Devotions By Jan


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Summer Breeze

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.”

It is not uncommon to be approached by vendors on the beaches of France in their hopes of selling you a scarf. Scarves are worn regardless of the time of year. In the summer they are lightweight rather than heavy and are especially worn when there might be a current of air. It is commonly thought that a cold could be caught on that summer breeze!

Today’s verse talks about being born of the Spirit. Jesus is telling a very religious Nicodemus, a Pharisee, that he must be born again. The Greek word for “Spirit” is the same as that for “wind.” And God’s Spirit is like the wind being invisible, powerful and unpredictable. That wind can be light and gentle, like a soft current of air. Or the wind can be a powerful gale that abruptly changes everything. Believers are to live by the Spirit and keep in step with Him (Gal. 5:25). He gives us the wisdom and understanding to know and follow what God wants (Col. 1:9).

Sometimes, the leading of His Spirit is unmistakeable as He steers me clear of compromising situations or obvious sin. But other times I can easily miss what He wants and be “out of step.” My own will is awfully strong and frankly, I do not always want to ask for His. I use that “scarf” to avoid feeling the wind. However, keeping in step with Him is far better as He makes my path straight. When I acknowledge and submit to Him (Prov. 3:5-6) I find His way is always better.

Lord, help me follow Your Spirit today.


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Watch Out for the Boom!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:9 “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

It has been a very long time since I sailed a boat but I do recognize this fellow’s posture. He is ducking to get out of the way of that boom as he changes tack. He has no one to worry about but himself in changing direction. But had he passengers he would certainly want to warn them as that boom swings over to the other side of the boat. Others would do well to listen to the one steering to avoid getting bonked in the head!

Today’s verse reassures the believer that God does have a plan for how we live our lives. He is available to be our Guide and to teach us His way, which is always the best way! All His ways are loving and faithful (verse 10) even if it seems that He is guiding us into waters that do not look so calm. He is there and He is good. But it is only the humble who can be guided. When we confidently change tack or direction without His counsel (James 4:13-16) we are likely to get ourselves in the way of that boom!

I am definitely in a season of major life changes and it is easy to fear what may be in store. But I am reassured that these new directions are in His control. When I am humbly seeking the Lord and His guidance, I do not have to be surprised by that boom! There will be changes. There always are. And although I may not understanding exactly what He is doing or why, I am reassured by who He is.  All His ways are loving and faithful!  I can be peaceful as I look ahead knowing that He is completely trustworthy!

Lord, help me to trust You.


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Oh Deer!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:23-24 “Yet I am always with you. You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me to glory.”

Fabrice Florin, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This poor deer seems as if he is paralyzed with indecision! His little brain is probably thinking, “Run left or right? Go forward or turn around?” Fear has made him immobile. By the time he figures it out it may be too late. Not only for him but for the driver who may incur damage to the car!!  I can feel much like this confused deer when faced with too many choices. I can be overwhelmed with too many decisions especially when there has been too little sleep! 

Today’s verse is a wonderful promise. The Lord is always at the side of a believer. He offers His hand and His counsel. He is there to help with every decision, even the small ones. When making an important decision, the different options can sometimes lead to lingering indecision! The fear of choosing incorrectly can completely block us.  In consequence, decisions are postponed or sometimes left to others. Being paralyzed with indecision gives God no opportunity to guide us. 

I am thankful for a patient and understanding God. I am never left on my own in making choices. If I would but turn to Him, He would offer His guidance. He reaches out His hand to steer me in the right direction. But it is up to me to see my own limits and reach for His hand. What a beautiful image it is to see that hand continuing to guide me all the way through life and into eternity!

Thank you  Lord, for Your hand and Your counsel.  Please guide me in every decision today.


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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.