Devotions By Jan


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Turbulent Water

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 23:2-3a “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul.”

This water was fairly quiet and placid just moments before the submarine descended into its depths.  It left behind churning whitewater in its wake.  What makes this water turbulent are the water molecules moving in all different directions and at different speeds.  And that happens when there is heat or pressure.  The opposite is also true that the water remains calm and quiet without the heat or pressure.  Moving churning water is beautiful and exciting.  But there is something about still and quiet water that makes me calm down and grow reflective.

Today’s verse is from the well-known psalm describing the Lord as our Shepherd.  He knows His sheep intimately, understanding when we need excitement and activity and when we need to settle down and be still.  He knows exactly when we need to slow down and stop our frenzied activity.  He leads us when we listen and follow.  And where He takes us is to a place of quiet stillness where our souls can be refreshed and rejuvenated.  There we can take time to reflect, meditate on His goodness and find rest for our weary souls.

Somehow, I equate activity with spirituality.  The more I do for the Lord, the better Christian I am.  I am not so sure where that can be found in God’s Word!  The time I take by those still waters may be the true measure of my spiritual walk.  I can only take so much of the pressure and heat of activity before I just lose it!  How much better to listen and follow His lead.  He loves me and takes me to the quiet waters I need.

Refresh me today, Lord!

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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Walking the Dogs

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 17:24  “A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.”

In walking our daughter’s dogs, there are two different lengths for the leashes.  Both dogs are fairly obedient but Paco, the smaller black one, needs the shorter leash.  He was an abandoned stray and we are not sure what he lived through before becoming part of the family.  But whatever it was, he thinks he can take on any other dog he sees and lets them know it!  He also is very distracted by any and every smell he encounters, which makes for lots of pulling on that leash.  His cooperation does not come easily!

Today’s verse describes a fool whose eyes wander away from what is wise.  Wisdom is like that shorter leash that keeps the discerning person from wandering.  The fool is easily distracted away from wisdom.  Wandering aimlessly is how the adulteress is described and she does not even know it. (Prov. 5:6)  Some wander away from the faith because of their love of money (I Tim. 6:10).  Without the shorter leash of wisdom we wander all over the mountains and hills, following the wrong shepherds and forgetting where our resting place is (Jer. 50:6).

Christ is the wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:24).  I know that connecting to Him is wise.  He is the One who keeps me on the right path.  The problem is that I am “prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love.”  I am so easily distracted.  I pull on that leash to go check something out and end up going in the wrong direction.  When I trust in my own understanding or ideas, I am out of step with Him.  His direction and His pace are always the best.

Lord, make me wise by following You.


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Pack Your Patience

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

Today we leave for France.  With long lines, security hassles, and tired feet the thrill of travel is definitely lacking!  I cannot think of a better training ground for practicing patience than when flying.  I am so careful in my packing but I am not sure I always pack patience!  Flight delays and missed connections strain my patience to the very limit.  And showing patience is especially difficult when fatigue is added to the mix.  I easily take offense at the slightest provocation, whether it be someone knocking into me or cutting in line.

Today’s verse tells us from where patience comes.  It comes from wisdom.  Showing patience is always the wiser course.  Blowing up or throwing a tantrum never changes anything.  Wisdom determines when to grin and bear it when nothing else can be done.  Overlooking that rude remark or crying baby not only is the wiser more patient response but it makes one a better person.  Any other reaction risks being “inglorious.”  Wisdom is the source of patience and the fear of the Lord is the source and beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).

I have been told (tongue in cheek) never to actually pray for patience as it always seems to come as a result of testing (James 1:3).  But I am encouraged to learn that patience can be a by-product of wisdom as well.  Fearing and respecting God’s power and control of my circumstances calms me down and helps me keep my emotional balance.  So whether I am waiting in long lines or learning that my suitcase did not make it, I can be confident that He knows and He has my back.

Lord, make me wise today especially!


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Lawn Bowling

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 59:8 “The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks along them will know peace.”

I have a friend who enjoys lawn bowling and I was interested to learn that the balls they use are “biased.”  There is no way they can roll in a straight line as they are weighted.  The ball is deliberately lopsided so that it always curves toward the flat side as it slows down.  Without taking this into account, it would be doubly difficult to roll the closest to that white ball (or jack) which is the point of the game.

Today’s verse talks about a road that is crooked.  There is no way to walk  straight down this path.  And because the going is crooked there is no justice or peace.  This is a picture of the path of wickedness rather than the path of righteousness.  By ignoring God’s laws and always doing the wrong thing, there is no peace with God or each other.  But just as that lawn bowling ball can look normal, so too we can be unaware of the crooked way we are walking.

My path can only be straight as I submit to His way of doing things (Prov. 3:6).  When He leads along straight paths, my steps will not be hampered and I will not stumble (Prov. 4:12).  I am sure it is the more difficult path however.  He has never promised that it would be easy.  But when I make the effort to walk with integrity, I can enjoy peace with Him and have the best chance at peace with my neighbor.  It is worth the effort.

Lord, keep me walking Your way.


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Rabbit Trails

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:25 “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.”

We have all experienced the chagrin of having to return from a “rabbit trail” while in a group discussion!  Veering off the topic is easy to do when a story or explanation is interjected that goes nowhere.  These mazes of unrelated detail can derail a conversation and be totally frustrating for someone trying to guide a discussion.  These side trips may be interesting but can easily confuse as they add no light or clarity.  It is a confused path that leads nowhere.

Today’s verse could be thought of as a purpose statement to a life.  With a focus like this, there are not as likely to be too many distractions or rabbit trails.  Asaph declares that God holds him with his right hand, (verse 23)  guides him, and will take him one day to glory (verse 24).  He describes God as the strength of his heart (verse 26).  His relationship with God is so intimate and fulfilling that nothing in heaven or earth can compare!

My deepest desire is to have a relationship with the Lord that is just that focused!  Too easily, I get distracted by pretty baubles.  Wonderful relationships and exciting experiences make life rich, but can also draw my attention away from the One who is blessing me!  I do not want to be so diverted by good gifts that I forget the Giver.  Chasing after what the world values is a true rabbit trail leading nowhere.  Of course, I desire lots of things that are truly good.  But above all else, I want to desire Him.  He is the only one who reaches deep within me and fills me with His love!

Lord, keep me close to You today.


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Crossroads

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 25 :5 “Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.”

We saw this enormous cross as we were driving across  the country along the Southern states.  It is probably one of the thirty built by James Potter, a man whose family is in construction and who has made building these crosses his personal mission.  What struck me is that this cross stands near a “crossroad,” giving a different slant to the meaning of the word.  The literal definition of intersecting roads is used a lot less frequently than the figurative sense used to denote choice.

Today’s verse is a prayer of David.  As with all of us he is daily faced with choice.  He asks to be guided and taught all day long.  David recognizes that he could easily take the wrong road and stray from what is true.  He reminds the Lord of His great mercy and love in the past (verse 6) and counts on Him to answer this prayer.  God promises to guide the humble (verse 9) on to His ways, which are always loving and faithful (verse 10).

Probably what keeps me from asking for God’s guidance in a decision is the assumption that I can work it all out on my own.  After all, I am reasonably intelligent, educated, and logical.  But there is no way to know and see all that He does.  The Lord can only guide me when I humbly acknowledge my limitations and ask for His help.  The path I usually take is the easiest, or the path of least resistance.  His path, though sometimes harder, is always one where I will experience His love and faithfulness!

Thank you Lord, that You are there at every crossroad!