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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Sand Dollar Invasion!

Scripture for Today: John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”

Rachel Hathaway https://www.flickr.com/photos/rachelhathaway/4945569932

If you want to get rich quick, thousands of sand dollars are right now littering the southern edges of Seaside Beach on the Oregon coast! They are washing up alive on the afternoon high tides and getting stranded. If thrown back in, the ocean just plops them back up on the sand. And the longer they are outside their intertidal zone, the more unlikely their survival. That zone is found above the water level at low tide and underwater at high tide.

Today’s verse is part of the prayer Jesus prays for His disciples and for all those who will believe their message (verse 20). He asks that they be protected from the evil one even though they are in a world where he is active (John 12:31). Believers are part of this world but not of this world (verses 14 & 16). We are part of God’s Kingdom and are no longer in a kingdom of darkness (Col. 1:13). Loving the world and adopting its values is incompatible with loving the Father (I John 2:15).

When I identify too closely with the world’s ideas of what is important, it is as if I am no longer in those intertidal waters where I can thrive. Yes, I am part of this world but I need to be nourished by the environment He has chosen to strengthen me. His Word keeps my values unworldly. Being encouraged by His people keeps me on track. I do not belong up on the sand where I dry out and shrivel. I do not want the world to pull me away from my love for Him.

Lord, keep me close 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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Our Training Wheels

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 4:7 “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourselves to be godly.”

This sweet little girl looks a bit unsure of herself, even though she uses training wheels. She glances behind her to make sure her mom stays close. I can still remember learning to ride a simple bike with those all-important training wheels. The first time I tried riding without them was a wobbly milestone moment! Mom had to be close enough to grab me in case I fell or I would not have attempted it!

Today’s verse reveals that to be godly takes training. Paul was addressing the false Gnostic ideas that condemned marriage and certain foods. Perhaps this group thought such heresies would give them a shortcut to godliness. But godliness, or conduct that honors God, can only come through knowledge of the Truth (Titus 1:1) The Lord has already provided everything needed for the believer to live a life of godliness through our knowledge of Him (II Peter 1:3). But there is no shortcut to studying the Scriptures, which give us our training in righteousness (II Tim. 3:16).

The training never stops. Those small helpful wheels never come off! I can never come to the end of knowing Him. There will always be more to learn and more changes to make in my behavior. I may make progress but I will always need Him, His wisdom and His strength to avoid falling over! I need to be continually in His Word to exemplify any godliness in my life. In studying His Word I grow closer to Him and He keeps me balanced. His Word shows me how beautiful He is! And His Word shows me how to live a beautiful godly life that honors Him.

Help me Lord, to live in a way that honors You.


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Sweet Kisses

Scripture for Today: Psalm 85:10 “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”

Something like the chocolate kiss was first produced by Henry Oscar Wilbur in 1894 and called the “Wilbur Bud.” But it was Milton Hershey who made this chocolate drop into a sweet kiss thirteen years later. Hershey was a master at marketing and packaging the kiss. But perhaps its amazing success and longevity is due in part to its name, trademarked in 2000. There is debate on how it became known as a “kiss.” Perhaps it came from the kissing sound made from the nozzle dispensing the chocolate on to the conveyor belt.

Today’s verse brings righteousness and peace together in a kiss. Righteousness and peace are often mentioned together in Scripture. Peace is in fact the result or fruit of righteousness (Isaiah 32:17). The Kingdom of God is characterized by righteousness and peace (Romans 14:17). And peace, as well as faith and love, belong to those who pursue righteousness (II Tim. 2:22). Righteousness or right standing with God is essential to having peace with God and in turn with others. He is the Source and our only hope of true lasting peace.

There is no peace in my heart when I am ignoring the Source or actively rebelling against what He wants. But when I do pay attention to His commands, I feel His peace flood my heart like a river (Isaiah 48:18). Yes, righteousness and peace are not only kissing but locked together in a firm embrace. I cannot have one without the other, try as I might. But His peace is worth pursuing by staying in right relationship with Him. And one day, sin and ugliness will no longer interrupt this peace!

Lord, may I feel Your peace today.