Devotions By Jan


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Coloring Outside The Lines

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

One of my earliest memories involved coloring outside the lines of my color page.  I was so impatient to have the praise of my teacher that I raced through to be the first one finished!  But rather than receive praise, I was reminded that it was not a race and that I should color inside those lines.  Perhaps there is less insistence on this point today.  But at least when coloring within the lines, the image is clear.

Today’s verse reminds us that as believers we are to be conformed to the image of God’s Son, Jesus.  All of mankind has been created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27) but when sin entered the world, that image became blurred.  Man has colored outside the lines with his pride and rebellion against God.  The image is not so clear anymore.  But for the one who turns to God in repentance, this image of His Son is slowly being restored.  Just as brothers and sisters can resemble one another, so the believer is to increasingly resemble the character of Jesus.

I have a long way to go!  I pray people realize I am His child but there are definitely days when I am far from being like Him.  Hopefully, there is progress but often it is three steps forward and two steps back.  How infinitely patient He is with me!  And I am so glad His love does not depend on my progress or lack of it.  How reassuring it is that one day, the transformation will be complete when I meet Him face to face! (I John 3:2)

Lord, make me like You today!

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Enjoying the View

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:45 “I will walk about in freedom for I have sought Your precepts.”

I imagine that anyone with a fear of heights would give the Needles Overlook a wide berth.  This view of Canyonlands National Park in Utah is a panoramic one going in all directions.  The overlook affords a view of the Abago Mountains and the peaks of La Sal.  But this open plateau edge drops suddenly away 1,600 feet above the valley floor!  If it were not for that sturdy rail going around the perimeter, I would not feel free to walk very close to the edge and I would miss out on those amazing views.

Today’s verse puts two words together that normally one would not think to do; freedom and precepts.  Prevalent thinking equates freedom with no rules or restrictions at all.  But God’s laws are like the railing.  Because of its presence I can freely walk about and enjoy incredible vistas.  God’s laws provide safety and protection.  They are there, not to restrict and be a burden, but rather to free us to walk in confidence.  God’s laws even alleviate our anxiety.  “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Ps. 119:165)

The author of this psalm cannot say enough about how he loves God’s laws.  He describes them as giving comfort (verse 52). God’s statues and precepts reassure me of the right direction my life is taking.  I never have to wonder if another way is better or more exciting.  I do not miss out on anything except for what will harm me.  His law is an expression of His love for me.  Following it gives me the best kind of life there is!

Lord, keep me walking about in the freedom that following Your law brings!

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting)


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Sheepish

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

What was that racket?  My husband was in the middle of his shower when he heard some bizarre noises!  It sounded as if someone was rearranging the furniture, but there was also loud bleating, shouting and running footsteps.  How bizarre to see this sheep in the living room knocking into things with a crazed look in his eyes!  He had run in from our rural French street into the open doors, with his handlers in hot pursuit!  It took three of them to hold him down and get him under control!

What a perfect way to illustrate the truth of today’s verse!  This sheep was not where he was supposed to be.  He had certainly gone his own way, ignoring his keepers and the other sheep.  His headlong movements could have hurt him and it took some pretty drastic measures to correct him.  I am sure he was none too happy to be bound with that rope.  And we are just like that sheep.  We turn our back on the Shepherd thinking we know better.

How loving and gracious God is to take on Himself the punishment of my silly rebellion.  Jesus paid the ultimate price of my sin, giving me peace with God (verse 5).  And as a forgiven “sheep” I have the enormous privilege of following my Shepherd.  His way is so much better than my own.  He does not lead by prodding me from behind and I don’t just see His back ahead of me.  No, He walks beside me.

Thank you Lord, for turning me back to You and Your way.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Pill Bugs

Scripture for Today: Psalm 17:17 “Show me the wonders of Your great love, You who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes.”

I thought I was just sweeping up dirt on my patio.  But when the dirt started fleeing the pile I knew differently!  The pill bug is the common name for a variety of wood lice called, “Armadillidum vulgare.”  As a child I liked calling them , “roly polies” as they would roll up into a ball when I mishandled them.  Their shells look like armor but it is because of their segmented bodies that they can roll up into a ball to protect themselves.

Today’s verse is a cry for help as David’s enemies had tracked him down, surrounded him and were trying to destroy him.  He calls out to the Lord, recognizing that God’s powerful right hand is his best protection.  As David had already experienced when confronting Goliath, he could not trust in the armor offered him (I Sam. 17:38-39).  His trust was in the power and love of God.  That was his refuge from where God would demonstrate His power to save.  God answered his prayer, not only for protection but for vindication! (verse 2 & 15).

Rolling up into a ball at the first sign of trouble is my natural inclination.  When going through something difficult I tend to go quiet, push people away and isolate myself.  But the Lord wants to be my refuge in time of trouble (Ps. 59:16).  He never intends for me to go it alone.  I need to run to Him to show me the wonders of His great love and reassure me.  His refuge is strong like a rock but as soft as the downy underside of a bird’s wings.

Thank you Lord, for being my sure and constant refuge.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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The Serval

Scripture for Today: Psalm 62:11-12 “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that You, O God, are strong, and that You, O Lord, are loving. Surely You will reward each person according to what he has done.”

This cat is all ears!  The serval is a wild African cat believed to be the ancient ancestor of the cheetah.  Their ears are the largest of any cat. They live in tall grass and are not as likely to see their small prey.  So their ears are huge to hear what they cannot see.  The ears of a serval are so sensitive they can recognize sounds made by animals moving in their underground tunnels!  But it was for their grace and strength that the ancient Egyptians worshiped them.

Today’s verse was written by David, a very wealthy and powerful king.  His ears were attuned to God’s Word.  Rather than trust in his own strength and riches, David acknowledges that only God has real power.  David had been listening to many things God had spoken to him personally, but these two truths kept him in an attitude of trust.  Not only does God have all the power but it is used to fight for and protect those He loves.

I need to be listening for these same truths.  Unwittingly, I put God in a box with my thinking, forgetting just how formidable He is.  I need to remember that He is all powerful and nothing escapes His perfect justice.  But how thankful I am that His power is coupled with His love!  His sacrificial love has made a way for me to escape the punishment my sins deserve.  Nothing and no one can prevail against me or separate me from this incredible love  (Romans 8:38-39).

Lord, help me hear Your reassurances of power and love today!

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)