Devotions By Jan


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Kingdom Day

Scripture for Today: Psalm 145:13 “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.”

Kingdom Day today is all about honoring the civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It has been done for more than three decades by holding a parade. But in these strange times of pandemic, the parade will be held virtually. When looking up “Kingdom Day,” the first suggestion was the celebration in the Netherlands! Kingdom Day for them is their commemoration of the signing of their charter in 1954.

Today’s verse speaks of a Kingdom Day that is every day! This kingdom is everlasting. God’s kingdom endures through all generations. It is never outdated or shoved to the annals of history. That is because God’s kingdom and dominion are not just a matter of talk, speeches or signed documents. It is rather a matter of power! (I Cor. 4:20) And His Kingdom is both literal and spiritual. For the believer, His Kingdom is already present in the heart and we seek to put it first in our lives as well. (Matt. 6:33) But we also long for and pray for that day when His Kingdom comes and is established on earth. (Matt. 6:10)

In the turmoil of our world today, I need to grasp this reassuring truth. Kingdoms, regardless of our political bent, will come and go. None of kingdoms of this earth are eternal. But God’s kingdom endures forever. It is a kingdom with a trustworthy King who fulfills every promise. He is trustworthy because He is faithful in all He does. This is true in the grand scheme of things but also in my little life! What an amazing privilege to be part of this kingdom!

Lord, may Your kingdom come.


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Cape Disappointment

Scripture for Today: Mark 12:24 & 27b “Jesus replied, ‘Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? …You are badly mistaken.'”

What an unfortunate name for this Washington State Park! For many campers, hikers, photographers and history buffs, this scenic spot is a delight! It was named by the English Captain, John Meares in 1788. He was looking for the head of the Columbia River, first mapped out by a previous explorer a few years earlier. This cape does sit at the mouth of the river, but he was disappointed. Why? Because he mistakenly believed it was only a bay.

Today’s verses are the words of Jesus to the religious Sadducees attempting to trap Him. Like the explorer, they mistakenly believed something. They mistakenly believed their own traditions over and above the Scriptures. Their beliefs even negated the power of God! Their religiosity, devoid of any real relationship with the Lord, could only lead to disappointment. These religious leaders did not believe in the resurrection and they were badly mistaken. They did not believe God’s incredible power and promise to raise us from the dead.

The hurt is deep for those disappointed by a mistaken belief. But the Lord declares that those who hope in Him will not be disappointed! (Isaiah 49:23b) Government leaders disappoint me. The Church can disappoint me. My own erroneous expectations can disappoint me. Even family and friends can disappoint. But the Lord never disappoints! He has promised to take every negative in my life and turn it around to something positive. (Rom. 8:28) Even the evil in my life at the hands of others can be turned around. (Gen. 50:20) The Lord will never disappoint as the good He intends for me cannot be thwarted!

Thank you Lord, that You never disappoint!


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Hypocrites!

Scripture for Today: Matthew 7:3-5 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye. You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

The beams pictured here are from the oldest home in a village in Germany. They date back to 1357 and they are just beautiful! They add such warmth and coziness as well as stability to the ceiling. I see lots of these beamed ceilings in Europe. I shudder to think what the termites in southern California would try to do to them!

The beams or planks spoken of in today’s verses are not seen in such a positive light. In fact, they are not seen at all! They represent our own failings and weaknesses. We do not like to see them nor do we want to see them. It is much more gratifying to be in the business of “speck removal” for our brothers. These verses certainly do not discourage helping our brother see his weaknesses in a spirit of love. However, what we mean to be helpful can actually hurt our brother when we have not in humility examined ourselves first.

This image of a beam and its relative size to a speck is ludicrous! It is just as silly for me to be overly concerned with minutia in my brother’s life. I ought to be more concerned with my own beam removal. As uncomfortable as it is to examine myself, I risk becoming a hypocrite without it! I sure do not want my own ignored specks to gradually converge and become a beam! 

Lord, keep me speck and beam free!


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Pardons

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 55:7 “Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

There is nothing new about offering someone flowers as an apology! Perhaps the bigger the bouquet, the more heartfelt the apology. But if it were just one flower to say it all, then this Daylily may be the best choice! That is because its name is, Pardon Me! This cranberry-colored lily with a yellow center and ruffled edges is incredibly hardy. It can survive harsh conditions that other plants cannot and will tend to rebloom!

Today’s verse tells us that God will have mercy on the wicked and on the unrighteous. He promises to show mercy to those that forsake their ways and their thoughts, turning to Him for forgiveness. God does not just pardon but freely pardons! This is a gracious invitation to turn away from wicked ways and thoughts, and to turn towards a full and complete pardon He offers! There is no wrongdoing so grevious that He will not forgive! There is no thought so shockingly awful that He cannot freely pardon it.

What a comfort this verse is! No one is beyond the reach of His pardon. And this pardon covers my secret sinful thoughts that no one else knows about. The fact that some sins are hidden can sometimes keep me from realizing my guilt. Frankly, I would not want anyone to know my thoughts! But it is no problem that God sees it all because He pardons it all when I turn to Him! What an amazing gracious God we serve! Would that I pardon others as freely as He pardons me!

Thank You Lord, for Your pardon so freely given me!


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Horses and Chariots

Scripture for today:  Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord.”

Who remembers that famous chariot race scene in the epic movie, Ben Hur? It took five weeks to film this nine minute segment and the studio used 15 thousand extras for the crowd of spectators.  There was an infirmary created especially for this scene because of the potential for injury.  There were no injuries, however, except some bad cases of sunburn.  Three life-like dummies were strategically placed to give the appearance of bodies run over by the chariots.

Horses and chariots were important instruments of war in biblical times.  The winning side in a battle were often those with the best built chariots and the swiftest horses.  In today’s verse, one can choose to place their confidence in their horses and chariots or in the name of the Lord.  The choice is basically the same today.  We can choose to place our trust in our own efforts, or we can depend on the strength of the Lord.  It is the Lord who gives victory with the power of His right hand. (verse 6) To trust in oneself is no guarantee of victory.

Trusting “in His name” is trusting God Himself. He is absolutely worthy of my trust but sometimes I overestimate my own abilities and efforts. I am so prone to feelings of self-sufficiency. It seems easier to just handle things in my own strength and in my own way. The results, though, are never as good as dependence on Him. Having confidence in His goodness, control and power gives Him the open door to do some amazing things above and beyond all I could ask or or even imagine! (Eph. 3:20)

Help me Lord, to completely trust Your plan and Your power.