Devotions By Jan

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The Hummingbird

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:103-104 “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.”

Paul Bartram from London, England, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I love watching hummingbirds! They are so tiny and colorful and the speed at which they dart around fascinates me! They flap their wings about 50 times a second so that all one sees is a blur. Hummingbirds can fly up to 34 mph and can even fly backwards. Pictured here is the “sword-billed” hummingbird whose bill is longer than its body! In the higher elevations of South America, he can dig deep into the “corollas” of the flower to reach that sweet nectar.  He hovers there until he has had his fill.

Today’s verse describes God’s Word as being sweet to the taste. What the Lord communicates to my heart is sweeter than honey or the nectar from a flower. His Word is His love letter to me. Even the commands and warnings are there because He cares about me and wants the best for me. Loving His Word makes me wary of any wrong path that takes me away from Him. Understanding and wisdom for living are found in its pages. His companionship is felt through those promises and words of love.

Sometimes reading and studying His Word is difficult. Time presses and the day quickly fills with obligations and distractions. Rather than darting off to the next thing, I need to take the time and “hover” there at the source of all that sweetness. Sometimes the meaning of a verse is not so clear. It is at that time I need a longer bill to dig deep. The effort is always worth the sweetness I find!

Lord, keep my mouth full of the sweetness of Your Word.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)


Cat Snake

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”

Meet just one of the 35 different species of the Cat Snake! There is quite a variety among them in both appearance and habitat. Some are black with bright yellow bands. Other species are brown or tan, often with dark mottling. Some species live in tropical rainforest and swamps, while others live in grasslands and woodlands. Like many cats, the Cat Snake likes to hunt at night. But its name comes from their cat-like eyes with their vertical elliptical pupils! If I thought those thin oddly-shaped pupils wouldn’t see much, I would be wrong!

Today’s verse describes eyes that are opened to see more than most; wonderful things in God’s law. Our eyes can miss what is positive in God’s commandments. Those wonders can easily escape us. This verse is a prayer that God would open spiritual eyes to see God’s law differently. This entire psalm goes on to extol and praise God’s law. The author’s eyes have been opened to see a long list of wonderful things: blessing, purity, delight, strength, understanding, knowledge, good judgement, freedom and comfort, to name just a few!  God certainly answered the author’s prayer.

I do not often feel this way about God’s law. Instead of seeing “wonderful things,” in His law, I sometimes see it as negative and restrictive. My eyes need to be opened. I want to see those same wonders in His law, especially the comfort and blessing. And how wonderful His law must be to actually give freedom! God’s law is given with love and with the desire to make life work for me. I need my eyes open to explore and discover how God wants me to live and to see it as wonderful!

Lord, open my eyes today.

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Confused Bees

Proverbs 24:14 “Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”

It was only a ten-minute grocery stop for a man in New Mexico. He had left the window down and on returning, calmly left the parking lot. But it was immediately apparent that something was not right. That something turned out to be a swarm of 15,000 bees who had taken over his back seat! After voicing his surprise he called 911. This swarm had probably split from another colony, following another queen, and looking to find a new location.

Today’s verse likens wisdom to the sweet taste of honey. Finding wisdom is worth the effort as it will mean a future hope. There was no future for those bees in choosing that car. Nor is there much hope of a positive future for the fool who discounts God’s words. But the one who is wise is the one who treasures His words, finding them “sweeter than honey” (Psalm 119:103) God’s Word is what makes wise the simple (Psalm 19:7). And with wisdom one makes the best decisions, including where to relocate!

Gaining wisdom is a lifelong process involving not only reading and knowing His word, but intentionally putting it into practice. I cannot read His Word like an advice column that I can take or leave. God’s Word is not just full of  suggestions on how I should live. It is authoritative. God’s precepts give me not only a good course of action but the very best one! I have no wisdom of my own but I can walk in His wisdom when I submit to His way! Living wisely means there is hope for my future!

Lord, make this day sweet by helping me be wise.

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Almond Blossoms

Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 1:11-12 “The word of the Lord came to me; ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ ‘I see the branch of an almond tree,’ I replied. The Lord said to me, ‘You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.'”

The vineyards in the Alsacian countryside of France may still lie dormant. But the almond trees are in full bloom! Their delicate pink blossoms waft to the ground with the slightest breeze, leaving a sweet smelling carpet. Those fragile blossoms are a promise of what is to come. Their appearance signals that the almond harvest will follow.

Today’s verse is part of a conversation the prophet Jeremiah had with the Lord. At first glance the thread of the conversation does not seem obvious. Although it is reassuring to know that God’s word will always be fulfilled, what does God watching have to do with the almond tree? I love how the Lord plays with language in this verse! The Hebrew for “watching” sounds like the Hebrew word for “almond tree.” The Lord is reassuring this prophet and us too that His word is faithful and true. He will fulfill every promise.

When I see justice delayed or evil men prospering, it is easy to doubt God’s word. When I see God’s promises seemingly unfulfilled, I can easily grow impatient. Although my timetable may be different, His word will be fulfilled. No matter how many promises God has made, they are YES in Christ (II Cor. 1:20). And He has promised so much that is still in the future. Thankfully while I wait, He has given me those almond blossoms to reassure me that He has not forgotten. He is watching to make sure every word of every promise is fulfilled.

Thank you Lord, that You are watching.

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Money Grows on Trees?

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 3:17b-18 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

My parents always told me that money does not grow on trees!  Imagine my surprise to learn that there have been found particles of gold on the leaves of some eucalyptus trees!  The incredibly long roots of this tree, up to 8.2 feet, delve up to 130 feet.  In Australia, some of these eucalyptus trees have pilfered gold from ore deposits underground and have transported them to their leaves!  The concentration of gold is only 46 parts per billion.  Still, it is amazing that some trees have rooted themselves in something so precious!

Today’s verse encourages the believer to be rooted and established in something even more precious; the love of Christ.  Just as the leaves of the eucalyptus tree reveal secrets hidden underground, so the “leaves” of the life of a believer reveal where he is planted.  The love of Christ is so vast and nourishing that our lives reflect Him as He develops His fruit in us.

Being rooted and established in His love is essential to my well-being.  His love is what allows me to grow and thrive.  Without it, I would shrivel up.  Being grounded in His love makes loving others possible.  This immeasurable love is my reason to be.  But if I am honest with myself, there are times I am not feeling it.  In those moments I need to delve deeper into His Word.  I take more time to listen to Him.  I watch for those sweet affirmations through prayer in my spirit.  I so often need those reassurances and He never disappoints!

Lord, keep me rooted in Your love today!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)