Devotions By Jan


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Maverick

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This horse seems to have a mind of his own!  Without a rider or other horses nearby, he walks alone.  Perhaps he is a maverick who enjoys his independence.  The meaning of the word, “maverick,” has changed from its original meaning of being an unbranded animal separated from the herd.  Now the word has come to mean a person who is unconventional and an independent thinker.  Depending on the context, a maverick can denote something negative or positive.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to resist conforming to the world’s way of thinking.  Rather than following the latest ideas or fads, the Christ-follower is to think differently.  His goal is to find and follow what God wants.  It is always something good, pleasing and perfect.  With a mind renewed by God’s Word, we can evaluate and test our thinking to know when we are following what He wants.  His plans are perfect.  He wants only what is good for us.  And as our Creator, He knows better than anyone else what will in the long run be pleasing.

I am sometimes confused as to what God wants in a particular situation.  I know that trusting my own desires and emotions can be deceiving.  Sometimes the Lord gives me exactly what I want, but not until I submit all of it to Him first!  Being a “living sacrifice” is all about that submission (verse 1).  But what I find is that His plan is a whole lot better than mine!

Lord, change my thinking to want only what You want.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Vintage Label Maker

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 43:1 “But now, this is what the Lord says — He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel; ‘Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.'”

I did not realize our label maker was vintage!  It does look strange but it gets the job done, marking items with our name.  We do it because we have the silly optimism that those same items when loaned to others will have a better chance of making it back to our home!  We do not try to label everything with our name, just the little treasures we would like to have returned to us.

Today’s verse reassures us that the Lord knows us intimately.  He has called us by name and we as believers belong to Him.  This verse refers specifically to the nation of Israel but it is true of all those who are His own.  He is our Shepherd and calls His own sheep by name (John 10:3).  He not only formed and created each one of us, but He has bought us back at a tremendous price to Himself! (I Cor. 6:20)  He thought us valuable enough to call us by name, redeem our lives and mark us as His very own forever! (Rev. 3:12)

Because of His intimate knowledge and love for me, I do not have any reason to fear.  If God is for me, who can be against me? (Rom. 8:31)  Plenty of people I suppose but they will not get far.  I belong to the Creator of the universe and nothing and no one can separate me from His love! (Rom. 8:35-39)  No one will ever touch my soul.  He has labeled me as His very own!

Thank you Lord, that You know my name and make me Yours!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Play Doh

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 29:16 “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter, ‘You know nothing’?”

There is nothing better than a brand new set of play doh!  At least that is how my grandsons think.  It must feel good to start fresh with unmixed colors and clay that has not dried out to be rock hard.  The shapes my young grandsons form take some imagination to identify.  But in their funny creative minds they see a masterpiece worthy of the Louvre.  Grandma is obliged to ooh and ahh!

Today’s verse reminds us that there is a Potter who has formed and fashioned us, His clay, for His purposes.  God, as our Creator, has the right to form and mold us as He desires.  His reasons for how He has made us are well beyond our understanding.  But His creation has no right to challenge Him as if He did not have absolute knowledge and authority.  That is upside down thinking!

What a ludicrous scenario to imagine clay talking back to the potter!  But that is just what happens when a nonbeliever denies God’s existence.  He shakes his fist and declares that God did not create him and that he knows better than the omniscient One.  What a display of ridiculous pride!

It takes humility to submit to the Potter’s hand and become all that I am meant to be.  Pride makes me dry and hard in His hands.  Thankfully, He is patient and continually works in me with creative hands, making me like His Son.

Lord, while I am waiting yielded and still, mold me to be like You.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Nesting Dolls

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:3 “…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Although the nesting dolls or “matryoska” dolls originated in Russia, the ones pictured here are Alsacian.  We see them all year long in France, but they are especially popular at the Christmas markets.  The number of dolls in a set can vary anywhere from five to several dozen.  A number of different themes are used including fairy tale figures, animals, and religious or political figures.  I am partial to the traditional “little matrons.”  But they all show beautiful artistry in the elaborate and detailed painting.

Today’s verse came to mind in thinking of the different sizes of these dolls.  Each one has its place in the set.  Each one belongs to the other and is needed to be complete.  Paul encourages his readers not to think of themselves more highly than they should.  Whatever size we think we are, we are not to look down on someone else.  Whatever talents we have are a gift from our Creator.  Each capability is a grace from Him.

Each believer has received a special talent or gift to serve Him.  When we think about ourselves with sober judgement we realize that any success in life ultimately comes from Him.  It is all grace.  Like Paul said, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  I do not want to disqualify myself from serving Him by allowing pride to poison my thinking.  But, it is always a sneaky temptation.

Lord, thank you for all your gifts to me!  Keep me from taking any credit.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Texting

Scripture for Today: Psalm 3:3 “But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

I hurt just looking at her!  This hunched-over position while texting can have some serious consequences.  With the head weighing 10-12 pounds, bending over our phones increases the force, pulling on those neck muscles and joints.  Not only can our poor posture lead to headaches and spine problems, some researchers have even made a connection with depression!  The idea is that the relationship between mind and body can run both ways.  We slump over because we are sad or we are sad because we slump over!

Today’s verse tells us that the Lord’s presence in our lives is a protective shield.  He looks out for His own.  Nothing and no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28).   And as  believers, He is our glory.  Our lives are to progressively reflect His glory as He creates Christ’s character in us (II Cor. 3:18).  But in addition to all of this, He lifts our heads!  And not just a little bit.  He lifts our heads high!  We no longer hang our heads in shame and disgrace.  We do not have to look down in humiliation and guilt.  Because of His love and forgiveness He lifts our heads high!  What an amazing thought!

When He lifts my head, I have the advantage of seeing more of His wonders in my life!  With the perspective that comes with grace and forgiveness, I can see just how much He has blessed me!  Like Mary in her song, I can say that I am blessed, “for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name.” (Luke 1:49)

Lord, help me to live this day with my head lifted up high with the assurance of Your love.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Under Armour Brand

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

The Under Armour brand name was more a result of trial and error in the search for trademark approval than anything else.  The founder of the company stumbled on the name through an off-hand comment from his brother.  But the name makes sense as the first products making this business successful were the undershirts made of material that wicked away moisture from the skin.

Today’s verse describes an armor that protects us from something much more important than a little sweat.  This armor cannot possibly be hidden under our clothes as we are told to stand firm and ready for attack.  Not only is it to be visible to others but easily accessible when needed.  This is spiritual armor for our struggle against what we cannot see (vs. 12).  It helps us to stand against the devil’s schemes (vs.11).  With it in place we are strong, not in ourselves but in His mighty power (vs 10).  We as believers never need to fear any evil day as He has given us the ultimate victory in Christ Jesus (I Cor. 15:57).

What an encouragement to know that I am not without defense!  Against the Father of lies I am on the side of Truth.  I can stand firm in His righteousness against the accusations of the enemy.  My faith protects my heart from wavering and doubt.  My salvation is secure because of Him.  God’s Word will defeat the enemy every time.  And He has even given me the privilege of brokering peace through the Gospel!

Thank you Lord, that sin will not win and evil will not prevail!!


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Kintsugi

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:49-50 “Remember Your word to Your servant, for You have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

This bowl went from broken to beautiful!  The art of golden joinery is the definition of the Japanese word, “kintsugi.”  Fragmented and broken pottery or ceramics are repaired in this process by filling the holes and cracks with a resin mixed with gold, silver or platinum.  What used to be broken pieces thought to be worthless become a thing of beauty!  The very brokenness makes the item become more precious and valuable!

Today’s verse is a comfort and reassurance when going through suffering.  There is hope.  The author of this psalm was experiencing ridicule (vs. 51).  There was intense pressure from the wicked and perhaps he felt himself cracking from it. He vows to stay faithful to the Lord through it all.  In the night he reminds himself of who God is (vs. 55) and he resolves to stay the course.  Through all the pain he remains hopeful because of God’s promises.

It is hope that brings me through the darkest times of my life.  I can feel forgotten, rotten and dead inside just like David did when he described himself as “broken pottery” (Ps. 31:12).  But then, there are the promises of God.  Whatever feels broken He can repair.  More than that, He transforms our very brokenness into something useful and a thing of beauty.  Nothing is too hard for Him or beyond the skill of His capable hands.  He works in the good where everything went bad.  That stupid decision, that utter failure or that shame at letting Him down is all part of a pattern that He redeems and makes beautiful.  This is my hope.

Thank you Lord, that Your promises give me hope.