Devotions By Jan


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The Quokka

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

This seemingly sweet quokka looks as if he is smiling.  He is the smallest member of the “big foot” family that includes the kangaroo and wallaby.  They look so cuddly with their teddy bear ears and their doe like eyes.  But in fact, they can be quite vicious when using  their sharp claws.  This adorable looking animal is not so adorable when the mother pushes her baby out of her pouch when chased in order to escape her predator!

Today’s verse is a promise that the Lord will never abandon His own.  What a comforting truth that the Lord our God will go with us!  He not only is with us but He goes before us and leads the way.  Because He will never leave us or forsake us, we are not fearful or discouraged.  There is never a question of being abandoned by God.  These words were spoken by Moses to the Israelites in verse 6 and then repeated in verse 8 to Joshua and the Israelites.  His leadership was coming to an end and Moses did not want them to feel abandoned.

It is during the hard discouraging times that the Lord wants to reassure me of His loving presence and control.  Looking at my unclear future causes anxious fearful thoughts to fill me.  Looking at my daunting circumstances brings discouragement.  But looking to Him brings me hope.  He is right there in front of me, clearing the way through the mess.  The promise that He will never leave me or abandon me helps calm me down.

Lord, help me remember that You are there and working on my behalf.

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Groundbreaking!

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 3:9 “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

It is an important moment, digging up that first shovel-full of dirt.  It looks as if this groundbreaking ceremony is having some trouble getting started.  It is taking two men’s efforts to break that hard ground!  This universal and ancient custom is also called a sod-cutting or sod-turning ceremony.  It is sometimes attended by local dignitaries and the media as the new construction begins.  Often, the shovel used is saved and proudly displayed in a place of honor.  The groundbreaking ceremony symbolically consecrates that piece of land.

Todays’ verse describes believers as God’s field and God’s building.  Those who have placed their faith in Jesus are consecrated or set apart as His people.  By His Spirit the Lord has broken the hard resistant ground that was our heart.  Those that have yielded their lives to the convicting pressure of His Spirit are now “under construction!”  Our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19).  At the moment of salvation He takes up residence.  But throughout life His temple is being maintained and renovated.  We can be confident that this good work He does in us will continue until we see Christ (Phil. 1:6).

I am a little tired of the dust and mess.  I can appear so put together to others but I know the state of affairs on the interior.  I see some progress in being more others-centered but I am still so selfish.  I truly appreciate other’s gifts and at the same time find myself jealous.  I give grace to myself but can be so critical of others.  The to-do list continues.  But, He does not give up on me.

Thank you Lord, for Your patient loving work in me.


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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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A Dangerous Path

Scripture for Today: Psalm 18:35-36 “You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.”

This is not a path that I would willingly take!  In all of our hiking adventures in France and Switzerland, we have never chosen a path quite so precarious.  We have enjoyed some breathtaking views, but always at a safe distance from the edge.  To walk along such a narrow path seems to invite disaster.  The vertigo, the tension and the possibility of a lethal misstep would over ride any pleasure in the view.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm of David praising God for His deliverance from enemies.  David affirms that he has kept God’s ways (verse 21) and that God’s way is perfect (verse 30).  The path God gave David to walk was a broad path where his footing could be sure.  Despite the attacks from enemies, David praises God for giving him strength and making his way perfect (verse 32).  God has enabled David to stand on the heights like the deer (verse 33).  This is a path of righteousness that is not only broad but spacious (verse 19).  On this broad path he has a clear view of God’s faithfulness.

I have a choice about what kind of path to take through life.  The path of righteousness is thought to be the more difficult arduous one.  There are restrictions there that bring out the rebel in me.  But in fact, the path of righteousness is the one most sure.  There, my steps are not hampered and I can even run without stumbling! (Prov. 4:11-12) Guilt and sin can narrow my path making it uncomfortable.  But in following His perfect way, I can look up and enjoy the view of His hand and His faithfulness.

Lord, keep me following Your perfect way today.


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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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Pinterest Fail

Scripture for Today: Psalm 51:1 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”

Pinterest has raised the bar for all of us.  The creativity and seeming perfection of these projects can motivate and inspire.  But , expectations can fall far short of reality!  There are many hilarious examples of Pinterest fails in the areas of cooking, pet or baby photo shoots or crafts.  Self image can take a serious hit  when our versions cannot compare!  What starts out with hopeful anticipation can sometimes end in abject failure.

Today’s verse is a cry for mercy on the part of King David.  He feels very keenly his failure to live up to God’s standards of righteousness.  This entire psalm is a prayer of confession following his adultery with Bathsheba.  His bones feel crushed with the weight of his sin (verse 8) and his spirit is broken(verse 17).  David declares that God is right to judge him (verse 4) so he throws himself on God’s mercy and unfailing love.  And because of God’s love being constant and unfailing, He answers David’s plea with a new clean heart, restoring his joy.

He will never fail me, nor will His love.  There is nothing I can say or do that will change His love for me (Rom. 8:38).  He knows I am weak and made from the dust.  There is nothing in me that merits His love.  I know I will continually fail Him, but He will never fail me (II Timothy 2:13).  During my times of abject failure and guilt, He extends to me His mercy and His grace.  And with my confession comes His reassurance of unfailing love.  He is the God of second chances and can transform what is dirty into what is clean, white and new!

Thank you Lord, for Your unfailing love.


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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.