to dig ourselves out of a hole by talking, the deeper we sink in!  We tend to excuse, rationalize and shift blame with our words.  We try to minimize the importance of our wrong doing and end up bringing more attention to it!  This reminds me of the famous line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much.”  Nothing is resolved by trying to talk our way out of the situation.  The prudent one will hold his tongue and not make things worse.

I have a hard time holding my tongue.  It seems to have a life of its own.  The words in my head can sound so reasonable and even necessary to say.  But once uttered aloud, they can transform what was something minor into something major.  And once said, they cannot be called back.  How many times I have regretted that impulse to speak when silence was the better way!  I need the Lord to give me the self-control He has promised (Gal. 5:23) and His wisdom to know when to keep quiet!

Help me Lord to be prudent today!


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Face Blindness

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:58 “I have sought Your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to Your promise.”

Imagine seeing everyone, even those closest to you, as strangers!  Those dealing with the neurological disorder “prosopagnosia” or face blindness, sometimes do not even recognize their own faces in the mirror!  Those who have this disorder use other techniques to distinguish people including: voice, gait, hairstyle, clothing, body type or context.  Brad Pitt and Jane Goodall are among the 2.5% of Americans who suffer from this problem, which sometimes runs in families.  Not remembering names can be annoying but how much worse this would be!

Today’s verse comes from the longest psalm in the Bible.  The author values God’s law and precepts more than life and makes following them his life’s mission.  With the same ardor he seeks God’s face with all of his heart.  And in seeking God’s face he asks for God to remember His promises and be gracious to him.  One of His promises is that the upright or those in right standing with Him will see His face (Psalm 11:7).  To those who wholeheartedly seek Him, He reveals Himself, His character and His love.  He is the rewarded of those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

He is worth the effort of seeking and searching!  He rewards such effort with more and more revelation of Himself!  Nothing on earth can compare to Him.  I cannot see His face with anything but spiritual eyes.  But one day I will be face-to-face in His literal presence.  But even today I can recognize His face shining on me (Numbers 6:25) when I see all the ways He has been gracious to me.  With all my heart I want to seek His face more today than I did yesterday.

Lord, help me recognize Your face.


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First Day of Spring

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 35:1-2a “The desert and the parched land will be glad. The wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom. It will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.”

For many parts of the world, the small crocus poking out its little head through cold hard ground is the first indication of spring!  For years in the north of France that was true for us.  My heart was always encouraged with that unexpected burst of color appearing.  There was still plenty of brown landscape and barren trees, but at least I knew that change was in the air!

Today’s verse uses the image of the crocus to picture the joy of God’s redeemed people.  The desert of their distress and persecution will be transformed into joyful springs of water.  There will be a day when God will move on their behalf, coming with vengeance and salvation (verse 4).  Every wrong will be made right.  There will be singing, shouting, gladness and everlasting joy for the redeemed.  There will be complete healing and protection.  Sorrow and sighing will be no more!

What an incredible future awaits me!  I can choose to live with joy as I look forward to that coming day.  I do not have to be bowed down with sorrow over the struggles I face.  A different season is coming.  There is a promise of so much more to come.  All will be transformed in the blink of an eye.  At that point, there will be no containing my bursting joy!  It is so easy to look around at everything sad and barren in my life and become discouraged.  But instead, I am going to look for that small crocus flower today!

Thank you Lord, that incredible joy IS my future!


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Cricket Shelter

Scripture for Today: Psalm 31:20 “In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from all human intrigues; You keep them safe in Your dwelling from accusing tongues.”

This spiky plastic pod looks positively alien!  But in fact, it is a shelter, creating a modular farm.  And it is built just for crickets and for raising them.  These insects are harvested, dried and ground up for the production of flour.  As disgusting as it sounds, they provide three times as much protein as steak!  In areas that are impoverished, they can be another source to combat potential starvation.  The spikes help capture the wind and provide ventilation.  They can be used individually or stacked in sequence forming a line of shelters.

Today’s verse is a wonderful assurance for those who are under some serious verbal attack.  God’s presence is a shelter from accusing tongues.  He hides His own from the plots and conspiracies of men.  David is often under physical attack from his enemies.  But the damage inflicted this time is to his name and his reputation.  To combat this kind of slanderous attack he turns to God to still those lying lips (verse 18).  David ends the psalm testifying to the reader that all those who hope in the Lord can be strong and take heart (verse 24).

False accusations cause a very different kind of pain and it is often unexpected.  It is an effective attack as even the accusation standing on its own can ruin a reputation.  But God knows and He hates lying.  He promises vindication and protection by His very presence.  He stores up good things for those who trust Him to act.  Not only that, He gives to us those good things, “in the sight of all,” validating us publicly.

Thank you Lord, that trust placed in You is well placed.

 


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Conspiracy Theories

Scripture for Today: John 18:37b  “…In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me.”

I have seen an eclipsed moon, a blood moon, a super moon, and a blue moon.  But never once have I suspected that perhaps the moon was not there!  There is a conspiracy theory saying not only that the moon landing was a hoax, but that the moon no longer exists.  What we are seeing is just a hologram!  It is all a cover-up, hiding the awful truth that either the moon was destroyed or colonized by aliens!

Today’s verse was the Lord’s response to Pilate’s questions.  Jesus not only testifies to truth but He tells us that He IS truth (John 14:6).  The truth of Jesus is in stark contrast to the lies purported by the Father of lies, who has so deluded the world (John 8:44).  It is easy enough to distinguish the absence of truth in most of these conspiracy theories.  But when it comes to the spiritual realm, believers are to protect themselves by a belt of truth (Eph. 6:14).  Jesus teaches us truth through His Word (John 17:17 ) and through His Spirit who guides us into all truth (John 16:13).

I want to stand on the side of truth and that can only happen as I listen to Him!  There are plenty of dissenting voices clamoring for my attention.  But if those voices deviate in any way from what the Lord has clearly stated, then I am not to listen.  Truth is not subjectively discovered.  It is an absolute in a Person.  I dare not trust the changing ideas of truth found elsewhere.  His truth stands forever and I want to forever stand on the side of truth!

Thank you Lord, that You are truth.


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The Vole

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 17b-18 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

Cute?  The vole is the bane of anyone trying to grow trees and plants or anything with a bulb!  They burrow underneath the ground and munch on the roots of trees and plants.  The vole is related to the mouse and is the most prolific of all the rodents.  They are active all year long, day and night.  Their presence goes undetected underground, that is until leaves start to wither and there is no fruit.

Today’s verse talks about being rooted and established in God’s love.  Having roots is essential to grow in faith and enjoy good spiritual health.  But those roots are compromised by niggling doubts.  Like those nasty voles, our doubts can burrow underneath where we cannot see them and gnaw on those roots.  We start to doubt His love.  Before long what is happening below the surface starts to be visible in the flower that droops.  God’s love has not changed but we are no longer drawing from it to produce fruit.

God’s love for me is wider, longer, higher and deeper than I can realize on my own.  I need His power to really grasp this truth.  But when I do, His love nourishes me and makes me strong.  When I live out the truth of His love, my faith and confidence flourish.  Those voles do not have a chance to erode anything.  The Lord is so good to continually reassure me of His love.  Regardless of how I feel, His love is constant and true.

Thank you Lord, for holding me up with Your love.