Devotions By Jan


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Cranberry Bog

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 44:3 “For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants.”

It about took my breath away!  We were driving the back roads near Plymouth, MA when we rounded the corner and saw a shimmering field of red!  The cranberry bog was being flooded with water and the brilliant October sun was hitting it just right.  The farmers flood the area with up to eighteen inches of water to free the cranberries from the vine.  Then because of the small pocket of air contained in the cranberries, they float to the surface, ready to be harvested.

Water is of course essential to growing most anything but with “wet harvesting” it also plays an important role in getting access to the fruit.  Today’s verse pictures God’s Spirit like that water so important to fruit production.  Without His work we remain a thirsty land.  Without His blessing we continue life as dry ground.  But oh how it all changes when the Holy Spirit moves and works in people’s hearts.

When I try producing fruit and good works in my own strength, I am using thirsty land and dry ground.  I need the Holy Spirit to flood my efforts with His life-producing water and power.  I can do nothing in my own strength.  It is not how busy I am doing things for others.  It is not how many Bible verses I know.  It is allowing Him to work through me as I depend on Him.  It is getting my ego out of the way and being about His glory.

Lord, please pour out today the blessing of Your Spirit.

(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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Obedient Ant

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise.”

This ant is carrying quite a load.  That is normal as they are created to carry twenty times their body weight.  But there is one ant who inexplicably carried away a lost contact lens.  Its owner was mountain climbing when she lost it.  She turned to the One who sees all and pleaded with Him for help.  On descending the mountain with her friends, another group of climbers at the bottom shouted up the question, “Did anyone lose a contact lens?”  They only noticed it because an ant was carrying it on his back!  I can just imagine the ant’s confusion as to why he was carrying such a cumbersome inedible object!

Today’s verse is in the context of working hard and preparing for one’s future.  The ant stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest in order to be prepared for the coming lean times.  We are encouraged to look to the ant’s ways and be wise.  However, there is also wisdom in fearing and obeying the Lord as that ant did in this woman’s true story (Prov. 9:10).  Something (or Someone) prompted that small ant to lug around a very heavy load to what seemed to be no purpose.

I do not always understand the why’s behind what God asks me to do.  But then my obedience should not depend on seeing the whole picture.  He sees what is ahead and His plans for me are good because He is.  I want to trust Him for the reasons behind His commands.  This whole faith adventure is by faith and not by sight.

Lord, help me to be faithful to You, even when I don’t understand.


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Sandcastles

Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” 

I doubt that this sandcastle was built by a small child.  It seems too involved and complicated, perhaps needing some special molds and skills.  Sandcastle-building has become quite the art form with annual competitions all over Southern California.  Corona Del Mar is celebrating its 56th annual competition this October.  The entries are elaborate and take painstaking precision.  The results are impressive but no longer there.  These fantasy castles and kingdoms are eventually reclaimed by the ocean.  What a shame to see all that creative work washed away!

Today’s verse speaks of a kingdom that is eternal.  It does not erode with time.  What effort is invested in this kingdom will endure.  We are promised that when spending our lives living for God’s kingdom, we will be able to live our lives without worrying about tomorrow (verse 34).  The  mundane pursuits of food and clothing become less important.   Life is more than food and the body more than clothes (verse 25).  Seeking His kingdom means living for Him and for values that are eternal.

The most important component of any kingdom is its king.  Seeking God’s kingdom is to live as His subject and submit to His rule.  When I live for Him and His purposes, this gracious King takes care of the details.  But I sometimes get distracted by building my own little sandcastles.  I want my own kingdom, however small, in the hopes of having some say and control.  I want to be the one in charge!  But my pathetic kingdom is never as good as His.  And I do not want to waste my time on what will not last!

Lord, keep me focused on living for You.


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Royalty!

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:17  “Now if we are God’s children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”

Meet King Henry the Third, my twenty-first Great Grandfather!  Thanks to the years of research done by my sister, we can trace our family back to the early 1200’s.  Although kindhearted, history portrays King Henry as weak and ineffectual during his reign starting in 1216.  This image is of his effigy at his tomb located in Westminster Abbey.  We are also direct descendants of the King Edwards I, II, and III.  But will this discovery garner me more respect??

Today’s verse reminds me of my identity in Christ.  I am not only a subject of the King,  I am a child of the King.   What an amazing thought!  As His child I have access to the throne room of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! (Heb.4:16)  I belong there!  Because of the grace shown by Christ’s sacrifice, God extends to me His scepter, just as King Xerxes did for Queen Esther so long ago.  His throne is called a “throne of grace” because there He dispenses His mercy and help in time of need.  Isn’t that all the time?

I am not so sure I like the part about suffering.  But in our fallen world suffering is inevitable, especially for doing the right thing.  However, I have hope and can look forward to sharing in His glory!  Would that I remember that my allegiance belongs to the King and not to the world.  He is a King full of love and grace, welcoming me to His throne room.

Lord, help me remember that I am Your child and heir.


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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:5 “You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.”

The dilemma this critter faces is surely that of being between, “a rock and a hard place!”  I imagine that it was the lure of the food that got him in such a predicament!  The choices look pretty limited and uncomfortable.  It is thought that this expression comes from Greek mythology where one had to confront one of two sea monsters!  It has been a popular expression since the early twentieth century when it was used to refer to bankruptcy.

Our verse for today comes from a psalm that describes how vast is God’s knowledge of each one of us.  He is acquainted with all of our ways and all of our movements.  He is everywhere and there is no fleeing His presence.  But this verse is so very personal.  He encloses or hems us in with His presence.  He puts a limit ahead of us and a limit behind us.  He does not do this to frustrate us with impossible choices.  He does this in a gesture of love, to place His hand on us.

It is understandable that He needs to hem me in and put His hand on me.  I am so often in constant movement and activity.  I hardly stand still.  Taking time out for Him and being still seems impossible sometimes.  The pace of life makes me forget He is even there.  There are times I need to be stopped in my tracks in order to see His hand and recognize His presence.  Being hemmed in by the Lord is a good thing.  When I cannot go forward or turn backward, it is then that I look up.  That is just how He wants it!

Lord, keep me looking to You for every decision!


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Little Drummer Boy

little-drummer-boyScripture for Today: Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your strength.”

The Little Drummer Boy is one of the more recently written classic carols.  It was originally a Czech song entitled, “Carol of the Drum.”  Translated by Katherine Davis in 1941, and later modified with the help of Henry Simeone and Henry Onorati, it was first performed in 1958.  It made the top 40 list for five years in a row, establishing itself as a well-loved classic.  The repetition of the “rum pum pum” twenty one times makes it  a very rhythmic song to which “the ox and lamb kept time!”

I cannot imagine Mary allowing the drummer to play his drum for Jesus when he asked!  What mother would appreciate such a loud intrusive sound startling her baby?  But I love the sentiment of this song.  The drummer boy is poor and has no gift to bring the newborn King.  Even so he wants to honor Him.  So he uses his talent as a gift, and is rewarded with a smile from the baby Jesus.

Today’s verse encompasses all of what Jesus wants from us today.  He quite simply wants it all;  all of our heart, all of our soul and all of our strength.  There is no other gift more appropriate after everything He has given us!  When we love Him in return with our entire being, it honors Him more than any show of a costly gift.

To give the Lord my all is a life-long challenge.  But every Christmas I am reminded that this is what Jesus did for me when He stooped to earth to redeem me.  How can I hold back anything?  Amid all the gift giving this Christmas, I want to give my all to Him and see His smile.

Merry Christmas!