Devotions By Jan


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Rest Stop

Scripture for Today: Mark 6:31 “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat. he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place to get some rest.”

photo by Wayne S. Grazio https://www.flickr.com/photos/fotograzio/40216062413

I guess it only makes sense that seagulls would need rest stops too! These birds had been flying from the coast to Lake Miramar in San Diego, looking for something to eat. This floating water barrier made for a perfect spot to rest up, face the sun and soak in some rays before continuing their quest.

Today’s verse has Jesus showing love and concern for the well-being of His disciples. They finished their report to Him of all they had just done and taught (verse 30). Jesus must have seen the weariness etched in their faces. Perhaps their posture gave away their tiredness as well. People were coming and going and meeting the needs of others gave the disciples no chance to even eat! Their immediate need was rest, so they went away by themselves with Him to a solitary place (verse 32).

The Lord knows when I need rest. And the kind He offers is timely and meets my needs, whether I recognize them or not! The disciples needed physical rest, but also social rest, away from people. Sometimes the rest He gives me means to retreat from people as well. Rest can mean a quiet place when our senses are overwhelmed with noise. Or His rest can be while I continue working. Yoked with Him and His power, the load can be lighter (Matt. 11:28-29). But the best rest He gives me is that settled peaceful feeling in the depths of my soul.

Thank you Lord, for Your perfect rest.


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Is It Over??

Scripture for Today: Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance. kindness, goodness, faithfulness. gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Another Christmas in the books. That warm fuzzy feeling of “goodwill toward men,” unfortunately seems to be over a bit too quickly. The extra attention given and received by family and friends has been wonderful and affirming. But now the tendency is back to business as usual. The routine and obligations of life reassert themselves and somehow the “love, joy and peace” of the season is forgotten. But it was for love that the Son of God came to earth. His coming means that peace is now possible between God and man. Could there ever be a more important reason for joy

These same words are part of today’s verse. Love joy and peace are just three of the nine aspects of the fruit of God’s Spirit living in the believer. These are to characterize the life of the one who follows Jesus.  The love I have for the Lord is to be extended to others all year long. The peace I enjoy as a result of my communion with Christ is the same peace that carries me throughout the year. And the joy that He gives in knowing my sins are forgiven is a joy that does not falter in the face of trouble.

The ornament pictured says to “believe Christmas.” It is a nice sentiment but the truth is that belief in the Christ of Christmas is what gives me love, joy and peace all the year long!

Thank you Lord, that though Christmas may be over, Your love, joy and peace are not!


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God Is With Us

Scripture for Today: Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).”

This image came from a site that provides greetings to friends and families, personalizing them with a name. Immanuel or Emmanuel is not a name I hear too much except in France. There, it is used for boys or for girls but with a different spelling. But in both cases it is often shortened to “Manu.” I cannot hear the name Immanuel without thinking of this verse and its meaning; God with us.

Today’s verse is part of the angel’s message to Joseph. Not only does it reassure Joseph, but the name Immanuel also ties in to a prophecy in Isaiah 7. The wicked King Ahaz was in a tight spot, his reign threatened by two kings. God sent Isaiah with God’s promise to deliver Israel both then and in the future. Despite Ahaz, Judah and David’s line would be preserved through the coming of the Messiah! Because “God is with us” Isaiah says to be careful, keep calm, do not be afraid and do not lose heart (verse 4).

What an amazing message is wrapped up in the name, Immanuel! Because God is with me, I can stay calm, despite what is happening around me or even to me! There is no reason to be fearful because God keeps His Word. He will never leave me or forsake me (Deut. 31:6) even when surrounded by enemies! He will never leave or forsake me when facing financial challenges (Heb. 13:5). His presence is constant so I do not lose heart. I may not understand what is happening but I understand that He is there and He loves me!

I love You, Immanuel.


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Sweet Cocoa

Scripture for Today:Psalm 34:8-9 “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.”

A dusting of this cocoa on a tiramisu is wonderful and tasty. But eating spoonfuls of it directly from the box is not so much. I am not proud of it but growing up, a friend and I decided we would play a trick on her two younger sisters. The package looked like it would deliver what they were expecting, especially with the picture. But you can guess their reaction when trying to swallow the stuff!

There is an invitation in today’s verse to taste and see how good the Lord is. Unlike unsweetened cocoa, He does not disappoint! His words are true and sweet, sweeter even than honey (Psalm 19:10). He is so good to His own, providing refuge and meeting every need! Making the Lord our hiding place gives us shelter from whatever storm surrounds us. When His children fear and obey Him, He pours out blessing. Those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing! (Ps. 34:10)

I do not need to “taste test” what the world has to offer. Nothing is as sweet and satisfying as His Words, especially the promises and declarations of His love. The empty philosophies of this world promise to be sweet but leave one with a very bitter aftertaste. His Words are faithful and true, never changing and the source of life! When I make His truth my refuge, I am in a good place. He satisfies so completely that I am never in want of anything that is truly good for me. I have tasted and He is good!

Thank you Lord, for being so good to me!


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The Oyster

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

It was during our visit to our son’s “Classe de Mer” in France that we and all the students were served freshly caught oysters as part of their dinner. My husband was thrilled but I and most of the children were not! To me it tasted pretty much like ocean water. The oyster is called a “filter feeder” and will filter up to twenty gallons of water a day in the wild. By filtering that water of algae, dirt and nitrogen pollution, they transform its clarity and quality.

In today’s verse we are to filter out what is evil and only allow in what is good. In that way our love for others is sincere. Calling something “love” that is tainted with self-interest is an insincere love, allowing evil to cloud it.  Recognizing sincere love can only happen when I filter out what the world defines as love. The love portrayed in novels and films can parade as real but when evil and disobedience to God’s standard are mixed in, it falls short and often leads to hurt and disappointment.

My love for someone is sincere only when it filters out what is evil and impure. This picture of sincere love has little resemblance to what is around me. I need to filter out impatience, selfishness, pride, envy and an unforgiving spirit.  For my love to be sincere, I need to cling to faithfulness, speaking truth and showing honor. God’s Word tells me how to view love. God’s Word tells me when love is sincere. Without His Word, I would not be able to discern what is truly good and what sincere love looks like!

Lord, make my love sincere and good today.