Devotions By Jan


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The Secretary Bird

Scripture for Today: Psalm 18:38 “I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet.”

Do not let this stately bird with beautiful eye lashes fool you!  The Secretary Bird is an accomplished hunter who corners its prey in the tall grass of Southern Africa.  From a standing position they will use five times their body weight (an average of 8.9 pounds) to kick and stomp on a snake.  More than just stunning the snake, they jump, kick and stomp on it until the neck or back is snapped.  As I am not a fan of snakes, I do not feel too sorry for them.  But the whole process seems a bit ruthless.

Today’s verse seems a bit ruthless as well.  David is describing what happened in battle when the Lord delivered him from his enemies.  It was kill or be killed and David recognizes that it was God who armed him with strength (verse 39).  Instead of taking credit, David praises and exalts God for avenging him and saving him from his enemies. (verses 46-48)

The image of victory in battle seems far removed from my everyday life.  Yet, each time I succeed in resisting temptation, it is a victory.  Each time I do the right thing when it would have been so much easier to compromise, it is another battle won!  I am in a continual battle against forces that I cannot see (Eph. 6:12).  Ruthlessness is called for with an enemy that wants to destroy me.  I dare not underestimate him.  And as with David, there is no victory without God’s strength.  He graciously gives me His armor along with His strength and mighty power.

Thank you Lord, that in You there is victory!

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The Sea Otter

Scripture for Today:Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

The little furry face of the sea otter looks too cute to be related to the weasel.  The otter is made for the water and spends most of his time there.  His feet are webbed, his fur is water repellent and his nostrils and ears close up in the water.  Despite their fur being the thickest of any animal, they often float on the surface, even falling asleep in this position.  They look so calm and peaceful, without a care in the world.

Today’s verse is a wonderful promise of support for God’s chosen ones.  Those He has redeemed for all eternity need have no fear of sinking in the water of this world’s troubles.  He gives strength and help.  He upholds us with His powerful and righteous hand.  Regardless of how deep that water is, we have no cause for fear.  His steady love and power will hold us up and keep our head above water.

Moving through hard times, I need to hear this.  There are times I feel as if I am sinking but I am not.  He has never let me down.  And I know He has a plan and purpose for those difficulties.  But I feel dismay and fear even so.  I paddle as if my life depended on it.  I panic and swallow water when I could be trusting Him and floating on the surface.  He is holding me up from underneath where I cannot see.  His powerful right hand is there and I can relax in His control.

Thank you Lord, for Your strength and support!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Dried Out Clay

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called, ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

There is not a whole lot one can do with dried out clay.  It always seems to be a problem with my grandsons.  When their clay is left out, it becomes dry and hard and pretty much useless.  Without storing it properly, the air seems to suck out all the moisture and it is no longer pliable.  Instead of being fashioned into pleasing shapes, it becomes brittle and hard.

Today’s verse says that we can become hardened.  Our hearts have the tendency to turn away from God in rebellion and unbelief (verse 12).  It can be a slow insidious process that we do not even realize is happening.  Sin is deceitful and can pull us gradually and subtly away from the God we love.  Sin is deceitful because it can seem so good and right.  It can appear sophisticated and desirable.  We need encouragement everyday in order to resist its attraction.  By recognizing sin’s empty promises and praying for one another, we can hold on firmly to what we have in Christ (verse 14).

I would like to think that I am immune from sin’s attraction.  After all, I have known and loved the Savior for quite some time.  I understand the complications and danger sin can bring to a life.  But I am not immune.  I will always need the example and encouragement from other believers.  He is always ready to forgive, but I do not like the distance I feel from the Lord when I give in.  I know that if I flirt with sin, my heart will no longer be soft and pliable to Him.

Lord, do not let my heart become hardened.


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Keepsake

Scripture for Today: II Timothy 1:12 “…nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”

A “keepsake” is defined as a small item kept in memory of the person who gave it or originally owned it.  This sand footprint was made to be a keepsake.  At first glance it seemed as an odd choice.  How could something made of sand keep for any length of time?  But in scanning the instructions, I saw that plaster of paris was used, so that it was not as fragile as I first thought.

Today’s verse is about committing something to God’s care.  He keeps it.  He keeps it safe and secure.  It is something that will last into eternity; our soul.  Paul is persuaded that God is able to guard what was entrusted to Him.  He was so convinced of his future in Heaven that he was fearless in his defense and spread of the Gospel.  Paul was able to face imprisonment and even death with a calm assurance.  He knew where he was going and could stay loyal to the One who was keeping his soul secure.

I am so grateful that He keeps my soul.  Even now, I have already died and my life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3)  Being persuaded of this makes a difference to how I go through this journey.  With my eternal destiny decided I can lose my life for His sake.  And in doing so, I find life! (Mark 8:35)  Having this assurance helps me hold on a little less tightly to all that is earthly.  He is guarding for me a hope and future beyond anything that I can imagine.

Thank you Lord, for keeping me secure.


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Castle Keep

Scripture for Today: Psalm 61:3 “For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”

This castle keep is part of the Arundel Castle in West Sussex, England.  Built in 1067, it is of particular interest to me as my ancestors lived there in the mid 1200’s!  It was bequeathed by the King to Richard Fitzalan, the husband of my 18th Great Grand Aunt!  Our family lived there for 200 years, but not so often in the section pictured here.  This is the castle keep, the fortified tower.  The keep was considered one of the most impenetrable parts of the castle.  It was used as a refuge of last resort should the rest of the castle fall to the enemy.

Today’s verse describes God as a strong tower.  David is crying out to the Lord for help as his heart grows faint.  This is the prayer of one who is battle weary.  He cries out to God as he remembers how He has in the past been a strong tower of defense.  David needs God to be his defense against literal enemies.  He understands that it is only because of God’s love and faithfulness that there is any protection at all (verse 7).

I may not have the same enemies as David.  But I too sometimes feel my heart growing faint.  Standing up to the world’s values can be wearisome.  Fighting off temptation and compromise can wear me down.  My enemy may be called, “discouragement.”  My enemy may be called, “giving up.”  It could be that I am trying to fight on my own rather than in His strength.  He is a strong tower and I can run to Him when my heart feels faint.  He promises me His love and faithfulness just as He did to David.

Thank you Lord, for being my strength today.

 


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“I Want to Thank Me”

Scripture for Today: Psalm 35:18 “I will give You thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise You.”

A new star has just been added to Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame.  The one being honored before the crowd made quite a statement at the end of his tribute to  friends and family.  “Last but not least, I want to thank me for believing in me.”  He then went on to describe all his hard work and sacrifice.  He ended his self-congratulations with an expletive.

Today’s verse declares David’s intent to praise and give thanks to God before the crowd.  David, as king of Israel, had many occasions to speak publicly and honor himself.  But he did not.  He did not thank himself for all his hard work and sacrifice.  David had killed a giant.  As a mighty warrior and powerful king, he had much more reason than a pop star to praise himself before the people.  But instead, he gave all thanks and praise to God.   David understood that his life was fleeting, a mere “handbreadth.”  Every life is but a breath. (Ps. 39:4-5)  David was not perfect but he understood just how big God is in comparison to any man.

How odd to hear this news story during Thanksgiving week!  We just celebrated this day by recognizing all of our blessings.  We thanked our families and our friends.  But for believers, it is most importantly a time to thank God for His love, mercy and grace.  HE deserves all my praise and thanks for everything that is good in my life.  I cannot take credit for anything.  He gives me my intellect and my talents.  He gives me my health and my wealth.  He gives me my next breath and heartbeat!

Lord, I cannot thank me.  I thank You!

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100 Years

Scripture for Today: Psalm 77:11 “I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely, I will remember Your wonders of old.”

Meet Joseph Ambrose, a veteran of World War I.  At age 86 he was honored at a Veteran’s Day parade in 1982.  His old-fashioned uniform is surprising and the emotion etched on his face is touching.  He served in a war that was supposed to be the “war to end all wars.”  Sadly, that has not been the case.  Veteran’s Day this year marks the one hundred year anniversary of this war.  Memories fade as those who fought disappear with age.  But although we do not always have the details of these war stories, we can still appreciate the sacrifice their service represents.

In today’s verse Asaph declares that he will remember what the Lord has done.  And His wonders include miraculous exploits in battle!  From the drowning of Pharaoh’s army to the walls coming down at Jericho, the Lord has done battle for His own!  And He continues to do battle for us, equipping us with spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-17) and helping us to stand firm.  He makes us more than conquerors as He is on our side (Rom. 8:31).

My life is to testify to others just how great and awesome my God is!  I am to sing His praises, give credit and glory to Him by my life and praise Him in prayer.  When I do, I myself become a “wonder and surprise” to many! (Psalm 71:7)  But so often, it is through the heat of battle that others take note.  It is through the difficulty that He shows Himself strong and powerful.  When others see me rise above a horrible situation, I gain credibility and a voice.

Lord, may my life remind others of all Your wonders and incredible deeds!