Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: Isaiah 36:6 “Look, I know you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him.”

I do not suppose that this lizard worries about getting splinters from the rough surface of this door!  With his thick, tough reptile skin he can move all over that weathered wood and never be bothered.  I, on the other hand, would not want to push or lean on the wood for fear of splinters piercing my skin!  I still have memories of my childhood and that painful process of splinter removal!

Today’s verse describes a hand that leans on a flimsy splintered reed of a staff and so is pierced.  The King of Assyria was absolutely right to say that leaning on Egypt for help against his attack would be no help at all for King Hezekiah and the Israelites.  But then he goes on to insult their dependence on the Lord God! (verse 7)  King Hezekiah turns to the Lord in His temple and to the prophet, Isaiah.  He prays that God will vindicate His name.  And the Lord does, delivering them with a miraculous victory!

When I am experiencing a crisis, my first thought needs to be His help.  He may direct me to all kinds of good sources of aid, but I want my dependence to be on Him and His power to work.  Putting my weight on any other kind of support may just give me those “splinters.”  But He will always answer my cries.  Nothing is beyond His strength.  And when He answers, His name is once again vindicated in my life and for all who are watching!

Lord, keep me depending on You!


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The Alpha Dog

Scripture for Today: Revelation 1:8 “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'”

One of these wolf dogs is clearly showing traits of being the “alpha dog.”  Other members of a pack, called, “beta dogs,” will show submission to him.  The alpha will be the dominant dog, the first and most important member.  In a domesticated dog, these alpha traits may appear as refusals to follow the owner’s commands.  He may exhibit alpha behavior on a walk by forcing his owner to follow his pace!

Today’s verse calls the Lord God, the Almighty, the “Alpha ” and the “Omega.”  These two designations would be familiar to the readers as the first and last letter of their Greek alphabet.  “In the beginning, God…”  He is the beginning of everything and no one precedes Him.  He is the end and will bring human history to a close.  No one comes after Him.  He is the first and most important with no limits to His power and knowledge.  All of history, all of the present and all of the future is directed and controlled by Him.

Knowing this gives me the correct view of myself.  I am to be a “beta,” submissive to Him and willing to follow.  He directs and He sets the pace.  I do not obligate God but He commands me.  When I try to lead I get myself in all kinds of trouble.  Just as Jesus called others to, “Follow Me,” so He continues to ask this in my life.  As the Alpha, He sees what is ahead.  And as the Omega He sees from the beginning to the absolute end.  I can trust Him for what is happening in the now.

Lord, keep me faithfully following You.

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The Pied Kingfisher

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 31:5 “Like birds hovering overhead, the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem; He will shield it and deliver it, He will pass over it and rescue it.”

This is one amazing bird!  The Pied Kingfisher lives in Asai and Sub Saharan Africa and is referred to as the “King of Kingfishers!”   The black and white markings make him easily recognizable.  But it is his specialized hunting skills that make him remarkable.  He is the largest hovering bird, scouting his prey from 50-60 feet above water.  He uses no air currents but instead will flap his wings 8 times a second to hold himself in place.

Today’s verse describes God’s promise to His people to shield, deliver and rescue them.  They had turned to Egypt for help from their enemies rather than to God.  They had turned to the silver and gold idols they themselves had made rather than to God.  This promise is made despite their revolt and with the promise comes a call to return to Him (verse 6).  He is the One who hovers and sees every distress.  He is the One who not only surveys from above but like the Kingfisher, descends with amazing precision.  Nothing escapes His watchful eyes and nothing is beyond His power.

He sees it all.  And He uses that knowledge to show me His goodness, mercy and love.  The plan He is unfolding in my life takes into account every tear.  He is my “El Roi,” the God who sees.  He saw Hagar’s tears and He sees mine (Gen. 16:13).  He hovers.  He stays in the place of tender concern.  I can be assured that my circumstances, though difficult, are working towards a good that I may not ever see this side of eternity.  He has promised.

Thank you Lord, that your love and protection hover over me!


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Scripture for Today: I Peter 1:4b-5 “This inheritance is kept in Heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last times.”

This yellow protective suit makes me smile, especially as the wearer has seemingly incorporated it into his daily routine!  But this “HAZMAT suit wanna-be” looks less scary than the real thing.  The hazard materials suit is meant to shield against chemical, nuclear and biological agents as well as fire and high temperatures.  The suit can only be worn up to two hours as it is hot and poorly ventilated.

Today’s verse tells us that the believer is shielded at all times by God’s power.  Our faith is that shield, the same piece of armor that protects us from our enemy, Satan (Eph. 6:16).  God’s power insures that the inheritance of our future salvation is kept safe and secure in Heaven.  Nothing can touch it.  No chemical, nuclear or biological agent is greater than His power.  But this does not mean that we will not “suffer grief and all kinds of trials.” (verse 6)  What it does mean is that there is a future and a hope.

There is lots of uncertainty in our covid-conscious world right now.  We are all wondering what measures are needed to protect ourselves and for how long.  It is sobering to see how quickly the world can change and how powerless we can feel.  But the one thing I am sure of is God’s power to protect, to guard and to save.  His plans for me are never frustrated.  Even though I may be touched by suffering and trial, He has secured for me an untouchable inheritance that is eternal.

Lord, I am so thankful for Your power to save!

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The Great Cross

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 1:18  “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

The Great Cross stands proudly in St. Augustine, Florida at 208 feet high.  It is certainly tall, but is only the sixth tallest in the world (the tallest being the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen in Spain).  What makes it so unusual is the fact that it is so slim.  They had to fill the bottom half with concrete to keep it from falling to hurricane force winds.  Built in 1966 it commemorates the start of Christianity in this land and the city’s founding four hundred years prior.

There is another cross whose greatness exceeds any architectural triumph.  Today on Good Friday, we celebrate a cross where death led to life everlasting.  On that cross was made the ultimate loving sacrifice of the Son of God.  Jesus took on Himself every one of our awful sins and healed those who trust Him from its terrible consequences.  The cross for some people is foolishness.  For others it signifies indignity and failure.  But for those who believe, it is the power by which we are saved.

The cross is polarizing.  There is no middle ground.  Like the two thieves crucified with Jesus, there are only two responses.  I either place my trust in Christ as my substitute, or I remain in my sin.  What power in this cross of Jesus!  His power  snatched me from darkness and placed me in His wonderful light! (I Peter 2:9)  Because of the cross I have hope.  I have life, forgiveness, and healing!  The power of the cross is that it cancels the power of my guilt and shame!

Lord, “simply to Thy cross I cling.”





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

Two weeks ago, it never occurred to us that this would be our last view of the Pilgrim in all its grandeur.  After forty years at the Dana Point Harbor, it sunk.  What a heartache!  This tall-masted ship was a full sized replica of the merchantman brig from the novel, “Two Years Before the Mast” by Richard Henry Dana.  The Ocean Institute there had been battling a slow leak but thought it was under control with regular maintenance of the hull (recently postponed) and with a pump.

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 leaks in the hull of a ship, our resolve can slowly erode leaving us vulnerable.  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.

Thankfully, standing firm does not depend entirely on me.  The Lord is faithful to always provide a way out of temptation (verse 13).  But I need to be humble enough to realize that I cannot handle it on my own and look for that escape route!  Like David I want to regularly ask the Lord to examine my heart and my mind (Ps.26:2).  This is an uncomfortable prayer but I can pray this with confidence, being convinced of His unfailing love and faithfulness (verse 3).   There are times when I feel overwhelmed.  But because of His love, His strength and His faithfulness I will not sink!

Thank you Lord, that You are my confidence.


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Rock Hyrax

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 30:24 & 26 “Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise….hyraxes are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags.”

These little creatures are no bigger than a guinea pig yet they are called “the little brother to the elephant!”  He can boast to being the elephant’s closest living relative having similar teeth, toes and skull structure.  He makes his home in the rocks and the niches of sheer cliffs.  But he does not come out of his rock shelter during rainy cool weather.  And when he does come out he starts his day with several hours of sunbathing!

Today’s verse comes from a passage describing four small living creatures; the ant, hydrax, locust and lizard.  They all have two things in common, their small size and the fact that they are wise, extremely wise.  The hydrax knows when to run to the rocks to hide himself.  He knows he is small and vulnerable.  He knows his limitations.  He does not have the size and strength of his “big brother.”  Without this wisdom to know when and where to run, he would be in mortal danger!

I have no power of my own.  It is no weakness to admit my weakness and cry out to Him!  It is even a mark of wisdom.  When my heart grows faint I need to be led to the Rock that is higher and more powerful than I am (Ps. 61:2).  In the middle of crisis, I am not even sure where He is.  I need to be led through His Word and through prayer to trust and lean on His powerful presence.  He is solid and unmovable regardless of my any panic I feel.  I am wise when I run to Him!

Lord, lead me to the Rock today.