Devotions By Jan


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The Least Bittern

Scripture for Today: Luke 9:48 “…Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you who is the greatest.”

Photo Credit: Jerry Hammond

This beautiful bird is one of the smallest and lightest of the herons. Rather than wade in the water like the other herons he will hide in the reeds and cattails of the marshes. With his long toes gripping the reeds, he picks off his prey from the water’s surface. Being smaller and more vulnerable, he will hide from danger by freezing in place with his bill pointing up. And to further blend, in he will sway with the wind-blown reeds.

Today’s verse describes someone else who is smaller and more vulnerable. The disciples had been arguing among themselves as to who between them would be the greatest. Jesus corrects their thinking by presenting them a small child. It is the least among you who is in fact the greatest. Those that exalt themselves will be humbled but those who humble themselves will be exalted! (Luke 18:14) The little children were not to be kept away from Him as, “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16)

This is so opposite from how I would normally think of greatness. The child is usually considered unimportant, without influence and in a humbled position. Yet, God exalts the child in His Kingdom. When I exalt myself, I am taking honor away from Whom it belongs. It is when I take the humble position, giving place and importance to others, that my Father is honored. I may feel slighted by others for doing this. But that’s okay. I’d rather have the favor He promises! (James 4:6)

Lord, keep me humble.


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Rest Stop

Scripture for Today: Mark 6:31 “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat. he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place to get some rest.”

photo by Wayne S. Grazio https://www.flickr.com/photos/fotograzio/40216062413

I guess it only makes sense that seagulls would need rest stops too! These birds had been flying from the coast to Lake Miramar in San Diego, looking for something to eat. This floating water barrier made for a perfect spot to rest up, face the sun and soak in some rays before continuing their quest.

Today’s verse has Jesus showing love and concern for the well-being of His disciples. They finished their report to Him of all they had just done and taught (verse 30). Jesus must have seen the weariness etched in their faces. Perhaps their posture gave away their tiredness as well. People were coming and going and meeting the needs of others gave the disciples no chance to even eat! Their immediate need was rest, so they went away by themselves with Him to a solitary place (verse 32).

The Lord knows when I need rest. And the kind He offers is timely and meets my needs, whether I recognize them or not! The disciples needed physical rest, but also social rest, away from people. Sometimes the rest He gives me means to retreat from people as well. Rest can mean a quiet place when our senses are overwhelmed with noise. Or His rest can be while I continue working. Yoked with Him and His power, the load can be lighter (Matt. 11:28-29). But the best rest He gives me is that settled peaceful feeling in the depths of my soul.

Thank you Lord, for Your perfect rest.


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Don’t Wink at Me!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 35:19 “Do not let those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; do not let those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.”

I am not too sure what this owl is winking about but he looks a bit devious! When we wink it can imply conspiracy or some secret intent. Or winking can be positive when it shows sympathy or encouragement. Sometimes the wink says, “Trust me, I know what I’m doing.” But then again, winking all day could be from the grapefruit juice at breakfast that was squirted in the eye !

In today’s verse the wink is malicious. David is being slandered and falsely accused by his enemies. He cries to the Lord to come to his defense and vindicate him. David as king is a constant target for his enemies and regardless of how fair and righteous he is, those enemies will continue to accuse him without cause. He pleads with the Lord to contend for him so that in the end the Lord Himself will be exalted.

The world hated Jesus so it only follows that the world would also hate those who follow Him (John 15:18). So I should not be surprised at slander and false accusation. But even more serious are the accusations of the Enemy who lies and brings charges against God’s own. My struggle is not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). It is Satan who is behind the slander. He tries to destroy my testimony and my service. He will even endeavor to convince me that I am unloved and worth nothing. Well, Satan can wink all he wants but the Lord reassures me of His love and my worth!

Thank you Lord, that in You I have victory over every enemy!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2016)


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The Kookaburra

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity: she can laugh at the days to come.”

I only knew about this bird from the children’s song growing up. So I was curious to see this Australian bird at the zoo. She was a lot bigger than I imagined being 18 inches long. Her beak is 4 inches long and with it she can eat chickens, ducklings and even some small snakes! She is monogamous and she defends her territory. Often, her young will remain with her to help raise the next year’s brood. But most surprising is her loud laugh!

Today’s verse describes a woman whose qualities raise what seems to be an impossible standard for others! This description of the perfect wife and mother was given by the Queen Mother to her son, King Lemuel. The passage describes a woman of “noble character” fit for royalty (verse 10). After an extensive list of characteristics the conclusion is that charm and beauty are less important than fearing the Lord (verse 30). Fearing the Lord makes it possible to “laugh at the days to come.” There is a light heart even when facing the unknown future.

Of all the qualities listed for this perfect woman, this ability to laugh at the days to come has got to be the most difficult for me. It is a litmus test of my faith in God and His plan for me. To laugh at the days to come does not mean I do not prepare for them. But it does mean that I can trust Him for the unexpected. I can trust Him for what is around that blind curve. Whatever He allows to happen, He will carry me through it. Whatever the challenge of the days to come, He is enough.

Thank you Lord, for giving me a light heart.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2019.)


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The Toucan

Scripture for Today: Psalm 71:15 “My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long – though I know not how to relate them all.”

Photo Credit: Michael Gwyther-Jones at https://www.flickr.com/photos/12587661@N06/8558971831

The Toco Toucan is a feast for the eyes with its large colorful beak! Its beak is so large it accounts for one third of its body. With that impressive beak he plucks and peels fruit and through it regulates his body temperature. A noisy creature, he makes croaking frog and rattling sounds and he will cluck with his bill. The Toco Toucan is said to be one of the noisiest birds in the world.

In today’s verse, David is using his mouth to praise God for His righteous deeds and for his saving acts. To speak of every one of them he would have to use his mouth all day long! They are without measure or too numerous to count. David’s mouth is filled with praise (verse 8) from his birth (verse 6) and since his youth (verse 17). Even when he is old and gray, David sees himself declaring God’s power to the next generation (verse 18). David is noisy with praise to God all through his life.

I can be just as noisy as this bird but perhaps not always with praise to God! I can easily be like the Israelites in the desert, grumbling and complaining about what I do not have. My noise can be all about the need for attention and recognition. I can get real noisy about “my rights” when I feel they are being ignored. But when my “noise” is about God’s goodness and grace, His power and glory, my noise becomes like a beautiful melody that gives Him praise!

Lord, make my life a litany of praise.