Devotions By Jan


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Just a Test?

Scripture for Today: I Peter 1:7 “These (all kinds of trials) have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

This frightening image came up on phones all over Hawaii on January 13th!  Reactions were varied.  Some grabbed the kids and pets and jumped in their cars with no clear destination.  A group of bikers sought shelter at a church being renovated that day.  Others milled in the streets unsure of what to do and panicking as no calls could to go through.  One friend faced what she thought might be the end by calmly going out on her balcony with her bird and coffee in hand.  It was a full 38 minutes of panic before the correction came.

Today’s verse reminds us that life will be full of tests and trials, all kinds.  But they have one thing in common.  The suffering and grief they cause will prove or disprove the genuineness of our faith.  And somehow, the praise, glory and honor to come will overshadow it all.  The genuine faith will emerge from this testing as more valuable than refined gold!

Just because my eternal Home is secure in Him does not mean that I am exempt from suffering here.  He allows me to go through some difficult pain.  Each time another wave of trial hits is another time to turn to Him and hang on with my faith.  And He is always faithful.  He uses it all to grow and deepen my conviction of who He is.  He is my Rock and I will cling to Him.

Lord, may my faith prove genuine and honoring to You.

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Changing Tack?

Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:9 “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.”

No.  I do not know these people either.  But I sense a kindred spirit in this woman who is prudently holding onto the boom.  When a boat tacks and changes direction, that boom quickly swings to the other side of the boat.  For the unaware, it means being knocked in the head if one is in its path.  I know this from experience!  The one changing direction would, in a perfect world, let his passengers know what he was doing.

Today’s verse reassures the believer that God has a plan for how we live our lives.  He is available to be our Guide and to teach us His way, which is always the best way!  All His ways are loving and faithful (verse 10) even if it seems that He is guiding us into waters that do not look so calm.  He is there and He is good.  But it is only the humble who can be guided.  When we confidently change tack or direction without His counsel, (James 4:13-16) we are likely to be in the way of that boom!

I am excited for this new calendar year, in fact so much so that I tore Christmas down a bit early!  But at the same time, I can be fearful of what changes may be in store.  There will be changes.  There always are.  He may change some of my directions.  But if I am humbly seeking Him and His guidance, I do not have to be surprised by that boom!  And I am reassured by who He is.  All His ways are loving and faithful!  I can be peaceful as I look ahead knowing that He is completely trustworthy!

Lord, I need You to guide me.


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Looking Behind

Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:1  “I will sing of the loving kindness of the Lord forever.  To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.”

Today is the last weekday of the year.  Every year seems to pass by more and more quickly!  The television channels often have programs that summarize the entire year.  Each time I view these I am surprised at how much I have forgotten.  There are reminders of which celebrities have died.  There are the highs and lows of big news events.  And there are reports of new records set throughout the year.

Not everyone enjoys looking back.  Some things are better forgotten.  Reliving some of the negatives can be very depressing.  But looking back can help change our perspective.  With hind sight comes some understanding.  Problems that seemed insurmountable while living them take on a completely different light after some time has passed.

Today’s verse proclaims the faithfulness of the Lord.  This beautiful characteristic of our God is best seen when looking back.  Many times it is not until the trial is over that we see the positives.  It is often after the fact that we see God’s hand.  His faithfulness brings us through, developing patience, making us more like Him.  His faithfulness means we can count on His Word and His promises.  His faithfulness brings about that “good” that Romans 8:28 describes.

This past year He has been faithful.  He has been faithful every year.  I am confident He will be faithful next year!  It is His nature.  I can look back these last twelve months and pinpoint all the ways He has shown His faithfulness, not only to me but to my family and my friends.  Regardless of any negatives, He makes looking back a joy!

Thank you Lord, for being faithful to me!


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Red and Green

Scripture for Today: Psalm 108:4-5 “For great is Your love, higher than the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth.”

Christmas season is all about the red and green.  Anytime I wear these two colors during the year I may hear the comment that I am wearing Christmas colors.  Nature has no such seasonal restrictions!  Red and green are part of the skies as seen in this photo of the “green flash” at sunset.  It is a rare event that few have the privilege of seeing.  This flash of green above the upper rim of the sun’s disk only lasts a few seconds.  Refraction bends the light, the atmosphere working like a weak prism.  I look for it but have yet to see this colorful display.

Today’s verse exalts and praises God for His love, faithfulness and glory.  They are seen in the beauty of the heavens.  From all over the earth one can look up and see His glory in the expanse and resplendence of the sky!  The red and green sky is one more reminder of His faithfulness at Christmas time.  He was faithful to His promise to send salvation in the person of Jesus.  He proved His love in putting on flesh to walk among us.  Jesus is now exalted to the highest place at the right hand of God (Acts 5:31 and Phil. 2:9).  He is higher than the heavens!

His faithful love was shown all over the skies, in the star of Bethlehem and in the appearance of the angels.  He continues to remind me when I am not feeling it.  He lifts my head to look up!  He is faithful and He is love.

Lord, remind me again today.


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A Squirrel and his Nut

Scripture for Today: Psalm 77:11-12 “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will consider Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds.”

I am not the only one who forgets where I have put things!  The University of Richmond did a study and found that squirrels fail to recover up to 74% of the nuts they bury!  Even so, they do have a strategy.  They do what’s called, “spatial chunking” sorting their nuts by size, type and taste and then burying them in groups.  Even more surprising are the grey squirrels who frequently dig up and then rebury the same nut, a behavior perhaps to refresh their memories!

Today’s verse comes from a psalm of Asaph, King David’s music director.  In his depression he is wondering if God is going to keep His promises.  He wonders if God’s love for him has vanished (verse 8).  He doubts and wonders but then he answers his own questions with these two verses.  He resolves to remember all of what the Lord has done in the past for him and his people.  He replaces his troubling thoughts with memories of God’s miracles and mighty deeds.

I have seen the Lord do so many miracles in my life!  He has provided and proved Himself faithful.  But those memories are so often buried.  I easily forget when I am struggling with a new difficulty.  I need to go back and dig it up to refresh my memory of His faithfulness!  Thoughts of His “mighty deeds” in the past restore my confidence and trust in Him!  Not only my memories do this but the testimony of others too!  He has done it in the past and He will do it again!

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible faithfulness.


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Leftovers

Scripture for Today:  Lamentations 3:22-23  “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are NEW every morning: great is Your faithfulness.”

I love leftovers.  I especially love what is left the next day after a delicious Thanksgiving meal!  The flavors have had a chance to really mingle and often the taste is better the day after.  However, sometimes there is too much of a good thing and the Mother is stuck with trying to find creative ways of making that turkey taste original and new!

Thankfully, in the spiritual realm there are no leftovers when it comes to God’s compassion!  Today’s verse declares that His compassions are new every morning!  They are new because each day presents a new need for them.  And because He is forgiving, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love, He renews His compassion every day.  He crowns us with love and compassion (Ps. 103:4) and has compassion on us just as a Father does for his children (Ps. 103:13).  It is because He is compassionate that we are not punished as we deserve.  It is because of His love that He took that punishment for our sin on Himself.

Every day I can have a new start.  The disappointments and failures of yesterday are covered by His forgiveness and grace.  I can wake up with hope and expectation only because He is faithful to His promises.  His compassion does not wear out or run out.  He does not put a limit on His compassion for me or His forgiveness.  This renewal of His abounding love for me makes the new day one of possibility and hope!

Lord, thank you for a new start today!


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Seasickness

Scripture for Today: Psalm 107: 28-29 “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.”

These poor men!  This photo is from a postcard of American soldiers suffering from seasickness on the deck of the USS Powhatan during World War I.  The misery on their faces says it all!  Not all of them seem to be affected.  And the waves cannot be too awfully strong as the deck remains level.  But it does not take much motion for the sensitive stomach to churn.

Today’s verse talks of merchants who were used to life on the sea.  But this time, the Lord Himself stirred up a tempest that created huge waves (verse 25).  Their courage melted away as they staggered around like drunkards.  This was outside their normal area of expertise.  Even so, it was not until they were at their “wits’ end” (verse 27) that they cried out to the Lord.  And when they did, He brought them out of their distress, stilling that storm and hushing the waves.  Coming out of it, they were thankful for the calm.

I take the calm in my life for granted, that is just until the waves grow large!  I am like these sea merchants in thinking I can handle the sudden storm.  But I quickly realize that I cannot.  What starts as a queasy stomach can turn into full grown panic as my small efforts do not seem to amount to much.  How good and faithful He is to respond to my cry!  Whether that storm is of my own making or a test from Him, my first thought should always be to humbly ask for His help.

Thank you Lord, that You can still my storm.