Devotions By Jan

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Scripture fro Today: I Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can bear it.”

Having visited the pottery  factories in Poland has given me a true appreciation for their products.  It was fascinating to see each artist bent over their work, hand painting or stamping their pieces with intense concentration.  Each piece is signed by the artist as well as stamped with the Polish word for “unique.”  It is true that each piece is unique.  But all the pottery went through the same process of being fired in the kiln.

Today’s verse recognizes that each believer faces the same kinds of trials and tests.  The details may vary.  The timing and even the intensity may differ.  But there is a commonality to all of the trials God allows us to face.  They are never intended to weaken us but to strengthen our faith.  In each trial we see God’s hand and His faithfulness.  And we have His promise that it will never be more than we can bear.

What I am facing is never unique.  Somewhere, someone in the world has faced nearly the same thing.  Knowing that helps me to not feel so alone.  Not only can I draw strength from the stories of others, but I can be encouraged knowing what Christ faced.  He experienced every kind of temptation and yet did not sin. (Heb. 4:15)  And because He Himself suffered when tempted, He is there to help (Heb. 2:18)  He Himself is my “way out.”  Depending on His strength and help makes all the difference.

Thank you Lord, that I do not need to do this alone.


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First Responders

Scripture for Today: James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

The term, “first responder” was coined by the media during the 9/11 attacks as a verbal short cut.  So many different agencies and ranks were involved in rescue on that day that the term proved very useful.  But the downside is having no clarity on which services were in charge on the scene.  The life-sustaining aid they give are important enough to be reported with more detail about who they are!  The training and help they give as a  “first response” saves lives.

Today’s verse talks about a response to all kinds of trials and difficulties that does not usually come first!  Believers are to look at their problems not as a punishment, a curse or bad luck.  The one belonging to the Lord is to consider or regard each trial as something positive.  There can be joy when we can see past the problem to the perseverance that is being produced in us.  The testing of our faith comes through the hard times, especially those that we “fall into” unexpectedly.

Of course, joy is not my first response to tragedy.  But after long careful consideration, it can be.  It is usually well after that negative experience that I can see how God used it in my life.  I can esteem something as a joy when I see my faith become stronger as a result.  Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Heb. 12:2).  I want to see the joy that is set before me as well and so be able to endure with perseverance whatever He allows.

Lord, help me see the joy ahead!


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Banana Peels

Scripture for Today: Romans 9:32 “…they pursued it (righteousness) not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.”

It is no laughing matter to slip on a banana peel!  However, it was the stuff of comedy routines in the early 1900’s Vaudeville stage.  This form of physical humor even appeared in the early silent films.  But it used to be much more of a hazard when it was common to throw one’s garbage out a window in the mid 1800’s.  Even as late as 1880 the public was admonished in the Harper’s Weekly about this slime-covered booby trap.  Just seven years ago a woman in California sued a store after allegedly falling and injuring herself on a peel left in the aisle.

People are stumbling in our verse for today.  They are stumbling over the stumbling stone, who is Jesus Christ.  Rather than obtaining a righteousness that is to come by faith in Him, law-followers put their trust in their own efforts at righteousness.  Our right standing with God is given through faith in Jesus Christ whether Jew or Gentile (Romans 3:22).  Unfortunately, there will always be those who feel it is their own efforts and works that save.  They stumble over the Truth but keep walking, doing things their own way.

With that same attitude I am at risk to slip and fall.  I have no righteousness of my own.  I cannot earn my way to Heaven or earn His favor and blessing!  He gives freely what I can never deserve.  It is my pride talking when I entertain even a whisper of self-congratulation.  He knows my every motive and thought and I know I cannot be righteous apart from Him.  It is all grace.

Thank you Lord, for the right standing You have given me!


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Body Language

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 33:3 “Surely it is You who love the people; all the holy ones are in Your hand. At Your feet they all bow down, and from You receive instruction.”

The body language of this woman seems to indicate respect for the killer whale as she bows to it.  My body language when encountering a killer whale was not so much respect as fear!  Years ago I was volunteered to be kissed by one of these amazing creatures.  I was carefully held by a park employee over the end of a plank jetting out above the water.  I think I was as stiff as that board as I closed my eyes in fear!

Today’s verse describes a bow to One who is so much more worthy than any creation of His.  This bow is done in worship and does not stop at the waist.  Those reverencing the God of the universe bow all the way down to His feet in abject humility.  Our posture before His majesty is one that is self-abasing and glorifying to Him.  He is worthy of this worship for many reasons but in this verse He is bowed to for His love.  He loves and holds His own in His mighty and powerful hand!

One day I will physically bow to Him in His presence.  One day everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth will do the same (Phil. 2:10).  For some it will be under compulsion.  But for believers it will be a continuation of our worship here on earth.  The challenge for me here and now is whether I can bow my will to His in humble submission.  He is my King and my Lord.

Lord, may Your will  be done in my life today.

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“Minister of Loneliness”

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 10:25 “not giving up meting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

In England, more than nine million people in 2017 admitted to feeling lonely some or all the time.  In response, the British government recently appointed a “Minister of Loneliness.”  Loneliness can put people at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression and anxiety.  Loneliness is said to be worse for health than smoking fifteen cigarettes a day!  One lonely woman  explained that what she lacked in her loneliness was a motivational support network that gives you direction on how to cope with problems.

Todays’s verse is certainly an answer for those who are lonely and lacking motivational support.  Meeting together with other believers spurs us on toward showing love and towards doing good works (verse 24).  Discouragement can so easily overtake us when we give up meeting together.  We need to be stimulated and strengthened in our faith.  We need to lift one another up and give one another support.  The Lord knows we need to be together regularly with other believers.

A quick fix for my loneliness is to surround myself with other people.  But sometimes it is not enough.  What I need is that deeper connection that comes from being with people of like mind.  It is only with other believers that I can have the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind (Phil. 2:2).  By meeting together I am encouraged that I am not alone in my struggles and can draw strength from others.  My faith is strengthened too when I can be the one doing the encouraging!  He knows I do better in community than alone.

Thank you Lord, for Your encouragement through Your people!


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Covering My Cracks

Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And You forgave the guilt of  my sin.”

All is not lost with a cracked bowl.  The hairline crack on this one was deftly hidden by the painted design incorporating it.  An honest pottery merchant would label this piece as a “second” or “third”  because of the defect.  An unscrupulous pottery merchant might fill in the crack with wax, paint over it and try to pass it off as perfect.  The customer would be none the wiser, at least at first.  Eventually, the defect would be apparent.

Today’s verse is a great example of coming clean with the Lord.  King David recognized that some of his physical ailments could be attributed to keeping silent about his sin (verses 3-4).  When he acknowledged and confessed his wrongdoing he experienced God’s forgiveness, not only for his sin but also for his sense of guilt.  David understood that by having a deceitful spirit with God one would be forfeiting His blessing (verse 2).  He ends this psalm in joy and singing having reestablished his relationship with God.

When I am not honest with God, I am like that cracked pottery trying to pass myself off as perfect!  But the healing of those cracks can only come when I come clean with Him.  What keeps me from  humbling myself is my own stubborn pride.  It is much easier to ignore my sin and pretend everything is fine.  But before long, the cracks become apparent and my excuses no longer hold water.  I know He will restore to me that joy of salvation if I own up instead of cover up!

Lord, thank you for the forgiveness You so freely give!

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Sound Wave Tattoos

Scripture for Today: Jude 21 “keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”

How amazing that an image tattooed on a body can be translated into sound!  The idea is to wear on your skin a snippet of your favorite music or a recorded message from a loved one.  With an app one can read it and play it anytime by scanning that unique sound wave image.  A young woman recently had her dead grandmother’s last voice message tattooed on her chest.  She will forever have her grandmother’s voice over her heart!  How sweet to be able to access that message of love anytime and anywhere.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to keep one’s self in God’s love.  His love does not change but our perceptions sure can!  When He brings us into eternal life there will never again be the smallest whisper of doubt that He loves us.  But today, rather than needing a voice tattoo, we can hear and be reassured of His love through His Word.  Psalm 143:8 say that the morning brings us “word of Your unfailing love.”  But not only then.  He reassures our hearts all day long!

Surprisingly, it is not in the difficult times that I doubt His love.  I am most prone to forget or question His love when I am not in His Word, actively listening.  God’s Word is His love letter to me.  It is full of His declarations of love.  He uses that written word to reassure my heart and build me up.  His voice is the one I need to be listening for and not all the other negative ones in my head.

Lord, remind me and keep me in Your love today!