Devotions By Jan


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Keeping It Simple

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Somehow, this simple nativity scene has survived 17 moves including some transatlantic ones! It has also endured the sticky hands of young children, both my own and my grandchildren! And yet it still comes out of storage every year unscathed. When I start to feel that pressure to decorate perfectly, to display the latest bauble or to create just the right ambiance, I look at this and sigh.

Today’s verse tells us that we do not have to follow the pattern the world has of doing things, including how we celebrate His birth. We have the choice and the freedom to do things differently, to even do things God’s way. And His way is far better. It is good, pleasing and perfect. In belonging to Him, our minds can be renewed through His Word to know and appreciate what His way is.

I want to be intentional this Christmas. It is a challenge to avoid overcommitment and stress. But I so want to resist the pressure to have everything decorated Pinterest style or impress people with my cookie baking skills. The best way I know to celebrate Christmas is to slow down enough to ponder and reflect like Mary did at the birth of her Son. I want to turn my thoughts toward Him of whom the angels sang, and sing to Him myself! And I want to love sacrificially as He did in coming to this earth.

Lord, help me celebrate Your birth in a way that pleases You.


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Sanctuary of Truth

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 3:15 “if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

This ornate shrine stands 345 feet tall on the edge of a sea near Pattaya, India. It is made entirely of teakwood using an ancient Thai carpenter style, using no nails as they would rust in the sea air. Built in 1981 it houses thousands of Hindu and Buddhist gods and goddesses. Under one roof is found centuries of disparate beliefs from Southeast Asia. But the question is whether truth is found under this roof.

Today’s verse describes the Church as the pillar and foundation of truth. Both the pillar and the foundation are images of support and reinforcement for the truth of God’s Word. And when the “deep truths” of the faith are kept (verse 9) it will be evidenced by godly conduct. We know we are of the truth when Jesus Himself is the Source of godly living (verse 16). There is no system of thought or philosophy that can change a heart. There is no godly living without the life of the only true God.

I do not need to look for truth elsewhere. I have found the truth in Christ who declared that He Himself IS truth (John 14:6). And by His own words, His truth is exclusive. There is no other name by which we are saved (Acts 4:12). And yet, His invitation is inclusive extended to all who would come to Him in faith (John 12:46). His truth is my pillar and foundation as it holds me up and sustains me. Regardless of the shifting ideas of this world, my faith remains firm, upheld by a Person who is Truth.

Thank you Lord, for being my firm foundation!


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Time for Change

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

If it were not for the song, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” written by Pete Seeger and made popular by the Byrds, perhaps we would not be so familiar with the first eight verses of Ecclesiastes 3. We enjoy the seasons in God’s creation but are maybe less enthusiastic with changes in our lives. This beautiful red leaf used to be green. And soon it will be a somber dry brown. And the old will eventually be making way for the new.

Today’s verse reminds us of the passing of time and seasons. The earth is locked into a cycle of time that has no equivalent above the heavens. The seasons are unique to us. Heaven and eternity are not bound or limited by time. And each season that God ordains in our lives has a God-given purpose for His glory. There is a time for birth or death, mourning or dancing, speaking or remaining silent, among many other activities “under heaven.” (verse 2-8) How encouraging that God is above heaven and above time!

The most unsettling thing about the seasons of life changing is that period of transition and adjustment. I get comfortable with what used to be new and different. Just when I start to feel settled, everything shifts. The scenery changes or what is unexpected throws me off balance. I forget that I have felt this way before. And I forget how faithful the Lord has been in the past to move me to a new stage. Seasons may change but HE does not and He will remain faithful! What a comfort to be able to stand firmly on His Word and promises, even in the middle of change!

Thank you Lord, that You remain faithful.


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“Stay Grounded”

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

There is a worldwide movement today called, “Stay Grounded.” The idea is to swear off flying, making that commitment for a year at a time. Normally, 2% of all carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to this form of travel. Some intend to remain flight free forever in an attempt to be eco-conscious. For these folks, slow travel is the way to go, preferring boat or train for long distances. For me personally, it would be quite a sacrifice to be grounded as my perspective often changes while up in those clouds!

Today’s verse encourages the believer to change perspective from the earthly to the eternal. Our thinking and our feelings are to be changed by an eternal perspective. What we see on earth does not match up with spiritual realities. What we see, touch and feel around us is not eternal. These things are real but they will not last. When we set our minds and hearts on the realities of Heaven, it changes how we view that difficulty. It is reduced it to only “light and momentary trouble.” (II Cor. 4:17) 

I need to see the hard things in my life as smaller than they appear. I do not want my thoughts and feelings to be grounded and restricted to the temporal. My perspective needs to change to what is eternal and lasting in order to see past the problems I face today. What is above is far more worthy of my heart and mind! He is there.

Change my perspective, Lord. Help me see You today instead of my problems.


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Sweet Cocoa

Scripture for Today:Psalm 34:8-9 “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.”

A dusting of this cocoa on a tiramisu is wonderful and tasty. But eating spoonfuls of it directly from the box is not so much. I am not proud of it but growing up, a friend and I decided we would play a trick on her two younger sisters. The package looked like it would deliver what they were expecting, especially with the picture. But you can guess their reaction when trying to swallow the stuff!

There is an invitation in today’s verse to taste and see how good the Lord is. Unlike unsweetened cocoa, He does not disappoint! His words are true and sweet, sweeter even than honey (Psalm 19:10). He is so good to His own, providing refuge and meeting every need! Making the Lord our hiding place gives us shelter from whatever storm surrounds us. When His children fear and obey Him, He pours out blessing. Those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing! (Ps. 34:10)

I do not need to “taste test” what the world has to offer. Nothing is as sweet and satisfying as His Words, especially the promises and declarations of His love. The empty philosophies of this world promise to be sweet but leave one with a very bitter aftertaste. His Words are faithful and true, never changing and the source of life! When I make His truth my refuge, I am in a good place. He satisfies so completely that I am never in want of anything that is truly good for me. I have tasted and He is good!

Thank you Lord, for being so good to me!