Devotions By Jan


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Silver Lining

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 11:17 “Light is sweet and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.”

These days I am looking for a “silver lining” to the dark clouds so many of us are experiencing. The proverb, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” is attributed to John Milton and a poem he wrote in 1634 entitled, “A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle.” Looking past the gloomy darkness to see that less obvious glimmer of light takes a mindset we do not always have. It is seeing the hopeful side of a somber situation.

Today’s verse is written by Solomon in a book filled with references to the sun.  The phrase, “under the sun” is often used when speaking of the futility of life.  All of life is said to be meaningless and vain if not lived in right relationship to God.  Even sweet light and the pleasure of seeing the sun has no real meaning without knowing its Creator. The context of this verse also speaks of remembering the darkness.  Whether we are in the middle of dark days or remembering those hard times, they help us appreciate the sweet light so much more when it arrives!  Recognizing the contrast makes me grateful for every ray of sunlight!

I am so thankful for a loving personal God who gives me just the right amount of darkness and sunlight.  I can trust Him as He gives to each day what He knows is best. The dark clouds of an on-going negative situation do not need to weigh me down. The Lord invites me to look to Him who is the Light. And even just a sliver of light can make a huge impact on that darkness.

Thank you Lord, for the sweet light of Your presence.


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Turkey Talk-Line

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Our turkey traditions have confounded the less experienced cook giving rise to the Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line, begun in 1981.  Most questions have to do with thawing procedures and cooking times.  But some problems are unique, as was mine my first year in France. The fresh turkey not only had plenty of small feathers but was completely covered with small blackhead-looking spots. After wasting time trying to squeeze them, I finally just lifted and snipped them out with scissors, giving it an ugly patchwork look!

Today’s verse includes the word, “thanksgiving.”  Our tendency is to be anxious when confronted with difficulties. Whether our anxiety is understandable or completely manufactured by an over active imagination, there is only one thing to do with it; give it to the Lord in prayer.  And regardless of the size or importance of our situation, our Heavenly Father does not want us to feel anxiety. When we give our requests to the Lord, He asks that we do it with thanksgiving. 

I want to thank Him in advance for His answer, even if it is not the response I want or expect.  Thanking Him before His response shows Him that I trust His power to act, His wisdom to know the right outcome, and His goodness to do what is best. Today especially I thank Him for all His blessings.  Everything that is good in my life is because of His grace.  But He also wants me to thank Him for the answers that are still pending.  I want to include praise in my thanksgiving for His good plan and future blessings yet unseen!

Thank you Lord, for how You will answer!


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Pulmonaria Spilled Milk

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now, it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

One can understand how this plant got its name! The leaves of this semi-evergreen perennial are splotched with white, looking like someone spilled milk on them. The phrase, “don’t cry over spilled milk,” is attributed to James Howel, a British historian who used it is his writings in 1659. By it we mean there is no use in being upset over what has already happened.

Today’s verse tells us not to dwell on the past. Whether what is behind us is something negative or positive, we are not to keep our focus there but to be looking forward. We can miss the new thing He wants to create in our lives.  To us it may not look like much.  Our lives can even resemble a wilderness or wasteland.  But He has a purpose in mind and His plans are always good. His way goes straight through the dry times to life-giving springs of water!

During uncertain and negative times, my thoughts turn to the past. It is easier to focus there than to look around and see less-than- perfect circumstances! But I do have a choice. I can either look at the wilderness and wasteland OR I can look at the streams of water He has provided to meet my needs. I can bemoan the spilled milk all over the place representing some good things I have had to give up OR I can look to my Lord for the new thing He wants to create in me and my world.

Lord, help me to trust You and the new thing You are doing!


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Finding Life

Scripture for Today: Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.”

This is exactly the kind of behavior we would see from Tiger when thunder would clap over the house and he would run for cover! The instinct in animals for self-preservation is a strong one. And we as humans are not much different. It is normal to want to protect our lives from natural disasters, serious illness or accident. We do not look to put ourselves in harm’s way. We take the necessary precautions. We take the safest route. We live our lives so as to avoid disaster.

The truth in today’s verse seems contrary to human nature. Of course we are going to try to save our lives when we feel that they are threatened. But at what cost? Peter had just rebuked Jesus, trying to discourage Him from going to Jerusalem. Suffering and death awaited Jesus there and He knew it. Yet He turned toward what would be certain death. Unlike Peter, Jesus had in mind the concerns of God and not merely human concerns (verse 23). It was because Jesus walked in obedience to the Father that He could set aside the restraints of self-preservation.

Finding true rewarding and fulfilling life only happens when I am willing to risk my own safety and comfort. Protecting my life at any cost makes me lose it! Christ bought my life at an incredible cost to Himself, not so that I can hide under the covers and wait for danger to pass. The goal of my life is not to preserve it but to spend it in service to Him. Following Him means picking up my cross daily in obedience (verse 24) despite personal risk.

Lord, may You find me faithful.


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A White Camellia

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

This beautiful flower comes in different shades of pink and red. But it is the white camellia that has special significance in the novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Jem destroys the cantankerous Mrs. Dubose’s camellia bush after she insults his family. Later, after reading to her as a sort of penitence insisted on by his father, she dies. But not before presenting Jem with a box containing a white camellia. This beautiful flower is now seen as representing understanding and patience.

Today’s verse from Proverbs tells us that it is from wisdom and understanding that patience can come. Overlooking an offense is the result of that patience and understanding. And overlooking an offense done to one’s self is admirable, commendable and puts one in a good light! It is difficult and sometimes nearly impossible, but if done, it can be to our glory! It certainly is not to our glory to respond to that offense with bitterness and retaliation.

Just as Jem could get past the old lady’s meanness when understanding her addictions, I can be more gracious when understanding the struggles of the one who hurt me. Understanding their circumstances and frustrations can make me more patient. Understanding too how much the Lord has forgiven me helps me extend that same grace. But I do have trouble letting go of hurtful words and slights and it is inglorious! I need the help of His Spirit to truly forgive from the heart. He wants me to overlook it with grace and forgiveness. In doing so I am well viewed by others but more importantly, He is glorified!

Lord, make me wise enough to understand and show patience.