Devotions By Jan


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Fading Flowers

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades but the Word of our God shall stand forever.”

Flowers that fade are not uncommon.  It can happen when there is too much exposure to sun and heat.  A once vibrant color can fade after being pollinated, no longer needing its suitors.  But the flower can also fade from stress after being transplanted.  Flowers growing from bulbs, such as the daffodil, fade with age.  The hydrangeas in my garden in France would fade being sensitive to the acidity of the soil.  The writer, Robert Bridges, used this image of fading flowers to describe diminishing love.

Today’s verse uses the grass that withers and the flower that fades to illustrate how brief and temporary life is.  The green grass can spring up overnight after a good rain and blanket a hillside.  And just as quickly, the grass can wither in an unrelenting sun.  The flower can enjoy a stunning burst of color, but eventually fades.  What a contrast to God’s Word that never withers and never fades!  It is always true and never changing.

God’s Word is living and enduring, making my life full of vibrant color (I Peter 1:23).  Through His Word He has put in me seed that never dies.  In a winter of bare trees and dry grass, I know that in the spiritual realm it is always spring!  His Word refreshes and strengthens me (Ps. 119:28).  Nothing can ever happen to make it untrue, unreliable or irrelevant.  What God says brings me comfort and hope in the most dire situations.  His promises keep me strong and His reassurances give me courage.  I cannot even imagine life without His precious Word to help me live it!

Lord, keep me faithfully reading Your Word.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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The California Poppy

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:130 “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

What could be more breathtaking than a boring brown field suddenly coming to life with a vibrant carpet of red?  The spring rains in California change the landscape into a burst of color with the blooming of this state flower.  Not only is it beautiful but it has many uses.  Its leaves are used medicinally, its pollen cosmetically and its seeds are used in cooking. If you pick one, this simple fragile flower will lose its petals almost immediately.  And without the sun, the flower folds into itself each night or on a cloudy day.

Today’s verse is part of that very long psalm extolling the wonders of God’s Word.  His Word gives light and understanding, even to the simple.  The light of His statutes and commands allows us to be who we are meant to be.  Obeying Him and His way warms us and causes us to grow and be beautiful.  Without the light of understanding, we close up and shrivel.   When the clouds of darkness or disobedience block the warmth of His light, we suffer without even knowing why.

It takes faith and trust to obey Him.  Our way seems better and easier.  Certainly, life would be less complicated if a believer could just do as he pleases.  At least that is how we reason.  However, the more I compromise His standards, the darker my day becomes.  The light of His loving words and counsel to me fall on deaf ears as I close in on myself.  But when I choose obedience, despite the cost, then my spirit opens to a renewed closeness to His heart.

Lord, keep me in the light of Your Word!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 


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Conch Shell

Scripture for Today: Psalms 85:8  “I will hear what God the Lord will say.   For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones.  But let them not turn back to folly.”

It is said that one can hear a wooshing sound resembling the sound of ocean waves when placing a conch shell to the ear.  The sound is thought to be one’s own blood rushing in the brain with every heartbeat.  Or some believe that ocean sound is just the surrounding sound resonating within the shell.  In either case, the shell would have to be vacant before I would let it anywhere near me!  This conch shell was empty but now has a crab taking up residence!

Today’s verse talks about hearing something else; what God has to say.  It begins with a statement of intention, “I will.”  There are a myriad of sounds out there clamoring to be heard.  But listening to the Lord through His Word is worth the effort and discipline.  He speaks peace to those that belong to Him.  So many times I have come to Him in prayer totally agitated and stressed.  He speaks peace.  He calms me down and listening intently I hear reminders of His love and control in my circumstances.  I get in that troubled state usually because I have not been listening to Him in the first place!

Not only do I hear Him speak peace, but listening to Him keeps me from folly or from doing something foolish.  If I am honest with myself, I realize I am quite capable of doing all kinds of foolish things with impeccable rational!  Listening to Him daily through His Word is the best way to avoid my own folly.  And I need the peace and calm He offers.

Lord, keep me listening to You today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Cutting The Cheese

img_20160827_153946Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 15:16  “Your words were found and I ate them.  And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart.  For I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of Hosts.”

While living in France, it was a little intimidating to be the first to cut the cheese when offered that cheese platter.  For the French, nothing stinks more than someone who has not cut the cheese properly!  This display in Alsace at the Munster Cheese Museum gives the correct method for each form of cheese.  There is a certain logic to the rules as everyone gets an even piece in size and rind.  When rules are followed, the presentation will stay beautiful and leftovers will keep better.

Today’s verse likens the experience of reading God’s Word to the pleasure there is in a really good French cheese.  So many of them I consider a joy and delight to my taste buds.  Here, the Word of God can be a joy and delight to one’s heart.  Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet” as his message was one of judgement for his own people.  One does not usually associate the words, “joy” and “delight” with Jeremiah.  Yet, even knowing that his people would reject God, he could still find gladness in his own relationship with the Lord.  He knew he belonged to the Lord God of Hosts.

There are precious loved ones in my life who also reject God’s message of salvation.  There is no avoiding heartbreak over that hard reality.  Yet, God does not want me to live my life in sadness.  He wants to give me joy and delight through His Word and through my relationship with Him.

Lord, lift the weight of that sadness and replace it with Your joy and delight.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Brainy

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This sculpture of a brain is found in Norfolk, England.  It was created to honor a very intelligent 17th century author, Sir Thomas Browne.  It is made of marble, which reinforces to me the idea that it is difficult sometimes to change one’s mind!  Americans spent 1.9 billion on brain-improving apps!  Many of them claim to improve memory, increase IQ, and boost other cognitive skills.  Of course, engaging in different types of new cognitively demanding tasks is good for the brain!

Today’s verse talks about transforming and renewing one’s mind.  We are told to do it so it must be something that is possible.  But rather than using brain teasers and games, we are to use the transforming power of God’s Word.  Unlike any other book, God’s Word is living and active, penetrating to reveal thoughts and attitudes (Hebrews 4:12).  Reading, meditating and memorizing God’s Word allows the believer to discern what God wants of us.  His Word also helps us to resist what the world wants from us; conformity!

I find tremendous comfort in the fact that God’s will for me is good, pleasing and perfect!  Often I approach God’s will with trepidation, thinking that somehow God’s will is mysterious, unknowable, and much too difficult.  But after spending time in His Word, I have a different mindset.  He renews my mind so I can understand and be on board with what He wants of me.  And He shows me where my thinking conforms to the false ideas of the world.  He replaces those thoughts with His truth!

Thank you Lord, for changing my mind!


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Deepfake Technology

Scripture for Today:  I John 4:1  “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Imagine seeing your face on social media saying something with your voice that you have never said!  This kind of video manipulation is called “deepfake technology.”  The term refers to videos that use artificial intelligence technology, superimposing multiple images.  The result makes people think you said or did something you did not!  There are subtle signs that give it away such as unrealistic blinking and facial movement.

Today’s verse encourages believers to take a closer look at those claiming to be prophets of God.  False prophets can look authentic and even use Scripture, but they do not speak for God.  There are several tests that reveal whether a prophet is false.  A false prophet denies the deity of Jesus (I John 4:2-3).  He is false when he says he knows God but does not obey God’s commands (I John 2:4).  A true prophet will be one that obeys God’s Word.  His life will match his words.  And the false prophet will not teach God’s truth but his own version of it.  None of these tests have anything to do with their apparent success in the world, the size of their audience or even the miracles performed.

I am so grateful to know the Source of truth (John 14:6).  But that does not mean that I cannot be fooled.  When I rely on my own flawed reasoning or rationale, I can get myself into trouble.  It is His Spirit that guides me into truth through His Word (John 16:13).  The more I know and meditate on His truth the more easily I will be able to spot a fake!

Lord, keep me far from anything false.


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Bride’s Veil Waterfall

Scripture for today:  II Corinthians 3:15-16  “Yes, down to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their minds and hearts.  But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is stripped off and taken away.”

It takes some effort to reach the “Velo de Novia” or Bride’s Veil at El Chiflon, Mexico.  It is the farthest of five falls but the most majestic at 120 meters high.  The best part may be the pool of blue-green water it forms at its base, perfect for swimming.  The way the water cascades down the rocks does resemble a bridal veil.  But what impresses most is the tremendous sound of the pounding water as it rushes down the steep hill.

Today’s verse talks about a veil that is quiet and discreet, so much so that it goes unnoticed.  It is a veil that blinds people spiritually.  It was there even though these people were listening to the Word of God.  The veil was keeping them from understanding.  It was obstructing their view of the Truth.  The veil remained there until they turned to the Lord in repentance.  Once that happened, the veil was no longer an issue.  It was then stripped off and taken away.

There are many times I do not understand God’s Word and those times push me to study and dig deeper.  But this is something different.  The veil that can cover a mind and heart is a veil of unbelief.  The things of the Spirit are spiritually discerned (I Cor. 2:14) and that veil can only be removed by the Lord when I turn to Him in faith.  What a wonderful moment it is when He lifts that veil and I see Him face to face, my loving Groom.

Thank you Lord, for removing the veil.