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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Pennies

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

I am one of those rare people who still bend down to pick up a lost penny, bad or not! The phrase, “a bad penny always turns up,” was coined in the mid eighteenth century. Pennies used to be more valuable and because they were easily counterfeited, the “bad ones” would continually circulate, turning up in a pocket or purse. “Turning up like a bad penny,” came to mean someone or something unwanted, turning up repeatedly and unexpectedly.

Today’s verse reassures the believer that God’s forgiveness of sin is complete. He chooses to no longer remember our sins. Because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice for sin, the penalty has been paid and God’s justice is satisfied.  Those sins are blotted out forever. When He forgives, He does not bring it up again. But like a bad penny, the thought of them for the believer can turn up at the most unwanted and inopportune times. Thankfully, that is never the case for the Lord. Of course, He is all knowing and so forgets nothing. But the idea is that He does not call it to mind with censor and judgement.

I would love to be able to “remember my sins no longer.” But the memories remain. Thankfully, God’s Word is full of reassurances of unconditional love and complete pardon. The Lord graciously softens and blurs memories of past failures. If guilty memories occasionally do reappear, He is there to build me back up. If nothing else, those remembrances can serve to remind me that I am not perfect, but His forgiveness is!

Thank you Lord, that Your grace chooses not to remember what is forgiven!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018)


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Worn Out Welcome

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:11 “…and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

My welcome mat is looking a bit sad. The welcome seems worn out with time although it is not that old. There is an old truism written by Benjamin Franklin and found in his Poor Richard’s Almanack. It says that fish and visitors stink after three days! If that is true I have stunk plenty of times. The idea is that after three days, a fish left out will smell and the welcome of a visitor may wear out.

Today’s verse is about crossing over the threshold from an earthly life into the eternal kingdom of God. I am not so sure there is a mat needed to mark that entrance! However, there will be a “rich welcome” for those who have placed their faith in the saving work of Jesus. And there is no other entrance except through Him (John 14:6). A rich welcome must mean that no one enters quietly or unnoticed. Each arrival will be a celebrated home-coming and marked with a warm welcome. Perhaps the believer will experience the same kind of welcome as the Prodigal Son. When he returned to his Father’s house, his Father ran out to greet him.  He welcomes him with the best robe, a ring and sandals. And there is a feast and celebration all done to welcome him!

I wonder what is done to welcome believers into that eternal kingdom. No way do we slip in unnoticed. I imagine one’s “rich welcome” means being greeted by family and friends who arrived before us. But the richest welcome of all would be to be greeted and held in the warm embrace of the Savior! And this welcome will never wear out!

Thank you Lord, for the rich welcome in my future!


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Cow Escape!

Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

This is the only kind of cow I would want to see on the street! But recently, the residents of Pico Rivera, California were surprised to see 41 escaped cows running wild in their neighborhoods! A gate at the local slaughterhouse was left open and the cows made a run for it! There was understandably some property damage and injuries in the chaos, but eventually most were corralled and returned to captivity and their unhappy fate.

Today’s verse talks about a different kind of captivity. It is one that captivates our thinking. Paul warns that we can be deceived by fine-sounding arguments (verse 4). As believers, we have freedom in Christ. His cross has disarmed every legalistic power and authority coming from human rules (verse 15). Because we no longer belong to the world we are no longer captive to rules such as, “Do not handle. Do not touch. Do not taste” (verse 21). The god of this world uses the pride in following such rules to keep us from true holiness.

How thankful I am not to be captive to a set of rules or a list of do’s and dont’s! Because of the cross, Christ has broken the power of sin in my life! Following His way is not a matter of rules, but of a changed heart that seeks to please Him. He is not impressed with my outward superficial show of religiosity. Instead, He wants all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I am free to follow Him and experience a fulness to my life, found only in Christ (verse 10)!

Thank you Lord, for freedom in You!


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“We Came in Peace”

Scripture for Today: Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

It was this day in 1969 that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the lunar module, Eagle, on the surface of the moon. They set it down in the “Sea of Tranquility” although I doubt that either of the men were tranquil as the Eagle’s overactive computers sounded alarms! They left behind a plaque reading, “Here men from planet earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

Today’s verse is also a message of peace offered to all mankind. This was the message of the angels to the shepherds in the fields at the occasion of Christ’s birth. This peace is nothing like what the world can produce. It is a peace between estranged mankind and their Creator. In our rebellion we were enemies against the God of the universe (Romans 5:10). But God initiated a reconciliation through the substitutionary death of His Son. Jesus Himself is our peace. For those who accept His forgiveness through the cross, there is now a relationship possible with Him where before there was none.

The huge obstacle to having peace with God was my sin. But because He has paid the punishment I so richly deserved, there is now a closeness and communion. I can enjoy His presence in my life as I am no longer under any condemnation (Romans 8:1). Not only is there peace with Him but He enables me to live in peace with others! And what is really amazing is that sense of peace and well-being He puts in my heart. What an incredible gift to live with this inner peace in a world that is so troubled!

Thank you Lord, for Your gift of peace.