Devotions By Jan


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Jackfruit

Scripture for Today: I Samuel 16:7b “…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

For a fruit that is so versatile, nutritious and easy to grow in a tropical climate, the jackfruit has an off-putting appearance! The skin of what is considered to be the largest fruit in the world is thick and spiny, making it difficult to open. A ripe unopened jackfruit is brown and has a strong unpleasant odor. But the pulp of an opened jackfruit is bright yellow or orange and smells sweet! Getting past that outside is rewarded with pleasant color and taste!

Today’s verse draws a sharp contrast between what man sees and what the Lord regards as important. The Lord had commissioned Samuel to anoint the next king of Israel. First, Samuel considered each of Jesse’s sons. But their birth order, their height and their appearance were non factors. It was the youngest son that had the lowly job of tending sheep who had the heart God could use.

I tend to assign value to a person based on outward appearance. I hate it when people do so with me and yet I find I do it all the time! When all is well-groomed on the outside, I assume the inside is in order as well. But wickedness can have a very appealing veneer of respectability. The flip side is true as well and I can completely miss a beautiful friendship by an off-putting image. Christ Himself had no beauty or majesty to attract us; nothing in His appearance would cause us to desire Him (Isaiah 53:2). And yet, no one who ever walked this earth was more beautiful.

Lord, make me beautiful on the inside.


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National Honesty Day

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 12:22 “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”

Who would have thought it, that there is a National Day that encourages honesty! It was created by author and former press secretary, Hirsh Goldberg in the early 1990’s. He chose this date to counteract April Fool’s Day. This day also marks the first inauguration of George Washington (who was thought to have never told a lie). The idea is to ask each other questions and be ready for some surprisingly different answers! This day would not be needed had we all Pinocchio noses that grew with our lies!

Today’s verse lets us know what the Lord thinks of lying. Not surprisingly, the Holy One who is Himself, Truth, detests lies. The motive behind the lie does not seem to figure in to His view. The word “detests” is also translated “extremely disgusted.” In fact, lying is mentioned twice in that list of seven sins detestable to the Lord! (Prov. 6:16-19) Just as intense as His disgust is His delight in those who make the hard choice to speak and deal honestly. The Lord delights in those who fear Him (Ps.147:11) and we show that fear by our obedience.

I am embarrassed to admit that I do not always have the high standards of trustworthiness that God requires. It is too easy for me to rate lies and treat less seriously those “little white lies” or those half truths. I can rationalize leaving out an important detail that would deceive the one listening. I can intentionally give someone a totally false idea but not class it as an outright lie! I may not get caught in the lie. But I do feel a distance from the One who is Truth.

Lord, may I feel Your delight by being trustworthy today.


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Garlands

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:9 “She (wisdom) will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.”

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What woman does not feel more beautiful with a flower garland on her head? Even as little girls, we play with field flowers, making chains and placing them on our heads. We pretend we are princesses and prance around feeling special. There does seem to be something royal about a garland on the head as it can resemble a tiara. The bridal industry understands this and there is quite a wide choice of flower garlands for the big day.

Today’s verse describes wisdom as being that garland or crown. Wisdom in a life makes it beautiful and graceful. Wisdom, or skillful living, even brightens the face and changes its hard appearance! (Eccl. 8:1) More important than physical beauty, a wise life exudes a loveliness and grace that does not diminish with time. And that wisdom is found in obeying and loving His Word. It is the Lord who gives this wisdom as knowledge and understanding come directly from His mouth (Prov. 2:6)

Like Eve, I can desire wisdom but look in the wrong place for it (Gen. 3:6). Just because something looks good and pleases the eye does not mean it will make me wise. A life marked by wisdom will be a life that makes right choices. And I cannot discern which choices are right without God’s Word telling me exactly what they are! He is my source of wisdom, helping me lead a life without the complications and sorrow of sin. Obedience to my Creator is wise living that creates for me grace and glory!

Lord, grace my head with Your wisdom today.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2014)


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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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Snow Monkey

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other.”

This Japanese macaque or snow monkey looks almost asleep as she enjoys the warmth of the hot springs. These volcanic pools or “onsens” can reach 100 degrees fahrenheit at Hell’s Valley or Honshu, Japan. This boiling water bubbles up from frozen snow-covered ground due to volcanic activity underneath. What a contrast with the bitter cold of this alpine environment! No other primate is more northern living nor lives in a colder climate!

Believers were neither hot nor cold in today’s verse. The Lord is rebuking the church of Laodicea out of love. (verse 19) These believers were doing good deeds. But something was wrong. They were not done with any kind of passion. Perhaps they were showing kindness and giving to others out of habit or a sense of obligation. However, the Lord sees the heart and the motivation. And like the good works that prove to be wood, hay and straw rather than gold, silver and costly stones, there is a marked difference (I Cor. 3:12-13) The Lord asks them to repent and be earnest.

The difficult question I ask myself is whether I am being earnest. No one else can know the answer as it is a matter of the heart. Frankly, the good I may do for someone else may be tainted with thoughts of self aggrandizement or reciprocal expectations. When my thoughts of “I should help” outweigh my thoughts of “I want to help” than perhaps I am being lukewarm. The only way I know to be passionate in serving Him is to continually connect to the Vine and have that fruit naturally flow from my relationship with Him!

Lord, keep me earnest today.