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!


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.


See No Evil…

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

The first monkey has eyes half closed. The second seems stoic and unmoving, perhaps not hearing. And the third may be speaking something, but hopefully not something evil. See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil is a well-known proverb. The idea is that we are to ignore any evil we come in contact with. Supposedly, ignoring evil keeps one virtuous. Although mass shootings are unfortunately not new, I am hearing the word, “evil” bandied about more freely by the media.

Today’s verse is part of a description of evil, its source and how to stand up against it! Evil comes from the intentional schemes of the devil (verse 11). It is not just an idea or the absence of good. Evil is the plan of Satan and although his strategy may be to use individuals, he himself is the ultimate source. To use anything other than the armor of God will be a losing proposition. It involves struggle but not against flesh and blood. Evil is a spiritual problem that can never be resolved except through God’s intervention.

Am I the only one who believes the world is getting darker and darker? Thankfully, there is ultimate victory over evil through Christ’s sacrifice for sin. And as a believer I am not without resources. Rather than ignore evil, I am to stand firm against it with objective unchangeable truth and righteous living. I am to fight back by spreading the good news of peace with God through Christ. My arsenal is faith, salvation and confidence in God’s Word.

Thank you Lord that through You, evil is overcome.


Watch Out for the Boom!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:9 “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

It has been a very long time since I sailed a boat but I do recognize this fellow’s posture. He is ducking to get out of the way of that boom as he changes tack. He has no one to worry about but himself in changing direction. But had he passengers he would certainly want to warn them as that boom swings over to the other side of the boat. Others would do well to listen to the one steering to avoid getting bonked in the head!

Today’s verse reassures the believer that God does have a plan for how we live our lives. He is available to be our Guide and to teach us His way, which is always the best way! All His ways are loving and faithful (verse 10) even if it seems that He is guiding us into waters that do not look so calm. He is there and He is good. But it is only the humble who can be guided. When we confidently change tack or direction without His counsel (James 4:13-16) we are likely to get ourselves in the way of that boom!

I am definitely in a season of major life changes and it is easy to fear what may be in store. But I am reassured that these new directions are in His control. When I am humbly seeking the Lord and His guidance, I do not have to be surprised by that boom! There will be changes. There always are. And although I may not understanding exactly what He is doing or why, I am reassured by who He is.  All His ways are loving and faithful!  I can be peaceful as I look ahead knowing that He is completely trustworthy!

Lord, help me to trust You.


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.