Devotions By Jan


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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.”

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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)


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Butting Heads

Scripture for Today: James 4:1 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

Perhaps it is not so serious when humans butt heads. However, for goats with protruding horns, there is a definite risk of injury. An older goat may butt his head against the leg of his owner just to get more attention and affection! But between goats, butting heads can indicate stress or illness. The most common cause however is to show dominance. Goats, like chickens, have their own pecking order and will butt heads, kick or bite in order to show who’s boss!

Today’s verse was addressed to believers in the church. These early Christians struggled with the very same thing we do today. We are selfish and we want our own way. Desires battling within eventually show themselves in tensions and quarrels without. The desires mentioned here are probably the result of “friendship with the world” (verse 4). They desired what they did not have. Praying for their desires would not have resolved the situation. That is because they were asking with wrong motives and would spend what they received on themselves (verses 2-3).  There is only one solution and that is for our desires to change.

Most of my desires would probably fall into this same category. I wish I could say differently. The pull of the world is strong and so is envying what others have. In my heart of hearts I know that possessions do not bring me true joy but it sure is easy to be distracted! And when my selfish desires get in the way of a relationship I know it has gone too far. I want those secret desires in my heart to be God-honoring and to be centered on Him.

Lord, keep me from butting heads over selfish desires.


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Ruffled Feathers

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways; when they carry out their wicked schemes.”

This Griffin Vulture has a mean look but even more concerning are his ruffled feathers! A bird will ruffle his feathers for a variety of reasons. It may be that he is preening himself, shaking off the dirt or feather dust. Or he may be ruffling his feathers against the cold, trying to keep warm. But at times those ruffled feathers standing upright around the neck can indicate that the bird is angry, upset and trying to relieve that tension! This bird behavior is what is referred to when we ruffle someone’s feathers, upsetting or annoying them.

Today’s verse describes someone who well could have ruffled feathers. This is the one who frets when seeing the wicked succeed in their evil schemes. Instead of feeling frustration at people who seem to get away with wrongdoing, we are to be still.  We are to wait patiently in God’s presence for Him to act. The wicked may seem to succeed in their grab for power or in their widespread lies and deception. But sooner or later there will be consequences they will have to face.

There seems to be more occasions these days to fretI But to be in that constant state of righteous indignation is emotionally exhausting! What’s more, I do not bring about God’s justice and retribution any sooner by getting worked up! My feathers can stay smooth and calm in that place of faith in God’s ultimate justice. I can live life with a light heart, laughing at the days to come (Prov. 31:25) because God laughs at the wicked (Psalm 37:13)!

Help me Lord, to refrain from fretting and to be still.


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Guard Rooster

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

It is normal to think of guard dogs, but who ever heard of a guard rooster? A delivery man recently found out all about it! Caught on a doorbell camera video, Fred the rooster, showed just how protective he could be! The delivery man tried to take a non-threatening stance with hands up in the air, but being new, he was harassed anyway. With his delivery he also delivered the message, “Not cool,” before sprinting back to his truck with Fred in hot pursuit!

Today’s verse talks about our hearts and minds that need guarding. It is the peace that Christ Jesus provides that does the guarding. His peace stands guard against worry and fear. His peace also guards against the flight of our imaginations and all the “what if’s.” Without His peace we are vulnerable to troubling, sleep-stealing worries. But His peace surpasses any attempt at explaining it, as it is possible to have in the middle of the most worrisome circumstances. And this peace is the result of giving all our anxieties to the Lord in prayer.

I sometimes think I unwittingly shoo away this guard by neglecting to pray.  These verses encourage me to bring everything to Him, not just the big worries that I think are worthy of His notice. His love is so intimate that He cares about whatever is preoccupying me. His peace is the best answer there is to keep even the small worries from accumulating!

Thank you, Lord, that Your peace calms me down.


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Face to Face

Scripture for Today: Numbers 6:24-26 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Being “face to face” has new meaning in our day. And perhaps with all the connections we make through the computer screen, we have come to value and more deeply appreciate those in-person times. But with masks covering faces, even those in-person opportunities seem to lack an important component; the face. Sometimes that fleeting smirk, the quickly lifted eyebrow or the passing twinkle in the eye can be missed. So much of connection is made through our facial expressions. We communicate acceptance, compassion, and forgiving grace without ever saying a word.

Today’s verses are a priestly prayer given directly by the Lord to Moses. He was to pass it on to Aaron and his sons to be spoken over the Israelites in order to bless them. When God turns His face towards us, we are restored and saved. (Psalm 80:3) When He shines His face or presence in our lives we experience His grace and peace. We are told to seek His face (Ps. 27:8) and when we see His face we are satisfied. (Ps.17:15) As God is spirit, His face is a picture of His favor and blessing.

God’s “face” is turned away from those who are evil. (Ps. 4:16) It is only because of Christ and His righteousness that God can look on me with favor and blessing. His face is turned toward me every day because of His grace and mercy. It is because of this face-to-face relationship that I can live and move and have my being. (Acts 17:28) His face turned on me means deep heart-felt peace and blessing found nowhere else.

Thank you Lord, for turning Your beautiful face on me!