Devotions By Jan


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Doggie Discipline

Scripture for Today: Titus 2:12 “It (grace) teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,”

This dog understands the word, “No!”  I am amazed at his self-control sitting there with that piece of meat on his nose.  I wonder how long that lasted?  With smelling it, seeing it, and imagining that first bite, the dog must be trembling with the effort to refrain from gobbling it up in a moment!  I do not think the owner was too far away as the tension mounted.

Today’s verse is surprising.  The grace that normally comes to mind is the grace that offers salvation, that amazing unmerited and undeserved favor from God. (verse 11)  But this grace is a grace that teaches.  This grace allows the believer to live a godly life that pleases the Lord.  And like saving grace, it is completely unmerited.  We do not earn the ability to live a self-controlled life.  It is a gift that is part of the evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5:23).  We cannot take credit for staying away from sin.  We cannot take credit for our obedience to God.  It is all grace.

I am so thankful for the gift of self-control without which my life would be a mess.  His Spirit enables me to say “No” to temptation.  His Spirit gives me the power to turn my back on ungodly desires and choose obedience.  And despite the occasional slip, He has changed my heart to want what is right.  My highest desire is to honor Him with my choices.  And it is with His help that I can achieve that desire even just a little.

Thank you Lord, that Your self-control is another evidence of Your grace!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Bumper Bowling

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 2:7-8 “He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.”

Maybe I would feel differently about bowling had I grown up using these bumpers.  Imagine no more gutter balls!  But I did not have this luxury and I was on my  own trying to get that blasted ball to reach any of those bored pins.  It was not as if my Dad did not try to teach me.  He was in a bowling league at his work and had his own ball.  He and his team won trophies, but of course no serious bowler would consent to using these bumpers.  But I love the idea of having that little edge to correct the course of my wayward ball.

Today’s verse is beautiful!  The Lord God wants us to succeed but true success is only found in a relationship that follows His course.  None of His commands are arbitrary.  They exist for our good and for our protection.  Through His Word He speaks and guides.  When we obey and follow His perfect way, we enjoy the blessing of intimacy with Him.

I look at those bumpers as His grace to forgive, correct and restore.  Even with the best of intentions I fail.  I am “prone to wander” off His path.  But because I belong to Him, He does not let this silly sheep stray too far.  Sometimes that corrective bump can be a bit of a shock and not at all comfortable.  But it is just what is needed to get me back on course.

Lord, I want to always be one of Your faithful ones.  Keep me on that path of righteousness today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Leaning House

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is perhaps not so unique!  This house, used as a hotel, is found on the Blau river in Ulm, Germany.  The Guinness Book of Records named it the most leaning hotel in the world in 1997.  It was built around the 15th century in the Fisherman’s Quarter of the city.  I cannot imagine staying there.  I would be afraid that I would roll out of bed!

Today’s verse is a loving warning against leaning on one’s own understanding.  When a believer counts on his own reasoning rather than trusting in God’s unveiled plans, he leans as precariously as this house.  Our own understanding is flawed and limited.  We never see the big picture.  Leaning and trusting in only what we can understand makes us lean away from the sure foundation that He is!  In limiting ourselves to what we can surmise or figure out, we become unstable.  We teeter and sway rather than standing firm with a wholehearted trust in His direction.  He has promised to lead the way and make our paths straight.

My own understanding sure gets me in trouble.  I assume the wrong thing.  I read a situation incorrectly without even knowing it.  I think I know, and I do not.  There is only One who knows the future, who knows what is best for me.  The Lord not only knows, but He has the power to bring it about!  If I lean at all, I want to lean into Him and His strong arms.

Lord, keep me trusting in You with all my heart.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Play Doh

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 29:16 “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter, ‘You know nothing’?”

There is nothing better than a brand new set of play doh!  At least that is how my grandsons think.  It must feel good to start fresh with unmixed colors and clay that has not dried out to be rock hard.  The shapes my young grandsons form take some imagination to identify.  But in their funny creative minds they see a masterpiece worthy of the Louvre.  Grandma is obliged to ooh and ahh!

Today’s verse reminds us that there is a Potter who has formed and fashioned us, His clay, for His purposes.  God, as our Creator, has the right to form and mold us as He desires.  His reasons for how He has made us are well beyond our understanding.  But His creation has no right to challenge Him as if He did not have absolute knowledge and authority.  That is upside down thinking!

What a ludicrous scenario to imagine clay talking back to the potter!  But that is just what happens when a nonbeliever denies God’s existence.  He shakes his fist and declares that God did not create him and that he knows better than the omniscient One.  What a display of ridiculous pride!

It takes humility to submit to the Potter’s hand and become all that I am meant to be.  Pride makes me dry and hard in His hands.  Thankfully, He is patient and continually works in me with creative hands, making me like His Son.

Lord, while I am waiting yielded and still, mold me to be like You.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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The Gavel

Scripture for Today: Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The tapping of a gavel in a courtroom can mean different things.  When tapped twice, everyone is to rise.  When it is tapped three times, all are to be seated.  There can be repeated vigorous tapping to restore order.  One tap may be used to declare a matter settled and finished.  With the tap of a gavel comes all the power of that court.  When that gavel is brought down there is a decision made.  And that symbol of authority brings with it a certain finality.

In the courts of heaven, the gavel comes down with unquestionable authority.  God has every right to proclaim someone guilty or not guilty.  He is our righteous Judge and all His judgements are true and just.  Today’s verse is a wonderful assurance for the one who has placed their faith in Jesus.  There is no fear of that gavel coming down.  The believer is justified, or declared righteous, not because of our own deeds but because of being credited with His righteousness (Romans 4:22-25).  The just punishment that we rightly deserve has been fully met by His death on the cross.  The righteousness Jesus achieved has been laid to our account!

It has been decided.  The gavel has already come down.  I do not have to live in fear and doubt.  He declared, “It is finished,” on that cross.  How amazing that I can stand before Him, declared righteous!  There is peace with God now and throughout eternity.  My heart is not troubled because of my guilt and sin.  His forgiveness and declaration has established heartfelt peace, relief, and the joy and hope of heaven!

Lord, how can I ever express my gratitude?

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Chocolate Joy!

Scripture for Today: Nehemiah 8:10 “Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'”

Growing up in France, it was always a big deal for our children to buy and enjoy the Kinder Eggs.  This simple chocolate treat had a toy inside within a plastic shell.  The “surprise” was always very simple and quickly forgotten, but it was always good for a few brief moments of joy.  I am more familiar with the Kinder egg being labelled “Kinder Surprise” rather than “Joy.”

Today’s verse encourages the Israelites to enjoy food and drink and to celebrate the reading of the Book of the Law of Moses.  After years of exile, they had come back to their homeland.  And after years of exile, they were hearing the word of the Lord, some of them for the first time ever.  They were overcome with grief and were weeping as they listened.  But the joy of the Lord was the order of the day!  Continuing their mourning would only sap their strength.  Instead of grieving they were to celebrate God’s love and instruction.

There is a time to mourn and weep when facing God’s convicting word.  He is close to those who are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit for their sin. (Psalm 34:18)  But there is joy when I feel His forgiveness wash over me!  The realization of his unconditional love and grace wipes those tears and gives me new resolve.  I am energized and strengthened when His joy lifts me off my knees.

Thank you Lord, that you turn mourning into gladness (Jer. 31:13) and exchange my sorrow for Your comfort and joy!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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A Peaceful River

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 48:18 “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.”

There is something so restful about water.  It has such a calming affect on the spirit.  The reflections on the surface of the still water can make me sigh.  And the repetitive sounds of the waves gently lapping the shore lull me into a sense of well-being.  Stay long enough and tensions leave the body and time seems to stand still.  The water mesmerizes me and when I leave it, I somehow leave refreshed.

Today’s verse describes our peace and well-being like a river.  That peace comes as a result of following God’s way.  His way includes leading us by quiet waters and restoring our souls (Psalm 23:2).  His commands are designed for our good.  He teaches us what is best for us (verse 17).  But in our independent spirit, we do not pay attention to how He leads, or if we do, we think we know better!  That peaceful river alludes us as we move away from the Lord of peace.

When I am listening and obeying God’s voice, I experience peace with Him.  There are sweet times and a clear sense of His pleasure when I am not fighting Him.  Submitting to Him can be a struggle, but worth the effort when I can feel that deep heart peace in the middle of turmoil around me.  He calms my spirit and anxious thoughts.  Regardless of my circumstances, the still waters of His peace get me through, guarding my heart.

Lord, keep me obedient and close to the quiet waters of Your peace today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)