Devotions By Jan


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Encouraging Sign

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

This added homemade sign in Scotland says, “Keep right on to the end of the road.”  These are lyrics from a traditional Scottish song which goes on to say, “though the way be long, let your heart be strong.”  There is good reason to continue on.  This road leads to Kirkton Manor, an historic stone manor built into a wall.  Even the three-acre-country gardens there make the trip well worth the effort!

Today’s verse tells us to encourage each other by reminders of who we are and what is ahead.  In the middle of dark times we are children of the light and of the day (verse 5).  We have the hope of our salvation (verse 8) and we have an incredible future ahead in living together with Him! (verse 10)  It is these truths which encourage us to keep plodding on.  There will be an end to what we are facing.  There will be a destination that makes every heartache and trial worth it.

I do not like having disruptions to my routine or being inconvenienced in any way.  My comfort is way too important to me.  What small trials I face in comparison to those who are imprisoned for their faith!  But I can be encouraged that in the face of any unknown earthly future, I can choose to focus on the heavenly one!  I have no control over the current self quarantine that is being imposed.  But there is an end in sight.  There will be a point where I reach my destination.  And though the way may seem long, it is the Lord who keeps my heart strong!

Lord, encourage me and make me an encouragement to others.

Photo © Jim Barton (cc-by-sa/2.0)


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Through the Ages

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 15:54 “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true; ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.'”

This image from the Imagerie d’Epinal, France hangs on our wall.  For me it brings back memories of our tour of the ancient time-honored printing process.  This image was done by François George in 1826 and depicts the stages of life.  Each stair step corresponds to an age of life from birth to death.  The first fifty climb the steps but after that it is all downhill!  Under the stairway is the supernatural showing both eternal destinations.

Today’s verse reminds us that the bodies we have are perishable and mortal.  But they will not always be so!  One day, believers will be clothed with another kind of body, one that will never perish and will be immortal!  Death that for now seems to have the upper hand, will one day be forever defeated.  Death will be swallowed up in victory! (Isaiah 25:8)  The sting of death will no longer be felt (verse 55).  It is for this reason that we can stand firm in our faith and give ourselves fully to God (verse 58).

It does not matter where I am on that staircase.  Whatever age I am and whatever my body is doing in its slow downward progression, I have hope of an amazing future!  He has promised me an eternity with Him and the best is still ahead of me.  Because of what Christ did on the cross, death and evil do not win.  No despair can erase this truth.  No tragedy nullifies my hope.  In Christ alone, there is “No guilt in life, no fear in death; This is the power of Christ in me.”

Thank you Lord, for Your promise!


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Chinese New Year

Scripture for Today: Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Happy Chinese New Year!  Being that my husband is half Chinese, we enjoy getting together with family and delighting in all the special foods.  The Chinese Lunar calendar sets the beginning of months based on the new moon.  According to the Chinese zodiac of twelve animals, this is the year of the rat.  Because it is associated with the hour before and after midnight, the rat in particular stands for new beginnings.

Today’s verse is my favorite one when thinking about beginning again.  Because of the Lord’s great love for us, we can experience new beginnings, not only with the new year but with each new morning!  He is faithful to renew His compassion for us each and every new day.  He never fails us and this is why we can have hope (verse 21).  We can be assured that the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him (verse 25).  His compassion faithfully expresses itself every morning of every day.

On waking in the morning, I have the sure hope of His goodness, His love and His compassion for me.  The fact that I even woke up is a grace from Him!  And I will never exhaust His endless eternal supply of compassion.  This means a second chance with each new day!  What other love can promise that?  His love reaches to the heavens and His faithfulness to the skies! (Psalm 36:5)  Just as each day is new, so is His compassion new and not just leftovers from the previous day nor a simple continuation.  Every morning He knows just what I am feeling and facing that day.

Thank you Lord, for Your deep compassion for me.


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Watch and Wait

Scripture for Today: Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.”

Have you ever seen a cat watch and wait for his prey?  The total concentration is surprising as they lay in wait.  Every muscle is tensed and the pupils are wide in anticipation.  The patient focus of a determined cat is amazing!  Our cat, Tiger, used to spend much of his time in the yard crouched in readiness.  And often, just before he pounced his whole back end would quiver in excitement!

Today’s verse is a statement of faith and trust of the one who cries out to the Lord for mercy.  Faith is most evident when there is waiting involved for a response.  And when we wait it is with our whole being, putting our hope in His sure and infallible Word.  We wait for the Lord to act more than the wait of the watchmen (verse 6).  They guard a sleepy city by watching and peering into the distance as they wait for the morning.  Our wait will not last forever.  As morning comes for the watchmen ending their shift, so we will eventually see His Word fulfilled!

I have been watching and waiting for a response to a particular prayer request for thirteen years!  My morning has come with His incredible answer!  I could wait with hope because of His unfailing love and His full redemption (verse 7).  But there remains more reasons to watch and wait with unfulfilled promises in my life.  I am encouraged though to persevere having seen Him respond!  One day there will be no more watching and waiting.  One day, there will be no more need to hope as every hope will be realized in His presence!

Lord, thank you that I can wait with hope.


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“I Have a Dream…”

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:24-25 “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

It was on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 that Martin Luther King Junior spoke words of hope in his “I Have a Dream” speech.  Six times he repeated the words, “I have a dream that one day…”  King dreamed of racial equality, brotherhood, freedom and justice, not being judged by the color of one’s skin, and the joining of hands as brothers and sisters.  The world has changed since those days, and although there has been some progress, much of what he dreamed remains unfulfilled.

Today’s verse talks about hope.  But unlike the hopes and dreams of King, this is a hope that saves.  It is a hope that has to do with full and complete redemption (verse 23).  It is a hope that is sure because the object of that hope is Christ Himself.  What He has promised is something that is sure.  The word, “hope,” in Scripture denotes confident expectation of what is sure to come.  And hope means waiting patiently for the fulfillment of His promises.

There are many promises in my life that are yet to come.  The Lord wants to shower His goodness on me when I wait quietly and with confidence.  The Lord is especially good to me as I earnestly seek His face in those hard times of waiting (Lamentations 3:25-26).  My hope in Him is never disappointed as He can be counted on to be true to His Word.

Lord, thank you for the sure hope I have in You!  Help me to wait patiently for all the good that You have promised.


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Old or New?

Scripture for Today:  Colossians 3:9-10  “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

I loved living in France and seeing the old next to the new.  Side by side the old looks older and the new looks newer.  Pictured here is the beautiful Louvre in Paris, built in the late 12th century.  The pyramid looks much more modern and new having been built in 1989.  For me the contrast is striking!  But in fact, the pyramid has started to show signs of aging as well and the French government has had to do some renovations to keep it looking new.

Today’s verse talks about the old and the new for the believer.  We have both going on at the same time.  Although we are a new creature in Christ (II Cor. 5:17) the old self is still hanging around.  As long as we live on this earth in the flesh, we will always need the reminder in these verses to “lay aside” or “put off” that old self.  And as for our new self, we can count on a continual renewal.  Our new spiritual selves are continually being renewed by Christ Himself though His Word.

As I look towards this new year, I can be confident that my new self is being restored and renewed by Him.  Every time I lay aside that old self, I am cooperating with Christ’s renewal in me.  Every time I choose to obey Him rather than having my own way, He is bringing me closer to His image.  Slowly, He is renewing and transforming me to be more like Him!

Thank you Lord, for Your patient steady work in me!


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A French Medal

Scripture for Today:  Romans 15:4  “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

This French medal is awarded by the “Société Nationale d’Encouragement Au Bien.”  The goal of this group, founded in 1862, is to encourage acts of dedication and courage to society.  Their premise is that we all need encouragement and hope.  And because society needs good examples, recognizing an individual’s acts of service will be an encouragement for others.

Today’s verse gives us another source of encouragement; Scripture.  We need its encouragement to hold on to our hope.  We need the encouragement of Scripture to endure.  His Word teaches us of His faithfulness and love.  In reading of how He has come through for others, we ourselves can take heart.  His promises reassure and His intimate knowledge of our struggles calms our doubts and fears.  His Word gives us hope in what is certain, true and unchangeable.  His Word motivates us to persevere when we are tempted to give up.

My spirit sometimes lags.  I get discouraged waiting for that answer to prayer or His promise to be fulfilled.  But God’s Word is so much more than a pep talk.  His Word is a love letter where the Lord reveals His heart as well as His plan for me.  He so often points me to just the right passage to encourage me when I am down.  He speaks to me through His Word when I am tired and weighed down.  He knows just what I am feeling.  Nothing in this world can give me the same kind of encouragement to hope that God’s Word does.

Thank you Lord, that Your Word lifts my heart with hope.