Devotions By Jan


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New in Twenty-Two!

Scripture For Today: Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

As we begin this new year I cannot help but think of the song written by Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Certainly, the world has swiftly changed these past few years, proving true what Plato said, “All is flux, nothing stays still.” What is considered “normal” has changed. Social expectations have changed. We have changed. And as we look to the new year it can be with some trepidation about what may change next! How will the next changes impact our lives? What if I don’t want to change?

Today’s verse is an enormous comfort. Yes, change can be adventurous and an opportunity for growth. But it almost always comes with some discomfort. However, Jesus Christ does not change. Being perfect, there is no need for any improvements. The power He had is still His. The control over nature He demonstrated is still viable. He continues to be what He always has been; faithful and true, compassionate, good and loving. And because He does not change, His Word remains. He is the solid Rock, a foundation that can weather any wave of change.

In a world that seems to shift almost daily its norms, priorities and focus, I can stand firm. He has never failed me despite major changes in my life; career changes, losing family members, gaining family members, 17 moves and more! My world changes but He does not and continues to be everything I need to face an unknown future. I can look forward to this new year as I have all the rest, with confidence that the Lord is already there, warm, loving and familiar!

Thank you Lord, that You never will change and I can always count on You.


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Home for the Holidays?

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:8 “We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

I love the carol, “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays.” Much of my decorating for Christmas is done in the hopes of making my house seem more “homey.” The right ambiance and the painstaking emphasis on feeling tones are all done with the hopes of creating a sense of HOME. But of course, the important element is the people there to enjoy it! Everything can be in its place. The decorations can be perfect. The right carols can be playing and the air filled with wonderful scents of cinnamon. But without loved ones there, it all falls flat.

Today’s verse expresses Paul’s preference to be “home with the Lord” rather than at home in his body. Even if conditions on this earth were perfect, there would always be a sense that we are not home yet. Paul believed that being home with the Lord is far better than living here on earth. That’s because to be home is to be with Him. HE Himself is our “home.”

There are family and friends of mine already with the Lord. I miss them. But they are home. What is more, they are home for the holidays, in their true home. The holidays they are enjoying far outshine what we can do to celebrate here on earth.  No budget, no tiredness, no dashed expectations, no overindulgence! Those in Heaven have no trouble keeping Jesus front and center! It is true, there is no place like home for the holidays. How much more this is true for our eternal home!

May Christ be my “home” during this holiday and every day!


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Anchorman

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 18b-19a “…we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

capital 21 chanel, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The word, “anchorman” used to mean the last man of a tug-of-war team or one who runs last in a relay race. Now, it means a host for a television program. A recent promotional for a major news program goes further by describing their anchorman as someone who calms and steadies when emotions are high, fears overwhelm and we are at a tipping point!

Today’s verse describes an anchor that does much more! This is an anchor for the soul that is firm and secure. Our anchor is our hope and it will not change or move. We as believers are encouraged when we take hold of this anchor of hope set before us. We hope in the unchanging and sure promises of the Lord and His Word. We have an anchor that calms and steadies regardless of the turbulent circumstances that engulf us! Nothing is as sure and reliable as this anchor.

It is almost comical to think of a newscaster being someone who can calm and steady us! Often when I see the news, my experience is just the opposite. But my heart is steady and calm in reminding myself of God’s precious promises and control. World events will not overwhelm. Circumstances do not shake my faith. It is not that my faith is so strong, but the One in whom it is placed is all-powerful! He has promised. With my eyes always on Him and His promises, I will not be shaken (Ps. 16:8).

Thank you Lord, that my hope in You anchors me.

REMINDER: my blog posts now appear just once a week on MONDAYS! Please feel to peruse the archived blogs on the right of the screen for more.


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Tree of Life

Scripture for Today: Genesis 2:9 “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

In buying this Tree of Life on turquoise-like stone, I was not aware of all its symbolism! I just liked it because it was pretty. Since then I learned that the tree of life is a mystical symbol linked to religion, philosophy and spirituality. For some, it is a picture of how everything in life is connected. For others it stands for personal growth, beauty, and strength.

Today’s verse reveals the original and best meaning of the tree of life. As with all of creation, its source was the Creator. This tree was a beautiful fruit-bearing tree found in the center of the garden of Eden. Unlike the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam was free to eat from this tree. But after the Fall, the way back to the tree was barred (Gen. 3:22-24) as it would lead to an eternal life in man’s pitiful fallen state.

What happened to this tree? The tree of life is now shaped as a cross! Eternal life is mine when I place my trust in Christ’s sacrifice for my sin! Those who have the Son have eternal life (John 3:36). But the tree of life not only reminds me of the garden and the cross, but it also turns my attention to the future I have in Heaven. The tree of life reappears there and I will one day eat of its fruit and experience an abundant life that will last forever! (Rev. 2:7)

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible gift of life!


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Sweet Pea

Scripture for Today: John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

This unassuming flower was offered as a thank you to our hostess. Their strong fragrance of honey, orange and jasmine are as pleasing as their colorful delicate petals. The poet, Keats, is thought to be the first to use the name, Sweet Pea. It was very popular in the 1800’s and it has come to symbolize many lofty ideas including; chastity, strength, truth, and gratitude. But what surprised me most was its association with goodbyes.

In today’s verse, Jesus is preparing His disciples for the coming goodbye. He tells them that He is leaving to go to the Father. But He does not want their hearts to be troubled with this goodbye (verse 1). He reassures them that the Holy Spirit will be coming to live within them (verse 17) and they will not be left as orphans (verse 18). And this goodbye is only temporary as He will be coming back and there will never again be a separation.

What an incredible comfort this is! My relationship with the Lover of my soul need never be interrupted. With His Spirit He is always present. But for those human relationships, goodbyes can be so painful. In moving so often I have had to experience many. And of course, the most painful are the ones that are forever. But one day, there will be no more goodbyes. That is one word that will have no place in the heavenly vocabulary! There will be some incredible reunions as well as new friendships. They will be so much sweeter without that pain of separation.

Thank you Lord, that in Your home there will be no more goodbyes!