Devotions By Jan

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Lion or Kitten?

Scripture for Today: Acts 4:13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

The Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite characters from this 1939 film!  Even though he is the “King of the Forest” he does not think he is courageous.  He wants courage from the great Oz, not realizing that he already has it!  He mistakens his fear for lack of courage.  But courage can be defined as acting in the face of fear!

In today’s verse, Peter and John are showing courage.  They had been seized and thrown in prison by the rulers, elders and teachers of the law.  When appearing before them to give a defense, Peter, filled with the Spirit, stood fearlessly and preached Jesus.  Their accusers watching them were not only surprised but astonished that such unschooled and ordinary men would be showing such courage.  And they rightly concluded that these men had been with Jesus!  The Spirit God gives does not make us timid! (II Tim. 1:7)

I have not been called before the law to defend my faith in Christ.  But if it should ever happen, I believe God through His Spirit would give me the courage I need.  I may tremble inside but He would help me face my fears.  When I show courage in the face of any opposition, it is a sure sign that I have spent time with Jesus!  I am told to wait on the Lord and be of good courage (Psalm 27:14) because He is the One who will strengthen my heart!  Any courage I show would not come from me but from Him.

Thank you Lord, that you can make a lion out of this kitten!

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Through the Looking Glass

Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 32:17  “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.”

I am not seeing what fascinates this man looking through that magnifying glass.  Maybe it is something that is so detailed that magnifying is the only way to appreciate it.  Maybe it is something that was previously overlooked due to its small size.  In any case, whatever is magnified is obviously made to look larger than it really is.

Today’s verse corrects my perspective. The Lord is the God of all mankind and nothing is too hard for Him nor too big.  His power and might are obvious when looking at the the heavens and the earth.  Everything is small and insignificant when compared to His great power.  Nothing is too hard or too big for Him to accomplish when He can speak into being an entire universe!

What a contrast to how I see things.  Because of my own limitations, I see problems as much bigger than they really are.  And the more I focus on the problem and worry it to death, the bigger it becomes.  But for the Lord it is all small stuff.  With the power I see in His creation I understand that nothing is too hard or too big for Him to surmount.  I know He can do anything He wants.  But does He want to help me?  Will He outstretch His arm for me?  But He already has.  He has outstretched two arms on that cross and used His power to save my soul.  And the same power that raised Christ from the dead daily works in my favor.  Rather than magnify my problems I need to magnify Him!

Thank you Lord, that nothing is too hard or too big for You!


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Kookaburra Bird

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity: she can laugh at the days to come.”

I only knew about this bird from the children’s song growing up.  So I was curious to see this Australian bird at the zoo.  She was a lot bigger than I imagined being 18 inches long.  Her beak is 4 inches long and with it she can eat chickens, ducklings and even some small snakes!  She is monogamous and she defends her territory.  Often, her young will remain with her to help raise the next year’s brood.  But most surprising is her loud laugh!

Today’s verse describes a woman whose qualities raise what seems to be an impossible standard for others!  This description of the perfect wife and mother was given by the Queen Mother to her son, King Lemuel.  The passage describes a woman of “noble character” fit for royalty (verse 10).  After an extensive list of characteristics the conclusion is that charm and beauty are less important than fearing the Lord (verse 30).  Fearing the Lord makes it possible to “laugh at the days to come.”  There is a light heart even when facing the unknown future.

Of all the qualities listed for this perfect woman, this ability to laugh at the days to come has got to be the most difficult!  It is a litmus test of my faith in God and His plan for me.  To laugh at the days to come does not mean I do not prepare for them.  But it does mean that I can trust Him for the unexpected.  I can trust Him for what is around that blind curve.  Whatever He allows to happen, He will carry me through it.  Whatever the challenge of the days to come, He is enough.

Thank you Lord, for giving me a light heart.

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Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 11:14 “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”

These two innocent baby catfish are getting a very bad reputation!  Their name is used as a verb to mean scamming others through a fictional on-line persona.  Dating sites unfortunately are the playground of these scammers.  The “catfish” posts stolen fake photos.  He (or she) describes himself with stories of their background and accomplishments that are too good to be true.  He tries to win your sympathy and your love, usually in an effort to extort money.  Anyone can fall victim as the one seeking love online is sometimes vulnerable and operating from hope.

Today’s verse describes the biggest scammer of all; Satan.  He pretends to be an angel of light.  It is the old,”bait and switch.”  He reels the unsuspecting in with promises of love and happiness when all he really wants is to destroy (I Peter 5:8).  He is the master of convincing people that they can ignore God who IS love and find love their own way.  Many victims of catfishing reported that the scammer said all the right things.  Satan knows where we are vulnerable and just what to promise.

Satan has been at this scheme of his for centuries.  I dare not underestimate him.  Yet, God’s Word says that when I am submitted to God and resisting the devil, Satan will flee from me! (James 4:7)  I can spot his lies when I know and study God’s truth in His Word.  The best way to combat a lie is with the Truth and Jesus declares that He Himself is truth (John 14:6).  I can unmask Satan and his lies when I am submitted to the One who shows me true love!

Thank you Lord, that Your truth is all the light I need!




Abbaye de Murbach

Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words and say, ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!'” 

We used to live right down the street from this impressive abby in Alsace, France.  This abby was founded in 727 and has a past of glory, destruction and restoration.  In the Middle Ages it was so rich and influential that it owned the entire city of Lucerne, Switzerland!  As of 1841 the abby has been declared a national monument.  Now, its two sandstone towers and beautiful grounds serve mainly as a draw for tourists.

Today’s verse is part of a warning given by the prophet, Jeremiah.  The temple and all the trappings of ritual religion was for some Israelites their only claim to righteousness.  Rather than obeying God, some were leaning and depending on deceptive words that reassured them that they were just fine.  The temple and its magnificence was thought to be enough.  Saying “the temple” three times did not make of their attendance a changed heart!  They continued to flagrantly disobey with the mistaken notion that with following religious practices they could do as they pleased.

How influenced I can be by the outward show of religion!  Deceptive words are attractive as they tell me I am fine with just the outward trapping of church.  I can and do pat myself on the back for good church attendance, for regular giving and for many kinds of service to others.  But I can miss the point, trusting in these activities rather than in God’s grace to me.  It is only by His grace that my heart can be changed.  In changing my heart, I find I want to obey Him, even when it’s hard.

Thank you Lord, for changing me from the inside out!


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Baring Teeth

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

This normally sweet fluffy Pomeranian bares his teeth to warn off any advance.  Baring teeth is a clear indication that attack is imminent.  Teeth have long been a symbol of aggression.  That must be the idea behind the old expression, “fighting tooth and nail.”  In French, “to have a tooth against someone” is their way of expressing the idea of holding a grudge.

Today’s verse teaches that it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense rather than hold a grudge.  To overlook an offense takes patience and it is a sign of one’s wisdom.  But to overlook something hurtful does not mean having no memory of it.  Sometimes, the memory stays.  But rather than it being at the forefront of our minds, we let it go and show grace.  It is a gracious behavior and one that is to our glory.  Holding a grudge makes us small and petty.  There is no glory in that!

I am so grateful for the people in my life that have overlooked my offenses.  They have been many, some intentional and some not.  When I realize the grace extended to me, than I can more easily extend that same grace to others.  And the supreme model of total and complete forgiveness is the Lord who does not treat me as my sins deserve (Psalm 103:10).  I am forever grateful that Christ does not hold a grudge or where would I be?  Even so, I do have trouble letting go and it is inglorious!  I need the help of His Spirit to truly forgive from the heart.

Lord, make me wise enough to show patience and not hold grudges!


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Dandelion Seed

Scripture for Today: Psalm 66:16 “Come and hear all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me.”

Pictured here is the bane of anyone trying to grow their lawn!  I am sure my parents were not too thrilled with me when as a child I would blow on the dandelion seedhead!  After the dandelion flowers, the head, petals and stamen dry up and fall off.  The bracts curve backwards and a parachute ball opens into a sphere.  The mature seeds attach to white fluffy “parachutes”.  A bit of wind or the breath of a child is all that is needed to send the seeds flying!

Today’s verse encourages using our breath to tell of all God has done for us!  Just as the dandelion spreads its seed, so the believer can influence others to praise and worship the Lord.  But also like the dandelion, dispersing that seed comes after dying.  The believer has died and his life is now hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).  We no longer live for self but for Him (II Cor. 5:15).  And it is often after a strong wind of adversity that our praise and faithfulness to Christ is clearly seen.

I want to make a difference.  I want to leave a legacy.  I want to have an influence in this world for the Lord.  But the dying to self is the part that is oh so difficult.  The accolades and recognition of man are often times too important.  And that wind can be plenty uncomfortable.  However, it is my faithfulness to Him in the hard times that validates my faith and makes it credible to others.  Regardless of very negative circumstances, I can always tell others of His love and goodness.

Thank you Lord, for all You have done for me!