Devotions By Jan


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Following the Recipe

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:137-138 “You are righteous, Lord, and Your laws are right. The statues You have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.”

I love following a good recipe that is tried and true.  And if I want a German dish to be authentic I would go to the trouble of translating those instructions (as well as converting the measurements).  I would not worry about all the verbs being in the command form.  It is a recipe after all.  I do not expect it to say, “please beat the eggs.”  Or “would you mind chopping the nuts.”  But I am not offended.  The directives are there to obtain a good, tasty result!

Today’s verse describes God’s directives.  Sometimes they can seem very blunt.  There is no softening of what God requires of us.  But His commands are always with a good goal.  They are always for our good and for our protection.  We know that because HE is good.  What He commands is fully trustworthy and an expression of His love and care.  This is why David could say that they are a joy to the heart and light to the eyes, sweeter than honey and more precious than gold! (Psalm 19)

If God’s commandments are really for my good, then why am I always trying to change the recipe?  Because that is in fact what I sometimes try to do.  I think I know better or that somehow I am an exception to the rule.  Maybe I can “sort of” follow the instructions but introduce a variation which makes it easier on me.  The result is never as good.  His way is always the best and I am the one who benefits when I carefully follow what He wants.

Lord, thank you for Your love expressed through your commands.


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Cutting The Cheese

img_20160827_153946Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 15:16  “Your words were found and I ate them.  And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart.  For I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of Hosts.”

While living in France, it was a little intimidating to be the first to cut the cheese when offered that cheese platter.  For the French, nothing stinks more than someone who has not cut the cheese properly!  This display in Alsace at the Munster Cheese Museum gives the correct method for each form of cheese.  There is a certain logic to the rules as everyone gets an even piece in size and rind.  When rules are followed, the presentation will stay beautiful and leftovers will keep better.

Today’s verse likens the experience of reading God’s Word to the pleasure there is in a really good French cheese.  So many of them I consider a joy and delight to my taste buds.  Here, the Word of God can be a joy and delight to one’s heart.  Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet” as his message was one of judgement for his own people.  One does not usually associate the words, “joy” and “delight” with Jeremiah.  Yet, even knowing that his people would reject God, he could still find gladness in his own relationship with the Lord.  He knew he belonged to the Lord God of Hosts.

There are precious loved ones in my life who also reject God’s message of salvation.  There is no avoiding heartbreak over that hard reality.  Yet, God does not want me to live my life in sadness.  He wants to give me joy and delight through His Word and through my relationship with Him.

Lord, lift the weight of that sadness and replace it with Your joy and delight.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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S’Mores

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

‘Tis the season for this yummy treat!  Summer campfires are the perfect cooking method for the “s’more.”  That wonderful combination of cookie and chocolate held together by the gooey roasted marshmallow has long been a favorite.  This mouthwatering concoction is attributed to the Girl’s Scouts of the USA.  The recipe was first published in 1927 by troop leader, Loretta Scott Crew.  To quote her, “Though it tastes like ‘some more’ one is really enough!”

In today’s verse, there is no thinking about wanting some more!  Those that hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled and satisfied.  With His righteousness we do not pine for something more.  There is no feeling of missing out on something better.  A righteous life is the best kind of life.  Doing the right thing, following His way, and experiencing right standing with our Creator gives a sense of well-being that is complete.  No other kind of life can be quite as full or satisfying!

My problem is that I hunger and thirst for other things, good things, that give only temporary satisfaction.  But of course, I hunger and thirst for those things or experiences all over again.  However, I do not want my life to be characterized by wanting more.  I desperately want to experience that contentment and satisfaction He offers.  If I make the Lord the object of my longing, He will satisfy me.  He never intends for me to have an appetite that is insatiable.  That I should always pine for more must grieve His heart as He has promised life to the full (John 10:10).  The abundance He offers gives a deeper satisfaction to my soul!

Thank you Lord, that You fill my longings with Yourself.


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The Boysenberry

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 1:10  “I appeal to you brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

The Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm is in full swing.  This delicious berry is celebrated with 75 one-of-a-kind boysenberry inspired dishes and drinks.  Walter Knott was gifted six hybrid plants developed by Rudolph Boysen in the 1920’s.  Boysen  created this berry by crossing the European raspberry and blackberry with the American dewberry and loganberry.  The result is a wonderful sweet and tangy flavor and is great for canning, cobblers and pies.

Today’s verse admonishes believers to get along with one another.  There were reports of quarrels in the church in Corinth damaging their reputation or “fruit.”  The local church brings together such a diversity of people that there are bound to be differences of opinion.  Even though different varieties are thrown together there is to be fruit from our unity and cooperation.  Of course there are differences in our politics, education, preferences and backgrounds but they are not to divide us.

When believers can actually work together, we enjoy a wonderful yield.  The world sits up and takes notice when we can show respect and love to one another (John 17:23).  We live up to being associated with the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!  Standing close and united, our differences make our fruit beautiful and delicious!  I can be perfectly united with others so much different than myself when I consider His name as more important than my own!

Lord, regardless of our differences, keep me one with other believers for Your name’s sake!


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Sour Grapes

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Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 31:29 “In those days people will no longer say, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are on edge.'”

Eating sour grapes would not be something I would do on purpose.  And I would hope that people would not characterize my attitude as “sour grapes.”  This expression is thought to come from a fable of Aesop about a fox.  He could not reach some grapes high above him so he declared them sour.  Sour grapes has come to describe someone who disdains something just because they cannot have it.

Today’s verse comes from a proverb also using this expression.  The Israelites were using the term differently to acquit themselves of any wrong doing.  The exiles’ children born in captivity in Babylon felt they were unjustly suffering consequences of their fathers’ sin. This was just another version of the “blame game.”  They were excusing their own sin as if they had no choice for their behavior.  The Lord explains in Ezekiel 18 why they should no longer quote this proverb as each person is responsible for themselves.

Things have not changed much as it is so easy to blame others!  Of course, there are hereditary influences that can put me at risk for some behaviors.  No family is perfect.  But I am responsible for my own choices and I am not obligated to continue what was modeled.  Because of God’s power and grace there is hope that cycles can be broken.  No family influence is stronger than the power God gives me to live differently.  There ought not to be sour grapes with me as the Lord has given me every spiritual blessing and all that I need to live a godly life (II Peter 1:3).

Thank you Lord, for Your power and grace!

 


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My Heart’s Desire

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 Nielsen 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 our Lord.  We show Him that we love Him when we praise Him to others!  We show we are jealous for His name and glory when we 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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The Super Bowl of Food!

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Did you know that the biggest diet day for men is the day after the Super Bowl?  That makes sense as Super Bowl Sunday is the second most eating day behind Thanksgiving!  In fact, the average football fan gains ten pounds during the entire season!  There is something about couch time that encourages snacking.  And the more crunch there is, the more the chewing can release pent up tension as that player tries for the field goal!  And of course there are extra bites to celebrate…or to commiserate!

There is hunger and thirst in today’s verse for something much more satisfying than football snacks.  Those that hunger and thirst for righteousness will be full and satisfied.  With His righteousness we do not pine for something more.  There is no feeling of missing out on something better.  A righteous life is the best kind of life.  Doing the right thing, following His way, and experiencing right standing with our Creator gives a sense of well-being that is complete.  No other kind of life can be quite as full or satisfying!

My problem is that I hunger and thirst for other things, good things, that give only temporary satisfaction.  And of course, I hunger and thirst again.  But I do not want my life to be characterized by always wanting.  I desperately want to experience that contentment and satisfaction He offers.  If I make the Lord the object of my longing, He will satisfy me.  He has promised life to the full (John 10:10).  This “blessedness” means that I can overflow with hope (Rom. 15:13) and with joy (II Cor. 8:2).  I want to be able to say with the Psalmist, “my cup overflows!” (Psalm 23:5)

Fill me up with You, Lord.