Devotions By Jan


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Black Out Curtains

Scripture for Today: John 1:4-5 “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The black out curtains in my bedroom do a pretty good job of blocking out the morning light.  After living in France for so many years, I have been accustomed to shutters that keep the room entirely dark.  Now, I am much too sensitive to the morning light.  Even with black out curtains, there is always that chink of light that manages to get through and wake me.

Today’s verse describes Jesus as life.  And the life in Him is as a beacon of light illuminating this very dark world.  But no matter how dark and sinful the world is, that darkness will never overcome the light.  Even a tiny pinprick will dispel darkness.  Despite man’s best efforts to block it out, there will always be a chink of light shining through.  In that darkness we remain asleep until that moment Christ shines on us (Eph. 5:14).  And from that time on we are called “children of light” (verse 8).  That is because Christ made His light shine in our hearts, giving us the light of knowing Him! (II Cor. 4:6).

Every time I turn on the news I am reminded that I live in a dark world.  I can get quite depressed thinking about all the evil and injustice.  But these verses give me hope.  It will never be completely black around me.  He illumines my world with the light of His presence and love.  It is said that it is always the darkest before the dawn.  I am so thankful that He has overcome the world and the future is bright with Light!

Lord, I need You to shine on me today!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.

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His Rule

earth-from-issScripture for Today: Psalm 66:7 “He rules forever by His power, His eyes watch the nations – let not the rebellious rise up against Him.”

If one could fly over our planet, this is the very image one would see!  The International Space Station captured a time lapse with their mounted camera as it orbited the Earth at night.  How incredible to be able to see our Earth from above!  I feel small and insignificant enough when looking through the window of an airplane.  I imagine that having this perspective would intensify those feelings.  Seeing our world from space would be such an awesome and humbling experience.

Today’s verse tells us that the Creator of our world is also our Ruler and He is all powerful.  The Maker of Heaven and Earth is the One with absolute control regardless of what nation is the largest or most influential.  He watches the nations and notes who is rebellious.  He is completely just and nothing gets past Him.  People may try to mock Him but in the end, we reap exactly what we sow (Gal. 6:7).

Regardless of what my passport says, my first and most important allegiance is to my God.  I can be proud of my country and its freedoms, and I count it a privilege to be able to vote but at the same time I acknowledge that I am a citizen of Heaven (Phil. 3:20).  He is not only the Ruler of this Earth but also of my heart.  I am to “serve the Lord with fear and celebrate His rule with trembling” (Psalm 2:11).  It is a tremendous comfort for me to know that God still reigns and no political party or politician has the last word.  He will have His will and way and will bring about His purposes.  I can experience peace having the Prince of Peace residing in me!

Lord, help me to trust completely in Your sovereign rule.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Elephant Feet

Scripture for Today: I Samuel 2:9  “He keeps the feet of His godly ones.  But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; For not by might shall a man prevail.”

One would think that it would take a serious problem to bring down the mighty elephant.  But in fact, the single most important ailment of the captive elephant is the foot-related problem.  With limited movement their soles and nails do not naturally wear down and need constant cutting back.  If abscesses, nail infection and arthritis are not guarded against, any of these seemingly inconsequential problems could bring down this amazingly strong animal.

Today’s verse is part of a song by Hannah.  She is leaving Samuel, her precious son, at the temple to serve as she had promised.  Surprisingly, her heart is exalting in the Lord instead of melting in sorrow at the separation!  Hannah is affirming the truth of the sovereignty of God.  She understands that God will protect her little boy.  He will be keeping the feet of His godly ones, protecting their comings and goings.  It is not the strong and mighty ones that will prevail.    The wicked can only count on stumbling around in the darkness.

It is a tremendous comfort to know that the Lord sees every step before I take it.  He makes firm the steps of those who delight in Him (Psalm 37:23).  I can even walk through the “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4) without fear knowing He sees, He knows and He is right there beside me.  As His own, I walk in His light and will prevail through His strength.  Whatever I may face today, this truth will not change.  I can step out that front door with confidence in His loving sovereignty.

Thank you Lord, for Your intimate knowledge and care for me.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Looking Up

Scripture for Today: Acts 1:11 “‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven.'”

Do you see what I see in these clouds?  A friend took this (thanks Kristen) and she did not even have to suggest what was there.  Facing to the left of the screen is what looks like a huge gorilla head.  She calls it a monkey blowing kisses!  Perhaps one has to use one’s imagination.  But I love looking up in the clouds and seeing different shapes and what they suggest.

Today’s verse was addressed to the disciples by two angels at the occasion of Christ returning to Heaven.  They had just seen Him taken up into the sky and then hidden by a cloud (verse 9).  These angels reassured them that He would be coming back, and in the same manner.  Somehow at Christ’s return, clouds will be involved.  Jesus Himself foretold that He would come on the “clouds of Heaven” (Matt. 26:64).  And one day, every eye will see Him coming with the clouds (Rev. 1:7).

Whether I see strange clouds or not, I want to keep looking up.  It is then that I am reminded of His faithfulness which reaches to the skies (Ps. 36:5).  That huge expanse of sky is His creation and nothing is too hard for Him.  He always keeps His word and I can trust Him.  What He says He will do, He will do.  When I see those clouds overhead, I want to say with firm conviction, “Maranatha,” the Lord is coming!  He has promised.

Lord, keep me looking up today.


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Magic Mushrooms

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:6 “The mind governed by the flesh is death – but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

These mushrooms look innocent enough.  But the psilocybin in them can alter the mind just as LSD does.  A recent book by Michael Pollan explores the testing of psychedelics as a treatment for depression, fear and anxiety, especially as a result of a terminal cancer diagnosis.  He even went so far as to experiment on himself!  His conclusion was that these psychedelics appear to help with what he calls a “psycho-spiritual distress.”  He also believes that there really is nothing else for people in that situation.

Today’s verse talks about two states of mind.  One mind is governed by the flesh and one is governed by the Spirit of God.  The mind that is governed or controlled by the flesh is the mind without God and without the peace of God.  There is not only physical death but spiritual death in store.  In contrast, the mind governed by the Spirit is life both here and eternally after death because there is peace with God through His Son, Jesus.

I cannot speak personally about facing death.  And I do not want to minimize what that suffering may be like.  But it is often in the sobering moments facing one’s own mortality that there is a last chance for establishing peace with God through the forgiveness offered by His Son.  To take away that last opportunity by altering one’s state of mind seems cruel.  I know there is peace and assurance facing death.  I have seen it.  And when it is my turn, I am confident because He has promised a perfect peace for a mind that is steadfast, trusting in Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Thank you Lord, that I can live and die without fear.


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Smallest Chameleon

Scripture for Today: James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

This little guy is thought to be the smallest chameleon ever discovered.  From the tip of his tail to his nose he measures just one inch!  He is found in Madagascar and this species is threatened with de-forestation.  He is too cute to disappear with his weird rotating eyes and curly tail.  He, like his bigger counterparts, can change his color pattern when under stress.

Today’s verse explains that not only is everything good in our lives a gift from our Heavenly Father, but He is a God that does not change.  With the Lord there is no changing or shifting shadows.  He is the same powerful miraculous God yesterday, today and forever!  (Hebrews 8:13)   He does not improve with age as He is perfect.  He does not change His plans for us as He already knows the end from the beginning.  We however, are constantly in a state of change.  Our circumstances change, our thinking changes and our abilities change with age.  Emotions change with the weather!

It is a comfort to know He does not change.  I feel an enormous sense of security in this assurance.  I do not serve a capricious God.  He will always be true to His word and to who He is.  I do not have to worry if He will be faithful or not, holy or not, just or not.  I can ALWAYS count on Him.  The fact that there is no shadow of turning with Him means that He is worthy of my trust and confidence tomorrow as well as today.

Thank you Lord, for being who You are and for always being true to Yourself!


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GQ Magazine’s Recommendation

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 4:12  “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart.”

The Gentlemen’s Quarterly, a fashion magazine for men, just published an article putting the Bible on a list of 21 classics not worth reading!  The Bible was called foolish, repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, and ill-intentioned.  The novelist, Jesse Ball, conceded that there were some interesting parts but that, “overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced.”

Somehow, someone has missed the point!  Today’s verse describes the Bible as having a very piercing point as it is sharper than a two-edged sword.  Unlike any other book in history, the Bible is living and active as it is the very Word of God.  It is unique in that man did not produce it.  Although human writers were used, it is “God-breathed” and Spirit-inspired.  No other book can make that claim.  Because the Bible judges our deepest desires and thoughts, it often comes under attack.

Dividing soul from spirit and joints from marrow is an image that makes me shudder.  And yet, it is the kind of action needed to get through to my deceitful heart (Jer.17:9).  The Word exposes what to me is comfortably hidden.  I do not want to be uncomfortable reading His Word.  But so many times it is necessary to feel His conviction and be shown the truth about myself.  Thankfully, His Word does not leave me bruised and bleeding.  His Word also comforts, heals and encourages.  By reading His Word I can enjoy a restored relationship with the Divine Author.

Create in me a clean heart, O God……even when it hurts!