Devotions By Jan

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Taking it Easy?

Scripture for Today: Psalm 71:18 “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, ’til I declare Your power to the next generation, Your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

This image has rest and relaxation written all over it!  I can imagine that the couple pictured have lived a busy and productive life, maybe with several career changes.  Perhaps they have stopped punching a clock.  The hard part of raising a family is behind them.  They have paid their dues and are now enjoying their “golden years.”

Today’s verse is looking forward to this stage of life.  But rather than thinking about well-deserved rest and relaxation, David still has a “to do” list in mind.  He looks forward to declaring to the next generation all that the Lord has done for him.  There is still a story to be told to others of all of God’s miracles seen in a lifetime!  With age, the story becomes longer and richer and more credible.

I know He will never leave me or forsake me (I Kings 8:57)  He has shown Himself faithful to me time and time again! Declaring His power and His greatness is a privilege belonging especially to those of a certain age.  In testifying to His faithfulness throughout a long life, others are encouraged to persevere in the faith.  In this sense, there is no retirement when it comes to speaking to the next generation of God’s greatness!  And it is often in looking back over the years that we see more clearly His miraculous hand!  I know my children and my grandchildren are watching me.  They will never see perfection but my prayer is that they will hear from me praise and testimony to God’s power!

Lord, keep me praising You to others.


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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!

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Scripture for today: I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

We used to think of binging only in terms of eating and drinking.  But of course, binging can refer to indulging to excess in any activity.  Binging on a television series has become a common pastime for some.  A “binge racer” is someone who completes an entire season of a television show within a day of its release.  While living in France, friends would send us a show’s entire season.  To binge watch was a true temptation although real life usually interrupted the idea of “indulging to excess.”

Today’s verses seem to indicate that there is no such thing as excess when it comes to joy, prayer or thankfulness.  All three of these activities can be indulged to our heart’s content.  In fact, each please the Lord and are part of His desire for the way we live.  To always have deep-seated joy would include in the middle of any circumstance, even the negative ones (James 1:2).  Being in a continual attitude of prayer means that the lines of communication remain open and intact.  And to always give thanks recognizes God’s loving control in every circumstance.

I can never rejoice too much.  I can never pray more than I should.  And the Lord never tires of hearing my grateful praise!  Each of these activities can never be indulged too much.  He asks me to make them part of my every day life.  He knows how enriching they are to my day and how they direct my heart toward Him.  When I choose joy, when I take time to talk with Him and when I am grateful for every blessing, I can feel His pleasure!

Lord, keep me close to You today.


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Bitter Melon

Scripture for Today: Psalm 71:20 “Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter, You will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth You will again bring me up.”

Bitter melon looks nothing like a melon!  It looks more like a cucumber and it is not only its taste which can discourage a try but also its bumpy warty skin!  This very bitter fruit is grown in tropical areas of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and South America.  It is also known as balsam pear, bitter squash, karela and goya.  The bitter melon is believed to aid digestion and improve overall health.  It is even believed to help in treating diabetes and cancer, although the research is not conclusive.

Today’s verse talks about many bitter troubles.  David has had his share with his enemies seeking to kill him.  He has also lived with some very unhappy family relationships.  Yet he remains confident that his troubles will be short-lived.  He looks to the future with hope that God, though allowing the bitter trouble, will restore and lift him up once again.  David can say this as he has already seen the Lord do just that for him.  This psalm is full of testimony to God’s wonderful faithful care.

Although I enjoy God’s blessings, I am not spared “many and bitter troubles.”  And Peter tells me not to think it strange to experience fiery trials (I Peter 4:12).  But like David, I do not want to allow something difficult and even bitter to make me bitter!  He is there through all of it and is ready to restore and lift me up from the depths of disappointment, dashed hopes and depression!  In fact, He is the only One able to do it!

Thank you Lord, that You are my hope and comfort!

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After the Rains

Scripture for Today: Psalm 65:10 “You drench its furrows and level its ridges; You soften it with showers and bless its crops.”

With the recent rains, our local hills are green and beautiful.  And the wildflowers have put on quite a show this year.  But not everything that grows is welcome!  I knew that if I did not attack our hill soon, the weeds would be much more difficult to clear.  The warm drier weather will soon arrive and that ground will harden and be unforgiving.  But for now, the ground is soft and easily gives up the roots to those nasty weeds.

Today’s verse describes the rains and what they do for the land.  This psalm describes God’s abundant blessings on this earth including His forgiveness when overwhelmed with sin (verse 3).  There was special blessing for those who God brought near to live in His courts (verse 4).  His blessings are sometimes depicted as rain on thirsty ground.  And when we realize that what is good in our lives comes from Him (James 1:17) it can soften our hearts with gratitude.  Soft hearts not only soak up His blessings but also hear and obey His voice.  But we can harden our hearts when we ignore His voice (Hebrews 4:7).

I want the soil of my heart to be soft .  I want the weeds of sin and the roots of bitterness to be easily removed.  When I stubbornly choose to ignore His convicting voice, I can almost feel my heart hardening.  I belong to Him and so I can expect Him to correct and reprimand me.  When my heart is soft and I respond with humility the experience does not have to last very long and is a lot less painful.  He is waiting to love on me with His forgiveness!

Lord, keep my heart soft towards You.


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NASCAR Spotters

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 20:24 “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?”

The NASCAR driver can not turn his head while wearing the required head and neck support.  His wrap-around helmet also reduces visibility.  The driver can really only see directly in front of him or behind him.  These safety requirements have made the role of the “spotter” crucial.  The spotters are called, “eyes in the sky” seeing the whole track at once.  For three and a half hours the race-long conversations help their drivers avoid wrecks, position themselves to the best advantage and maneuver around blind corners.  Those words of guidance and encouragement in a calm tone can make all the difference!

Today’s verse acknowledges that the Lord directs the steps of those who belong to Him.  But often, the one directed has no idea of His direction!  The question expresses what is often felt:  How can anyone understand their own way?  We do not have the same vantage point and we can never understand it all.  We are told in any case not to lean on our own understanding but to acknowledge Him so that He can direct us (Prov. 3:5-6).

Because I cannot see what lies ahead, I need to trust the One who is already there and knows the way.  If I were to wait until I understood the reasons behind every directive, I would be at a standstill and make no progress!  But I can be confident of my direction even without full understanding.  That is because I trust Him.  His eyes are always on me and the twists and turns are not random.  He has a loving purpose in every change of course.  His direction is always towards a more loving relationship with Himself!

Lord, help me to trust You completely!

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Ramona’s Marriage Place

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 14:1  “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.”

This adobe building in Old Town, San Diego called Casa de Estudillo or Estudillo House was once considered one of the finest homes of its day.  Built in 1827, it later came to be associated with a work of fiction entitled, Ramona.  Tourists flocked to the site, believing that the story took place there.  In the absence of the owners, the caretaker decided to capitalize on its popularity and sold pieces of the house as souvenirs!  Obviously, the state of the house rapidly deteriorated!  It was restored in 1910 and later declared a historical landmark.

Today’s verse describes a house coming down.  It is very much in the power of a woman to make or break a household.  A foolish woman needs no help to bring the house down around her head.  But a wise woman will fight for her home and her family.  She will do everything in her power to protect those precious walls.  The wise woman fears the Lord first and foremost (Psalm 111:10).  Following God’s commandments in a marriage relationship and as parents is the surest way to keep that house standing.  A foolish woman will consider God’s way as old fashioned and antiquated.  Without realizing it, the foolish woman will tear her own house down little by little.

There are cracks in my walls every now and then.  Sometimes following God’s way is just difficult.  I need His help to obey.  He has made His plan clear in His Word for all the family relationships.  And sometimes it is at odds with how our society operates.  But following His way is well worth the effort.

Thank you, Lord, that my house is still standing!  Keep me faithful to You.