Devotions By Jan


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Mondays

8-mondays-beatles-funny-parodyScripture for Today: I Thes. 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as human word, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.”

I wonder if even the Beatles hated Mondays.  The parody of this iconic picture sums up the attitude of most people.  Somehow, when that alarm jars you awake after a full weekend, the temptation to stay under those covers is oh so strong!  No wonder we hate Mondays.  Like the Mamas and the Papas’ 1966 song, “Every other day of the week is fine.”  But, “Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day!”

Today’s verse is about a work that is continual, regardless of the day of the week.  The Word of God is at work in those who believe.  When God sends out His Word, it will accomplish what He desires (Isaiah 55:11).  His Word is unlike any other book, being that it is alive and active, judging our thoughts and attitudes (Hebrews 4:12).  His Word reveals who God is and who I am.  Reading His Word brings comfort and encouragement.  It is absolute truth that changes how I see my world.  His Word guides my steps and keeps me on the best path.

Of course, His Word cannot be at work in me every day of the week if I am not reading it, listening to it or singing it!  I need to hide it in my heart like the Psalmist tells me.  It is then that His Word can do its work, slowly transforming me by renewing my mind (Rom. 12:2).

Lord, keep me motivated to read and love Your Word, even on Mondays!

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

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Breaking Free

freedomb04c55f51dc9b7be98221b54113ab02fScripture for Today: Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This Freedom Sculpture was created by Zenos Frudakis and can be seen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  It depicts several people in different stages of breaking free of their molds.  The artist felt that everyone could relate to this image as the struggle to be free is a universal one, common to all mankind.

Today’s verse is put differently in another version; “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold.” Without a transformation of our minds, we stay firmly ensconced in the world’s way of thinking.  Like the last figure in this sculpture, we can so completely conform to the values and thinking of this world that we lose the freedom to follow what is best.  What the Lord wants for us is good and pleasing and perfect.  And so often, it is in direct opposiiton to the prevalent thinking around us.

I do not want to look, think and act like everyone around me and call that freedom.  But I can walk about in freedom when I intentionally seek out what God wants (Psalm 119:45).  His plan for me is not just good but perfect.  When He changes my heart and mind with His Word, pleasing Him becomes a pleasure.  Blending in by following another standard may sometimes be easier.  In fact it is usually easier to just go with the flow, but not as fulfilling.  His transformation is freeing me to become who He meant me to be, rather than a carbon copy of everyone else.

Thank you Lord, for the freedom Your transformation brings!

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


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The Scattered Leaves

Scripture for Today: I Chronicles 29:18 “Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of Your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to You.”

I love the colors of fall.  But seeing leaves scattered all over the place, not so much.  When they become wet, those leaves are more difficult to gather, sticking to the ground and becoming slippery.  Soon they lose their pretty color and become a soggy brown mess.  But even when conditions are dry, raking and gathering them become quite a chore.  One good gust of wind is all that is needed to send them scurrying away from the rake.

Today’s verse is a prayer of David’s during the collection of gifts for the building of the temple.  After David gave liberally of his gold and silver to its construction, he encouraged the people to do the same.  They responded generously and together they praised the Lord.  Their generous giving revealed the thoughts and desires of their hearts.  David prays that their thoughts and desires continue to be loyal to the Lord.

Much like wind-blown leaves, my thoughts and desires can be scattered all over the place.  When I spend time in God’s Word, it is as if the verses serve as a big rake, gathering my thoughts to a place they should be.  Love of the world and consumerism can quickly blow my thoughts and desires into corners they do not belong.  Spending time with Him lines up my priorities and keeps my loyalty to Him undivided.  I want to keep those God-honoring thoughts and desires in my heart where they belong.  And I want to express them by generous giving.

Lord, keep my thoughts and desires from wandering away from complete loyalty to You!

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


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Oh Rats!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

The ship was crossing the channel, taking all of our family to England from France for a house exchange.  We were thankful that no one suffered any sea sickness, there were no sudden squalls and we did not see rats making for the exits!  Of course, if we had, we would have been plenty worried.  It is a common belief that rats know when to flee a sinking ship.  Some research seems to indicate that animals can pick up “infrasonic” sound pulses created by storms and earthquakes, giving them a head start toward safety.  If I saw rats running for their lives, I would consider that a warning and follow!

Today’s verse promises reward for keeping God’s laws and decrees.  That is the positive side.  The negative side in this verse is that they also serve as a warning.  Like the rats headed for the exit, God’s commandments give us warning.  They let us know when we are headed toward trouble.  God, in His grace, alerts us through His Word so that we can avoid needless heartbreak.  Following His way rather than our own keeps us out of harm’s way.

Our sin hurts.  It complicates a life and results in brokenness.  But it does not have to be if we heed His warning signs.  It is unpopular to speak of absolutes but they are not my words.  God delineates quite clearly in His Word between what is good and evil, black and white, dark and light.  He makes it clear so I do not add senseless pain and guilt to my life.

Help me Lord, to see Your commandments as a positive loving gesture from You.

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


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The Persimmon

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 24:14 “Know also that wisdom is like honey for you; If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”

I recently rediscovered persimmons.  Remembering their strange bitter aftertaste, I thought I did not like them.  What I had not realized is that there are several varieties.  The one I disliked so much was the Hachiya  pictured here.  They have a pointed bottom and are mushy inside.  But the Fuyu variety with the flat bottom is wonderfully sweet and can be eaten like an apple.  However. even the Hachiya can be tasty when baked in pudding, cookies and breads.

Today’s verse likens wisdom to the taste of sweetness in honey.  Finding wisdom is worth the effort as it will mean a future hope.  There is not much hope of a positive future for the fool who discounts God’s words.  But the one who is wise is the one who treasures His words, finding them “sweeter than honey” (Psalm 119:103)  God’s Word is what makes wise the simple (Psalm 19:7).  And with wisdom one makes the best decisions, starting with obeying His Law.

Gaining wisdom is a lifelong process involving not only reading and knowing His word, but intentionally putting it into practice.  His Word does not read like an advice column that one can take or leave.  God’s Word is not just full of  suggestions on how to live.  It is authoritative.  God’s precepts give me not only a good course of action but the very best one!  I have no wisdom of my own but I can walk in His wisdom when I submit to His way!  Living wisely means there is hope for my future!

Lord, make this a sweet day by helping me be wise.

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


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The Chuck Wagon

Scripture for Today:  Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.”

The “chuck wagon” was essential to the life of a cowboy driving cattle overland out of Texas.  These hardy men would be out in the open for months and the entire crew needed to be fed daily.  The chuck wagon was invented by a Texas rancher named Charles Goodnight in 1866 to meet this need.  The wagon carried a dutch oven to bake the sourdough biscuits that were served with beans.  The menu may not have varied much but it kept body and soul together.

In today’s verse, Job values God’s Word more than he does his daily bread.  Job was an upright man who carefully obeyed and feared God.  But even more than that Job hung on God’s every word.  To Job, the words of God’s mouth were not only a daily necessity like bread, but a treasure!  Job had the same regard for God’s decrees as David had years later when he said they were more precious than gold (Psalm 19:10).

I want to esteem God’s Word as just this precious and valuable!  I want His Word to be just as essential to me as the food I eat.  His Word is a treasure because in keeping it, “there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:11)  And It feeds my soul and nourishes my relationship with Him.  No other book on earth can do that!  And His Word will never pass away as it is eternal (Matt. 24:35).  What other book could ever make that claim?  I can skip a meal and feel hunger, but do I feel just as much of a lack when I neglect reading God’s Word?

Lord, keep me hungry for every word that comes from You.


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A Panda-Sized Meal

Scripture for Today: James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Who does not enjoy watching these cute cuddly-looking pandas!  They can look especially adorable when romping around playing.  But more likely, they are seen doing what they spend the majority of their day doing; eating!  They eat 30-45 pounds of bamboo per day.  Their back molars are very strong for tearing this fibrous plant.  And they even have a sixth digit for holding those long stalks.  But because the bamboo is low in nutrition and pandas digest a very low percentage of what they eat, they must consume huge quantities.  They are constantly eating.

Today’s verse talks about two ways one can feed on God’s Word.  One can merely listen to it and be deceived into thinking that is sufficient.  Or one can not only listen to God’s Word but actually apply it and put it into practice.  In obeying God’s Word, there is change, growth and good spiritual health.  However, merely listening is much easier to do.  There can be momentary feel-good reactions to a poetic passage or a challenging story of faith.  But it is when we respond to His commands with submission and obedience that we truly grow.

I can get quite prideful about how well I know Scripture.  I can recite verses with the best of them.  But large quantities of head knowledge is not what makes for true heart change.  It is only in doing what God’s Word says that I can grow and become what He wants me to be.  It really is not how much I know or how much I listen to that makes a difference.  The difference lies in how much I do what it says!

Lord, don’t let me be deceived.  Show me where I need to obey.