Devotions By Jan


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Sleeping Whales

Scripture for Today: Psalm 121:2-3 “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber.”

The blowhole of this Blue Whale can be clearly seen on the top of his head.  As a mammal, he needs to periodically surface to fill his huge lungs with air so he can breathe underwater.  This means that a whale can never fall fully asleep!  Instead, they only allow half of their brain to sleep at a time.  The other half of their brain stays awake in order to come up for air when needed.

Today’s verse reminds us of how constant God’s care is of His own.  As the Maker of heaven and earth, He is all- powerful and has no need of sleep.  During the contest between God and Baal, Elijah taunted the false prophets when their god did not answer.  Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened! (I Kings 18:27)  The frantic dancing, shouting, and cutting of their bodies did not awaken a god that did not exist.  By contrast, our God is a faithful Source of help, always attentive to our cry day or night.

What a reassuring thought that He watches over me day or night!  There is never a time when I need to get His attention.  He is always thinking of me as His thoughts toward me are more numerous than the grains of sand (Psalm 139:18).  His watch over me means that He knows and He cares.  Nothing gets past Him.  What He allows to happen will be used to strengthen my faith and deepen our love relationship.  Whatever I am facing today, I can trust that He knows what He is doing.

Thank you Lord, for Your faithful watch over me.

 

 

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Building Forts

Scripture for Today: Psalm 59:16 “But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love, for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”

Kids can make a fort out of just about anything!  All that is needed is a little imagination and a few props.  There was not only room enough in this fort for my two grandsons but their mother as well.  Surprisingly, she stayed in there after the boys lost interest.  Maybe not so surprisingly!  It was quiet and peaceful there.  It was even warm with the protection from drafts.  After even just a few minutes inside, she came out looking happily refreshed!

Today’s verse describes God as a fortress and refuge.  David’s house was being watched by Saul’s men as they laid in wait to ambush and kill him.  David prays for deliverance not only from his enemies (verse 1), but from their slander, curses and lies (verses 10 & 12).  He recognizes that God is his strength and that he can rely on Him (verse 10).  David’s confidence in God being his strength, fortress and refuge is so strong that he can sing!  He praises God in song for His strength and His love.

In times of trouble, I need the warmth and protection of HIs strength and love.  Actually, I just need Him all the time.  But it is when faced with hard times that I realize my need.  His presence fortifies and strengthens my resolve to stand firm and resolute.  His love reminds me that He is in control and will not allow me to be overwhelmed.  His strength can be mine when I run to Him for shelter.  I am His.  I belong to Him and whatever I am facing, nothing is too hard for HIm.

Lord, I will sing today of Your strength and love!


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A California Christmas!

Scripture for Today: Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

In Southern California, our “white” Christmas was only white because of the sand!  This manger scene built on the beach is about as “Christmassy” as we can manage close to the waves of the ocean.  Perhaps it will last a bit longer being put together with stones.  However, it is a sure thing that it will disappear.  Perhaps, two days after Christmas, the feelings of peace and joy have already disappeared as well.

Today’s verse says that our hearts can be made of stone.  Hearts made of stone are stubborn, resistant and unresponsive to God’s voice.  This heart may occasionally feel a taste of that peace and joy at Christmas time.  But it is generally hard with self-protection.  Having a heart of flesh can make one vulnerable to hurt.  However, a heart of stone can carry one through life without being broken.  A heart of stone will not feel guilt or conviction either.  A hard heart made of stone can be proudly self-sufficient.

Every time I move away from the Lord by neglecting His Word and prayer, I feel my heart start to harden around the edges.  The longer I allow this to continue, the more difficult it is to get back to that soft heart of flesh that listens and obeys.  It is with a heart of flesh that I can experience the peace and joy He offers.  It is His new spirit within me that makes me open to His love.  Living with a stone heart is not life at all.

Lord, keep my heart soft towards You today.


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Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Scripture for Today: Psalm 127:2 “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for He grants sleep to those He loves.”

I never thought of a dog as being a sleep aid!  But in fact, a study by researchers at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York found that women sleep better with a dog in their bed!  Apparently, both cats and humans are equally disruptive to a woman’s sleep.  I can think of some other disruptions too!  But dogs are less likely to wake their owners.  Dogs provide a feeling of comfort and security.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm written by Solomon who has lots to say about vanity.  It is vain to make life all about acquisition.  He should know as he did not deny himself any possession or pleasure (Eccl. 2:10-11).  Yet when he surveyed all that he had toiled to achieve, it was meaningless.  God chooses to bless His loved ones and does so apart from our own toil, even in sleep.  The Bible is full of verses on being a good conscientious worker and not a sluggard.  But toiling incessantly is not the goal of life.

Living with a constant stress that interferes with sleep is not God’s plan.  This world is so fast-paced seeming never to stop.  One is always in a hurry to do more, be more and produce more.  But when I put God’s Kingdom above everything else, God blesses me with everything needed (Matt. 6:33).  I belong to Him and I trust His care and provision.  I can rest easy knowing He is faithful to provide.  He is the One who provides even those feelings of comfort and security.

Thank you Lord, that there will be sweet sleep tonight, knowing You love me.


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The Sea Otter

Scripture for Today:Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

The little furry face of the sea otter looks too cute to be related to the weasel.  The otter is made for the water and spends most of his time there.  His feet are webbed, his fur is water repellent and his nostrils and ears close up in the water.  Despite their fur being the thickest of any animal, they often float on the surface, even falling asleep in this position.  They look so calm and peaceful, without a care in the world.

Today’s verse is a wonderful promise of support for God’s chosen ones.  Those He has redeemed for all eternity need have no fear of sinking in the water of this world’s troubles.  He gives strength and help.  He upholds us with His powerful and righteous hand.  Regardless of how deep that water is, we have no cause for fear.  His steady love and power will hold us up and keep our head above water.

Moving through hard times, I need to hear this.  There are times I feel as if I am sinking but I am not.  He has never let me down.  And I know He has a plan and purpose for those difficulties.  But I feel dismay and fear even so.  I paddle as if my life depended on it.  I panic and swallow water when I could be trusting Him and floating on the surface.  He is holding me up from underneath where I cannot see.  His powerful right hand is there and I can relax in His control.

Thank you Lord, for Your strength and support!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Keepsake

Scripture for Today: II Timothy 1:12 “…nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”

A “keepsake” is defined as a small item kept in memory of the person who gave it or originally owned it.  This sand footprint was made to be a keepsake.  At first glance it seemed as an odd choice.  How could something made of sand keep for any length of time?  But in scanning the instructions, I saw that plaster of paris was used, so that it was not as fragile as I first thought.

Today’s verse is about committing something to God’s care.  He keeps it.  He keeps it safe and secure.  It is something that will last into eternity; our soul.  Paul is persuaded that God is able to guard what was entrusted to Him.  He was so convinced of his future in Heaven that he was fearless in his defense and spread of the Gospel.  Paul was able to face imprisonment and even death with a calm assurance.  He knew where he was going and could stay loyal to the One who was keeping his soul secure.

I am so grateful that He keeps my soul.  Even now, I have already died and my life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3)  Being persuaded of this makes a difference to how I go through this journey.  With my eternal destiny decided I can lose my life for His sake.  And in doing so, I find life! (Mark 8:35)  Having this assurance helps me hold on a little less tightly to all that is earthly.  He is guarding for me a hope and future beyond anything that I can imagine.

Thank you Lord, for keeping me secure.


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Eden

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:8 “They feast on the abundance of Your house; You give them drink from Your river of delights.”

This hidden gem on the Havasupai Reservation is called the desert’s “Garden of Eden.”  One can only access it by a ten mile descent by foot or mule.  I made this trek as a teenager with a group of others.  I can still remember the awe I felt when coming across the cascading turquoise water!  It was a welcomed sight after the dry, hot and dusty trail.  We had to pack in our own water for drinking, but splashing in the water was a relief from the relentless sun.

Today’s verse mentions rivers of delights.  The Lord’s presence is described as a dwelling place where there is feasting and abundance.  His presence quenches the thirst of our souls.  His unfailing love (verse 7) is a refuge and a delight.  The Garden of Eden in Scripture was a literal place near four rivers given as landmarks (Gen. 2:10-14).  The word, “Eden” in Hebrew means “delight.”  And there, His presence was a delight to Adam and Eve.  It was His presence that made it not only a garden but a garden of delight.

That same delight in my Lord’s presence is still possible.  Because He has paid the penalty for my sin, I can walk and talk with Him in that garden of delight.  There is delight when I can forget about past failures.  I am delighted to realize that nothing can ever separate me from His love.  No other relationship can give me the level of consistent delight that He offers!  My Garden of Eden is a deep, peaceful place of relationship.  He is always there, waiting for my return.

Help me Lord, to find that place of delight today.