Devotions By Jan


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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.

 


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Electric Eel

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”

You may be shocked to learn that an electric eel much like this one has been delighting spectators at an aquarium in Tennessee!  He even has a name, Miguel Watson.  A system was connected to his tank that enables his shocks to power a strand of lights on a nearby Christmas tree!  When trying to find food Miguel will emit low-voltage blips that cause a rapid dim blinking of lights.  But when he is actually eating or gets excited he releases higher-voltage shocks that result in bigger flashes!

Today’s verse talks about the divine power that God uses to give the believer everything needed to live a godly life.  His power creates a life that man cannot achieve on his own.  Godliness means to resemble Him and it can only happen through our knowledge of Him.  His power enables us to have faith, goodness, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, affection and love (verses 6-7).  And when these qualities increase over time we become more effective and productive in our knowledge of Him (verse 8).

In looking at this list I am convinced that showing these qualities can only happen through His power!  Quite frankly, my light is sometimes just a dim flash.  Without being connected to His power I can do nothing (John 15: 5).  But when I am abiding and connecting with Him, He produces a godly life that not only pleases Him but is a light to others.  And just as the eel produces more power when eating and excited, I need to be feeding on God’s Word!  His Word motivates and encourages me to be more like Him.

Thank you Lord, for empowering me!

 


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Lactose Intolerant

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 5:13-14 “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

 

Arne Hendriks

Can anyone be truly happy without dairy?  According to these sign-toting young people in Beijing the answer is Yes!  My half Chinese husband has this problem and is much more pleasant to be around when he uses the lactose free milk and sticks to sorbet.  Like many Asians (up to 90%) he lacks that all important enzyme, lactase, which is needed to break down and absorb the lactose, which is a sugar found in milk.  All I know is that I am very thankful not to have this problem as I enjoy my ice cream!

Today’s verse in no way discounts “milk.”  It is necessary and foundational for the new christian.  There are times for the mature christian as well to review the basics.  The problem comes when one has only milk and does not progress to “solid food.”  Being satisfied with just milk will result in a failure to distinguish good from evil.  Scripture is to be actually used in making decisions.  The more we rely on its wisdom and principles, the more we can recognize evil, hate it and cling to the good! (Romans 12:9)

There are times in approaching God’s Word that I just want something basic or familiar.   Maybe I feel rushed.  Or maybe I am feeling pretty good about myself.  No conviction today, please.  A promise would make me feel good.  Nothing wrong with that.  But to really distinguish between what masquerades as good and what truly is good, I need to spend more than a little time in His Word.

Lord, make me hungry for solid food!

 


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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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Zen

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

The other day while exploring the tide pools of Cabrillo National Park with my grandsons, I saw an older man sitting crosslegged.  He had built three stacks of stones just like the one pictured.  His eyes were closed and he looked peaceful.  This rock configuration brings to mind the idea of “Zen.”  This Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism asserts that enlightenment can come through meditation and intuition rather than faith.

Today’s verse gives us the true Source of enlightenment.  It is God’s light that gives us enlightenment.  No matter how long or how well we meditate, our own ideas of truth are subjective and without Him, fall short of His objective truth.  It is His light that gives us the knowledge of God’s glory in Jesus, His Son.  If He had not revealed the truth with His light, we would still be in the dark.  And when believers meditate, it is on His truth that we meditate.

In this busy season full of so many distractions, it takes an effort of the will to turn my mind to spiritual things and meditate on His truth.  But what a blessing when I do! There are no loftier thoughts than thoughts of Him.  And meditating on His love and all that He has done for me encourages my heart.  His light and His Word reveals to me so many worthy subjects of meditation, all of them centered on Him!

Lord, keep me meditating on You and Your truth throughout the day.


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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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Following the Recipe

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:137-138 “You are righteous, Lord, and Your laws are right. The statues You have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.”

I love following a good recipe that is tried and true.  And if I want a German dish to be authentic I would go to the trouble of translating those instructions (as well as converting the measurements).  I would not worry about all the verbs being in the command form.  It is a recipe after all.  I do not expect it to say, “please beat the eggs.”  Or “would you mind chopping the nuts.”  But I am not offended.  The directives are there to obtain a good, tasty result!

Today’s verse describes God’s directives.  Sometimes they can seem very blunt.  There is no softening of what God requires of us.  But His commands are always with a good goal.  They are always for our good and for our protection.  We know that because HE is good.  What He commands is fully trustworthy and an expression of His love and care.  This is why David could say that they are a joy to the heart and light to the eyes, sweeter than honey and more precious than gold! (Psalm 19)

If God’s commandments are really for my good, then why am I always trying to change the recipe?  Because that is in fact what I sometimes try to do.  I think I know better or that somehow I am an exception to the rule.  Maybe I can “sort of” follow the instructions but introduce a variation which makes it easier on me.  The result is never as good.  His way is always the best and I am the one who benefits when I carefully follow what He wants.

Lord, thank you for Your love expressed through your commands.