Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” 

I doubt that this sandcastle was built by a small child.  It seems too involved and complicated, perhaps needing some special molds and skills.  Sandcastle-building has become quite the art form with annual competitions all over Southern California.  Some of the competitions have been taking place for more than fifty years!  The entries are elaborate and take painstaking precision.  The results are impressive but no longer there.  These fantasy castles and kingdoms are eventually reclaimed by the ocean.  What a shame to see all that creative work washed away!

Today’s verse speaks of a kingdom that is eternal.  It does not erode with time.  What effort is invested in this kingdom will endure.  We are promised that when spending our lives living for God’s kingdom, we will be able to live our lives without worrying about tomorrow (verse 34).  The  mundane pursuits of food and clothing become less important.   Life is more than food and the body more than clothes (verse 25).  Seeking His kingdom means living for Him and for values that are eternal.

The most important component of any kingdom is its king.  Seeking God’s kingdom is to live as His subject and submit to His rule.  When I live for Him and His purposes, this gracious King takes care of the details.  But I sometimes get distracted by building my own little sandcastles.  I want my own kingdom, however small, in the hopes of having some say and control.  I want to be the one in charge!  But my pathetic kingdom is never as good as His.  And I do not want to waste my time on what will not last!

Lord, keep me focused on living for You.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)

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The Peacock Butterfly

Scripture for Today: Psalm 54:7 “You have delivered me from all my troubles and  my eyes have looked in triumph over my foes.”

The peacock bird is not the only one who can boast about its “eyes.”  The peacock butterfly is recognizable for its four large eyespots, similar to the peacock bird.  But for the butterfly, these eyes are not just for looks.  They serve to confuse and startle its predators.  Their predators sense that the spots may belong to a potential enemy.  That moment of hesitation is often all that is need to save the life of this butterfly.

Today’s verse is from a psalm that cries out to God for help.  David is being pursued by Saul with the help of the Ziphites (I Sam. 23:19-29).  The situation was serious as they were intent on killing him.  David finds reassurance in proclaiming God as his help (verse 4).  Instead of allowing his predicament to overwhelm him, David remembers that God has delivered him in the past and his eyes have looked in triumph on his enemies.  And that is exactly what happens again!  Just as Saul and his men were closing in, a messenger arrives to bring Saul back to deal with the invading Philistines!

My eyes will one day look in triumph over my enemies as well.  The Lord is for me and though I encounter plenty of trouble, Christ has already overcome the world (John 16:33) and this is my encouragement.  My enemies are sometimes visible but many times are not as the battle is spiritual in nature (Eph. 6:12).  Regardless, He has given me spiritual eyes to see His presence and protection!  And His eyes are on me!  He is El Roi, the God who sees and I can count on Him.

Thank you Lord, for getting me out of what can appear hopeless!



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My Father’s Gift

Scripture for Today:Matthew 7:9-10 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?”

My Dad loved to bowl which may explain how this happened.  For months as a young girl, I dropped many not-so-subtle hints about the expensive doll I had seen advertised.  That Christmas morning, trembling with excitement, I made a beeline for that big narrow box tagged with my name.  What keen disappointment I felt when unwrapping a toy bowling set instead of a doll!  My Father gave it out of love but it was not the good gift I was expecting.

Today’s passage explains that our Heavenly Father gives good gifts to His children when we ask Him (verse 11).  In answer to our prayers, He gives to His own exactly what is good for us.  He is not random nor is He arbitrary.  Our Father is a perfect Father.  He sees past what may be selfish or frivolous requests.  He answers the deeper need we sometimes do not even see.  And what is so amazing is that our Father is the unrecognized Source of much that is good in our lives!

I have heard people quip, “Be careful what you pray for, you just may get it.”  The idea is that we will be sorry we ever asked.  That does not describe my perfect heavenly Father.  What He gives me is out of love and always for my good.  If I mistakenly ask for a stone or a snake, He has committed Himself to giving only what is good for me.  I can trust His goodness in all of His answers.  I am so glad He sees what is good for me when I cannot.

Thank you Lord, for being a good good Father!

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Anemone Stinkhorn

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 52:10 “The Lord will lay bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.”

This Anemone Stinkhorn fungus almost looks diabolical!  It is also called the Sea Anemone Fungus and Starfish Fungus, looking so much like those creatures.  Its name in Greek means “disgust, juice, red.”  And its most disgusting feature is its putrid smell which attracts flies who carry its spores.  But what fascinates me are those spreading arms, ranging from six to ten and dividing into two tentacles each.

Today’s verse describes just one arm, an arm that is powerful and holy.  God’s arm is laid bare so that His strength, might and deliverance are seen by all the nations.  This arm brings salvation to His people and all will see it.  Because of God keeping His word to the Israelites, they will again know and honor His name (verse 6).  Those ruling over them had been mocking God and God will not be mocked (Gal. 6:7).  His arm is not too short to save (Is. 59:1) and the demonstration of His power would reach the ears of all the nations.

The Lord continues to bare His arm as He intervenes in my life.  Nothing is too hard for Him regardless of the illogical limits I tend to place on Him.  He continues to deliver His own.  He continues to answer impossible prayers, stumping the doctors.  He is mighty to save from dangers I do not even recognize.  His outstretched arm keeps me from what would have been a nasty fall.  Half the time, His intervention goes unnoticed.  But He wants me to trust and lean on that arm, “safe and secure from all alarm.”

Lord, help me recognize Your arm today.



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Moeraki Boulders

Scripture for Today: I Samuel 2:2 “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one beside You; there is no Rock like our God.”

These strange spherical boulders on the Koekohe Beach in New Zealand have fired the imagination for years.  The varied names given them include: eel pots, hooligan gallstones, giant gobstoppers, alien brains, bowling balls of the giants and dinosaur eggs!  There are over fifty of them and the biggest one weighs seven tons!  Their strange appearance makes for a unique landscape.  They are made of mud, fine silt and clay, cemented together by calcite, layer upon layer over many years.

Today’s verse is part of Hannah’s prayer as she dedicates her young son, Samuel, to full-time service in the temple.  This is the child she had prayed for so ardently, being barren and snubbed.  Although she was giving up Samuel, her heart rejoiced being vindicated before her enemies (verse 1).  She felt delight at God’s deliverance and praises Him for being her holy and unique Rock.  Throughout Scripture our God is pictured as a Rock.  What an image of His strength and permanence!  Layer upon layer of faithfulness to His Word makes for a sure foundation.

I never need to worry whether my Rock will be there tomorrow or the day after.  He is immoveable and unchanging.  He is my strength, and my refuge.  Being my Rock, He is a place of strength and refreshment for my flagging spirit.  The surface of this rock has a cool touch when I am too warm from stress and anxiety.  But that same rock surface is warm from the sun and comforting when I am feeling cool and indifferent.  I know He is faithful to meet my every need as I have “proved Him ore and ore.”

Lord, be my Rock today.