Devotions By Jan


The Boomerang

Scripture for Today:  Matt. 18:21-22  “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”

I have never thrown a boomerang so I would be the last choice to participate in the many competitions that exist.  When thrown in a certain way the boomerang is designed to return to the person who threw it.  It is made to spin on an axis perpendicular to the direction of its flight and so return to the point of origin.  Who has not seen the boomerang used in a cartoon, hitting the unsuspecting on the back of the head!

In today’s verse, Peter asks the Lord how many times he should forgive his brother.  I am sure that when Peter suggested seven times he felt he was being very generous.  But the Lord’s answer was surprising; seventy times seven.  It is not that we are to count at all.  The idea is that we forgive our brother every time he asks.  Like that boomerang, there are those in our lives who keep coming back for forgiveness.  Perhaps it is a family member.  Maybe it is someone in the church.  It could even be that they are asking forgiveness for the same exact offense every time!

How exasperating to have to forgive someone over and over again.  And yet, this is what the Lord does for me.  Like a boomerang, I keep coming back to Him for forgiveness and very often for the same failing.  I am so glad He does not count.  I am so thankful that He promises to forgive me every time I come to Him (I John1:9)

Lord, help me not to count but show that same forgiveness to others!

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The Dove

Scripture for Today: Numbers 6:24-26 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” 

This sweet girl looks to be kissing the dove in her hands.  These meek gentle birds have long been a symbol for peace over the centuries and in many different cultures.  And a dove with an olive branch in its beak especially symbolizes peace.  Noah could finally leave his ark with the dove’s return.  There was peace with God in this new beginning on earth.

Today’s verses are a priestly prayer God gave Moses to share with Aaron and his sons for the Israelites.  It is the Lord that gives blessing and protection.  It is the Lord that gives grace with His very presence, and it is only through His favor that we can experience peace.  Mankind has the best chance at establishing peace with one another when first we have made peace with our Maker.  This happens through Christ’s sacrifice, made while we were still His enemies (Rom.5:10).  Jesus made peace possible with God and it is Jesus that makes peace possible between men.

I so ardently want to see change in our world.  The injustices and the  divisions make peace seem an impossible goal.  And on our own I do not see much hope.  But with His face turned our direction, He can give peace.  This is not the same peace that the world offers, which frankly can be short-lived and imperfect (John 14:27).  His peace calms my heart and my fears.  His peace allows me to reach out to those different from myself.  “The problem is not skin, it’s sin.  The solution is not race, it’s grace.”

Thank you Lord, for being my peace-maker.


Coming out of Hibernation

Scripture for Today: Matt.6:31 “So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat? or ‘What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”

There is just one thing on the mind of the bear coming out of hibernation; food!  For six months he has been in a low energy mode, conserving strength with a decreased metabolism.  Now, he is ready to make up for lost time!  These North American black bears have used up all their stored fat and are ready to pack on the pounds and return to their normal metabolism.

Today’s verse tells us not to worry over our basic needs.  Our heavenly Father has promised to provide for His own.  I picture the ending of this pandemic a bit like coming out of hibernation.  With sheltering in place, many have no problem with their weight being low!  But we do come out blinking in the sunshine and ready to return to cafes and restaurants, tired of our own cooking.  Some are sick to death of their clothes and ready to shop for something new.  It is understandable.

This extended time at home with a slower pace has reminded me what is most important in my life.  The distractions of going out, being entertained, eating, drinking and shopping have been stripped away.  Life has boiled down to the essentials.  And for the believer the essential is to seek His Kingdom and righteousness (verse 33).  My relationship to the King takes precedent over everything else.  When I put my relationship with Him first, everything else shifts to its proper place.  I can enjoy those activities without letting them drain mental energy or my time.

Thank you Lord, for taking care of all my needs.

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Ultimate Sacrifice

Scripture for Today: Mark 12:33 “To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important that ALL burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Today on this Memorial Day we remember the ultimate sacrifice made by so many soldiers who gave their lives for our freedoms.  If it were not for their willingness to put their lives on the line, we would not be enjoying the rights and privileges that we do.  To honor their sacrifice is only right as we are the beneficiaries of their selfless acts of bravery.

Today’s verse talks about a sacrifice that is living.  This sacrifice puts to death one’s own rights and privileges in honor of the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.  Christ died to free us from the penalty of our own sin.  And in response to His incredible sacrifice of love, we give Him all of our heart and strength.  Like David, our sacrifice to Him in return is a broken and contrite heart (Ps. 51:17).  And in loving response to His ultimate sacrifice, our bodies become a living sacrifice, living out His good, pleasing and perfect will (Rom. 12:1-2).

To live for His pleasure and to die to my own selfish desires is a constant battle.  Yet, it is what He asks of me as His child.  He is worthy of any and all sacrifice.  And when I compare my small struggles with what He went through for me, well, there is no comparison!  Because of His ultimate sacrifice of love, He has every right to demand “my soul, my life, my all.”   He has my soul.  He even has my life.  It is that “all” part that can be so difficult sometimes.

Lord, help me to surrender all!

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The Tree Can See

Scripture for Today:  Ezekiel 17:24 “All the trees of the forest will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall.  I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree to flourish.  I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.”

The bark of this tree seems to have his eye on those passing through the forest!  Behind our French house was a beautiful forest where I loved to stroll.  On a hot day I appreciated the drop in temperature and the stillness.  The welcomed shade of the trees made it a bit dark but I did not mind that.  However, if I thought a tree were watching me, I don’t think I would stick around!

Today’s verse talks about trees in the forest knowing something that many humans fail to see.  God has the ultimate say over what dies and what grows.  He causes trees to dry up or to flourish, to grow tall or to be brought down.  This example in nature mirrors His control with men.  God has the power to bring down the haughty prideful man.  He humbles the circumstances of those who ignore Him.  He opposes the proud (James 4:6) and sends poverty to those He humbles (I Sam.2:7).

Thankfully, our God is also full of grace and He promises to show favor to the humble.  I show that humility by bending my knee in total submission to what He wants.  His plan for my life may or may not involve recognition or praise from men.  But it is His call how He may exalt me, whether on earth or in Heaven with rewards. I want to be more concerned about giving Him the glory, honor and praise that is due Him!

Lord, may my life be about You.