Devotions By Jan


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Merry-Go-Round

Scripture for Today:  Ecclesiastes 1:9  “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

I am so glad my grandsons are not too old for the merry-go-round.  I enjoy them too as there are no heart-stopping descents or speeds that take my breath away!  The movement is gentle, the music is appealing and the views of folks enjoying themselves all make the ride pleasant.  But of course, after a little bit the sameness starts to get to me.  When the novelty begins to wear off, I begin looking at my watch.

Today’s verse recognizes that there can be a sameness to our days which can be a challenge.  The same view may present itself again and again.  The same experience with only a few variations can have us thinking, “deja vu.”  There is the feeling of “been there, done that.”  What has been done before will be done again.  Life can feel like it is going around in circles.

Unlike Solomon I can view life differently when I include the Lord.  There may be “nothing new under the sun” but the One who gives purpose to my life is above the sun!  I do not always understand His purpose but it is a comfort to know that there is one!  I can take pleasure in the thought that He had plans for this day even before I was born.  I can face the routine and sameness of each day because there just may arise a new opportunity to serve Him, if I am looking for it!  My relationship with Christ can make each day different.  My communion and conversation with Him can be fresh and new each day.  I am climbing off that merry-go-round.

Thank you Lord, for making life full and meaningful!


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The Bench Seat

Scripture for Today:  Hebrews 3:5  “Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.'”

The classic cars are great for one very personal reason; they often have that bench-style seat!  Instead of being separated from my Honey by bucket seats, I can snuggle up close.  I have heard it said that one can see how long a couple has been married by the distance the wife puts between herself and the driver.  Of course, the driver has not moved.  But the wife would sometimes inch her way towards the door a little more each year!

In today’s verse Jesus promises never to leave us or abandon us.  He does not move.  His love remains constant.  It is because of the promise of His presence and care that we can be free of money worries.  Rather than loving money we love Him.  Rather than looking for contentment elsewhere, we find it in His love.

There are times I feel very far from the Lord.  I know He is there but I do not sense His presence.  Without even being aware, I find I have inched toward that door.  It has happened through my own neglect of His Word.  Or I have simply let drop my conversations with Him.  He has not moved.  I have.  Inching away from Him leads to feeling discontented. I start looking out the car window at all the things I think I should have.  Because He has not moved, the solution is simple.  Through His Word and through our conversations I come back to where He is.  He waits for me and He promises to be there.

Thank you, Lord, that you never move!


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Finders Keepers?

Scripture for Today: Romans 3:23-24 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Would you return a lost wallet?  That was the question researchers explored in a three-year study.  They placed 17,303 wallets with varying amounts of cash in 355 cities worldwide.  Besides the cash, each wallet had only a name and an email address.  Their findings were surprising.  More people returned the wallets with larger amounts than those with the smaller amounts!  One explanation given was that it felt more like stealing with the larger amounts of cash.  The conscience was not quite as bothered keeping the smaller amounts.

Today’s verse does not differentiate between “small” sins and large.  It does not address whether one feels like a sinner or not.  Just as the image is black and white, there are moral absolutes when it comes to God’s laws.  And the bad news is that all of humanity falls short of the perfect standards of a holy God.  But the good news is that the same “all” who blow it are offered His grace.  Because of the redemption that came through Christ, we can have right standing before God.

I am included in that first “all.”  But I cannot be included in the next “all” until I confess and come clean with Him.  My pride keeps me from admitting my guilt.  I am an expert at diminishing and rationalizing my behaviors and attitudes.  It is easy to do when I compare myself with some others and come out “smelling like a rose.”  But when I compare myself to His perfection, I no longer smell so good.  He waits for me to be honest and humble with Him about my wrongdoing.

Thank you Lord, for freely forgiving me.


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Public Punching Bags

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:26 “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

Now the people walking the streets of Manhattan can vent their anger and stress right there on a corner.  Recently, a US Design Studio installed several public punching bags to give New Yorkers an outlet for their emotions.  These square yellow bags include a quote; “a healthy place for frustration.”  The New York Times reported what a Gallup Poll discovered last month, that Americans are the most stressed people in the world!  Anger, stress and worry are all at a ten year high.

Dealing with anger before it explodes is always a good idea!  Today’s verse recognizes an anger that is justifiably felt.  But that anger, if left to fester untreated, can easily turn into sin.  And even anger that is justified “does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)  Eventually, unresolved anger will rear its ugly head in relationships.  When left to boil over, marriages and families, friendships and business partnerships can become broken beyond repair.  Punching a bag (or pillow) may give temporary relief, but how much better to resolve it completely.

I am unable to resolve any kind of anger on my own.  I have a terrific memory for hurts and slights.  That sound bite in my head keeps playing over and over again.  But I can release and express that anger to the Lord in prayer.  Giving it over to Him does not shock Him.  He knows exactly what I am feeling and why.  Releasing it to Him is the only completely safe place to do it.  The Lord is powerful enough to diffuse my anger and help me to leave it behind.  To replace that anger with forgiveness is a true miracle!

Lord, thank you for diffusing my anger.


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Big-Hearted Giraffe

Scripture for Today: John 5:39-40 “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.”

How regal the giraffe stands!  Being the tallest of the land animals between 14 and 19 feet, these stately animals have to have strong hearts.  And they do!  Their two-foot-long heart is equal to 50 human hearts!  The giraffe’s exceptional twenty-five pound heart is able to pump blood where it belongs.  Being that their necks are six feet long, their blood pressure is two times stronger than other animals in order to push that blood all the way from heart to head.

Jesus’ reprimand to the Pharisees in today’s verse addresses the distance between heart and head.  These men were admirably using their heads, searching out the Scriptures.  But unfortunately, they were missing the point.  They closed their minds to the truth that the Scriptures were pointing to Jesus as the Messiah and they refused to come to Him.  Their hearts were not involved.   And rather than come to Jesus for the life He promised, they preferred to continue searching the Scripture apart from Jesus Christ.

It is said there are 18 inches between a human’s head and heart.  That is a long distance in the spiritual realm.  One can agree to spiritual truth intellectually without that truth ever touching the heart.  My own experience bears this out as I can agree in my head that God’s way is best and at the same time stubbornly follow my own!  Jesus understands how I am made and so commands me to love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:27).  He wants all of me!

Lord, make my heart soft and obedient to all that You have taught me.


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S’Mores

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

‘Tis the season for this yummy treat!  Summer campfires are the perfect cooking method for the “s’more.”  That wonderful combination of cookie and chocolate held together by the gooey roasted marshmallow has long been a favorite.  This mouthwatering concoction is attributed to the Girl’s Scouts of the USA.  The recipe was first published in 1927 by troop leader, Loretta Scott Crew.  To quote her, “Though it tastes like ‘some more’ one is really enough!”

In today’s verse, there is no thinking about wanting some more!  Those that hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled and satisfied.  With His righteousness we do not pine for something more.  There is no feeling of missing out on something better.  A righteous life is the best kind of life.  Doing the right thing, following His way, and experiencing right standing with our Creator gives a sense of well-being that is complete.  No other kind of life can be quite as full or satisfying!

My problem is that I hunger and thirst for other things, good things, that give only temporary satisfaction.  But of course, I hunger and thirst for those things or experiences all over again.  However, I do not want my life to be characterized by wanting more.  I desperately want to experience that contentment and satisfaction He offers.  If I make the Lord the object of my longing, He will satisfy me.  He never intends for me to have an appetite that is insatiable.  That I should always pine for more must grieve His heart as He has promised life to the full (John 10:10).  The abundance He offers gives a deeper satisfaction to my soul!

Thank you Lord, that You fill my longings with Yourself.


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Mistaken Identity

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 44:5 “Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel.”

They took the wrong man off life support!  It happened in Chicago where a man was unrecognizable due to facial bruising and the ventilator tubing.  Rather than identify him through fingerprints, the staff used a mug shot.  The man’s sisters were called and because they had not had much contact with their brother, they took the word of the hospital staff and made the decision to remove him from life support.  Imagine the surprise of the family when later their brother just walked in the door!

There will be no such confusion for those who belong in God’s family!  Today’s verse talks about a time in Israel’s history where there was an influx of proselytes.  This verse describes the very public manner in which they made their profession of their new attachment to the one and only true God.  Some of these new converts went as far as writing on their hand, “the Lord’s.”  Just as a slave was branded with the name of his master or the soldier was marked with the name of his commander, so the new convert was identified with God and the people of God.

I am the Lord’s.  I belong to Him and have devoted my life to Him.  It seems the only logical response to His commitment to me.  He has engraved me on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16).  And on the palms of His hands are also the scars of the nails as He took my place on the cross.  What other response is there to such an unfathomable love?

Thank you Lord, that I belong to You.