Devotions By Jan

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Well Done?

Scripture for Today: Matthew 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come share your master’s happiness!'”

My biggest fear in baking a turkey is bringing it out underdone and killing all my guests and family!  I have learned from painful experience that just because my turkey is nicely browned does not mean that it is cooked all the way through!  Believing the charts and knowing my oven helps me gauge doneness but the best way to avoid food poisoning is using a meat thermometer.  By the way, that is not my oven.  It has never been that clean!

Today’s verse has nothing to do with cooking or doneness.  These words are from a parable about a master and his servants who were to invest his money for him.  Two of the servants made his money grow and were commended for their work.   They were faithful to obey and do what they were told.  These two servants were rewarded for their faithfulness with more responsibility, an invitation to share in his happiness, and with words of commendation, “well done.”

It is my goal to one day hear those words from my Savior on entering Heaven.  On my own it is impossible.  But He has through His power given me everything I need to live the godly life He requires (II Peter 1:3).  Because of His nature in me, I can be productive and effective for Him (verse 8).  I can be a “good and faithful servant” only because He gives me what I need to live for Him!

Today, I am especially thankful that He has given me faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, affection and love!

Thank you Lord, for giving me Yourself!

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Scripture for Today: Hebrews 13:15 “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.”

Is there a more fitting symbol of plenty than the cornucopia?  The original idea was to have an abundance of flowers, fruit and corn overflowing from a goat’s horn.  Today, we are happy with just a basket in the shape of a horn!  According to legend, the origin of the “horn of plenty” is said to be Greek mythology.  But now, it is associated with Thanksgiving and an abundant harvest.

In today’s verse the “fruit” is flowing out of lips that openly profess the name of Jesus.  As believers who bear His name, we are to continually praise God for all He has done for us.  Our praise and thankfulness characterizes our lives.  And it is only through Jesus that we worship God with our praise.  He gives us the ability to see, understand, and appreciate His working in our lives.  But sometimes, to thank Him is a sacrifice.  Professing His name and living a godly life means there will be suffering for doing what is right (II Tim. 3:12).  It is fairly easy to thank Him when all is well.  It takes more faith to praise when going through hard times.

When I can thank God in the middle of difficult heart-wrenching times, I know I bring Him pleasure.  Not only does it please Him, but thanking Him changes my perspective and strengthens my faith!  I want my heart to be grateful so I can recognize His control and His goodness to me.  I want to see beyond my problems to all that He has done for me!  He has proved His faithfulness over and over!

Lord, may my lips continually praise You.



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Current of Air!

Scripture for Today: Galatians 5:25 “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Scarves are worn everywhere and throughout every season in France.  There are heavy winter ones and smaller indoor ones to dress up an outfit.  Men wear them almost as much as women.  When the sun is strong, vendors are even on the beaches selling them.  The scarves in summer are lightweight and keep the sun off the neck and shoulders.  Scarves are worn regardless of the temperature and are especially worn when there might be a current of air.  Most of my French friends are convinced that a cold could be caught as the result of that breeze coming in the window!

Today’s verse talks about living by the Spirit of God.  The Greek word used for Spirit is “pneuma” and means to breathe or blow.  The Spirit is like the wind (John 3:8) being invisible and powerful.  But that wind can also be light and gentle, like a soft current of air.  It can be easy to miss if we are not paying attention.  Living by the Spirit is being sensitive to the Spirit’s leading.  He gives us the wisdom and understanding to know and follow what God wants (Col. 1:9).

Sometimes, the leading of His Spirit is unmistakeable as He steers me clear of compromising situations or obvious sin.  But other times I can easily miss what He wants and be “out of step.”  My own will is awfully strong and frankly, I do not always want to ask for His.  However, keeping in step with Him is far better as He makes my path straight when I acknowledge and submit to Him (Prov. 3:5-6).  His way is always better.

Lord, help me follow Your Spirit today.


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Scripture for Today: Psalm 107: 28-29 “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.”

These poor men!  This photo is from a postcard of American soldiers suffering from seasickness on the deck of the USS Powhatan during World War I.  The misery on their faces says it all!  Not all of them seem to be affected.  And the waves cannot be too awfully strong as the deck remains level.  But it does not take much motion for the sensitive stomach to churn.

Today’s verse talks of merchants who were used to life on the sea.  But this time, the Lord Himself stirred up a tempest that created huge waves (verse 25).  Their courage melted away as they staggered around like drunkards.  This was outside their normal area of expertise.  Even so, it was not until they were at their “wits’ end” (verse 27) that they cried out to the Lord.  And when they did, He brought them out of their distress, stilling that storm and hushing the waves.  Coming out of it, they were thankful for the calm.

I take the calm in my life for granted, that is just until the waves grow large!  I am like these sea merchants in thinking I can handle the sudden storm.  But I quickly realize that I cannot.  What starts as a queasy stomach can turn into full grown panic as my small efforts do not seem to amount to much.  How good and faithful He is to respond to my cry!  Whether that storm is of my own making or a test from Him, my first thought should always be to humbly ask for His help.

Thank you Lord, that You can still my storm.


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“A Watched Pot…”

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 64:2 “As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make Your name known to Your enemies and cause the nations to quake before You.”

“A watched pot never boils,” however, I am not sure this cat is watching and waiting for boiled water.  In fact, if that burner were on he is much too close for comfort!  My guess is this cat is soaking in the warmth from the oven.  This proverb is attributed to Benjamin Franklin in the mid 1700’s.  The idea is that time seems to move more slowly when waiting or anticipating something.

In today’s verse, the prophet, Isaiah, anticipates the Lord avenging His name among the nations.  He affirms the truth that there is no other God besides Him.  Isaiah remembers the mighty acts God has done in the past and is zealous for His name.  He sees Israel’s enemies seemingly gaining the upper hand with sacred cities becoming wastelands, Jerusalem a desolation and the Temple burned.  And now he waits, knowing that God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him (verse 4).

When I see God mocked and Christians ridiculed for their faith, that is the time I need to wait patiently for Him to move.  The more I anticipate Him intervening, the longer the wait seems!  But I have His Word and promises.  He will not be mocked and there will be retribution (Gal. 6:7).  He waits for those that scoff, wanting all to come to repentance (II Peter 3:9).  Whatever it is I am waiting for, I know He uses the wait to stretch my faith.  And I can count on Him being faithful to His promises, in His way and in His timing.

Lord, help me to wait with absolute confidence in You.