Devotions By Jan

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Pizza Dough

Scripture for Today: II Cor. 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

It all seems a bit complicated.  After punching down the rising pizza dough and kneading it, the dough is further manhandled by throwing it up in the air!  It looks like an art designed to impress the onlooker.  But in fact, this process of spinning it in the air creates the round shape and allows just enough airflow for easier handling.  With this method, the dough retains more moisture making the crust softer.

In today’s verse, Paul is recounting some of the hardships he and Timothy had faced.  At the beginning of the chapter and at the end, he says, “We do not lose heart.”  It would have been completely understandable if they had!  Paul had been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned and imprisoned for his faith.  Being perplexed, he perhaps did not always understand the “why” behind what was happening.  Yet, he remained confident that the pulling and stretching was producing something of value, forming the likeness of Jesus  in him (verse 10).

When I am faced with hard times, I often feel perplexed.  I usually cannot explain why the Lord allows certain difficulties in my life.  But He promises that all the pulling and stretching will be producing a “weight of glory” one day (II Cor. 4:17).  All that is painful or devestating is only a “light affliction” compared to what lies ahead.  I can be confident that even when panicked and confused, He is in control and His control is good.  How good of Him to reassure me!

Thank you Lord, that You use it all to make me more like You.  Help me not to lose heart.

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


Laugh Track

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

In the days of early television when everything was live, there was no need for any kind of canned or prerecorded laughter.  But later that instant feedback was lacking.  The solution became the laugh track.  The mixing of prerecorded laughs included the housewife giggles, the belly laugh, and the guy who gets the joke early.  For years the  laugh track was used and over used.  Thankfully, it is now not as prominent.  Along with many others I find the sound fake, distracting and an annoying intrusion.

Today’s verse is about someone who laughs at the future.  This woman is clothed with strength and dignity as she lives her life with wisdom (vs.26).  She works vigorously (vs. 17) and she is not idle (vs. 27).  The public praises her because of her works (vs. 31) and more importantly she is praised by her children and husband (vs. 28).  But what is most surprising about this “super woman” is that she laughs at the days to come.  Her heart is light because she fears the Lord (vs. 30).

My tendency is to fear rather than laugh at the future.  I do not know what changes may be in store for our country or personally for my life.  Rather than have a light heart, I often have this vague disquiet about what lies ahead.  But when my heart is steadfast and trusting in His power and sovereignty, than I do not fear bad news (Ps. 112:7).  How much better to laugh at the future and fear God than to fear the future and laugh at the idea of God’s control!  He is directing it all and because that is true, I can be glad.

Thank you Lord, for Your loving control of my future!

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


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Aurora Borealis

Scripture for Today: Psalm 65:8 “The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, You call forth songs of joy.”

These light shows are eerie and breathtaking!  I have seen them in the countryside of Vermont and from the airplane window flying over Iceland.  These bright dancing lights are most often pale green and pink, although they have also lit the skies in shades of red, yellow, blue and violet.  They can take the form of clouds, patches, arcs and shooting rays.  But what I find most impressive are the rippling curtains they sometimes form!  I understand that they can be explained away as gaseous particles from the earth colliding with charged particles from the sun.  But that does not lessen the awe I feel when seeing this creative wonder of our God.

Today’s verse tells us that the whole earth is filled with awe at His wonders.  From the mountains He has formed to the stilling of the roaring seas, He answers us with His awesome and righteous deeds. (verses 5-7)  And because we see His incredible creative power in nature, we have hope.  He not only stills the roaring waves but also stills the turmoil of nations (vs. 7).  He stills the turmoil in our hearts as well, calling forth “songs of joy” where there were none.

Seeing the light of the Aurora Borealis or the beautiful light of a sunset reminds me that Jesus is Light as well (John 8:12).  His light dispels the darkness and gloom that can gather in my heart when faced with an impossible situation.  His power has no limits.  He can heal my heart when overwhelmed with crushing emotion.  He can bring back the joy when I turn to Him and trust His power.

Thank you Lord, that for You nothing is impossible!

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

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Loving Horses

Scripture for Today: Psalm20:7  “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord.”

The bond between a horse and its owner can be so special.  Through lots of time and patient training, the horse and owner can have a relationship like no other.  It may be that a horse races up to see you, neighs a greeting at the sight of you, or follows you everywhere wanting your attention.  Their loyalty and intelligence is impressive.  After much time spent together a high degree of trust can be established and they can remember you after months of separation.

In today’s verse, one can choose to place their confidence in their horses and chariots or in the name of the Lord.  I am so glad that now horses are not used so much for war, but in biblical times they were important to battle effectively.  Victory or defeat was largely determined by who had the sturdiest chariots and the swiftest horses.

The choice presented in this verse is basically the same today.  I can choose to place my trust in my own efforts and resources, or I can depend on the strength of the Lord.  It is the Lord who gives victory with the power of His right hand (verse 6).  To trust in myself is no guaranty of victory.  It is trusting in His name and who He is that changes the outcome of my battle.  However, I cannot trust who I do not know.  It is only through a close relationship with Him that I can develop that trust.  The more I get to know Him, the more likely I am to absolutely depend on Him.  The more time I spend with Him, the more I am convinced of just how trustworthy He is!

Lord, keep me close and trusting You.

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

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Fulfillment Centers

Scripture for Today: Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The Amazon distribution warehouses are called, “Fulfillment Centers.”  There are over eighty of these enormous centers worldwide.  Some of them are as large as twenty eight football fields!  During their last cyber Monday, 426 orders a second came in!  The employees pick, pack and ship with the help of robotic carts, conveyor belts, and automatic sorting systems.  One can even take tours as it is truly a sight to behold!  However, I am not sure about it being the fulfillment of all my hopes and dreams!

Today’s verse talks about being filled to the point of overflowing.  Rather than being momentarily fulfilled with the arrival of that package at the door, this verse tells us we can be filled with something much more long lasting; joy, peace and hope.  This filling comes from the God of hope and it happens when we trust Him completely.  The fulfillment He offers reaches every nook and cranny of our being.  We are not left wanting as He makes it possible to be totally satisfied as we trust Him.

I know when I am on empty.  When hope, joy and peace are just flowery words and not a reality it means I am not in a place of trust.  Or when I am filled with worry and fear, there is no place for them.  But when I turn back to Him, He is ready to fill me with Himself.  He is hope.  He is joy.  He is peace.  He embodies each of these qualities that fulfill me and make life worth living.

Lord, fill me with Yourself today.

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



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Renewed Like the Eagle

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:5 “who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

These baby eaglets are completely dependent on their parents to protect and care for them.  They will fledge or fly away from their nest at ten to fourteen weeks.  But the eaglets will still hang around the nest, honing flight skills and constantly begging food for the next one to two months.  Finally, they will venture forth for a good year before returning to visit.  The soaring on those thermal air currents make the flight of the eagle seem effortless.  Even an old bird can seem young and vibrant when soaring majestically through the skies.

Today’s verse is a call to praise the Lord for all of His benefits.  David then lists several, ending with this amazing declaration.  God satisfies our desires so that even our youth is renewed like the eagle’s!  Rather than constantly flapping our wings, we ride that thermal air current, soaring in His power.  To be like the eagle means gaining new heights and flying long distances with minimal effort.

Looking to the Lord to take care of each desire is an exercise in renewal.  No longer is there an energy drain fussing about what I do not have or pining away for what I wish I had.  I am freed from discontent when I hand over my desires to Him.  He knows what I really want.  He knows what it is I truly need.  He sees what complications can come from some of my wants.  He only gives to me what is good.  I want to relinquish every desire to Him and not be dragged down from the heights where I can be soaring!

Thank you Lord, for the renewal You offer me today.

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

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Sharpened Knife

Scripture for Today: Psalm 64:3 “They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows.”

Are your knives so sharp that you can slice a ripe tomato thin enough to read through it?  If not, according to the experts your knives need sharpening!  I do not think my knives have ever been that sharp even when new!  But for the serious cook, kitchen knives should be sharpened at least twice a year and much more often if used every day.  The best method is thought to be the water stone and there is quite the procedure to follow.   This was all news to me.  I guess I am not a “serious cook.”

Today’s verse describes a different kind of sharpening; sharpening the tongue to do the most damage.  The injury the tongue can inflict is as serious as that of a sword or deadly arrow.  The wicked conspire and encourage one another in their plans to hurt and destroy.  The evildoers ask each other, “Who will see?”  The answer is that God will turn their own tongues against them (verse 8) and bring them to ruin.

God sees.  God hears.  So often, the hurt and devastation brought on by another’s words is a private manner.  It is done one-on-one with no one else around.  Perhaps it is done on the telephone and for your ears only.  The words are sharp and penetrating.  Those closest to us are often the very ones who inflict this kind of pain.  They know where I am vulnerable and where to strike.  But I do not have to respond in kind.  Yes it hurts, but I can take refuge in Him ( verse 10) and I can trust His vengeance and justice!  God promises to turn their tongues back on themselves.

Help me Lord, to trust Your justice!

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