Devotions By Jan


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The Manatee

Scripture for Today:Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

Who would ever want to harm this gentle creature?  The Florida manatee, or sea cow, measures up to 13 feet and 1,300 pounds.  Their slow lolling nature make this large marine mammal a favorite of tourists.  But there are Manatee Zone signs saying “Slow Speed” and “Minimal Wake” in an effort to protect them.  Even so, the manatee is classed as “vulnerable.”  Their greatest threat is human as they are hunted, drown in fishing nets, face habitat degradation or collide with fishing boats.

Today’s verse reminds us that our greatest enemy is not human.  Our biggest threat is spiritual against our souls.  We protect ourselves from evil by the different pieces of God’s armor: truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. (verses 10-19)  We can stand firm against evil with the protection He provides.  We can stand with confidence as well, knowing that He not only has determined the outcome of this war, but He fights with and for us!

My courage is so non-existent that I need to enlist my husband when in combat with a spider!  There is nothing in me to inspire fear in those dark forces of evil.  Yet, the Devil will flee from me when I am wholly submitted to God (James 4:7).  I can face the dark and stand strong, never with  my puny efforts but in the power of His might!  Although this is a subject that can illicit fear, God reassures my heart.  If God is for me, who can be against me? (Romans 8:31)

Thank you Lord, that my heart, mind and soul belong to You.


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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 sheep faces is surely that of being between, “a rock and a hard place!”  I cannot imagine what lured him into 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.

Today’s verse 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!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Mortar and Pestle

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 27:22 “Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.”

Both my daughters use a mortar and pestle in their kitchens, although they did not learn this from me!  I was always too rushed to grind or purée anything by hand.  This ancient method takes more effort but proponents say that the releasing of the oils and smells is a heady experience.  Plus, it looks so gourmet sitting on the counter!  An added benefit is working through one’s frustrations with all the pounding and grinding!

Today’s verse refers to a mortar and pestle being unable to grind out the folly from a fool.  No matter how hard one tries, whether banging heads on walls or a school of hard knocks, the fool will not learn from the experience.  He is destined to repeat his folly (Prov. 26:11).  The fool does not listen to advice or counsel (Prov. 1:7) and their way seems right to them (Prov. 12:15).  The fool detests turning from evil (Prov. 13:19) even when devastated and hurt by it.  But the biggest folly of the fool is saying in his heart that there is no God (Psalm 53:1).

Fools may appear intellectual, sophisticated and reasonable.  Their lives may exude success.  They may even be the darlings of the media.  But their behavior manifests what is in their hearts.  Without God, they are enslaved in their sin.  Their eventual end reveals their foolishness in rejecting God.  And the only way to remove this folly is to replace it with the wisdom that comes from fearing God (Proverbs 9:10).  When I acknowledge Him and bow the knee in humility and submission, I can be wise.

Thank you, Lord, for Your grace that transformed this fool into someone wise!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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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.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Big-Hearted Giraffe

Scripture for Today: John 5:39-40 “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.”

How regal the giraffe stands!  Being the tallest of the land animals between 14 and 19 feet, these stately animals have to have strong hearts.  And they do!  Their two-foot-long heart is equal to 50 human hearts!  The giraffe’s exceptional twenty-five pound heart is able to pump blood where it belongs.  Being that their necks are six feet long, their blood pressure is two times stronger than other animals in order to push that blood all the way from heart to head.

Jesus’ reprimand to the Pharisees in today’s verse addresses the distance between heart and head.  These men were admirably using their heads, searching out the Scriptures.  But unfortunately, they were missing the point.  They closed their minds to the truth that the Scriptures were pointing to Jesus as the Messiah and they refused to come to Him.  Their hearts were not involved.   And rather than come to Jesus for the life He promised, they preferred to continue searching the Scripture apart from Jesus Christ.

It is said there are 18 inches between a human’s head and heart.  That is a long distance in the spiritual realm.  One can agree to spiritual truth intellectually without that truth ever touching the heart.  My own experience bears this out as I can agree in my head that God’s way is best and at the same time stubbornly follow my own!  Jesus understands how I am made and so commands me to love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:27).  He wants all of me!

Lord, make my heart soft and obedient to all that You have taught me.


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Brainy

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 sculpture of a brain is found in Norfolk, England.  It was created to honor a very intelligent 17th century author, Sir Thomas Browne.  It is made of marble, which reinforces to me the idea that it is difficult sometimes to change one’s mind!  Americans spent 1.9 billion on brain-improving apps!  Many of them claim to improve memory, increase IQ, and boost other cognitive skills.  Of course, engaging in different types of new cognitively demanding tasks is good for the brain!

Today’s verse talks about transforming and renewing one’s mind.  We are told to do it so it must be something that is possible.  But rather than using brain teasers and games, we are to use the transforming power of God’s Word.  Unlike any other book, God’s Word is living and active, penetrating to reveal thoughts and attitudes (Hebrews 4:12).  Reading, meditating and memorizing God’s Word allows the believer to discern what God wants of us.  His Word also helps us to resist what the world wants from us; conformity!

I find tremendous comfort in the fact that God’s will for me is good, pleasing and perfect!  Often I approach God’s will with trepidation, thinking that somehow God’s will is mysterious, unknowable, and much too difficult.  But after spending time in His Word, I have a different mindset.  He renews my mind so I can understand and be on board with what He wants of me.  And He shows me where my thinking conforms to the false ideas of the world.  He replaces those thoughts with His truth!

Thank you Lord, for changing my mind!


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Diamond in the Rough

Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

A diamond in the rough does not look like much.  Yet, the finished product is stunning!  A diamond is especially valuable when it is unearthed from the ground.  Those “diamonds” that are fabricated in labs or simulated are not quite as appreciated.  It is the cost, time and effort of mining that contribute to making a diamond precious.  The mined diamond may be dirty, unformed and rough around the edges.  But in the hands of a skilled cutter it is transformed into a gorgeous faceted gem.

Today’s verse describes a life-long creative process.  God is continually at work in the heart of every believer.  He has His work cut out for Him, changing us to be like His Son.  He has pledged to continue this work faithfully right up until the moment of Christ’s return.  He never quits.  He never gives up.  One day the work Jesus is doing in me will be complete.  One day I will be like Him (I John 3:2).

He asks me to cooperate with Him.  He even creates in me the desire to cooperate! (Phil. 2:13)  It is a strange working partnership where He provides the strength and the motivation.  However He is the Craftsman doing the cutting and faceting.   And some of those cuts He makes go deep.  I often do not understand what He is doing.  But He asks me to trust His love and goodness whether I understand or not. What He is creating in me is always more beautiful than anything I could achieve.  He has promised an incredible outcome.

Thank you Lord, that I can trust  Your work in me!