Devotions By Jan


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Boundaries

Scripture for Today: Psalm 104:9 “You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth.”

We know all about the tides and their timetables.  We know all about how the moon can affect those tides.  But what we do not know is why the ocean stops at a particular beach and goes no further.  I often think of this fact as I walk along a shore.  With all our knowledge and scientific discoveries, there is so much we do not know.  The immense expanse of the ocean just seems to “know” to what point it should flow.  We do not give it a thought but build beautiful homes close by in total confidence that the ocean will go so far and no further.

Today’s verse is not just poetry.  God Himself sets the boundaries the oceans are not to cross.  The ocean is His creation and He is sovereign over it.  There is nothing that is out of His ultimate control.  As this verse says, the ocean waters have in the past covered the earth.  Perhaps this is referring to the time of creation (Genesis 1:9).  Or it may be referring to the time of worldwide flood in the days of Noah (Genesis 7:11).  In either case, God sets boundaries.

The Lord sets boundaries in my life as well.  He has promised that I will not be tested above and beyond what I can handle (I Cor. 10:13).  He will always provide a way.  Those waves coming at me will not engulf me.  Just as the Lord placed limits on Satan in his temptation of Job (Job 1:12), so my God is faithful to me.  I can trust Him.  The water may look dangerously close, but my powerful Creator is closer still!

Thank you Lord, for Your loving control of today!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Pressed

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 1:8 “For we would not brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired of life.”

I can still remember seeing my Mother seated at a mangle just like this one.  She would feed the wrinkled clothes into the heated roller and they would magically come out the other side smooth and wrinkle free.  Sometimes she would allow me to feed it easy items like handkerchiefs and pillow cases.  But the dress shirts were a challenge that was better left to her.  I was surprised to learn that one can still buy a rotary iron!  Perhaps the newer models do not run the risk of mangling a clothing item or inattentive fingers!

Today’s verse describes the trouble that Paul and Timothy experienced as something that pressed on them.  They faced such great pressure that they did not think they would survive.  But Paul realized that the crushing pressure of their pressing circumstances had a purpose.  That purpose was to rely on God’s power and not on themselves (verse 9).  They understood that there would be no deliverance without God’s power.  Recognizing this, Paul asked for prayer.

My husband often says that life is made up of one crisis after another.  No one is spared trouble, although we try to avoid it where we can.  But for the believer, it is a comfort to know that those pressing circumstances are not happening by chance.  The Lord is using them to encourage a greater dependence on Him, on His power and on the prayers of His people.  Every pressing trouble is a reminder that I need Him.  I cannot do life without Him.

Lord, help me to rely completely on You and Your power.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Updated

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 13:8-9a “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.”

My phone and computer both love to suggest updates in the middle of my busiest times!  I never like being interrupted as it takes time to prepare and complete the update.  But I do understand the importance of adding new features and protecting against viruses and spam.  Some of the updates alter a site so much that I need to re-learn how to navigate it.  However, the extra effort is usually worth it.

In a world where technology is in a constant state of change, it is comforting to know that my Savior does not need an “update.”  Our verse for today teaches that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He is perfect and needs no alterations!  He is always up to date with what is happening.  There is never a need for a new and improved version.  There is never a connection issue or a lack of response.

Everything that we need to know about the Lord is revealed in His Word.  He does not change nor does His revelation.  His message transcends time and is always current.  The God of the Old testament is the same God as of the New.  His faithfulness and power shown then is the same faithfulness and power He shows today.

I need Him to be constant and not capricious.  I need Him to be faithful to His Word and unchangeable.  What was proven true in times past continues to be true today.  He is perfect and perfection has no need of change.

Thank you Lord, that You do not change and I can always count on You.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Delayed

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:17 “But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; You are my God, do not delay.”

This happened.  Actually, experiencing flight delays happens pretty regularly.  I try to stay calm, but when a connecting flight is affected I tend to panic.  No one likes running frantically to a gate.  Being delayed because of my own lack of organization is one thing, but when the airlines delay me for whatever reason, I feel intense frustration.  I have no control and that is an uncomfortable feeling!

David was concerned about delays for a much better reason.  He was waiting for the Lord to act on his behalf in the face of enemies!  Today’s verse is a cry for help and deliverance.  David saw that he had no control in the situation.  In fact, he was humble enough to see his poor and needy state.  He was totally dependent on God’s response.  How odd that a king would say that he is poor and needy.  Yet David felt that way when overwhelmed with his troubles and sin, as well as his enemies (verse 12).

When I am feeling rich and confident in my own resources I am less likely to call out to the Lord for help.  I am tempted to feel smug and complacent when all is going well.  It is when I am surrounded by troubles, feeling the weight of my sin and feeling opposed by unbelievers that I realize just how poor and needy I am!  Perhaps, that is why God sometimes delays.  He waits for humility.  He opposes the proud but gives so much timely grace to the humble.

Thank you Lord, that Your help is never too late when I cry out to You.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Underdog

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:31b-32 “…If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”

This poor dog is in a humiliating position of defeat!  He is literally the “underdog!”  We often like to cheer the underdog or the one who seems to be facing insurmountable odds.  In sports, the team who is not favored to win can excite more cheering than the one thought to be stronger.  There is something about the weaker one carrying the victory that encourages us to hope and to greater effort in our own circumstances.

Feeling like the “underdog” as a believer is all too common.  Those who follow Christ are more often outnumbered and in the minority.  This can lead us to think that we are in the weaker position and cannot expect to have victory.  But nothing is further from the truth!  Today’s verse encourages the heart of every underdog.  God sees our predicament.  He understands that we are limited and often powerless to stand firm in our faith.  We are mocked and maligned, misunderstood and marginalized.  But we are on the right side and that changes everything!

God is for His own.  He has sacrificed His dearest Son to have this relationship with me.  No one can snatch me out of His hand (John 10:28).  No one can separate me from His love (Rom. 8:38-39).  No one.  He has won the victory for me (I Cor. 15:57) and I can hold my head up!  I may feel outnumbered and insignificant, but with God on my side, suddenly the playing field changes.

How could I live this life without You being for me?  Thank you that I do not have to!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Giving Up

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

I can relate to the frustration this man must be feeling.  I can guess at the pressure he is feeling to meet a deadline.  Perhaps he is irritated at a failed communication or the lack of any response at all.  I wonder if he feels that his work will never produce the desired effect.  In any case, this image suggests a discouragement and weariness we all sometimes feel.

Today’s verse lets us know that though we do not see an immediate result to our good works, there will be a future time when we will see the fruit of our labor.  The “proper time” for seeing results may not be the present.  But eventually, God brings about results.  The harvest we reap is in His timing and control.  Our part is to keep on keeping on, regardless of the results.

It is easy for me to feel weary and wonder if God is really using me.  I do not want to give up serving Him, but it can be discouraging to wonder if I am making a difference.  Is He hearing my prayers for my loved ones?  Is He using my story to draw others to Himself?  God’s work of changing hearts is often initially unseen.  But the promise of reaping a harvest is only for those who do not give up!  I have to trust that His Word does not return void but accomplishes what He intends (Isaiah 55:11).  Yes, there are moments of weariness, but in His grace He gives strength and motivation to continue!

Help me Lord, to never give up serving You!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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The Woodpecker

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 10:12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”

I had never seen a woodpecker until living in France.  There was one who frequently visited our yard and with his red markings he was easy to spot.  There was one fruit tree that he especially liked to peck for insects.  I was always happy to see him, not realizing what he was doing to that tree.  One night we had an huge windstorm and with an impressive crack, that tree came down, snapping at exactly the very place that woodpecker had been working!  I feel differently about woodpeckers now.  I missed that mirabelle plum tree!

Today’s verse is a loving warning.  After describing the failures of the Israelites in the wilderness, Paul cautions that falling is a real possibility.  We can think that we are standing firm while at the same time being slowly weakened by compromise.  Like the small attacks by the beak of  a woodpecker, our resolve can slowly erode leaving us vulnerable.  A strong wind of temptation can come along and knock us flat.  We fall to the ground and we no longer bear fruit.

No one wakes up in the morning and decides to give in to temptation.  Being drawn away from Him is usually a slow sneaky process.  And it can come from something normally beautiful or agreeable.  The next verse is such a comforting promise.  God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can bear.  He provides a way out.  I have a choice.  That enticement to sin is never so strong that with His help I cannot resist!

Don’t let me fall, Lord.  Keep me firmly standing and bearing fruit.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)