Devotions By Jan


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Dead in the Water

Scripture for Today: John 3:8 “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

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It was early spring and we were having some unusually calm, warm weather in our part of France. We took advantage of the sunshine and drove up the Vosges mountains all the way to Lac Gérardmer. The sailing club was out in full force but no one was moving. It was absolutely still and calm with glassy unruffled water. There was nothing for those boats to do but wait for the wind to pick up again. They were dead in the water without that wind to move them. How long they were to be stuck no one could predict.

Today’s verse is part of a discussion between Jesus and Nicodemus. The Lord is describing spiritual matters using images in nature. No one can know the origin of wind or its direction. So it is with the Holy Spirit. Although God’s Word teaches the role of the Spirit, there remains something mysterious in the way He works. One cannot predict or reduce to a formula the movement of the Spirit. Revivals can happen in the most unlikely places and at the most unexpected times. The Spirit is God and He will do what He wills.

I may never completely understand the work of God’s Spirit but I do know that without Him I am “dead in the water” going nowhere. It is the Spirit that gives power and strength. There is no progress without Him. It is the Spirit that keeps me moving in the right direction, giving wisdom. He knows when to push hard with hurricane force! He knows when to be a gentle breeze.

Lord, I need your Spirit to fill, move and direct me today!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2014)


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Our Future Plans

Scripture for Today: James 4:15 “Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

We’re late. In our household we move from one year’s agenda to the next at the beginning of July. But somehow, time got away from us. Here it is August and I am only now making the transfer. Perhaps subconsciously, I was putting off recording our planning in the new agenda as the world continues to change and restrictions come and go. Too often, plans have fallen apart through circumstances outside my control.

Today’s verse talks about making plans for the future. Of course it is important in making any plan to carefully weigh the pros and cons, to count the cost and to prepare for contingencies. Scripture encourages us to count the cost (Luke 14:28). But this passage is speaking to the arrogance of making plans without thought to the plans the Lord may have. We do not know what tomorrow will hold or whether we will have life and breath to carry out our future plans (verse 14). The unexpected will always surprise us, but will never take the Lord by surprise.

When I make plans I want to acknowledge that the Lord may have something different in mind. Recognizing this truth keeps me humble and keeps me in an attitude of submission. Accepting His control also keeps me asking and listening to Him. As wonderful as I think my plan is, I do not want to miss out on something better!  He knows what tomorrow holds. He knows what health issues I may be facing. He is already aware of possible changes in our finances. Being overconfident about my plans is seen as “boasting” in the Lord’s eyes (verse 16). He wants me to make Him my confidence. 

Lord, keep me following Your agenda.


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Garlands

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:9 “She (wisdom) will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.”

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What woman does not feel more beautiful with a flower garland on her head? Even as little girls, we play with field flowers, making chains and placing them on our heads. We pretend we are princesses and prance around feeling special. There does seem to be something royal about a garland on the head as it can resemble a tiara. The bridal industry understands this and there is quite a wide choice of flower garlands for the big day.

Today’s verse describes wisdom as being that garland or crown. Wisdom in a life makes it beautiful and graceful. Wisdom, or skillful living, even brightens the face and changes its hard appearance! (Eccl. 8:1) More important than physical beauty, a wise life exudes a loveliness and grace that does not diminish with time. And that wisdom is found in obeying and loving His Word. It is the Lord who gives this wisdom as knowledge and understanding come directly from His mouth (Prov. 2:6)

Like Eve, I can desire wisdom but look in the wrong place for it (Gen. 3:6). Just because something looks good and pleases the eye does not mean it will make me wise. A life marked by wisdom will be a life that makes right choices. And I cannot discern which choices are right without God’s Word telling me exactly what they are! He is my source of wisdom, helping me lead a life without the complications and sorrow of sin. Obedience to my Creator is wise living that creates for me grace and glory!

Lord, grace my head with Your wisdom today.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2014)


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Orangutan Nests

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:9 “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

Joeavison1, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Almost daily the orangutan ape builds a new nest high in the treetops. His engineering skills are surprising as he tears off larger branches for his base and smaller leafier branches for the middle and can even build a sort of pillow and blanket high up in the trees. He breaks off some branches to size, bends some and intertwines others for a stable bed. A benefit from his nightly nest building is larger openings in the tree canopy, letting in more light.

Today’s verse speaks of another source of light. This light not only enables us to see but gives life! Jesus identifies Himself as the light of the world. Following this light means we no longer walk in darkness. (John 8:12) He does not only illuminate a tree canopy but a lifetime with the Light of His presence.  God has made His light to shine in our hearts, to give us the knowledge of Him (II Cor. 4:6).  His light not only shows us who He is but it is also an expression of His priceless and unfailing love (Psalm 36:7).

Being in His Word intensifies that light He gives. His light is warm and loving, giving me closeness to Him and direction for my day. Without it, I can easily stumble around and lose my purpose. I can even get quite accustomed to the dimness and shadows. But the further I wander from His light, the more negative and discouraged I become.  But oh what a difference when I return to the source of Light! Not only does His light dispels darkness in my heart and mind but it also draws others to Himself!

Lord, keep me in Your light today.


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Malabar Giant Squirrel

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:24 “though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord is the stay of his hand.”

Meet the Malabar Giant Squirrel who makes his home in the tree tops of India. He is huge, being two times the size of the squirrels we are used to seeing. His multi-colored fur makes him unusual being anywhere from purple to maroon to orange! Unlike other squirrels who hide their nuts in the ground, this squirrel hides them in caches in the tree tops. He is very nimble jumping 20 feet between trees. But it is his very long tail that gives him such balance, acting as a counterweight.

Today’s verse is a promise that the Lord will establish the steps of the one who belongs to Him. If there is a fall, it is a controlled one. It will not be a free-fall, being cast headlong. The Lord’s hand is involved and He breaks the fall with His hand. Regardless of the spaces between trees, His Hand is the “counterweight” giving us the balance and stability we need.

This is a wonderful assurance for me that the Lord is my true support. I may feel that my stability rests on my work, my plans or my finances, when in fact, none of those are holding me up. Circumstances change, and sometimes with no warning at all. Rather than feeling panic I can remain confident. No bad news can shake me as my heart is steadfast and trusting in Him (Ps. 112:7). And even if He were to allow me to teeter and fall, His open loving hand is there to soften the landing. In His unfailing love, He stands me back up, brushes me off and strengthens my faith through the whole ordeal.

Thank You Lord, for holding me up.