Devotions By Jan

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Amazing Starfish

Scripture for Today: Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

Is there anything as colorful and fascinating as a starfish?  Their name is slowly changing to “sea star” as in fact, they are not really fish.  But whatever the name, they are amazing and a little creepy all at the same time!  They can consume prey outside their bodies, and they have no brain or blood!  But what impresses me the most is their amazing ability to regenerate limbs!  When caught by the arm by a predator, they can leave it behind and grow another!

Our verse for today is all about a different kind of regeneration.  Being in Christ makes us a “new creature” (II Cor. 5:17)  The old has passed away replaced by the new!  It is due to the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit.  It is all His work in us and has nothing to do with our own good works.  He saw our predicament, desperately needing to be saved.  Rather than giving us what we rightly deserve, the Lord acted out of His infinite mercy.  He changes the heart and makes us new.

Self help and good intentions will not make me new.  Strong resolve or publicly-made resolutions will not change my heart.  I may succeed in changing my behavior but I am still the same inside.  It is only through His supernatural regeneration that I am truly made new.  His Spirit makes it possible.  There is newness of life and purpose now.  And there is completion of the process in Heaven where I will finally become like Jesus! (I John 3:2)

I am tired of the old me.  Thank you Lord, for making me new!


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Sticking Together

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

It was not uncommon for us to stop the car in rural France and Germany and gaze at a nearby flock of sheep.  For the most part, they seemed unconcerned and just gazed right back!  Perhaps they felt that there was safety in numbers.  In fact, sheep instinctively band together in large groups for protection.  Predators will spot the one who lags behind, wanders off, or isolates himself.  Sheep need to have that visual contact with other sheep to reduce stress while being moved or handled.  They become very agitated when they are separated from the rest of the flock.

In our verse for today, believers are encouraged to continue meeting together.  Some had given up the habit, which is so easy to do.  But in meeting together we draw encouragement from one another.  Without this encouragement we become lax in showing love and doing selfless acts for others.  Just as sheep follow other sheep, we need to follow the good examples of others.  If we are not following other believers, then it stands to reason that we unwittingly follow the example of the world.

It can be dangerous for me to isolate myself.  I become vulnerable to spiritual attack.  The many stresses of life can weigh me down and discouragement can easily set in.  I never stop needing the prayers and encouragement of others.  And I need to be giving out that same encouragement.

Thank you Lord, for the encouragement that comes from being a part of Your flock.


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Money Grows on Trees!

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 3:17b-18 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

My parents always told me that money does not grow on trees!  Imagine my surprise to learn that there have been found particles of gold on the leaves of some eucalyptus trees!  The incredibly long roots of this tree, up to 8.2 feet, delve up to 130 feet.  In Australia, some of these eucalyptus trees have pilfered gold from ore deposits underground and have transported them to their leaves!  The concentration of gold is only 46 parts per billion.  Still, it is amazing that some trees have rooted themselves in something so precious!

Our verse for today encourages the believer to be rooted and established in something even more precious; the love of Christ.  Just as the leaves of the eucalyptus tree reveal secrets hidden underground, so the “leaves” of the life of a believer reveal where he is planted.  The love of Christ is so vast and nourishing that our lives reflect Him as He develops His fruit in us.

Being rooted and established in His love is essential to my well-being.  His love is what allows me to grow and thrive.  Without it, I would shrivel up.  Being grounded in His love makes loving others possible.  This immeasurable love is my reason to be.  To be honest, there are times I am not feeling it.  In those moments I delve deeper into His Word.  I take more time to listen to Him.  I watch for those sweet affirmations through prayer in my spirit.  I so often need those reassurances and He never disappoints!

Lord, keep me rooted in Your love today!

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Morning Routine

routine20150319183303-goal-setting-daily-routine-cup-mug-coffee-notebook-notes-penScripture for Today: Psalm 5:3 “In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait patiently.”

It is amazing how quickly morning routines are established, some with no thought at all.  We are creatures of habit and can easily fall into a routine that allows us to be on “auto pilot.”  It is easier for me to follow a set pattern of behavior, especially when first waking up.  However, some routines take tremendous motivation to establish.  There are exercise routines with which the mind agrees are important but the flesh resists!  There are eating routines that could be beneficial but difficult to follow.  The coffee habit on first awaking is one that would be difficult for me to change!

Our verse for today would be a good morning routine.  David chose the morning to lay out his requests before the Lord in prayer.  The first action of the day was to direct his thoughts and voice to the One who is always there, ready to listen.  The Lord knows the moment we are awake and open our eyes (Psalm 139:2).  He knows our thoughts before they are voiced.  He is attentive and waiting for our thoughts and voice to turn to Him.

It makes sense to me to lay all my requests for the day before Him before even getting out of bed.  So often, I wake with thoughts of what the day could or should hold.  Laying before Him my worries, my plans and projects, and my loved ones makes getting up much more positive!  I can face the day with a lighter spirit, trusting Him to work.

“O Lord, in the morning, shall I direct my prayers unto Thee and will look up!”

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Remembering Sacrifice

Arlington-military-cemetery-1Scripture for Today: Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.”

Today on Memorial Day, North Americans remember those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.  We commemorate the war dead with special ceremonies, parades, speeches, and graveyard visits.  Some consider the origins of this day as coming from “Decoration Day.”  After the Civil War, graves were decorated with flowers, although this had been the practice of women for centuries.  It is good to remember how costly freedom is and to honor those who paid for it with their lives.

The sacrifice of life for a worthy cause is incredible and I have the utmost respect for these soldiers.  There is another worthy cause for sacrificing life that is even higher and more noble; losing one’s life for the Lord.  Our verse for today is in the context of picking up our own cross in order to follow Christ.  This sacrifice of life is a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).  Sacrificing the right to order and direct one’s life is in fact no sacrifice at all.  Our verse teaches that in doing this we actually find life!

Losing my life for the One I love is the best way to demonstrate that love.  I lose my life each time I choose to obey God’s way rather than my own.  I lose my life every time I put His agenda of good works ahead of my own.  When I desire Christ’s love above and beyond any human love then my life is spent serving Him.  In losing my life to Him, He fills it and makes it meaningful!

Thank you, Lord, for sacrificing Your life for me.  Thank you that through sacrificing myself to You, I find that life!

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The Shadow of His Hand

Shadow_of_Hand_on_Beach_-_by_Örjan_Lindén_2009Scripture for Today:  Isaiah 51:16 “I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.'”

On a burning hot day I am looking to walk in the shadow of buildings or trees.  I will go out of my way to avoid direct sunlight and I look for those shadows.  They give relief and make the walk so much more pleasant.

The shadow of a person can evoke a variety of emotions.  When one thinks of a shadow, it can sometimes be in a context of fear!  If the presence is menacing than it follows that the shadow of that presence is as well.  But a shadow can be reassuring and even comforting when it comes from a loving presence.

Our verse for today uses the image of the shadow of God’s hand.  It is a powerful hand that has established the heavens and the earth.  The context of this verse describes how His hand is able to loose chains and set captives free.  Because He covers us with the shadow of His hand, there is no reason to be fearful of man (verse 12).  What can man do?  God’s power and presence gives comfort rather than fear to those who belong to Him.

The shadow of His hand reassures me of His love and protection.  His shadow reminds me that I belong to Him.  I am His and He is mine!  His shadow is evidence that He is at work in my life.  He has set me free!  His care and blessing are shadows of His loving presence!

Thank you, Lord, for helping me sense even the shadow of Your hand!

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Finding Peace

funny_road_signs_1Scripture For Today: John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

This road sign pictures perfectly how I feel about roundabouts or traffic circles!  Too many times around gets me dizzy and frustrated.  Yet, they are commonplace in Europe and I am seeing more and more of them in the States.  Finding one’s destination looks impossible following this particular sign!

The world gives us lots of advice on how to find peace of mind.  We are told to search for it by many different methods including time alone, imagination exercises, quiet moments and even choosing peace of mind by an act of the will.  Finding it does appear to be a challenge as it seems so elusive.  But according to our verse for today, we are neither to find it, imagine it, or choose it.  Peace of mind is a gift.  Peace of mind comes from the Prince of Peace Himself.

The peace Jesus offers us is not at all like the world’s idea of peace.  A temporary peace that comes from the absence of turmoil or difficulty is a poor substitute.  True peace of mind is having a heart untroubled and unafraid in the midst of whatever life brings.  The peace He gives is a calm assurance that He is in control and that it is a good control.  He will never leave me or abandon me.  He is there to sustain me and bring me through.  His peace assures me and reminds me of that bright future that awaits!

I do not have to search for peace to find it.  He is the source.  Thank you Lord, for Your gift of peace.