Devotions By Jan


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Panda

Scripture for Today: James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

I love that my Mother-in-Law is nicknamed, “Panda.” I am not sure how this name originated for this petite 95-year-old Chinese woman. But there is one glaring similarity! Pandas eat all the time! They eat 30-45 pounds of bamboo per day. Because the bamboo is low in nutrition and pandas digest a very low percentage of what they eat, they must consume huge quantities. They are constantly eating. And at Panda’s end of life stage, she cannot digest too much at once. So she too seems to constantly nibble!

Today’s verse talks about two ways one can feed on God’s Word. One can merely listen to it and be deceived into thinking that is sufficient. Or one can not only listen to God’s Word but actually apply it and put it into practice. In obeying God’s Word, there is change, growth and good spiritual health.  However, merely listening is much easier to do. There can be momentary feel-good reactions to a poetic passage or a challenging story of faith. But it is when we respond to His commands with submission and obedience that we truly grow.

What I have “eaten” of God’s Word over the years is now being put to the test of obedience. Large quantities of head knowledge do not go far enough. The Lord wants me to put into practice what I know He wants of me. And what He wants now is unselfish servanthood for Panda. Listening, reading, memorizing, meditating and communicating God’s truth is important. But He wants more. He calls me to obedience. It may be a hot tea rather than that cup of cold water. But serving Panda is serving Him!

Lord, don’t let me be deceived. Keep me obedient.


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Bridge of Sighs

Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:9 “All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.”

Beautiful Venice charms the visitor with its lovely canals and baroque-style buildings. However, there is a back story to the covered bridge above. This is the Bridge of Sighs, built in 1602 to link the Doge Palace to the prison across the canal. Through its narrow windows, prisoners can get a last glimpse of the outside world. It is entirely possible that this sight elicits from the prisoner a deep sigh of remorse and regret.

Today’s verse describes the longing and sighing of David. He is overwhelmed by his sin and guilt (verse 3-4). He describes in detail his anguish both emotional and physical. He knows that God sees his longings and hears his sighs. David prays his emotions, his bridge of sighs taking him directly to his Lord. Even in the middle of his suffering, there is a glimmer of confidence that God will answer him (verse 15). And David ends this psalm with a cry that God come quickly to help him (verse 21).

My sighing comes from fatigue, dashed expectations, and often from frustration at what life is throwing at me. Unlike David, my sighing is not usually over my own sin and guilt, although perhaps it should be!! What a tender heart he had! And perhaps this is why God called David, “a man after his own heart.” (I Sam. 13:14) But despite the reason for my sighs, I can be confident that He hears. He knows and cares. And one day there is promise that sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 51:11). Nothing will remain to sigh about and all that breath will be transformed to unending praise!

Thank you Lord for a future without sighs.


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Watch Out for the Boom!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:9 “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

It has been a very long time since I sailed a boat but I do recognize this fellow’s posture. He is ducking to get out of the way of that boom as he changes tack. He has no one to worry about but himself in changing direction. But had he passengers he would certainly want to warn them as that boom swings over to the other side of the boat. Others would do well to listen to the one steering to avoid getting bonked in the head!

Today’s verse reassures the believer that God does have a plan for how we live our lives. He is available to be our Guide and to teach us His way, which is always the best way! All His ways are loving and faithful (verse 10) even if it seems that He is guiding us into waters that do not look so calm. He is there and He is good. But it is only the humble who can be guided. When we confidently change tack or direction without His counsel (James 4:13-16) we are likely to get ourselves in the way of that boom!

I am definitely in a season of major life changes and it is easy to fear what may be in store. But I am reassured that these new directions are in His control. When I am humbly seeking the Lord and His guidance, I do not have to be surprised by that boom! There will be changes. There always are. And although I may not understanding exactly what He is doing or why, I am reassured by who He is.  All His ways are loving and faithful!  I can be peaceful as I look ahead knowing that He is completely trustworthy!

Lord, help me to trust You.