Devotions By Jan


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New in Twenty-Two!

Scripture For Today: Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

As we begin this new year I cannot help but think of the song written by Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Certainly, the world has swiftly changed these past few years, proving true what Plato said, “All is flux, nothing stays still.” What is considered “normal” has changed. Social expectations have changed. We have changed. And as we look to the new year it can be with some trepidation about what may change next! How will the next changes impact our lives? What if I don’t want to change?

Today’s verse is an enormous comfort. Yes, change can be adventurous and an opportunity for growth. But it almost always comes with some discomfort. However, Jesus Christ does not change. Being perfect, there is no need for any improvements. The power He had is still His. The control over nature He demonstrated is still viable. He continues to be what He always has been; faithful and true, compassionate, good and loving. And because He does not change, His Word remains. He is the solid Rock, a foundation that can weather any wave of change.

In a world that seems to shift almost daily its norms, priorities and focus, I can stand firm. He has never failed me despite major changes in my life; career changes, losing family members, gaining family members, 17 moves and more! My world changes but He does not and continues to be everything I need to face an unknown future. I can look forward to this new year as I have all the rest, with confidence that the Lord is already there, warm, loving and familiar!

Thank you Lord, that You never will change and I can always count on You.


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Carefree

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:18 “The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever.”

Tillman at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What an unusual name for a city! Carefree in Arizona, is a beautiful rural and well-to-do place near Black Mountain. Residents there enjoy the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert. There are only about nineteen hundred homes in just eight square miles and they can boast having the largest sundial in the world! Because it sits at a higher elevation Carefree benefits from cooler temperatures. The clean air and light traffic give this town an aura of peace and tranquility.

Today’s verse describe another place to spend one’s days: under the Lord’s care. Because He cares, the blameless can enjoy a life that is not weighed down with care. The blameless are those who because of forgiveness, enjoy a restored relationship with their Creator through Christ. It is the Lord’s care that insures that in times of disaster the believer does not wither (verse 19). His care means that even in time of famine, He will provide plenty. In a sense, His care means that we can be “carefree.”

The Lord invites me to put the weight of all my cares on Him because He does care for me (I Peter 5:7). Whether it be physical, emotional, social or spiritual needs, He is big enough to care and provide for each one. He does not withhold any good thing from those who belong to Him (Psalm 84:11). He knows what is truly good for me and what is not! And unlike the homes in Carefree, the incredible inheritance He has promised will last forever! I can be carefree looking forward to my “forever home.”

Lord, I give You all my cares today.

ANNOUNCEMENT: beginning today my blog posts will appear just once a week on MONDAYS! Please feel to peruse the archived blogs on the right of the screen for more.


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In a Pickle

Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong and steadfast.”

It is such an odd expression to speak of one’s self as “in a pickle.”  The word “pickle” came from the Dutch word “pekel” meaning something piquant.  William Shakespeare used this expression in 1610 for his play, The Tempest, when one character asked another “How camest thou in this pickle?” meaning “How did you get so drunk?”  Being in a pickle today can mean being in any sort of disagreeable situation.  That difficulty is likened to becoming a pickle by soaking in brine and vinegar.

Today’s verse goes further than just a disagreeable situation!  The early Christians faced real persecution because of their faith and many were even martyred.  Peter reminds them of God’s favor in calling them and of their future reward.  He also points out that the suffering is temporary and only for a little while.  How precious that God Himself will personally restore them and make them strong and firm after that suffering is over!

There is a closeness that seems to come uniquely through suffering.  I have heard so many share their gratitude for having cancer because of their special bond and closeness to the Savior through it!  In some mysterious way, God moves in close to those who are suffering.  His presence is felt like never before as He affirms and reassures of His love and plan.  There is something about sharing His suffering that brings a close relationship even closer.  He has been there for me at some of the lowest times of my life and I am thankful.

Lord, help me feel You there in the hard times.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018)


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Swaddled Babies

Scripture for Today: Psalm 94:18a-19 “Your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

What an unusual orchid! At a certain stage of opening, this flower looks a lot like a baby wrapped in swaddling cloth! The Swaddled Babies orchid is found in the Andes region around Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuela. It is also referred to as Tulip Orchid and Baby in the Cradle. Perhaps growing this orchid would have a calming effect. I know swaddling did with our second grandson. From flailing arms and distress to instant calm, swaddling brought immediate relief to his anxiety.

Today’s verse speaks of God’s consolation in the face of great anxiety. The psalmist felt that his foot was slipping and he was about to fall (verse 18). His anxiety was a direct result of wicked men and he acknowledged God’s help (verse 17). He felt supported and held up by God’s unfailing love. It was this consolation that turned his anxiety into joy. Like the swaddling, the psalmist was wrapped up and supported in God’s faithful love.

I may not have the same kind of enemies, but I often feel anxiety as the pace of life is so rapid I can feel unstable. I need to feel the arms of the Lord wrapped tightly around me, loving and supporting me. When I feel His love to that extent, then I can calm down and even feel joy! Whatever changes I am experiencing or am likely to experience, I can have joyful confidence in God’s swaddling comfort. His love and presence is the consolation I so desperately need. Like a swaddled baby, I can stop fussing!

Thank you Lord, for consoling me.


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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!