Devotions By Jan


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Coconut Worm Larvae

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” 

Perhaps they taste like chicken.  But is it really necessary to eat them alive?  The coconut worm larvae has a sweet coconut taste and are especially creamy when eaten raw!  This dish is considered a delicacy as street food for the Vietnamese.  I do not feel sorry for these small creatures as they easily bring down a mighty palm tree with their voracious appetite.  With their powerful jaws, they burrow holes up to a meter long in the trunk of a palm, eventually killing their host.

Today’s verse describes sin as “deceitful.”  It can slowly excavate holes in our faith and if left unchecked, can bring down the believer, leading him to a place of unbelief.  The sneaky nature of sin does its work inside where no one sees.  It can eventually hardened a heart.  That is why believers need one another to daily encourage each other to right living.  To delay even a day can put our hearts at risk.

Sometimes my sin can seem so puny and harmless.  There may even be some temporary sweetness that comes from it.  And that’s the deceitful part.  But I know how weak I am and that I am not above participating in any sin, especially in my thought life.  It does help me to be around other believers who can encourage me to stay the course.  And having the opportunity to build up someone else’s resolve serves to bolster my own faith as well.  More than anything, I want my heart to stay soft towards His Spirit.  And I want to stand firm to the very end!

Lord, I need to be encouraged today!

 

 

 

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Immigrant Fruit

Scripture for Today:  Galatians 5:22-23a  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

I was surprised to learn that almost every food we eat is an “immigrant!”  The plant explorer or food spy, David Fairchild, introduced more than 200,000 exotic plants and crops to the USA over 37 years.  He traveled to over 50 countries bringing us apples from Kahzakstan, bananas from New Guinea, oranges and limes from China and new strains of avocados from Chili!

Today’s verse describes another kind of fruit which is not native or natural to us!  It is the fruit or evidence of the one who is filled with and walking by the Spirit of God.  The results of being in close communion with Him are evident in one’s behavior and attitude.  The fruit comes from Him and not from ourselves.  It is not natural to react to stress with calm confidence.  It is not even normal to respond with kindness to someone who intentionally hurts us!  To have deep seated joy in the midst of crisis is certainly other-worldly.

I have none of these qualities on my own, especially in tense stressed moments.  But as a believer the Spirit of God resides in me.  That means that I have the potential to respond with these beautiful characteristics when it does not seem natural.  When I see that they are lacking, it is not a matter of “self-help” but turning to Him for His help.  The more I confess my inadequacies and turn to Him, the more He responds with this beautiful fruit.  These qualities describe to perfection the One I serve.  He is slowly (some days very slowly) producing His character or image in me!

Lord, please show Your fruit in me today.


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Samples

Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:8-9 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. Fear the Lord, you His holy people, for those who fear Him lack nothing.”

It is a marketing ploy that works!  True, I usually grab and go without buying.  But there is the rare time I actually pick up and purchase the product being sampled.  I have my little rules though.  If the employee is not ready, I do not wait there feeling foolish but will circle around.  I always limit myself to just one sample only because I do not want anyone looking at me aghast!  I did break my rule recently when the sample was chocolate!  It was worth the risk!

Today’s verse is an invitation to “taste and see.”  Unlike the temporary good feeling of eating something tasty, His goodness and blessing keep me satisfied in the deepest part of me.  He knows exactly what I am craving as He made me to feel that lack.  However, when I fear and respect Him, I will lack nothing.  He is that good!  Every spiritual blessing is already mine (Eph. 1:3) and He satisfies my deepest desires for love, peace, beauty, and significance!  How amazing He is!

There are those who say they have tried God or tried religion.  And perhaps they have in some manner.  But to “taste and see” means coming to the Lord in humble fear, recognizing who He is.  We realize just how good He is when we throw ourselves on His mercy and take refuge in His love and power.  I am blessed when I make Him my refuge.  And what is so amazing is that He becomes sweeter as the years go by!

Lord, thank you for the satisfaction You give me!


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Desire of the Heart

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 26:8 “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of Your laws, we wait for You; Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”

I am amazed to see the variety and quantity of heart shaped boxes of chocolate displayed on the shelves for Valentine’s day!  I am a recovering “chocoholic” so I dare not linger long in front of those tempting displays!  If addiction means intense craving, loss of control, or continued use despite negative consequences, than that could be me if I am not careful!  According to the Nielson consumer study group, in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, 58 million pounds of chocolate are sold!  There is something about that “dark master…the cocoa bean” that creates strong desire!

Today’s verse mentions a desire of the heart.  It is much deeper than any other desire.  A desire for God’s glory completely changes a life.  Wanting His name to be known means saying,”Yes, Lord” to what He asks of us.  Wanting His name to be more prominent than our own means we will follow Him.  His glory in our lives will be evident by the way we walk, following His commandments.

The best way my husband loves me is when he praises me to others!  In turn, I honor him at every opportunity.  I want him to be recognized for all his hard work and sacrifice.  It is the same principle with the Lord.  I show Him that I love Him when I praise Him to others!  I show I am jealous for His name and glory when I walk in a way that honors Him.  It is the best way I can love my Lord.

Lord, You are the desire of my heart!  Help me to live that truth today!


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In a Pickle

Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong and steadfast.”

It is such an odd expression to speak of one’s self as “in a pickle.”  The word “pickle” came from the Dutch word “pekel” meaning something piquant.  William Shakespeare used this expression in 1610 for his play, The Tempest, when one character asked another “How camest thou in this pickle?” meaning “How did you get so drunk?”  Being in a pickle today can mean being in any sort of disagreeable situation.  That difficulty is likened to becoming a pickle by soaking in brine and vinegar.

Today’s verse goes further than just a disagreeable situation!  The early Christians faced real persecution because of their faith and many were even martyred.  Peter reminds them of God’s favor in calling them and of their future reward.  He also points out that the suffering is temporary and only for a little while.  How precious that God Himself will personally restore them and make them strong and firm after that suffering is over!

There is a closeness that seems to come uniquely through suffering.  I have heard so many share their gratitude for having cancer because of their special bond and closeness to the Savior through it!  In some mysterious way, God moves in close to those who are suffering.  His presence is felt like never before as He affirms and reassures of His love and plan.  There is something about sharing His suffering that brings a close relationship even closer.  He has been there for me at some of the lowest times of my life and I am thankful.

Lord, help me feel You there in the hard times.

 


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Banana Peels

Scripture for Today: Romans 9:32 “…they pursued it (righteousness) not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.”

It is no laughing matter to slip on a banana peel!  However, it was the stuff of comedy routines in the early 1900’s Vaudeville stage.  This form of physical humor even appeared in the early silent films.  But it used to be much more of a hazard when it was common to throw one’s garbage out a window in the mid 1800’s.  Even as late as 1880 the public was admonished in the Harper’s Weekly about this slime-covered booby trap.  Just seven years ago a woman in California sued a store after allegedly falling and injuring herself on a peel left in the aisle.

People are stumbling in our verse for today.  They are stumbling over the stumbling stone, who is Jesus Christ.  Rather than obtaining a righteousness that is to come by faith in Him, law-followers put their trust in their own efforts at righteousness.  Our right standing with God is given through faith in Jesus Christ whether Jew or Gentile (Romans 3:22).  Unfortunately, there will always be those who feel it is their own efforts and works that save.  They stumble over the Truth but keep walking, doing things their own way.

With that same attitude I am at risk to slip and fall.  I have no righteousness of my own.  I cannot earn my way to Heaven or earn His favor and blessing!  He gives freely what I can never deserve.  It is my pride talking when I entertain even a whisper of self-congratulation.  He knows my every motive and thought and I know I cannot be righteous apart from Him.  It is all grace.

Thank you Lord, for the right standing You have given me!

 


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Unfair!

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 20:15 “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous.”

Whether it is pizza, cake or pie it is important to cut those pieces evenly!  Those who get the larger pieces feel special but the one with that skinny piece may feel a bit slighted.  If my hostess is the one doing the paying, the cutting and the serving I certainly cannot say anything.  But I may be thinking, “It isn’t fair.”

Today’s verse comes from a parable Jesus told about workers who had come in early in the day.  They had made a contract with their employer to work for a certain sum of money.  Then at the very last hour of the day a second group begins work and they are paid the same amount.  Understandably, the first group was unhappy.  It was  unfair.  The employer reminds these disgruntled workers it is his money and he can be generous if he chooses.

It is not uncommon to have the same thoughts about God.  It seems there are times He is generous with someone so much less deserving than ourselves.  Perhaps we have worked harder and longer and feel we should be compensated differently.  Rather than rejoice at the generous blessings given to another, we grumble that we deserve more.  It is just unfair.

I am so glad God does not listen to this.  If I got what was fair I would be completely lost.  The wages of my sin is death (Romans 6:23) and I cannot say I deserve anything else.  Eternal life is unfair as I have not earned it.  I am so thankful that He gives me His mercy and not what is fair.

Thank you Lord, that Your grace is so much better than fair!