Devotions By Jan


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Pardons

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 55:7 “Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

There is nothing new about offering someone flowers as an apology! Perhaps the bigger the bouquet, the more heartfelt the apology. But if it were just one flower to say it all, then this Daylily may be the best choice! That is because its name is, Pardon Me! This cranberry-colored lily with a yellow center and ruffled edges is incredibly hardy. It can survive harsh conditions that other plants cannot and will tend to rebloom!

Today’s verse tells us that God will have mercy on the wicked and on the unrighteous. He promises to show mercy to those that forsake their ways and their thoughts, turning to Him for forgiveness. God does not just pardon but freely pardons! This is a gracious invitation to turn away from wicked ways and thoughts, and to turn towards a full and complete pardon He offers! There is no wrongdoing so grevious that He will not forgive! There is no thought so shockingly awful that He cannot freely pardon it.

What a comfort this verse is! No one is beyond the reach of His pardon. And this pardon covers my secret sinful thoughts that no one else knows about. The fact that some sins are hidden can sometimes keep me from realizing my guilt. Frankly, I would not want anyone to know my thoughts! But it is no problem that God sees it all because He pardons it all when I turn to Him! What an amazing gracious God we serve! Would that I pardon others as freely as He pardons me!

Thank You Lord, for Your pardon so freely given me!


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A Smiling Angel

Scripture for Today:  Luke 2:10-11 “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'”

Does it seem bizarre to think of an angel as smiling?  Unlike all the other angel sculptures on the facade of the cathedral in Rheims, France, this one does!  She has stood there smiling since the 13th century.  She continues to smile even though she was bombed in World War I and needed restoration.  Despite destruction and death, she remains a symbol of victory and joy.

Today’s verse was spoken by an angel to the shepherds in the field, announcing the birth of a Savior.  He announces this good news as “great joy.”  How could he not smile in delivering this message?  This is a joy that will be for all the people, in fact for all the world.  The carol, Joy To The World, captures clearly the reason for our joy; the story of our redemption.  This carol, attributed to Isaac Watts in 1719, is exuberant and victorious, ending with Christ’s triumphal return.

We sing Joy to the World as a Christmas carol but it was not written for that purpose as it is a song that celebrates the end of the story; Christ’s victory over sin and death.  And He is not only a Savior, but He is my personal Savior.  Despite the turmoil of this world around me, there is hope for a brighter tomorrow because of what He has done!  He gives me a deep joy, being confident of His plan.  One day He will “rule the world with truth and grace.”

Thank you Lord, for Your first coming, and for the one to come!


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Maine Lobster

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:17  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”

Does this Maine lobster have a new shell or an old shell?Apparently, there is quite a difference in the taste.  The lobster will moult and shed their shells to reveal a larger one underneath.  If you happen to eat one with a new shell, it will be sweeter and more flavorful than an old-shelled lobster.  As a lobster grows into their newly formed shell, there is a gap between the meat and the shell.  This gap is filled with seawater allowing it to marinate the meat.  The result is the sweetest and most tender meat!

Today’s verse teaches that the old can be changed into the new.  Such a profound and lasting change can only happen through the work of God’s Spirit.  The old way of thinking and behaving changes when one is “in Christ.”  A new desire to live for Him changes priorities and one’s direction.  In Christ there is power to change through His Spirit.  No longer is one stuck in a pattern of thinking and feeling.  Where once there was a resistant heart of stone, with forgiveness there is now a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

Despite all the books on self help out there, change on the inside cannot be addressed except by our Creator.  This is a monumental change from spiritual death to life!  Being spiritually dead means there was nothing I could do for myself.  All this is from God. (verse 18)  Being made new was the only way God could reconcile me to Himself through His Son.  And by being made new in Christ, I can change to sweet and tender!

Thank you Lord, that You make me new.


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Delicate Arch

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”

The Delicate Arch is one of the over 2,000 found in Arches National Park in Utah.  Other notable arches have names like Landscape Arch, Double Arch and Broken Arch.  Their odd formations are the result of centuries of erosion carving layer and layer of rock away.  They look like they could last forever with their impressive height, this one standing 46 feet tall.  But in fact, each arch is fated to one day fall as did the Wall Arch in 2008.

There is another Rock that will never fall or face erosion.  Today’s verse describes our God as a Rock.  His perfection will never change.  Everything He does is perfect and just.  Most of all, this Rock is faithful and can be counted on to always and forever be there, strong and solid.  He will never do wrong as He is upright and just.  He is THE Rock and there is no one like Him (Ps. 18:31).  Because He is my rock, “I will never be shaken.” (Ps. 62:2)  “He is my rock of refuge to which I can always go.” (Ps. 71:3)  And most of all, God is the “Rock of my salvation.” (Ps. 95:1)

How reassuring to be reminded of His permanence.  Nothing will ever change Him or His promises to me.  Even when I am unfaithful, He will always remain faithful and true to Himself.  In a world where everything is in a constant state of change, He continues perfectly unchanged.  I can run to Him for everything I need.  Being a rock, He gives me the stability I need.

Thank you Lord, that I can always count on You!

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Sheepish

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

What was that racket?  My husband was in the middle of his shower when he heard some bizarre noises!  It sounded as if someone was rearranging the furniture, but there was also loud bleating, shouting and running footsteps.  How bizarre to see this sheep in the living room knocking into things with a crazed look in his eyes!  He had run in from our rural French street into the open doors, with his handlers in hot pursuit!  It took three of them to hold him down and get him under control!

What a perfect way to illustrate the truth of today’s verse!  This sheep was not where he was supposed to be.  He had certainly gone his own way, ignoring his keepers and the other sheep.  His headlong movements could have hurt him and it took some pretty drastic measures to correct him.  I am sure he was none too happy to be bound with that rope.  And we are just like that sheep.  We turn our back on the Shepherd thinking we know better.

How loving and gracious God is to take on Himself the punishment of my silly rebellion.  Jesus paid the ultimate price of my sin, giving me peace with God (verse 5).  And as a forgiven “sheep” I have the enormous privilege of following my Shepherd.  His way is so much better than my own.  He does not lead by prodding me from behind and I don’t just see His back ahead of me.  No, He walks beside me.

Thank you Lord, for turning me back to You and Your way.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)