Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

“We Came in Peace”

Scripture for Today: Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

It was this day in 1969 that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the lunar module, Eagle, on the surface of the moon. They set it down in the “Sea of Tranquility” although I doubt that either of the men were tranquil as the Eagle’s overactive computers sounded alarms! They left behind a plaque reading, “Here men from planet earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

Today’s verse is also a message of peace offered to all mankind. This was the message of the angels to the shepherds in the fields at the occasion of Christ’s birth. This peace is nothing like what the world can produce. It is a peace between estranged mankind and their Creator. In our rebellion we were enemies against the God of the universe (Romans 5:10). But God initiated a reconciliation through the substitutionary death of His Son. Jesus Himself is our peace. For those who accept His forgiveness through the cross, there is now a relationship possible with Him where before there was none.

The huge obstacle to having peace with God was my sin. But because He has paid the punishment I so richly deserved, there is now a closeness and communion. I can enjoy His presence in my life as I am no longer under any condemnation (Romans 8:1). Not only is there peace with Him but He enables me to live in peace with others! And what is really amazing is that sense of peace and well-being He puts in my heart. What an incredible gift to live with this inner peace in a world that is so troubled!

Thank you Lord, for Your gift of peace.


Leave a comment

Sand Berm

Scripture for Today: Psalm 124:1, 4-5 “If the Lord had not been on our side-let Israel say-the flood would have engulfed us ; the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away.”

Louisiana GOHSEP at https://www.flickr.com/photos/lagohsep/4791714510

This sand berm was built with the help of some heavy earth-moving equipment on the coast of Louisiana. It did not need to be especially high but just enough to protect the marshlands from an oil spill. The building of sand berms along the coast of Southern California is a yearly necessity for those times when tides are high. Extra protection is especially needed for those vulnerable low-lying beaches to avoid flooding! Residents are preparing now for the predicted evening tides of seven and a half feet.

Today’s verses describe a flood of waters that threaten to engulf David and his people. The sweeping torrent and the raging waters were an image to represent the opposition of their enemies. With the words, “let Israel say,” David encourages the Israelites to recognize from whom their help comes! They were saved from their enemies because of the help in the name of their Lord. He is the One with power as He is the Maker of heaven and earth (verse 8)

How important it is to be on the right side of that berm! If God is for me, who and what can stand against me? (Romans 8:31) He who controls the wind, the waves and the water levels of opposition in my life will be my ultimate protection. My sense of safety or well-being cannot come from any other quarter. Despite feeling overwhelmed with what looks like evil taking ground in our world, I can feel peace. How reassuring it is to know that I am on the side of the Victor!

Thank you Lord for Your protection.


Leave a comment

Over or Under?

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 48:18 “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.”

Approaching that wave and calmly riding it out takes some good judgement and timing. I remember swimming in the waves with my daughter when she was just 10. We were cresting the tops and enjoying ourselves. But suddenly a set approached that were too much for us. I yelled out to take a deep breath, dive under and hold your breath until it passed over us. We were in still quiet water as the wave thundered over our heads. I am sure if she had disobeyed, she would have survived but she certainly would have been tossed around!

Today’s verse describes our peace and well-being like a river and waves. That peace comes as a result of following God’s way. His way includes leading us by quiet waters and restoring our souls (Psalm 23:2). His commands are designed for our good. He teaches us what is best for us (verse 17). But in our independent spirit, we do not always pay attention to how He leads. We try cresting that wave rather than going under it. That peace alludes us as we move away from the Lord of peace.

When I am listening and obeying God’s voice, I experience peace with Him. There are sweet times and a clear sense of His pleasure when I am not fighting Him. Submitting to Him can be a struggle, but worth the effort when I can feel that deep heart peace in the middle of turmoil around me. He calms my spirit and anxious thoughts. Regardless of my circumstances, the still waters of His peace get me through, guarding my heart.

Lord, keep me obedient and feeling Your peace today.


Leave a comment

Circling the Wagons

Scripture for Today: Psalm 5:12 “Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”

It only made sense to circle those wagons. If not, those early pioneers on the Oregon Trail were vulnerable to attack. Not only was there safety in numbers, there was a better chance of fighting off attack when the enemy’s approach could be seen ahead of time. Every vantage point was used to be prepared. Whatever squabble may have separated these travelers during the day was forgotten in the need for unity and protection.

Today’s verse teaches that the believer is surrounded by God’s favor. That favor and blessing act as a shield against any attack from the enemy. On every side, God protects us from trouble and surrounds us with songs of deliverance (Ps. 32:7). The wicked do not have this protection but the one who trusts in Him is surrounded by His unfailing love (Ps. 32:10). Unlike that circle of wagons, there are no gaps in the defense He provides! On all sides we are covered and enclosed in His love and protection. No evil can touch our souls and nothing can snatch us out of His powerful hands (John 10: 29).

What a wonderful assurance this is! Regardless of the destructive power of evil, it will never touch my soul. I have been bought with a price and belong to the All Powerful One. He has delivered me from the power of Satan by what He accomplished on the cross. And He continues to deliver me from the snares and traps of sin. There is encouragement in being in that circle of wagons with other believers as well. Gathering together reminds me that I am not in this battle alone. I can draw courage from others as well to stand firm!

Thank you Lord, for surrounding me.


Leave a comment

Rocking the Boat

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

2512077-Falling-off-the-boat--on-purpose-of-course-1

Everyone knows not to fidget and stand up in a boat. Those that do are at risk to lose their balance and fall overboard. Changing places with someone while in a moving boat can be especially tricky! All that moving around rocks the boat and makes everyone aboard nervous. There is much less risk of a fall overboard when calmly staying still in one place.

From today’s verse we know that the Lord does not intend for us to fidget with anxiety. Whatever is rocking the boat is included in the phrase, “in every situation.” For each and every emotion or logistic detail, He is waiting for us to give it to Him in prayer. When we do, the tension dissipates. The rocking stops. We are not falling overboard. In thanking Him, even in the difficulties, we are recognizing His hand and control. We can sit still in the boat and feel His peace that goes beyond all understanding (verse 7).

There are certainly times I feel like I am changing places in a moving boat. With our transatlantic move, everything seemed to be in upheaval. The boat was rocking many times a day as we prepared. Not only were we preparing our departure with a myriad of details but also our arrival on the other side. Sometimes, anxiety got the best of me with so much internal rocking and fidgeting that I felt I was falling. But He promises His peace when I can give it all to Him. At least on the inside I could sit still and be calm.

Thank You Lord, that You make possible a life without anxiety. Help me just sit still and enjoy the ride!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2014)