Devotions By Jan

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In a Pickle

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

It is such an odd expression to speak of one’s self as “in a pickle.”  The word “pickle” came from the Dutch word “pekel” meaning something piquant.  William Shakespeare used this expression in 1610 for his play, The Tempest, when one character asked another “How camest thou in this pickle?” meaning “How did you get so drunk?”  Being in a pickle today can mean being in any sort of disagreeable situation.  That difficulty is likened to becoming a pickle by soaking in brine and vinegar.

Today’s verse goes further than just a disagreeable situation!  The early Christians faced real persecution because of their faith and many were even martyred.  Peter reminds them of God’s favor in calling them and of their future reward.  He also points out that the suffering is temporary and only for a little while.  How precious that God Himself will personally restore them and make them strong and firm after that suffering is over!

There is a closeness that seems to come uniquely through suffering.  I have heard so many share their gratitude for having cancer because of their special bond and closeness to the Savior through it!  In some mysterious way, God moves in close to those who are suffering.  His presence is felt like never before as He affirms and reassures of His love and plan.  There is something about sharing His suffering that brings a close relationship even closer.  He has been there for me at some of the lowest times of my life and I am thankful.

Lord, help me feel You there in the hard times.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018)


Below the Surface

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 4:13 “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

I am holding what looks to be a branch. But in fact it is a ficus root from our neighbor’s tree! For years and years the roots have spread, seeking out any cool damp earth. Unfortunately, they found some beneath the foundation of our bathroom! These ficus roots are notorious for breaking up patios, roads and building foundations! With moisture, the roots will expand in girth, creating havoc where no one sees!

Today’s verse tells us that there is nothing hidden from God, not even those nasty ficus roots! What is covered and secret to the human eye is uncovered and open to His scrutiny. He sees what no one else does: the motive, the intent, the circumstances and the rationale behind everything. The Lord is the only One who can see it all and judge with perfect justice.

When I first read this verse it made me squirm. There are regrets in my life that I prefer stay out of sight. Fortunately, when God sees those failures, He also sees the perfect righteousness of Christ. The right standing I have with God is His gift to me through faith in Jesus! (Romans 3:22) On that coming day of reckoning I can be assured that there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1) as His blood has washed away every nasty dirty sin. For the believer, this verse is a comfort and reassurance that His justice will triumph over all wickedness! What is sown will one day be reaped, whether good or evil. What a relief it will be to see the right prevail!

Thank you Lord that You see it all!

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Buckled Up!

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:12-13a “Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist….”

Part of air travel means listening to the list of safety procedures. I know it is important but I cannot help but smile inside every time a seat belt buckle is explained! It just seems a bit too obvious! At the last cabin check before take-off, the flight attendant with whom my husband had been teasing came by saying, “Your seat belt is buckled, Mam?  You Sir, can undo yours!” Thankfully, this particular flight had very little turbulence but as advised, we kept it buckled.

Today’s verse describes the very first item of the armor of God. The context tells us that the believer is in a spiritual warfare needing spiritual armor. Without it, we cannot stand firm in the face of evil. We stand our ground first with the Truth. Like a seat belt well buckled, the truth keeps us stable in the event of turbulence. The day of evil turbulence will certainly come and usually without any warning. That belt needs to be in place and buckled at all times!

The enemy plants doubt in my thinking and as with Eve, asks if God really did say what He did. The only way to combat destabilizing doubt is to know, love and meditate on God’s Truth in His Word. Being convinced of the Truth allows me to stand my ground and not be moved, no matter how violent the turbulence. Knowing and resting on the truth will allow me to stay secure regardless of the turbulence that evil can produce!  

Lord, keep me firmly buckled in with the Truth!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2014)

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The Pledge

Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.”

by clotho 98 at

The gesture pictured on this magazine cover is a common one in North America among scouts. Before a girl or boy can become a scout a pledge must be voiced. “On my honor I promise to do my best….” Following are three praiseworthy statements regarding duty, helpfulness and obedience. The principles written in the scout’s honor pledge are lofty and difficult to consistently follow. It is interesting to have the disclaimer as part of the pledge…”to do my best.” There is resolve and commitment but a recognition as well that one cannot perfectly fulfill this pledge.

Today’s verse is a wonderful assurance that everything God says is right and true. He is faithful to His Word and there is no need for any disclaimer! He never says, “I will try to do my best,” or “I will do the best I can.” He is powerful enough to make all His words become a reality. If He says something will happen, then it will. We never have to wonder whether He will go back on His Word. We never have to wonder if what He says is right. His purpose statements are not just good intentions but unshakeable truth.

I can and do build my life on His Word, being that it is rock solid truth. He will always perfectly fulfill His pledge to me. His Word is not only faithful and true but powerful beyond comprehension! After all, it was by His Word that the heavens were made! (verse 6) In a world where words are cheap and promises are broken, how amazing it is to be able to count on everything He says! And what He says is so good and loving.

Thank you Lord for the certainty that everything You say is right and true!

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No Way!!

Scripture for Today: Romans 13:8 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”

What a shock to find yourself 49 billion dollars in debt! But that was the nasty surprise that awaited a young woman recently on returning home after a night out. I can just imagine the chaotic scene that followed after checking her bank balance on her phone at 2 am. Of course it could be nothing but a technical glitch by the bank. And in fact, the whole matter was cleared up in the morning. At least, it made for a good story!

There is a much more important debt in today’s verse. It can never be completely paid and it is the debt of love. It is a continuing debt as no one can say they have paid it in full. Perfectly loving others completely fulfills the Law. This is because all of the Law is summed up in loving one’s neighbor as one’s self (verse 9). Adultery, murder, theft or covetousness would never be a part of showing love as love will never do harm to a neighbor (verse 10). There is only One who has been able to fulfill the Law with a perfect love; Jesus.

Perfect love would not describe me. It is not so much what I do not do to my neighbor as in these obvious sins. It is rather the good I fail to do for my neighbor. Being selfish and self-centered keeps me from loving and serving like Christ did. Thankfully, Jesus has made His love available to me in the person of His Spirit. His filling and control can change my heart from self-centered to others-centered..

Lord, fill my heart with Your love today.