Devotions By Jan


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United States of Anxiety

Scripture for Today: Psalm 94:19 “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” (NASB)

“We are all in this together.”  It is a phrase I repeatedly hear on social media.  As a society we are divided on so many fronts; political, religious, racial and economical.  But one thing seems to united us and unfortunately it is anxiety.  It may be that our anxiety is only an occasional thought.  Or it may be an underlying state of mind that colors our whole day.  For some, this anxiety is showing itself in disturbing dreams (ahem….) or interrupted sleep.  In any case, it is a natural state of affairs when we feel we are not in control and we do not know what is next!

Today’s verse gives an answer to our anxious thoughts that seem to multiply within us.  The soul can be delighted with His words of comfort and consolation even in the middle of such uncertain times.  We can move from anxiety to delight when we turn to His Word and His promises.  His lovingkindness holds us up (verse 18).  The Lord will not abandon or forsake His people who are His inheritance (verse 14).  Whatever the future holds, He is there and He is faithful.

I am a great one for asking myself, “what if?” or “what then?”  My questions come from a desire to know and control.  But there is no way of knowing or controlling.  And I do not really need these answers to experience delight in the deepest part of me.  Rather I need the One who does know and control.  He reassures my heart that He has a plan for my future and He is good.  I can let go of anxious thoughts when I spend time with Him.

Lord, thank you for relieving my anxiety.


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Face Masks

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”

Fashion statements show up in some of the unlikeliest places!  A seamstress friend in France is selling these face masks in a variety of materials.  Of course they do not give the same protection as the medical surgical masks.  But in an area of the world where the COVID virus is gaining momentum, they provide the wearer with at least a sense of security.  This little piece of whimsical material may not be any kind of guarantee.  But the one wearing it can hope to be a little more shielded.

Today’s verse describes the Lord as our shield.  He can be counted on and so can His Words!  Everything God has said and everything He has promised is true and worthy of our trust.  And taking refuge in Him is the best way to be shielded from whatever life can throw at us.  He provides His protection to those who run to Him for it.  There is confidence with this shield of divine control.  Nothing, no matter how small or how big can get through this barrier.

Nothing else can give me this kind of refuge.  I cannot count on the words of limited scientific discoveries.  I cannot count on the words of the media.  I cannot count on the words of the government.  But I can trust God’s Word.  I run to God to shield me from evil, from spiritual attack or the attack of an unseen virus.  His shield will not allow anything to touch me without His permission and without His using it as part of His plan.  What comfort in this thought, that I am shielded by the love and control of my Creator!

Shield me today, Lord.


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Martens in the House!

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:6 “The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.”

The cute and furry martens in our area of France were a real problem.  Because we had a car port rather than a garage, they would burrow up into the car carriage for warmth and chew on the wires!  A devise with an electrical shock discouraged them.  But the parties they would have in our attic were quite another challenge!  The only solution was trapping them and letting them go as they were protected.  Thankfully, our landlord took care of them with boiled eggs luring them into cages.

Today’s verse talks about what will trap those who feel no allegiance to the Lord; their evil desires.  What looks innocuous and tasty turns out to be dangerous.  Their evil desires promise comfort and warmth but instead deliver a nasty shock.  Those who are in right standing with God are delivered from even wanting what is evil and wicked.  Their righteous living keeps them away from entrapment.  When the one who is righteous delights in the Lord, his desires change and are no longer evil, aligning with His desires (Psalm 37:4).

It is not always easy for me to determine if my desires are evil and self-serving.  My heart can deceive me and my rational can be flawed.  Sin can be sneaky and alluring and temptation can be very strong.  It is only in submitting my desires to Him that I can have any confidence that my desires are lining up with His.  He will shine the light of His Word and expose the thoughts and attitudes of my heart. (Heb. 4:12)  The discomfort of conviction is a whole lot better than becoming trapped!

Lord, change my desires to be like Yours.

Photo Credit: Thomas Broxton Jr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/133339206@N03/17344629244


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The Rainbow Snake

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 11:3 “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

I am not a fan of snakes, but this one may change my mind!  The rainbow snake is beautiful with its iridescent blue and black back and its yellow and red stripes!  This non venomous snake is nocturnal and rarely seen.  It was recently spotted for the first time in fifty years in a Florida National Forest!  The sightings are so few because it so secretive, hiding underwater among vegetation.  In fact, the rainbow snake is so elusive it was erroneously declared extinct!

Today’s verse refers to another serpent that was definitely full of venom.  Eve was deceived by the cunning of this creature.  And Paul is concerned for believers buying into some of the same lies.  How sobering to think that without that belt of truth (Eph. 6:14) one can be led astray from devotion to Christ.  Satan has the world deceived into thinking he is extinct.  But if he is sighted, he is seen as colorful and inviting.  His rainbow of color promises life but instead delivers death.

My love for Christ is sincere and pure at its best.  But that does not mean that I am exempt from being lured away.  The Deceiver is sneaky and uses what is attractive and beautiful to turn my eyes away from the Lord.  What I need to do to protect myself is to like David, gaze on His beauty and continually seek Him (Psalm 27:4).  The truth in His Word guards my thoughts, giving no opportunity for deception.  That beautiful piece of fruit that the serpent offers is never as beautiful and satisfying as my love relationship with Christ!

Lord, keep me from being deceived.

Photo credit: Charles Baker https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Farancia_erytrogramma_(rainbow_snake).jpg


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Canadian Geese

Scripture for Today: Matthew 13:4  “and as he sowed some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.”

Homeowners in a Tallahassee neighborhood did not share my appreciation for these beautiful birds.  That’s because they roamed the streets, entering garages and making a nuisance of themselves.  And for anyone trying to plant a lawn, they considered the seeds as their personal lunch buffet!  But they would only go after the seeds lying on the surface.  All it takes is a fourth inch of soil to discourage them.

Today’s verse is part of the parable of the sower.  The seeds sown did not sprout and grow as they were quickly devoured by birds.  Jesus explains that those who hear the Word but do not understand it are prey to the evil one who snatches away what was sown, before it can take root (verse 19).  That seed is exposed and vulnerable without the topsoil of understanding.  The understanding of His Word keeps the seed safe, rooted and growing.  And this understanding comes from the Son of God who is true (I John 5:20).  When one quickly gets into God’s Word with the understanding He offers, than those birds have no chance to snatch it away!

How vitally important it is that the seed of salvation in me is protected by understanding His Word!  The more I read, study and meditate, the more I am protected from the deception of the evil one.  He can not snatch away what is taking root and growing.  And understanding His Word is a lifelong process.  I can never close the book and think, there….I know it completely.  It is the Spirit of His Son that speaks to me and brings to light something new each time I open it.

Thank you, Lord, that You give me Your understanding.


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The Inchworm

Scripture for Today: I John 2:21 “I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.”

Do not believe everything you read!  This little inchworm is not a worm, nor is it exactly an inch long!  But the inchworm name is given to thousands of moth species in the Geometridae family when in their caterpillar stage.  The family name comes from the Greek, Geo meaning earth and metron meaning measure.  However, if you used this little guy to measure, your measurements would surely be off!

Today’s verse is clear that one can know what truth is and what truth is not.  That must mean that truth can be measured.  This verse contradicts the prevailing thought that in the spiritual realm, there is no objective truth.  There is “your truth” or there is “my truth” when it comes to spirituality.  The famous question of Pilate to Jesus, “What is truth?” was in response to what Jesus had just said.  “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:38)  Jesus is the standard of truth as He said of Himself, “I am the truth…” (John 14:6)

In a world where truth changes from one decade to another, what a comfort to know and be sure of objective, unchanging and eternal truth!  The truth of His Word is always a faithful measure.  Without it I would be lost!  He is my standard of truth.  He is the one and only measure of truth.  Because of Him I can recognize the lies that can so easily deceive me.  And because of Him being truth I can build my life on a sure and unmovable foundation.

Lord, keep me in Your truth.

 

 


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A French Medal

Scripture for Today:  Romans 15:4  “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

This French medal is awarded by the “Société Nationale d’Encouragement Au Bien.”  The goal of this group, founded in 1862, is to encourage acts of dedication and courage to society.  Their premise is that we all need encouragement and hope.  And because society needs good examples, recognizing an individual’s acts of service will be an encouragement for others.

Today’s verse gives us another source of encouragement; Scripture.  We need its encouragement to hold on to our hope.  We need the encouragement of Scripture to endure.  His Word teaches us of His faithfulness and love.  In reading of how He has come through for others, we ourselves can take heart.  His promises reassure and His intimate knowledge of our struggles calms our doubts and fears.  His Word gives us hope in what is certain, true and unchangeable.  His Word motivates us to persevere when we are tempted to give up.

My spirit sometimes lags.  I get discouraged waiting for that answer to prayer or His promise to be fulfilled.  But God’s Word is so much more than a pep talk.  His Word is a love letter where the Lord reveals His heart as well as His plan for me.  He so often points me to just the right passage to encourage me when I am down.  He speaks to me through His Word when I am tired and weighed down.  He knows just what I am feeling.  Nothing in this world can give me the same kind of encouragement to hope that God’s Word does.

Thank you Lord, that Your Word lifts my heart with hope.