Devotions By Jan


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Patient Dumping

Scripture for Today: John 6:37 “All those the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never drive away.”

Patient dumping is not new but recently there has been more attention given the problem.  The term refers to the premature discharge of Medicare or indigent patients for economic reasons.  It usually happens to a homeless or mentally ill person who is uninsured or unable to pay for treatment.  They are discharged to the streets, to a bus stop, to a homeless shelter or to another hospital.  There have been fines leveled at hospitals and corrective measures taken.  But too often, the problem continues.

Today’s verse tells us that the Lord will not turn anyone away who comes to Him!  He does not deny access.  He does not abandon or turn away anyone who comes to Him in faith.  No one is denied forgiveness because they are “too far gone” or guilty of some terrible sin.  No money is no problem as we come freely at His invitation to come (Isaiah 55:1).  He is faithful to forgive those who come to Him in confession (I John 1:9).  He forgives and gives us a new clean heart and it is all undeserved.

I may not be homeless or mentally ill but I am undeserving.  I come to Him with no merit of my own.  I do not deserve even a glance from Him let alone His favor!  But He welcomes me with open arms because of His incredible grace!  Regardless of my emotional state, regardless of the shame I feel, He is there and invites me to come.  Even when it has been awhile since I last came, He will always welcome me and will never turn me away!

Thank you Lord for Your faithful constant love.


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Pregnant Male

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:2  “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

This creature is unlike any other in nature.  It is the male sea-horse who carries the eggs for the female!  The female will deposit her eggs in a special pouch he carries.  There, he fertilizes the eggs with his sperm, and carries them for two to four weeks until he gives birth.  Their babies are called “fry” and there can be as many as 1000 at a time  The female has it easy.  Her part is to swim up to the male each morning during gestation  and give him a special greeting!

Today’s verse talks about helping each other to carry our burdens.  Doing so fulfills the law of Christ which is to love one another.  These burdens are the unfortunate result of our sin (verse 1).  They are different from His  burden which is light (Matt.11:30).  Rather than look askance at the one fallen in sin thinking we would never do that, we are to do all we can to lift him up and lighten his burden.  We all carry around the memories of past failures.  Understanding how the Lord has forgiven us helps us extend that same grace.  In love, we want to help with words of encouragement and affirmation.

It costs me something to help carry the burden of another.  It means that I take time out to pray, give godly counsel and practical help.  It might mean hours on the phone.  Sin can complicate a life.  The consequences can be very burdensome with broken relationships and poor self-image.  But that burden can be lighter when I come along side.  It is one of the best ways to show love!

Lord, help me be willing to carry another’s burden.

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


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Broken Bisque

Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

These broken pieces of bisque look pretty pathetic.  For whatever reason they did not survive their first firing during the process of becoming beautiful pottery.  The first firing is to strengthen the clay.  Their glazing, unique colors and design can only be applied after this important step.  When touring a Polish pottery factory I remember seeing a huge bin full of broken bisque pieces.  Our guide explained that rather than throw them out, they would melt them all down to start again.

When hearing this explanation, I could not help but think of today’s verse.  Paul is confident that God will continue His work in the hearts of believers.  He has a goal for each of us to grow more and more like His Son.  And even though the process is life-long, what He starts, He promises to finish.  Just as pottery needs firing to be strengthened, so our faith is built up by the “fiery trials” we experience (I Peter 4:12).  When life heats up with impossible situations or insurmountable obstacles, it becomes clear just where we are weak. With each testing of our faith, we ideally become more confident of His control and goodness.

I wish it were always true that I come through those trials without cracking or breaking.  But I certainly cannot say that.  Thankfully, my failures do not change the plan or the eventual outcome.  I can be confident too that the Lord will use it all and He knows what He is doing with me.  One day, I will be like Him! (I John 3:2)

Lord, keep me trusting You, especially in the hard times.

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


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Penguin Cries

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:7-8a  “So, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.'”

The courtship rituals of the Emperor penguin are fascinating!  I find it sweet that they bow to one another before mating.  But what is really interesting are their cries.  In large nesting colonies, the male will call out to his female partner from the previous year.  If she is there at the same time they will find each other in this huge sea of black and white.  They are able to reunite as each cry is distinctive and recognizable.

Today’s verse speaks of a voice that is also distinctive and recognizable.  It was a voice heard and ignored by the Israelites in the wilderness, wandering for forty years.  They rebelled against that voice and their hearts became hardened with sin (verse 13).  It is not that they could not hear His voice or recognize it.  It was that they did not want to obey it.  Hearing His voice is not always a comfortable experience.  His voice sometimes nudges believers when we are disobedient.  His voice calls for deeper commitment and faith.  But His voice also speaks words of love and encouragement, hope and reassurance of His control.

I want my heart to stay soft and responsive towards Him.  And I want to be able to recognize which voice is His.  There are so many conflicting voices vying for my attention.  But I know it is His voice when He speaks to me through prayer and the reading of His Word.  His voice spurs me on to greater trust and obedience.  Condemnation is not heard but rather forgiveness and love.  That is a voice I want to hear.  That is a voice I need to hear!

Please Lord, let me hear Your voice today.

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


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Forget-Me-Nots

forget-me-notScripture for Today: Psalm 103:2 “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

This sweet blue flower was described by Henry Thoreau as “unpretending” and “modest.”  Their name is said to come from an old German legend where God named all the plants.  But this tiny one cried out, “Forget me not, O Lord!”  So God replied, “That shall be your name.”  They are small being only one centimeter or less in diameter.  King Henry IV used this flower as a symbol during his exile in 1398.   And ladies in medieval times wore this flower as a sign of faithful love.

Today’s verse tells us to “forget not” all His benefits.  This passage goes on to list just a few including forgiveness, healing, redemption, love, compassion and satisfaction.  David is reminding his soul to praise the Lord for what He has done for him and to remember.  David knew of God’s ways with Moses and His miraculous deeds with the people of Israel.  He also experienced God’s grace in his own life.  But like so many of us, his soul was forgetful and needed reminding.

How could I forget these incredible benefits in my own life?  It is really very easy.  I forget His forgiveness when I am plagued with guilt.  I forget His healing when doubt clouds my prayers.  When I feel worthless I forget that He thought enough of me to redeem my soul.  I forget His love when I beat myself up.  When I wonder if He cares what I am going through I am forgetting His compassion.  I forget that only He satisfies the deepest longings of my soul when I look for that satisfaction elsewhere.

Lord, do not let me forget today.

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


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Beet Juice

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

I am not a fan of beets but dutifully served them to my family.  Not only did I dislike the taste but the juice from them was always staining clothes.  Their juice is used as dye on some fabrics, but there is another use; de-icing roads!  Apparently, when mixed with road salt, the beet juice melts the snow more effectively.

Today’s verse likens our influence to salt.  Once salt loses its taste it does not have much effect.  It cannot be made salty again.  It is thrown out and trampled underfoot.  But even salt in the form of rock salt can have some effect, clearing the road.  God in His grace can redeem a life of mistakes and blunders and use it!  We are forgiven through His blood and sacrifice.  And like that red beet juice, His forgiveness can make something useful out of something thrown out and trampled.

After completely blowing it, we can feel that God can never use us again.  But nothing is further from the Truth.  We are walking examples of what forgiveness and grace can do.  Saltiness is not perfection.  Being salty is having the courage to admit our imperfections and openly sharing what God’s grace and forgiveness has done for us!  I am salt and light in the world, not because I am perfect but because I am forgiven!  I am grateful God uses flawed people.  And if He uses me at all, it is in spite of myself and He gets all the glory (verse 16).

Thank you Lord, for Your precious grace and forgiveness!

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


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Playing Possum

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

This dog looks a bit confused.  The opossum is “playing dead,” a common behavior when stressed by an imminent attack.  A predator will leave this bizarre-looking marsupial alone when he sees it limp, drooling, stiff and exuding a smell of decay.  The state of shock producing this comatose state can last up to four hours!  The opossum is a peaceful creature intent on avoiding confrontation.  But “playing dead” presents other risks, especially when involving an approaching car!

Today’s verse explains that before being saved from the penalty of our sin, we were dead in our transgressions or sins.  It took the love and mercy of God Himself to quicken us and make us alive.  Being dead spiritually means that there is no possibility of any self-help.  Being dead means not even being able to respond.  Being dead, we cannot save ourselves.  And dead people cannot “earn points” with God.  What the Lord did to make us alive He did out of grace or unmerited favor.

I am so thankful that my Savior took the initiative to begin this relationship we have.  We love because He first loved us (I John 4:19).  I could not love Him first as I was dead in my sin.  I could not listen, feel or respond to His love.  In His incredible mercy He took pity on me.  He removed my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).  He has awakened me to a whole other dimension to life; the spiritual dimension.  Knowing Him and loving Him makes my life always worth the living!

Thank you Lord, for true life!

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