Devotions By Jan

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Apples and Oranges

Scripture for Today: II Samuel 7:22 “How great You are, Sovereign Lord!  There is no one like You, and there is no God but You, as we have heard with our own ears.”

“It’s like comparing apples and oranges.”  The expression has been around a long time to mean that two items are incomparable, being so different.  But in fact, the expression does not hold up too well as both the apple and the orange are sweet.  Both are similar in size, weight and shape.  Either fruit can be eaten or juiced.

Today’s verse points out that no one can compare to our unique God.  It goes further to say that there is no God but Him!  In today’s pluralistic society, this is not a popular thought.  It is a much more comfortable thought that each person can worship their own God, whoever he may be.  In allowing for this we can agree that our gods may be different and we can choose the one that most fits our style.  We can even be content in comparing apples and oranges, not being concerned with the slight differences.

How can we say there is only one God and that there is no one like Him?  We do not say this, He does!  His greatness and power are incomparable!  He is sovereign and in complete control, able with His power to keep all His promises.  No one else is worthy of my praise.  No one else is worthy of my trust.  In contemplating His beauty and power I am overwhelmed with the truth that He is also personal, knowing me and loving me!  No, there is no other god that is comparable and I am humbled to think that I belong to Him!  I never want to take Him and His greatness for granted!

Thank you Lord, for being the only Sovereign incomparable God.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Good Taste

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.”

This cat is enjoying ice cream almost as much as I do!  Our Tiger never tasted the stuff because I was always unwilling to share.  However, I have given him as taste of yogurt and he was thrilled.  I imagine many cats enjoy foods that involve milk or cream.  But I still remember the veterinarian warning us that the digestive system of an adult cat does not take too well to drinking milk.  Although the taste is delicious, it is not so good for him.

Today’s verse records the advice of one of Job’s three friends.  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.  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 does it taste good, but it is good for us!

Help me Lord, to discern what You call good and right.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Love or Chocolate?

Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:2 “I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You have established Your faithfulness in heaven itself.”

I had to chuckle when I saw this same saying inscribed over the doorway of a cafe!  I admit that I am a “chocoholic” but I do have my standards.  I am most tempted with the dark and only in certain forms.  Indulging in that creamy satisfying taste never lets me down.  Chocolate always lives up to my expectation.  But before long, I would have to “fall” into it again to have that same satisfying experience.

The expression, “falling in love,” makes love seem half-hazard and unintentional.  If we can fall in, perhaps we can climb out as well.  Today’s verse speaks of a love that stands firm forever.  It is a love that is constant and true because of the One who is doing the loving!  Beginning this relationship does not involve falling into it, unless we are falling to our knees in repentance and humility!

It is understandable that love can disappoint.  Love between flawed humans is in a constant state of flux.  Our ever-changing emotions make our love unreliable.  But there is a love that does not change.  God’s love is so great that it reaches to the skies! (Ps. 57:10)  He will never disappoint.  That is because His love does not depend on me but on His faithful promise.  His faithfulness to His Word is untouchable there in Heaven itself!

What a huge comfort to know that the Lord is never going to give up on me!  Nothing is going to change His love.  God is Love in its most beautiful and purest form.

How amazing it is that You can love me, Lord!  Help me believe it today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Salt Water Taffy

Scripture for Today: II Cor. 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

What a strange process it is to make taffy!  I remember my Mother pulling taffy with my siblings and me in the kitchen.  It was a slimy sticky ordeal with lots of pulling until we thought our arms would drop off!  Everyone would take a turn until the taffy turned a lighter color.  All that pulling and stretching aerated the taffy with little air bubbles, making it lighter and chewier.  Of course, using a machine may be more efficient, but where is the fun in that?

In today’s verse, Paul is recounting some of the hardships he and Timothy had faced.  At the beginning of the chapter and at the end, he says, “We do not lose heart.”  It would have been completely understandable if they had!  Paul had been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned and imprisoned for his faith.  Being perplexed, he perhaps did not always understand the “why” behind what was happening.  Yet, he remained confident that the pulling and stretching was producing something of value in him; the life of Jesus (verse 10).

Feeling perplexed is not uncommon when I am faced with hard times.  I usually cannot explain why the Lord allows certain difficulties in my life.  But He promises that all the pulling and stretching will be producing a “weight of glory” one day (II Cor. 4:17).  All that is painful is only a “light affliction” compared to what lies ahead.  Even when panicked and confused, my Father reassures me  that He is in control and His control is good.

Thank you Lord, that You use it all to make me more like You.  Help me not to lose heart.

(Look familiar  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Scripture for Today: Hebrews 10:36 “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

My impression of grits is that it is bland and heavy.  But in fact, this ground-corn dish, popular in the Southern States, has many mouth-watering variations.  I have enjoyed them with shrimp and with cheese as a main dish.  But grits are often thought of as a breakfast side dish.  In any case, the word “grit” has another meaning, associated with the idea of courage, resolve and strength of will.

Today’s verse also alludes to “strength of will” but curiously, not our own.  Believers are encouraged to continue living out God’s will.  These early Christians endured “great conflict full of suffering” (verse 32).  When they were not being persecuted themselves, they were standing side by side with those who were.  They were publicly humiliated and insulted, even suffering the indignities of prison and confiscation of property.

It takes perseverance to follow God’s desires ahead of our own.  We mistakenly believe that the goal of life is the pursuit of happiness.  But God’s will is much grander than our own little lives.  He is about building His Kingdom and believers are privileged to participate in something that is eternal.  My confidence and obedience will one day be richly rewarded.  Knowing that helps me persevere in doing His will.  I enjoy His blessings now but they pale in comparison to all He has prepared for me!

I frankly do not always understand His will.  It is often at odds with my own selfish desires or what I believe are “my rights.”  But I do know that whatever it takes, He is worth following!

Thank you Lord, for giving me what it takes to persevere.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Chocolate Joy!

Scripture for Today: Nehemiah 8:10 “Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'”

Growing up in France, it was always a big deal for our children to buy and enjoy the Kinder Eggs.  This simple chocolate treat had a toy inside within a plastic shell.  The “surprise” was always very simple and quickly forgotten, but it was always good for a few brief moments of joy.  I am more familiar with the Kinder egg being labelled “Kinder Surprise” rather than “Joy.”

Today’s verse encourages the Israelites to enjoy food and drink and to celebrate the reading of the Book of the Law of Moses.  After years of exile, they had come back to their homeland.  And after years of exile, they were hearing the word of the Lord, some of them for the first time ever.  They were overcome with grief and were weeping as they listened.  But the joy of the Lord was the order of the day!  Continuing their mourning would only sap their strength.  Instead of grieving they were to celebrate God’s love and instruction.

There is a time to mourn and weep when facing God’s convicting word.  He is close to those who are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit for their sin. (Psalm 34:18)  But there is joy when I feel His forgiveness wash over me!  The realization of his unconditional love and grace wipes those tears and gives me new resolve.  I am energized and strengthened when His joy lifts me off my knees.

Thank you Lord, that you turn mourning into gladness (Jer. 31:13) and exchange my sorrow for Your comfort and joy!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)

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Full of Prunes

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:18b-19 “…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord”

People smile at the mention of prunes.  They are known especially as a laxative but they help generally with digestion as well.  In fact, prunes are high in antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties, and are good for bone health, skin and hair!  My Mother would often tell me that I was “full of prunes,” when as a child I would say or do something silly!  I guess being full of prunes was not such a bad thing after all!

Today’s verse tells the believer to be filled with God’s Spirit.  The Holy Spirit resides in each of those who have turned to Christ in faith.  God has put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit. guaranteeing what is to come (II Cor.1:22).  But being filled with Him means giving more of ourselves over to Him to work in and through us.  When we are filled with His Spirit, we overflow with praise and song with others and heartfelt music to Him!

The problem comes when I am filled with other things.  How can He fill my heart when it is full of bitterness or a refusal to forgive?  How can He have room to display His fruit when I am full of jealousy and envy?  My stubbornness and pride put Him in a tiny corner of my heart where He is barely noticed.  Then I wonder why I am just not feeling His presence and power.  Holding on to those heart-filling obstacles means that the song and praise fall silent.  But oh how wonderful the change when I confess and rid my heart of what is blocking Him!

Lord, fill me to overflowing today!