Devotions By Jan


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Calm and Quiet

pg-toddler-habits-toddler-with-blanket-fullScripture for Today: Psalm 131:2  “But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.”

I love this picture of a toddler dragging around his special blanket.  The softness of this familiar object often has a calming effect.  A little two-year old can seem inconsolable until he picks it up and snuggles with it.  Linus, in the comic strip, “Peanuts,” could not do without his blanket.  A re-run of an old sitcom had me smiling. The story was of a grown man with a piece of his blanket hidden in his wallet!  Somehow, the soft blanket calms the fears and tears.

The other day my husband shared with me how the Scripture verses he used in a conversation calmed down the person with whom he was speaking.  Rather than focus on the problem, attention was shifted to God and His love.  The calming effect of God’s Word was almost immediate.

It is true that God’s promises tend to calm me down.  I can get so worked up and panicky in the middle of a problem.  I need the quieting influence of God’s voice through His Word.  He reminds me that He is in control.  He reassures me of His presence.  He upholds me with declarations of His love.   He calms and quiets me much like the blanket for the toddler.

A calm and quiet spirit is not natural in the middle of crisis.  Fortunately, I have Someone who does the supernatural for me.  He is the source of contentment.  Like a weaned child I can be content and confident in His love and care.  He has proved Himself faithful every time I have needed Him.

Thank you Lord, for calming me down today.

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Ownership

564653_513010502063518_923957481_nScripture for Today:  Psalms 50:8-10 “I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before Me.  I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is Mine and the cattle on a thousand hills.”

I remember long road trips with my family when I was young.  Staving off boredom was often an issue.  To help, every time we passed a herd of cows, my Mother would ask, “Do you see the purple cow?”  And being my gullible self I would always carefully look!  I must have done the same thing when our kids were small, as they were pleasantly surprised to see a purple cow on a German brand of chocolate!

The song lyrics,”He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,” probably comes from our verse today.  The world is His and all that is in it.  The context of our verse speaks of sacrifice.  There was the mistaken notion that God was somehow dependent on them.  The sacrifices were not for God’s benefit but for the one worshiping Him.  All creation belongs to Him!

The really exciting truth here is that as God’s children we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ!  (Rom.8:17)  In a sense, all that belongs to Him is part of my inheritance!  I need to remember that when I am feeling particularly vulnerable to financial pressures.  It is helpful to remember this promise when I fall into the trap of comparing my “stuff” with that of someone else.

I have an incredible future ahead of me!  I will have a share in everything He owns, from the smallest piece of gold dust to the most magnificent street of gold!  I serve a wonderful generous God!


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Mountains

296002_4365610509381_1145717475_nScripture for Today:  Isaiah 40:12-13  “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span?  And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in a pair of scales?”

The best thing about mountains is feeling so small!  I love living just two short hours from the Swiss Alps!  On a very clear day one can just see them from the vineyards behind the house.  Up close they are magnificent and the views from their summits seem to go on forever.  It always amazes me to think about how long they have towered above me and Who made them.  Their grandeur is only a small piece of God’s glory.

As wonderful as creation is, the Creator is infinitely more wonderful.  It is He that measures and limits the flow of water.  He is the one who decided the size of the universe.  The size of the earth and the weight of the mountains and hills are all decided by Him.  When I am gazing up at the Alps I am reminded of His greatness and control.

The next verse in this passage leads to a logical conclusion.  If God does all of this, who can direct Him or who can inform Him of anything?  The obvious answer is “No one.”  He is mighty, powerful and all-knowing.  He knows what He is doing with creation and He knows what He is doing in my life as well.

The mountains remind me.   I am so small and He is so big.  Is anything too hard for Him?  I am not the one to tell Him what to do.  I am not His counselor.  He is in control and His control is good.


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Master Mechanic

470573_10200180357095006_1036557071_oScripture for Today:  Psalm 139:14  “I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works and my soul knows it very well.”

So many times I have regretted learning nothing about car engines.  When living as a single it was certainly a disadvantage.  There were times I was stuck.  There were times when a mechanic would take advantage of my ignorance.

Even the smallest car problem would confuse me.  I remember when my 1963 VW bug decided to quit…..quit turning off that is!  The key continually turned in circles without turning off the engine!  I thought I would have to wait until the car ran out of gas!  The car was so old that its vibrations had pushed out a screw!

Our verse for today reminds us of how our bodies are so wonderfully made!  I may think a car engine is fearfully and wonderfully made.  But of course it does not compare to the complicated work of art that is our body.

I often wonder, as wonderful as His work is, why I seem to have defects.  With age, there is knocking in this engine!  There are new cracks here and there.   Like a car engine, things begin to break down.  However, He designed me that way for His purposes.  We are told that our bodies are frail vessels of earth so that any power in us can be seen as coming from Him (II Cor. 4:7).

I am fearfully and wonderfully made, yes.  But at the same time I am frail.  Rather than be discouraged about my weaknesses, I can keep positive knowing God uses them to show His power.  I am one of His little ones in this well known song:  “Little ones to Him belong.  They are weak but HE is strong.”


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Sugar Overload!

Scripture for Today:   Proverbs 27:7  “A sated man loathes honey, But to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet.”

When I was a little girl I had a very strong taste for sugar!  My siblings remember to this day how my voracious appetite quickly depleted not only my candy but their hidden stores as well!   The resulting cavities were so alarming that my dentist put me on a “sugar diet!” During that time sugar was off limits, even in the form of some fruits!

Thankfully, I do not crave sugar quite as much today.  Perhaps I got to that sated stage mentioned in our verse.  I reached a “sugar overload” that diminished my cravings. The more I abstain from sugar the more I can discern its presence in products.  I had no idea that some potato chips contain sugar.  Now, a little sweetness goes a long way!

There is a profound truth in this verse.  One can quickly become sated and spoiled by all the good things this life has to offer.  What is new and exciting today becomes old and mundane when always available.  I may be initially thrilled with something that later loses its appeal.  By contrast, those less fortunate than I am are perhaps more appreciative.  A little hunger can sure change one’s perspective!

The Lord knows how to make my life sweet without any overindulgence.  He puts into life a mix of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.  (from Day By Day)  He does not want me sated or famished but in an attitude of trust.  He cares not only about my needs but my desires and cravings!

Overindulgence usually sounds so good at the time, but in the end, satisfaction does not come with “more.”  It is You, Lord, who makes my life sweet!


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Expectations

P1000411Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 3:20  “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,”

I am not sure AAA really wants an answer to their question!  My loaner car while in the States broke down in a grocery store parking lot.  I did not worry too much as I knew we belonged to the automobile club.  I called their number with confidence and expectation.  Unfortunately, it was only my husband’s name on the AAA card I was carrying.  Guess they did not meet their goal that day!

Sometimes my expectations with what God should be doing are totally inappropriate.  Perhaps I am asking Him for something with entirely selfish and wrong motives (James 4:3).  Half the time I am not even aware that my heart is not right with what I am asking.

Our verse for today reminds us that it is in God’s power to do above and beyond what we expect of Him.  He does not live in the proverbial “box.”  I am sure William Carey had today’s verse in mind when he said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”  Too often, my expectations of what God can accomplish through me are just too low.

His power works in me.  And His power has no limits.  He dwells in me by His very Spirit.  How often I must frustrate what He wants to accomplish by being satisfied with the small!  He wants to do more to glorify His name and build His kingdom.  Is my thinking about what He wants to do limited by my own lack of faith?

My God is in the business of exceeding expectations!  Lord, help me to look to You today with breathless anticipation!!


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Expectations

P1000411Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 3:20  “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,”

I am not sure AAA really wants an answer to their question!  My loaner car while in the States broke down in a grocery store parking lot.  I did not worry too much as I knew we belonged to the automobile club.  I called their number with confidence and expectation.  Unfortunately, it was only my husband’s name on the AAA card I was carrying.  Guess they did not meet their goal that day!

Sometimes my expectations with what God should be doing are totally inappropriate.  Perhaps I am asking Him for something with entirely selfish and wrong motives (James 4:3).  Half the time I am not even aware that my heart is not right with what I am asking.

Our verse for today reminds us that it is in God’s power to do above and beyond what we expect of Him.  He does not live in the proverbial “box.”  I am sure William Carey had today’s verse in mind when he said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”  Too often, my expectations of what God can accomplish through me are just too low.

His power works in me.  And His power has no limits.  He dwells in me by His very Spirit.  How often I must frustrate what He wants to accomplish by being satisfied with the small!  He wants to do more to glorify His name and build His kingdom.  Is my thinking about what He wants to do limited by my own lack of faith?

My God is in the business of exceeding expectations!  Lord, help me to look to You today with breathless anticipation!!