Devotions By Jan


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Tissue Invasion

Scripture for Today: Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

This could be me this past week.  The tears have been flowing freely at the death of my Mother.  With all the tissue I have used, the trash overflows and so do I.  I know she is with the Lord and free from pain, but for me the pain of separation is just beginning.  But despite the tears, my heart is at peace with His promises and reassurances.

Today’s verse describes a day when there will be no more need for tissues.  There will be no illness of any kind.  There will be no pain or death, no separation or sadness.  Anything and everything that provokes tears will be gone forever!  What an incredible thought!

I love this verse as the Lord is intimately involved in erasing our sadness.  He Himself gets close and personal.  He takes it on Himself to wipe those tears from our eyes.  And once His loving powerful hands dry our face, those tears never return.  I can just imagine His look of infinite tenderness as He does this.  He knows all about tears.  His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death in the garden of Gethsemane.  He endured that horrible time of suffering in order to “swallow up death forever” for you and me.

Heaven is going to be a noisy place!  Those who sow a lifetime of tears will reap with songs of joy! (Psalm 126:5)  Cries of anguish will be replaced with melodies of joy.  He has promised.

Thank you Lord, that You will personally dry my tears.

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Counting Jelly Beans

Scripture for Today: Matthew 18: 21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”

It was pure guess work.  I tried being methodical as a prize would be awarded for this baby shower-party-game.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have bothered trying to count the jelly beans in this jar.  But in fact, my counting left something to be desired as my total was way off.  Someone else walked away with the coveted prize.  I would have been happy to walk away with the jelly beans!

Today’s verse is about something we are not to count; how many times to forgive someone.  Peter perhaps felt he was being generous to suggest forgiving seven times as the current thinking among the Pharisees was three times.  That makes Jesus’ answer all the more surprising.  The idea was not to forgive seventy-seven times or even seventy times seven.  The idea is that forgiveness is not to be counted at all.  Forgiveness is to be immeasurable.

My memory is so faulty on some subjects but somehow, the memories of when and how I have been wronged are very clear.  Forgiving someone more than once for the same offense is also too easy to remember.  I have had to say to my husband, “I am sorry, forgive me,” countless times over almost 40 years of marriage.  And I have had to forgive him too, many times without number.  It is so difficult to “forgive from the heart” (verse 35) over and over again.  And yet, I cannot think of a better way to show true love.  This is exactly what the Lord has done in forgiving me countless times.

Thank you Lord, that You do not count.


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Enjoying the View

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:45 “I will walk about in freedom for I have sought Your precepts.”

I imagine that anyone with a fear of heights would give the Needles Overlook a wide berth.  This view of Canyonlands National Park in Utah is a panoramic one going in all directions.  The overlook affords a view of the Abago Mountains and the peaks of La Sal.  But this open plateau edge drops suddenly away 1,600 feet above the valley floor!  If it were not for that sturdy rail going around the perimeter, I would not feel free to walk very close to the edge and I would miss out on those amazing views.

Today’s verse puts two words together that normally one would not think to do; freedom and precepts.  Prevalent thinking equates freedom with no rules or restrictions at all.  But God’s laws are like the railing.  Because of its presence I can freely walk about and enjoy incredible vistas.  God’s laws provide safety and protection.  They are there, not to restrict and be a burden, but rather to free us to walk in confidence.  God’s laws even alleviate our anxiety.  “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Ps. 119:165)

The author of this psalm cannot say enough about how he loves God’s law.  He describes them as giving comfort (verse 52). God’s statues and precepts reassure me of the right direction my life is taking.  I never have to wonder if another way is better or more exciting.  I do not miss out on anything except for what will harm me.  His law is an expression of His love for me.  Following it gives me the best kind of life there is!

Lord, keep me walking about in the freedom that following Your law brings!


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Paradise

Scripture for Today: Luke 23:42-43 “Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'”

The word, “paradise” conjures up so many lovely mental images.  For me, paradise would be someplace quiet and calm with plenty of places to relax and enjoy sunshine and a stunning view.  Paradise would be a place where stress would not exist and troubles would float away with each receding wave.  It would not be too hot or too cold.  Sand would stay where it belonged.  Throw in a personal servant seeing to my every need and I will have arrived!

In today’s verse an entirely different place is meant by Paradise.  The thief on the cross came to believe that Jesus is God in the last moment of his life.  Jesus assures him that he will be with Him in Paradise that very day.  His sincere faith in Jesus as the Son of God was all that was needed to save his soul.  Paradise is His Kingdom and nothing can adequately describe what we will find there.  What is prepared for those who love Him is beyond what eye can see or ear hear, or even what minds can imagine (I Cor. 2:9).

My ideas of Paradise fall so short of the incredible and indescribable reality!  When I allow myself to dream of what awaits, I see my circumstances a little differently!  But Paradise would not be worth much without His presence.  Jesus promised this forgiven thief that he would be with Him.  He is LOVE and His presence will be the paradise for which every human heart has longed.

Thank you Lord, for giving me just a taste of Paradise with Your love here and now.


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Sheepish

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

What was that racket?  My husband was in the middle of his shower when he heard some bizarre noises!  It sounded as if someone was rearranging the furniture, but there was also loud bleating, shouting and running footsteps.  How bizarre to see this sheep in the living room knocking into things with a crazed look in his eyes!  He had run in from our rural French street into the open doors, with his handlers in hot pursuit!  It took three of them to hold him down and get him under control!

What a perfect way to illustrate the truth of today’s verse!  This sheep was not where he was supposed to be.  He had certainly gone his own way, ignoring his keepers and the other sheep.  His headlong movements could have hurt him and it took some pretty drastic measures to correct him.  I am sure he was none too happy to be bound with that rope.  And we are just like that sheep.  We turn our back on the Shepherd thinking we know better.

How loving and gracious God is to take on Himself the punishment of my silly rebellion.  Jesus paid the ultimate price of my sin, giving me peace with God (verse 5).  And as a forgiven “sheep” I have the enormous privilege of following my Shepherd.  His way is so much better than my own.  He does not lead by prodding me from behind and I don’t just see His back ahead of me.  No, He walks beside me.

Thank you Lord, for turning me back to You and Your way.


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Pill Bugs

Scripture for Today: Psalm 17:17 “Show me the wonders of Your great love, You who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes.”

I thought I was just sweeping up dirt on my patio.  But when the dirt started fleeing the pile I knew differently!  The pill bug is the common name for a variety of wood lice called, “Armadillidum vulgare.”  As a child I liked calling them , “roly polies” as they would roll up into a ball when I mishandled them.  Their shells look like armor but it is because of their segmented bodies that they can roll up into a ball to protect themselves.

Today’s verse is a cry for help as David’s enemies had tracked him down, surrounded him and were trying to destroy him.  He calls out to the Lord, recognizing that God’s powerful right hand is his best protection.  As David had already experienced when confronting Goliath, he could not trust in the armor offered him (I Sam. 17:38-39).  His trust was in the power and love of God.  That was his refuge from where God would demonstrate His power to save.  God answered his prayer, not only for protection but for vindication! (verse 2 & 15).

Rolling up into a ball at the first sign of trouble is my natural inclination.  When going through something difficult I tend to go quiet, push people away and isolate myself.  But the Lord wants to be my refuge in time of trouble (Ps. 59:16).  He never intends for me to go it alone.  I need to run to Him to show me the wonders of His great love and reassure me.  His refuge is strong like a rock but as soft as the downy underside of a bird’s wings.

Thank you Lord, for being my sure and constant refuge.


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The Serval

Scripture for Today: Psalm 62:11-12 “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that You, O God, are strong, and that You, O Lord, are loving. Surely You will reward each person according to what he has done.”

This cat is all ears!  The serval is a wild African cat believed to be the ancient ancestor of the cheetah.  Their ears are the largest of any cat. They live in tall grass and are not as likely to see their small prey.  So their ears are huge to hear what they cannot see.  The ears of a serval are so sensitive they can recognize sounds made by animals moving in their underground tunnels!  But it was for their grace and strength that the ancient Egyptians worshiped them.

Today’s verse was written by David, a very wealthy and powerful king.  His ears were attuned to God’s Word.  Rather than trust in his own strength and riches, David acknowledges that only God has real power.  David had been listening to many things God had spoken to him personally, but these two truths kept him in an attitude of trust.  Not only does God have all the power but it is used to fight for and protect those He loves.

I need to be listening for these same truths.  Unwittingly, I put God in a box with my thinking, forgetting just how formidable He is.  I need to remember that He is all powerful and nothing escapes His perfect justice.  But how thankful I am that His power is coupled with His love!  His sacrificial love has made a way for me to escape the punishment my sins deserve.  Nothing and no one can prevail against me or separate me from this incredible love  (Romans 8:38-39).

Lord, help me hear Your reassurances of power and love today!