Devotions By Jan


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A Squirrel and His Nut

Scripture for Today: Psalm 77:11-12 “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will consider Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds.”

I am not the only one who forgets where I have put things!  The University of Richmond did a study and found that squirrels fail to recover up to 74% of the nuts they bury!  Even so, they do have a strategy.  They do what’s called, “spatial chunking” sorting their nuts by size, type and taste and then burying them in groups.  Even more surprising are the grey squirrels who frequently dig up and then rebury the same nut, a behavior perhaps to refresh their memories!

Today’s verse comes from a psalm of Asaph, King David’s music director.  In his depression he is wondering if God is going to keep His promises.  He wonders if God’s love for him has vanished (verse 8).  He doubts and wonders but then he answers his own questions with these two verses.  He resolves to remember all of what the Lord has done in the past for him and his people.  He replaces his troubling thoughts with memories of God’s miracles and mighty deeds.

I have seen the Lord do so many miracles in my life!  He has provided and proved Himself faithful.  But those memories are so often buried.  I easily forget when I am struggling with a new difficulty.  I need to go back and dig it up to refresh my memory of His faithfulness!  Thoughts of His “mighty deeds” in the past restore my confidence and trust in Him!  Not only my memories do this but the testimony of others do too!  He has done it in the past and He will do it again!

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible faithfulness.

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Sleeping Whales

Scripture for Today: Psalm 121:2-3 “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber.”

The blowhole of this Blue Whale can be clearly seen on the top of his head.  As a mammal, he needs to periodically surface to fill his huge lungs with air so he can breathe underwater.  This means that a whale can never fall fully asleep!  Instead, they only allow half of their brain to sleep at a time.  The other half of their brain stays awake in order to come up for air when needed.

Today’s verse reminds us of how constant God’s care is of His own.  As the Maker of heaven and earth, He is all- powerful and has no need of sleep.  During the contest between God and Baal, Elijah taunted the false prophets when their god did not answer.  Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened! (I Kings 18:27)  The frantic dancing, shouting, and cutting of their bodies did not awaken a god that did not exist.  By contrast, our God is a faithful Source of help, always attentive to our cry day or night.

What a reassuring thought that He watches over me day or night!  There is never a time when I need to get His attention.  He is always thinking of me as His thoughts toward me are more numerous than the grains of sand (Psalm 139:18).  His watch over me means that He knows and He cares.  Nothing gets past Him.  What He allows to happen will be used to strengthen my faith and deepen our love relationship.  Whatever I am facing today, I can trust that He knows what He is doing.

Thank you Lord, for Your faithful watch over me.

 

 

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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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Gift Horse

Scripture for Today: Galatians 2:21 “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.”

I know one is,”Never to look a gift horse in the mouth” but the temptation is too strong with this smile!!  This old expression was first a Latin proverb attributed to St. Jerome in the early 5th century.  It referred to the practice of looking into the horse’s mouth to determine its age.  Nothing seems so wrong about that except that to do so in front of the giver of the horse is not well viewed!  It has come to mean being suspicious or critical of something received at no cost.

In today’s verse, Paul does not set aside or diminish the importance of God’s grace.  It is by God’s unmerited favor that we are made righteous.  We cannot be justified by the works of the law but only by faith in His sacrifice for sin (verse 16).  But there is something innate in our humanness that disdains what is freely given.  We want to feel that we had a part in meriting salvation.  We feel we need to work, sacrifice, or do something.  But as Paul says. if that were so than there was no reason for Christ to sacrifice Himself.

The offer of His salvation came at no cost to me but the cost to Himself was enormous!  There is nothing left to do but respond in joyful surrender.  What heartache He must feel when I set aside His grace and start to think that I am really something and deserve anything!  But when I understand how far-reaching His grace is to have taken hold of me, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Thank you Lord, for Your sweet amazing grace.

 


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Zorbing

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 26:7 “The path of the righteous is level; You, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.”

It looks like a giant hamster ball!  In fact that is one name for the extreme sport of zorbing.  The idea is to roll down a hill, enjoying the sensation while being  protected.  This plastic ball is actually two balls, one inside the other.  The “zorber” rolls head over heels being strapped in (or not) and sloshes around when water is added.  More control is possible the more level the ground is.

Today’s verse describes a path that is level and smooth.  It is not that way as a result of our own efforts.  It is level and smooth because of what the Lord does for the righteous.  Without His intervention, life is full of ups and downs and unwelcome jolts to our progress.  On our own, the path we take not only becomes rough and uncomfortable but also takes us in the wrong direction! (Isaiah 53:6).  But in living out the righteousness that He gives us through Jesus Christ, we can have a totally different ride!

I wish this verse meant that there would never be any problems for the believer.  The Lord affirmed that there will be trouble in this world (John 16:33).  But in choosing to follow His Word, we at least avoid additional and unnecessary problems of our own making.  Sin complicates a life and disobedience and rebellion make for a very bumpy ride.   Thankfully, in His grace the Lord will sometimes smooth over even those rough patches.  When He allows the jolts, He brings us through with new dependence on Him.

Lord, I need You to smooth out what looks like rough road ahead.  Thank you that I can trust You.

 

 

 

 

 


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The Ice Queen

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”

This 77 year old grandmother from Texas looks secure in this photo, perched upon an “ice throne” on her vacation in Iceland.  However, seconds later a wave washed in and dislodged this chunk of ice on the shore.  She knew she was in trouble when her “throne” began to rock back and forth.  Before she could react, the wave swept her out to sea and she had to be rescued!  Thankfully, although she was shaken, she was unharmed!

Today’s verse talks about receiving a Kingdom that thankfully cannot be shaken.  The Israelites had already experienced the earth shaking at Mount Sinai when God warned them.  And one day God will again shake the earth and even the heavens with warning and judgement (Rev. 6:12-14).  Only God’s Kingdom will remain, a Kingdom that will be immovable and eternal.  This Kingdom will include a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1-2).  It is with this perspective that we can worship the God of the universe as He should be worshipped, with reverence and awe.

It is sobering for me to think of the instability and temporary nature of every created thing around me.  But what awaits in God’s Kingdom is infinitely better and more beautiful!  What’s more, there will be no more shaking, sinking or waves of trouble that overwhelm and destabilize.  I want to build my life on what is eternal and not swept out to sea!  Seeking His Kingdom and rule first gives my life a stability not dependent on the swirling circumstances around me.

Lord, I am so thankful that because of Your grace, You have made me part of Your Kingdom!

 


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Thrown Away

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 10:35 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”

Her husband thought he was being helpful.  His wife came in late from the baby shower given her.  She dutifully emptied the car of all the gift boxes containing all the sweet gifts for their unborn baby.  She stacked them in the corner of the garage and went to bed.  As usual, she heard the garbage truck come by early the next morning but thought nothing of it.  That is until she realized that her helpful husband cleared out the garage that morning.  Thinking the boxes were empty, he inadvertently threw away all the gifts!

Today’s verse speaks of something that believers are never to throw away; our confidence.  This is not a confidence in ourselves.  This confidence is the full assurance that faith brings (verse 22).  Confidence is ours because of Christ’s sacrifice, giving us direct access into God’s presence (verse 20).  We have confidence to draw near to God because Christ has sprinkled our hearts clean from a guilty conscience.  These believers were facing physical suffering and confiscation of their property.  But confidence was still possible in looking forward to what was promised.

It is much easier to doubt and question than to remain confident.  When everything seems dark and hopeless, I am tempted to let go.  But when I remember His faithfulness I can regain that confidence.  He is faithful to His word and His promises.  He wants me to hold unswervingly to this hope I profess (verse 23).  With confidence in His love I can persevere, even when circumstances are so negative.  He has promised that my confidence placed in Him will be richly rewarded!  Already, He is rewarding me with more of Himself.

Lord, keep me confident and holding on.