Devotions By Jan


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Little Heart Cockle

Scripture for Today: Mark 12:30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The scientific name for this shell is “corculum cardissa” but I prefer the common name, “little heart cockle” as it certainly resembles a heart!  This mollusk lives in the Indio-Pacific region which is why I have never seen one.  The shells vary in color but they have a pattern formed from transparent mass and nontransparent mass.  Much of their shell is thin and translucent making them fragile. Yet they are often found intact on the surface of the sand among coral debris and broken shells.

Today’s verse is the response Jesus gave to a teacher of the law who asked Him which is the greatest commandment.  Following this commandment would make all other commandments a non-issue.  When the Lord has all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, then He also has our obedience to all other commands.

The tendency though is to keep parts of our hearts separate.  It is difficult to give Him all of ourselves.  There is fear for what He may ask of us.  There is selfishness in wanting to go our own way.  What if He asks us to give something or someone up?  My goals, my desires, my hopes and dreams are in that part of the heart that is difficult to relinquish.  However, giving Him all of my heart poses no risk at all.  I can trust Him with the deepest part of myself.  He does not hurt my heart and He never disappoints.  He has already given all He could for me.  My only reasonable response is to give everything back to Him!

Lord, take all of my heart and make it Yours today.

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A Panda-Sized Meal

Scripture for Today: James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Who does not enjoy watching these cute cuddly-looking pandas!  They can look especially adorable when romping around playing.  But more likely, they are seen doing what they spend the majority of their day doing; eating!  They eat 30-45 pounds of bamboo per day.  Their back molars are very strong for tearing this fibrous plant.  And they even have a sixth digit for holding those long stalks.  But because the bamboo is low in nutrition and pandas digest a very low percentage of what they eat, they must consume huge quantities.  They are constantly eating.

Today’s verse talks about two ways one can feed on God’s Word.  One can merely listen to it and be deceived into thinking that is sufficient.  Or one can not only listen to God’s Word but actually apply it and put it into practice.  In obeying God’s Word, there is change, growth and good spiritual health.  However, merely listening is much easier to do.  There can be momentary feel-good reactions to a poetic passage or a challenging story of faith.  But it is when we respond to His commands with submission and obedience that we truly grow.

I can get quite prideful about how well I know Scripture.  I can recite verses with the best of them.  But large quantities of head knowledge is not what makes for true heart change.  It is only in doing what God’s Word says that I can grow and become what He wants me to be.  It really is not how much I know or how much I listen to that makes a difference.  The difference lies in how much I do what it says!

Lord, don’t let me be deceived.  Show me where I need to obey.

 


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Lawn Bowling

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 59:8 “The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks along them will know peace.”

I have a friend who enjoys lawn bowling and I was interested to learn that the balls they use are “biased.”  There is no way they can roll in a straight line as they are weighted.  The ball is deliberately lopsided so that it always curves toward the flat side as it slows down.  Without taking this into account, it would be doubly difficult to roll the closest to that white ball (or jack) which is the point of the game.

Today’s verse talks about a road that is crooked.  There is no way to walk  straight down this path.  And because the going is crooked there is no justice or peace.  This is a picture of the path of wickedness rather than the path of righteousness.  By ignoring God’s laws and always doing the wrong thing, there is no peace with God or each other.  But just as that lawn bowling ball can look normal, so too we can be unaware of the crooked way we are walking.

My path can only be straight as I submit to His way of doing things (Prov. 3:6).  When He leads along straight paths, my steps will not be hampered and I will not stumble (Prov. 4:12).  I am sure it is the more difficult path however.  He has never promised that it would be easy.  But when I make the effort to walk with integrity, I can enjoy peace with Him and have the best chance at peace with my neighbor.  It is worth the effort.

Lord, keep me walking Your way.


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Sacrifice

Scripture for Today: Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.”

This watch survived a torpedo attack on the USS Pennsylvania on the arm of my Father.  Unlike so many we commemorate on Memorial Day, he emerged from WWII unscathed.  His ship, however, did not fare well.  On August 12, 1945 the hit from a Japanese torpedo opened up a 30 foot hole in the stern and the ship was eventually decommissioned without seeing further action.  Twenty men died that day, sacrificing their lives for our freedom.

Today’s verse presents a true paradox.  Those who are intent on saving their lives at any cost will end up paying in other ways.  Lives that are selfishly lived will in the end be lost.  Whereas, those who pour out and sacrifice their lives for others as a service to the Lord will have meaning and purpose.  They will in fact find their lives.

My Father did not lose his life on that fateful day, but he did lose his life in service to the Lord.  For 93 years he lost his life by living it for his Savior.  Yet he found life, one that was so rich and full and blessed!

Losing my life for the One I love is the best way I know to demonstrate my love.  I lose my life each time I choose to obey God’s way rather than my own.  I lose my life every time I put His agenda of good works ahead of my own.  When I desire Christ’s love above and beyond any human love then my life is spent serving Him.  In losing my life to Him, He fills it and makes it meaningful!

Thank you Lord, that in sacrificing myself to You I find life!


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Blooming Joshua Tree

Scripture for Today:  Psalms 28:2 “Hear my cry for mercy as I call to You for help, as I lift up my hands toward Your Most holy Place.”

Looking like hands reaching up to the sky, the Joshua tree appears as if it praying!  This strange looking plant is native to the dry southwestern states but grows mostly in the Mojave Desert.  I have seen these odd looking trees but have never seen one in bloom.  They do not grow these white clusters every year as their appearance depends on the amount of rainfall.  Not only is rain a factor, but these flowers need a winter freeze before they will bloom!

Today’s verse is David’s cry for help in dealing with the wicked who surround him.  He lifts his hands for mercy, pleading with God not to turn a deaf ear or be silent (verse 1).  Like so many of the psalms written by David, it starts out with discouragement and even despair, but then finishes with praise!  What starts out as worry over God being silent, ends with recognition of His strength and salvation (verse 8).  David renews his trust and his heart even leaps for joy! (verse 7)

That beautiful cluster of blooms on the Joshua tree can only come after being frozen and seemingly dormant.  Many times, I feel as if life has stopped, waiting for that answer to prayer.  When the Lord answers, “wait,” to the cry of my heart, it seems as if He has turned a deaf ear.  But He is working.  I can trust that He has a plan even though I do not see it.  He wants me to remain quiet and calm as I anticipate His solution.  He can do so much more than I can ask or even imagine! (Eph. 3:20)

Lord, help me trust that You hear my cry.


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A Heart in Pieces

Scripture for Today: Psalm 86:11 “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”

I am not a “puzzle person” but even I can put this simple one together!  Hearts of every kind flood the store aisles for Valentine’s Day.  But I am not too interested in them unless chocolate is somehow involved.  I do like the romantic idea of a heart being in pieces with only one individual able to put it all together.

Today’s verse is a prayer for an undivided heart, one that is made up of just one piece.  The idea is that the heart needs to be whole and wholly committed.   When our hearts are completely His, we can fear and worship His name and all He represents.  When our hearts are undivided we are teachable, walking the way He chooses and in His truth.

God’s love is described as a “great love” (verse 13).  There is no greater love on earth!  Giving Him all of my heart poses no risk whatsoever.  I can trust Him with the deepest part of myself.  He does not hurt.  He does not disappoint.  But my tendency is to keep parts of my heart separate.  I sometimes fear what He may ask of me.  What if He asks me to give up something or someone?  My goals, my desires, my hopes and dreams are that piece of the heart I want to hold back.  It makes no sense.  He has already proved His great love for me by dying in my place and giving me an eternity with Him.  What more could He do?  And what am I afraid of?

Keep my heart undivided, Lord.  Take all of it and make it Yours today.


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Body Language

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 33:3 “Surely it is You who love the people; all the holy ones are in Your hand. At Your feet they all bow down, and from You receive instruction.”

The body language of this woman seems to indicate respect for the killer whale as she bows to it.  My body language when encountering a killer whale was not so much respect as fear!  Years ago I was volunteered to be kissed by one of these amazing creatures.  I was carefully held by a park employee over the end of a plank jetting out above the water.  I think I was as stiff as that board as I closed my eyes in fear!

Today’s verse describes a bow to One who is so much more worthy than any creation of His.  This bow is done in worship and does not stop at the waist.  Those reverencing the God of the universe bow all the way down to His feet in abject humility.  Our posture before His majesty is one that is self-abasing and glorifying to Him.  He is worthy of this worship for many reasons but in this verse He is bowed to for His love.  He loves and holds His own in His mighty and powerful hand!

One day I will physically bow to Him in His presence.  One day everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth will do the same (Phil. 2:10).  For some it will be under compulsion.  But for believers it will be a continuation of our worship here on earth.  The challenge for me here and now is whether I can bow my will to His in humble submission.  He is my King and my Lord.

Lord, may Your will  be done in my life today.