Devotions By Jan

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Another Sacrifice

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.”

Today on Memorial Day, North Americans remember those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. The military cemetery pictured is found in Colleville-sur-Mer, France above Omaha Beach. It was the first American military cemetery of World War Two. Here lie 9,387 American soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. It includes the grave of Frederick Niland, the soldier on whose life the character of Ryan was based in the film, Saving Private Ryan.

The sacrifice of life for a worthy cause is incredible and I have the utmost respect for these soldiers. There is another worthy cause for sacrificing life that is even higher and more noble; losing one’s life for the Lord. Today’s verse is in the context of picking up our own cross in order to follow Christ. This sacrifice of life is a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). But sacrificing the right to order and direct one’s life is in fact no sacrifice at all. This verse teaches that in doing this we actually find life!

Losing my life for the One I love is the best way to demonstrate that love. I lose my life each time I choose to obey God’s way rather than my own. I lose my life every time I put His agenda of good works ahead of my own. When I desire Christ’s love above and beyond any human love then my life is spent serving Him. In losing my life to Him, He fills it and makes it meaningful!

Thank you, Lord, for sacrificing Your life for me.  Thank you that through sacrificing myself to You, I find that life!

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Sweet Pea

Scripture for Today: John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

This unassuming flower was offered as a thank you to our hostess. Their strong fragrance of honey, orange and jasmine are as pleasing as their colorful delicate petals. The poet, Keats, is thought to be the first to use the name, Sweet Pea. It was very popular in the 1800’s and it has come to symbolize many lofty ideas including; chastity, strength, truth, and gratitude. But what surprised me most was its association with goodbyes.

In today’s verse, Jesus is preparing His disciples for the coming goodbye. He tells them that He is leaving to go to the Father. But He does not want their hearts to be troubled with this goodbye (verse 1). He reassures them that the Holy Spirit will be coming to live within them (verse 17) and they will not be left as orphans (verse 18). And this goodbye is only temporary as He will be coming back and there will never again be a separation.

What an incredible comfort this is! My relationship with the Lover of my soul need never be interrupted. With His Spirit He is always present. But for those human relationships, goodbyes can be so painful. In moving so often I have had to experience many. And of course, the most painful are the ones that are forever. But one day, there will be no more goodbyes. That is one word that will have no place in the heavenly vocabulary! There will be some incredible reunions as well as new friendships. They will be so much sweeter without that pain of separation.

Thank you Lord, that in Your home there will be no more goodbyes!

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 145:10 “All Your works praise you, Lord; Your faithful people extol You.”

photo by Richard Schneider

“O my God, it’s beautiful!” was the first thing out of the mouth of a meteorologist as she broke the surface of Jelly Fish Lake. I can understand her reaction as the underwater camera panned the millions of jellyfish who had been her swimming partners. This lake is found on Eil Malk Island in Palau. It once had an outlet to the sea but is now closed off. Over time, these golden jellyfish lost their sting making snorkeling through them possible. These fascinating creatures are always moving as they follow the sun’s arc across the sky. Swimming through them must be an eerie and unforgettable experience!

Today’s verse proclaims that all of God’s creation praise its Maker. Perhaps this is what prompted the reporter to exclaim as she did. The millions of golden jellyfish extol the greatness and creativity of their Maker by their very presence. Even at such a remote location, God demonstrates His artistic power in creating something that most of us will never even see. Even if man does not recognize how they came to be, God’s eternal power and divine nature are revealed through what He has made (Romans 1:20).

All of the beauty and majesty of the Lord’s creation is intentional. His intention is to reveal Himself to those who would seek Him. All of His creation is like a huge megaphone announcing to those who would listen, “I am here.  This is for you and I love you.” Those golden jellyfish following the sun are a reminder to me to continually stay close to the warmth of the Son’s presence and light.

Lord, may I be faithful to extol You for all Your wondrous works!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)

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Circling the Wagons

Scripture for Today: Psalm 5:12 “Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”

It only made sense to circle those wagons. If not, those early pioneers on the Oregon Trail were vulnerable to attack. Not only was there safety in numbers, there was a better chance of fighting off attack when the enemy’s approach could be seen ahead of time. Every vantage point was used to be prepared. Whatever squabble may have separated these travelers during the day was forgotten in the need for unity and protection.

Today’s verse teaches that the believer is surrounded by God’s favor. That favor and blessing act as a shield against any attack from the enemy. On every side, God protects us from trouble and surrounds us with songs of deliverance (Ps. 32:7). The wicked do not have this protection but the one who trusts in Him is surrounded by His unfailing love (Ps. 32:10). Unlike that circle of wagons, there are no gaps in the defense He provides! On all sides we are covered and enclosed in His love and protection. No evil can touch our souls and nothing can snatch us out of His powerful hands (John 10: 29).

What a wonderful assurance this is! Regardless of the destructive power of evil, it will never touch my soul. I have been bought with a price and belong to the All Powerful One. He has delivered me from the power of Satan by what He accomplished on the cross. And He continues to deliver me from the snares and traps of sin. There is encouragement in being in that circle of wagons with other believers as well. Gathering together reminds me that I am not in this battle alone. I can draw courage from others as well to stand firm!

Thank you Lord, for surrounding me.


“Breath of Life” Rose

Scripture for Today: Psalm 62:9 “Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance they are nothing; together they are only a breath.” 

T Kiya from Aichi, Japan
CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This beautiful apricot-colored rose turns pink with age and blooms multiple times. It is a climber and can reach up to ten feet. The long lasting blooms make for a good vase life and it has a pleasing fragrance. Its name comes from Britain’s Royal College of Midwives. They chose “Breath of Life” to signify the Creator in Genesis and everyone’s first vital act on entering this world.

Today’s verse describes people as only a breath. Even long lives are considered but a breath in comparison to eternity. Perhaps the lowborn are more likely to consider the brevity of life. The highborn however, are tempted to think that money and position can give them longer days and more importance. But “everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.” (Ps. 39:5) From God’s perspective no one’s life is more than a passing puff of air. On a balance our lives do not even register as having substance.

How different a life becomes when God breathes His Spirit into the one who comes to Him in faith! (John 20:22) As a believer, my life may not necessarily have a longer span but it certainly does have more substance. A life lived to His praise and glory gives it meaning and purpose. Because the breath of the Almighty has given me life (Job 33:4) my breath is to be spent praising Him along with every living thing! (Ps. 150:6) So until my last breath, I want to praise Him. And may my first breath of heavenly air be spent in praise to Him!

Lord, don’t let this day go by without praise to You!