Devotions By Jan


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A New Season

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

The vineyards of Alsace, France are breathtaking in the autumn! Rich golden color covers the hillsides and when the sun shines just right, the leaves look to be on fire! But before long these leaves turn brown, shrivel and fall to the ground, exposing gnarled bare branches. I miss being surrounded by these vineyards as they mark the passing of time. There was a sense of order and comfort knowing that each season will make its appearance in due time.

Today’s verse reminds us of the passing of time and seasons. The earth is locked into a cycle of time that has no equivalent above the heavens. The seasons are unique to us. Heaven and eternity are not bound or limited by time. And each season that God ordains in our lives has a God-given purpose for His glory. There is a time for birth or death, mourning or dancing, speaking or remaining silent, among many other activities “under heaven.” (verse 2-8)

In the blink of an eye, a new season has arrived in my life. I did not ask for the change. I was happy with the old season. But it is my Heavenly Father who ushers in a different life without a loved one. And because He has been faithful in the past, I know I can trust Jesus for this unfamiliar territory. I am confident that He will move me through this season of sadness and loss in His way and in His time. How thankful I am that there is coming a “season” that will be eternal and unchanging in Heaven! What an incredible time of reunion it will be!

Lord, keep me focused on that time without end!


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How Do You Say Goodbye?

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 4:13 “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

I love the way the French express their goodbyes. “Au revoir” has the idea of seeing one again right there in the word. It was a long goodbye for my Mother-in-law as she left us for Heaven. But how wonderful it was for her to have the chance to say her goodbyes to so many of her family and friends. There were tears, hand-holding and hugs. There was even a live violin concert right there in her bedroom!

Today’s verse tells us that for the believer in Christ there is a different way to grieve. We grieve with hope. The separation is painful and hard but it is temporary. Death has been swallowed up in victory! It is a passage where the perishable is clothed with imperishable and the mortal with immortality! (I Cor. 15:53-54) One day there will be an incredible reunion of laughing and singing and dancing! The sting of death will be forever removed. This sure hope makes a temporary separation bearable.

“When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain; but we shall still be joined in heart and hope to meet again.” And my hope is not just wishful thinking but a certainty!  My hope is built on Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for me. It is on that cross that He triumphed over death, insuring eternal life for those who place their trust in Him. It is this hope that changes my grief. It is this hope that helps me say goodbye.

Thank you Lord, that grief does not crush me.  Thank you Lord, that Your hope is my comfort.


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Bridge of Sighs

Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:9 “All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.”

Beautiful Venice charms the visitor with its lovely canals and baroque-style buildings. However, there is a back story to the covered bridge above. This is the Bridge of Sighs, built in 1602 to link the Doge Palace to the prison across the canal. Through its narrow windows, prisoners can get a last glimpse of the outside world. It is entirely possible that this sight elicits from the prisoner a deep sigh of remorse and regret.

Today’s verse describes the longing and sighing of David. He is overwhelmed by his sin and guilt (verse 3-4). He describes in detail his anguish both emotional and physical. He knows that God sees his longings and hears his sighs. David prays his emotions, his bridge of sighs taking him directly to his Lord. Even in the middle of his suffering, there is a glimmer of confidence that God will answer him (verse 15). And David ends this psalm with a cry that God come quickly to help him (verse 21).

My sighing comes from fatigue, dashed expectations, and often from frustration at what life is throwing at me. Unlike David, my sighing is not usually over my own sin and guilt, although perhaps it should be!! What a tender heart he had! And perhaps this is why God called David, “a man after his own heart.” (I Sam. 13:14) But despite the reason for my sighs, I can be confident that He hears. He knows and cares. And one day there is promise that sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 51:11). Nothing will remain to sigh about and all that breath will be transformed to unending praise!

Thank you Lord for a future without sighs.


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Caregiver

Scripture for Today: Psalm 43:3 “Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.”

The role of “caregiver” is never one that I envisioned for myself. But with the failing heart health of my Mother-in-law at 95 years old, it is a role that my husband and I have gladly embraced. Home hospice care has got to be one of the hardest kinds of care to give. But these moments at end of life are precious as we talk of Heaven, Jesus and those who have gone before. Sweet memories are made as we openly share our love.

Today’s verse speaks of a care that does more than any care we can give each other. God’s care is constant and faithful. With that care comes His light, making His presence felt. His care and light reassure us of His love. And especially when leaving this earth, His light and care lead us to His literal presence. Because He cares for us, we can cast on Him and on His shoulders all the anxiety we may be feeling (I Peter 5:7).

How incredible it is that He should care for me! He not only cares about physical ailments but He cares about my worry and fear. His light and care lead me to Himself and to a deeper intimacy with Him. No caregiver can do what He does for me or what He is currently doing for my Mother-in-law. He answers when I call. He dries my tears and encourages me with a song. He reassures me of His love and perfect plan. He reminds me of an incredible future that awaits. He calms my fears and gives me unexplainable peace.

Thank you Lord, for your amazing caregiving!


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Unexpected Love

Scripture for Today: Psalm 31:21 “Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege.”

Katya is speechless as she accepts a bouquet of pink and white flowers from the Ukrainian president. She is lying in a Kyiv hospital as a victim of gunfire, there because she saved the life of her younger brother. Tears flow as she accepts this unexpected tribute. No, it is not easy to do the right thing as the President said. The city all around them is under siege experiencing the horrors of war. Yet somehow, a glimmer of love shines through.

Today’s verse finds David in a city under siege as well. He is surrounded by his enemies. But even there, he is confident that the Lord will hear his cry for mercy. (verse 22) In the worst of circumstances David recognizes the wonders of God’s love. He asserts that God sees and he is not “cut off from His sight.” David trusts in God’s promise to preserve those that are true to Him. (verse 23) This psalm ends with a challenge to those who hope in the Lord to be strong and take heart.

Can I find evidence of the wonders of God’s love in the middle of the most dire and awful circumstances? Or am I only convinced of God’s love when everything is safe and goes smoothly? He has promised that His love is from everlasting to everlasting to those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:17) That does not necessarily mean that I will escape a violent death. But it does mean that my life is in His hands as He has already numbered my days. (Ps. 139:16) Whether in wartime or in peace, my loving Lord will bring me safely home to Him.

Thank you Lord, for the hope I have in You.