Devotions By Jan


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Rose of Jericho

Scripture for Today: Luke 24:7 “The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”

This unusual plant in its happy state is a beautiful green with tiny white flowers. Pictured here is its dried out state. This plant, also called “Resurrection Plant,” is able to survive long periods of time with no water. This small grey plant will curl its branches and seed pods inward in a dry season for even years at a time. Then the ball it forms, if still rooted, will open when moistened. What was seemingly dead and gone comes back to life!

Today’s verse comes from Luke’s amazing account of Christ’s resurrection. Two men in dazzling white spoke this to the women who had come early in the morning to the Lord’s tomb. I wonder which shock was greater; the absence of Jesus’ body or the presence of these angels! When the angels announced, “He is not here. He has risen,” they remembered the Lord’s words. When these women reported this to the disciples they were understandably incredulous! They were grieving. They had given up hope and felt lost without their beloved Lord.

When I read this account I wish I could have told the disciples during those three dark days, “Just wait!” As the truth of Jesus’ resurrection finally dawned on them, grieving was turned into shouts of joy! Their hope was no longer dead but had revived. The fact of the Lord’s triumph over death does the same thing for me! Death is only a temporary separation because He lives. His resurrection has proved not only His love but His power as God. HE is my hope and it is a hope that cannot die!

Thank you Lord, that because You live I have hope.


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Zapped!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 12:3-4 “May the Lord silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue – those who say, ‘By our tongues we will prevail, our own lips will defend us – who is lord over us?'”

Photo by Christian Ziegler at https://www.flickr.com/photos/97056632@N05/25278879752/in/photostream/

Many species of the chameleon are known for their ability to change color and blend in with their surroundings. But just as surprising are their long tongues! Their grasping and sticky tongue can uncoil to a distance equivalent to half its body length! So not only are they camouflaged but they can grab their next snack from a distance!

Today’s verse is from a prayer of David, calling on the Lord for help. The wicked are strutting about, using their tongues to lie, to flatter, to deceive and to boast. These people are so prideful they feel they can say anything to get power, to keep power and to answer to no one. They ask, “who is our lord or master?” They fear no reckoning and no accountability. They are their own masters. However, David affirms that the Lord will keep the godly safe and protected from such people. (verse 7) And what God says is flawless. (verse 6)

Words matter. The power of life and death is in our tongues. (Prov. 18:21) I have had to forgive and forget words that have damaged my reputation. Over the years I have been intentionally maligned because of my testimony for Christ. Yet, there is safety and protection in Him. He is my refuge and although I may sometimes be bruised and dinged up by the words of others, I can remain faithful to Him. He reassures me that I am His and I am loved. His flawless words build me back up and restore me.

Lord, silence those proud tongues!


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Hanging On

Scripture for Today: Psalm 63:8 “I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.”

The koala, although a marsupial, looks like a cute cuddly teddy bear. He can hold on to those smooth-barked gum trees and even sleep there 18-20 hours a day without any worry of falling off. That is because he has two opposable thumbs on his fore paws that allow a sure grip. He also has big toes that are set at an angle to the foot, giving him a vise-like hold. They cling so well to the tree that they leave scratches on the bark.

Today’s verse tells us that we can cling to the Lord because He upholds us with His right hand. David writes this psalm while in the desert of Judah. He remembers and thinks on his bed, not about his enemies but about God’s love that he considers better than life! (verse 3) He clings to the truth that God is his help. (verse 7) David is confident of the end his enemies face. He may be in a clinging position now, but he knows that they will be destroyed and he will rejoice! They, as liars, will be silenced but he will glory in the Lord. (verse 11)

I feel as if I am barely hanging on when surrounded by those who oppose Jesus Christ and when surrounded by liars. But what I am clinging to makes all the difference! The piece of wood to which I cling is the cross! Jesus, by His death on the cross, has won the victory over every enemy! I cling to Him as He is the THE truth in a world full of liars. (John 14:6) His Word is eternal. His promises are true. He is the One who holds me up when I cling to Him.

Lord, keep me hanging on to You.


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Winter Begins

Scripture for Today: Psalm 42:8 “By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life.”

Today is the official start of winter, marking the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The winter solstice makes for a very long and dark night. These days I awake before the sun just to take advantage of as much light as possible! For some people these dark nights can represent holidays that do not quite deliver.  Expectations not met, hopes dashed and keen disappointments can mark these long nights.  Sweet “Hallmark” moments do not match up with one’s reality.  For some, the darkest nights occur when everyone else seems to be celebrating.

Ralph Waldo Emerson has said when it is dark enough, men see the stars.  But today’s verse is no pithy saying.  It is truth.  His love is ours in the daytime. His control is seen in that He directs and commands His love toward us. His song is ours in the night, even in the long, darkest night.  Circumstances can disappoint.  People can disappoint.  But HE does not.  Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed (Romans 10:11).  What an incredible truth! 

During the darkest night, I can sing!  He is God, yes. But like the psalmist, I can say that He is the God of MY life. He is my light when there is none around me. The hope He gives me lightens the gloom and keeps me looking forward. A song, a prayer, a praise and I feel that light-giving hope begin to burn inside and turn things around.

No matter how dark the night, thank you Lord, that my heart can sing because You give me hope.


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Upside Down Tree

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

Does anyone else feel that this sort of tree would be appropriate for Christmas this year? There was a time when the upside down Christmas tree was all the rage (and judging from this advertisement from Wayfair, they are still available!) I would see them decked out and hanging from the ceiling in boutiques. Aside from the fact that bumping my head was a possibility, the logic of something being top heavy escapes me! But logic may not be important here. Maybe it is all about how something looks! And Christmas looks a lot different this year.

Today’s verse puts the accent where it belongs. And it is not on how we decorate, what foods we enjoy nor what gifts we exchange. Christmas first and foremost is about the gift of Christ. What a pivotal moment in history this was, that God would humble Himself and enter our world as a baby!  At that instant, everything changed.  From the courts of Heaven He lowered Himself into our messy world to redeem us.  He brought light and life to a hopeless hurting world.  And He did it out of love for each of us!

It does seem to be a messy world right now. For a variety of reasons, divisions run deep in families. Disappointments and dashed hopes mark the Christmas season for many. The usual distraction of concerts, parties and even family gatherings have been stripped away. But what remains is a baby in a manger. What remains is an indescribable Gift. The truth of Christmas can never be stripped away. We celebrate His first coming. We look forward to His second coming. And before too long, He will be asking each of His children to come home.

Lord, the gift of Yourself is indescribable.