Devotions By Jan


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Handle with Care

dropped86542889-resized-600Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”

I have done enough moves to know that having the label, “Fragile, Handle with Care,” slapped on a box is no guarantee that nothing will break!  Sometimes that box with its fragile contents will be upside down, on the bottom of a stack of boxes, or dropped by well-meaning neighbors.  At least my boxes are taped shut as well as labelled, color-coded and numbered.  Even so, there are always a few items that don’t make the journey in one piece.

Today’s verse reassures the believer that the Lord is willing and able to handle all our cares.  He understands that we are fragile and easily broken.  Our bodies are like clay jars, susceptible to cracking in pieces for a reason; so that the power we live our lives by is seen to be from God and not ourselves (II Cor. 4:7)  There is no shame in admitting that we are fragile and in need of gentle handling.  It is in recognizing our weakness that we avail ourselves of His power (II Cor. 12:9).

It takes some humility to admit my need of His care.  I can only give Him my anxieties and experience that care if I humble myself first (I Peter 5:6-7).  The Lord wants to show favor, lift up and sustain those who turn to Him.  But He waits to be asked.  He waits to be needed.  I am too prone to thinking I am just fine and not needing His power.  My pride keeps me from admitting any weakness or need for care.  Until something breaks.  He picks up the pieces and because He cares, He makes things right.

Thank you Lord, for Your precious care.

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

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Face Plant

Scripture for Today: I Kings 18:39 “When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord – He is God! The Lord – He is God.'”

I have never understood why cats do this!  Our Tiger would often bury his face into the couch, so much so I worried that he was not getting enough air.  He would face plant on the hard uncomfortable floor as well.  I guess when sleep overwhelms, any position will do.  But he sure did look silly.  However, face planting by his owners is embarrassing, unintentional and takes looking silly to a whole new level!  Who wants to look that undignified?

Today’s verse describes an intentional face plant!  There was no concern about looking undignified.  The Israelites fell prostrate, face down on the ground in response to the awesome power of God.  In answer to Elijah’s simple prayer, the only true God sent fire down from Heaven in a contest between Baal and Himself.  This fire was unique not only because it fell from Heaven, but because it burned up sacrifice, wood, stones, soil and water!  What other response is possible but to fall face down to the ground in fearful humility and worship?  The Lord, He is God.

In our French church, we stand when we take communion.  There is standing and lifting up of hands in many churches as an expression of worship as well.  Paul tells us that one day every knee will bow in humble recognition at the name of Jesus (Phil. 2:10).  But when God reveals Himself completely and I see for the first time all His magnificent power and beauty, I cannot see myself in any other position but prostrate with wonder!

Standing, kneeling or prostrate, Lord, may my heart be completely Yours today.

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


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The Caring Hand

Scripture for Today: Psalm 145:16&19a “You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.  He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him.”

This surprising sculpture rises from the ground and gently wraps its fingers around a tree.  It is found in Glarus, Switzerland and was created by Eva Oertli.  She named it “Hand,” but it has since been called by appreciative on-lookers as, “The Caring Hand,” for obvious reasons.  One could say that the message of this sculpture is a call to be responsible and caring about the environment.  But it called to my mind our amazing Creator.

Today’s verse is a beautiful depiction of God’s special care for His creation.  He opens His hand to satisfy and fulfill desires.  His open hand is the source of nourishment and support.  His care sustains us (Psalm 55:22).   There is not a bird that falls to the ground outside of that care (Matt. 10:29).  His care extends to all of creation.  And His special individualized care is offered to those who would fear Him.

When I was growing up, my parents used a paddle to spank us children rather than their hand.  They (like we) did not want the open hand to be associated with punishment but with love.  For those who fear the Lord, we can always associate His open hand with love and care.  All our punishment has already been paid by Jesus.  His hands were pierced so that He could open His hands with love.

My desires are often all over the place.  But as His child, my deepest desire is to love the Lord and serve Him.  He opens His hand to me every day.  He offers me strength, encouragement and hope.  He offers me joy, contentment and peace.

Thank you Lord, that You take care of me.

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


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The Swiss Alps

img_20160928_165357Scripture for Today: Isaiah 49:13 “Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones.”

Our recent week of conference in the Swiss Alps already seems like a lifetime ago.  I never tire of gazing on those majestic mountains, seen here from the gondola window.  Their height, their stability and their looming presence over the village is a constant reminder of just how small I am!  Their timeless watch over the inhabitants below bring to mind the awesome power in the hand of their Creator.

There is reason for the heavens to shout, for the earth to rejoice and for the mountains to burst into song.  Today’s verse gives the reason; the comfort and the compassion the Lord gives to His hurting people.  He is not unmoved by our pain.  He does not ignore our cries.  He hears us in the night when we smother our tears.  He sees when the heart is hurting and we want to give up.  He offers His comfort and compassion which is unlike any other.

He is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (II Cor. 1:3).  He uses His Word to reassure my heart.  He uses the care and concern of friends and family.  He uses the lyrics of a long-forgotten song in the most unlikely moment to bring me a measure of peace.  His compassion never fails me.  His comfort and compassion are renewed every morning when I wake up to a new day (Lamentations 3:22-23).  What a wonderful reason for those mountains to burst into song!

Lord, may today be a day when I can shout, rejoice and sing because You care for me!

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


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Dump Truck

article-0-1ab54a7a00000578-797_634x406Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:8 “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips.”

This happened in front of the French Parliament building in Paris!  It was no accident but a statement of rage and frustration.  I am sure the dumping of manure was effective in drawing attention to the outrage over a recent tax hike.  Although this was dramatic, I do support the citizen’s right to peaceful protest.  However, this protestor was arrested and the clean up was a major ordeal, stinky and blocking traffic for hours.

Today’s verse lists some characteristics that could well be described as a “poop attack.!”  When we dump on each other it usually includes anger and rage.  And it often includes filthy language as well.  Perhaps we think that dumping on someone will relieve our own stress.  Maybe, we feel that we make our point better with the shock factor of a vulgar word.  Or perhaps dumping on others has just become a habit.  As God’s children we are told to take off the old self with all these negatives and put on the new self.

What a difference to be characterized by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love! (verses 12-14)  It is as if that dump truck were filled with beautiful fragrant flowers.  I am not sure that someone would describe me in those terms.  Too often, those who are closest to me are the very ones on the receiving end of unkind and ugly words.  It is only with His power and presence in me that I can keep from dumping on people.

My prayer today echos the words of this old hymn; “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me!”

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


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His Rule

earth-from-issScripture for Today: Psalm 66:7 “He rules forever by His power, His eyes watch the nations – let not the rebellious rise up against Him.”

If one could fly over our planet, this is the very image one would see!  The International Space Station captured a time lapse with their mounted camera as it orbited the Earth at night.  How incredible to be able to see our Earth from above!  I feel small and insignificant enough when looking through the window of an airplane.  I imagine that having this perspective would intensify those feelings.  Seeing our world from space would be such an awesome and humbling experience.

Today’s verse tells us that the Creator of our world is also our Ruler and He is all powerful.  The Maker of Heaven and Earth is the One with absolute control regardless of what nation is the largest or most influential.  He watches the nations and notes who is rebellious.  He is completely just and nothing gets past Him.  People may try to mock Him but in the end, we reap exactly what we sow (Gal. 6:7).

Regardless of what my passport says, my first and most important allegiance is to my God.  I can be proud of my country and its freedoms, and I count it a privilege to be able to vote but at the same time I acknowledge that I am a citizen of Heaven (Phil. 3:20).  He is not only the Ruler of this Earth but also of my heart.  I am to “serve the Lord with fear and celebrate His rule with trembling” (Psalm 2:11).  It is a tremendous comfort for me to know that God still reigns and no political party or politician has the last word.  He will have His will and way and will bring about His purposes.  I can experience peace having the Prince of Peace residing in me!

Lord, help me to trust completely in Your sovereign rule.

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


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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.