Devotions By Jan

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Orangutan Nests

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:9 “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

Joeavison1, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Almost daily the orangutan ape builds a new nest high in the treetops. His engineering skills are surprising as he tears off larger branches for his base and smaller leafier branches for the middle and can even build a sort of pillow and blanket high up in the trees. He breaks off some branches to size, bends some and intertwines others for a stable bed. A benefit from his nightly nest building is larger openings in the tree canopy, letting in more light.

Today’s verse speaks of another source of light. This light not only enables us to see but gives life! Jesus identifies Himself as the light of the world. Following this light means we no longer walk in darkness. (John 8:12) He does not only illuminate a tree canopy but a lifetime with the Light of His presence.  God has made His light to shine in our hearts, to give us the knowledge of Him (II Cor. 4:6).  His light not only shows us who He is but it is also an expression of His priceless and unfailing love (Psalm 36:7).

Being in His Word intensifies that light He gives. His light is warm and loving, giving me closeness to Him and direction for my day. Without it, I can easily stumble around and lose my purpose. I can even get quite accustomed to the dimness and shadows. But the further I wander from His light, the more negative and discouraged I become.  But oh what a difference when I return to the source of Light! Not only does His light dispels darkness in my heart and mind but it also draws others to Himself!

Lord, keep me in Your light today.


Malabar Giant Squirrel

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:24 “though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord is the stay of his hand.”

Meet the Malabar Giant Squirrel who makes his home in the tree tops of India. He is huge, being two times the size of the squirrels we are used to seeing. His multi-colored fur makes him unusual being anywhere from purple to maroon to orange! Unlike other squirrels who hide their nuts in the ground, this squirrel hides them in caches in the tree tops. He is very nimble jumping 20 feet between trees. But it is his very long tail that gives him such balance, acting as a counterweight.

Today’s verse is a promise that the Lord will establish the steps of the one who belongs to Him. If there is a fall, it is a controlled one. It will not be a free-fall, being cast headlong. The Lord’s hand is involved and He breaks the fall with His hand. Regardless of the spaces between trees, His Hand is the “counterweight” giving us the balance and stability we need.

This is a wonderful assurance for me that the Lord is my true support. I may feel that my stability rests on my work, my plans or my finances, when in fact, none of those are holding me up. Circumstances change, and sometimes with no warning at all. Rather than feeling panic I can remain confident. No bad news can shake me as my heart is steadfast and trusting in Him (Ps. 112:7). And even if He were to allow me to teeter and fall, His open loving hand is there to soften the landing. In His unfailing love, He stands me back up, brushes me off and strengthens my faith through the whole ordeal.

Thank You Lord, for holding me up.

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Snow Monkey

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other.”

This Japanese macaque or snow monkey looks almost asleep as she enjoys the warmth of the hot springs. These volcanic pools or “onsens” can reach 100 degrees fahrenheit at Hell’s Valley or Honshu, Japan. This boiling water bubbles up from frozen snow-covered ground due to volcanic activity underneath. What a contrast with the bitter cold of this alpine environment! No other primate is more northern living nor lives in a colder climate!

Believers were neither hot nor cold in today’s verse. The Lord is rebuking the church of Laodicea out of love. (verse 19) These believers were doing good deeds. But something was wrong. They were not done with any kind of passion. Perhaps they were showing kindness and giving to others out of habit or a sense of obligation. However, the Lord sees the heart and the motivation. And like the good works that prove to be wood, hay and straw rather than gold, silver and costly stones, there is a marked difference (I Cor. 3:12-13) The Lord asks them to repent and be earnest.

The difficult question I ask myself is whether I am being earnest. No one else can know the answer as it is a matter of the heart. Frankly, the good I may do for someone else may be tainted with thoughts of self aggrandizement or reciprocal expectations. When my thoughts of “I should help” outweigh my thoughts of “I want to help” than perhaps I am being lukewarm. The only way I know to be passionate in serving Him is to continually connect to the Vine and have that fruit naturally flow from my relationship with Him!

Lord, keep me earnest today.


Protecting Vines

Scripture for Today: John 15:1-2 “I (Jesus) am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is frozen_vineyard_in_luxembourg.jpeg
Mya, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

France is experiencing record lows late in the season. Drastic action is being taken to keep those vines from freezing. This includes lighting fires and “crop candles” in an effort to raise the temperature. Some vinedressers even concoct a special herb tea infusion for the vines! Giant fans and helicopters are used to pull warmer air from higher up, pushing it toward the ground.

Today’s verses describes some drastic action as well. God is the gardener or vinedresser for His true vine; His Son, Jesus. Believers are the branches that need special care to be fruitful. Not only do we as the branches need to stay connected to our Vine but we are worked on by our Vinedresser to be fruitful. Some branches are cut off because they produce absolutely no fruit, completely missing their reason to be! Others produce fruit but need His pruning and cleaning to produce more and better fruit for Him.

I would rather have His care, even if it involves drastic measures, than to completely miss my purpose! Being pruned is not a comfortable experience. But I know my Father’s discipline is not a punishment as my sins are paid for on the cross. His discipline is a teaching moment and always done with love and for my benefit. He turns around the freezing temperatures of indifference or pride in my life. With His care, I can look forward to my service becoming more and better fruit!

Lord, thank you for Your loving care.

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Notes of Hope

Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:1-2 “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.”

Music filled the hall in New York City, calming the nerves and giving encouragement to those taking the vaccine. Sing For Hope was founded just after 911 to encourage the first responders. Their mission statement says, “Sing for Hope harnesses the power of the arts to create a better world.” Being that music continues in Heaven where no improvement is needed, music must have a much more profound purpose.

Today’s verse gives us the best purpose of music; that of praising our Creator! We praise Him for His love in the morning, allowing us another day of life. We praise Him for His faithfulness at night for having brought us through another day. Our praise is non-stop all day long! But more than that, our praise in music continues on into eternity, echoing down golden streets! Our music on earth is only a warm-up before the big and eternal concert of praise to our Savior!

Despite a raspy voice, sour notes or being off key, my music is beautiful being “heart music” and it will continue forever! (Psalm 30:12) Praising Him lifts my spirits, refocusing my attention on HIm. Music directed to Him calms my heart and encourages me to be more faithful to Him. Music is such a gift to all humanity but as a believer, it stirs my soul to praise Him! And that praise brings a renewed sense of closeness to the Creator of all the arts! God-honoring music may or may not make a better world, but it does make a better me!

Lord, make this a day of continual praise!