Devotions By Jan


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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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Molehills

Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 32:17  “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.”

I can easily make a mountain out of a molehill.  This expression is as old as the hills and has been around since the 16th century.  That loose soil thrown up by a small burrowing mole is pretty insignificant when compared to the height and stability of a mountain.  To make a big deal out of something small is to make too much of what is really a minor issue.  Yet I find it easy to do.  The Finnish have a similar saying, “to turn a fly into a bull.”  The Germans express this idea by saying, “to make an elephant out of a fly.”

Today’s verse corrects my perspective on those molehills.  The Lord is the God of all mankind and nothing is too hard for Him.  His power and might are obvious when looking at the the heavens and the earth.  Everything is small and insignificant when compared to His great power.  Nothing is too hard for Him to accomplish when He can speak into being an entire universe!

So why do my obstacles seem insurmountable?  I see His power in creation.  I see His power in the miracles He has done for great men of faith in the Bible.  I know He can do anything He wants.  But does He want to help me?  Will He outstretch His arm for me?  He already has.  He has outstretched two arms on that cross and used His power to save my soul.  And the same power that raised Christ from the dead daily works in my favor.  I can trust Him to tackle any problem I face.

Thank you Lord, that nothing is too hard for You!


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Pack Your Patience

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

Today we leave for France.  With long lines, security hassles, and tired feet the thrill of travel is definitely lacking!  I cannot think of a better training ground for practicing patience than when flying.  I am so careful in my packing but I am not sure I always pack patience!  Flight delays and missed connections strain my patience to the very limit.  And showing patience is especially difficult when fatigue is added to the mix.  I easily take offense at the slightest provocation, whether it be someone knocking into me or cutting in line.

Today’s verse tells us from where patience comes.  It comes from wisdom.  Showing patience is always the wiser course.  Blowing up or throwing a tantrum never changes anything.  Wisdom determines when to grin and bear it when nothing else can be done.  Overlooking that rude remark or crying baby not only is the wiser more patient response but it makes one a better person.  Any other reaction risks being “inglorious.”  Wisdom is the source of patience and the fear of the Lord is the source and beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).

I have been told (tongue in cheek) never to actually pray for patience as it always seems to come as a result of testing (James 1:3).  But I am encouraged to learn that patience can be a by-product of wisdom as well.  Fearing and respecting God’s power and control of my circumstances calms me down and helps me keep my emotional balance.  So whether I am waiting in long lines or learning that my suitcase did not make it, I can be confident that He knows and He has my back.

Lord, make me wise today especially!


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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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Driftwood

Scripture for Today:  Philippians 3:12  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

There is no mystery at all to why driftwood is called driftwood.  It is simply wood that has drifted.  The wood comes to be in the water through flooding or storms breaking off tree branches.  Or it could be there as a result of logging.  In any case, the wood drifts aimlessly at the whim of the waves.  When and where it washes up on to shore seems completely arbitrary.  Just like for some people, circumstances push and prod to move a body from here to there with no clear goal in mind.

In today’s verse, Paul lives his life with a specific goal in mind.  He wants to gain Christ (verse 8) be found in Christ (verse 9) and to know Christ (verse 10).  Paul not only wanted to know Jesus and His power, he was ready to suffer for His sake.  He was willing to completely deny himself and take up his cross to follow Him (Luke 9:23).  His goals would last a lifetime and make his life significant.  There would be no aimless drifting through life for him!

What is my purpose?  Because I belong to Him, I want the goals in my life to match up with His for me.  Knowing Him is the most worthwhile purpose there is!  And God prepared in advance a whole plan of good works for me to accomplish. (Eph. 2:10)  I, like every believer, have a purpose.  I do not want to waste time and just drift through life!  And I am confident He will give me what it takes to “press on.”

Lord, keep me from drifting today.


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Volcanic Fissures

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

This long crack in the ground is spewing out hot molten lava, burning everything in its path.  The recent 6.9 earthquake on the Big Island of Hawaii near the Kilauea volcano caused new fissures to be formed.  For those living close by in this rural area, there was no choice but to evacuate.  These fissures can spew lava more than 200 feet into the air.  Although the lava is slow moving, it cannot be stopped.  However, it can be diverted as was done with pumped sea water in 1973 on a small island in Iceland!

Today’s verse tells us that a gentle or soft answer can divert or turn away something just as seemingly unstoppable as molten lava; anger.  And just as easily, that flow of hot burning anger can be worsened by a harsh word given in response.  Without a calm controlled response, anger so easily can escalate, spewing up into the air and destroying a relationship.  However, anger can quickly dissipate and lose its momentum with a soft, gentle response.

I have been on the giving and receiving end of that soft gentle response.  The effect seems to be immediate, as if a wet blanket was thrown on a spark just ignited.  Yet it is hard to respond with gentleness when feeling under attack.  And anger seems to be almost contagious but rather than responding in kind, I can be kind.  The anger may continue or flare up again, but at least I can do my part to turn the tide.  However, it is not natural for me.  I need His Spirit to calm me down and help me to calm the one who is so angry.

Lord, make my words gentle and soft today.


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Antique Buttons

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

These beautiful lazurite buttons were made by Faberge.  They not only did the job of fastening one’s clothes but were a fashion statement as well, shouting to the world that one was part of the upper class.  The earliest buttons were made of stone, flint or animal bone.  They became more decorative by the 14th century as merchants were able to procure ivory, gold and precious stones from around the world.  The buttons pictured here date back to the early 1900’s.  That was also the time when the saying, “button your lip,” came to be.  It was considered a polite way of telling someone to keep quiet!

Today’s verse is a prayer of David.  He asks the Lord to keep his heart from being drawn towards evil.  He also asks for help with what comes out of his mouth.  In a sense he is asking God to help him button his lip.  Without the Lord’s help to control our tongues, we can do tremendous damage to others.  This small member of our bodies can act as a spark, setting on fire an entire forest (James 3:6).

The problem with what comes out of my mouth is that I cannot call it back.  Those hurtful words just seem to hang in the air.  My mouth get me in all kinds of trouble!  What seems reasonable and necessary to say can wreak havoc on relationships.  There is no way to erase or delete my hasty words.  But with God’s help, I can stop those words from ever exiting my mouth.  His power can give me control long enough to pause and measure my words.

Lord, thank you that with Your power I can button it!