Devotions By Jan


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No Fear

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I do not normally think of myself as a fearful person, but then I am not trying to do what this woman is doing, hanging over the Hong Kong skyline!  She is either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid to take such a risk!  The hammock seems to suggest ease and relaxation, which has got to be far from what she is feeling!  Even so, it is a sure bet that she does not suffer from acrophobia!

Today’s verse is an encouragement to not fear.  I am to put my trust in God.  His presence keeps me from being dismayed at dizzying heights.  He strengthens.  He helps.  And most importantly, He upholds me with His righteous right hand!  Whether I am facing insurmountable odds, or the presence of evil, I do not have to give in to fear.

The stronger my faith is in Him, the less problem I will have with fear.  In Matthew 8:26 Jesus challenges His disciples with the question, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  Their boat being pummeled by a storm seemed reason enough.  But had they had more trust in Him, fear would not have been an issue.  I do the same thing when faced with scary circumstances.  The level of fear I am feeling is a barometer of just how much I am trusting Him.  But with God for us – who (or what) can be against us? (Rom. 8:31)  Through Him, we are more than conquerors, even over our own fears!

Thank you Lord, that because of You, I do not have to fear.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Surprised!!!

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

On a recent horseback riding adventure, my husband got the “privilege” of riding the unpredictable one!  This unruly horse would bolt and even nudge mine, causing my horse to kick back at him.  Unfortunately, he missed, kicking my husband’s shin instead!  Bolting up the embankment of a stream he decided to stop suddenly, throwing my poor husband over his head and to the ground!  Thankfully, he was able to successfully break his fall, only bruising his ribs and his ego!  It happened so quickly, we were all surprised!

Our verse for today tells believers not to be surprised at the hard times we suffer.  They are not the exception, but the norm.  We are not exempt from difficulties, although sometimes we think we should be.  We get used to an easy gait and get lulled into thinking that an easy life is our right and privilege as God’s own.  Then something sudden happens and we are surprised!  Rather than holding on, the ordeal unseats us.

The “fiery ordeal” in this verse is not something that is caused by our own wrong choices.  It is an ordeal that comes from living as a believer in an unbelieving world.  Rather than be surprised at the negative reactions, I am told to rejoice that I can participate in some small measure what Jesus faced.  I can expect that others will heap abuse on me (I Peter 4:4).   I am not ever to be surprised if the world hates me (I John 3:13).  This testing of my faith is never very comfortable!

Help me Lord, to stay faithful to You, even when it is hard.

(Look familiar? Reposting while reposing!)


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The Pomegranate

Scripture for Today:  Colossians 1:11 “being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.”

As a child I tired quickly, trying to pop out those pomegranate seeds one by one!  I would get more of the staining juice on my hands than in my mouth!  Unlike other fruits, it is the seeds or “arils” that are eaten.  But de-seeding a pomegranate takes either some know-how, some patience, or both.  However it is done, this sweet red fruit is well worth the effort.  I love them sprinkled on a salad or made into a glaze over roasted duck!

Today’s verse indicates from where patience comes.  It is through the strength and power of the Lord that we can live with a patient attitude.  It is His “glorious might” that makes it possible to have great endurance and patience.  To live a life worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in every way (verse 10) will take patience and endurance.  But thankfully, we do not muster it up on our own.  It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit working in us (Gal. 5: 22).  It is also the result of having our faith tested and seeing the Lord come through for us. (James 1:3)

For me, the biggest test of patience is waiting for the Lord to answer my prayers, my way.  His timing is rarely my own.  And I tend to treat my prayers as “unanswered” if I don’t receive the answer desired!  How many times I have worried, full of anxiety while awaiting His response!  But being impatient serves no purpose and certainly does not obligate Him to hurry!  I know He is pleased when I wait for His answers and promises with a patient calm heart.

Lord, help me to patiently trust You more.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Pancake Tortoise

Scripture for Today: Psalm 31:20 “In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from all human intrigues; You keep them safe in Your dwelling from accusing tongues.”

We had trouble actually seeing this Pancake Tortoise at the San Diego Zoo as he was so completely flattened and wedged in the rock.  I had never heard of a tortoise that can run but this one does!  That is because his shell is lightweight and full of small holes.  The fact that his shell is thin, flat and flexible means that he can flatten himself like a pancake and hide in narrow rock crevices.  So rather than retreat into his shell like most, this guy runs to the rocks until the danger is past.

Today’s verse tells us where to hide when we feel threatened.  David was constantly under attack from within and from without.  He was the object of evil plots and slanderous tongues.  In his anguish and distress he runs to the only One who can give him shelter and safety; the presence of the Lord.  David did not withdraw into his own shell or resources.  He ran to His presence and there God hid him.

There are times to stand and face the enemy.  But there are also times to retreat and run to Him and His presence.  He has promised shelter and safety when we are just too tired and discouraged.  He protects us when we are fearful and overwhelmed.  The unkind  remarks of others can create deep wounds.  Fighting against malicious gossip that damages a reputation is practically impossible.  The only solution is to run to His presence and allow Him to take care of those “human intrigues.”  He is more than able to fight for me!

Thank you Lord, for the safety and shelter of Your presence.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Peek-A-Boo Canyon

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 13:12 Colossians 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

The Peek-A-Boo slot canyon in Zion National Park ushers the hiker into another world!  The trail twists and turns, narrows and then widens.  It is eerily quiet and the temperature drops.  Some parts are dark with overhanging rock.  But in other places one can see orange, warm red and rustic brown on the curving sandstone walls.  Some walls soar up to 100 feet and the narrowest part is only 16 inches wide!  It is like a glimpse into another dimension.

Today’s verse gives us a small glimpse of Heaven.  Paul tells believers to set their minds on what is found there.  Christ is on His throne and He sits at the right hand of God the Father.  Our minds and our hearts are to be changed by this eternal perspective.  What we see on earth does not match up with spiritual realities.  What we see, touch and feel around us can be breathtaking, but it is not eternal.  God’s incredible creation is real but it will not last.

When I set my mind and heart on the realities of Heaven, it changes how I view that awful situation.  It affects how I see my problems.  What can loom so large for me is in fact only, “light and momentary trouble.” (II Cor. 4:17)  All the hard things in this life are, “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  When I think of Heaven, my heart fills with hope.  And I need that hope to get me through.

Lord, help me see even a glimpse of what is to come!

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)