Devotions By Jan


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The Mongoose

Scripture for Today: II Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

This Dwarf mongoose makes his home in Botswana and he happens to be sitting atop an abandoned termite mound. As small as he is, he is bold enough to take down a king cobra! His speed and agility are remarkable, darting at the head of the snake and cracking its skull with his powerful bite! He himself does not need to worry about being bitten. That is because he has a protein that binds to proteins in the snake venom, rendering it harmless.

Today’s verse is a wonderful promise of the Lord to His own. He promises to strengthen and protect the believer from the evil one. Satan showed up in the very beginning as a serpent who deceives (Gen 3:13). He is also pictured as a lion looking to devour its prey (I Peter 5:8). There will be attacks and we are encouraged to stand firm in the faith with the armor He provides (Eph. 6:10-17). We may feel small, but the Lord is faithful to protect our soul, now and for eternity. Nothing and no one can snatch us from His powerful protective hands (John 10:29).

Like the small mongoose, I can be fearless and confident! I do not want to underestimate the enemy, but I know that victory is mine in Christ. The venom and sting of death is rendered powerless because of God’s faithfulness to me. There may be that occasional skirmish that can discourage, but the outcome is already decided! If God is for me, who can be against me? (Rom. 8:31) And this victory does not depend on this fickle soul but on the Savior of my soul who has promised!

Thank you Lord, for Your strength and protection!


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The Least Bittern

Scripture for Today: Luke 9:48 “…Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you who is the greatest.”

Photo Credit: Jerry Hammond

This beautiful bird is one of the smallest and lightest of the herons. Rather than wade in the water like the other herons he will hide in the reeds and cattails of the marshes. With his long toes gripping the reeds, he picks off his prey from the water’s surface. Being smaller and more vulnerable, he will hide from danger by freezing in place with his bill pointing up. And to further blend, in he will sway with the wind-blown reeds.

Today’s verse describes someone else who is smaller and more vulnerable. The disciples had been arguing among themselves as to who between them would be the greatest. Jesus corrects their thinking by presenting them a small child. It is the least among you who is in fact the greatest. Those that exalt themselves will be humbled but those who humble themselves will be exalted! (Luke 18:14) The little children were not to be kept away from Him as, “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16)

This is so opposite from how I would normally think of greatness. The child is usually considered unimportant, without influence and in a humbled position. Yet, God exalts the child in His Kingdom. When I exalt myself, I am taking honor away from Whom it belongs. It is when I take the humble position, giving place and importance to others, that my Father is honored. I may feel slighted by others for doing this. But that’s okay. I’d rather have the favor He promises! (James 4:6)

Lord, keep me humble.


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Confidence!

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I am all for confidence and that “can do” attitude. If we did not believe we could do something, it would never get done! We instill a healthy dose of confidence in our children. We give ourselves pep talks to move through a challenge. Confidence is essential to any kind of success. And admitting to weakness is thought to work against us. We somehow believe that acknowledging limits and weakness will sabotage our efforts. So we downplay them.

How counter-intuitive today’s verse is! Paul felt weak. And rather than hide his weakness from view he not only acknowledges it but boasts about it. Paul sees that it is only in admitting weakness that he can experience Christ’s power. Unlike this image, Paul does not believe in himself. He believes in God’s grace giving him power. God’s power is showcased through our weak ineffectual efforts. We are weak breakable jars of clay in order to show that power is from God. (II Cor. 4:7)

Do I believe in myself? To a certain extent I do. But at the same time, there is not a breath, a heartbeat, a talent or ability that does not come from Him! He is my Creator and I can claim nothing as coming from myself. And He has made me with my own set of weaknesses and limits for His purposes and for His glory! I would much rather believe in Him than be overly confident in myself. That way I can experience His power in me!

Thank you Lord, that You work through my weakness.


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Don’t Wink at Me!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 35:19 “Do not let those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; do not let those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.”

I am not too sure what this owl is winking about but he looks a bit devious! When we wink it can imply conspiracy or some secret intent. Or winking can be positive when it shows sympathy or encouragement. Sometimes the wink says, “Trust me, I know what I’m doing.” But then again, winking all day could be from the grapefruit juice at breakfast that was squirted in the eye !

In today’s verse the wink is malicious. David is being slandered and falsely accused by his enemies. He cries to the Lord to come to his defense and vindicate him. David as king is a constant target for his enemies and regardless of how fair and righteous he is, those enemies will continue to accuse him without cause. He pleads with the Lord to contend for him so that in the end the Lord Himself will be exalted.

The world hated Jesus so it only follows that the world would also hate those who follow Him (John 15:18). So I should not be surprised at slander and false accusation. But even more serious are the accusations of the Enemy who lies and brings charges against God’s own. My struggle is not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). It is Satan who is behind the slander. He tries to destroy my testimony and my service. He will even endeavor to convince me that I am unloved and worth nothing. Well, Satan can wink all he wants but the Lord reassures me of His love and my worth!

Thank you Lord, that in You I have victory over every enemy!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2016)


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Pennies

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

I am one of those rare people who still bend down to pick up a lost penny, bad or not! The phrase, “a bad penny always turns up,” was coined in the mid eighteenth century. Pennies used to be more valuable and because they were easily counterfeited, the “bad ones” would continually circulate, turning up in a pocket or purse. “Turning up like a bad penny,” came to mean someone or something unwanted, turning up repeatedly and unexpectedly.

Today’s verse reassures the believer that God’s forgiveness of sin is complete. He chooses to no longer remember our sins. Because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice for sin, the penalty has been paid and God’s justice is satisfied.  Those sins are blotted out forever. When He forgives, He does not bring it up again. But like a bad penny, the thought of them for the believer can turn up at the most unwanted and inopportune times. Thankfully, that is never the case for the Lord. Of course, He is all knowing and so forgets nothing. But the idea is that He does not call it to mind with censor and judgement.

I would love to be able to “remember my sins no longer.” But the memories remain. Thankfully, God’s Word is full of reassurances of unconditional love and complete pardon. The Lord graciously softens and blurs memories of past failures. If guilty memories occasionally do reappear, He is there to build me back up. If nothing else, those remembrances can serve to remind me that I am not perfect, but His forgiveness is!

Thank you Lord, that Your grace chooses not to remember what is forgiven!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018)