Devotions By Jan


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Flattened!

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas! I love the twinkling lights, the smell of ginger and cinnamon and I especially love singing carols. But what I don’t love is the early approach. It seems to come earlier and earlier every year. I may be alone in this, but it does not make my heart feel happy to see celebration so soon. I almost feel that a steamroller is coming at me, and will soon flatten all my enthusiasm. I cannot keep it at a fever pitch for over a month!

Today’s verse tells us that we do not have to follow the pattern the world has of doing things. We have the choice and the freedom to do things differently, to do things God’s way. And His way is far better. It is good, pleasing and perfect. In belonging to Him, our minds can be renewed through His Word to know and appreciate what His way is.

I want to be intentional this Christmas. I do not want to get all booked up and stressed out. I do not want to feel the pressure to have everything decorated perfectly or impress people with my cookie baking skills. I want to slow down enough to ponder and reflect like Mary did at the birth of her Son. I want to turn my thoughts toward Him of whom the angels sang, and sing to Him myself! And I want to love sacrificially as He did in coming to this earth.

Lord, help me celebrate Your birth in a way that pleases You.


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Rescue Dog

Scripture for Today: John 14:2 “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”

Five minutes more and our cousin would have succumbed to the smoke! As she slept, her house was going up in flames. Fortunately her faithful small companion, Tess, pulled her out of her deep sleep just in time. Tess was especially attentive to our cousin’s moods and emotional state in the difficult two years that followed. The day finally came when the rebuilt house was completed. Tess, so advanced in age, was carried into the house and shown her new digs. Now, she saw that everything was alright. Her vigil was finished. In her arms, Tess looked up into the eyes of her owner and breathed her last.

Today’s verse is part of a message of comfort. Jesus was soon to leave His disciples and they were troubled at the thought. He promises that He will be preparing them a place, called a room, a dwelling place or a mansion. This place will be home, forever in His presence. It is prepared as we walk this earth and completely ready the moment we breathe our last. The weighty cares of life will disappear with even a glimpse of His face. He has rescued those that love and trust Him.

I am grateful that the Lord has pulled me out of my spiritual stupor. He has rescued me from the just punishment I deserved. Because of His sacrifice, I not only have life here, but I look forward to that forever house. It will be “home” like nothing I’ve ever enjoyed on earth. But what will make it “home” will be His presence! How incredible that He wants me to be with Him!

Thank you Lord, for Your loving preparations.


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What a Drip!

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 27:15-16 “A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.”

Last night at my desk, I kept hearing a constant drip. I looked up. Nothing. It took me a moment to realize that rain was leaking into the fireplace. After verifying on hands and knees with a strong flashlight, I saw that I was right. I didn’t want to be right! After extensive work on our roof we were confident that this recent rainstorm would pose no problem! There is probably nothing more maddening than continual repair addressing the same issue!

Today’s verse describes a quarrelsome wife like a constant drip. Each complaint from her lips and each nagging session can be as annoying as those continual drips of water. Because the verse is speaking of a wife, the description may very well come from the husband. In contrast to the Proverbs 31 wife who speaks with wisdom (Prov. 31:26), this wife provokes argument with what comes out of her mouth. She speaks her mind without any self-restraint or filters. Any attempt at correcting her is as futile as restraining wind. Those attempts to calm her down are like trying to grasp slippery oil.

It can seem quite reasonable and even expected to be quarrelsome after a hard day. When I am surprised by very negative circumstances beyond my control, a bit of nasty temper seems just the thing to blow off steam. But when pressure builds, it is often on those closest to me that I get ugly. The danger for me is that being contentious can too easily become a habit. I would much rather be characterized by a quiet gentle spirit than being a big drip!

Lord, keep me sweet and peaceable despite my circumstances.


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The Last Word

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 16:1 “To humans belong the plans of the heart but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.”

The Siamese cat is known for his distinctive coloring. I grew up with Chin-Chin, a seal point. She was very dark and her blue eyes were startling. The Siamese are one of the oldest breeds, thought to originate in Thailand in the 14th century. Our Chin-Chin lived to about eighteen years old. But what I remember most about her was how talkative she was! A Siamese is known to be vocal, commenting on everything throughout their day. Chin-Chin took it one step further. She had to have the last word!

Today’s verse, a proverb, makes the observation that man naturally makes plans in his heart. But the Lord has the last word on those plans. From Him comes what is proper to do and to say. With His word or decision, He establishes plans. (verse 3) It is the Lord who establishes man’s steps. (verse 9) Whatever the plans of our hearts, James tells us to do our planning with the recognition that the Lord has the last word on whether today or tomorrow, “we do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

I need to lay every plan or project before the Lord. My motives can be dubious and I can be unaware of them. (Jer, 17:9-10) But He can search my heart and examine my mind, pointing out wrong motives. I may be convinced that my plan is good. And it might very well be. But His plan is always better. He sees what I cannot. And when I humbly lay my plans before the Lord, I can at the same time ask for His will, His way and His blessing.

I am grateful, Lord, that You have the last word and that Your word is good!


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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.