Devotions By Jan

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Artificial Intelligence

Scripture for Today: Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.”

Artificial Intelligence is front and center these days with the popularity of the GPT chatbot. This computer program uses vast amounts of internet text to answer questions and perform tasks while itself not knowing anything! Its conversational style, creativity and authoritative replies are blowing minds! The problem however is that the GPT chatbot can generate misleading information as well. As with any information, it is always best to verify it from the original source before relying on it.

Today’s verse talks about going a step further than knowledge. As important as intelligence is in so many domains, wisdom is what will affect our day to day living. Wisdom is skillful living and its beginning is found in a correct relationship to the God of the Bible. We are wise when we live like HE is God and we are not. We are wise when we realize our own limitations and His unlimited power. He is all-knowing and absolutely infallible. Obeying what He says is right and true will make us wise.

Artificial intelligence cannot help me live my life with skill and godliness. It can make me knowledgeable but not wise. I have the beginning of wisdom in my relationship with God through Christ. But to grow in wisdom is to accept His invitation to approach Him and actually ask for it in the decisions I make! (James 1:5) He is the limitless and infallible source of every answer I need! He even promises to make wise the simple! (Psalm 19:7)

Remind me Lord, to turn to You today for wisdom.

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The Last Word

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 16:1 “To humans belong the plans of the heart but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.”

The Siamese cat is known for his distinctive coloring. I grew up with Chin-Chin, a seal point. She was very dark and her blue eyes were startling. The Siamese are one of the oldest breeds, thought to originate in Thailand in the 14th century. Our Chin-Chin lived to about eighteen years old. But what I remember most about her was how talkative she was! A Siamese is known to be vocal, commenting on everything throughout their day. Chin-Chin took it one step further. She had to have the last word!

Today’s verse, a proverb, makes the observation that man naturally makes plans in his heart. But the Lord has the last word on those plans. From Him comes what is proper to do and to say. With His word or decision, He establishes plans. (verse 3) It is the Lord who establishes man’s steps. (verse 9) Whatever the plans of our hearts, James tells us to do our planning with the recognition that the Lord has the last word on whether today or tomorrow, “we do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

I need to lay every plan or project before the Lord. My motives can be dubious and I can be unaware of them. (Jer, 17:9-10) But He can search my heart and examine my mind, pointing out wrong motives. I may be convinced that my plan is good. And it might very well be. But His plan is always better. He sees what I cannot. And when I humbly lay my plans before the Lord, I can at the same time ask for His will, His way and His blessing.

I am grateful, Lord, that You have the last word and that Your word is good!



Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that appears to be right but in the end it leads to death.”

It happened again, and the scientists do not know why. Up to 250 pilot whales were part of a mass stranding in the Chatham Islands of New Zealand, just days after 215 others were stranded in the same area! It is so sad to see these marine mammals wash up on remote beaches like these where they are not likely to be helped back into the water. Some possible reasons include “misnavigation”, being spooked, or following a sick leader.

Today’s verse is so important that it is repeated word for word a couple of chapters later. The way we choose to live our lives can seem absolutely right when following our own self-made compass. When the right way or the wrong way is determined by what seems to be best to us, we make something subjective that is not. Our Creator has established a “path of righteousness” that has nothing to do with how we feel about it. Following our own sense of direction or that of someone else can have disastrous consequences.

Is it sage advice to just follow my heart? I know that when I have, I have found myself in some pretty sticky situations! It is often only in retrospect that I see my own foolishness. At the time, my way always seems right. The rightness of my choices is not whether it feels good or whether it is easier. Nor is it whether or not I hurt anyone else. There is an objective standard in God’s way. When I obey Him, not only do I avoid complications but I find satisfaction and meaning in pleasing Him.

Lord, keep me motivated to always follow Your way!

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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.


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.