Devotions By Jan


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Sunrise

Scripture for Today: Psalm 49:14a “They are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd but the upright will prevail over them in the morning…”

There is something so hopeful about watching the sunrise! The darkest part of the night seems to be just before that magical moment. The darkness lightens in almost imperceptible degrees. And soon, the sun peeking over the horizon, colors the sky with with warmth. The sunrise represents a new day with new beginnings. And how special it is to share that time of sunrise with the one you love!

Today’s verse talks about the morning that is coming for the upright. Those who place their trust in God can look forward to the time when He will redeem them from the dead and take them to Himself. (verse 15) But for those who trust in themselves, the outlook is not so good. (verse 13) If they have depended on their own wealth and splendor, it does not serve them well in the life to come as they cannot take it with them. (verse 17) The upright have no reason to fear evil days ahead when surrounded by the wicked. (verse 5) With the arrival of the morning, those in right standing with God will prevail!

I cannot buy my salvation. I cannot save myself. My standing in the world does not impress the Lord. He is not awed by success or riches. I may enjoy admiration from others and even have lands named after me. (verse 11) But none of that matters in light of eternity. I bring nothing to the table but a humble broken heart. In His grace and mercy He accepts me, “just as I am without one plea,” except that He died for me. And because of His saving grace, I will prevail in the morning!

Thank you Lord, for the new day coming!


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Goldfish Trauma

Scripture for Today: Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

As a young girl, I loved my little goldfish but I wasn’t so careful about keeping the bowl clean. My sweet Grandma was just trying to help. She decided one morning to clean that bowl for me. She was quite proud of the result; a bowl sparkling clean with new clear water. But I was horrified! There was no goldfish! She had inadvertently poured that fish right down the drain!

Today’s verse may seem to have nothing to do with this story. But in fact, because mankind is made in the image of God, we all have value. Because of our rebellion, this image is tarnished in all of us. But it is there. Unlike the beasts of the fields, there is a soul in each of us that is made to commune with the Creator. And there is no one who is beyond the reach of Christ to forgive and restore to the relationship for which we are born! But we have the choice to accept His offer of salvation or reject Him and head for that drain.

I tend to write some people off. I sometimes think that an individual is too far gone in their sin to ever be changed. But God’s power far exceeds my limited understanding. He makes new what is old. He cleans what is filthy and unrecognizable. He raises to life what was dead. Because of His power and His desire to see ALL come to repentance, there is hope for every human being who turns to Him in faith. (II Peter 3:9) I am so glad God has thrown out all my dirty water without throwing me out!

Thank you Lord, for Your forgiveness.


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Guard Rooster

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

It is normal to think of guard dogs, but who ever heard of a guard rooster? A delivery man recently found out all about it! Caught on a doorbell camera video, Fred the rooster, showed just how protective he could be! The delivery man tried to take a non-threatening stance with hands up in the air, but being new, he was harassed anyway. With his delivery he also delivered the message, “Not cool,” before sprinting back to his truck with Fred in hot pursuit!

Today’s verse talks about our hearts and minds that need guarding. It is the peace that Christ Jesus provides that does the guarding. His peace stands guard against worry and fear. His peace also guards against the flight of our imaginations and all the “what if’s.” Without His peace we are vulnerable to troubling, sleep-stealing worries. But His peace surpasses any attempt at explaining it, as it is possible to have in the middle of the most worrisome circumstances. And this peace is the result of giving all our anxieties to the Lord in prayer.

I sometimes think I unwittingly shoo away this guard by neglecting to pray.  These verses encourage me to bring everything to Him, not just the big worries that I think are worthy of His notice. His love is so intimate that He cares about whatever is preoccupying me. His peace is the best answer there is to keep even the small worries from accumulating!

Thank you, Lord, that Your peace calms me down.


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Firefall

Scripture for Today: Song of Solomon 8:6b-7a “…for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away…”

Photo by Dave Soldano at https://www.flickr.com/photos/davesoldano/33147072896

The Firefall at Yosemite National Park originally referred to the nightly spectacle put on for tourists. Starting in 1872 and for almost 100 years, burning hot embers were poured from the top of Glacier Park. Now, Firefall refers to a natural phenomenon that appears annually from mid to late February. The 1,500 foot Horsetail Falls transforms itself into a natural firefall when conditions are just right with enough melted snow, a cloudless sky and the sun hitting at just the right angle. It lasts for just a few minutes appearing 5-15 minutes before sunset.

Today’s verse describes a love that is strong and jealous. It burns like fire and water cannot put it out. This beautiful depiction of love comes from a book that is full of imagery. The principle characters in this book can represent Jesus Christ and the Church, His Bride. And throughout the Old testament, Jehovah is likened to a bridegroom and Israel His chosen bride. The intimacy described is enough to make one blush! But God uses the closest human relationship to help us understand how deep and intimate His love is for us!

Of all the characteristics God has revealed about Himself, it is His incredible love that overwhelms me! His is a love that is unquenchable. (I Cor. 13:8) It is not just talk as He proved His love by dying for me. (John 15:13) Because He loves me so much, He is jealous for me and for my heart to be fully committed to Him. (II Chron. 16:9) There is no human love like it!

Thank you Lord, for Your love that will not let me go!


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Goat Head Weed

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 12:7 “….Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me.”

Photo by Paul Garland at https://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_garland/4460543568

The goat head weed produces stickers that seem innocuous being so small! But what pain it can produce! These nasty seeds are shaped like a miniature goat’s head. They are much like the sandbur but are meaner and tougher, harming people, pets and livestock. The 200 to 5,000 seeds produced each season germinate quickly and can lie dormant in the soil for many years. How amazing that something so small can puncture bicycle tires and footballs!

In today’s verse, Paul is describing a tormenting thorn. It was sent by Satan but in God’s hands it was used for a good purpose; to keep Paul from becoming conceited. Paul had received some incredible visions and revelations from the Lord. The temptation for Paul was to boast and feel spiritually strong because of them. There are lots of ideas as to what Paul’s thorn might have been. Perhaps it was a physical ailment. But thorns were used in the Old Testament to describe Israel’s enemies (Num. 33:55) and malicious neighbors! (Ex. 28:24) Paul dearly loved the Corinthians church and was having to deal with false teachers.

A relationship that has gone sour, a conflict that goes unresolved, or a family member that has no interest in reconciliation can all be like a thorn in the flesh.  And like the goat head seed, the problem can lie dormant for years before becoming visible and causing pain. The ongoing discomfort from those thorns is a constant reminder that I am weak and not strong.  But like Paul, God’s strength is available to me at the very point of my pain and weakness.

Thank you Lord, that I can experience Your strength regardless of the “thorns” in my life!