Devotions By Jan


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Sad Sunflowers

Scripture for Today: Psalm 42:5 “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put you hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

I usually think of sunflowers as happy flowers, probably because of their bright large blossoms being a sunny yellow.  It is commonly thought that this flower turns its head to follow the sun.  But obviously, these sunflowers are looking down and all they see is the ground.  Being that this photo was taken while skies were darkened with smoke from the Oregon fires, it is understandable that their heads just look down.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm called a “Maskil of David.”  A maskil is translated as enlightened or wise.  David is imparting something that is especially wise in the face of discouragement and depression.  He addresses his soul which he recognizes is disturbed.  Regardless of his difficult circumstances, David chooses to turn his gaze to the Lord.  Rather than focusing on his problems or giving in to despair, the psalmist reminds himself of the hope he has in God.  Because of that hope, he could look forward to a future where praise for God would come again to his lips.

I have that choice as well.  I can be “downcast” and look at the ground, seeing only what is depressingly negative, or I can lift my gaze to the only One who can lift my soul.  Placing my hope in God changes everything.  His love and faithfulness need to be squarely in my view.  Remembering His promises and His loving control give me that hope.  This focus keeps me praising Him, not because of my circumstances but despite them!  And I know that one day, circumstances will change and my praise will continue into eternity!

Thank you Lord, for lifting my soul!

 

 


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The Fearless Harpy

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 22:4 “Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.”

This eagle knows no fear.  And there is good reason.  The Harpy is among the largest and most powerful eagles with rear talons as big as a grizzly bear’s claws.  Its legs are as thick as a person’s arm and its wing span can reach up to six and a half feet.  It has no natural predators, yet is on the decline due to its lack of fear.  The Harpy will sit on a perch and let humans approach and in consequence is shot.

Today’s verse points out the blessings of fearing the Lord.  They are riches, honor and life itself.  But the fear of the Lord does not happen without humility.  Fearing the Lord is understanding just how big He is and just how small we are.  Fearing Him is having a healthy respect for His power over our lives.  Fearing Him is giving Him the awe and recognition He deserves.  This attitude is lacking in the one who thinks too much of himself and his own prowess.  Pride in our own strength or talent to the exclusion of the Giver of those gifts will rob us of the riches, honor and life with which He wants to bless us.

My perspective often needs changing.  I can start to feel capable, strong and in control with no thought of Him.  Fearing Him is an act of humility and involves seeing myself as  dependent on Him.  I need to be reminded through His Word of just how incredible He is!  My fear of Him intensifies my worship and He is gracious to respond with blessing!  My life is richer for fearing Him for the awesome God He is!

Lord, keep me humble and fearing You.

 


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The Percolator

Scripture for Today: Psalms 77:11-12  “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; Yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

At the risk of dating myself I will admit to using this outmoded method of coffee-making!  I can still remember church potlucks where the percolators were gigantic to serve a crowd.  The idea was to brew the coffee by cycling boiling water over and over through the coffee grounds using gravity until the coffee taste reached the desired strength.  The spurting sound or “perking action” will only stop when the coffee is ready to drink.  Rushing the process was never a good idea and just made the taste weak.

Today’s verse talks about remembering, meditating and musing on all of the Lord’s wondrous works.  Memories are short.  One can hear of, read about and even experience the miracles the Lord has done and yet forget them entirely.  Meditating is like cycling that water over and over.  The truths in Scripture need to be meditated on again and again before they have an impact on our lives.

There are plenty of moments in the day where my mind is inactive or on “pilot.”  It takes an effort of the will to turn my mind to spiritual things and reflect on His goodness.  It not only takes effort but time.  The more I cycle the same truths through my heart and mind, the stronger my faith becomes!  I cannot hear testimonies of God’s power too many times.  I cannot hear God’s promises too many times.  With each remembrance my faith grows stronger.  And there are no loftier thoughts than thoughts of Him.  He is worthy of all my thoughts.

Lord, keep me meditating on You and Your Word all day.


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Snatched Away!

Scripture for Today: John 10:28-29 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”

I was minding my own business, sitting in my beach chair and eating my sandwich.  While eating slowly and enjoying my family I suddenly saw and felt a seagull knock into my hand!  He had swooped in from behind and while in flight, grabbed my sandwich in his beak, leaving behind a pecking print on my thumb!  He quickly made short work of my lunch but not without cackling at me, adding insult to injury!  I was amazed at how quickly he could dive in from behind and snatch it right out of my hand!

Today’s verse serves as a reassuring promise and a sobering reminder of danger.  The danger comes from Satan who would like nothing better than to snatch and destroy the unaware.  But those who belong to Jesus are in His hand.  Nothing and no one can ever snatch us out of that hand.  The Father is greater and more powerful than any foe and we are secure and protected.  If God is for us, who can be against us ? (Romans 8:31).

He has promised that I will never perish and what God says is always true.  Every sin is removed by His sacrifice when I turn to Him in faith.  Doubts or guilty feelings do not change the fact that He has given me eternal life.  No other sacrifice is required.  I am secure and peaceful in His wonderful grip.  No circumstance will ever pry those fingers open.  His power and promise mean I can trust those hands.

Thank you Lord, that I can never be snatched away from You!


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Smoky Skies

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood; but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

With these fires enveloping so much of Washington, Oregon and California, the skies have become dark and somber with the ash.  Midday can seem like early evening and the sun has trouble piercing the gloom.  A pall of dark smoke hangs over land far away from the actual fire.  The lack of normal light is a constant reminder of our fire-beleaguered world here in the west.

There is a dark world in today’s verse, and it is our world.  Making it dark are unseen rulers, authorities, and powers that are in direct opposition to the Light of Jesus and to His “children of light.”  No, we do not see these spiritual forces of evil, but we know they are there as we see their effect.  Thankfully, we are not without recourse.  Because of God’s armor, we can stand firm against this dark world.  Believers have God’s truth, not only as our first line of defense (belt of truth verse 14) but also as our only and best offense. (sword of the Spirit, the Word of God verse 17)

I have no courage to stand.  Who am I to plant myself firmly against such an array of opposition?  But God tells me that my strength is in the Lord and in His mighty power. (verse 10)  He has given me truth and the truth is that the battle belongs to the Lord.  I am on the winning side!  Although this world is dark, following Jesus means I will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life! (John 8:12)

Thank you Lord, for being my strength and my light.