Devotions By Jan


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Muzzled Horse

Scripture for Today: Psalm 39:1 “I said, ‘I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.'”

I have never seen a muzzle on a horse but apparently, it is not all that uncommon. Two different muzzles are used for two very different problems. The grazing muzzle is used when there is a problem with overeating. It will restrict their grass intake while still allowing for pasture time. Then there is the cribbing muzzle to prevent the horse from biting. Their bite will not normally break the skin but those powerful jaws can leave a deep bruise!

Today’s verse talks about a voluntary muzzle needed for our mouths, especially in the presence of the wicked. David was feeling down and discouraged with what he felt was God’s rebuke and discipline (verse 11). He expressed anguish over the fact that life is short and seemingly vain (verse 6). But David did not want any of these feelings voiced in the presence of the wicked. Even when upset with God, David did not want to malign His name.

I need to muzzle my mouth as well, especially when I am questioning the Lord or discouraged in my walk. That does not mean I cannot share these feelings with a trusted believing friend. But when I am with those who do not know the Lord, I would not want my emotional outburst to keep them from faith. I would not want my words to be an obstacle to someone else. The tongue is described as a small spark that can set on fire an entire forest (James 3:6). The damage my tongue could do could have eternal consequences!

Lord, do not ever let me malign Your beautiful and holy Name.


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Open Up!

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

I have a friend who is fascinated with doors! And being a world traveler, she sees quite a wide variety! This one is found in Charleston, South Carolina. What a beautiful city rich in history and in architectual interest. I don’t imagine a wide body could pass through this door without turning sideways! But what struck me was the absence of a door handle! The occupant has perfect control over who is granted entry.

Today’s verse has peace being the very effective guard at the door of our hearts and minds. It is the peace of God that keeps out anxious thoughts and worries. Without the door handle they have no entry when they have been given over to God in prayer (verse 6). This is a peace so unconnected to our circumstances that it defies logic and understanding! There is no possible intrusion into our minds and hearts when our thoughts are consumed with what is: true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable (verse 8). It is our choice what we allow to come through that door!

I have lots of negative worrisome thoughts that are so often knocking to get in! I know that if I allow them entry, any chance of peace will be out the window! But I unintentionally allow those fearful thoughts access when I dwell too long on politics, news items, gossip or the “what ifs.” The Lord gives grace for the realities I face and not for my overactive imagination! But when I bathe my worries in prayer and lift my thoughts out of the mundane and on to spiritual truths, I find His peace.

Lord, guard my heart and mind today.


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Bread-Loving Zebra

Scripture for Today: Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.”

I did not know that zebras ate bread. This one was very excited to eat it from my hand at the Olympic Game Farm in Sequim, Washington! Not only did the zebras approach for some bread but llamas, yaks, elk and deer did as well! Of course, each animal was provided appropriate balanced food. But the bread was their special treat and they did not hesitate to stick their heads all the way into the car for it!

Today’s verse describes Job’s view of God’s words as treasure. Their value surpassed even the everyday basic necessity of bread! Job had the same esteem for God’s decrees as David had years later when he said they were more precious than gold (Psalm 19:10). And Job was careful not only to know God’s commands but to obey them. He did not understand all the reasons behind the tragedies he was living, but he did understand that he was being tested (verse 10). Because of his obedience to God’s Words, he declared, “I will come forth as gold.”

This high regard for God’s Word is a goal worth having. In seeing the Bible as authoritative and in obeying it, I can have confidence when being tested as well. His Word is precious because it shows me the very best way to live this life. And it is to this same Word that I cling when facing difficult times. His promises give me strength. His Words give me hope. His Word nourishes my soul more than any food could for my body.

Thank you Lord, for the treasure of Your Word.


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Asian Giant Hornet

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

Yasunori KoideCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This is one scary insect being two inches long, having a wing span of three and a stinger one fourth inch long! He feeds on the honey bee, tearing off the head, legs and abdomen and taking the thorax back to his nest to feed the colony. On humans he can punch through clothing and sting repeatedly when threatened. Though painful, you are not in any particular danger of dying unless you are allergic. So there is no reason to call him his nickname, the “Murder Hornet.”

Today’s verse describes a particular kind of persecution that may not be fatal but certainly is painful. When people insult a Christian for believing in Christ, Jesus calls him blessed. When people attribute evil motives to the believer’s actions he is also blessed. And when there is name calling and others spread false rumors about him, he is even told to be happy about it. Why? Because there is special reward that awaits in Heaven (verse 12)

This kind of persecution can easily lead to loss of job, friends, reputation and even physical danger. When one couple turned a whole French village against my husband and me because of our faith, I had to remember this promise. It is a small thing to suffer indignities for His name when He suffered so much more for me! When I am maligned or marginalized for my faith, I can even count it a privilege! The promise of blessing and future reward far outweigh this kind of hurt!

Thank you Lord, for building me up when others are intent on tearing me down!



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Confidence!

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I am all for confidence and that “can do” attitude. If we did not believe we could do something, it would never get done! We instill a healthy dose of confidence in our children. We give ourselves pep talks to move through a challenge. Confidence is essential to any kind of success. And admitting to weakness is thought to work against us. We somehow believe that acknowledging limits and weakness will sabotage our efforts. So we downplay them.

How counter-intuitive today’s verse is! Paul felt weak. And rather than hide his weakness from view he not only acknowledges it but boasts about it. Paul sees that it is only in admitting weakness that he can experience Christ’s power. Unlike this image, Paul does not believe in himself. He believes in God’s grace giving him power. God’s power is showcased through our weak ineffectual efforts. We are weak breakable jars of clay in order to show that power is from God. (II Cor. 4:7)

Do I believe in myself? To a certain extent I do. But at the same time, there is not a breath, a heartbeat, a talent or ability that does not come from Him! He is my Creator and I can claim nothing as coming from myself. And He has made me with my own set of weaknesses and limits for His purposes and for His glory! I would much rather believe in Him than be overly confident in myself. That way I can experience His power in me!

Thank you Lord, that You work through my weakness.