Devotions By Jan


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The Redwood Tree

Scripture for Today:Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

How could anyone not be impressed with the mighty Coast Redwoods with their amazing height and longevity!  One would think that in the earthquake country where the Redwood grows they would be at risk to fall.  But they have developed a survival strategy when forced to lean due to shifting ground.  They are able to accelerate their growth on their downhill sides and so buttress themselves and remain standing!

Today’s verse talks about how we can grow and be strengthened in our faith.  We can accelerate our growth by being rooted and built up in HIm.  When we feel ourselves leaning because of shifting ground, we can shore ourselves up by being firmly planted in Him.  In a world that is constantly changing and shifting its norms and values, we can be built up by His unchanging Word.  Being rooted in the soil of fine-sounding arguments (verse 4) and deceptive philosophies (verse 8) will stunt our growth and make us unstable.

I will not grow strong and firmly planted when I read, see or listen to prevailing thought that discounts God and His Word.  I am surrounded by godless philosophy and it is a struggle to be intentional about what I allow to influence me. When I feel myself start to lean with shifting ground I want to grow my roots deeper.  I want to stand tall and firm.  I cannot do that without being buttressed by His truth in His Word.  He is my strength and if I lean at all I want to lean into Him!

Thank you Lord, that You strengthen my faith.


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Sticking My Neck Out

Scripture for Today: Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.”

It is obvious how this Eastern Snake-Necked turtle got its name.  The neck on this common Australian turtle can be as long as his body!  When it feels threatened it can emit a strong musky liquid from the armpits and groin area.  Of course, its best protection is his shell.  But for this species, to fit that long neck into his carapace he has to bend his head sideways and make it go in sideways.  Retreating into his shell may take some extra maneuvering but worth the protection it gives.

Today’s verse talks about the Lord being our refuge in times of trouble.  He is good and He cares when we have stuck our necks out too far!  The refuge He offers is His presence and is always available.  There is no situation that is too difficult for Him regardless of how vulnerable and exposed we feel.  By hiding in Him we can wait out whatever is making us feel threatened.  He is our refuge, our fortress and our hiding place.  In His loving and protecting presence we can patiently wait out any pressure, stress or assault.  It is God who gives perseverance and encouragement (Rom.15:5).

I do not know what tomorrow may bring.  But I do know that He is already there and He will give me what I need to persevere.  At the first sign of trouble, He wants me to hide myself in Him.  He cares for me because I trust in Him.  He responds to my trust by being exactly what I need when the hard times come.  What a comfort that He is good and ready to hide me!

Thank you Lord, that You care.

 


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Little Grasshopper

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 40:22 “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.”

Of all the insects I can run into, I am the least threatened by the grasshopper.  Perhaps the delight of seeing them jumping in the grass when I was a child has stayed with me.  According to the Urban Dictionary, calling someone a “grasshopper,” is to refer to someone as a novice, a student, a subordinate or to someone who is just ignorant.  This use of the word was made popular by the Kung Fu television series in the seventies.  “Patience, my little grasshopper.”

Today’s verse refers to all of mankind as grasshoppers when compared to the God of the universe.  God’s creativity, His sovereignty and His incomparable power are so far above man’s experience and capabilities.  We are only small insignificant grasshoppers next to such greatness!  If God had not revealed Himself to us we could never have had any relationship with HIm.  There are no limits to His knowledge and understanding.  When communicating with us I can just imagine Him saying, “patience, my little grasshopper.”

How ludicrous of any “grasshopper” to say there is no God!  But even though I love Him and belong to Him I can act as though He is not there.  I get so busy jumping from one thing to the next that the whole day can pass without even a thought of Him.  Yes, He sits enthroned above but He is also intimately involved in every detail of my puny insignificant life!  His love and faithfulness are as high as those heavens He spread out.  What an amazing thought that He could care for me!

Lord, thank you for loving this grasshopper!


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The Army Crawl

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:28 “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word.”

It is so cute when babies do the “army crawl.”  My granddaughter is in this stage, pulling herself along with her arms while staying prone.  Now her older brother has to scramble to keep his lego structures standing at her approach!  In the military, staying prone while moving forward keeps one out of the line of fire.  There is a quote from Napoleon saying, “An army marches on its stomach.”  But rather than referring to an army crawl, marching on one’s stomach meant to fight victoriously being well-provisioned.

Today’s verse tells us that we are well-provisioned or strengthened through His Word.  In our spiritual battle to obey and follow His commands, we grow weary.  The psalmist recognizes that he can be strengthened by understanding God’s precepts and meditating on all of God’s wonderful deeds in the past.  It is through God’s Word that we gain strength and courage to keep walking in His ways.  Without His Word, we are ill prepared or ill-provisioned!  Our souls need this daily nourishment to persevere.

How presumptuous of me to think I can live the Christian life on my own!  But every time I neglect His Word, I am operating out of pride.  My soul can easily become weary with sorrow as I move away from His love letter to me.  Pride and doing things my way isolates me from the relationship the most important in my life.  How good He is when I return to His Word to change that sorrow and weariness into joy and motivation!  Being in His Word strengthens my faith, my resolve and my relationship with Him!

Thank you Lord, for strengthening me today through Your Word.

 

 


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Deep Water

Scripture for Today: John 4:10 “Jesus answered, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”

Did you know that over 60% of the earth is covered by deep water more than a mile in depth?  How wonderful it would be to scuba dive and enjoy all the varied colors of the coral and of the fish!  Even in the extreme depths far from sunlight there is life found in the cold sweeps and hydrothermal vents.  There is a whole other world when one goes deeper!

Today’s verse is from the story of the woman at the well.  Jesus offers her water that will so satisfy her that she will never thirst again.  The woman’s response is understandable.  She keeps the discussion on a physical rather than spiritual plane.  But if she had known who it was that was speaking to her she would have realized that there was a deeper meaning.  He wanted to satisfy her deeper longings and not only her physical need.

My requests and prayers to the Lord often stay on the physical plane.  It is understandable to ask Him for a physical healing.  He understands when I ask for help with finances or a miracle that would change my circumstances.  But He wants me to go deeper with Him.  He wants me to recognize and ask Him for what I cannot see or touch or measure.  He offers to fill me up with the fulness of Him.  He wants me to ask for His peace, His power and the assurance of His presence.  Filling these deeper needs carry me through all the rest!

Thank you Lord, for giving me what I truly need; more of You.

 


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Pickle Fork

Scripture for Today: John 15:4 “Remain in Me, as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit of itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”

I love looking out the window of an airplane, even if I am over a wing.  I don’t normally think about how that wing is attached to the plane.  But if I did, I would just assume the connection was good at what is called the “Pickle Fork.”  That is the name of the juncture between the wings and fuselage.  Lately, the new generation of the Boeing 737 has been showing cracks in exactly that spot!

Today’s verse teaches how vital our connection is with the Lord.  Just as there can be no fruit in a branch separated from the vine, so there can be no good result when a wing detaches from the fuselage.  This verse tells us to remain in Him, meaning that sometimes we do not.  Our independent spirit and sense of self-sufficiency can create some serious cracks!  The separated branch or wing can look good to others but without that essential connection, there is no purpose to it being there.

To remain in constant communication with the Lord takes focus.  To always be aware of His presence and love takes deliberate effort.  But when I spend time in His Word and my thoughts are directed toward Him, I see my day take on purpose as He works through me.  Nothing I can accomplish will have any eternal significance without His amazing productive power.  I can almost feel those cracks forming when I do not spend time with Him.  But when I stay connected I see results that I know do not come from me alone.

Lord, keep me connected and crack free!

 

 

 

 


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Lion or Kitten?

Scripture for Today: Acts 4:13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

The Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite characters from this 1939 film!  Even though he is the “King of the Forest” he does not think he is courageous.  He wants courage from the great Oz, not realizing that he already has it!  He mistakens his fear for lack of courage.  But courage can be defined as acting in the face of fear!

In today’s verse, Peter and John are showing courage.  They had been seized and thrown in prison by the rulers, elders and teachers of the law.  When appearing before them to give a defense, Peter, filled with the Spirit, stood fearlessly and preached Jesus.  Their accusers watching them were not only surprised but astonished that such unschooled and ordinary men would be showing such courage.  And they rightly concluded that these men had been with Jesus!  The Spirit God gives does not make us timid! (II Tim. 1:7)

I have not been called before the law to defend my faith in Christ.  But if it should ever happen, I believe God through His Spirit would give me the courage I need.  I may tremble inside but He would help me face my fears.  When I show courage in the face of any opposition, it is a sure sign that I have spent time with Jesus!  I am told to wait on the Lord and be of good courage (Psalm 27:14) because He is the One who will strengthen my heart!  Any courage I show would not come from me but from Him.

Thank you Lord, that you can make a lion out of this kitten!