Devotions By Jan


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A White Camellia

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

This beautiful flower comes in different shades of pink and red. But it is the white camellia that has special significance in the novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Jem destroys the cantankerous Mrs. Dubose’s camellia bush after she insults his family. Later, after reading to her as a sort of penitence insisted on by his father, she dies. But not before presenting Jem with a box containing a white camellia. This beautiful flower is now seen as representing understanding and patience.

Today’s verse from Proverbs tells us that it is from wisdom and understanding that patience can come. Overlooking an offense is the result of that patience and understanding. And overlooking an offense done to one’s self is admirable, commendable and puts one in a good light! It is difficult and sometimes nearly impossible, but if done, it can be to our glory! It certainly is not to our glory to respond to that offense with bitterness and retaliation.

Just as Jem could get past the old lady’s meanness when understanding her addictions, I can be more gracious when understanding the struggles of the one who hurt me. Understanding their circumstances and frustrations can make me more patient. Understanding too how much the Lord has forgiven me helps me extend that same grace. But I do have trouble letting go of hurtful words and slights and it is inglorious! I need the help of His Spirit to truly forgive from the heart. He wants me to overlook it with grace and forgiveness. In doing so I am well viewed by others but more importantly, He is glorified!

Lord, make me wise enough to understand and show patience.


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Sad Sunflowers

Scripture for Today: Psalm 42:5 “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put you hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

I usually think of sunflowers as happy flowers, probably because of their bright large blossoms being a sunny yellow.  It is commonly thought that this flower turns its head to follow the sun.  But obviously, these sunflowers are looking down and all they see is the ground.  Being that this photo was taken while skies were darkened with smoke from the Oregon fires, it is understandable that their heads just look down.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm called a “Maskil of David.”  A maskil is translated as enlightened or wise.  David is imparting something that is especially wise in the face of discouragement and depression.  He addresses his soul which he recognizes is disturbed.  Regardless of his difficult circumstances, David chooses to turn his gaze to the Lord.  Rather than focusing on his problems or giving in to despair, the psalmist reminds himself of the hope he has in God.  Because of that hope, he could look forward to a future where praise for God would come again to his lips.

I have that choice as well.  I can be “downcast” and look at the ground, seeing only what is depressingly negative, or I can lift my gaze to the only One who can lift my soul.  Placing my hope in God changes everything.  His love and faithfulness need to be squarely in my view.  Remembering His promises and His loving control gives me that hope.  This focus keeps me praising Him, not because of my circumstances but despite them!  And I know that one day, circumstances will change and my praise will continue into eternity!

Thank you Lord, for lifting my soul!


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Night Sky Petunia

Scripture for Today: Psalm 8:3-4 “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them?”

The night sky is not only seen by looking up!  The name of this deep purple petunia comes from their unique markings that call to mind the overhead sky.  With their petals sprinkled with white, they are sometimes called the “galaxy flower.”  As the season progresses and the temperatures become cooler, more white spots appear.  Just as the night sky does, these amazing trumpet-shaped flowers declare God’s glory!

Today’s verse expresses what so many humans feel as they gaze up into the night sky.  How is it that the Creator of the universe, the One with such power and creativity would ever think of me?  The moon and the stars in the heavens are just simple finger work for our God.  He spreads the heavens out like a tent over us. (Isaiah 40:22)  He even names each of those stars. (Ps. 147:4)   But He also cares for each individual.  Yes, our Maker stretches out the heavens but He also forms us in the womb. (Isaiah 44:24)  His power is seen on both a grand and small scale.

It is difficult sometimes to wrap my head around God’s infinite power.  Even so, it is easy and logical for me to believe in “intelligent design.”  What seems harder to believe is that this God cares and that He is mindful of me!  He has chosen to use His power to establish a relationship with me that lasts into eternity!  And He continues to use His creative power to change my heart to live for Him!

Thank you Lord, for the reminder in creation of Your infinite power and care!


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Bougainvillea

Scripture for Today: Romans 15:5-6 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Our bougainvillea is climbing all over our back fence and its vibrant red color is a gorgeous!  There are equally vibrant colors of orange, fuchsia, pink and yellow, but my favorite has always been the red.  There are over 300 varieties worldwide and they can grow from 3 to 40 feet tall.  But what is surprising is that the actual flower is a small white blossom one sees in the center.  The bright colors actually come from the surrounding bracts, which are modified or specialized leaves.  Because they are positioned below the flower, I mistake it for the actual flower.

Today’s verse talks about collectively glorifying God.  The point of the believer’s life is not to draw attention to one’s self but to Him.  We are that small insignificant white flower.  But because of pointing people to Him, there is vibrant color in our lives.  He makes us beautiful because He is beautiful.  And together with other believers we can be united with one mind and one voice in this purpose of glorifying and praising Him.

Drawing attention to myself, taking credit for what God has done in my life or wanting to take center stage keeps me like that small insignificant white flower.  It takes a humble heart to be more about His glory and His name.  But I can have that same attitude Christ did (Phil. 2:5).  Along with encouragement and endurance, He gives me the desire to give all praise and glory to Him.  He is worthy!

Lord, may today be all about giving You the glory You deserve.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Blessed Thistle

Scripture for Today: Luke 6:27-28 “But to you who are listening I say, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Being that this flower is surrounded by sharp pointy leaves and considered a bitter herb, how is this plant blessed?  As pretty as the flower is, the plant is a “blessing” for its medicinal properties.  Blessed Thistle contains tannins which might help with diarrhea, coughs and inflammation.  It was used to treat bubonic plague during the Middle Ages and as a tonic for monks.

In today’s verse Jesus is speaking specifically to all “who are listening.”  He was addressing a large crowd including His disciples.  But as in any audience there are those who are tracking and those who are distracted.  These words are for those whose intention is to be a blessing.  Being a blessing to enemies that curse, hate and mistreat you is done by showing love in two ways; doing good for them and praying for them.  Those willing to obey will experience great reward (verse 35).  And they will be recognizable as His children, being kind to the ungrateful and wicked, just as He is.

Being a blessing to enemies is not usually something very high on my to-do list!  I have a hard enough time being a blessing to those who love me!  But doing good to my enemies and praying for them is modeled by Jesus and He asks the same of me.  I cannot expect any accolades or return from obeying.  But there will be great reward one day for this hard thing He asks of me.  And behaving as one of His children brings glory and recognition to Him! (vs. 35)

Thank you Lord, that in being a blessing to enemies, I too am blessed!