Devotions By Jan


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Follow Your Heart?

Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

This saying on a poster is beautiful, and there are many like it.  We enjoy thinking of the heart as lovely and romantic, and so often it is.  We counsel each other to just follow your heart and all will be well.  Somehow, the heart will guide us to the right way, the right solution, the right love.  When we listen to our heart, we discover what we really desire.

Today’s verse has a message of warning about the heart.  The heart, which in the Bible is the seat of all our emotions and will, can deceive us.  We try to understand what our heart is saying to us.  But no one can quite understand.  One day it says one thing and the next, another.  I have often been quite sure about what I have wanted.  Then, when I have managed to receive it, I find that I did not want it after all.  That brings to mind the dog who chases after a car.  He has no clue what to do with it once he catches up to it!

My heart deceives me so following it can be dangerous.  Because I cannot cure it, I need to follow Someone who knows my heart better than I do.  The Lord searches my heart and tries it.  As my Creator, He knows what I really want and what will bring me true satisfaction and fulfillment.  He knows so much better than I do what is good for me and what is not.  He sees the pride and selfishness hiding out in my heart.  And His love and forgiveness are the cure.

Lord, do not let me be deceived today.  Help me follow Your heart.


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Conversation Hearts

Scripture for Today: Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Growing up, I loved these conversation hearts, giving away to that “special someone” what I could not bring myself to actually say!  And receiving these from others would communicate to me something the giver may not have intended!  Today, one can special order these candies with your own personalized message.  That way you can say exactly what you want the other to hear.  Communicating what is in the heart is not always easy.

Today’s verse gives us a reliable way to know what is in the heart of another.  What is there is evident by that person’s behavior.  Expressing emotions can be lovely but the real indicator of feelings and the state of the heart is evident in our actions.  And one action is especially telling.  What comes out of our mouths demonstrates the good or the evil found in the heart.  That sincere compliment or word of encouragement shows love.  The snide remark or the profanity that escapes our lips signals that all is not well.

What slips out of my mouth can be shameful.  I am so glad that some of it happens when there is no one to hear.  However, there is always Someone who hears.  And whether others are around or not, those nasty words signal a need for some serious heart cleaning!  Thankfully, He is full of grace and forgiveness, ready to make me clean again and give me a new start!

Lord, clean my heart and fill it with good things to say!


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A Heart in Pieces

Scripture for Today: Psalm 86:11 “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”

I am not a “puzzle person” but even I can put this simple one together!  Hearts of every kind flood the store aisles for Valentine’s Day.  But I am not too interested in them unless chocolate is somehow involved.  I do like the romantic idea of a heart being in pieces with only one individual able to put it all together.

Today’s verse is a prayer for an undivided heart, one that is made up of just one piece.  The idea is that the heart needs to be whole and wholly committed.   When our hearts are completely His, we can fear and worship His name and all He represents.  When our hearts are undivided we are teachable, walking the way He chooses and in His truth.

God’s love is described as a “great love” (verse 13).  There is no greater love on earth!  Giving Him all of my heart poses no risk whatsoever.  I can trust Him with the deepest part of myself.  He does not hurt.  He does not disappoint.  But my tendency is to keep parts of my heart separate.  I sometimes fear what He may ask of me.  What if He asks me to give up something or someone?  My goals, my desires, my hopes and dreams are that piece of the heart I want to hold back.  It makes no sense.  He has already proved His great love for me by dying in my place and giving me an eternity with Him.  What more could He do?  And what am I afraid of?

Keep my heart undivided, Lord.  Take all of it and make it Yours today.


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Desire of the Heart

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 26:8 “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of Your laws, we wait for You; Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”

I am amazed to see the variety and quantity of heart shaped boxes of chocolate displayed on the shelves for Valentine’s day!  I am a recovering “chocoholic” so I dare not linger long in front of those tempting displays!  If addiction means intense craving, loss of control, or continued use despite negative consequences, than that could be me if I am not careful!  According to the Nielson consumer study group, in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, 58 million pounds of chocolate are sold!  There is something about that “dark master…the cocoa bean” that creates strong desire!

Today’s verse mentions a desire of the heart.  It is much deeper than any other desire.  A desire for God’s glory completely changes a life.  Wanting His name to be known means saying,”Yes, Lord” to what He asks of us.  Wanting His name to be more prominent than our own means we will follow Him.  His glory in our lives will be evident by the way we walk, following His commandments.

The best way my husband loves me is when he praises me to others!  In turn, I honor him at every opportunity.  I want him to be recognized for all his hard work and sacrifice.  It is the same principle with the Lord.  I show Him that I love Him when I praise Him to others!  I show I am jealous for His name and glory when I walk in a way that honors Him.  It is the best way I can love my Lord.

Lord, You are the desire of my heart!  Help me to live that truth today!


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Locks of Love

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:17 “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children.”

There is something about Paris that inspires grand gestures of love.  Couples have been putting locks on the Pont de L’Archeveche to commemorate their love.  What a wonderful way to symbolize the permanence of a relationship!  However, a section of this old bridge built in 1828 has buckled and fallen under the weight of these locks.  The city has now ordered that all the locks come down for safety reasons.

Today’s verse is a promise of a love that never ends.  Unlike the best-intentioned human love, God’s love for His own does not fail or falter.  His love is everlasting because He chose us in love to be His before the creation of the world! (Eph. 1:4)  He proved His love by dying for us while we were still rebellious sinners (Rom. 5:8)  He did not wait for our response.  He loved us first and to the utmost!

The symbol of His love is more than a lock on a bridge.  The symbol of His love is that infamous cross.  It reminds me of what He went through to establish a relationship with me!  It locked up securely and forever the love we can now share!  There is no way to tear down or nullify what He has done to establish this love.  It will continue into eternity!

I feel God’s love most keenly when I am considering His power and greatness.  The fear, awe and respect that His holy character inspires makes me even more appreciative of this incredible love.  I am humbled and grateful that He, being so vast and powerful, could love someone like me!

Thank you Lord, for Your amazing love!


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Playing Checkers

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

The game of Checkers has been around a lot longer than this 1937 scene pictured here.  Checkers is thought to be the oldest game in the world dating back over 4,000 years!  According to inscriptions found in the temple of Thebes, Egyptian kings took time out from overseeing the construction of the pyramids to play checkers!  Lots of famous people have since had a fondness for the game including past presidents, noted scientists and popular sport heroes.  Whoever the player may be however, it is certain that they have a “checkered past.”

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance for all of us who regret those black squares that mark our past.   No one is immune from having that checkered past as all have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23).  But the Lord has promised a forgiveness and pardon that is complete.  He blots out every sin and chooses to not remember them.  He no longer holds against us all of our failures and disobedience.  Jesus took on Himself the punishment for each of those sins.

I would love to be able to “remember my sins no longer.”  But the memories remain.  And Satan loves to whisper in my ears his accusations.  Thankfully, God’s Word is full of reassurances of unconditional love and complete pardon.  The Lord graciously softens and blurs memories of past failures.  If guilty memories occasionally do reappear, He is there to build me back up.  If nothing else, those memories remind me that I am not perfect, but His forgiveness is!  When I remember a checkered past I can also remember that His grace is greater than all my sin!

Thank you Lord, for wiping out and forgetting my sin forever!


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Monopoly Cheaters Edition

Scripture for Today: Luke 19:8  “But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything,I will pay back four times the amount.'” 

It has just been announced that in the fall of 2018 you can purchase a cheaters edition of Monopoly!  Not only is cheating allowed but it is rewarded, that is if you get away with it!  There are 16 cards that allow you to cheat, including: skipping spaces, removing another player’s hotel, or stealing from the bank!  I guess at least with this game, cheaters really do prosper!

Today’s verse describes a cheater named Zacchaeus.  He was an important man of ill-gotten wealth, a tax collector for Rome who skimmed off the top for himself.  Despite his unpopularity, Jesus singles him out.  After this surprising declaration, Jesus announces that salvation has come to him.  This was not because he earned it with “good works”  (Eph. 2:8-9).  Salvation came because his repentance was clearly seen by a change of heart about money and his desire to make restitution.

What is it about money that so clearly reveals the state of our hearts?  Loving it is the root of all evil (I Timothy 6:10) including cheating others.  And loving money can be so subtle and difficult to discern.  But surely, if I am wiling to cheat someone else for it, I have a problem.  More important than financial security or improved social standing is that relationship that is compromised.  And the most important relationship I have suffers when I give in to this temptation, that sweet loving one with my Savior.

Lord, keep me loving You with ALL of my heart!