Devotions By Jan

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Pickle Fork

Scripture for Today: John 15:4 “Remain in Me, as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit of itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”

I love looking out the window of an airplane, even if I am over a wing.  I don’t normally think about how that wing is attached to the plane.  But if I did, I would just assume the connection was good at what is called the “Pickle Fork.”  That is the name of the juncture between the wings and fuselage.  Lately, the new generation of the Boeing 737 has been showing cracks in exactly that spot!

Today’s verse teaches how vital our connection is with the Lord.  Just as there can be no fruit in a branch separated from the vine, so there can be no good result when a wing detaches from the fuselage.  This verse tells us to remain in Him, meaning that sometimes we do not.  Our independent spirit and sense of self-sufficiency can create some serious cracks!  The separated branch or wing can look good to others but without that essential connection, there is no purpose to it being there.

To remain in constant communication with the Lord takes focus.  To always be aware of His presence and love takes deliberate effort.  But when I spend time in His Word and my thoughts are directed toward Him, I see my day take on purpose as He works through me.  Nothing I can accomplish will have any eternal significance without His amazing productive power.  I can almost feel those cracks forming when I do not spend time with Him.  But when I stay connected I see results that I know do not come from me alone.

Lord, keep me connected and crack free!





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Lion or Kitten?

Scripture for Today: Acts 4:13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

The Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite characters from this 1939 film!  Even though he is the “King of the Forest” he does not think he is courageous.  He wants courage from the great Oz, not realizing that he already has it!  He mistakens his fear for lack of courage.  But courage can be defined as acting in the face of fear!

In today’s verse, Peter and John are showing courage.  They had been seized and thrown in prison by the rulers, elders and teachers of the law.  When appearing before them to give a defense, Peter, filled with the Spirit, stood fearlessly and preached Jesus.  Their accusers watching them were not only surprised but astonished that such unschooled and ordinary men would be showing such courage.  And they rightly concluded that these men had been with Jesus!  The Spirit God gives does not make us timid! (II Tim. 1:7)

I have not been called before the law to defend my faith in Christ.  But if it should ever happen, I believe God through His Spirit would give me the courage I need.  I may tremble inside but He would help me face my fears.  When I show courage in the face of any opposition, it is a sure sign that I have spent time with Jesus!  I am told to wait on the Lord and be of good courage (Psalm 27:14) because He is the One who will strengthen my heart!  Any courage I show would not come from me but from Him.

Thank you Lord, that you can make a lion out of this kitten!

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Through the Looking Glass

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 am not seeing what fascinates this man looking through that magnifying glass.  Maybe it is something that is so detailed that magnifying is the only way to appreciate it.  Maybe it is something that was previously overlooked due to its small size.  In any case, whatever is magnified is obviously made to look larger than it really is.

Today’s verse corrects my perspective. The Lord is the God of all mankind and nothing is too hard for Him nor too big.  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 or too big for Him to accomplish when He can speak into being an entire universe!

What a contrast to how I see things.  Because of my own limitations, I see problems as much bigger than they really are.  And the more I focus on the problem and worry it to death, the bigger it becomes.  But for the Lord it is all small stuff.  With the power I see in His creation I understand that nothing is too hard or too big for Him to surmount.  I know He can do anything He wants.  But does He want to help me?  Will He outstretch His arm for me?  But 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.  Rather than magnify my problems I need to magnify Him!

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


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Miracle Baby

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.”

You may wonder why this sweet baby boy has dirt under his fingernails.  No, he was not playing in the dirt, but in the dirt is where authorities found him, loosely buried with sticks and soil in the forest.  The man who put him there was tripped out on drugs and felt the baby was too heavy to carry.  Thankfully, he was apprehended and the baby saved.  It was a true miracle that the baby was found and survived 40 degree temperatures for nine hours!

Today’s verse tells us that nothing is too hard for the Lord.  The great power of His outstretched arm has brought into existence the heavens and the earth.  Anything else would seem to take less effort!  Surely, if He can blanket our sky with stars and shake our earth at will, than there is no problem beyond His reach.  By seeing and appreciating His power in creation, we can be assured that absolutely nothing is too hard for Him!

Anything that is caused by the power of God is a “miracle.”  Sometimes, I put my own definition to the word.  Often I think of miracles only in terms of the visible and spectacular.  But even more astonishing than a healing that confounds doctors, or an accident that should have taken a life is the heart that is changed.  His power creates new clean hearts that love and obey Him.  To be able to let go and forgive someone who has done the unthinkable is a miracle!  His power has and continues to change me and it is all His doing!

Lord, help me to trust that nothing is too hard for You.


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The Manatee

Scripture for Today:Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

Who would ever want to harm this gentle creature?  The Florida manatee, or sea cow, measures up to 13 feet and 1,300 pounds.  Their slow lolling nature make this large marine mammal a favorite of tourists.  But there are Manatee Zone signs saying “Slow Speed” and “Minimal Wake” in an effort to protect them.  Even so, the manatee is classed as “vulnerable.”  Their greatest threat is human as they are hunted, drown in fishing nets, face habitat degradation or collide with fishing boats.

Today’s verse reminds us that our greatest enemy is not human.  Our biggest threat is spiritual against our souls.  We protect ourselves from evil by the different pieces of God’s armor: truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. (verses 10-19)  We can stand firm against evil with the protection He provides.  We can stand with confidence as well, knowing that He not only has determined the outcome of this war, but He fights with and for us!

My courage is so non-existent that I need to enlist my husband when in combat with a spider!  There is nothing in me to inspire fear in those dark forces of evil.  Yet, the Devil will flee from me when I am wholly submitted to God (James 4:7).  I can face the dark and stand strong, never with  my puny efforts but in the power of His might!  Although this is a subject that can illicit fear, God reassures my heart.  If God is for me, who can be against me? (Romans 8:31)

Thank you Lord, that my heart, mind and soul belong to You.

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Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 2:32 “Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet My people have forgotten me, days without number.”

This is not my jewelry box.  My way of storing jewelry is not quite this organized!  Instead of a box I have shallow drawers where all my jewelry marry each other and get jumbled.  Although I am not so organized, I do remember where each piece came from.  I remember who gave me the item and the circumstances surrounding the gift.  Many times the value of my jewelry comes not from the price tag but from the memories associated with it.

Today’s verse tells us how unnatural it is for a young woman to forget her jewelry.  Yet, says the Lord through His prophet Jeremiah, My people have forgotten Me.  And He has so much more value than the most expensive elaborate jewelry!  How could they forget the One who provided for them, protected them from enemies, and caused their crops to grow?  Unfortunately, this happened often as they continually rebelled against God, turning to idols and to the ways of neighboring countries.  The Lord declares that they will not be helped by them (verse 37).

Forgetting God’s goodness and power is not something unique to the Israelites!  When everything is going well and life is good, I know I do the same thing!  I begin to take my health for granted.  When things run smoothly I tend to feel complacent, forget to thank Him or even take the credit.  I forget how intimately involved He is in every aspect of my life.  It is when I am in trouble that I cry out to Him and understand just how dependent I am on His goodness and power.

Lord, don’t let me forget You today!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

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Petrified Wood

Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

This piece of petrified wood hardly resembles wood any longer.  The inside is as hard as rock.  Petrified wood is classed as a fossil and it is formed when a tree falls to the ground and is covered with mud or ash.  Rather than decaying, the organic plant material breaks down, forming a void. Over much time, as mineral laden groundwater flows through the inside, the deposits build up forming rock in that void.

Today’s verse is a process that takes much time as well.  But the result is a strength every bit as strong as that rock.  The Lord allows suffering for awhile.  He uses it to empty us of all of our own resources, pride and self-sufficiency.  Then when there is a void, He moves in with His strength.  Little by little we are filled with those rock-making materials.  We no longer resemble ourselves when we are filled with His strength and power.

It is in the middle of those difficult hurting moments that I realize I am weak.  Any other time I think I am strong.  All it takes is a bit of suffering to realize that I am not.  The Lord is so gracious to come to me Himself and personally restore me.  He gives me His strength and helps me be strong and steadfast.  I may look the same on the outside, but something has changed inside.  And it would not have happened had He not allowed the void and emptiness first.

Thank you Lord, for filling me with Your strength.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.