Devotions By Jan


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“Strong Arm” Saguaro

Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:13 “Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.”

This majestic Saguaro not only dwarfs its visitors by its size but can boast of a long life, some of them being as old as 200 years! Recently, the “Strong Arm” Saguaro in Marana, Arizona fell over, all forty feet of it! Its thirty-four arms lay broken and dusty on the floor of the Tortolita Preserve. What an undignified end to what is considered an impressive symbol of the Sonoran Desert!

Today’s verse describes another arm that will never face a similar fate. The arm of God is so powerful that by it He created the heavens and the earth (Jer. 32:17). His outstretched arm has accomplished great and awesome deeds (Deut. 4:34) and by the incredible power of His arm He redeems and saves those who reach out to grasp it (Ex. 6:6). His strong arm scatters His enemies (vs. 10) but strengthens those who belong to Him (verse 21). But not only are His arms powerful, they are tender as well. He gathers us in His arms and carries us close to His heart (Isaiah 40:11).

God’s powerful arms would actually evoke fear if it were not for His love. God’s unlimited power is part of what makes Him God. But I am grateful that because of His great love and grace, those arms operate for me and not against me (Rom. 8:31). The same power demonstrated in His arm is the same power that keeps my soul entrusted to Him! (II Tim 1:12) Nothing is too hard for Him and I can absolutely trust what His powerful arms are doing in my life.

Thank you Lord, that Your powerful arms keep me close to Your heart.


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Bridge of Sighs

Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:9 “All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.”

Beautiful Venice charms the visitor with its lovely canals and baroque-style buildings. However, there is a back story to the covered bridge above. This is the Bridge of Sighs, built in 1602 to link the Doge Palace to the prison across the canal. Through its narrow windows, prisoners can get a last glimpse of the outside world. It is entirely possible that this sight elicits from the prisoner a deep sigh of remorse and regret.

Today’s verse describes the longing and sighing of David. He is overwhelmed by his sin and guilt (verse 3-4). He describes in detail his anguish both emotional and physical. He knows that God sees his longings and hears his sighs. David prays his emotions, his bridge of sighs taking him directly to his Lord. Even in the middle of his suffering, there is a glimmer of confidence that God will answer him (verse 15). And David ends this psalm with a cry that God come quickly to help him (verse 21).

My sighing comes from fatigue, dashed expectations, and often from frustration at what life is throwing at me. Unlike David, my sighing is not usually over my own sin and guilt, although perhaps it should be!! What a tender heart he had! And perhaps this is why God called David, “a man after his own heart.” (I Sam. 13:14) But despite the reason for my sighs, I can be confident that He hears. He knows and cares. And one day there is promise that sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 51:11). Nothing will remain to sigh about and all that breath will be transformed to unending praise!

Thank you Lord for a future without sighs.


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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!


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Passion Flower

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 12:2b “For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

With a name like “passion flower” it would seem more logical to offer these to the love of one’s life rather than roses! The original Latin genus name is “passiflora.” In the early 1700’s missionaries in Brazil used this flower as a teaching aid to explain the crucifixion. Because of the five stamens, they called it the “flower of 5 wounds” referring to the nail wounds in the hands and feet of Jesus and the lance wound in His side. Being that today begins Passion Week, the week leading up to Christ’s resurrection, this flower reminds me of His passion to save.

Today’s verse gives us a glimpse into the passion Jesus felt as He hung on that cross. He endured the pain, the humiliation and the shame. He endured the scorn and the excruciating separation from His Father for the first time in all eternity. And He did it all for the joy set before Him. He knew that death was not the end and that three days later He would rise again! Further, He knew that He would sit down at the Father’s right hand and intercede for us (Romans 8:34).

Why was He so passionate? What was the joy set before Him? Could it have been me? He rescued me because He delighted in me (Psalm 18:19). He takes great delight in me and in His love will no longer rebuke me but rejoices over me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). Because of His sacrifice an eternal love relationship is now possible. Understandably it is a joy for me. How amazing that I am a joy to Him as well!

Thank you Lord, for being a passionate God!


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Eye Lashes in the Sky

Scripture for Today: Job 37:12-13 “At his direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever he commands them. He brings the clouds to punish people or to water his earth and show his love.”

Betty Flowers https://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/9040974523

This incredible image shows scud clouds hanging from underneath a thunderstorm. They almost look like lace as they grace the sky above Wallops Island, Virginia. Also pictured is a roll cloud which resembles a horizontal tube. The air spins inside the roll clouds creating the lacy look of the scuds hanging from it. What an imaginative scene! Does anyone else see eye lashes?

Today’s verse reminds us of God’s creative power as He is the one who designs these tableaus. It is at His direction that the clouds swirl around to form what we see overhead. And the clouds stand ready to do His bidding. Our powerful God commands the clouds. His duel purpose is to punish people or to show love in watering the earth. All of His creation is under His control and responds to His directives. Nothing is outside His authority. And as a perfectly just God, it is His prerogative to punish or to bless.

I am eternally grateful to have God’s love and blessing. Because of Christ’s sacrifice for my sin, I am under no condemnation (Rom. 8:1) and do not need to fear His punishment. His blessing means an eternity with Him. But He has also given me every spiritual blessing here and now! (Eph. 1:3-8) So even when I see clouds that are not so beautiful but dark and menacing, I can be confident of His love and care. I can look up with assurance that He knows exactly what is happening.

Thank you Lord, for Your loving control in my life!