Devotions By Jan


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A New Voice

Scripture for Today: Psalm 29:4 “The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.”

I am excited to one day hear my Mom’s voice in Heaven. Half of her voice box was removed due to cancer while pregnant with me! My older siblings all remember her natural, true voice but I have never heard it. The doctors told her she would only be able to speak in a whisper. Thankfully, that was not the case. But her voice was raspy and tired easily. Although she left us 5 years ago, today would have been her 100th birthday. But now her voice is perfect and strong, singing praise to her Lord.

Today’s verse describes another voice. Although we have never physically heard it, we will recognize it immediately! It is a powerful and majestic voice that thunders. It is a voice that breaks huge cedar trees into pieces. God’s voice can strike like lightening and can shake a desert! His voice is so powerful that it twists oaks and strips forests bare! (verses 5-9) There is no mistaking this voice and the only response possible is to cry, “Glory!” (verse 9)

What an incredible description of His powerful voice! When He speaks, there are no arguments! His word was all that was needed to create the world into existence. And every word of His is faithful and true. It is a voice that I can trust with my earthly life and for my eternity. No voice in heaven or earth is more powerful. Yet, He sometimes chooses to communicate in a gentle whisper as with Elijah and I could miss it! One day His voice will be unmistakeable. But here and now I need to listen for those whispers of love and assurance.

Lord, keep me listening for Your voice today.


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God Is With Us

Scripture for Today: Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).”

This image came from a site that provides greetings to friends and families, personalizing them with a name. Immanuel or Emmanuel is not a name I hear too much except in France. There, it is used for boys or for girls but with a different spelling. But in both cases it is often shortened to “Manu.” I cannot hear the name Immanuel without thinking of this verse and its meaning; God with us.

Today’s verse is part of the angel’s message to Joseph. Not only does it reassure Joseph, but the name Immanuel also ties in to a prophecy in Isaiah 7. The wicked King Ahaz was in a tight spot, his reign threatened by two kings. God sent Isaiah with God’s promise to deliver Israel both then and in the future. Despite Ahaz, Judah and David’s line would be preserved through the coming of the Messiah! Because “God is with us” Isaiah says to be careful, keep calm, do not be afraid and do not lose heart (verse 4).

What an amazing message is wrapped up in the name, Immanuel! Because God is with me, I can stay calm, despite what is happening around me or even to me! There is no reason to be fearful because God keeps His Word. He will never leave me or forsake me (Deut. 31:6) even when surrounded by enemies! He will never leave or forsake me when facing financial challenges (Heb. 13:5). His presence is constant so I do not lose heart. I may not understand what is happening but I understand that He is there and He loves me!

I love You, Immanuel.


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Confidence!

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I am all for confidence and that “can do” attitude. If we did not believe we could do something, it would never get done! We instill a healthy dose of confidence in our children. We give ourselves pep talks to move through a challenge. Confidence is essential to any kind of success. And admitting to weakness is thought to work against us. We somehow believe that acknowledging limits and weakness will sabotage our efforts. So we downplay them.

How counter-intuitive today’s verse is! Paul felt weak. And rather than hide his weakness from view he not only acknowledges it but boasts about it. Paul sees that it is only in admitting weakness that he can experience Christ’s power. Unlike this image, Paul does not believe in himself. He believes in God’s grace giving him power. God’s power is showcased through our weak ineffectual efforts. We are weak breakable jars of clay in order to show that power is from God. (II Cor. 4:7)

Do I believe in myself? To a certain extent I do. But at the same time, there is not a breath, a heartbeat, a talent or ability that does not come from Him! He is my Creator and I can claim nothing as coming from myself. And He has made me with my own set of weaknesses and limits for His purposes and for His glory! I would much rather believe in Him than be overly confident in myself. That way I can experience His power in me!

Thank you Lord, that You work through my weakness.


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Anchorman

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 18b-19a “…we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

capital 21 chanel, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The word, “anchorman” used to mean the last man of a tug-of-war team or one who runs last in a relay race. Now, it means a host for a television program. A recent promotional for a major news program goes further by describing their anchorman as someone who calms and steadies when emotions are high, fears overwhelm and we are at a tipping point!

Today’s verse describes an anchor that does much more! This is an anchor for the soul that is firm and secure. Our anchor is our hope and it will not change or move. We as believers are encouraged when we take hold of this anchor of hope set before us. We hope in the unchanging and sure promises of the Lord and His Word. We have an anchor that calms and steadies regardless of the turbulent circumstances that engulf us! Nothing is as sure and reliable as this anchor.

It is almost comical to think of a newscaster being someone who can calm and steady us! Often when I see the news, my experience is just the opposite. But my heart is steady and calm in reminding myself of God’s precious promises and control. World events will not overwhelm. Circumstances do not shake my faith. It is not that my faith is so strong, but the One in whom it is placed is all-powerful! He has promised. With my eyes always on Him and His promises, I will not be shaken (Ps. 16:8).

Thank you Lord, that my hope in You anchors me.

REMINDER: my blog posts now appear just once a week on MONDAYS! Please feel to peruse the archived blogs on the right of the screen for more.


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Dead in the Water

Scripture for Today: John 3:8 “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

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It was early spring and we were having some unusually calm, warm weather in our part of France. We took advantage of the sunshine and drove up the Vosges mountains all the way to Lac GĂ©rardmer. The sailing club was out in full force but no one was moving. It was absolutely still and calm with glassy unruffled water. There was nothing for those boats to do but wait for the wind to pick up again. They were dead in the water without that wind to move them. How long they were to be stuck no one could predict.

Today’s verse is part of a discussion between Jesus and Nicodemus. The Lord is describing spiritual matters using images in nature. No one can know the origin of wind or its direction. So it is with the Holy Spirit. Although God’s Word teaches the role of the Spirit, there remains something mysterious in the way He works. One cannot predict or reduce to a formula the movement of the Spirit. Revivals can happen in the most unlikely places and at the most unexpected times. The Spirit is God and He will do what He wills.

I may never completely understand the work of God’s Spirit but I do know that without Him I am “dead in the water” going nowhere. It is the Spirit that gives power and strength. There is no progress without Him. It is the Spirit that keeps me moving in the right direction, giving wisdom. He knows when to push hard with hurricane force! He knows when to be a gentle breeze.

Lord, I need your Spirit to fill, move and direct me today!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2014)