Devotions By Jan


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The Wombat

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:7 “Do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord and shun evil.”

The wombat is one strange marsupial.  This burrowing animal from Australia carries its young in a pouch facing backwards so as not to get dirt in the young one’s eyes!  Their backside is covered with a thick hide impervious to the claws of predators.  When chased they will dive into their tunnel with their rump sticking out and stay that way until their predator gives up!  They are said to have the largest brain of any marsupial.  Maybe that is why a group of them are called a “wisdom.”

Today’s verse is one of many that warn us not to consider ourselves wise.  This is a danger as it can lead to the conviction that we know better.  This brand of pride considers rules as being for other people to follow and not applying to us.  Those that see evil as good, dark as light and bitter as sweet are the same people who are “wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:21)

It is easy for me to think that wisdom comes from my own schooling or perceived mental prowess.  But God’s Word makes clear that the source of wisdom is the Lord.  I demonstrate wisdom when I am humble enough to follow and obey Him in every area of my life.  But the minute I consider myself wise is the same minute I risk becoming foolish (Prov. 26:12).  To become or remain wise is simply the by-product of humble, dependent obedience to my Creator.  It is in living life God’s way that there is any possibility of becoming wise.

Thank you Lord, that right relationship with You makes me wise.  Keep me humble, submissive and close to You today.

 

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The Border Collie

Scripture for Today:  John 16:8   “When He  comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement……”

This beautiful border collie has everyone’s rapt attention!  Unlike the “heeler” dogs who nip at heels, this breed is called a “header.”  He goes to the front of the animal to turn or stop its movement.  It is common for a border collie to stand in front of a large group and use what is called a “strong eye” to stare them down into submission!

Today’s verse talks about the role of the Holy Spirit.  Like the header dog that nudges the sheep in the right direction, so we need Him to direct and lead.  We are like sheep and left to ourselves would go astray (Is. 53:6).  We all need the Shepherd’s rod and staff for correction and for getting us out of danger!  His Spirit brings the conviction of what is wrong, what is right and the consequences a behavior brings.  The Spirit incites the positive godly guilt that leads to repentance (II Cor. 7:9.)

The Lord is my Shepherd but the Holy Spirit is like that border collie.  I love that the indwelling Holy Spirit brings comfort, power and His fruit in my life (Gal. 5:22-23).  However, the guilt and conviction from Him is not a comfortable experience.  The quicker I listen and obey, changing direction, the sooner the experience is over.  But that temporary discomfort is well worth avoiding that fall over a cliff!  His desire is always for my good.  As my Shepherd He leads me in the paths of righteousness where I can find quiet waters to refresh my soul (Psalm 23).  That is why His conviction as a rod and staff can actually bring me comfort!

Lord, help me see Your correction as proof of Your love..


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Honeycomb

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 16:24 “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

The honeycomb is honey in its purest form.  Those chunks of comb are wonderfully chewy and sweet.  Cutting off a chunk and smearing it over baked goods is always a good idea.  The lighter the color of the comb the sweeter it is.  The darker colored comb has an earthier flavor.  The problem of course, is getting past those pesky bees to get to their sweet work.  Their perfectly joined hexagons are so painstakingly constructed.  Bees for good reason have been called, “heaven-instructed mathematicians.”

Today’s verse likens gracious words to the sweetness of the honeycomb.  Gracious words are words that touch the soul of a person and bring healing where there is hurt.  They are spoken with the intent of building up the other person.  In a world where so many use words to criticize, demean and gain power, the gracious word is about reaffirming someone’s worth.  Our conversation is to always be full of grace, just like a seasoning (Col. 4:6).  We are told to avoid unwholesome talk and say only what is helpful and encouraging (Eph. 4:29).

Words like that are all too rare.  But one place I always find words that are sweet is in God’s love letter to me (Psalm 19:10)  His words are sweet because they tell me I am important to Him.  His words touch my soul and heal those damaged secret places inside.  And He wants my speech to be just as gracious to those around me.  Encouraging words have made such a difference for me.  Why do I hesitate?  It costs me nothing to be gracious but makes my words so much more valuable.

Lord, I need Your help today to make my words sweet and gracious.


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A Three-Legged Race

Scripture for Today:  Amos 3:3 “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?

They were doing so well, outrunning all the others on their combined three legs!  But all it took was a small deviation to the right or to the left without the cooperation of the other to bring down this duo.  There is no hope of winning the prize unless the two runners can move together in sync.  The only way to be coordinated in their movements is to have complete agreement on their direction and their speed.  The most important agreement to make is on who will lead and who will follow.

Today’s verse is in a little-known book of prophecy.  Out of God’s love for Israel, he warns them of coming judgement through his prophet, Amos.  He asks obvious questions of cause and effect to point out that their sin will be punished (verses 3-6).  Two cannot walk together unless they can agree on their pace and their route.  As a nation, they were collectively going in the wrong direction.  Rather than walking toward the Lord in confession they were willfully walking away from Him in their sin.

I want to be intentional about who my walking companions are!  My direction is very different than that of the world.  If I am yoked with unbelievers than I will be tripping and falling all over the place (II Cor. 6:14).  I want to walk in sync with the Lord and follow Him.  That can only happen as I humbly agree with Him in confession.  When I do, that walk is sweet and satisfying.  He chooses just the right path and keeps me from stumbling.  Walking with Him through life gives me purpose and fulfillment.

Lord, don’t let me wander.   Keep me walking close to You.

 


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Groundbreaking!

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 3:9 “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

It is an important moment, digging up that first shovel-full of dirt.  It looks as if this groundbreaking ceremony is having some trouble getting started.  It is taking two men’s efforts to break that hard ground!  This universal and ancient custom is also called a sod-cutting or sod-turning ceremony.  It is sometimes attended by local dignitaries and the media as the new construction begins.  Often, the shovel used is saved and proudly displayed in a place of honor.  The groundbreaking ceremony symbolically consecrates that piece of land.

Todays’ verse describes believers as God’s field and God’s building.  Those who have placed their faith in Jesus are consecrated or set apart as His people.  By His Spirit the Lord has broken the hard resistant ground that was our heart.  Those that have yielded their lives to the convicting pressure of His Spirit are now “under construction!”  Our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19).  At the moment of salvation He takes up residence.  But throughout life His temple is being maintained and renovated.  We can be confident that this good work He does in us will continue until we see Christ (Phil. 1:6).

I am a little tired of the dust and mess.  I can appear so put together to others but I know the state of affairs on the interior.  I see some progress in being more others-centered but I am still so selfish.  I truly appreciate other’s gifts and at the same time find myself jealous.  I give grace to myself but can be so critical of others.  The to-do list continues.  But, He does not give up on me.

Thank you Lord, for Your patient loving work in me.


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A Dangerous Path

Scripture for Today: Psalm 18:35-36 “You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.”

This is not a path that I would willingly take!  In all of our hiking adventures in France and Switzerland, we have never chosen a path quite so precarious.  We have enjoyed some breathtaking views, but always at a safe distance from the edge.  To walk along such a narrow path seems to invite disaster.  The vertigo, the tension and the possibility of a lethal misstep would over ride any pleasure in the view.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm of David praising God for His deliverance from enemies.  David affirms that he has kept God’s ways (verse 21) and that God’s way is perfect (verse 30).  The path God gave David to walk was a broad path where his footing could be sure.  Despite the attacks from enemies, David praises God for giving him strength and making his way perfect (verse 32).  God has enabled David to stand on the heights like the deer (verse 33).  This is a path of righteousness that is not only broad but spacious (verse 19).  On this broad path he has a clear view of God’s faithfulness.

I have a choice about what kind of path to take through life.  The path of righteousness is thought to be the more difficult arduous one.  There are restrictions there that bring out the rebel in me.  But in fact, the path of righteousness is the one most sure.  There, my steps are not hampered and I can even run without stumbling! (Prov. 4:11-12) Guilt and sin can narrow my path making it uncomfortable.  But in following His perfect way, I can look up and enjoy the view of His hand and His faithfulness.

Lord, keep me following Your perfect way today.


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The Painted Lady

Scripture for Today:  Jeremiah 8:7  “Even the stork in the sky knows when it is time to move on.  The turtledove, swallow and the crane recognize the normal times for their migration.  But My people pay no attention to what I, the Lord, require of them.”

Southern California is being invaded by these dollar-sized butterflies!  These Painted Ladies are migrating north from Mexico after the heavy rains.  They are on their determined way to Oregon to breed.  A cousin of the Monarch Butterfly, the estimated one billion are swarming through streets and neighborhoods, delighting all that have the chance to see them.  The Painted Lady is called an “irruptive migrant” that sometimes migrates without any regard to seasons or geography.  They just seem to collectively know that when it is time, it is time!

Today’s verse talks about four different kinds of birds that like the Painted Lady migrate.  Their little bird brains know instinctively when it is time to move on so as to avoid the freezing temperatures.  Jeremiah mentions these birds as a contrast to the Israelites.  The people prided themselves in possessing the Law of God.  But they continually turned to their own individual course, rather than following God’s way.  The Law, instead of being written in their hearts, became a mere code or outward ceremony.

I wish obeying God was as instinctive for me as migration is for the birds and butterflies.  But then it would not mean as much.  God wants my obedience to be an intentional choice.  Knowing what God expects of me is a good thing.  But I do not want to make the same mistake as the Israelites.  The point is not how many Bible verses I can recite by heart.  He is more interested in how many I obey!

Help me, Lord, to be obedient.