Devotions By Jan


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Widow’s Walk

Scripture for Today: Mark 13:35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.”

While visiting our daughter in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts, I have seen a number of these widow’s walks perched on the top of older homes, facing the water.  These structures are also called widow’s watch, roofwalk, or Captain’s walk.  In former times the men would leave for years at a time working aboard ships at sea.  The wives would use this viewing platform to scan the horizon, waiting for their mens’ return.  Unfortunately, some men lost their lives at sea and never came home.

Today’s verse comes from a parable recounted by Jesus.  We are like the servants of a house, not knowing when the owner will return.  But there is no question that he will return.  We are told to be alert and to be watching (verse 33) and not to fall asleep (verse 37).  The Lord Jesus will one day return and those who belong to Him are to be expecting Him.  No one knows the hour except the Father, not even His angels (verse 32).

To be honest, I do not often think about Jesus returning.  But when I do, it makes a difference to how I live.  I shudder to think of Him returning at a moment of disobedience on my  part.  When He returns I want to be ready.  That readiness is not found in trying to figure out the timing or in being the first to spot Him.  Being ready is a daily decision to please Him in all I do.

Lord, help me be that good and faithful servant, looking for Your return.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Cloudy Days

Scripture for Today: Matthew 26:64  “You have said so, Jesus replied.  But I say to all of you: from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Being from southern California, I am not such a fan of clouds.  Little puffy white ones can be pretty if they do not block the sun.  But when they grow grey and menacing and the sun is hidden, my mood is usually affected.  I remember when we lived in Grenoble at the base of the Alps.  We would drive up the mountains on a cloudy grey day and be thrilled to find ourselves above the clouds and in the brilliant sunshine!

Today’s verse tells us that Jesus will one day come with the clouds, so I am starting to change my mind about them! When Jesus ascended into heaven, a cloud received Him and took Him away.  Two angels explained that Christ would return in the same way (Acts 1:9-11).  And one day believers will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (I Thes. 4:17).  One day every eye will see Him coming with the clouds (Rev. 1:7).

So clouds are a good thing as they could possibly be the signal that today is the day of His return!  What a great reminder that He is coming soon!  But regardless of the weather, I want to be ready for His return.  Frankly, I am not always thinking about it.  But expecting His return sure makes a difference to how I live.  I want my life to please Him.  When I see those clouds overhead, I want to say with firm conviction, “Maranatha, the Lord is coming!

Come, Lord Jesus!  Come quickly!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Fading Flowers

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades but the Word of our God shall stand forever.”

Flowers that fade are not uncommon.  It can happen when there is too much exposure to sun and heat.  A once vibrant color can fade after being pollinated, no longer needing its suitors.  But the flower can also fade from stress after being transplanted.  Flowers growing from bulbs, such as the daffodil, fade with age.  The hydrangeas in my garden in France would fade being sensitive to the acidity of the soil.  The writer, Robert Bridges, used this image of fading flowers to describe diminishing love.

Today’s verse uses the grass that withers and the flower that fades to illustrate how brief and temporary life is.  The green grass can spring up overnight after a good rain and blanket a hillside.  And just as quickly, the grass can wither in an unrelenting sun.  The flower can enjoy a stunning burst of color, but eventually fades.  What a contrast to God’s Word that never withers and never fades!  It is always true and never changing.

God’s Word is living and enduring, making my life full of vibrant color (I Peter 1:23).  Through His Word He has put in me seed that never dies.  In a winter of bare trees and dry grass, I know that in the spiritual realm it is always spring!  His Word refreshes and strengthens me (Ps. 119:28).  Nothing can ever happen to make it untrue, unreliable or irrelevant.  What God says brings me comfort and hope in the most dire situations.  His promises keep me strong and His reassurances give me courage.  I cannot even imagine life without His precious Word to help me live it!

Lord, keep me faithfully reading Your Word.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Mud Bath

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Although these majestic creatures are so huge and ugly, I am saddened to think that they soon could be extinct.  The horn of the rhinoceros, because of its purported medicinal properties, make them a target for poachers.  When the rhino is not foraging or resting in the shade of a tree, he can be found wallowing in the mud.  The mud cools them down in a hot climate and it also protects them from insects.  The mud works as a sun block as well.

Today’s verse gives a different view of mud.  Along with the mire it is a slippery place for human feet.  David cried out to the Lord when he found himself figuratively in that slimy pit.  There was no way out and the Lord did not respond immediately.  David waited patiently ( verse 1).  In that time of waiting he did not turn to the proud or to false gods for help (verse 4).  David continued to trust while waiting.  And he praises the Lord for lifting him out of the mess and giving him a firm stable place to stand.

It often feels as if the Lord does not immediately come when I cry to Him.  He sometimes asks me to wait as well.  Of course He hears me cry to Him.  He sees my predicament and He cares.  But He also wants my faith and trust in Him to grow and strengthen.  So many times it is in the waiting that this happens.  And His delay means that others see and can praise Him with me when rescue comes! (verse 3)

Lord, help me wait with patience.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Pizza Dough

Scripture for Today: II Cor. 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

It all seems a bit complicated.  After punching down the rising pizza dough and kneading it, the dough is further manhandled by throwing it up in the air!  It looks like an art designed to impress the onlooker.  But in fact, this process of spinning it in the air creates the round shape and allows just enough airflow for easier handling.  With this method, the dough retains more moisture making the crust softer.

In today’s verse, Paul is recounting some of the hardships he and Timothy had faced.  At the beginning of the chapter and at the end, he says, “We do not lose heart.”  It would have been completely understandable if they had!  Paul had been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned and imprisoned for his faith.  Being perplexed, he perhaps did not always understand the “why” behind what was happening.  Yet, he remained confident that the pulling and stretching was producing something of value, forming the likeness of Jesus  in him (verse 10).

When I am faced with hard times, I often feel perplexed.  I usually cannot explain why the Lord allows certain difficulties in my life.  But He promises that all the pulling and stretching will be producing a “weight of glory” one day (II Cor. 4:17).  All that is painful or devestating is only a “light affliction” compared to what lies ahead.  I can be confident that even when panicked and confused, He is in control and His control is good.  How good of Him to reassure me!

Thank you Lord, that You use it all to make me more like You.  Help me not to lose heart.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Aurora Borealis

Scripture for Today: Psalm 65:8 “The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, You call forth songs of joy.”

These light shows are eerie and breathtaking!  I have seen them in the countryside of Vermont and from the airplane window flying over Iceland.  These bright dancing lights are most often pale green and pink, although they have also lit the skies in shades of red, yellow, blue and violet.  They can take the form of clouds, patches, arcs and shooting rays.  But what I find most impressive are the rippling curtains they sometimes form!  I understand that they can be explained away as gaseous particles from the earth colliding with charged particles from the sun.  But that does not lessen the awe I feel when seeing this creative wonder of our God.

Today’s verse tells us that the whole earth is filled with awe at His wonders.  From the mountains He has formed to the stilling of the roaring seas, He answers us with His awesome and righteous deeds. (verses 5-7)  And because we see His incredible creative power in nature, we have hope.  He not only stills the roaring waves but also stills the turmoil of nations (vs. 7).  He stills the turmoil in our hearts as well, calling forth “songs of joy” where there were none.

Seeing the light of the Aurora Borealis or the beautiful light of a sunset reminds me that Jesus is Light as well (John 8:12).  His light dispels the darkness and gloom that can gather in my heart when faced with an impossible situation.  His power has no limits.  He can heal my heart when overwhelmed with crushing emotion.  He can bring back the joy when I turn to Him and trust His power.

Thank you Lord, that for You nothing is impossible!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Fulfillment Centers

Scripture for Today: Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The Amazon distribution warehouses are called, “Fulfillment Centers.”  There are over eighty of these enormous centers worldwide.  Some of them are as large as twenty eight football fields!  During their last cyber Monday, 426 orders a second came in!  The employees pick, pack and ship with the help of robotic carts, conveyor belts, and automatic sorting systems.  One can even take tours as it is truly a sight to behold!  However, I am not sure about it being the fulfillment of all my hopes and dreams!

Today’s verse talks about being filled to the point of overflowing.  Rather than being momentarily fulfilled with the arrival of that package at the door, this verse tells us we can be filled with something much more long lasting; joy, peace and hope.  This filling comes from the God of hope and it happens when we trust Him completely.  The fulfillment He offers reaches every nook and cranny of our being.  We are not left wanting as He makes it possible to be totally satisfied as we trust Him.

I know when I am on empty.  When hope, joy and peace are just flowery words and not a reality it means I am not in a place of trust.  Or when I am filled with worry and fear, there is no place for them.  But when I turn back to Him, He is ready to fill me with Himself.  He is hope.  He is joy.  He is peace.  He embodies each of these qualities that fulfill me and make life worth living.

Lord, fill me with Yourself today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.