Devotions By Jan


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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)


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High School Reunion

Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”

High school reunions are notorious for bringing out all those adolescent insecurities we thought we left behind! I just accompanied my husband to his 50th reunion and as a guest, thought I would feel no pressure. Most of the attendees were unknown to me. But that didn’t stop me from fussing over makeup and dress. My sweet husband said all the right things to reassure me, so much so that perhaps I got a bit cocky! Returning home, I was horrified to see lettuce peaking out from between my teeth!

Today’s verse tells us that we are to relate to others with humility, putting aside selfish ambitions and vain conceit. Not only that, we are to value or esteem others more than we do ourselves! We are to look out for the other’s interests and not only our own (verse 4). When we evaluate ourselves, we are not of think of ourselves, “more highly than we ought.” (Romans 12:3) Our standard for humility is Christ Himself who left Heaven’s glory to become a man and sacrifice Himself for us! (verses 5-8)

I had to laugh when I saw my smile in the mirror! It felt like the Lord was nudging me to knock it off and just get over myself! Humility is a tricky thing. If I were to say I have arrived at being humble, I would most likely be far from it! It is not that I should ignore my own interests, but I am to be about the interests of those around me! Humility is not thinking too highly or too little of myself. Humility is seeing myself as the Lord sees me.

Lord, give me the right attitude towards myself and others.


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The Flame Lily

Scripture for Today: Song of Songs 8:6 “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”

This national flower of Zimbabwe looks just like a tongue of fire and is widespread in tropical and southern Africa. It thrives in sparse woodlands, sand dunes and grasslands. It rambles and climbs all over neighboring plants using those tendrils at the end of its leaves. The Flame Lily is also called the Fire Lily and it can climb to a height of three meters. It can be fatal if eaten and to even touch it can result in skin irritation.

Today’s verse is part of a poetic and image-laden passage describing love. It is as strong as death and can evoke a jealousy as fierce as the grave. Being sealed with this kind of love over the heart and arm sets one apart as beloved with a strong flame of emotion. This is an image of the love of the Lord, poured in our hearts by His Spirit (Rom. 5:5). This is the same Spirit who appeared as tongues of fire at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3). And we are sealed with His Spirit when we place our faith in Jesus (Eph. 1:13). In love, He set His seal of ownership on us (II Cor. 1:22)!

How incredible to be sealed and marked as His with such an ardent love! That flame of love is so strong that many waters cannot quench it (verse 7). His love for me is so fierce that nothing in all creation can separate me from it (Rom. 8:38-39)! Our little puny human loves cannot even compare. “What wondrous love is this?”

Lord, I am grateful for Your overwhelming love!