Devotions By Jan

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Orange and Black Predictions!

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 23:18 “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”

When I see orange and black, I think of fall and Halloween decor. But for some, the orange and black of the Woolly Bear Caterpillar predict the future! According to folklore, the wider the orange band, the milder the upcoming winter. But the thicker the black band, the harsher the coming winter. And its placement plays a role. If more black is near the head, as in the photo, the beginning of winter is harsh but ends with mild weather. Who knew? Certainly, knowing the future is supposed to give us an edge.

Today’s verse reassures that there is a future and a hope. This reassurance is given to those that are zealous for the fear of the Lord (verse 17). Fearing the Lord is a lifestyle of awe, respect and obedience to the God of creation. Those that are zealous to follow His commandments and walk that path of righteousness can be sure of their future. There is hope in looking towards an unknown future because that hope is firmly placed in God’s Word and His promises.

“Hope that is seen is no hope at all,” (Romans 8:24). I cannot see into the future but I can see Him with eyes of faith. He is already there and nothing is random. I may not understand the plan He has for today or tomorrow but I can be peaceful about that unseen future because of my hope in Him. He promises that nothing will ever separate me from His love (Romans 8:38-39). And He has promised me eternal life before the beginning of time (Titus 1:2). Regardless of the challenges I may face in the future, this hope will never be disappointed!

Thank you Lord, that my hope is realized in You.


Repairs and Renovations

Scripture for Today: Psalm 122:1 “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

I have heard some real horror stories about the repair and renovation process! Thankfully, so far we do not have one of our own. However, two observations on the process ring true for me; the work always takes longer than expected and the cost is higher than anticipated! In watching the progress, I have had to readjust my expectations. Patience is not my strong point and what I really want is for the work to be finished yesterday!

Today’s verse speaks about being glad to enter the house of the Lord. To be with other believers and worship our Lord together is a glad event. However, we ourselves are in the process of some serious renovation in that house. There may be some rough edges on people that need sanding down to make smooth. There may be a hanging hinge on a door which makes opening up difficult to do. Perhaps, there are “damaged” people in that house that need repair. Can I really be glad to enter a house like that?  Wouldn’t it be better to come in after all the renovations were complete?

I can be glad to enter the Lord’s house knowing that God is working in others just as He is working in me.  He promises to continue working right up to the day of His return (Phil. 1:6). The on-going changes He is producing in others are the same kinds of renovations He is doing in me. As believers, we are all in the process of change and growth into the very image of His Son. It is a renovation that we live with, knowing that the outcome is worth it!

Lord, help me to be patient with Your work in me, and in others!



Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that appears to be right but in the end it leads to death.”

It happened again, and the scientists do not know why. Up to 250 pilot whales were part of a mass stranding in the Chatham Islands of New Zealand, just days after 215 others were stranded in the same area! It is so sad to see these marine mammals wash up on remote beaches like these where they are not likely to be helped back into the water. Some possible reasons include “misnavigation”, being spooked, or following a sick leader.

Today’s verse is so important that it is repeated word for word a couple of chapters later. The way we choose to live our lives can seem absolutely right when following our own self-made compass. When the right way or the wrong way is determined by what seems to be best to us, we make something subjective that is not. Our Creator has established a “path of righteousness” that has nothing to do with how we feel about it. Following our own sense of direction or that of someone else can have disastrous consequences.

Is it sage advice to just follow my heart? I know that when I have, I have found myself in some pretty sticky situations! It is often only in retrospect that I see my own foolishness. At the time, my way always seems right. The rightness of my choices is not whether it feels good or whether it is easier. Nor is it whether or not I hurt anyone else. There is an objective standard in God’s way. When I obey Him, not only do I avoid complications but I find satisfaction and meaning in pleasing Him.

Lord, keep me motivated to always follow Your way!

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The Core

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 3:16 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.”

Picnicking with my French friend in the rolling hills of Alsace, I was surprised to see her completely finish her apple, core and all! I had always heard that apple seeds were poisonous. I have since learned that they do indeed contain “amygdalin” which releases cyanide into the blood stream. But it would take eating 40 cores to reach a fatal dose. Perhaps, the health benefits of eating just one entire apple outweigh any risk.

Today’s verse speaks of the “core” or the inner being of a person. Physical training exercises that strengthen the core are important to good health. Spiritually, we need strength as well. But our source of strength does not have much to do with what we eat or how we exercise. We are strengthened in our spiritual core by the Spirit indwelling the believer. It is out of the inexhaustible riches of His power that He makes us strong. All the spiritual disciplines are important to grow in faith. But in the end, it is His power that gives us the strength to keep on keeping on.

I need to know this for the times I am feeling especially weak in my faith. In a period of apathy or of doubt, I need His Spirit to strengthen and reassure me, there in the secret parts of me that no one sees. When I cry out for His help, He hears and He answers. After experiencing His renewed strength, it would be ludicrous to boast about MY efforts or MY spirituality! I am a clay jar, fragile and weak so that His power is obvious to others!

Thank you Lord, for the daily strength available in You.

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Hurricane-Force Winds

Scripture for Today: Job 8:2-3 “How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind. Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right?”

The images of hurricane damage are impressive! Ian, the most recent, wreaked havoc in Florida with maximum wind gusts over land reaching as high as 140 mph! To put that number in perspective, wind gusts are considered severe beginning at 58 mph. So many interviewed described that wind like the noise of an approaching train. Roofs were sheered off and boats lifted in the air. Trees were flattened and power lines were downed in an instant.

Today’s verse describes words spoken like a blustering or mighty wind. And just as hurricane-force winds can do so much damage, so our words can be damaging to others. Job is struggling with what was happening to him. Despite the suggestions of his three friends, Job was not aware of any obvious sin for which God was punishing him. Understandably, it did not seem fair. Job’s questions came from the anguish of his spirit and the bitterness of his soul (7:11). But Job’s words could be damaging if they questioned the justice of God.

So many times I do not have a clue as to what God is doing or why. In my life or in the lives of others it can seem that God is not dealing fairly. If I were to widely and publicly put into question God’s justice and fairness, my words could wreak havoc to the faith of someone else. If I express to others that He is unjust, then my words can cause untold damage around me. My response needs to be absolute trust in His righteousness, justice and control, whether I understand or not.

I may wonder what You are doing, Lord. But may I always cling to the truth of Your justice!