Devotions By Jan


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Bewitched!

Scripture for Today: Galatians 3:1 “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.”

With just eight seasons, the Bewitched show has become an icon of television history! We have the privilege of knowing the Murphy twins, Diane and Erin, who played the role of Tabitha. This show, running from 1964 to 1972 made the top 20 in its first five seasons. Its declining popularity toward the end of its run is sometimes blamed on the unexplained and sudden switch of the character, Darrin. There is even a term used to reference an unpopular switch; “the Darrin Syndrome.”

Today’s verse uses the term,” bewitched” to describe the switch the Galatians had made. They were bewitched or fooled into switching from the Gospel of grace to a system of works. A group of legalistic Judaizers convinced this group of converted Gentiles that the death of Christ was not sufficient. They believed that certain ceremonial laws of the Old Testament were still binding. They were adding works to the Gospel of grace. Paul reminds the Galatians that observing the Law did not earn them the Holy Spirit or right standing with God. Faith in Christ’s sacrifice is what was essential.

It is so easy to be “bewitched” today. How many religions fool their adherents to believe that it is through our own efforts that we are saved or can please God? Why switch to a never-ending treadmill of works that does not erase my sense of guilt? I am never good enough. There is always more I should be doing. I am so thankful for His grace.  God’s standard of righteousness was fully met in my Savior and the debt of my sin has been fully paid!

Thank you Lord, that You paid it all and there is nothing more to add!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2016)


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Pennies

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

I am one of those rare people who still bend down to pick up a lost penny, bad or not! The phrase, “a bad penny always turns up,” was coined in the mid eighteenth century. Pennies used to be more valuable and because they were easily counterfeited, the “bad ones” would continually circulate, turning up in a pocket or purse. “Turning up like a bad penny,” came to mean someone or something unwanted, turning up repeatedly and unexpectedly.

Today’s verse reassures the believer that God’s forgiveness of sin is complete. He chooses to no longer remember our sins. Because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice for sin, the penalty has been paid and God’s justice is satisfied.  Those sins are blotted out forever. When He forgives, He does not bring it up again. But like a bad penny, the thought of them for the believer can turn up at the most unwanted and inopportune times. Thankfully, that is never the case for the Lord. Of course, He is all knowing and so forgets nothing. But the idea is that He does not call it to mind with censor and judgement.

I would love to be able to “remember my sins no longer.” But the memories remain. Thankfully, God’s Word is full of reassurances of unconditional love and complete pardon. The Lord graciously softens and blurs memories of past failures. If guilty memories occasionally do reappear, He is there to build me back up. If nothing else, those remembrances can serve to remind me that I am not perfect, but His forgiveness is!

Thank you Lord, that Your grace chooses not to remember what is forgiven!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018)


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Naked Coral Tree

Scripture for Today:  Revelation 3:17 “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

Did you know that the Coral Tree is the city tree of Los Angeles? Neither did I! This tree grows all over Southern California and its bright blossoms are breathtaking! The name of its genus is Erythrina, a word derived from Greek meaning, “red.” There are 130 species in its family with many shades of red flowers ranging from orangey-tomato to deep scarlet. The Naked Coral Tree is the one whose flowers blossom well before the leaves appear, thus the name!

Today’s verse talks about a nakedness that is spiritual. What is so sad is that the person described does not realize his nakedness, nor his poverty or blindness. Being wealthy has caused this person to feel self-sufficient and not in need of anything. But Christ proposes a remedy. Along with salve for the eyes to restore spiritual sight and true eternal riches, Christ gives us white clothes to cover our nakedness (verse 18). Those white clothes are a symbol of His righteousness obtained for us.

How does the Lord see me? I may stand proud and colorful like the naked coral tree, but in fact, I am poor, blind and naked without the Lord. My pride keeps me from realizing my need. And instead of answering His knock (verse 20) I mistakenly think I am just fine on my own. I need to let go of of my pride and denial so I can open the door to His knock. I am so grateful that He waits there, ready to forgive and begin anew an amazing love relationship!

Lord, may I always realize my need and open the door to You.


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UFO Clouds

Scripture for Today: Nahum 1:3 “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.”

Omnisource5, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What a bizarre shape for a cloud! This lens or saucer look reminds me of a UFO. The lenticular cloud, as it is called, can seem motionless and stable. But in fact, it is made up of very unstable air. Instead of moving horizontally across the ground, this cloud when disturbed by the wind, will move vertically and even accelerate!

Today’s verse describes clouds as the dust of God’s feet. This poetic description of God’s power is part of a warning against the city of Nineveh. Our God is a jealous and avenging God (verse 2). Mountains quake and hills melt away before their Creator (verse 5). But the people of Nineveh disregarded God’s righteous wrath against their wickedness. That is until they heeded Jonah’s message and repented. This same righteous and powerful God is a refuge in times of trouble and cares for those who trust Him (Verses 7-8).

What kind of God would He be if He did not punish the wicked? His absolute holiness demands it. But thinking on His wrath is not a comfortable subject. Thankfully, in His incredible mercy, He made a way for me by placing all my guilt on His Son. God’s righteousness was satisfied in Christ’s sacrifice for me. Yes, His judgement and wrath are to be feared. But at the same time, His mercy and grace are my refuge! He is slow to anger, not willing that any perish and enter eternity without Him (II Peter 3:9).

Thank you Lord, for Your power, justice AND mercy.


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Artisan Soap

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:25-26  “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the Word,”

I love going to our open market in Guebwiller, France and smelling the homemade soaps for sale! There is such variety it is difficult to choose. My favorite is lavender because I like to think its fragrance is soothing. But there are all kinds available, including lemon verbena, almond, honey and so many more. Some are made with olive oil, others with shea butter. There are soaps that have crushed flowers or herbs in them. But one thing they all have in common is that they make one clean, even the black soap!

Today’s verse describes how Christ sets apart and cleanses those who are part of His church, also called His Bride. His goal is to create in us glorious splendor! One day we will be holy and faultless, without spot or wrinkle. This soapy cleaning process starts with His sacrifice on the cross. The believer is washed in His blood and his sins are forgiven forever. Those who come to Christ in faith are washed whiter than snow and it is all His doing. 

I have had my bath but my feet still get dirty (John 13:1-10). That is when I need “spiritual soap.” And that cleansing comes from God’s Word. The Lord uses His Word to signal to me what needs to be put right in my life. It does not happen every time, but very often. When I am in His Word I am motivated to to obey Him. He uses the written Word to speak to me and our relationship becomes closer. I come away from these encounters squeaky clean and smelling good!

Thank you Lord, that one day, soap will no longer be needed!