Devotions By Jan


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Birthdays in Heaven

Scripture for Today: Luke 15:10 “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Today my Mother celebrates her birthday in Heaven for the first time.  If there are candles on her cake they would number 96!  I am not sure that she is having a party.  I imagine that if everyone there is daily celebrating birthdays, eternal life would be one big continual party!  The cake would be delicious but with no calories.  The gifts would need no exchanging.  And there would be no let-down the following day!  I cannot imagine a cake big enough to hold all the candles as each century is added!

Today’s verse describes a time of rejoicing in Heaven.  It is not for the first birthday but for the second; the spiritual one when one is born again.  There is rejoicing and somehow the angels even get into the act.  When even just one sinner repents and comes to Jesus for salvation, there is celebration and joy!  The noise of it would echo down those streets of gold.  This verse follows the parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep that were found.  Following this verse is the parable of the lost son whose return was celebrated with a party.  In each case there was enthusiastic joy and celebration!

Her joy is complete.  Mine, not so much.  She is enjoying her reward, whatever form it takes.  But I can recapture some of my joy when reminding myself of where she is and what she is experiencing today.  There are no more tears, pain or suffering and she is surrounded with incredible beauty and splendor.  She is enjoying “face-to-face” the Love of her life; her Savior.

Thank you Lord, for what You have prepared for all who love You.

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A Squirrel and his Nut

Scripture for Today: Psalm 77:11-12 “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will consider Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds.”

I am not the only one who forgets where I have put things!  The University of Richmond did a study and found that squirrels fail to recover up to 74% of the nuts they bury!  Even so, they do have a strategy.  They do what’s called, “spatial chunking” sorting their nuts by size, type and taste and then burying them in groups.  Even more surprising are the grey squirrels who frequently dig up and then rebury the same nut, a behavior perhaps to refresh their memories!

Today’s verse comes from a psalm of Asaph, King David’s music director.  In his depression he is wondering if God is going to keep His promises.  He wonders if God’s love for him has vanished (verse 8).  He doubts and wonders but then he answers his own questions with these two verses.  He resolves to remember all of what the Lord has done in the past for him and his people.  He replaces his troubling thoughts with memories of God’s miracles and mighty deeds.

I have seen the Lord do so many miracles in my life!  He has provided and proved Himself faithful.  But those memories are so often buried.  I easily forget when I am struggling with a new difficulty.  I need to go back and dig it up to refresh my memory of His faithfulness!  Thoughts of His “mighty deeds” in the past restore my confidence and trust in Him!  Not only my memories do this but the testimony of others too!  He has done it in the past and He will do it again!

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible faithfulness.


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Cows Coming Home

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 63:14 “Like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord. This is how You guided Your people to make for Yourself a glorious name.”

In Bavaria, Germany there is a tradition about bringing the cows home.  After spending the warmer months of the year in the hills and mountains, the cows are brought down to the lower elevations.  They are moved to the plains before the onset of winter.  But this yearly trek is done in style!  The cows wear elaborate headgears made of flowers for the occasion!

Today’s verse pictures God’s leading of His people towards rest as cattle being led to the plains.  In this seasonal change of residence, there will not be so much moving or climbing up and down.  Some days they may not even leave the warmth and shelter of the barn and all their needs will be met.  The Lord knows and cares about the needs of His people.  He sees when they need to slow down.  He knows when they need to rest.  He understands when there needs to be a different season of life.

Rest is an illusive commodity during a busy holiday season.  Rest seems impossible for the student preparing for exams or the mother of young children.  Physically, the idea of rest sometimes needs to be tabled for later.  But what is so amazing about our God is that in the midst of busyness, He can provide rest for our souls!  Our burden does not have to be heavy when we consciously hand it over to Him (Matt. 11:30).  I can find that rest in closeness with the One who is “gentle and humble in heart.”  He will care for my every need.

Help me Lord, to find that soul-rest today!


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My Fingerprint

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14: 10 “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.”

I am amazed at all the  new technology using the human fingerprint for identification!  It only makes sense as each fingerprint is unique.  However, I had some trouble with my new cell phone the other day.  My hands had been in water doing the dishes.  The skin on my index finger was only slightly “pruned” from the water.  But it was enough to confuse the system.  I was “not recognized.”  It occurred to me that with the Lord, this would never happen!  Although there are billions of people in the world, He knows my name.  As my Creator He has made me unique.

Today’s verse hints at our uniqueness.  No other person can quite relate to what we feel.  Our bitterness is unknowable to others.  Our joy is tailor made and cannot be fully appreciated by anyone else.  I often feel how my emotions distance me from others.  That is why God deals with me individually.  He speaks to each heart with full understanding.  The truth I need to hear from Him is the truth He communicates.  My relationship with Him will always be unique to me.  He is that loving and personal!

How wonderful that I am special and unique in His eyes!  His relationship to me is an individual one, tailored to fit my needs and struggles, my background and personality.  When I open His Word, He speaks to the very situation I am living.  He knows my thoughts and emotions better than I do.  No one else can really understand my heart but what a comfort to know that He does!

Thank you Lord, for understanding me like no one else, and still loving me!


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#Me Too

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 4:13 “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

I have been amazed and appalled at the number of women who on our Facebook news feed have posted the “Me Too” hashtag.  This has become the rallying cry for those who have been sexually harassed or assaulted.  The idea was to bring awareness to the magnitude of the problem.  And with 1.2 million tweets and millions more posting on Face Book, in six short days it has done just that.  But for many the experience was too painful to make public and would only reinforce the trauma.  However, for others it is empowering.

Today’s verse contains a truth that is even more empowering.  Nothing is hidden from God’s sight.  What is done in secret will one day be revealed.  What was thought to be covered up forever will be uncovered before the One who will mete out perfect justice.  No one will ever get away with anything.  That is a balm that can heal a lot of deep lasting wounds.

I am thankful not to have experienced such trauma and my heart goes out to those who have.  But unfortunately, I have been robbed, cheated, and have had my reputation attacked.  There is no proof.  There is no recourse.  However, I can leave the retribution to Him.  He has promised to repay and avenge the evil much better than I ever could (Romans 12:19).  He sees it all and He is the Master of transforming what is unthinkable, pouring out healing and blessing.  What was intended to harm, God is able to turn around for good (Gen.50:20).

Thank you Lord, for the justice You promise.


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Pancake Tortoise

Scripture for Today: Psalm 31:20 “In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from all human intrigues; You keep them safe in Your dwelling from accusing tongues.”

We had trouble actually seeing this Pancake Tortoise at the San Diego Zoo as he was so completely flattened and wedged in the rock.  I had never heard of a tortoise that can run but this one does!  That is because his shell is lightweight and full of small holes.  The fact that his shell is thin, flat and flexible means that he can flatten himself like a pancake and hide in narrow rock crevices.  So rather than retreat into his shell like most, this guy runs to the rocks until the danger is past.

Today’s verse tells us where to hide when we feel threatened.  David was constantly under attack from within and from without.  He was the object of evil plots and slanderous tongues.  In his anguish and distress he runs to the only One who can give him shelter and safety; the presence of the Lord.  David did not withdraw into his own shell or resources.  He ran to His presence and there God hid him.

There are times to stand and face the enemy.  But there are also times to retreat and run to Him and His presence.  He has promised shelter and safety when we are just too tired and discouraged.  He protects us when we are fearful and overwhelmed.  The unkind  remarks of others can create deep wounds.  Fighting against malicious gossip that damages a reputation is practically impossible.  The only solution is to run to His presence and allow Him to take care of those “human intrigues.”  He is more than able to fight for me!

Thank you Lord, for the safety and shelter of Your presence.


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Tissue Invasion

Scripture for Today: Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

This could be me this past week.  The tears have been flowing freely at the death of my Mother.  With all the tissue I have used, the trash overflows and so do I.  I know she is with the Lord and free from pain, but for me the pain of separation is just beginning.  But despite the tears, my heart is at peace with His promises and reassurances.

Today’s verse describes a day when there will be no more need for tissues.  There will be no illness of any kind.  There will be no pain or death, no separation or sadness.  Anything and everything that provokes tears will be gone forever!  What an incredible thought!

I love this verse as the Lord is intimately involved in erasing our sadness.  He Himself gets close and personal.  He takes it on Himself to wipe those tears from our eyes.  And once His loving powerful hands dry our face, those tears never return.  I can just imagine His look of infinite tenderness as He does this.  He knows all about tears.  His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death in the garden of Gethsemane.  He endured that horrible time of suffering in order to “swallow up death forever” for you and me.

Heaven is going to be a noisy place!  Those who sow a lifetime of tears will reap with songs of joy! (Psalm 126:5)  Cries of anguish will be replaced with melodies of joy.  He has promised.

Thank you Lord, that You will personally dry my tears.