Devotions By Jan


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Simple Pleasures

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 5:20 “They seldom reflect on the days of their life because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.”

Simple pleasures are the best!  How sweet to see the pure joy on the face of this little boy!  Squealing with pleasure he chases those bubbles and popping them has made his day.  Somehow, as we age, it takes a bit more to distract and occupy us.  With the weight of worry, the stress of responsibilities and the jaded skepticism that can creep into our thinking, we can miss out on having that glad heart.

Today’s verse teaches that God can occupy us with gladness of heart.  Rather than  negative reflections on the days of our lives, we can experience gladness.  Rather than chasing after riches which in the end are meaningless, we can be happy and contented with simple pleasures.  The art of being glad and satisfied has very little to do with what we can acquire.  All our work can be toiling for the wind (verse 17) or we can be happy in our toil, enjoying its fruits as a gift from God (verse 19).  It is a choice we make.  The Lord can keep us away from thoughts of always wanting more and instead occupy us with a glad heart.

Which is better, to have little with a glad heart or to have lots but be frustrated with what I do not have?  I find it such a comfort that God cares about the state of my heart.  He does not want me occupied with stuff.  He offers a light glad heart when I turn my temporal wants and desires toward what is eternal.  And when I do that, I can much more easily enjoy the simple pleasures in this life!

Lord, keep my heart occupied and glad!

 


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A Blank Slate

Scripture for today:  Psalm 118:24  “This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Gone are the days when students carried their own small squares of slate to school.  This simple tool of education in the early nineteenth century replaced the need for expensive paper.  It could be wiped clean with a rag and used repeatedly.  I cannot help but think of today as a brand new clean slate being the first day of a brand new year.

Today’s verse teaches that each new day is a day that the Lord has made.  This new day and new year are His creation.  It is blank now but it has the potential to be just about anything!  As our Creator, He continues to create and He has something specific in mind.  We can rejoice and be glad looking at that blank slate.  His plans for us are good and we can trust what He will do.  And He holds not only the chalk but the eraser for those times we get it all smudged with our mistakes!

There may be days this year when I wake up with a less-than-positive attitude.  I may think I know what is ahead for the day and it is not a subject for joy and gladness.  All the obligations facing me can bring me down.  But the message in this verse is that God gave me this new day as well as this new year.  He created it.  He is in control of my day.  He has plans for it that I may know nothing about!  I can face the day with joy regardless of what it might or might not hold.  Why?  Because He is in it, and in His presence is “fulness of joy.”

Happy New Year!!


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Storage Units

Scripture for Today: Luke 12:15 “Then He said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'”

When I saw this storage unit at night the name of it was brightly lit up.  It made me reflect on the role the storage unit plays in our materially blessed culture.  So often, a life is marked and identified by its acquisitions.  So often a life is judged by the accumulation of possessions.  For some, the essence of their life is found within the four walls of a storage unit.

Today’s verse is a loving warning from the Lord.  He understands how easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking that our possessions define us.  If we measure our self-worth by what we own, then it would make sense to want more and more.  But that is not where life is found.  Jesus called Himself, “the life” (John 14:6).  Greed whispers in our ear that life is found in the things we can touch.  How else can we measure our failure and success?

Greed is sneaky and insidious.  It is something that I need to guard against or it will influence my thoughts and my behavior.  Regardless of how much I have, the world tells me that more is better.  But in God’s economy, I am to be, “rich towards God.” (verse 21)  And the only way I know to be on guard against greed is by being in His Word and reminding myself of what really constitutes life; a loving trusting relationship with my Creator.  If I am greedy for anything, may it be more of Him, more of His love and beauty in my life!

Lord, be my defense against greed today.


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My Virtual Reality

Scripture 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 do not think I have ever had such a bizarre experience as seeing a virtual world with this 3D software!  Here I am learning the controls through a tutorial game and you can see in my son’s hand what I am seeing.  Creating this artificial environment makes it possible to experience anything anywhere!  How wonderful it was to walk the streets of Guebwiller, France and cross the river’s bridge and see the flowers of a place so dear to my heart!

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 I live for others, life becomes richer.  I so 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.  I find that true life when I give and serve others.  Anything else is a life but without that dimension, not a true one.

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

 


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Restless Leg Syndrome

Scripture for Today: I John 3:19 “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence.”

Restless legs shown here are no longer a problem!  I am not quite sure what the artist was trying to convey with this display, but these legs will not be moving any time soon!  Perhaps everyone feels at some point that tingling uncontrollable urge to move one’s legs while trying to sleep.  How annoying to feel that itchy, creepy crawly feeling!  Moving seems to at least temporarily give relief.  But I tend to be less sympathetic when being kicked!

Today’s verse talks about a heart that is at rest.  When we know and are convinced that we belong to the truth, there is a resting settled feeling in our hearts.  In His presence, we feel His peace, knowing that we belong to Him.  No longer are our hearts restless, wandering or searching.  When we belong to Him, our hearts can no longer condemn us as He is greater than our hearts (verse 20).  We can have confidence before God as He knows everything and He knows our hearts better than we do ourselves!  When we believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our hearts are finally at rest (verse 23).

When my heart is at rest, there is a confident peace.  He does not want my heart to be restless or troubled (John 14:27).  His Spirit testifies with my spirit that I am God’s own (Rom.8:16) and reassures my heart.  How good He is to give me that heart at rest!  And how much I want that for friends and family members who live restless lives without Him.

“Jesus, I am resting resting in the joy of what Thou art.”  Lord, may I feel that heart rest today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 


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Lost Luggage

Scripture for Today:  Philippians 3:8 “What is more I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

There was a time when our eldest daughter had the worst luck with lost luggage!  For at least three consecutive flights overseas the airlines lost her suitcase.  To be fair, the luggage was delivered to our door in the first few days.  But on one occasion, it took weeks and she was reimbursed for the contents and her trouble.  Seeing this room full of lost luggage makes me cringe for their owners.  What a hassle!

Today’s verse describes a loss that Paul does not consider so important.  Paul’s background was stellar as a righteous, educated and privileged pharisee.  He was full of religious zeal and entrusted with a mission.  He had the admiration and respect of the world of his day.  Yet, all that he had gained he considered garbage.  The surpassing value of knowing and loving Jesus had given Paul a different perspective.  This beautiful and satisfying relationship with Christ made all his past accomplishments seem worthless.

I tend to base my self worth and importance on past diplomas, accomplishments and recognition from others.  But gaining Christ far outweighs their importance.  If renouncing the accolades of men helps me gain Christ, then it is well worth it!  My relationship with Him is what makes my life sweet and meaningful.  It is no loss to turn my back on the world’s idea of value when I can enjoy the surpassing worth of knowing Him!  “You can have all this world.  Just give me Jesus.”

Lord, give me more of You today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.

 


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Fulfillment Centers

Scripture for Today: Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The Amazon distribution warehouses are called, “Fulfillment Centers.”  There are over eighty of these enormous centers worldwide.  Some of them are as large as twenty eight football fields!  During their last cyber Monday, 426 orders a second came in!  The employees pick, pack and ship with the help of robotic carts, conveyor belts, and automatic sorting systems.  One can even take tours as it is truly a sight to behold!  However, I am not sure about it being the fulfillment of all my hopes and dreams!

Today’s verse talks about being filled to the point of overflowing.  Rather than being momentarily fulfilled with the arrival of that package at the door, this verse tells us we can be filled with something much more long lasting; joy, peace and hope.  This filling comes from the God of hope and it happens when we trust Him completely.  The fulfillment He offers reaches every nook and cranny of our being.  We are not left wanting as He makes it possible to be totally satisfied as we trust Him.

I know when I am on empty.  When hope, joy and peace are just flowery words and not a reality it means I am not in a place of trust.  Or when I am filled with worry and fear, there is no place for them.  But when I turn back to Him, He is ready to fill me with Himself.  He is hope.  He is joy.  He is peace.  He embodies each of these qualities that fulfill me and make life worth living.

Lord, fill me with Yourself today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.