Devotions By Jan


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The Scattered Leaves

Scripture for Today: I Chronicles 29:18 “Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of Your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to You.”

I love the colors of fall.  But seeing leaves scattered all over the place, not so much.  When they become wet, those leaves are more difficult to gather, sticking to the ground and becoming slippery.  Soon they lose their pretty color and become a soggy brown mess.  But even when conditions are dry, raking and gathering them become quite a chore.  One good gust of wind is all that is needed to send them scurrying away from the rake.

Today’s verse is a prayer of David’s during the collection of gifts for the building of the temple.  After David gave liberally of his gold and silver to its construction, he encouraged the people to do the same.  They responded generously and together they praised the Lord.  Their generous giving revealed the thoughts and desires of their hearts.  David prays that their thoughts and desires continue to be loyal to the Lord.

Much like wind-blown leaves, my thoughts and desires can be scattered all over the place.  When I spend time in God’s Word, it is as if the verses serve as a big rake, gathering my thoughts to a place they should be.  Love of the world and consumerism can quickly blow my thoughts and desires into corners they do not belong.  Spending time with Him lines up my priorities and keeps my loyalty to Him undivided.  I want to keep those God-honoring thoughts and desires in my heart where they belong.  And I want to express them by generous giving.

Lord, keep my thoughts and desires from wandering away from complete loyalty to You!

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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Bald is Beautiful

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:12 “For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head and my heart fails within me.”

This man is getting his head shaved for a very special reason.  He along with 119 other Airmen went bald to support a little boy who had cancer.  As a fashion statement, not everyone can pull it off but this kind of bald is always beautiful!  For those who are battling cancer, losing one’s hair can be a terrible blow to one’s self-esteem and make their treatment that much harder.  I am glad society is more accepting of the bald look if only to make it easier for those who have no choice.

Today’s verse is a heartfelt admission of guilt.  David is feeling overwhelmed by his sin likening their number to the hairs on his head.  His sins have created immeasurable troubles for him and his heart drops at just the thought of them.  Perhaps he cannot see for the tears he sheds as he realizes his guilt.  David turns to the Lord for mercy (verse 11).

I confess that I do not often have this kind of awareness about my own sin.  I am a master at minimizing their gravity.  I am very good at rationalizing them.  My sin is never as serious as someone else’s!  But when I examine my heart in the light of God’s holiness I become just as overwhelmed.  It is when I see how black my sin is that I can appreciate His grace and forgiveness!  He is merciful to me over and over.  Whatever sadness I feel over my sin He replaces with joy and a light heart with His forgiveness!

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible mercy to me!


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Anyone There??

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:1 “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.”

It is called many things: hotel reception bell, call bell, desk bell or counter bell.  I just call it annoying.  Back in the day they were used much more frequently to call the attention of people in the service industry.  I suppose ringing this bell is preferable to shouting, but the sound of that bell can jangle the nerves, especially when one rings it a bit too enthusiastically!  I imagine that as with Pavlov’s dogs, we can all be conditioned to respond to the sound of a bell (or metronome).  But in any case, the ring of that bell normally gets results.

Today’s verse is a testimony of David’s to God’s faithfulness in answering him.  He cried out to the Lord, perhaps over and over.  Then at some point David waited and he waited well with patience.  It is not that God was too busy to attend to him.  It was not that God was indifferent to David’s distress.  The Lord hears, encourages and listens to our cries (Psalm 10:17).  But He asks us to wait for His response with patience.  God’s eventual response was to lift David out of his slimy pit and set his feet on rock.

The Lord will always turn to me and hear my cry.  It might help me to ring that bell over and over but He heard it the first time!  He asks me to wait and to wait with patience and confidence that He has heard.  I may receive a different answer than expected at the end of that waiting period.  But I know He has heard and His plan is best!

Thank you Lord, that You hear and I can trust You.


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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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The Mandarin Duck

Scripture for Today: Matthew 19:5 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

The male species of this duck originating in China and Japan is considered the world’s most beautiful.  Pairs of these birds are sometimes given at the occasion of a marriage as they are symbols of fidelity.  The thought that these ducks promote love and marriage is a centuries-old idea.  Perhaps it came about as they swim in pairs so close together.  And they do return to the same mate in the next mating season rather than establishing a new bond.

Today’s verse is the answer Jesus gave to the Pharisees seeking to trap Him with questions on marriage.  He quotes what God established in the beginning in Genesis 2:24.  The step of marriage is to be a binding commitment.  The original and best plan for marriage is that it be exclusive and permanent.  One new flesh is created from two.  Tearing apart the two can cause excruciating pain.  The Lord in His love and compassion gives us the best plan to avoid that kind of pain.

God’s plan for marriage can seem restrictive to some.  But to give love the best chance to flower and last is within that safe place of total commitment.  It shows that we are serious to stay together.  The world says that one is somehow missing out.  But I know differently.  It is through many years of ups and downs, trials and joys that my love for my husband grows.  Short term love cannot even be compared to the depths of love that commitment can foster.  God’s plan, though sometimes difficult, is the best plan there is!

Thank you Lord, for creating the best opportunity to grow my love.