Devotions By Jan


The Tung Nut

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 1:9 “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has set You above Your companions by anointing You with the oil of joy.”

What an odd name for this nut! The nut comes from the tung tree, native to China. Its name means, “heart,” in Chinese as the leaves are heart-shaped. But in fact, it is a misnomer as it is a seed rather than a nut, coming from the inside of the fruit of the tung tree. The oil from tung nut is used as a drying oil for wood and has been around for centuries as far back as Confucius! (This oil certainly brings joy to those who market it at Gulf Coast Tung Oil!)

Today’s verse mentions an oil of joy and is speaking of Christ whose name means, “the anointed One.”  Jesus is set apart as holy and righteous, superior to all created beings.  There is joy in this righteous relationship Christ shares with the Father.  There is joy despite the fact that Jesus was called a “Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” (Is. 53:3)  It was for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross (Heb. 12:2).  It is this same joy that we can experience even when going through trial and difficulty (James 1:2).

Just as oil was used in biblical times to consecrate and set apart a person, so this “oil of joy” does for me today!  Living with joy when nothing is going according to plan sets me apart and makes me different.  Joy in spite of grave health problems, uncertain finances or dashed dreams is not the norm.  But His Spirit’s fruit includes a joy that I can set before me as I endure whatever life may throw at me!

Lord, may the oil of joy overflow my heart regardless of what today may bring.


United States of Anxiety

Scripture for Today: Psalm 94:19 “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” (NASB)

“We are all in this together.”  It is a phrase I repeatedly hear on social media.  As a society we are divided on so many fronts; political, religious, racial and economical.  But one thing seems to united us and unfortunately it is anxiety.  It may be that our anxiety is only an occasional thought.  Or it may be an underlying state of mind that colors our whole day.  For some, this anxiety is showing itself in disturbing dreams (ahem….) or interrupted sleep.  In any case, it is a natural state of affairs when we feel we are not in control and we do not know what is next!

Today’s verse gives an answer to our anxious thoughts that seem to multiply within us.  The soul can be delighted with His words of comfort and consolation even in the middle of such uncertain times.  We can move from anxiety to delight when we turn to His Word and His promises.  His lovingkindness holds us up (verse 18).  The Lord will not abandon or forsake His people who are His inheritance (verse 14).  Whatever the future holds, He is there and He is faithful.

I am a great one for asking myself, “what if?” or “what then?”  My questions come from a desire to know and control.  But there is no way of knowing or controlling.  And I do not really need these answers to experience delight in the deepest part of me.  Rather, I need the One who does know and control.  He reassures my heart that He has a plan for my future and He is good.  I can let go of anxious thoughts when I spend time with Him.

Lord, thank you for relieving my anxiety.

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

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Palm Reading

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 49:15-16a “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.”

Palm reading is generally thought to be a superstitious belief but it continues to enjoy some success for those who want to believe. There are different types of palmistry practiced but the idea is to interpret one’s future by looking at the heart, head, life or fate lines. Classic palmistry has its roots in Greek mythology where a god or goddess is related to different areas of the palm or fingers.

Today’s verse talks about God’s palm and what is written there! The Lord is reassuring the Israelites that He will never forget them. As unusual as it may be for a mother to forget her child, He will never forget His own chosen people. A mother may not have compassion for her child, but the Lord will comfort His people and will have compassion on them. (verse 13) Those that God loves He will never abandon. Those that He loves are engraved on the palms of His hands.

How reassuring it is that the Lord will never forget me! His thoughts towards me are as numerous as all the grains of sand in the world. (Psalm 139:18) That means I can never catch Him NOT thinking of me! His palms are engraved with my name and no one can snatch me out of those loving powerful hands! (John 10:28) My heart, hand, life or fate are all in His control as I belong to Him. What an amazing confidence and peace His love makes possible!

Thank you Lord, that You will never forget me.

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Wishing Well

Scripture for Today: Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Will a wishing well have mystical powers and grant any wish I speak aloud? That was the prevailing thought centuries ago. The idea in German folklore was that the clean pure water was guarded at its source by spirits who would sometimes take pity on humans. Whatever one spoke aloud as his heart’s desire may just be granted and to insure the outcome, small tokens or coins would be tossed in the water.

Wishing at a well, wishing on a star or making a wish blowing a dandelion head pretty much describe the thinking of those who place their confidence in anyone but Jesus.  It is a poor flimsy substitute for real hope.  Today’s verse describes God as a, “God of hope.” The hope He offers, unlike a wish, will fill the one who trusts in Him with joy and peace. Trusting the God of hope means the believer can overflow with hope by the power of His Spirit within us! Hope for the believer is faith in what is sure. 

My hope is only as good as its object. That makes my hope in Jesus unshakable! I not only have hope, I am overflowing with it as I trust Him.  He promises to fill me with all joy and peace as I live in that hope and trust. My wishes and desires are never as important as the deeper gifts of joy and peace He offers in the face of darkness and despair. Because He is my hope, I can look forward to an unknown future without anxiety.

Thank you Lord, for being my hope.

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Storm Surge

Isaiah 57:20-21 “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.'”

It is not enough to prepare for the winds and rain of a hurricane. For some that live in coastal areas, there is the possibility of storm surge. The winds blow along the ocean surface and cause the water to pile up. Coastal areas adjacent to a shallow sloping of the ocean floor are especially at risk. And if this abnormal rise of water occurs at the same time as high tide, the flood damage can be extensive!

Today’s verse pictures the wicked like the continual movements of the ocean’s waves. They are never at rest but always moving and tossing. Their activities throw up mud, mire and dirt. One can tell where they have been. The wicked experience no calm and quiet. Their godless lifestyle puts them squarely in the middle of unpleasant drama. They have no peace with God, no peace with others nor peace in their hearts. That is because peace is directly linked to righteousness or right standing with God (Isaiah 32:17)

It is in right standing with God that I can have quietness and confidence (Is. 32:17). I have no righteousness of my own but enjoy His gift of righteousness in Christ. Being in Christ (Romans 8:1) means I do not fear condemnation for my sin. My soul is at rest. I am not troubled with guilt. My life is not made up of tossing waves but a stillness and calm that only the Lord can provide, even in difficult circumstances. I can count on His peace to carry me through. Water will not overwhelm me. He gently leads me to still quiet waters. (Psalm 23:2)

Thank you Lord, for making me peaceful.