Devotions By Jan


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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)


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Pageant of the Masters

Scripture for Today: Luke 8:24 “The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’ He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pageant_of_the_Masters_chess_set.jpg

What a beautiful experience to attend the Pageant of the Masters! This ninety-minute extravaganza features what’s called, “living art.” Classical and contemporary art is reproduced on a grand scale with live people taking the place of some of the picture’s painted people. Can you tell in this image of Waterloo Chess Set, which are which? With a narrator and orchestration, it brings alive the art of the masters!

Today’s verse calls the creator of our entire world a “Master.” The disciples fear for their lives as a violent storm assaults their boat. But the Creator of that storm calmly sleeps through it. These experienced fishermen believe they will drown and wake Jesus, calling Him. “Master.” Jesus demonstrates His mastery over the wind and water by rebuking and calming that storm. Surely, He is a Master when even the winds and waves obey Him! (verse 25) After this amazing miracle, Jesus asks His disciples, “Where is your faith?”

When waters are smooth and the wind is just a gentle breeze, I start to think that I am the “master” or the “captain of my ship.” But when those inevitable storms sneak up on me, I know I do not control a thing! The Lord is the real Master. He not only holds the whole world in His hands but also my small insignificant life! When I trust Him and what He is doing, I am not afraid. Faith cannot sit in the boat when all the seats are occupied with fear.

Lord, keep my faith strong and confident in my Master.


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UFO Clouds

Scripture for Today: Nahum 1:3 “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.”

Omnisource5, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What a bizarre shape for a cloud! This lens or saucer look reminds me of a UFO. The lenticular cloud, as it is called, can seem motionless and stable. But in fact, it is made up of very unstable air. Instead of moving horizontally across the ground, this cloud when disturbed by the wind, will move vertically and even accelerate!

Today’s verse describes clouds as the dust of God’s feet. This poetic description of God’s power is part of a warning against the city of Nineveh. Our God is a jealous and avenging God (verse 2). Mountains quake and hills melt away before their Creator (verse 5). But the people of Nineveh disregarded God’s righteous wrath against their wickedness. That is until they heeded Jonah’s message and repented. This same righteous and powerful God is a refuge in times of trouble and cares for those who trust Him (Verses 7-8).

What kind of God would He be if He did not punish the wicked? His absolute holiness demands it. But thinking on His wrath is not a comfortable subject. Thankfully, in His incredible mercy, He made a way for me by placing all my guilt on His Son. God’s righteousness was satisfied in Christ’s sacrifice for me. Yes, His judgement and wrath are to be feared. But at the same time, His mercy and grace are my refuge! He is slow to anger, not willing that any perish and enter eternity without Him (II Peter 3:9).

Thank you Lord, for Your power, justice AND mercy.