Devotions By Jan

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Love or Chocolate?

forget-love-i-d-rather-fall-in-chocolateScripture for Today: Psalm 89:2 “I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You have established Your faithfulness in heaven itself.”

I had to chuckle when I saw this same saying inscribed over the doorway of a cafe!  I admit that I am a “chocoholic” but I do have my standards.  I am most tempted with the dark and only in certain forms.  Indulging in that creamy satisfying taste never lets me down.  Chocolate always lives up to my expectation.  But before long, I would have to “fall” into it again to have that same satisfying experience.

The expression, “falling in love,” makes love seem half-hazard and unintentional.  If we can fall in, perhaps we can climb out as well.  Today’s verse speaks of a love that stands firm forever.  It is a love that is constant and true because of the One who is doing the loving!  Beginning this relationship does not involve falling into it, unless we are falling to our knees in repentance and humility!

It is understandable that love can disappoint.  Love between flawed humans is in a constant state of flux.  Our ever-changing emotions make our love unreliable.  But there is a love that does not change.  God’s love is so great that it reaches to the skies! (Ps. 57:10)  He will never disappoint.  That is because His love does not depend on me but on His faithful promise.  His faithfulness to His Word is untouchable there in Heaven itself!

What a huge comfort to know that the Lord is never going to give up on me!  Nothing is going to change His love.  God is Love in its most beautiful and purest form.

How amazing it is that You can love me, Lord!  Help me believe it today.


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updating 2Scripture for Today: Hebrews 13:8-9a “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.”

My phone and computer both love to suggest updates in the middle of my busiest times!  I never like being interrupted as it takes time to prepare and complete the update.  But I do understand the importance of adding new features and protecting against viruses and spam.  Some of the updates alter a site so much that I need to re-learn how to navigate it.  However, the extra effort is usually worth it.

In a world where technology is in a constant state of change, it is comforting to know that my Savior does not need an “update.”  Our verse for today teaches that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He is perfect and needs no alterations!  He is always up to date with what is happening.  There is never a need for a new and improved version.  There is never a connection issue or a lack of response.

Everything that we need to know about the Lord is revealed in His Word.  He does not change nor does His revelation.  His message transcends time and is always current.  The God of the Old testament is the same God as of the New.  His faithfulness and power shown then is the same faithfulness and power He shows today.

I need Him to be constant and not capricious.  I need Him to be faithful to His Word and unchangeable.  What was proven true in times past continues to be true today.  He is perfect and perfection has no need of change.

Thank you Lord, that You do not change and I can always count on You.

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Withered Leaves

leaves IMG_0678Scripture for Today: Psalm 1:3 “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”

One of my favorite activities as a child was to jump in a big pile of raked leaves!  I can still remember doing so with my neighbor friends, exasperating their Dad for destroying his hard work!  Fall is beautiful when seeing all those brightly colored leaves.  But when they turn brown and dry and fall from the branches, the bare limbs make me a bit sad.  The green is gone.  The colors are finished, and one is left with something forlorn and withered.

Today’s verse describes a seasonal cycle unknown in our experience.  There is no Autumn as leaves do not wither, die and fall from the branches.  This unique season enjoys continual growth and greenery.  There is seasonal fruit and a steady supply of water for this tree planted by streams of water.  What a beautiful image of the one who delights in the law of the Lord! (verse 2)

The wicked are pictured as chaff that dries up and blows away (verse 4).  What a contrast!  Rather than being vibrant and living, the chaff is simply the dry husks of grains and grasses.  It is utterly useless and is carried away with the slightest breeze.  But the Lord does not allow His own to be dried up and useless.  There may be differing seasons of fruitfulness, but the leaves never wither.  His life continues within and He never stops working in me!  Because of being planted in Him, I will stay green and vibrant and beautiful.  Because of Him my shade is inviting and my limbs provide protection.

Thank you Lord, that You can and do use me in spite of myself!


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Boot Straps

boot straps481389633_88ffb5afffScripture for Today: Psalm 100:3 “Know that the Lord, He is God. It is He who has made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

This poor little guy seems to be stuck in the mud.  Fortunately, he has straps on those rain boots and is making good use of them.  The phrase, “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” has a literal meaning for him.  It is more commonly used in the figurative sense to mean success by one’s own efforts.  The idea is to use no outside help.  This phrase can be applied to the one who uses nothing other than one’s own blood, sweat, and toil.

There are lots of inspiring success stories in American history of those who were able beat all odds.  They could even be called, “self-made men.”  However, our verse for today gives a more accurate picture.  It is God who has made us.  We are to acknowledge that anything and everything we have to succeed is given us by Him.  We have not made ourselves.  We cannot take the credit.  The talents, determination, gifts, and mental capacities all come from Him.  Although motivation and work ethics play a huge role, no one can say that he has made himself what he is.

To guard against pride in my own accomplishments, this verse reminds me of my status as a sheep.  I am always in dire need of help and guidance from the Shepherd.  As a believer, I belong to Him and He takes care of putting me in His wonderful abundant pasture.  And He has made me exactly as I am for His purposes.  It only makes sense to respond with joy, shouting, singing and thanksgiving!

Thank you Lord, for making me to belong to You!


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Good Taste

cats b8dc0cf9769535bce0208833235a8c60Scripture for Today: Job 34:3-4 “For the ear tests words as the tongue tests food. Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.”

These kittens are enjoying ice cream almost as much as I do!  Our Tiger never tasted the stuff because I was always unwilling to share.  However, I have given him as taste of yogurt and he was thrilled.  I imagine many cats enjoy foods that involve milk or cream.  But I still remember the veterinarian warning us that the digestive system of an adult cat does not take too well to drinking milk.  Although the taste is delicious, it is not so good for him.

Today’s verse records the advice of one of Job’s three friends.  Elihu was eager to help Job discover the reason for his troubles.  He had a lot to say but it was off the mark.  Certainly, we are to test what we hear and listen with discernment.  Just as we taste food to see if it has a pleasing flavor, so we “taste” what we hear to decide if it rings true.  The problem is that we all have differing taste buds.  What seems right and good to one can seem wrong and sour to another.  Our subjectivity gets in the way of finding absolute truth.

Thankfully, we do not have to discern for ourselves what is right.  It is not up to us to come to some sort of consensus.  God’s Law goes beyond individual opinion or cultural norms.  God’s Law does not change with the times.  Surveys and votes do not change what God has put in place.  And not only does it taste good, but it is good for us!

Help me Lord, to discern what You call good and right.

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beach-bound-maverickScripture for Today: Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This horse seems to have a mind of his own!  Without a rider or other horses nearby, he walks alone.  Perhaps he is a maverick who enjoys his independence.  The meaning of the word, “maverick,” has changed from its original meaning of being an unbranded animal separated from the herd.  Now the word has come to mean a person who is unconventional and an independent thinker.  Depending on the context, a maverick can denote something negative or positive.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to resist conforming to the world’s way of thinking.  Rather than following the latest ideas or fads, the Christ-follower is to think differently.  His goal is to find and follow what God wants.  It is always something good, pleasing and perfect.  With a mind renewed by God’s Word, we can evaluate and test our thinking to know when we are following what He wants.  His plans are perfect.  He wants only what is good for us.  And as our Creator, He knows better than anyone else what will in the long run be pleasing.

I am sometimes confused as to what God wants in a particular situation.  I know that trusting my own desires and emotions can be deceiving.  Sometimes the Lord gives me exactly what I want, but not until I submit all of it to Him first!  Being a “living sacrifice” is all about that submission (verse 1).  But what I find is that His plan is a whole lot better than mine!

Lord, change my thinking to want only what You want.


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MangleScripture for Today: II Corinthians 1:8 “For we would not brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired of life.”

I can still remember seeing my Mother seated at a mangle just like this one.  She would feed the wrinkled clothes into the heated roller and they would magically come out the other side smooth and wrinkle free.  Sometimes she would allow me to feed it easy items like handkerchiefs and pillow cases.  But the dress shirts were a challenge that was better left to her.  I was surprised to learn that one can still buy a rotary iron!  Perhaps the newer models do not run the risk of mangling a clothing item or inattentive fingers!

Today’s verse describes the trouble that Paul and Timothy experienced as something that pressed on them.  They faced such great pressure that they did not think they would survive.  But Paul realized that the crushing pressure of their pressing circumstances had a purpose.  That purpose was to rely on God’s power and not on themselves (verse 9).  They understood that there would be no deliverance without God’s power.  Recognizing this, Paul asked for prayer.

My husband often says that life is made up of one crisis after another.  No one is spared trouble, although we try to avoid it where we can.  But for the believer, it is a comfort to know that those pressing circumstances are not happening by chance.  The Lord is using them to encourage a greater dependence on Him, on His power and on the prayers of His people.  Every pressing trouble is a reminder that I need Him.  I cannot do life without Him.

Lord, help me to rely completely on You and Your power.