Devotions By Jan

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Orangutan Nests

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:9 “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

Joeavison1, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Almost daily the orangutan ape builds a new nest high in the treetops. His engineering skills are surprising as he tears off larger branches for his base and smaller leafier branches for the middle and can even build a sort of pillow and blanket high up in the trees. He breaks off some branches to size, bends some and intertwines others for a stable bed. A benefit from his nightly nest building is larger openings in the tree canopy, letting in more light.

Today’s verse speaks of another source of light. This light not only enables us to see but gives life! Jesus identifies Himself as the light of the world. Following this light means we no longer walk in darkness. (John 8:12) He does not only illuminate a tree canopy but a lifetime with the Light of His presence.  God has made His light to shine in our hearts, to give us the knowledge of Him (II Cor. 4:6).  His light not only shows us who He is but it is also an expression of His priceless and unfailing love (Psalm 36:7).

Being in His Word intensifies that light He gives. His light is warm and loving, giving me closeness to Him and direction for my day. Without it, I can easily stumble around and lose my purpose. I can even get quite accustomed to the dimness and shadows. But the further I wander from His light, the more negative and discouraged I become.  But oh what a difference when I return to the source of Light! Not only does His light dispels darkness in my heart and mind but it also draws others to Himself!

Lord, keep me in Your light today.


Malabar Giant Squirrel

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:24 “though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord is the stay of his hand.”

Meet the Malabar Giant Squirrel who makes his home in the tree tops of India. He is huge, being two times the size of the squirrels we are used to seeing. His multi-colored fur makes him unusual being anywhere from purple to maroon to orange! Unlike other squirrels who hide their nuts in the ground, this squirrel hides them in caches in the tree tops. He is very nimble jumping 20 feet between trees. But it is his very long tail that gives him such balance, acting as a counterweight.

Today’s verse is a promise that the Lord will establish the steps of the one who belongs to Him. If there is a fall, it is a controlled one. It will not be a free-fall, being cast headlong. The Lord’s hand is involved and He breaks the fall with His hand. Regardless of the spaces between trees, His Hand is the “counterweight” giving us the balance and stability we need.

This is a wonderful assurance for me that the Lord is my true support. I may feel that my stability rests on my work, my plans or my finances, when in fact, none of those are holding me up. Circumstances change, and sometimes with no warning at all. Rather than feeling panic I can remain confident. No bad news can shake me as my heart is steadfast and trusting in Him (Ps. 112:7). And even if He were to allow me to teeter and fall, His open loving hand is there to soften the landing. In His unfailing love, He stands me back up, brushes me off and strengthens my faith through the whole ordeal.

Thank You Lord, for holding me up.

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Follow The Arrows

Scripture for Today: Psalm 43:3 “Send forth your light and your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.”

It’s been years since our children watched Sesame Street but there is one song from this program that refuses to leave my head, “Follow the Arrows.” The lyrics say, “Follow the arrows, just follow, don’t say no. Follow the arrows, they’ll show you where to go…” These arrows point every which way. But if frustrated, one can always follow the arrow towards the Mad Tea Party in Alice’s Wonderland and forget all about it!

Today’s verse tells us what to follow. God promises to send the arrows of His light and truth, demonstrating His faithful care for His own. He will never steer us in the wrong direction. His light and truth will always lead back to His presence. The author of this psalm wonders why his soul is so downcast and disturbed. Yet he recognizes that at the altar of God he will find joy and delight (verse 4). It is in God’s presence that he will hope again as he praises his Savior. (verse 5)

When I am depressed and feeling far from my Creator, there are lots of arrows I could follow. The world points me to the distractions it has to offer. But they all fall short of true lasting joy. Some arrows point to science as the answer to everything. But I am more interested in the Creator of science and the delight I can feel in His presence. Some arrows appear for such a short time as they point me to the newest fad. But when I follow the light and truth of God’s Word, I am led right back to Him!

Thank you Lord, that Your light and truth point me to You!

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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.


Do I Follow My Heart?

Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

This saying on a poster is beautiful, and there are many like it. We enjoy thinking of the heart as lovely and romantic, and so often it is. We counsel each other to just follow your heart and all will be well. Somehow, the heart will guide us to the right way, the right solution, the right love. When we listen to our heart, we discover what we really desire.

Today’s verse has a message of warning about the heart. The heart, which in the Bible is the seat of all our emotions and will, can deceive us. We try to understand what our heart is saying to us. But no one can quite understand. One day it says one thing and the next, another. The heart is fickle and incomprehensible. We ourselves cannot cure its deceitful nature. The only cure comes from its Maker. He sees the pride and selfishness hiding out there and His love and forgiveness are the cure.

I have often been quite sure about what I have wanted. Then, when I have managed to receive it, I find that I did not want it after all. That brings to mind the dog who chases after a car. He has no clue what to do with it once he catches up to it! Because I cannot cure it, I need to follow Someone who knows my heart better than I do. The Lord searches my heart and tries it. As my Creator, He understands my heart. He knows what I really want and what will bring me true satisfaction and fulfillment. He knows so much better than I do what is good for me and what is not.

Lord, do not let me be deceived today. Help me follow Your heart!

(Look familiar? This is a re-worked post from 2018)