Devotions By Jan


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The Peahen

Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 10:17  “But let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

It does not seem very fair!  The peacock gets all the attention!  His plumage is gorgeous and of course he knows it.  However, the peahen does not look too impressed.  Here he is strutting his stuff to attract her and she does not even turn to look!    It seems he has a right to his pride with his huge fan of color while the poor peahen is a nondescript grey.

Today’s verse addresses the issue of pride.  Boasting according to Scripture is allowed, but only in a very limited way; only in the Lord.  The only boasting that makes any sense is to boast in the Lord.  HE is the source of anything we have to boast about.  There is nothing we have that is not a gift from Him.  Whatever we have and whatever talent we may posses is something received.  That means we have no right to boast in ourselves, as though we earned it or deserved it (I Cor. 4:7).

Just as the peacock should not hide his feathers, neither does Christ want me to hide my God-given talents.  But it is easy for me to slip into an attitude of boasting.  Anytime I take credit for something, whether in my thoughts or in front of others, then I am boasting in myself.  And it is ludicrous to boast in something that is a gift.  Paul preferred to boast in his weaknesses so that others would recognize that any and all strength in his life came from the Lord (II Cor. 12:9).  I want whatever He has gifted me with to point to Him.

Lord, may ALL glory and praise go to You!

Photo credit to Kenneth Lu at https://www.flickr.com/photos/toasty/2166137862


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On the Move

Scripture for Today:  Jeremiah 8:7  “Even the stork in the sky knows when it is time to move on.  The turtledove, swallow and the crane recognize the normal times for their migration.  But My people pay no attention to what I, the Lord, require of them.”

I am fortunate to have lived in an area known for its stork population.  I so enjoyed watching them fly past our windows.  The cranes around there were almost as big but do not have the same “wow” effect for me.  Every year I watched for them to return with the warmer weather.  They would spend the winter in Sub-Saharan Africa, something I wished I could do in the middle of those long cold months!  And they often returned to the exact same nest.

Today’s verse talks about four different kinds of birds but with one thing in common; they all migrate.  Their little bird brains know instinctively when it is time to move on so as to avoid the freezing temperatures.  Jeremiah mentions these birds as a contrast to the Israelites.  The people prided themselves in possessing the Law of God.  But they continually turned to their own individual course, rather than following God’s way.  The Law, instead of being written in their hearts, became a mere code or outward ceremony.

I wish obeying God was as instinctive for me as migration is for the birds.  But then it would not mean as much.  God wants my obedience to be an intentional choice.  Knowing what God expects of me is a good thing.  But I do not want to make the same mistake as the Israelites.  The point is not how many Bible verses I can recite by heart.  He is more interested in how many I obey!

Help me, Lord, to be obedient.


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Too Close?

Scripture for Today:  Phil. 2:3  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”

I cannot imagine that these parakeets are too happy!  Hopefully, the crowding is only temporary at this bird market in South Jakarta.  Perhaps birds have a different perception of personal space.  But even among us, our comfort level in a crowded space can differ according to culture.  Some people are fine getting right up to your face to speak with you.  Most Americans would back up.  Two spaces free on a three-seat sofa?  It’s obvious to the American that the space in the middle should be empty.  Not so with other cultures.

Today’s verse has a direct effect on the rights to personal space that we feel are ours.  Whether the issue is space, right-of-way on the road, or living with a “morning person” when one is a “night owl” we are challenged to respond in a way that pleases the Lord.  Our world encourages us to insist on our rights.  Yet today’s verse talks about responding with humility and even seeing the other as more important than oneself!

It goes against my nature to give precedence to another.  I do not want to be viewed as a push-over.  I certainly do not want people walking all over me and ignoring my rights.  But I cannot be peaceable and considerate to all men (Titus 3:2) if I insist on my own way with others.  For me to obey this verse takes faith.  It means trusting the Lord to take care of my wants and needs.  Christ is more than able to take care of “rights” or to help me let them go if that is what He wants.

Lord, I need Your help to have this attitude.

Photo credit: Krotz at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wildlife_trade_-_crowded_birds.jpg


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Heart Messages

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!

Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018.


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Bad Hair Day

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 10:29-31a  “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not then…..”

We all have bad hair days.  But I was unaware that a horse could have them too!  It was not that they slept wrong or had hat hair, or even that their owners were experimenting with their look.  These horses were feeling the electricity in the air and it was making their hair stand on end!

Today’s verse tells us that the Lord knows exactly how many hairs are currently on our heads.  Some say that this is just an image and not to be taken literally.  But why ever not?  His omniscience is all inclusive down to the tiniest detail.  He also knows when where and why a sparrow falls to the ground.  He is Lord of the universe and nothing, no matter how small, escapes His attention.  It is because of His all-encompassing knowledge that we can face the unknowns of life without fear.

I find enormous comfort and assurance to know He is intimately involved in the details of my life.  Psalm 139 says that He knows when I am standing or sitting and what I am going to say before I say it.  Because of His love and grace, I do not have to hide from this knowledge.  His intimate knowledge of me means I can live without fear.  I can move confidently through my day, knowing He is there.  Rather than get nervous over what could happen, I can trust Him.

Thank you Lord, that You are trustworthy, even with the smallest details.


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Do Not Follow!

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 12:26 “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

In following this construction truck I was careful to keep my distance of at least two hundred feet.  Normally, when there is a sign forbidding a behavior, the rebel inside me wants to contest, ignore or disobey!  But because there was an explanation of possible damage with that second sign, I did not follow too closely.  I did not want to risk a broken windshield and so I hung back, regardless of the impatient car behind me!

In today’s verse there is a warning that motivates us to be wise in choosing our friends.  There is an explanation that encourages prudence in who we allow to become close.  A righteous person will take care not to associate with the wicked.  For even a righteous person can be influenced by a friend to participate in evil.  One can feel pressured to compromise morals and standards.  The pull can be subtle or progressive and barely noticed.  Friendship effects and impacts our character sometimes without us even realizing it!  This is why it was so important for the Israelites not to marry foreigners who did not worship the one and true God. They could be easily led away from Him.

I would like to think that my faith is so strong that I would never be influenced to do evil by someone wicked.  But if I were to become close friends with someone who does not have the same goal of living for the Lord, I could be gradually pulled away and faith could weaken.  Close friends have an enormous influence on my thinking.  They can encourage my faith or weaken it!  I want to choose carefully who I follow!

Lord, keep me closest to those close to You!


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Camel on the Menu

Scripture for Today: Matthew 23:24 “Blind guides! You strain out a gnat yet swallow a camel!

This camel looks a little ridiculous and undignified when really they are magnificent animals!  They can carry 200 extra pounds and travel 20 miles a day.  Camels can drink 40 gallons of water at a time and can eat anything without injuring their mouths.  They can close their nostrils against wind and sand, and store energy in their humps in the form of fat.  But one thing they are unable to do.  They cannot be swallowed whole!

In today’s verse the Pharisees are the blind guides that Jesus addresses.  One would have to be blind not to see the difference between a gnat and a camel!  The Pharisees were all about keeping every detail of the Law, including the tithe on their mint, dill and cumin.  But they were ignoring the larger and more important matters of the law: justice, mercy and faithfulness.  Keeping the details of the Law had become for them a point of pride as details of the Law were visible to others.  Justice, mercy and faithfulness were intangibles and frankly, more difficult to follow.

I am afraid that sometimes I am just as guilty of this in my Christian walk.  I tend to use an accepted set of rules as a shortcut to spirituality.  I know the right words.  I can follow routine.  I can look like I have my act together.  Outside conformity to a set of rules can mask the real state of my heart.  But the Lord knows when my thoughts towards others are harsh instead of merciful.  He sees when I excuse myself but no one else.  And of course He knows when my heart is unfaithful.

Lord, keep my heart close to Yours.