Devotions By Jan


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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.


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The Pelican

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 15:4 “The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.”

How can something be so majestic and wonderful and yet make me laugh at the same time? The pelican is an impressive bird, soaring overhead with a huge wing span. But up close and personal, that large elastic throat pouch of theirs looks amusing. However, God in His creativity designed that pouch to catch up to three gallons of water with their prey. They then throw back their heads and squeeze the water out of the sides of the pouch, leaving the fish ready to be swallowed. A pelican will swallow lots of things from fish and crustaceans to tadpoles and turtles. If they are hungry enough, they might even drown and swallow a seagull! Having all that water with their catch allows them to swallow just about anything!

Today’s verse contrasts one who is discerning to the one who is a fool, swallowing anything! The discerning heart will seek knowledge and wisdom. The fool, however, seems to be satisfied with foolish things. The fool has no discernment and will swallow whatever folly the world presents, whether it is in the form of mindless television, slick magazines, or the latest fad.

I do not want to be a fool. I want to be discerning in what I “swallow.” Feeding on God’s Word gives me that discernment as it teaches me what is truth. But it requires effort on my part. I am to seek this knowledge rather than just mindlessly going through my day. It is intentional living. I want to be mindful as to what I will allow myself to accept.

Lord, make my heart discerning as I feed on the Truth of Your Word. Don’t let me swallow anything else!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)