Devotions By Jan


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Jumping for Joy?

Scripture for Today: John 21:7b “…As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped in the water.”

I used to think that when fish jumped out of the water they were jumping for joy!  I have learned otherwise and yet still prefer to think it could be true.  Fish may jump to feed on flying insects, to propel themselves upstream for spawning, to escape predators or to rid themselves of sea-lice.  We jump at the chance.  We jump down one’s throat or jump ship.  We may jump on the bandwagon or in our family, we jump in the shower!  But the best jumping is when we jump for joy!

Today’s verse has someone jumping into the water, and it certainly seems as if there were joy involved!  Not surprisingly, the disciples did not immediately recognize the resurrected Jesus after a fruitless night of fishing.  But when the Lord  miraculously filled their net, they knew who it was.  Peter could not wait to get to Jesus.  Rather than row the boat with the disciples that last one hundred yards to shore, he jumped in!

Would that I would jump at the chance to meet with the Lord with that much enthusiasm!  Can I say with David that He fills me with joy in His presence? (Psalm 16:11)  To be honest, not always.  But when I recognize His miraculous hand in my life, I do jump up and run to Him with a grateful heart.  It may not be a net full of fish, but His miracles are everywhere in my life; the miracle of His love and grace, His forgiveness and protection, and too many more to list!

Lord, may I jump at the chance to meet You today!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018)


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A Smiling Angel

Scripture for Today:  Luke 2:10-11 “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'”

Does it seem bizarre to think of an angel as smiling?  Unlike all the other angel sculptures on the facade of the cathedral in Rheims, France, this one does!  She has stood there smiling since the 13th century.  She continues to smile even though she was bombed in World War I and needed restoration.  Despite destruction and death, she remains a symbol of victory and joy.

Today’s verse was spoken by an angel to the shepherds in the field, announcing the birth of a Savior.  He announces this good news as “great joy.”  How could he not smile in delivering this message?  This is a joy that will be for all the people, in fact for all the world.  The carol, Joy To The World, captures clearly the reason for our joy; the story of our redemption.  This carol, attributed to Isaac Watts in 1719, is exuberant and victorious, ending with Christ’s triumphal return.

We sing Joy to the World as a Christmas carol but it was not written for that purpose as it is a song that celebrates the end of the story; Christ’s victory over sin and death.  And He is not only a Savior, but He is my personal Savior.  Despite the turmoil of this world around me, there is hope for a brighter tomorrow because of what He has done!  He gives me a deep joy, being confident of His plan.  One day He will “rule the world with truth and grace.”

Thank you Lord, for Your first coming, and for the one to come!


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Leaping Deer

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 35:6 “Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”

How often I have heard of a deer jumping out in front of a car!  They don’t just run, they jump and leap.  The deer is so fast and agile.  Some species can run 45 miles per hour for a short time on level ground.  But the height of their jump is impressive!  Research shows the deer can cover 30 feet between bounds!  That is as long as a school bus!  Because they can leap so high, it is difficult to find the right fencing to keep them out.  The standard  “deer proof” fence is often 9 feet high.

The deer leaping in today’s verse are not doing so to escape a predator.  They are leaping for joy!  The mute tongue is not just finding its voice but shouting for joy!  Water does not just trickle out in the wilderness but gushes out, forming streams in the desert.  This imagery is a beautiful depiction of what Christ’s return will do for His own.  There is already a partial fulfillment in the re-peopling of Zion or Jerusalem, but the complete fulfillment is larger and still to come.

When Jesus returns there will be a righting of all wrongs (II Thes. 1:6-7)  Creation itself will share in our completed redemption (Rom. 8:19-21). There will be endless and astonished joy!  What a future ahead of me! A deer leaping high in the air gives just an inkling of what I will be feeling on that day! But even now, my heart trusts in Him and He helps me. That is why my heart leaps for joy! (Psalm 28:7)  

Thank you Lord, for the joy and hope You give me! 


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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!