Devotions By Jan


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Bumper Bowling

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 2:7-8 “He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.”

Maybe I would feel differently about bowling had I grown up using these bumpers.  Imagine no more gutter balls!  But I did not have this luxury and I was on my  own trying to get that blasted ball to reach any of those bored pins.  It was not as if my Dad did not try to teach me.  He was in a bowling league at his work and had his own ball.  He and his team won trophies, but of course no serious bowler would consent to using these bumpers.  But I love the idea of having that little edge to correct the course of my wayward ball.

Today’s verse is beautiful!  The Lord God wants us to succeed but true success is only found in a relationship that follows His course.  None of His commands are arbitrary.  They exist for our good and for our protection.  Through His Word He speaks and guides.  When we obey and follow His perfect way, we enjoy the blessing of intimacy with Him.

I look at those bumpers as His grace to forgive, correct and restore.  Even with the best of intentions I fail.  I am “prone to wander” off His path.  But because I belong to Him, He does not let this silly sheep stray too far.  Sometimes that corrective bump can be a bit of a shock and not at all comfortable.  But it is just what is needed to get me back on course.

Lord, I want to always be one of Your faithful ones.  Keep me on that path of righteousness today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Leaning House

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is perhaps not so unique!  This house, used as a hotel, is found on the Blau river in Ulm, Germany.  The Guinness Book of Records named it the most leaning hotel in the world in 1997.  It was built around the 15th century in the Fisherman’s Quarter of the city.  I cannot imagine staying there.  I would be afraid that I would roll out of bed!

Today’s verse is a loving warning against leaning on one’s own understanding.  When a believer counts on his own reasoning rather than trusting in God’s unveiled plans, he leans as precariously as this house.  Our own understanding is flawed and limited.  We never see the big picture.  Leaning and trusting in only what we can understand makes us lean away from the sure foundation that He is!  In limiting ourselves to what we can surmise or figure out, we become unstable.  We teeter and sway rather than standing firm with a wholehearted trust in His direction.  He has promised to lead the way and make our paths straight.

My own understanding sure gets me in trouble.  I assume the wrong thing.  I read a situation incorrectly without even knowing it.  I think I know, and I do not.  There is only One who knows the future, who knows what is best for me.  The Lord not only knows, but He has the power to bring it about!  If I lean at all, I want to lean into Him and His strong arms.

Lord, keep me trusting in You with all my heart.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Water Lily

Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:8 “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”

Water lilies fascinate me!  Their beautiful white and pink flowers look as if they bloom effortlessly as they serenely  float on the surface of the water.  They can be seen on lakes or ponds whose waters are still, and they can root up to seven feet deep.  If left undisturbed they can cover hundreds of acres of water.  Because they float, they access the sunlight unhindered by taller plant species.  Their leaves lie flat on the water soaking up all that light.  The result is beautiful!

Today’s verse tells us that the commands of the Lord are radiant.  They give all the light needed to grow and thrive in life.  His commands refresh the soul and make simple people wise (verse 7).  They give joy to the heart.  Each and every direction God gives is right and completely trustworthy.  Obeying His laws makes our lives beautiful.

I do not normally think of rules and regulations as a source of joy.  But just as a child can feel unloved and neglected without parental boundaries, so we too can feel as if God does not care if He had not given us His commands.  They are a sign of His love.  He cares that I succeed in life and He has shown me how.  His commands and precepts are designed with my welfare in mind, not to limit me or restrict my freedom.  They can give joy to my heart when I see them as proof of His tenderness and care.

Lord, keep me in the still water, soaking up the light of Your presence today!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Obedient Ant

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise.”

This ant is carrying quite a load.  That is normal as they are created to carry twenty times their body weight.  But there is one ant who inexplicably carried away a lost contact lens.  Its owner was mountain climbing when she lost it.  She turned to the One who sees all and pleaded with Him for help.  On descending the mountain with her friends, another group of climbers at the bottom shouted up the question, “Did anyone lose a contact lens?”  They only noticed it because an ant was carrying it on his back!  I can just imagine the ant’s confusion as to why he was carrying such a cumbersome inedible object!

Today’s verse is in the context of working hard and preparing for one’s future.  The ant stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest in order to be prepared for the coming lean times.  We are encouraged to look to the ant’s ways and be wise.  However, there is also wisdom in fearing and obeying the Lord as that ant did in this woman’s true story (Prov. 9:10).  Something (or Someone) prompted that small ant to lug around a very heavy load to what seemed to be no purpose.

I do not always understand the why’s behind what God asks me to do.  But then my obedience should not depend on seeing the whole picture.  He sees what is ahead and His plans for me are good because He is.  I want to trust Him for the reasons behind His commands.  This whole faith adventure is by faith and not by sight.

Lord, help me to be faithful to You, even when I don’t understand.


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In His Hands

Scripture for Today: Scripture for Today:  John 10:28-29  “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them from My Father’s hand.”

What a beautiful picture of love, care and protection for the most vulnerable; a little baby!  Those strong hands cradle and soothe this little one to sleep and that peaceful smile is a trusting one.  There are no disturbing thoughts of approaching waves suddenly coming up from behind to snatch him from those hands.

Today’s verse describe God’s hands as being more powerful than any others.  Although God is spirit (John 4:24) the Bible is full of references to God’s eyes, arms or hands to help us understand Him.  There can be no sudden sneaky move on the part of the enemy that can snatch us of His hand.  Those who belong to Him are held safe and secure in the same hands that formed the universe.  His are the hands that stilled the waters and calmed the seas.  Those hands touch and heal.  And they are scarred with the proof of His love.

I, myself, can not cause Him to let go.  My faith in Him put me there.  His power and love keep me there. They are hands that I can trust and He will not let me go.  My life and all of my tomorrows are in His hands, but more than that my eternity is in His hands!  If life is suddenly cut short, those same hands will gently and lovingly bring me into His very presence.  His hands are beautiful.

Lord, help me to be aware of Your loving hands today.


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Yield Sign

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”

It looks complicated.  I would have to stop a minute to figure out who would have to yield to whom!  It looks as if the bike has to yield to everyone and the horse and rider to no one!  But I do not suppose there are many intersections to worry about on this trail.  If there were confusion I would think common sense and common courtesy would go a long way.  In any case, yielding is often the safest choice.  When maneuvering through those huge traffic circles in Europe, I do not argue with a yield sign!

Today’s verse tells us we are to yield or submit to the Lord in each and every way we choose to take.  By acknowledging His control, His superior knowledge and His goodness, we travel a path much less complicated by twists and turns.  He makes our paths straight, unencumbered by lengthy unnecessary detours.  We reach our destination in good time, or in His time.  When we give way to Him rather than insisting on our own plan, we find He had a better idea all along!

Yielding my will to His is so often a struggle.  Even knowing that my own understanding is limited, I stubbornly resist.  I like being the one who makes the decisions.  Trusting Him with all my heart is scary without having some measure of control.  But He promises that when I do, He will make my paths straight, choosing the best way.  No time will be lost in making U turns or encountering dead ends.

Thank you Lord, that I can fully trust Your heart of love for me!


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Beyond the Storm

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 50:10 “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of His servant? Let the one who walks in the dark who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.”

With all the technology at our fingertips, we are often forewarned of a storm on its way.  Other times a storm will descend suddenly with little or no warning at all.  With our many road trips we are sometimes stuck with no option except to go through its path.  But I am not too concerned when I can see the skies clearing ahead.  Just the thought of the storm being temporary helps me calm down and get through it.

Today’s verse talks about walking in the dark with no light at all.  There is no vision of clear skies ahead.  This happens for even those that fear and obey the Lord.  When those confusing dark times come, we are to trust in His name and who He is.  We are to rely on God rather than our senses or our intelligence.  Walking by faith has nothing to do with what we can see ahead that reassures us (II Cor. 5:7).  We are given no “light at the end of the tunnel” on which to focus.

I cannot see that patch of blue ahead.  But I can remain calm in the middle of a storm.  Trusting and relying on the Creator of that storm keeps me serene.  He is trustworthy and He is in control.  I have no reason to be fearful for what the future might hold.  And the only light I really need in that darkness is the heart conviction of how good and gracious He is.

Thank you Lord for Your reassuring presence even in the dark.