Devotions By Jan


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Earth Wobble

Scripture for Today: Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

It has long been thought that the earth’s rotation has been gradually slowing. But in July of this year, there was a slight wobble and that day turned out to be the shortest day on record! In fact, a faster rotation seems to be the trend and if continued may result in a “drop second,” subtracting a full second from our twenty four hour day!

Today’s verse reminds the believer that salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The day is fast approaching and the darkness is nearly over. We are exhorted to wake up as there is an urgency to “do this.” We are to be actively loving (verses 8-10) as well as arming ourselves with light and so putting aside deeds of darkness (verses 12-14). In other words, we are to look like Christ to those around us. Others may be asleep but we are to be awake and sober. (I Thes. 5:6)

The door of opportunity is slowly closing even without dropping a second of a twenty four hour day. Living life carefully and making the most of every opportunity is wise (Eph. 5:15-16). I do get lulled and lazy in using my time for Him. And I do need those wake-up calls. I find that being aware of His presence and unconditional love motivate me to be obedient and used by Him. Keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus does not make me perfect but it does make me aware of the hour!

Lord, wake me up to use this day for You.


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Matching Chocolate Game

Scripture for Today: Matthew 23:3 “So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

Photo credit: Jo Zimny Photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeyz51/38331378485

This is my kind of matching game! And I can assure you that it would not stay in a game cupboard to be played again another day! I would be most motivated to play it if I could immediately eat the pairs I found. Judging from the time recorded for this player, perhaps that is what happened! But taking that short amount of time to actually eat the chocolate pairs seems about right!

Today’s verse talks about the importance of matching something else: our behavior with our words. Jesus acknowledges that the teachers of the Law sometimes got it right. But what they consistently did not was their day-to-day practice of what they knew was true. Those listening were to be discerning. They were not told to dismiss a message that was true to God’s Word. But they were not to follow their example of legalistic and prideful self-righteousness.

The standard of practicing what is preached is a very high one. And I can relate to Paul who shares his struggle in Romans 7:18. “…I have the desire to do what is good but cannot carry it out.” I will never be able to consistently practice what I preach, hard as I may try. How gracious God is to convict and forgive me! But when I pretend that my behavior always matches my words, then I am also guilty of hypocrisy. I need to humbly see the “mismatch” and be honest with God and authentic with others! People will see my failures but hopefully they will see humility and His forgiveness as well!

Thank you Lord, for Your patience with me!


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A Heart of Gold

Scripture for Today: Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What a find! This beautiful golden heart was discovered in Pembrokeshire, England and now sits in a museum. This heart is thought to date back to the late 14th century. It was at that time that the pear shaped heart, representing love, changed position. Before that time the heart was portrayed upside down! Today no one would mistake the heart as a symbol of love regardless of its position or even its composition. Of course, one made of gold has a longer shelf life than one made of chocolate!

Today’s verse puts a heart made of stone in a very negative light. The stone represents an unwillingness to submit to God. This is a heart that is stubborn and hardened against God and His commandments. The Sovereign Lord wanted to bless Israel for obedience and through them to make His name known to all the nations. But the people resisted God’s plan and their hardened hearts caused them to forgo His blessing, that is just until they repented.

I can almost feel my heart hardening when I ignore what He says in His Word. But when I am submissive and agree with Him that His way is better, I can feel my heart becoming soft and pliable again. This new spirit He gives is one of obedience. And His Spirit moves me to follow and obey Him (verse 27). I do not want a heart of gold that is hard and stubborn. I want my heart made of flesh, so that it is soft and malleable, one that He can use.

Lord, keep my heart soft towards You.


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Bewitched!

Scripture for Today: Galatians 3:1 “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.”

With just eight seasons, the Bewitched show has become an icon of television history! We have the privilege of knowing the Murphy twins, Diane and Erin, who played the role of Tabitha. This show, running from 1964 to 1972 made the top 20 in its first five seasons. Its declining popularity toward the end of its run is sometimes blamed on the unexplained and sudden switch of the character, Darrin. There is even a term used to reference an unpopular switch; “the Darrin Syndrome.”

Today’s verse uses the term,” bewitched” to describe the switch the Galatians had made. They were bewitched or fooled into switching from the Gospel of grace to a system of works. A group of legalistic Judaizers convinced this group of converted Gentiles that the death of Christ was not sufficient. They believed that certain ceremonial laws of the Old Testament were still binding. They were adding works to the Gospel of grace. Paul reminds the Galatians that observing the Law did not earn them the Holy Spirit or right standing with God. Faith in Christ’s sacrifice is what was essential.

It is so easy to be “bewitched” today. How many religions fool their adherents to believe that it is through our own efforts that we are saved or can please God? Why switch to a never-ending treadmill of works that does not erase my sense of guilt? I am never good enough. There is always more I should be doing. I am so thankful for His grace.  God’s standard of righteousness was fully met in my Savior and the debt of my sin has been fully paid!

Thank you Lord, that You paid it all and there is nothing more to add!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2016)


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Sand Dollar Invasion!

Scripture for Today: John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”

Rachel Hathaway https://www.flickr.com/photos/rachelhathaway/4945569932

If you want to get rich quick, thousands of sand dollars are right now littering the southern edges of Seaside Beach on the Oregon coast! They are washing up alive on the afternoon high tides and getting stranded. If thrown back in, the ocean just plops them back up on the sand. And the longer they are outside their intertidal zone, the more unlikely their survival. That zone is found above the water level at low tide and underwater at high tide.

Today’s verse is part of the prayer Jesus prays for His disciples and for all those who will believe their message (verse 20). He asks that they be protected from the evil one even though they are in a world where he is active (John 12:31). Believers are part of this world but not of this world (verses 14 & 16). We are part of God’s Kingdom and are no longer in a kingdom of darkness (Col. 1:13). Loving the world and adopting its values is incompatible with loving the Father (I John 2:15).

When I identify too closely with the world’s ideas of what is important, it is as if I am no longer in those intertidal waters where I can thrive. Yes, I am part of this world but I need to be nourished by the environment He has chosen to strengthen me. His Word keeps my values unworldly. Being encouraged by His people keeps me on track. I do not belong up on the sand where I dry out and shrivel. I do not want the world to pull me away from my love for Him.

Lord, keep me close to You.