Devotions By Jan


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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.


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Hot Lips

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 10:12 “Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips.”

When I hear the term, “Hot Lips’ I think of the character, Margaret, on the television show MASH. But in fact, Hot Lips is the name of this two-lipped tubular flower. It can be bright red, white, or a combination of the two. This perennial loves the sun and is drought resistant, needing little water. It can grow quickly and give the yard a cottage garden look. Their nectar is irresistible to hummingbirds and butterflies and the flowers are edible to humans.

Today’s verse is one of many in Scripture that teach regarding our lips and what they reveal about us. This verse was written by King Solomon, known for his God-given wisdom. A wise person and a fool are distinguishable from one another by what comes out of their mouths. The words from a wise person are gracious and win him favor. But what comes from the lips of a fool destroys him. He starts out speaking foolishness but as he keeps babbling, his words become wicked madness.

In our image-conscious culture I am often surprised by classy well-dressed people who destroy that perfect picture by what comes out of their mouths. But I know I can sound the same way. My words are not always gracious, especially when responding to hurt or injustice. I can look the fool when I jump to a wrong conclusion and I react instead of thoughtfully responding. Speaking like a fool comes easy. It is a much more difficult challenge to speak wise gracious words. Thankfully, God offers His wisdom when I ask Him (James 1:5). And the control of my tongue can come through His Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Lord, make my words gracious today!


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Milkweed

Scripture fro Today: I Peter 2:2  “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

There are over 100 species of this beautiful milkweed but they all have one thing in common; they each produce a milky sap for which it gets its name. It leaks out from the stem or leaves. In large quantities this sap is toxic to animals. But for the Monarch butterfly caterpillar, this sap is tasty and the only thing they will eat! The monarch butterfly will only lay its eggs on these leaves or else the caterpillar starves!

Today’s verse describes that same single-minded craving. A new believer will show enthusiasm for reading and learning from God’s Word. And it is not something a believer ever need deny himself. Although a mature believer will gradually add the meatier doctrines of the Bible, one never outgrows the need to review and appreciate the foundational truths, or milk. (Heb. 5:12) By it we grow and by it we taste just how good God is!

The milk of God’s Word is described as pure. It is not to be mixed with the world’s philosophies as it is His truth and can stand on its own! Its purity means that the essentials are there for my faith to grow. Mixing in anything else will dilute its personal message to me. Mixing in anything else dulls my spiritual taste buds. I do not want to miss out on tasting just how good the Lord is! Nothing else can take the place of His personal message to me and that sweet communion leaves me craving more of Him.

Thank you Lord, that Your Word nourishes my soul!


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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!