Devotions By Jan


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Shoeing Horses

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:11-12 “I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.”

It looks like it hurts. But when done correctly, the shoe can be nailed in place without pain. The hooves of a horse are similar to our human nails but much thicker. And the horseshoe protects the feet of the horse much like shoes protect our feet. Before nailing the shoe there is a whole procedure to follow: carving, trimming and leveling surfaces. Good shoeing will result in a symmetrical hoof, which is so important to unhampered steps!

Today’s verse is part of instruction from a father to his son. His encouragement is to get wisdom and to hold on to understanding. In doing so, paths will become straight, steps will not be hampered and stumbling can be avoided. It is God’s wisdom that keeps us balanced and walking the way we should. When we do not allow God’s Word and wisdom to trim and carve away what does not belong, our walk becomes painful. We need constant “maintenance” or unchecked pride grows and we become wise in our own eyes! (Prov. 3:7)

I love to read God’s Word. I even appreciate His commandments and warnings as they are spoken in love. But the independence in me is strong. When I start doing life without Him, my steps begin to look a bit foolish and off. My footing is not as sure and there is potential for falling. It is His wisdom in His Word that makes my steps firm and purposeful. I can trust His hands to cut away my pride and any wrong thoughts I may harbor.

Thank you Lord, that your wisdom makes my steps sure!


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Rocky Road Ice Cream

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:26-27 “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or to the left; keep your foot from evil.”

It was 1929 and the country was in the midst of the Great Depression when this ice cream was invented. This innovative flavor was thought to have originated with William Dryer. One day he used his wife’s sewing scissors to cut up walnuts and marshmallows to add to his chocolate ice cream. He gave it the name , “Rocky Road,” as the financial landscape was so bleak.

Today’s verse tells us to be thoughtful about what path we choose. We do this by being steadfast and resolute to follow a path of righteousness. We are warned not to turn off this path to the right or to the left. It may be tempting to turn off our narrow path on to a wider one. We may feel that another path has fewer rocks or obstacles. It would be tempting to change paths to one that goes downhill rather than uphill. But the way of the wicked leads only to destruction. (Psalm 1:6)

It is more effort to follow a rocky road. Living a life following God’s commandments will not always be smooth. It is challenging and requires steadfast commitment to Him as the other path choices can seem easier. But His way leads to life. He knows when to lead me to still waters and green pastures. He knows when to restore my soul so I can keep going. His presence and help keep me from falling into a trap of compromise. I would rather have a rocky road with Him than a smooth easy road without Him!

Lord, keep me steadfast and determined to obey.


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The Roadrunner

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 20:24 “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?”

The roadrunner is in the cuckoo family but he doesn’t say, “cuckoo” or “beep beep.”  This long-legged bird is built for speed and can even outrun humans!  The roadrunner is believed to have special powers to make the listener feel tired when hearing his call!  Some Indian tribes believe he can protect against evil spirits.  Their distinctive “X” tracks supposedly confuse the spirits as to which direction they are taking!  I wonder if the roadrunner is himself confused when seeing his own tracks?

Today’s verse acknowledges that the Lord directs the steps of those who belong to Him.  But often, the one directed has no idea of His direction!  The question expresses what is often felt:  How can anyone understand their own way?  It often is puzzling.  We do not have the same vantage point and we can never understand it all.  We are told in any case not to lean on our own understanding but to acknowledge Him so that He can direct us (Prov. 3:5-6).

Because I cannot see what lies ahead, I need to trust the One who is already there and knows the way.  If I were to wait until I understood the reasons behind every directive, I would be at a standstill and make no progress!  But I can be confident of my direction even without full understanding.  That is because I trust Him.  His eyes are always on me and the twists and turns are not random.  He has a loving purpose for me in every change of course.  And His direction is always towards a more loving relationship with Himself!

Lord, help me to trust You completely!


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Orb Weaver

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 3:18 “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise.”

There is no tangled web here with the orb weaver although there is a goal to deceive  This docile spider meticulously weaves his web in a perfectly shaped orb.  As much as I dislike any kind of spider, I can appreciate them taking care of those pesky insects.  What is so surprising is the larger ones will actually manage to deceive and ensnare the occasional frog or hummingbird!

Today’s verse is a loving warning not to be deceived.  There is an accepted and valued standard of wisdom in our world which differs from godly wisdom.  Worldly wisdom, which does not include the fear of God, can lull one into a false sense of security and directly into a web of deception.  It is only in becoming “fools” in the world’s eyes that we can know Christ who is called, “the power and wisdom of God.” (I Cor. 1:24)  No one can boast of wisdom without God, who “makes foolish the wisdom of the world.” (I Cor. 18:20)

The wisdom of God is not found by my own study.  It is not found by how many Bible verses I can recite.  Wisdom cannot be found “in the land of the living.” (Job 28:13)  True wisdom starts by the fear and obedience of its Source, God Himself.  Knowing Him, loving Him and obeying Him makes me wise.  Any other source is suspect.  When I turn to Him in making a decision, that is wise.  When I submit my will to His, that is wise.  When I choose His Word as the foundation for my life, that is wise!

Lord, do not let me be deceived.

 

 


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The Baobab Tree

Scripture for Today: Psalm 1:3 “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.”

The Baobab tree growing in Madagascar, India, Ceylon and Australia is remarkable for its size.  Some boast a girth of over 100 feet!  It is also remarkable for its age as carbon testing results indicate it can live to be 3000 years old!  This hardy tree cannot be easily killed even when burned or stripped of bark as it responds by growing new bark.  But what impresses me most is its ability to store massive amounts of water, up to 1,189 gallons!

The tree described in today’s verse is a picture of the one who delights in the law of the Lord, making it the subject of meditation day and night. (verse 2)  In contrast to the wicked who are pictured as chaff (verse 4) this person thrives.  Water is never an issue because of where he is planted.  Rather than being planted in the soil of this world’s ideas of right and wrong, this person enjoys God’s blessing because of his love and obedience to God’s objective truth.  He is planted in the right place and can enjoy growth, fruit, and significance!

To delight one’s self in laws and commandments seems a strange concept.  But when meditating on the good purpose behind God’s laws and also on the Giver of law, then I can at least come to appreciate what others see as restrictive.  He gives His laws to me to show me the best way and least painful way to live.  It is out of His protective love for me that He gives me His standards.  When I follow what He says is right and wrong, there is blessing.

Lord, keep me strong, fruitful and following You.