Devotions By Jan


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Thunderstorm!

Scripture for Today: Job 37: 3, 5 “Under the whole heaven He lets it loose, and His lightnings to the ends of the earth.  God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing great things which we cannot comprehend.”

It was quite the show!  The storm woke us with peals of rolling thunder and flashes of light that lit up our room at the Mesa Verde National Park.  We must have watched it for a good hour, marveling at the force and grandeur of that storm!  As it moved overhead, we jumped at the deafening cracks of thunder and the room even seemed to shake!  How thankful we were not to be outside in it.  We felt safe and protected.

Today’s verse likens thunder to God’s mighty voice.  The fear that a clap of thunder can evoke is the fear I ought to feel at God’s powerful Word.  The Law was given to the Israelites in the midst of thunder and lightning.  It inspired such fear in the people that they insisted that Moses approach God in their place.  It is that fear which leads to obedience and wisdom (Psalm 111:10).

There are times that I lose that sense of fear at God’s greatness.  But all it takes to remind me is a huge storm that unleashes its fury!  God is bigger than the biggest storm.  His power transcends everything!  I am so thankful that my fear of Him does not include fear of punishment!  Jesus took on Himself all the condemnation I deserve.  But my fear of Him is one that inspires knee-bending awe of His greatness and power.  His thunderous mighty voice reminds me just how small and powerless I am.  And His voice is accomplishing so much I do not understand.

Thank you Lord, that I can trust Your voice.

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The Condor

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 15:25-26 “For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

This vigilant squirrel is right to keep an eye on the condor flying overhead!  But perhaps he does not need to worry too much as the condor will only feed on a carcass.  They are scavengers and I suppose they have their place in the scheme of things.  But to me they are disgusting because of their eating habits, not to mention their grunts, growls and hissing!  There are two species of vultures to which the condor refers and they are associated with death in Scripture.

Today’s verse speaks of death as an enemy.  It is an enemy that touches every one and each time brings with it unspeakable sorrow.  It is an enemy mankind has brought on ourselves by our own sin and rebellion against God (Rom. 6:23).  But thankfully, death will one day be vanquished forever.  There will be a time when there will be no more mourning or death (Rev. 21:4).  The pain and sorrow of separation will in the future be a distant memory.  Death will take its rightful place, fully vanquished and overcome under His feet.

I know this is true as Jesus has already vanquished death for Himself when He rose up from the grave.  And God has already made me alive spiritually when I was dead in my sins (Eph. 2:5).  But what is true in a spiritual sense will one day be true in a physical sense as well!   I will enjoy a new body that will never wear out (I Cor. 15:54) and death will be “swallowed up in victory!”  No more funerals, obituaries or burials!  And best of all, no more goodbyes!

Thanks you Lord, for the coming victory over death.


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He is My Fortress

Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:2  “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.”

Touring the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado fired our imagination with scenes of a very different kind of life!  The overhanging cliffs afforded the Ancestral Pueblo people some protection from enemies.  But they also built fortress-style buildings as look-outs and for added protection.  These structures were built in the late 1190’s and served their purpose.  But in the end, it is thought that the enemy of drought drove them from their homes.

Today’s verse talks about God being our fortress and a place of refuge and security.  Because of His strength and power I can be safe.  I can trust in Him.  We do have enemies, perhaps not the same kind that David had to face.  But there are many times when I am attacked.  It can come from several different quarters.  I could be attacked by a temptation.  But God promises me a way of escape (I Cor.10:13).  I may be attacked by the Satan himself, but I have God’s armor so I can stand and fight (Eph.6:11).  When do I run to a fortress?

I run to God, my Fortress, when I am being attacked by depression, anxiety, and despair.  I run to His presence when I am being attacked by worry , doubt, or fear.  In His arms I am reassured when assailed by  feelings of hurt or betrayal.  In Him I find the courage to face the world again.  In my quiet time with Him I am strengthened against all these attacks.  The verse says, “I will say of the Lord…”  And I am saying it here.  I want to testify to what God as my Fortress does for me.


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Counting Jelly Beans

Scripture for Today: Matthew 18: 21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”

It was pure guess work.  I tried being methodical as a prize would be awarded for this baby shower-party-game.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have bothered trying to count the jelly beans in this jar.  But in fact, my counting left something to be desired as my total was way off.  Someone else walked away with the coveted prize.  I would have been happy to walk away with the jelly beans!

Today’s verse is about something we are not to count; how many times to forgive someone.  Peter perhaps felt he was being generous to suggest forgiving seven times as the current thinking among the Pharisees was three times.  That makes Jesus’ answer all the more surprising.  The idea was not to forgive seventy-seven times or even seventy times seven.  The idea is that forgiveness is not to be counted at all.  Forgiveness is to be immeasurable.

My memory is so faulty on some subjects but somehow, the memories of when and how I have been wronged are very clear.  Forgiving someone more than once for the same offense is also too easy to remember.  I have had to say to my husband, “I am sorry, forgive me,” countless times over almost 40 years of marriage.  And I have had to forgive him too, many times without number.  It is so difficult to “forgive from the heart” (verse 35) over and over again.  And yet, I cannot think of a better way to show true love.  This is exactly what the Lord has done in forgiving me countless times.

Thank you Lord, that You do not count.


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My Heritage

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:111-112 “Your statues are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping Your decrees to the very end.”

When leaving this earth at the ripe old age of almost 105, my Grandmother did not have much money left to leave her grandchildren!  She did however leave each of us a small sum and I along with my siblings were told to spend it on an object that would remind us of her.  I chose this music-playing clock and for years it has kept good time.  Unfortunately, it no longer plays the music disks to the end of the song.  And someday, it will not work at all.  Nothing lasts forever.

Today’s verse talks about a heritage that will last forever.  God’s statues or laws do not become void in the next century.  They never become out of date or no longer valid.  God established His laws to last forever.  And what God says will stand for eternity.

Unlike my clock, this is an inheritance that will endure forever. (Ps. 37:18)  I am not sure though that His precepts are always “the joy of my heart.”  There are plenty of times I think I know better.  It is so easy for me to rationalize my behavior in the light of what everyone else is doing.  Somehow, I can water down what He says to make it easier to follow.  But His standard remains high and unchanged.  Thankfully, Christ has fulfilled all the Law of the Older Testament for me as I can never completely keep it.  His righteousness is mine through faith in His Son.  Even so my heart’s desire is to follow Him and His way more closely.

Thank you Lord, for Your standards.  Keep me faithful to the very end.


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Desert Soil

Scripture for Today: Colossians 1:16b-17 “…all things have been created through Him and for Him. He (Christ) is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

The views in the Utah National Parks are truly breathtaking!  Around every corner is another amazing scene of cliffs, arches, and odd rock formations.  One thing that seems unimpressive is the unforgiving soil being so dry and barren.  But in fact, it is teeming with activity, due to the microscopic cyanobacteria one eighth of an inch below that surface.  There are signs to keep off this fragile crust.  This bacteria is binding the sand and soil particles together, creating a place for algae, moss and fungi to grow.

Today’s verse is a powerful statement to the absolute creative control Jesus has in every part of nature.  Despite what one believes about how this earth came into being, these verses say categorically that Christ was involved in the process.  Everything created has been created through Him and for Him.  No power is above Him and in Him and that power, all things hold together.  From the exact tilt of our earth to the crust on the desert floor, He holds it all together.

Because He can and does hold things together on such a grand scale, I can be confident that He holds me and my life together as well.  His creative power holds me squarely and securely in His hand (John 10:28).  Nothing is out of His control today even if I feel like things are flying apart.  He even scrutinizes the path ahead, knowing what is around the next corner (Psalm 139:3).  When I am feeling overwhelmed, He holds together what I cannot.  He knows the end from the beginning and I can trust Him with every detail.

Thank you Lord, for holding me together.


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Enjoying the View

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:45 “I will walk about in freedom for I have sought Your precepts.”

I imagine that anyone with a fear of heights would give the Needles Overlook a wide berth.  This view of Canyonlands National Park in Utah is a panoramic one going in all directions.  The overlook affords a view of the Abago Mountains and the peaks of La Sal.  But this open plateau edge drops suddenly away 1,600 feet above the valley floor!  If it were not for that sturdy rail going around the perimeter, I would not feel free to walk very close to the edge and I would miss out on those amazing views.

Today’s verse puts two words together that normally one would not think to do; freedom and precepts.  Prevalent thinking equates freedom with no rules or restrictions at all.  But God’s laws are like the railing.  Because of its presence I can freely walk about and enjoy incredible vistas.  God’s laws provide safety and protection.  They are there, not to restrict and be a burden, but rather to free us to walk in confidence.  God’s laws even alleviate our anxiety.  “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Ps. 119:165)

The author of this psalm cannot say enough about how he loves God’s law.  He describes them as giving comfort (verse 52). God’s statues and precepts reassure me of the right direction my life is taking.  I never have to wonder if another way is better or more exciting.  I do not miss out on anything except for what will harm me.  His law is an expression of His love for me.  Following it gives me the best kind of life there is!

Lord, keep me walking about in the freedom that following Your law brings!