Devotions By Jan


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Naked Coral Tree

Scripture for Today:  Revelation 3:17 “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

Did you know that the Coral Tree is the city tree of Los Angeles? Neither did I! This tree grows all over Southern California and its bright blossoms are breathtaking! The name of its genus is Erythrina, a word derived from Greek meaning, “red.” There are 130 species in its family with many shades of red flowers ranging from orangey-tomato to deep scarlet. The Naked Coral Tree is the one whose flowers blossom well before the leaves appear, thus the name!

Today’s verse talks about a nakedness that is spiritual. What is so sad is that the person described does not realize his nakedness, nor his poverty or blindness. Being wealthy has caused this person to feel self-sufficient and not in need of anything. But Christ proposes a remedy. Along with salve for the eyes to restore spiritual sight and true eternal riches, Christ gives us white clothes to cover our nakedness (verse 18). Those white clothes are a symbol of His righteousness obtained for us.

How does the Lord see me? I may stand proud and colorful like the naked coral tree, but in fact, I am poor, blind and naked without the Lord. My pride keeps me from realizing my need. And instead of answering His knock (verse 20) I mistakenly think I am just fine on my own. I need to let go of of my pride and denial so I can open the door to His knock. I am so grateful that He waits there, ready to forgive and begin anew an amazing love relationship!

Lord, may I always realize my need and open the door to You.


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Hibiscus

Scripture for Today: II Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends; with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

The hibiscus is such an exotic-looking flower. It is large and showy and comes from a large family comprising several hundred species. This flower is also called the “rose of sharon” and mentioned in the Bible (Song of Songs 2:1) But those bright colorful blooms are short-lived, typically blooming for only one day. Once finished blooming, the flower will close up and drop off. One day of vibrant color and life. Just one day.

Today’s verse reminds us of the eternal nature of our God. He is not bound by time constraints. He is outside of time. A day can be like a thousand years or a thousand years can pass by like a day. So perhaps in God’s sight, that bloom lasts a thousand years! This reminder served to encourage the believers that God is not slow about fulfilling His promise to return. When it seems so, it is because in His love and patience He waits to include more of us in His family.

I need this reminder. I get weary of waiting to see everything fulfilled that He has promised. But His Word is always true and sure. And it is in the waiting that my faith is tested and tried. In the meantime, God gives me so many gracious reassurances of His love and direction! Over and over He has come through in what can only be called a “God thing!” I know and can be confident that every promise regarding the future will be fulfilled in His perfect timing!

Thank you Lord, that You are true to Your Word!


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Morning Dew

Scripture for Today:  Hosea 6:4  “What can I do with you, Ephraim?  What can I do with you, Judah?  Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.”

Is there anything prettier than dew kissing the fragile petals of an iris? That moisture on the leaves and petals not only looks pretty but is important to counteracting the heat later in the day. I love cutting them and bringing them into the house! But of course, I do not bring them inside if they are still wet with dew. Handling any plant when wet is never a good idea as this is when they are most fragile. Better to leave them undisturbed while they soak up that moisture.

Today’s verse is addressed to two tribes of Israel. They knew to make sacrifices and burnt offerings but they did not show mercy to others nor did they acknowledge God. It was just routine and tradition. Their love for the Lord was as transient as morning dew or morning mist which quickly disappears. This verse describes the Israelite’s unfaithfulness to God just as the entire book does using the example of a wayward wife.

I can identify with a love that disappears like morning dew. In the morning when I read His Word and talk with Him, I can be satisfied with His unfailing love (Psalm 90:14). But as I go throughout my day, that closeness can seem to evaporate in the distractions of a busy day. And sometimes it is easy to look at my time with the Lord as an obligation to be crossed off a list. But He is not interested in empty ritual but in meaningful relationship. Thankfully, despite  how fickle I am, He continues to tap my shoulder with His love. He reminds me He is there.

Thank you Lord, that I can count on Your love all day.


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The Flame Lily

Scripture for Today: Song of Songs 8:6 “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”

This national flower of Zimbabwe looks just like a tongue of fire and is widespread in tropical and southern Africa. It thrives in sparse woodlands, sand dunes and grasslands. It rambles and climbs all over neighboring plants using those tendrils at the end of its leaves. The Flame Lily is also called the Fire Lily and it can climb to a height of three meters. It can be fatal if eaten and to even touch it can result in skin irritation.

Today’s verse is part of a poetic and image-laden passage describing love. It is as strong as death and can evoke a jealousy as fierce as the grave. Being sealed with this kind of love over the heart and arm sets one apart as beloved with a strong flame of emotion. This is an image of the love of the Lord, poured in our hearts by His Spirit (Rom. 5:5). This is the same Spirit who appeared as tongues of fire at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3). And we are sealed with His Spirit when we place our faith in Jesus (Eph. 1:13). In love, He set His seal of ownership on us (II Cor. 1:22)!

How incredible to be sealed and marked as His with such an ardent love! That flame of love is so strong that many waters cannot quench it (verse 7). His love for me is so fierce that nothing in all creation can separate me from it (Rom. 8:38-39)! Our little puny human loves cannot even compare. “What wondrous love is this?”

Lord, I am grateful for Your overwhelming love!



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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.