Devotions By Jan


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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.


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Apple Fritter

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:15-16 “Be very careful, then , how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

I can turn down donuts fairly easily but I have a weakness for apple fritters.  I can tell myself that they are “healthier” having apple in them.  But in fact they do not differ much from the donut, being deep fat fried cake batter.  The word, “fritter,” comes from the French word for fried.  However, there is another meaning to the word, “fritter,” as in the saying, “to fritter away.”  This is when we gradually squander or waste time or money.

Today’s verse stresses the importance of making the most of every opportunity.  Doing so makes us wise.  When we fritter away the day or the week, we assume there will be many more ahead of us.  But the days are evil and life can be cut short.  However, missed opportunities do not have to be an issue for the believer who is carefully living to please Him and do His will (verse 17).  In being filled with His Spirit (verse 18) we can make the most of our days.

Making the most of today may involve doing absolutely nothing and “recharging my batteries.”  I do not have to worry that I am frittering away anything if I am closely following what He wants for me today.  He knows when I need to slow down and when I can speed up.  He places those opportunities to serve Him squarely in my path, and gives me the motivation to, “fulfill His good purpose.” (Phil. 2:13)  I only have this one life to offer Him.  When I come to the end of it, I do not want to have any regrets over missed opportunities.

Help me Lord, to live wisely today.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Sun Dogs

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

I recently saw two sun dogs as the sun was setting over the Puget Sound in Washington.  These rainbow-patches of light will sometimes appear on either side of the sun when it is low in the sky.  The crystals in the cold air act as prisms, bending the rays of light passing through them.  It is thought they are called “sun dogs” as these lights to the left and right of the sun follow it around as a dog follows its master.

Today’s verse tells us that God who created light, also made light to shine within the heart of the follower of Christ.  This light shines as we get to know Him.  As we learn more and more of the glory of His face and presence, we begin to reflect some of that light ourselves.  The light within the believer causes him to shine like stars in contrast to a “warped and crooked generation.” (Phil. 2:15)  As we follow that Giver of light, we reflect Him.

I cannot generate any of this light on my own.  If there is any light at all coming from me it is all a reflection of Him!  It can only happen as I follow Him and stay close, just as those sun dogs do!  But even a small chink of light can make a world of difference to finding my way or helping others find theirs.  And the light of the knowledge of Him keeps me warm and loved in a world that can be cold and dark.

Thank you Lord, for Your life-giving light!

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Coloring Outside The Lines

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

One of my earliest memories involved coloring outside the lines of my color page.  I was so impatient to have the praise of my teacher that I raced through to be the first one finished!  But rather than receive praise, I was reminded that it was not a race and that I should color inside those lines.  Perhaps there is less insistence on this point today.  But at least when coloring within the lines, the image is clear.

Today’s verse reminds us that as believers we are to be conformed to the image of God’s Son, Jesus.  All of mankind has been created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27) but when sin entered the world, that image became blurred.  Man has colored outside the lines with his pride and rebellion against God.  The image is not so clear anymore.  But for the one who turns to God in repentance, this image of His Son is slowly being restored.  Just as brothers and sisters can resemble one another, so the believer is to increasingly resemble the character of Jesus.

I have a long way to go!  I pray people realize I am His child but there are definitely days when I am far from being like Him.  Hopefully, there is progress but often it is three steps forward and two steps back.  How infinitely patient He is with me!  And I am so glad His love does not depend on my progress or lack of it.  How reassuring it is that one day, the transformation will be complete when I meet Him face to face! (I John 3:2)

Lord, make me like You today!

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)