Devotions By Jan


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Unmasked!

venetian-mask-colombina-carnival-of-venice-italyScripture for Today: Psalm 38:9 “All my longings lie open before You, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from You.”

Among the many kinds of Venetian masks is this elaborate one called the “Colombina,” or “little dove.”  Made of paper mache, Venetian stucco, shiny gold macrame and black feathers, it is certainly ornate and mysterious.  Based on a character from the Italian stage, beautiful women especially preferred this style as it covers only half of the face.  These masks are worn for the annual festival in Venice, Italy which is one of the oldest in Europe dating back to 1162.  Being masked gives people the opportunity to hide their identity and freely mix with those above their social standing.

Today’s verse makes it clear that there is nothing hidden from the Lord.  With Him, we are unmasked.  David acknowledges his sin (verse 18) being overwhelmed with guilt and groaning “in anguish of heart.” (verse 8)  He pours out his complaint that his friends have turned on him.  He ends this psalm with a cry for help and a plea that God would not forsake him as well.  Every longing and every sigh is seen by the One who knows our hearts and thoughts.  Nothing is hidden from Him.

I wonder if sometimes I do not wear a “mask” in my private prayers.  If all is open and bare before Him then there is no need to sanitize my prayers.  He knows just what I am feeling and He waits for me to be honest with Him.  He does not censor my words or rebuke me for wrong theology.  He hears my frustrations and my ill-concealed doubts.  Nothing shocks Him and He loves me no matter what.

Thank you Lord, that I can unburden myself with You and find sweet relief.

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

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Turbulent Water

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 23:2-3a “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul.”

This water was fairly quiet and placid just moments before the submarine descended into its depths.  It left behind churning whitewater in its wake.  What makes this water turbulent are the water molecules moving in all different directions and at different speeds.  And that happens when there is heat or pressure.  The opposite is also true that the water remains calm and quiet without the heat or pressure.  Moving churning water is beautiful and exciting.  But there is something about still and quiet water that makes me calm down and grow reflective.

Today’s verse is from the well-known psalm describing the Lord as our Shepherd.  He knows His sheep intimately, understanding when we need excitement and activity and when we need to settle down and be still.  He knows exactly when we need to slow down and stop our frenzied activity.  He leads us when we listen and follow.  And where He takes us is to a place of quiet stillness where our souls can be refreshed and rejuvenated.  There we can take time to reflect, meditate on His goodness and find rest for our weary souls.

Somehow, I equate activity with spirituality.  The more I do for the Lord, the better Christian I am.  I am not so sure where that can be found in God’s Word!  The time I take by those still waters may be the true measure of my spiritual walk.  I can only take so much of the pressure and heat of activity before I just lose it!  How much better to listen and follow His lead.  He loves me and takes me to the quiet waters I need.

Refresh me today, Lord!

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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Salmon Run

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:8-9 “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”

It is an incredibly strong instinct that drives the salmon to swim upstream to spawn.  After a few years in the ocean, the urge to lay its eggs in the exact fresh water stream where they were born drives them to make the long and arduous journey.  The salmon are so intent on their goal, they do not even stop to eat on the way.  They are so exhausted when arriving “home” that after laying their eggs, most do not survive.

Today’s verse refers to an eternal home with the Lord.  As long as we are in these earthly bodies we are not completely “at home.”  How surprising that Paul would rather be away from his body in order to be completely at home with his Lord! He not only says this but he says it with confidence.  In these bodies we groan and are burdened.  But when we are finally home, we will be clothed with a new body.  In the meantime we swim upstream.  As believers, we swim against the current as our life’s goal is to please Him.

I am often distracted from my heart’s desire to please Him.  But if to please Him is the all-consuming goal of my life, then I can persevere when life gets difficult.  Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6) but I can feel His pleasure when I turn to Him in absolute trust and confidence.  Pleasing Him gives purpose to my day, even a mundane one.

Lord, keep me focused on pleasing You today.

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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Molehills

Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 32:17  “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.”

I can easily make a mountain out of a molehill.  This expression is as old as the hills and has been around since the 16th century.  That loose soil thrown up by a small burrowing mole is pretty insignificant when compared to the height and stability of a mountain.  To make a big deal out of something small is to make too much of what is really a minor issue.  Yet I find it easy to do.  The Finnish have a similar saying, “to turn a fly into a bull.”  The Germans express this idea by saying, “to make an elephant out of a fly.”

Today’s verse corrects my perspective on those molehills.  The Lord is the God of all mankind and nothing is too hard for Him.  His power and might are obvious when looking at the the heavens and the earth.  Everything is small and insignificant when compared to His great power.  Nothing is too hard for Him to accomplish when He can speak into being an entire universe!

So why do my obstacles seem insurmountable?  I see His power in creation.  I see His power in the miracles He has done for great men of faith in the Bible.  I know He can do anything He wants.  But does He want to help me?  Will He outstretch His arm for me?  He already has.  He has outstretched two arms on that cross and used His power to save my soul.  And the same power that raised Christ from the dead daily works in my favor.  I can trust Him to tackle any problem I face.

Thank you Lord, that nothing is too hard for You!


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Walking the Dogs

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 17:24  “A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.”

In walking our daughter’s dogs, there are two different lengths for the leashes.  Both dogs are fairly obedient but Paco, the smaller black one, needs the shorter leash.  He was an abandoned stray and we are not sure what he lived through before becoming part of the family.  But whatever it was, he thinks he can take on any other dog he sees and lets them know it!  He also is very distracted by any and every smell he encounters, which makes for lots of pulling on that leash.  His cooperation does not come easily!

Today’s verse describes a fool whose eyes wander away from what is wise.  Wisdom is like that shorter leash that keeps the discerning person from wandering.  The fool is easily distracted away from wisdom.  Wandering aimlessly is how the adulteress is described and she does not even know it. (Prov. 5:6)  Some wander away from the faith because of their love of money (I Tim. 6:10).  Without the shorter leash of wisdom we wander all over the mountains and hills, following the wrong shepherds and forgetting where our resting place is (Jer. 50:6).

Christ is the wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:24).  I know that connecting to Him is wise.  He is the One who keeps me on the right path.  The problem is that I am “prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love.”  I am so easily distracted.  I pull on that leash to go check something out and end up going in the wrong direction.  When I trust in my own understanding or ideas, I am out of step with Him.  His direction and His pace are always the best.

Lord, make me wise by following You.