Devotions By Jan


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The Tasmanian Devil

Scripture for Today: Galatians 5:15 “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Despite his name I would hate for the Tasmanian Devil to become extinct.  His only natural habitat is the Australian island-state of Tasmania.  Because of his husky snarl and bad temper, he often has what is called a “devilish expression.”  Since 2008 he has been on the endangered list.  The reason?  A cancer called, “devil facial tumor disease,”  which results in grotesque tumors around the head and mouth.  It is thought to be transmitted when they bite each other!

Today’s verse teaches that the words from our mouths can inflict pain and even destroy another.  Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).  So much of what displeases the Lord comes from the mouth, whether it be gossiping, lying, mocking, arguing, criticizing, ….the list goes on.  And each of these has such a devastating effect on the one to whom it is directed.  What is more, the “tit for tat” reciprocity only escalates the problem until both parties are destroyed.

It is only by His Spirit that I can love and forgive the one who has inadvertently or intentionally hurt me.  My memory is long when it comes to hurtful words.  But I have definitely taken things a step further when I want to retaliate.  There might be a momentary feeling of satisfaction but the relationship remains tense and broken.  Forgiveness is so difficult but without it, the relationship is “endangered” and at risk of extinction.  Realizing God’s forgiveness for me helps me get a better perspective on the whole mess.  And His love and His power are there to make forgiveness and restoration possible.  It is just not possible on my own.

Thank you Lord, that You heal those difficult relationships.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from earlier this year)


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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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Seven Magic Mountains

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:164-165 “Seven times a day I praise You for Your righteous Laws.  Great peace have they who love Your Law, and nothing can make them stumble.”

How strange to see these seven pillars standing tall outside of Las Vegas, Nevada!  Their brightly painted colors are in stark contrast with the plain brown desert.  These seven pillars, called the Seven Magic Mountains, were built by a Swiss artist as a public art project.  They are 30-35 feet tall and each of the thirty three boulders  weigh 10-25 tons each!  Perhaps there are seven of them as this number is considered lucky.  But in Scripture, the number seven represents completion or perfection.

In today’s verse David does not use the number seven literally.  David mentions praying three times a day in Psalm 55:17.  In fact, David writes that His praise shall continually be in his mouth (Psalm 34:1).  He uses the number seven here to express a desire to worship the Lord perfectly, or completely.  In turning towards a holy and righteous God, David is showing a special care in his devotion.  His praise is specific; for God’s Law.  He recognizes the stability His Law gives to life.  In following God’s righteous way, one will not stumble as the wicked do whenever calamity strikes (Prov. 24:16).  David praises God for the great peace that comes from being obedient.  He knew the difference.  He experienced first hand the agony and awful consequences of breaking God’s Law.

What a beautiful and worthy subject of praise!  God’s Law gives stability and direction to my life.  It keeps me from stumbling.  Following His Law gives me heart peace instead of guilt and confusion.  Seven times a day is only the beginning of my praise and worship!

Lord, may I continually praise You today!  You are worthy!

 

 


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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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True or False Morel?

Scripture for Today: Matthew 23:28 “In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

This mushroom can fool people.  There is a false and a true variety and knowing the difference can save one from dizziness and sickness.  There are some minor differences to look for on the exterior but the most telling difference is the inside.  If you slice a true morel mushroom from top to bottom it will be hollow inside.  The false morel will be full of cotton-like fibers and chucks of tissue.

Today’s verse is part of the seven woes spoken by Jesus to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees.  These strong words point out their hypocrisy.  They had a form of external righteousness but their insides were full of wickedness.  As religious leaders their hypocrisy not only kept them out of Heaven but kept others from entering as well!  Their lives resemble cups and dishes carefully cleaned on the outside but filthy inside with greed and self-indulgence. (verse 25)  These men were like white-washed tombs, so beautiful on the outside but the filthy inside was full of dead bones. (verse 27)

These verses are sobering as today there are false believers as well.  Their outsides are beautifully religious.  But the inside is well hidden to all except the Lord’s eyes who sees it all.  However, these verses are also a challenge to me to be authentic in my faith.  My secret hidden sins are not seen by others and I can easily pretend to be in right relationship with Him when my heart has wandered.  He waits for me to agree with Him about my sin so He can continually cleanse me. (I John 1:9)

Lord, keep me from hypocrisy by being honest with You.