Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:3 “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see it and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.”

There are a few songs out there that can really get stuck in one’s head.  The popular term for this is the “earworm.”  One such song for me is the Disneyland song, “It’s a Small World  After All.”  You’re welcome.  But there are others too that stay with you all day.  That catchy tune just repeats itself over and over and before long, you give up fighting it and just hum along.

Today’s verse is about a new song that we can enjoy having in our heads!  It is a personal song that praises and gives glory to God for what He has done in our life.  This song is not only directed to the Lord but others are affected by it and helped to faith.  This new song of David’s praises God for lifting him out of the mud and setting his feet on a rock.  What happened to him was worth singing about!

I have a new song too.  It is new because His mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3)  The lyrics change daily as He continues to faithfully work in my life.  My song is not a rehashing of last season.  It is not someone else’s song.  It is unique as it reflects my praise for my story.  He is honored by it despite whether it is in tune or beautiful to anyone else.  He is both my audience and the inspiration for the lyrics.  If this song turns into an “earworm,” I am fine with that.

Lord, I loved yesterday’s song but please give me a new song today!


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Memorial Day

memorial-day-historyScripture for Today: I John 4:10 “This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Today on Memorial Day, North Americans remember those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.  We commemorate the war dead with special ceremonies, parades, speeches, and graveyard visits.  Some consider the origins of this day as coming from “Decoration Day.”  After the Civil War, graves were decorated with flowers, although this had been the practice of women for centuries.  It is good to remember how costly freedom is and to honor those who paid for it with their lives.

Those who gave their lives for freedom did it out of a love for their country.  Today’s verse speaks of another sacrifice also motivated by love.  There is no greater love than this; than to lay down one’s life for another (John 15:13) and that is what the Lord did for us.  And it was also a sacrifice made for the sake of freedom.  Christ died to free us from the power of sin.  The believer is no longer mastered by sin but is able through God’s Spirit to live differently.

We remember this sacrifice not only on Good Friday and when taking communion, but hopefully everyday.  Though sometimes I forget how costly His sacrifice was.  It was not only physical pain for Jesus but the incredible pain of separation from the Father.  It was the first time in all of eternity that God turned away from His Son.  And it was because of my sin.  Jesus endured that separation from God so I would not have to.  “What wondrous love is this?”  Every time I think on it I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Oh Lord, I want to remember every day.

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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 as long as the wicked are in my presence.'”

I am always a bit sad to see a dog muzzled.  I feel bad for him but safer, as I am sure there was a reason for it being there.  Many states have dangerous dog laws that are imposed by the courts for public safety.  Special restrictions are enforced for dogs that threaten or attack others.  But the dog pictured here looks to be   guilty of only too much enthusiasm!

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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Hurry Up and Wait

traffic-light-red-stopScripture for Today: Psalm 106:13 “But they soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.”

Nothing annoys me more than a driver who races around me and cuts me off, all to gain a few seconds or a few yards.  Just as annoying is the tailgater who sits on my bumper when there is no chance for me to move to the right.  When the great equalizer of the red stop light stops that driver, it is hard to keep the smirk off my face as I pull up beside him.  We both have to stop and wait.

Today’s verse refers to the Israelites who quickly forgot God’s miracles.  When the Lord dried up the Red Sea and delivered them from the Egyptians, they responded with songs of praise.  But soon after, they forgot what He had done when faced with the next crisis.  They did not wait to see what the Lord had in mind.  Instead they complained.  God had given them the promise of their own land, but they had to wait for His plan and His timing.

God gave a promise to David that he would be king.  But he had to stop and wait for the Lord to work it out.  Sarah was given the promise of a son, but she waited years and years for the miraculous way God would bring it about.  Over and over I wait for God to unfold His plan for me.  I have the promises.  I believe.  But I do not have the details.  God so often asks me to stop my own efforts and wait for Him to work.  He wants me to wait as a show of faith that I really do believe Him.

Lord, help me to wait with joy and expectation for Your perfect plan.


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Magnifying Mirror

lighted mirrorIMG_20160522_075402Scripture for Today: Lamentations 3:40 “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.”

The morning routine of a mature woman is revolutionized when two essentials are included; tweezers and a lighted magnifying mirror!  Seriously, it has changed my life!  Of course, such minute detail is rarely noticed by anyone else.  But all that scrutiny is now making my morning preparations much longer.  It takes more time but it is all good as I examine and put right the details.  It is rare that I do not find something to remedy each time I dare to look!

When it comes to examining what is on the inside, the experience can be much more uncomfortable.  Today’s verse is an encouragement to do just that.  When we examine our ways and test them, more often then not a correction is needed to return to what God wants.  The self-examination can be revealing and humbling.  But the results are worth it as a new closeness to Him develops.

There is no condemnation as a believer (Romans 8:1) but there is discipline and a loss of intimacy with the Lord as a result of sin.  Examining myself means I can avoid much of that grief.  Because of His unfailing love, He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone (Lam. 3:32-33).  But He will lovingly use the negative in my life to bring me back to where I need to be.  As uncomfortable as that self-examination is, it is so much better than going through discipline or feeling He is far away.  I want to see what He sees and not just think everything is fine!  I want a deeper more satisfying walk with Him without that sin getting in the way!

Lord, help me see my heart like You do.

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Mustard Flower Field

mustard flower4Scripture for Today: Luke 17:5-6 “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ He replied, If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

When I was little, a friend and I would play in a field of mustard flowers  behind our school during recess.  We loved playing pretend games there and hiding from the teachers when they called us in.  We were sad to see the flowering season end, not realizing what the harvest of that tiny seed could bring.  It is called the least of all seeds (Matt. 13:31) but some varieties can grow to the size of a tree in the Mediterranean climate.

Today’s verse is a very familiar one.  The disciples had just heard Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness and it prompted this request to increase their faith.  Jesus responds by addressing the kind of faith needed rather than the size.  The faith they needed was fast growing and prolific, just as the mustard seed.  After they received the Holy Spirit, these men did exemplify this kind of faith in establishing the early Church with miracles.

This kind of faith, even when tiny, is powerful!  My faith can be size extra small, but if it is placed in One who is all powerful, than it can accomplish His purposes!  He can do above and beyond all I could ask, think or imagine (Eph. 3:20).  It is a tremendous relief to me that true unwavering faith can be tiny and yet bring about His will..  Do I really believe that if I ask anything according to His will, He will answer? (I John 5:14)  I want this kind of faith!

Lord, make my faith like the mustard seed, aligned with Your will.



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Flip Flops

flip flopIMG_20160519_085943Scripture for Today: Numbers 23:19 “God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?”

I would never have thought to use flip flops as a table centerpiece!  Thankfully, the flip flops were new and not used!  Living in this beach culture, I see this footwear in most any social setting imaginable.  Our local mall has a store exclusively dedicated to flip flops.  But the name of this footwear also calls to mind the idea of changing one’s mind or position.  In this presidential election year, flip flopping seems to be common on both sides of the political aisle!

Today’s verse reassures us that God will not flip flop.  He is not like us but always says what He means.  He never says He will do something and not come through.  When He speaks, He acts.  When He makes a promise, it will happen.  He can back His word with the power to do it.  Being all knowing, God would never say that He was unaware of the extenuating or changing circumstances.  No matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ (II Cor. 1:20a).

Living in a world of broken promises, it is sometimes hard for me to really take the Lord at His word.  Too many times it is easier to doubt than to believe that He means what He says.  He says He loves me.  He says He will care for me and cause all things to work for good.  He does not disappoint.  I cannot think of even one time that He has proved Himself unfaithful.  Yet, I still hesitate to live like I really believe it!

Give me grace Lord, to trust You more.