Devotions By Jan


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The Grandala

Scripture for Today: Job 12:7 and 9 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you…Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?” 

Photo by Nick Athanas at https://www.flickr.com/photos/antpitta/42774409555

Could this bird be any bluer? The Grandala lives across Northeastern India and its scientific name means, “sky-colored grand wing.” But I have never seen a sky the color of this electric cobalt blue! They gather in large flocks and fly at high elevations. But they can be seen up close at lower elevations when they feed on berries. And if they could talk, what might they say?

Today’s verse suggests what birds and animals might say if they had the power of speech. They would proclaim who their Creator is! They would all acknowledge who it is that gives and sustains their lives and the lives of all mankind (verse 10). Unlike some people who would rather believe that creation results from a formula of time and chance, they would acknowledge the hand that brought them into being. It is through God’s creation that He makes plain His power and divine nature (Rom. 1:20).

The hand of the Lord has done this! So often, I do not recognize that the hand of the Lord has done so many wonderful things in my life! I am quick to think that life is good because of my own choices or that my hand brought it about. But when I see the wonders of nature I am reminded of His incredible power and creativity! Mankind had nothing to do with it! And the work of His hands far exceeds any of my puny efforts without Him. This bird knows it. And I need to be reminded too!

Thank you Lord, for nature’s reminders of You!


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Tree of Life

Scripture for Today: Genesis 2:9 “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

In buying this Tree of Life on turquoise-like stone, I was not aware of all its symbolism! I just liked it because it was pretty. Since then I learned that the tree of life is a mystical symbol linked to religion, philosophy and spirituality. For some, it is a picture of how everything in life is connected. For others it stands for personal growth, beauty, and strength.

Today’s verse reveals the original and best meaning of the tree of life. As with all of creation, its source was the Creator. This tree was a beautiful fruit-bearing tree found in the center of the garden of Eden. Unlike the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam was free to eat from this tree. But after the Fall, the way back to the tree was barred (Gen. 3:22-24) as it would lead to an eternal life in man’s pitiful fallen state.

What happened to this tree? The tree of life is now shaped as a cross! Eternal life is mine when I place my trust in Christ’s sacrifice for my sin! Those who have the Son have eternal life (John 3:36). But the tree of life not only reminds me of the garden and the cross, but it also turns my attention to the future I have in Heaven. The tree of life reappears there and I will one day eat of its fruit and experience an abundant life that will last forever! (Rev. 2:7)

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible gift of life!


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Walking Sideways

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:15 “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.”

I am not a fan of crabs.  Their pincers make me a bit nervous and their appearance is a bit off-putting. But one of their behaviors always brings a smile; their ability to walk sideways. In trying to avoid them, this unusual behavior makes me unsure of which way to go to get out of their way! Perhaps they are confused too, not knowing whether they are coming or going! The fact that their joints bend outward rather than forward makes for this bizarre gait.  They can shuffle forward but sideways allows for more speed and efficiency. They can quickly dip into a hole or crevice and escape a predator.

Today’s verse reminds us to walk with care. As believers we are to walk with wisdom. Perhaps walking wisely can look like a sideways gait to some. Our walk is to be different than those around us who are walking foolishly, outside of God’s will. The context tells us to wake up and make the most of every opportunity. This passage goes on to cite the particulars of this different walk: being filled with His Spirit, speaking differently, singing, making music and being thankful. Walking in this way is walking in a direction that is different and distinctive!

The subtle influence of those walking around me can affect my walk. Who wants to be seen as walking sideways? It looks like I am going nowhere. I am not walking towards worldly values or recognition. Instead, I am walking towards the commendation of the Master, hoping to hear one day, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

Lord, make me wise by walking Your way today.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)


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Fashionista

Scripture for Today: John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life; that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”

fashion unnamed

I was intrigued by the saying on this store window. This high-end women’s clothing store suggests that the goal of living is to dress well, using their brand of course. For many, fashion is tied to self-image and a sense of well-being. Fashion can occupy a huge place in one’s thoughts. The “fashionista” follows the latest trends and spends a good portion of income to stay current. Walking by this saying did make me think. What do I live for? Anyone who knows me would not guess fashion! But it is the age-old question posed by many philosophers over the centuries.  Why am I here? What is my purpose in life?

Today’s verse gives the answer to the question. Eternal life for the believer begins in the here and now. Life, whether in the future or the present is consumed with one goal; to know Him (Phil. 3:10). It is a goal that never grows old and tired. And because God is so immense, it is a goal that can never be completely realized. How amazing to spend an entire earthly life in the quest to know Him as He reveals Himself little by little through His Word and through His Spirit.

When I am with my Savior in Heaven the goal continues to know Him completely. Knowing God personally and up close will be an adventure that is eternal! I will never come to the end of knowing Him. He is that vast and deep! Knowing the Lord little by little while on earth, gives meaning and purpose to my life that nothing else can! This is what I live for!

Thank you Lord, that the goal of knowing You gives my life purpose!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)


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Over or Under?

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 48:18 “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.”

Approaching that wave and calmly riding it out takes some good judgement and timing. I remember swimming in the waves with my daughter when she was just 10. We were cresting the tops and enjoying ourselves. But suddenly a set approached that were too much for us. I yelled out to take a deep breath, dive under and hold your breath until it passed over us. We were in still quiet water as the wave thundered over our heads. I am sure if she had disobeyed, she would have survived but she certainly would have been tossed around!

Today’s verse describes our peace and well-being like a river and waves. That peace comes as a result of following God’s way. His way includes leading us by quiet waters and restoring our souls (Psalm 23:2). His commands are designed for our good. He teaches us what is best for us (verse 17). But in our independent spirit, we do not always pay attention to how He leads. We try cresting that wave rather than going under it. That peace alludes us as we move away from the Lord of peace.

When I am listening and obeying God’s voice, I experience peace with Him. There are sweet times and a clear sense of His pleasure when I am not fighting Him. Submitting to Him can be a struggle, but worth the effort when I can feel that deep heart peace in the middle of turmoil around me. He calms my spirit and anxious thoughts. Regardless of my circumstances, the still waters of His peace get me through, guarding my heart.

Lord, keep me obedient and feeling Your peace today.