Devotions By Jan


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Clinging to a Web

Scripture for Today: Job 8:13-15 “Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What they trust in is fragile. What they rely on is a spider’s web. They lean on the web but it gives way. They cling to it, but it does not hold.”

This frosted spider web almost looks like something crocheted! It is so beautiful and intricate. I would be more enthusiastic about webs if they did not involve hidden lurking spiders! It is said that spider silk is stronger than steel. And by some criteria that is true. Most spider silk has a high tensile strength comparable to that of a high grade alloy steel. The “tensile” strength refers to the largest stress that a material can stand before breaking. The spider silk is one of God’s wonders in creation as it can stretch up to five times its relaxed weight before breaking.

Today’s verse is part of a conversation between Job and one of his three friends, Bildad. Much of what his three friends said was discouraging for Job as they assumed his trials were a result of some hidden sin. But the observation Bildad makes in this verse is absolutely true. Those that forget God and do not trust in Him find themselves relying on a spider’s web! Trusting on anything or anyone other than the Lord is a fragile trust that will eventually give way. 

My own ideas, my own strength or even my own resources are like relying on that spider web. It will only hold me up temporarily. It is just too flimsy and fragile. The Lord tells me not to even lean on my own understanding but to trust Him. (Prov. 3:5-6) How much better to lean on the One whose power and might can hold me up in any circumstance!

Thank you Lord, that I can rely on You and Your strength!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)


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Oh Deer!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:23-24 “Yet I am always with you. You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me to glory.”

Fabrice Florin, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This poor deer seems as if he is paralyzed with indecision! His little brain is probably thinking, “Run left or right? Go forward or turn around?” Fear has made him immobile. By the time he figures it out it may be too late. Not only for him but for the driver who may incur damage to the car!!  I can feel much like this confused deer when faced with too many choices. I can be overwhelmed with too many decisions especially when there has been too little sleep! 

Today’s verse is a wonderful promise. The Lord is always at the side of a believer. He offers His hand and His counsel. He is there to help with every decision, even the small ones. When making an important decision, the different options can sometimes lead to lingering indecision! The fear of choosing incorrectly can completely block us.  In consequence, decisions are postponed or sometimes left to others. Being paralyzed with indecision gives God no opportunity to guide us. 

I am thankful for a patient and understanding God. I am never left on my own in making choices. If I would but turn to Him, He would offer His guidance. He reaches out His hand to steer me in the right direction. But it is up to me to see my own limits and reach for His hand. What a beautiful image it is to see that hand continuing to guide me all the way through life and into eternity!

Thank you  Lord, for Your hand and Your counsel.  Please guide me in every decision today.


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A Snow-Capped Palm!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:12 “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree. He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”

Compo, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This is not normally how I think of a palm tree! Palm trees are usually associated with warm balmy climates. And mild weather is usually the norm for Marseilles, France where this picture was taken. But a cold snap surprised this palm and it sags under the weight of the snow. Soon I will be traveling and speaking on the East Coast where I will feel like this palm. The cold weather and snow will be a shock to this pampered “palm” from Southern California!

Today’s verse describes the righteous as flourishing like a palm tree, regardless of the weather. The righteous one when planted in the house of the Lord, can expect healthy growth, flourishing in the courts of our God (verse 13). But we do not grow like the hardy palm tree when we are planted in the world. There the soil is toxic. And there the weather of changing morals is variable. We need to be rooted and grounded in the constants of His love and grace. When we are, we can enjoy His righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. (Rom.3:22)

That crisis in my life can feel just like a cold shock. My body stiffens and my eyes grow wide with it. But even when that unexpected cold front dumps snow on me I can still flourish because of Him. He keeps me strong and rooted. Because of His love and promises I can not only survive but thrive! I am in His courts and there is no better place to be! Better is one day there than a thousand elsewhere! (Psalm 84:10)

Keep me flourishing, Lord.  Keep me near You.


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A Heart of Gold

Scripture for Today: Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What a find! This beautiful golden heart was discovered in Pembrokeshire, England and now sits in a museum. This heart is thought to date back to the late 14th century. It was at that time that the pear shaped heart, representing love, changed position. Before that time the heart was portrayed upside down! Today no one would mistake the heart as a symbol of love regardless of its position or even its composition. Of course, one made of gold has a longer shelf life than one made of chocolate!

Today’s verse puts a heart made of stone in a very negative light. The stone represents an unwillingness to submit to God. This is a heart that is stubborn and hardened against God and His commandments. The Sovereign Lord wanted to bless Israel for obedience and through them to make His name known to all the nations. But the people resisted God’s plan and their hardened hearts caused them to forgo His blessing, that is just until they repented.

I can almost feel my heart hardening when I ignore what He says in His Word. But when I am submissive and agree with Him that His way is better, I can feel my heart becoming soft and pliable again. This new spirit He gives is one of obedience. And His Spirit moves me to follow and obey Him (verse 27). I do not want a heart of gold that is hard and stubborn. I want my heart made of flesh, so that it is soft and malleable, one that He can use.

Lord, keep my heart soft towards You.


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Bold Highlights

Scripture for Today:   Acts 4:13   “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus.”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:37-brown-hair-with-pastel-purple-ombre-highlights.jpg

No, this is not me. I am not that bold! But highlighting hair has been practiced as early 4 BC as the Greeks would apply a mixture of olive oil, pollen and gold flakes. With this application the women would sit for hours in the sun. It was not until the 1400’s that the addition of chemicals made for a better result. At that time highlighting involved alum, honey, lemons and sulfur! Methods today are much more effective in drawing attention to distinctive coloring.

Today’s verse describes two men who were uneducated and ordinary; Peter and John. What made them remarkable and amazing was that they had spent time with Jesus and it showed. Like highlighting hair, the fact that they knew Jesus drew attention! Because of their closeness to Jesus, they were able to live and testify with boldness. Christ made that much of a difference in their lives.

Christ is the power and wisdom of God. I am thankful that He chooses what is foolish to confound the wise! He chooses the weak to confound the mighty!  (I Cor. 1:27) That means that what was said about Peter and John can potentially be said about me as well! It is Christ in me that sets me apart and makes me different. I want Jesus to be seen in my every-day life. He is to have the attention and the glory for everything positive. It does not matter that I did not attend an Ivy League school. It makes no difference that I am not a big name. It is His life in me that makes life amazing!

Lord, highlight my life with Your presence today!