Devotions By Jan


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My Father’s Gift

Scripture for Today:Matthew 7:9-10 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?”

My Dad loved to bowl which may explain how this happened.  For months as a young girl, I dropped many not-so-subtle hints about the expensive doll I had seen advertised.  That Christmas morning, trembling with excitement, I made a beeline for that big narrow box tagged with my name.  What keen disappointment I felt when unwrapping a toy bowling set instead of a doll!  My Father gave it out of love but it was not the good gift I was expecting.

Today’s passage explains that our Heavenly Father gives good gifts to His children when we ask Him (verse 11).  In answer to our prayers, He gives to His own exactly what is good for us.  He is not random nor is He arbitrary.  Our Father is a perfect Father.  He sees past what may be selfish or frivolous requests.  He answers the deeper need we sometimes do not even see.  And what is so amazing is that our Father is the unrecognized Source of much that is good in our lives!

I have heard people quip, “Be careful what you pray for, you just may get it.”  The idea is that we will be sorry we ever asked.  That does not describe my perfect heavenly Father.  What He gives me is out of love and always for my good.  If I mistakenly ask for a stone or a snake, He has committed Himself to giving only what is good for me.  I can trust His goodness in all of His answers.  I am so glad He sees what is good for me when I cannot.

Thank you Lord, for being a good good Father!


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Barn Sour

Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:8-9a “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule…”

If the path to the left leads back to the barn, these horses may show signs of being “barn sour.”  Once a barn sour horse is turned back toward home, he will pick up speed.  If left unchecked, he will gallop back to the barn like a madman!  Becoming barn sour could be the result of fears and insecurities being away from his comfort zone, or just plain stubbornness.

Today’s verse tells us not to be like a horse or mule.  They have no understanding and need the control of the bit and bridle.  We, on the other hand, have God’s promise to instruct and teach us in the way we should go.  The Lord promises to instruct those that fear Him in the ways they should choose (Psalm 25:12).  He promises to guide the humble (Psalm 25:9).  His loving eye is on us, seeing every choice we need to make.  He knows about every decision we face.  His counsel is always available if we are humble enough to seek it.

Quite frankly, I sometimes prefer being “barn sour.”  That way, I know I am returning to the comfortable and familiar.  But He does not always lead that way.  He is more interested in growing my faith and dependance on Him.  The path that He chooses may be more challenging, but it is a path with adventures that will bring me closer to Him!  His guidance and counsel is done with love.  And I can trust that He knows what He is doing even if it is away from my “comfort zone.”

Lord, thank you for your loving guidance.

 

 

 


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Colorless

Scripture for Today: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

They still allow toilet paper of different colors in France.  One can choose just the right shade to  coordinate with your bathroom decor!  Our white-only choices seem boring by comparison.  Recently, we in North America have gone from talking about toilet paper shortages to heated discussions regarding color.  As important as this dialogue is, there is one even more important; what color is our soul?

Today’s well-known verse declares that God loves His creation.  He loves the world and His offer of salvation is inclusive to “whoever believes.”  As divided as mankind is, the need for forgiveness through God’s Son is a need that we all share.  The value He places on each of us individually is so high that He was willing to sacrifice Jesus so we could be with Him for all eternity.  Deep down in every human is a soul that is colorless in that we have the exact same need of salvation.  The ground before the cross is level.  No one is more deserving than another despite race, economic advantage or educational background.

This is a truth that changes how I view others.  Because of God’s undeserved grace to me, I can extend this same grace to others.  There is no sin too grievous for Him to forgive.  When violating even one of God’s laws I am guilty of all (James 2:10).  This is the way we are all the same, needing His forgiveness and grace.  I do not want to focus on what separates us but rather on what unites us all in our shared need for Him!

Lord, thank you for Your all-inclusive love.


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The Hedgehog

Scripture for Today:  Col. 3:12-13  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another, if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

We had hedgehogs living under our one hundred year-old home in France.  They were quite harmless when left alone.  They came out at night and mosied around the yard.  They were certainly slow creatures and very timid.  When approaching them, they may roll up into a spiky ball and stay immobile.  Our cat pretty much ignored the hedgehogs.  Perhaps there was an “incident” that convinced him to leave them alone!  They can look cute and cuddly when surrounded by flowers but the up-to-sixty spines that clothe their bodies are a strong incentive to keep one’s distance.

Today’s verse describes a clothing that is beautiful and approachable.  We are to clothe ourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  We are to be forgiving because we ourselves have been forgiven.  These adjectives bring to mind the character of Jesus who is “gentle and humble in heart.”  The list also reminds me in part of the fruit of the Spirit.  And as one having a new nature, they are also to characterize me.

But I am not always so soft and approachable.  Quite frankly, before that first morning cup of coffee I can be quite prickly!  There are times when being a hedgehog is just easier.  But because God has chosen me and I am dearly loved, I can respond to others with these beautiful qualities He is slowly developing in me.  Not only is this clothing more comfortable for others but for myself as well!

Lord, help me to resemble You today.


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Pink Water

Scripture for Today: John 4:13-14 “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

I never knew water could be pink!    Lake Grassmere, a seaside lake in New Zealand, can be anywhere from pink to purple in the summer months.  This is a result of natural salt production there.  The color appears in the crystallization ponds, caused by microscopic green algae in this high salt concentration.  As colorful as this water is, drinking it would only increase one’s thirst!

Today’s verse describes a water that is unique, not for its color but because it will quench thirst for all time.  Jesus offers this water to the Samaritan woman at the well.  The gift of the Holy Spirit is this unique living water (verse 10).  God’s presence in us quenches a thirst for deep and satisfying relationship.  When filled up with Him, we no longer dip into wells of water that only leave us wanting more.  Not only is thirst quenched here on earth but for all eternity.

I am so attracted to other kinds of water.  But somehow, worldly pleasures leave me wanting more.  There is a deep-seated thirst inside me that can only be quenched by my Creator.  He made me that way.  If I am discontented and looking elsewhere, I start to feel thirsty.  For a time I can ignore it, but eventually my lack of spiritual water becomes too difficult to dismiss.  He is so gracious to always welcome me and fill me to capacity!  Every day His invitation stands to come to the water (Is. 55:1).

Lord, thank you that You alone quench my thirst!