Devotions By Jan

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Trivial Pursuit

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:2-3 “You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.”

Trivial Pursuit is probably one of my least favorite board games.  Somehow, the questions on popular culture and general knowledge have a way of stumping me and making me look stupid!  Yet it has enjoyed much success having sold over a 100 million games in 26 languages and in 17 different languages!  I console myself with the thought that the one who wins is simply the one who knows the most trivia!

Today’s verse describes God’s intimate knowledge of us.  He knows not only our physical movements but the direction of our thoughts as well.  God is so big that the smallest most trivial detail does not get past Him!  He knows when, where and why a swallow falls to the ground and He knows just how many hairs are currently on my head.  Our powerful God is not only Lord of the universe but also cares about the puny unimportant minutia of our lives.  His omniscience is all inclusive.

I find enormous comfort and assurance to know He is intimately involved in the details of my life.  Because of His love and grace, I do not have to hide from this knowledge.  And His intimate knowledge of me means I can live without fear.  I can move confidently through my day, knowing He is there.  He knows and He cares, even when it is something so small that has me worried.  Rather than get nervous over what could happen, I can trust Him.  There is nothing too small for His notice.  There is nothing too trivial.

Thank you Lord, that I can come to You over the smallest thing.

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Eating Scraps

Scripture for Today: Psalms 145:15-16  “The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due time.  You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”

Not a single scrap of food was wasted during the second world war.  This young girl is putting scraps into the city pig bin in Surrey, England.  The image comes from the Imperial War Museum to depict life at the “Home Front.”  All those scraps were collected and treated and then fed to the pigs.  The pigs will eat just about anything.  They are not too picky and are easily satisfied, sometimes even with food that is nasty and spoiled.  But for the famished young man feeding pigs in Luke 15, even their food looked good!  The prodigal son had traded the comfort of his Father’s presence for the pleasures the world had to offer.

Today’s verse tells us where true satisfaction can be found.  What comes from His hand brings satisfaction.  The problem comes when we turn to the world for that satisfaction.  We mistakenly think that the pleasures the world offers will somehow meet our desires when nothing is further from the truth.  Like the Prodigal Son, we end up with the pigs, mindlessly eating the scraps.

So many are deluded and living contentedly with scraps in the pigsty when they could be dining at their Father’s table.  What the world offers not only fails to truly satisfy but leaves a bitter aftertaste.  My Heavenly Father gives good gifts that satisfy my deepest and sometimes unconscious desires.  His open hand is waiting to give to those who look to Him in faith.  I can say this as He has satisfied me with a love that will never fail!

Thank you Lord, that You satisfy my deepest hunger, that of my soul.

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Scripture for today: I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

We used to think of binging only in terms of eating and drinking.  But of course, binging can refer to indulging to excess in any activity.  Binging on a television series has become a common pastime for some.  A “binge racer” is someone who completes an entire season of a television show within a day of its release.  While living in France, friends would send us a show’s entire season.  To binge watch was a true temptation although real life usually interrupted the idea of “indulging to excess.”

Today’s verses seem to indicate that there is no such thing as excess when it comes to joy, prayer or thankfulness.  All three of these activities can be indulged to our heart’s content.  In fact, each please the Lord and are part of His desire for the way we live.  To always have deep-seated joy would include in the middle of any circumstance, even the negative ones (James 1:2).  Being in a continual attitude of prayer means that the lines of communication remain open and intact.  And to always give thanks recognizes God’s loving control in every circumstance.

I can never rejoice too much.  I can never pray more than I should.  And the Lord never tires of hearing my grateful praise!  Each of these activities can never be indulged too much.  He asks me to make them part of my every day life.  He knows how enriching they are to my day and how they direct my heart toward Him.  When I choose joy, when I take time to talk with Him and when I am grateful for every blessing, I can feel His pleasure!

Lord, keep me close to You today.


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Bitter Melon

Scripture for Today: Psalm 71:20 “Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter, You will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth You will again bring me up.”

Bitter melon looks nothing like a melon!  It looks more like a cucumber and it is not only its taste which can discourage a try but also its bumpy warty skin!  This very bitter fruit is grown in tropical areas of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and South America.  It is also known as balsam pear, bitter squash, karela and goya.  The bitter melon is believed to aid digestion and improve overall health.  It is even believed to help in treating diabetes and cancer, although the research is not conclusive.

Today’s verse talks about many bitter troubles.  David has had his share with his enemies seeking to kill him.  He has also lived with some very unhappy family relationships.  Yet he remains confident that his troubles will be short-lived.  He looks to the future with hope that God, though allowing the bitter trouble, will restore and lift him up once again.  David can say this as he has already seen the Lord do just that for him.  This psalm is full of testimony to God’s wonderful faithful care.

Although I enjoy God’s blessings, I am not spared “many and bitter troubles.”  And Peter tells me not to think it strange to experience fiery trials (I Peter 4:12).  But like David, I do not want to allow something difficult and even bitter to make me bitter!  He is there through all of it and is ready to restore and lift me up from the depths of disappointment, dashed hopes and depression!  In fact, He is the only One able to do it!

Thank you Lord, that You are my hope and comfort!

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After the Rains

Scripture for Today: Psalm 65:10 “You drench its furrows and level its ridges; You soften it with showers and bless its crops.”

With the recent rains, our local hills are green and beautiful.  And the wildflowers have put on quite a show this year.  But not everything that grows is welcome!  I knew that if I did not attack our hill soon, the weeds would be much more difficult to clear.  The warm drier weather will soon arrive and that ground will harden and be unforgiving.  But for now, the ground is soft and easily gives up the roots to those nasty weeds.

Today’s verse describes the rains and what they do for the land.  This psalm describes God’s abundant blessings on this earth including His forgiveness when overwhelmed with sin (verse 3).  There was special blessing for those who God brought near to live in His courts (verse 4).  His blessings are sometimes depicted as rain on thirsty ground.  And when we realize that what is good in our lives comes from Him (James 1:17) it can soften our hearts with gratitude.  Soft hearts not only soak up His blessings but also hear and obey His voice.  But we can harden our hearts when we ignore His voice (Hebrews 4:7).

I want the soil of my heart to be soft .  I want the weeds of sin and the roots of bitterness to be easily removed.  When I stubbornly choose to ignore His convicting voice, I can almost feel my heart hardening.  I belong to Him and so I can expect Him to correct and reprimand me.  When my heart is soft and I respond with humility the experience does not have to last very long and is a lot less painful.  He is waiting to love on me with His forgiveness!

Lord, keep my heart soft towards You.


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NASCAR Spotters

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 20:24 “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?”

The NASCAR driver can not turn his head while wearing the required head and neck support.  His wrap-around helmet also reduces visibility.  The driver can really only see directly in front of him or behind him.  These safety requirements have made the role of the “spotter” crucial.  The spotters are called, “eyes in the sky” seeing the whole track at once.  For three and a half hours the race-long conversations help their drivers avoid wrecks, position themselves to the best advantage and maneuver around blind corners.  Those words of guidance and encouragement in a calm tone can make all the difference!

Today’s verse acknowledges that the Lord directs the steps of those who belong to Him.  But often, the one directed has no idea of His direction!  The question expresses what is often felt:  How can anyone understand their own way?  We do not have the same vantage point and we can never understand it all.  We are told in any case not to lean on our own understanding but to acknowledge Him so that He can direct us (Prov. 3:5-6).

Because I cannot see what lies ahead, I need to trust the One who is already there and knows the way.  If I were to wait until I understood the reasons behind every directive, I would be at a standstill and make no progress!  But I can be confident of my direction even without full understanding.  That is because I trust Him.  His eyes are always on me and the twists and turns are not random.  He has a loving purpose in every change of course.  His direction is always towards a more loving relationship with Himself!

Lord, help me to trust You completely!

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Day of Remembrance

Scripture for Today: I John 4:10 “This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Memorial Day is a special day of remembrance, honoring  those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.  The soldier who lies in this grave is no exception even though his remains could not be identified.  His name is not recorded but his sacrifice is commemorated even so.  On this day we want to remember the incredible price paid by all the fallen, named or unnamed.

Today’s verse speaks of another sacrifice, one made to secure our freedom from the power and curse of sin.  He has won the battle over evil and darkness forever.  His name is known and has been for centuries.  The name of Jesus is a polarizing one that has provoked hate, division and rebellion as well as love, unity and submission.  His sacrifice to secure for us a future in Heaven was done out of love.  And His love is the supreme example of a life-changing sacrificial love.

I remember Christ’s sacrifice not only on Good Friday and when taking communion, but hopefully everyday.  I sometimes  forget though how costly His sacrifice was.  It was not only physical pain that Jesus endured but the incredible pain of separation from the Father.  It was the first time in all of eternity that God turned away from His Son.  And it was because of my sin.  Jesus suffered that separation from God so I would not have to.  His sacrifice is proof positive of His love for me!  Every time I think on it I am overwhelmed with gratitude and a desire to make His name known!

Lord, remind me of Your sacrifice every day.