Devotions By Jan


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Storm Chasers

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 4:6 “Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”

Why would anyone chase a storm?  To risk everything and knowingly put one’s self in the path of danger seems insane!  Storm chasers include locals with cell phone cameras, news crews, researchers, photographers, university field trips and van loads of storm tour groups!  Whether they are motivated by adventure or science, those who drive hundreds if not thousands of miles to chase a storm are passionate!  I can understand the thrill and the awe of nature but my sense of self-preservation is too strong to join them.  After all, it is just chasing after wind.

Solomon in Ecclesiastes often repeats the phrase, “chasing after the wind.”   Today’s verse notes just one of the activities he lists as futile.  Chasing after more and more wealth may fill two hands rather than just one but it does not give us peace.  The more we have, the more we seem to want.  There is always more to acquire with the promise of peace, security and satisfaction.  But when we arrive, we find that the promise was false.

Just as one cannot catch wind, one cannot find meaning in the material world.  We were created with “eternity in our hearts.” (Eccl. 3:11)  Everything else is not only temporal but in the end, unsatisfying.  Having more handfuls does not insure having peace.  More often than not, having more creates its own worries and headaches and robs us of peace!  Some of the most contented and peaceful people I know have surprisingly little in their hands.  But how easily I forget that fact.  The truth is, I want heart peace more than any material benefit that exists.

Thank you Lord, for the peace and rest I find in You.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Love or Chocolate?

Scripture 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.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Pressed

Scripture 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.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Updated

Scripture 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.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Vintage Scale

Scripture for Today: I John 1:10 “If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word is not in us.”

This scale reminds me of the one from my youth.  One can now buy them with the label, “Vintage” or “Retro!”  Today, ours is not so ancient as it is digital.  It is probably accurate enough, but I do not like what it says!  No matter what I do with my eating habits it always says exactly the same thing.  Perhaps it is stuck.  Perhaps I am stuck.  In any case, I would rather think that it is incorrect.  Ideally, there should exist a scale that says exactly what I want it to say!

Today’s verse is about someone who is in denial about their sin.  The one who claims that there is no problem with sin is not dealing with reality.  Rather than continue to feel the discomfort of conviction, this individual would close their eyes to truth.  But in doing so, God is made out to be a liar.  His Word and truth do not reside in those who claim to be just fine.

The first step in dealing with my sin is to recognize its ugly existence.  There is no sugar-coating it.  And trying to make it small and of no consequence. just does not work.  Like the scale that tells the truth, so is God’s Word that can make me uncomfortable.  And just as I do not throw away the scale because of what it says, so I do not exchange His truth for something I like better.  He promises and is faithful to forgive and cleanse me from every sin (verse 9).  I just need to find the courage to admit to it!

Lord, help me to be honest with myself and admit when I am wrong.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Lunar Eclipse

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 60:19 “The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.”

How strange it was to see the “super moon” slowly being darkened by the shadow of the earth.  It does not happen too often and it was spectacular to see!  It was called a “super moon” because of its fullness and because of its position at the closest point of its orbit with the earth.  A news agency called it, “a glorious view of the heavens,” and “a glorious heavenly event.”  It was certainly rare as the next time this happens will not be until 2033.

This eclipse was a partial one so we were not left totally in the dark.  As beautiful as an eclipse or sunset can be, it leaves us with less light and increasing darkness.  But one day there will no longer be any darkness at all.  The Lord will be our light and it will be everlasting.  His glory will shine as bright as day.  There will no longer be any need of the sun or the moon.

That everlasting light is not just in our future, but He has promised to place some of that light in our hearts today! (II Cor. 4:6)  It shines in our hearts to give us an inkling of His overwhelming glory.  And it is displayed in the face and presence of Christ.  The more I approach Him the brighter that light becomes!  I can “walk in the light” (I John 1:7) and experience sweet fellowship.  I want to bask in the warmth of His loving light and not obscure it with the shadows of my sin.

Lord, help me to walk in the light of Your presence today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Not Feeling It

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 3:3 “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?

My poor husband recently had a rotten tooth extracted and with the local anesthetic, he felt and looked much like this pug!  But the upside is that there was no pain during the procedure.  He did not feel a thing!

Feeling physical pain is sometimes easier than dealing with strong feelings and emotions.  Over the years I have often heard it said that, “feelings are neither good or bad.”  They are somehow neutral and natural.  It is what we do with them that can result in something negative or positive.  Feelings and emotions drive us to do so many wonderful or horrible things.

Today’s verse seems to support the idea that our feelings are normal and natural.  When we feel jealousy, we are following our normal human inclination.  However, some feelings, though understandable, are absolutely wrong in God’s sight.  Jealousy is one.  Our God is a jealous God but we are never given that right.  Hate is another.  The hate does not even have to lead to action to be wrong (Matt. 5:21).  When one lusts for someone other than a spouse, it is as wrong as the actual act of adultery (Matt. 5:27-28).  Feelings matter.

Of course not all feelings are wrong.  But just because it feels normal does not mean that the Lord approves.  My heart is deceitful and ready to excuse every feeling for whatever reason (Jer. 17:9).  My heart is all about those feelings that motivate and shape my life.  Controlling them, dealing with them and sometimes confessing them is only possible through His Spirit!

Lord, help me evaluate my feelings in the light of Your Word.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)