Devotions By Jan


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Handle with Care

dropped86542889-resized-600Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”

I have done enough moves to know that having the label, “Fragile, Handle with Care,” slapped on a box is no guarantee that nothing will break!  Sometimes that box with its fragile contents will be upside down, on the bottom of a stack of boxes, or dropped by well-meaning neighbors.  At least my boxes are taped shut as well as labelled, color-coded and numbered.  Even so, there are always a few items that don’t make the journey in one piece.

Today’s verse reassures the believer that the Lord is willing and able to handle all our cares.  He understands that we are fragile and easily broken.  Our bodies are like clay jars, susceptible to cracking in pieces for a reason; so that the power we live our lives by is seen to be from God and not ourselves (II Cor. 4:7)  There is no shame in admitting that we are fragile and in need of gentle handling.  It is in recognizing our weakness that we avail ourselves of His power (II Cor. 12:9).

It takes some humility to admit my need of His care.  I can only give Him my anxieties and experience that care if I humble myself first (I Peter 5:6-7).  The Lord wants to show favor, lift up and sustain those who turn to Him.  But He waits to be asked.  He waits to be needed.  I am too prone to thinking I am just fine and not needing His power.  My pride keeps me from admitting any weakness or need for care.  Until something breaks.  He picks up the pieces and because He cares, He makes things right.

Thank you Lord, for Your precious care.

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

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Unexpected!

cigarette2Scripture for Today: Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Looking closely at this image, one sees discarded cigarettes doing something very unexpected.  They are sprouting!  Something as dirty and off-putting as litter is actually transforming itself into something positive.  These cigarettes were invented by a creative British man, tired of ugly litter.  He decided to make biodegradable filters that contain wild flower seeds and called them, “Cigg Seeds.”  What a clever idea!  Who would have thought that something thrown away and trampled on could turn into something beautiful!

Today’s often quoted verse came to mind.  I have heard it said so many times it tends to lose its impact.  But this is a beautiful truth that gives the believer hope.  We are not spared the ugliness and heartaches in life.  Despite the fact that the wicked seem to prosper (Jer. 12:1) they are not spared either as their final destiny is destruction (Ps. 73:17).  Even so, following the Lord never insures a trouble-free life. However, there is a difference.  God takes those awful negative circumstances and miraculously brings about something worthwhile.

Because of this promise, I have hope.  I may feel cast aside, dirty, and trampled on but God is not done yet.  He can and He does transform me and cause new and beautiful growth in my soul.  He is good and everything He does is right and good.  I can trust that His purpose for me is good as well, even and especially when I cannot see it.  The good He is producing is something that lasts into eternity; becoming like His Son.  There is nothing more beautiful or worthwhile.

Thank you Lord, for the unexpected ways You create the good in my life!

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


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The Caring Hand

Scripture for Today: Psalm 145:16&19a “You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.  He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him.”

This surprising sculpture rises from the ground and gently wraps its fingers around a tree.  It is found in Glarus, Switzerland and was created by Eva Oertli.  She named it “Hand,” but it has since been called by appreciative on-lookers as, “The Caring Hand,” for obvious reasons.  One could say that the message of this sculpture is a call to be responsible and caring about the environment.  But it called to my mind our amazing Creator.

Today’s verse is a beautiful depiction of God’s special care for His creation.  He opens His hand to satisfy and fulfill desires.  His open hand is the source of nourishment and support.  His care sustains us (Psalm 55:22).   There is not a bird that falls to the ground outside of that care (Matt. 10:29).  His care extends to all of creation.  And His special individualized care is offered to those who would fear Him.

When I was growing up, my parents used a paddle to spank us children rather than their hand.  They (like we) did not want the open hand to be associated with punishment but with love.  For those who fear the Lord, we can always associate His open hand with love and care.  All our punishment has already been paid by Jesus.  His hands were pierced so that He could open His hands with love.

My desires are often all over the place.  But as His child, my deepest desire is to love the Lord and serve Him.  He opens His hand to me every day.  He offers me strength, encouragement and hope.  He offers me joy, contentment and peace.

Thank you Lord, that You take care of me.

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


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The Hope Chest

chest-open_0Scripture for Today:Romans 5:5 “And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

I never owned a hope chest, although I hoped!  It was a tradition that was already obsolete by the 1950’s.  The practice of filling a hope chest with items useful in setting up house came from Europe around the 18th century.  A young girl’s “trousseau” consisted of handmade bed linens, table linens and embroidered items.  I often wondered what happened to that hope chest and its contents when it was clear that marriage had passed one by.  Perhaps giving it away signaled the end of hope.

Today speaks of a hope that never puts us to shame.  Unlike unfulfilled hope in a human love, our hope is placed in a love that has already been poured into the heart of a believer.  The Holy Spirit is our seal of ownership, guaranteeing what is to come! (II Cor. 1:22).  Hope in this sense is a sure thing with no possibility of disappointment or shame.  This hope grows stronger and stronger as we see the Lord come through for us when experiencing suffering (verse 3).  Hope grows by persevering through that impossible situation.  Our hope is obvious to everyone through the strength of character that comes from hanging in there (verse 4).

Hope that is based on the wrong thing can be wishful thinking that makes the heart sick when unfulfilled (Prov. 13:12).  My hope is sure being based on God’s faithful promises.  My longing for love is absolutely fulfilled in my relationship with my Creator.  He never disappoints and I am never put to shame.  He always comes through and someday I will see the glory of God up close and personal!

My hope will forever be in You, Lord.

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


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The Swiss Alps

img_20160928_165357Scripture for Today: Isaiah 49:13 “Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones.”

Our recent week of conference in the Swiss Alps already seems like a lifetime ago.  I never tire of gazing on those majestic mountains, seen here from the gondola window.  Their height, their stability and their looming presence over the village is a constant reminder of just how small I am!  Their timeless watch over the inhabitants below bring to mind the awesome power in the hand of their Creator.

There is reason for the heavens to shout, for the earth to rejoice and for the mountains to burst into song.  Today’s verse gives the reason; the comfort and the compassion the Lord gives to His hurting people.  He is not unmoved by our pain.  He does not ignore our cries.  He hears us in the night when we smother our tears.  He sees when the heart is hurting and we want to give up.  He offers His comfort and compassion which is unlike any other.

He is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (II Cor. 1:3).  He uses His Word to reassure my heart.  He uses the care and concern of friends and family.  He uses the lyrics of a long-forgotten song in the most unlikely moment to bring me a measure of peace.  His compassion never fails me.  His comfort and compassion are renewed every morning when I wake up to a new day (Lamentations 3:22-23).  What a wonderful reason for those mountains to burst into song!

Lord, may today be a day when I can shout, rejoice and sing because You care for me!

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


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The Sparrow

female-sparrows-fight-over-the-nest-build-by-a-male-sparrowScripture for Today: Matthew 10:29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”

These sparrows look as if they are about to fall!  The two females are fighting over the nest that the male has just built.  The male with the yellow markings is vainly trying to break up the fight.  It does not look as if he is succeeding!  These small gregarious birds are especially aggressive when protecting their nests from other birds and even from other sparrows.  The sparrow is one of the more familiar birds as they prefer nesting close to humans. They are a common sight as they are partial to man-made structures for their nest-building.

Today’s verse uses the example of a sparrow to illustrate just how minute and detailed is God’s knowledge and care of His creation.  Jesus uses something common and inconsequential to explain that nothing escapes His notice.  At fifty cents each, two sparrows are not worth much in the grand scheme of things.  And yet, the Lord is aware of the movements, needs, birth and death of each one.  If He cares that much about something so small and insignificant, we can be assured that He sees and cares so much more for His own children.  We are worth more than these two little birds (verse 31).

I know that I have value to the Lord because He died for me.  Because this is true, there is no reason to fear (verse 31).  I will not fear what man can do to me (verse 28).  I will not fear bad news (Psalm 112:7).  I will not fear any evil (Ps. 23;4) nor will I fear sudden disaster (Prov. 3:25).

Thank you Lord, that I can stand firm, steadfast, and confident in You!

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


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Tattoos

broken-heart-tattoos-ideas-470x300Scripture for Today: Psalm 13:5 “But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.”

There seems to be more and more tattoos used as a fashion statement, whether a small butterfly on a pretty ankle, or a skull and crossbones on a beefy arm.  I do not always understand what the message to be conveyed is.  But this one is clear.  In ancient times tattoos were used as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love or signs of religious belief.  They were used in ancient Egypt and have been found on female mummies dating back to 2000 BC.  The tattoo pictured I am guessing is on a female arm and it screams to the world, “I have been hurt,” or “Never again!”

Today’s verse is about trusting a love that will never fail.  The heart does not crack into pieces when held together by the Lord’s love.  His love never disappoints.  The Lord’s unfailing love is described as a breastplate, guarding our heart (I Thes. 5:8).   But like any piece of armor, we pick it up and put it on each day.  When we trust in that love, it keeps our hearts open and soft, instead of hardened and unreachable.  And if we are hurt by others, His love is there to bind up the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3).

My heart can rejoice in that love, regardless of what is happening in relationships around me.  He is constant.  His love for me is my sure foundation, making it possible for me to love again.  We love because He first loved us (I John 4:19).  Trusting in His love helps me to forgive and move on.  Trusting in His love heals the hurts and makes me whole again.

Lord, how amazing it is that You love me!  Help me believe it today.

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