Devotions By Jan


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Packing Fruit?

IMG_20141014_082419Scripture for Today: Galatians 5:22-23a “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Moving is such a life-changing and stressful time.  I am surrounded by numbered boxes and already I find myself needing something previously packed.  Every object I lay my hand on requires a decision.  Do I pack it in a box destined for the French studio or our American home?  Do I give it to a friend?  Do I give it to the thrift store?  Do I throw it away?  Do I sell it?  Will I regret the decision I just made?

One thing I do not have to think about is the perishables.  Whatever does not get eaten will at the end be given to the neighbors.  I would not make the mistake of packing the fruit!  However, when putting together these boxes, it is almost as if I have packed away fruit, that is the fruit of the Spirit.  I am stressed and crabby.  I am not so kind and loving to my husband.  So often, I lose it and self-control is out the window.

Our verse for today describes the one who is filled with and walking by the Spirit of God.  The results of being in close communion with Him are evident in one’s behavior and attitude.  I have none of these qualities on my own, especially in tense stressed moments.  But as a believer the Spirit of God resides in me.  The more I confess my inadequacies and turn to Him for help, the more He responds with this beautiful fruit.  These qualities describe to perfection the One I serve.  He is slowly (some days very slowly) producing His character or image in me!

Lord, especially in the middle of boxes, produce Your fruit in me!


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Garlands

colleen-35Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:9 “She (wisdom) will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.”

What flower garland on the head does not make a woman feel more beautiful?  Even as little girls, we play with field flowers, making chains and placing them on our heads.  We pretend we are princesses and prance around feeling special.  There does seem to be something royal about a garland on the head as it can resemble a tiara.  The bridal industry understands this and there is quite a wide choice of flower garlands for the big day.

Our verse for today describes wisdom as being that garland or crown.  Wisdom in a life makes it beautiful and graceful.  Wisdom, or skillful living, even brightens the face and changes its hard appearance! (Eccl. 8:1)  More important than physical beauty, a wise life exudes a loveliness and grace that does not diminish with time.  Who would not want that?  Where is this wisdom found?

God’s Word leaves no doubt as to the source of wisdom.  The first time wisdom is mentioned is in Genesis 3:6 where Eve disobeyed God in an effort to gain wisdom.  That did not work out so well!  Wisdom is found in obeying and loving His Word as is declared repeatedly in Psalm 119.  The Lord gives this wisdom as knowledge and understanding come from His mouth (Prov. 2:6).

The image of garlands and crowns brings to mind beauty and honor.  That is just how a life looks that is marked by wisdom.  Right choices lead to lives uncomplicated by sorrow from sin.  Confidence in God’s promises changes our outlook and our demeanor.  Obedience to our Creator is wise living that creates grace and glory!

Lord, grace my head with Your wisdom today.


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Short or Long Term?

longterm-investmentScripture for Today: Philippians 3:8 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

There is so much advice out there regarding investments and how to plan for the future.  CNBC and Bloomberg TV are daily giving their economic forecasts and their tips about investing.  Whether a short or long term investment, the idea is to sacrifice now for the prospect of gaining something later.  There is said to be three points to consider: time, today’s sacrifice and prospective gain.  Being an impatient person. it would seem to me that short term investments are the way to go!  But of course, that is not always the case.

Our verse for today speaks of loss or sacrifice and the resulting gain.  Paul’s spiritual investments are both short and long term.  He gives up all the recognition and stature he had as a Pharisee.  He was lauded for his zeal and righteousness.  But he sacrificed all of this to gain a loving growing relationship with Jesus Christ.  Knowing Christ far surpassed any greatness Paul had experienced.  He was willing to leave it all behind in order to gain Christ.  He gains Christ in the short term, enjoying his relationship on earth.  But he also gains Christ in the long term with his future in heaven.  For Paul, to live is Christ and to die is gain as it is even more of Christ! (Phil. 1:21)

I want to have that perspective.  Too often I get caught up in what I possess, what the bank balance says, and what my level of comfort is.  Compared to the incredible greatness of knowing Christ, it is nothing at all!


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Color Crayons

Crayola---Crayons-64-Pack-with--pTRU1-2908038dtScripture for Today: Ephesians 4:2-3 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Growing up, I usually had just the smaller box of crayons.  I would look with longing at the mega box of the person next to me.  Their choices were so much more varied and their pictures just seemed better.  Not only was my box smaller but often my crayons were dull, broken or mixed up.  There was nothing like opening a bright new box!

Imagine opening a new box and finding sixty-four crayons of just one color!  It might be a very pretty bright color.  But without the others, the resulting image would lack interest and depth.  Without the others, the picture would be incomplete.

Our verse for today teaches us to keep intact the unity of the Spirit.  It is together that the Body of Christ, or the Church, functions as it should.  Each color is important to demonstrate God’s glory and design.  He created us to have different colors or gifting.  The purple does not insist on being more important and necessary than the green.  The darker colors are needed for shading.  Each member is important to God’s family.  Each gift is needed to add color and beauty to God’s design for the Church.

It takes concentrated effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.  Our tendency is to be prideful about our own color.  We get impatient and unloving with the one next to us, coloring outside the lines.  We can easily destroy unity by inciting divisions according to color!  Keeping the unity, we create something beautiful together and God is glorified.

Lord, keep me humble, gentle, and appreciative of all the “colors” You have created!


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“Special”

P1050299Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:14  “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

The word, “special” in French can mean specific, exceptional or a little odd or different, depending on the context.  I like the fact that I can play with this word and leave it up to the listener as to which meaning is intended!  My husband is special as seen by the look of surprise and wonder on the face of the statue!  At some time or other in our thirty-five years of marriage, he has fit all three meanings!

I have come to appreciate our differences.  Trying to remake my husband to be like me has never worked.  What makes him “special” can be what adds spice and interest to our lives.  But often the very thing that drew me to him is also the very thing that can drive me up a wall!  I know he can say the same about me!

How varied is God’s creation!  How boring if we were all made the same!  Each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made.  Each of us is a wonderful intentional work of His hands.  Our differences not only make life richer but reveal His incredible creativity!

I am thankful to have been intentionally created the way I am.  The exact combination of DNA that is me is not a product of chance.  God, my Creator, put me together for His purposes, first and foremost to give Him glory.  He purposed to give me my personality, looks, talents, intellect, and my spiritual gifting to love Him and serve Him.  Someday, without sin and in His presence, I will be able to be the best me!

Lord, help me embrace my differences and with them praise You as my Creator!