Devotions By Jan

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Vanilla? Really??

Scripture for Today: Job 34:3-4 “For the ear tests words as the tongue tests food. Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.”

Today is National Vanilla Ice Cream day! No one knows the creator and origin for this day but it appears every July which is National Ice Cream month. I am in the camp of those who prefer chocolate, part of the 17% of Americans (according to a poll from YouGov.). Those preferring vanilla number 15%. So maybe the majority is right this time! I will not even touch vanilla unless there is chocolate somehow mixed in. For me, chocolate is easily what is right and good!

Today’s verse records the advice of one of Job’s three friends about what is right and good. Elihu was eager to help Job discover the reason for his troubles. He had a lot to say but it was off the mark. Certainly, we are to test what we hear and listen with discernment. Just as we taste food to see if it has a pleasing flavor, so we “taste” what we hear to decide if it rings true. The problem is that we all have differing taste buds. What seems right and good to one can seem wrong and sour to another. Our subjectivity gets in the way of finding absolute truth.

Thankfully, we do not have to discern for ourselves what is right and good. It is not up to us to come to some sort of consensus. God’s Law goes beyond individual opinion or cultural norms. God’s Law does not change with the times. Surveys and votes do not change what God has put in place. And not only do God’s words taste good, but they are good for me!

Help me Lord, to discern what is truly right and good.

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Edible Gold

Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:10 “They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.”

What would make a plate of french fries cost 200$? A New York restaurant recently made the Guinness Book of World Records with their concoction. They first blanched the potatoes in expensive champagne, cooked them in pure goose fat, tossed them in truffle oil with truffle salt and topped them with shaved black truffles. But the most surprising ingredient was the dusting of 23K edible gold at 150$ a gram!

Today’s verse describes the incredible worth of God’s precepts for living. They are more precious than pure gold. Not only that, these words of God are sweeter than honey from the honeycomb. The prophet, Ezekiel, was commanded to eat God’s word and he found it sweet as honey in his mouth (Ezekiel 3:3). This image of God’s word being edible helps us relate what is spiritual to the physical world. His word is sweet for so many reasons but for Ezekiel it was because of the warnings that save lives! When He warns us about the consequences of going our own way, it is done with love.

How do I view the Bible? Do I see His commandments as negative and restrictive, or do I recognize the love behind the warnings? The sweetness of His love for me is there in its pages. The assurance of His care and control is pure gold and a reminder that is sweet to taste. Psalms 34:8 says to taste and see that the Lord, He is good! I sometimes complain that I have too much of a “sweet tooth” but when it comes to reading God’s Word, that’s a good thing!

Thank you Lord, for the incredible worth of Your Word!


Our Fig Tree

Scripture for Today: James 3:12 “My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

Growing up, the fig tree in our back year was my Dad’s pride and joy! The whole family enjoyed those green figs and the abundant shade the large leaves provided. In fact, my Dad built a round bench encircling the large trunk.  Every year, he would lay out those figs for drying and we could enjoy the dried fruit all year long. In all those years, that tree faithfully bore its figs. Never once did it surprise us with olives!

Today’s verse describes a ludicrous scenario. How ever could a fig tree produce olives, a grapevine produce figs or a salt spring produce fresh water? It is impossible, of course. These images teach us that what comes out of the mouth reveals what is in the heart. What comes out of the mouth is consistent with what is thought and felt inside.  Eventually, our hidden nature is revealed by the words we speak.

No one can tame the tongue nor can anyone make themselves new inside. It is only by the work of the Holy Spirit that we can hope to change. When cursing and praise both come out of my mouth, it is a clear signal that I need to do business with the Lord. “…This should not be.” (verse 10) but unfortunately, it is. I can blame my words on stress or fatigue but what I really need to do is just confess it. I do not want to disappoint or grieve the Holy Spirit. And He graciously offers His self-control so that my life consistently bears fruit that honors Him.

Lord, control my tongue today to consistently honor You.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)

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Humble Pie

Scripture for Today: James 4:6 “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'”

This pie actually looks good! But the word “humble” in the expression “humble pie” actually came from a different word. In the early 1400’s “numble” was the word for chopped organ meat from venison, often baked in a pastry. The “n” was eventually dropped and the “h” added. Numbles were for the huntsmen, his family and his companions whereas the choice deer meat was sold to the upper class. Today, eating “humble pie” means to act apologetically and admit one’s error.

Today’s verse talks about more grace that is given to the humble. As undeserving as we are, those who can come clean with the Lord about their failures experience His favor. But there is something in all of us that bristles at the thought of admitting our errors. Sometimes, the only way it can happen is if we can point to extenuating circumstances! Or we can maybe admit we were wrong if someone can share our chagrin. Eating humble pie is never a very comfortable experience.

As difficult as it is to humble myself, His grace makes it worth it! I would much rather live in His undeserved favor than have Him be opposed to me. But each time I allow pride, stubbornness and determined independence from Him to creep into my day, I am foregoing His desire to bless me. Half the time I do not even realize it is happening as I am so full of myself! How good of Him to bring me to my knees in humility!

Forgive me my pride, Lord. Oh how I need your grace today!

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Scripture for Today: I Samuel 16:7b “…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

For a fruit that is so versatile, nutritious and easy to grow in a tropical climate, the jackfruit has an off-putting appearance! The skin of what is considered to be the largest fruit in the world is thick and spiny, making it difficult to open. A ripe unopened jackfruit is brown and has a strong unpleasant odor. But the pulp of an opened jackfruit is bright yellow or orange and smells sweet! Getting past that outside is rewarded with pleasant color and taste!

Today’s verse draws a sharp contrast between what man sees and what the Lord regards as important. The Lord had commissioned Samuel to anoint the next king of Israel. First, Samuel considered each of Jesse’s sons. But their birth order, their height and their appearance were non factors. It was the youngest son that had the lowly job of tending sheep who had the heart God could use.

I tend to assign value to a person based on outward appearance. I hate it when people do so with me and yet I find I do it all the time! When all is well-groomed on the outside, I assume the inside is in order as well. But wickedness can have a very appealing veneer of respectability. The flip side is true as well and I can completely miss a beautiful friendship by an off-putting image. Christ Himself had no beauty or majesty to attract us; nothing in His appearance would cause us to desire Him (Isaiah 53:2). And yet, no one who ever walked this earth was more beautiful.

Lord, make me beautiful on the inside.