Devotions By Jan

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Virtual Reality

virtual reality511570189-660x420Scripture for Today: I Timothy 6:19 “In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation to the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

I can just imagine this cat wondering when his owner will feed him.  Perhaps the plant is thinking the same thing as this young lady explores her virtual world.  The artificial environment created by software has made it possible to experience anything anywhere!  The 3D experience has been used for training, education and entertainment.  More and more virtual reality is changing our world and our perceptions.  I wonder if it will eventually confuse people as to what is real and what is not.

Today’s verse alludes to a possible confusion between what is considered life and what is “truly life.”  This passage is encouraging those who are well-off to be rich in good works and generous in their giving.  Being willing to share is what lays up treasure in heaven where moth, rust and thieves will not touch it (Matt. 6;20).  But leading a life that is generous does something for us here on earth as well.  It allows us to experience a life that is truly life or “life indeed.”  There is another dimension to life that one can miss.  Living solely for selfish gain is not true life.  But when living for others, life becomes richer.  In refreshing someone else, we ourselves are refreshed (Prov. 11:25b)

I need to remember this when tempted to envy.  True life is not found in what I possess.  True life is found in what I can give away.  When downsizing from a home of 3000 square feet to just 900 I learned what joy there was in giving so much away!

Lord, do not let me miss out on true life today!

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The Acorn

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 61:3b “…They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”

It is pretty amazing that this small acorn can grow to be a mighty oak.  It seems such a small insignificant beginning to this towering tree which has so long been a symbol of strength and endurance.  I do not give much thought to those acorns littering the ground although people do eat them.  They are eaten as nuts after leeching out the bitter tannins.  They are also used to make flour and oil.  But if the acorns are correctly planted and cared for, some species will produce an oak measuring as high as ninety-eight feet!

Toady’s verse uses the oak tree as an image of the righteous, displaying the splendor of God.  He is the One who plants that acorn to become the mighty oak.  He chooses the best spot for good soil and sun exposure.  He plants that small acorn at the right depth in the soil and watches over it, guarding it from pests.  He displays His righteousness through His followers so the planting is exactly right.

The only way to become that oak is by His righteousness.  On my own, I stay as little and insignificant as the small acorn.  I know myself.  I cannot produce righteousness.  “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22a).  I have right standing with God because of Christ.  My position is secure in Him.  But I want my daily walk to reflect right living too.  Right choices and obedience will make me stand tall, firm and fruitful.  He has planted me exactly where He wants me to display the splendor of His righteousness!

Lord, may Your splendor be seen in my life.


Vintage Clothing

vintage-clothes-on-rack1Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

I am and have long been inexplicably drawn to thrift stores.  Long before it became popular, I was there.  The best places are the ones with no special sorting.  That way, one is more likely to find some unrecognized treasure.  But many of them do have a special rack labelled, “Vintage.”  I am not sure what qualifies for this category.  To me, the term usually just means outdated.  What is especially annoying is to find something hanging there that is suspiciously like what is currently hanging in my closet!

Toady’s verse talks about some spiritual clothing that is never vintage and never outdated.  We are to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Each of these clothing pieces have to do with how we treat others.  And each of these beautiful qualities are expressions of the Spirit residing in the believer.  They are not clothing for special occasions but are to characterize our every-day look.  Wearing these clothes sets us apart from others as belonging to the Lord.

Knowing that I am “dearly loved” by the Lord makes all the difference in how I dress.  I do not have anything to prove to myself or others.  I am secure and held up by His love, making it possible to take the humble position with people.  I can forget about myself and focus on the needs of others when I really understand and live out that love.  Because He loves me, I have something to share. None of these qualities come from me, but from His love for me!

Thank you Lord, for changing my clothes to reflect Your love.


Just a Kernel

Scripture for Today: John 12;24 “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

I am a city girl so I am proud of myself if I can even identify what is growing in that passing field as wheat!  And the whole process of turning that wheat into something edible seems involved to me, from the threshing and winnowing to the milling.  But none of this happens until a seed gives up its life and is buried in the soil.

Today’s verse uses the kernel of wheat as an image of what an unselfish giving life can produce.  Jesus is predicting His own death and challenging the disciples to be willing to lose their lives (verse 24).  The one who loves his own life and lives only for himself will not experience the honor promised to those who serve Him (verse 26).  Even though His soul was troubled (verse 27) Jesus was resolute to sacrifice His life as payment for sin.

My soul is troubled too with this thought.  Unlike Jesus, I am selfish to the core and grasp tightly my rights, dreams and desires.  Living for Him is fine in theory as long as it does not interfere with what I want!  Surrendering to Him my goals, my time and everything I own is what dying to self may mean.  I am to be a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2) and I struggle with this every day.  However, it is the only way to make my life really count.  There is so much truth in what C.T. Studd wrote, “Only one life will soon be past.  Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Lord, help me to live for You and not myself.



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License Renewal

skip-long-dmv-line-renew-your-drivers-license-aaa-office-instead-no-membership-required.w654Scripture for Today: Acts 11:23 “When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.”

I recently had the frustrating experience of renewing my driver’s license.  After 10 years of automatic extensions, it was time.  I was unhappy to give up my old picture.  It was always fun to get that extra scrutiny, as I had changed so much.  I scheduled an appointment for early in the morning to avoid waiting in long lines.  My husband, however, just showed up when it opened without an appointment.  You can guess who got out of there first!  But we both had a nice surprise at the window.  We did not have to take the written test!  We were given grace!

Today’s verse describes another instance of grace.  Barnabus was sent to Antioch where Greeks were hearing the Gospel and turning to the Lord in large numbers.  Up until this point, salvation was seen mainly among the Jews.  Barnabus saw first hand what was to become the first largely Gentile church and he was glad to see that, “the Lord’s hand was with them.”  He discovered what the grace of God had done.

Grace is my favorite subject in God’s Word.  There is evidence of grace in every individual who turns their heart to Christ.  Grace is His hand of favor on my life and it is totally unmerited.  God shows grace only because He decides to and because His love moves Him.  He continuously pours out His grace on my life in every promise, in every answered prayer, in every gift from His Spirit.  His grace covers my stupid mistakes.  I don’t deserve it, but isn’t that the point?

Lord, where would I be without Your grace?


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Zip Lining

IMG_7374Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:9-10 “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.”

I had never tried zip lining until just recently and I was plenty nervous!  The staff there was very reassuring but still, that first lunge off the platform made my heart drop all the way to my feet!  I had seen others ride the line with no hands, turning and laughing and calling to friends below.  I was strangely silent and still, holding on for dear life!  Just as I was starting to relax and enjoy it, the ride was over.  I wished I could have come to that confident place sooner!

Today’s verse is reassurance from Someone who is in control of the whole life-long ride.  He holds fast those who belong to Him.  Whether we are zip lining, mountain climbing, or living overseas in a strange culture, He promises to guide, direct, and never let go.  His love hold us in the palm of His hand and nothing can touch us without His permission (John 10:28).  No one can snatch us out of His hand!

When I really grasp this truth, like I did that line, I can more quickly reach that place of confidence and enjoy the ride!  I have experienced His faithful care living overseas these last twenty-six years.  He has carried me through some unbelievable challenges in most every area of life.  I do not have to fear what tomorrow may bring because He has proved Himself faithful and true to His Word.  If life seems to be going too fast or I cannot see what is ahead, I can still be confident and relax.

Lord, help me feel Your reassuring hold on me!

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Art or French Fries?

friesIMG_20160510_101032Scripture for Today: Scripture for Today: Psalm 63:3-4 “Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live and in Your name I will lift up my hands.”

I recently attended a painting workshop where the goal was to express praise to God through art.  There were no rules or grand expectations.  There was just some Christian music playing and some Psalms read.  The facilitator gave a title to our work; “Adoration.”  I tried not to look over at my neighbor’s work.  I tried to focus on what I was feeling towards the One who created me.  But my praise came out looking like french fries!  I guess I should not quit my day job just yet!!

Today’s verse expresses praise to God in a different way.  David used his lips in word and in song to glorify God’s name.  He lifted up his hands in praise to God’s incredible love that he calls, “better than life.”  This psalm was written when he was in the desert of Judah, on the run from his enemies.  His praise to God is that much sweeter being in the midst of a “dry and weary land” (verse 1).

My praise to Him may not be of a professional quality.  My painting is maybe good enough for the back closet wall!  I love singing but my song may even be a little off key.  I lift my hands now, but someday my arms may be too weak.  But  He sees to the heart’s expression.  Praise to Him is always welcomed.  Whatever I do or say can be done in His name and to His glory (Col. 3:17).  Praising Him for His love and power is about the most important thing I can accomplish today!

Keep me praising You today, Lord!