Devotions By Jan


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Grasshoppers

grasshopperScripture for Today: Numbers 13:33 “We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of the Anak come from the Nephilim).  We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Grasshoppers are almost cute.  This one seems to be smiling!  Of all the insects I can run into, I am the least threatened by the grasshopper.  Perhaps the delight of seeing them jumping in the grass when I was a child has stayed with me.  They are not thought of as so cute when one realizes they are no different than the destructive locust!  Their ability to jump long distances with those powerful legs is surprising.  If humans could jump as they do, we would easily jump the length of a football field and then some!

In our verse for today, ten of the twelve men sent to check out the opposition in the Promise Land came back feeling like grasshoppers.  The inhabitants were “of a great size” and they concluded they were too strong to attack!  Caleb and Joshua were the only ones who gave an encouraging report to Moses and the people.  The size of the enemy did not matter to them.  They understood that the Lord was with them and there was no need to be afraid.  Believing in God’s promised victory and His protection kept them from feeling small and powerless.

I can relate to those ten men who felt like grasshoppers!  When trials loom in front of me or an obstacle to my faith seems insurmountable I can feel so small and impotent.  I may actually be a grasshopper when it comes to comparing strength and numbers.  But I am on the Lord’s side and that makes all the difference!

Thank you Lord, for the victory I have in You!


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Trees

cloud treeA676u-600x652Scripture for Today:  Ezekiel 17:24 “All the trees of the forest will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall.  I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree to flourish.  I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.”

Winter seems a sad season when so many trees are without their beautiful foliage.  But this photo has captured the hope of what is to come!  Spring is just around the corner and soon the trees will be bursting with blossom!    Every season reminds me of our wonderful Creator and His control over His creation.

Our verse for today also speaks of God’s control over nature.  With just His word, He brings His creation to life.  He has the ultimate say over what dies and what grows.  He causes trees to dry up or to flourish, to grow tall or to be brought down.  This example in nature mirrors His control with men.  God has the power to bring down the haughty prideful man.  He humbles the circumstances of those who ignore Him.  He opposes the proud (James 4:6) and sends poverty to those He humbles (I Sam.2:7).

Thankfully, our God is full of grace.  He promises to show favor to the humble.  He will even exalt and build up those who obey Him and show Him reverence.  Humility before Christ bends our knee in total submission to what He wants.  In response, He lifts our heads and blesses us.  Everything good in my life comes from His gracious hand.  I cannot take credit for any accomplishment.  Even my next breath or heartbeat is a favor He has granted me.

I praise Him today as He has made me to flourish!  Lord, keep me recognizing how small I am and how great You are!


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Double Jeopardy

double_jeopardy_set_jt_130328_wmainScripture for Today: Hebrews 10:10  “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

The television game show, Jeopardy, is one of my favorites.  I like to be able to challenge myself and my memory.  Most of the time I feel pretty ignorant, but I console myself with the thought that at least I am learning something!  In the second half of this game the points are doubled.  When I see the words, “Double Jeopardy,” I am reminded of the legal meaning.  The fifth amendment of the US constitution protects its citizens from being prosecuted twice for the same crime.  Although there are a few exceptions (as in a mistrial) this legal concept keeps one from being prosecuted over and over again for the same offense.

Our verse for today describes the sacrifice Christ made for our sin.  He took our punishment on Himself so that we could be made holy and set apart before Him.  That little phrase “once for all” is so incredibly important.  There is no double jeopardy with the Lord.  Satan will try to accuse us over and over for the same repeated sin.  Our own consciences will repeatedly accuse us.  But Christ’s sacrifice for that sin never needs repeating.  He took on Himself every offense past, present and future.  On that cross He declared, “It is finished.”  Justice was completely satisfied.  There are no retrials.  There is no more condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).

What an amazing truth!  Regardless of my feelings, I am no longer guilty.  The punishment for my sin has been completely paid.  There is no question of putting Christ back on that cross.  He has paid it all.  Thank you Lord, that with You there is no double jeopardy.


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Blurry Lines

4-square2Scripture for Today: Isaiah 5:20  “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

Playing the game “Four Square” was a common past time in my growing-up years.  All that was need was chalk, a ball, and four players.  The goal was to bounce the ball into a square to an opposing player who was then to catch it.  The aim had to be precise.  If the ball should hit a line or go out of bounds, then it would not count.  The problem with chalk was that sometimes the lines got blurry.  Because we repeatedly stepped on those lines, the boundaries were not so clear.  Many a shouting match could have been avoided had we just thought to re-draw those lines with more chalk!

Our verse for today describes a situation where lines are blurred.  There is a lack of clarity about what is truly good, light and sweet.  The prophet, Isaiah, tells his people that there will be a reckoning when the arrogant will be humbled and God will be exalted by His perfect justice.  Those who blur the lines between good and evil will not go unpunished.

One would think that Isaiah is describing our modern day world!  No one seems sure anymore of what is really good or evil or whether these concepts are archaic!  In films, one is moved to applaud the bad guy!  To believe in absolutes appears old-fashioned.  Our society feels it has evolved.  But as Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun.” (Eccl. 1:9)

If ever I feel confused, I can “unblur” those lines by returning to God’s clear standards, created in love.  Thank you Lord,  that Your standards are good, light and sweet!


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Morning Dew

photo-rose-wet-fog-dewScripture for Today:  Hosea 6:4  “What can I do with you, Ephraim?  What can I do with you, Judah?  Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.”

Is there anything prettier than dew kissing the fragile petals of a rose?   We enjoy our rose bushes but I do not always know the best way to care for them.  My landlord kindly helps me with pruning and gives me tips.  I love cutting them and bringing them into the house!  They are so fragrant and add a touch of class.  But of course, I do not bring them inside if they are still wet with dew.

Our verse for today is addressed to two tribes of Israel.  They knew to make sacrifices and burnt offerings but they did not show mercy to others nor did they acknowledge God.  It was just routine and tradition.  Their love for the Lord was as transient as morning dew which quickly disappears.  The book of Hosea is one long story of the Israelites’ unfaithfulness to God, as a wayward wife.

I can identify with a love that disappears like morning dew.  In the morning when I read His Word and talk with Him, I can be satisfied with His unfailing love (Psalm 90:14).  But as I go throughout my day, that closeness can seem to evaporate in the distractions of a busy day.  His love is constant, but mine…not so much.  Sometimes it is easy to look at my time with the Lord as an obligation to be crossed off a list.  But He is not interested in empty ritual but in meaningful relationship.

No matter how fickle I am, He continues to tap my shoulder with His love.  He reminds me He is there.  Thank you Lord, that I can count on Your love all day.


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Toy Gyroscope

Gyroscope_L4Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:9  “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

One of the joys of being a grandparent is shopping in toy stores.  I have ignored them for years.  Now, I have new interest in anything that may interest my grandsons!  The other day I saw an old fashioned toy gyroscope.  Never one to be too enthused about physics, I still managed to enjoy the whirling action of this toy when I was young.  I am not sure I understand much more about it as an adult!  But I do understand that the middle (rotor) will maintain its spin axis regardless of the crazy movements of that outer frame.

Our verse for today is about resisting the devil and standing firm in the faith.  Like the gyroscope center that resists the movement of the outer rings, we are to stay the course and keep turning in the direction of truth.  Resisting the devil is resisting the “Father of Lies.”  Using the suffering in our lives, he whispers that we are unloved and abandoned by God.  Suffering can surprise us if we somehow thought that as believers we were exempt.  But holding tight to faith in God’s Word and His promises keeps us standing firm and turning in the right direction.

One of the temptations when moving through suffering is to believe that no one else suffers as we do.  It is true that each of us is unique, but suffering is “common to man.”  God has His good purposes in allowing us to suffer different tests and trials.  He will always give us the ability to bear it (I Cor 10:13).

He is faithful.  Thank you, Lord, that with You I can resist and stand firm!


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Transformers

old transformer$(KGrHqZ,!rYFEqL8L(m,BRgUMWVD7g~~60_57Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 3:18  “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is Spirit.”

Living overseas, one quickly becomes familiar with transformers.  When another ex-patriot moves, their transformers are usually the first item to be snatched up by others.  These transformers change the current of our American appliances so they can be used in Europe.  We have several that are quite old and will only transform current in one direction.  They are quite heavy and ugly but they do the job.  Plugging in to the wrong current would immediately burn out an appliance.

Our verse for today talks about being transformed ourselves!  The believer whose face is unveiled is being gradually transformed into the image of the Lord.  The context identifies that veil as a dull mind and lack of understanding of who Christ is.  He Himself removes that veil when we turn to Him in faith.  When we are “unveiled” we can contemplate His glory and in contemplating Him, we ourselves are transformed to be like Him.

I want to be like Him.  He is beautiful and loving and patient and everything that I want to be!  But transformation can only happen when I look to Him and see Him clearly.  Transformation comes from the renewing of our minds through His Word (Rom. 12:1-2).  That is where I see Him.  That is where I contemplate His glory as He reveals Himself to me.  This transformation is the work of His Holy Spirit and is done so very gradually.

There are times I am just sick of myself.  Keep me in Your Word, Lord, so I can truly contemplate your glory.  Turn my mind and heart to You.  Make me more like You today!