Devotions By Jan


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Roller Coaster Regret!

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

What could possibly have motivated us to get in that roller coaster? Perhaps it was our daughter’s reassurance that it was a “mild one.” Maybe it was wanting to appear younger to our grandson. But it had been decades since our last ride and we had forgotten what that heart-stopping motion was like! We are all smiles here in the “before” shot, but the “after” picture would have captured us pale, wide-eyed and stumbling out!

Today’s verse describes the exact opposite of that “moving experience.” Paul is encouraging the believers in Corinth to let nothing move them. They are to stand firm and resolute in their desire to live their lives in service to the Lord. For these early Christians, persecution and the threat of death could easily dissuade them. They are reassured that even death would have no sting (verse 55) and their labor for the Lord would be worth it as they looked forward to ultimate victory.

Very difficult circumstances can threaten to move me. My faith can be shaken to its core by unanswered prayer, devastating news or physical challenges. But the Lord asks me to stand firm in my faith without knowing the “why” behind what is happening. Unmet expectations have the potential of making me cynical about faithfulness to Him. But when I look ahead to the reward He promises, then I know that living for Him will never be in vain.

Lord, keep me standing firm.


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Earth Wobble

Scripture for Today: Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

It has long been thought that the earth’s rotation has been gradually slowing. But in July of this year, there was a slight wobble and that day turned out to be the shortest day on record! In fact, a faster rotation seems to be the trend and if continued may result in a “drop second,” subtracting a full second from our twenty four hour day!

Today’s verse reminds the believer that salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The day is fast approaching and the darkness is nearly over. We are exhorted to wake up as there is an urgency to “do this.” We are to be actively loving (verses 8-10) as well as arming ourselves with light and so putting aside deeds of darkness (verses 12-14). In other words, we are to look like Christ to those around us. Others may be asleep but we are to be awake and sober. (I Thes. 5:6)

The door of opportunity is slowly closing even without dropping a second of a twenty four hour day. Living life carefully and making the most of every opportunity is wise (Eph. 5:15-16). I do get lulled and lazy in using my time for Him. And I do need those wake-up calls. I find that being aware of His presence and unconditional love motivate me to be obedient and used by Him. Keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus does not make me perfect but it does make me aware of the hour!

Lord, wake me up to use this day for You.


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Old Photos

Scripture for Today: Revelation 2:3-4 “You have persevered and have endured hardship for My name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you; You have forsaken the love you had at first.”

In preparing for my Mother-in-Law’s memorial I have been immersed in old photos. This one from 1932 is especially precious, showing Minnie in the middle of four of her siblings, two on each side of her. But it is such a shame to see the damage done by UV rays, bright light, heat and humidity. Thankfully, it is possible to restore old photos to their original look using a number of different computer programs. My sister is the family “historian” bringing back to life old photos.

Today’s verse is a reprimand from the Lord to the Church at Ephesus. He is so gracious to start with a commendation. This church had gone through suffering for their faith. They did not renounce the Lord and continued strong. But there was something missing. They allowed obligation to replace the faithfulness that comes from a heartfelt love. The Lord sees the heart and knows from where our service springs. Somehow, their love had cooled from its original fervor. The brightness of that first love had faded.

If I am honest with myself, I admit to sometimes being in that same condition. I am committed and convinced of my faith. As far as I can know myself, I am willing to suffer and die for His name’s sake if He should ask it of me. But there are times when I feel far away from Him. The emotional connection can fade like images on an old photograph. He is there and always faithful, but routine and obligation can quickly take the place of the intimacy I have had in the past.

Lord, do not let me become satisfied with anything less than the vibrant clarity of our shared love.


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The Mongoose

Scripture for Today: II Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

This Dwarf mongoose makes his home in Botswana and he happens to be sitting atop an abandoned termite mound. As small as he is, he is bold enough to take down a king cobra! His speed and agility are remarkable, darting at the head of the snake and cracking its skull with his powerful bite! He himself does not need to worry about being bitten. That is because he has a protein that binds to proteins in the snake venom, rendering it harmless.

Today’s verse is a wonderful promise of the Lord to His own. He promises to strengthen and protect the believer from the evil one. Satan showed up in the very beginning as a serpent who deceives (Gen 3:13). He is also pictured as a lion looking to devour its prey (I Peter 5:8). There will be attacks and we are encouraged to stand firm in the faith with the armor He provides (Eph. 6:10-17). We may feel small, but the Lord is faithful to protect our soul, now and for eternity. Nothing and no one can snatch us from His powerful protective hands (John 10:29).

Like the small mongoose, I can be fearless and confident! I do not want to underestimate the enemy, but I know that victory is mine in Christ. The venom and sting of death is rendered powerless because of God’s faithfulness to me. There may be that occasional skirmish that can discourage, but the outcome is already decided! If God is for me, who can be against me? (Rom. 8:31) And this victory does not depend on this fickle soul but on the Savior of my soul who has promised!

Thank you Lord, for Your strength and protection!


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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!