Devotions By Jan


Something’s Missing!

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 1:8 “All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.”

This bizarre bronze statue was created by Bruno Catalano and can be seen in Marseilles, France.  The artist, having been a sailor for twenty years, created his idea of a world citizen.  Every time he personally left a place, he felt he left pieces of himself behind.  Perhaps most everyone can relate as, “Everyone has missing pieces in his life that he won’t find again.”  This is a much more artistic way of expressing the lyrics of, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco!”

Today’s verse is something a world traveler may eventually feel.  In the beginning of exploring our world, there is much to see, hear and experience.  King Solomon had all the resources needed to experience life to the fullest.  Every desire to see and hear was fulfilled.  And yet those experiences did not fulfill him.  The desire to see more is always there.  The longing to hear more is never satisfied.  There is something missing.  The search for something new exotic and different becomes wearisome.  It does not fulfill something deep within.  There is still an emptiness.

I suppose one could call me a world traveler after having visited close to twenty-five countries.  I am privileged to have seen and heard a lot!  I know a number of people who are “minimalists” decrying the accumulation of things and instead filling their lives with seeing and hearing experiences.  But eventually it all becomes wearisome without that relationship with the Creator.  He is the One who fulfills my life, filling in all the empty places.

Thank you Lord that Your love and presence is more satisfying than anything I can see or hear!

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


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Musical Instrument

kent-piano15136013_10100441682641394_3392491044137909679_nScripture for Today: Romans 6:13 “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourself to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness.”

Fascination with musical instruments can start awfully young as proven by our grandson.  Even before the age of two, this little guy is drawn to all kinds.  He will spend inordinate amounts of time on the piano.  He strums his Dad’s guitar, his ukulele, or his “air guitar” if nothing else is available!  And being separated from his toy saxophone is a painful experience! When hearing music played by an orchestra he calls out the violin, the flute, the trumpet and the drums!

Today’s verse talks about the different parts of our body as being instruments, either used for righteousness or wickedness.  Being a disciple of Jesus means offering one’s whole body to Him in complete surrender (Romans 12:1-2).  To do this is a reasonable response to the gift of being brought “from death to life.”  Because our bodies are the temple of His indwelling Spirit (I Cor. 6:19) they are meant for the Lord and the Lord for our bodies (verse 13).

I love that my body can be used as an instrument of righteousness.  I can be His hands when I share with others in need.  I can be His feet when I approach those who are hurting and offer His comfort.  I can use my energy to do what will glorify Him.  Sometimes I get discouraged with the unending temptations that seem to come with this body.  But through Him and His strength, this body can be an instrument He can use.

Lord, today make my body an instrument You can use.

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



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The Sea Turtle

Scripture for Today: Psalm 126:5 “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”

My grandson was entranced with this sea turtle off the coast of Hawaii!  His family had specifically risen early and gone to where they were known to congregate.  But rather than going out to them, this gentle reptile came up close and personal!  If it had been on land it probably would have been a female nesting.  When laying her eggs, the sea turtle will shed large sticky tears that wash off excess salt from their bodies and prevent sand in the eyes.

Today’s verse mentions tears that can be a prelude to songs of joy.  Being filled with joy can follow a time of long arduous preparation and waiting.  The Lord fulfilled His promise to the Israelites to bring them back from captivity and restore their health.  Other nations took note and God was glorified!  After many tears, their mouths were even filled with laughter! (verse 2)  Despite the weeping and waiting they could say, “The Lord has done great things for us!” (verse 3)

The Lord has given me a similar promise.  In His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11) and one day that joy will be overflowing!  All tears will be wiped away from my eyes (Rev. 21:4).  All the waiting and longing and disappointment will come to an end.  The new song He has put in my mouth (Psalm 40:3) will continue on into Heaven.  It is my firm hope and conviction that I will be trading in my tears for astonished and eternal joy!  I look forward to the time when the sowing will be over.  But even here and now in the midst of tears I can say, “The Lord has done great things” for me!

Lord, I praise You for a future without tears.

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Two Plants

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Recently, a popular Swedish furniture chain used a clever marketing ploy to promote an anti-bullying campaign.  They conducted a (non-scientific) experiment of two identical plants given the same care over thirty days.  However, one plant was played a pre-recorded loop of negative, bullying comments while the other was played a loop of positive encouraging words.  These messages were recorded by school children and the results were nothing short of amazing!  One plant wilted and the other thrived!  Although the experiment perhaps lacked scientific controls, I can certainly get behind the message!

Today’s verse tells us that what comes out of our mouths matters.  Unwholesome talk is talk that is also rotten and useless.  Not only do these words fail to build someone up, but they have no benefit at all.  However, our words can have tremendous value in helping another to grow and thrive.  Our words have the potential to meet the need we all have for encouragement and affirmation.  Even just one word spoken at the time of greatest need can lift someone up and keep them falling into a pit of depression.

How much does it really cost me to compliment or encourage?  I want my words to be gracious, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Prov. 16:24).  I want my words to be like His; kind, compassionate and forgiving (verse 32).  But that cannot happen without a heart that is changed by Him.  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45b).  My words will always reflect what is in my heart!

Lord, change my heart and so change my words!


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Light and Dark

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 11:7 “Light is sweet and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.”

It is amazing how sunlight, or the lack of it, can affect my mood.  I enjoy living in an area known for its sunshine.  In fact I am a bit spoiled in that I often take it for granted.  I hardly notice the sunlight after a string of sunny days.  But as soon as the clouds or a marine layer obscure the sun, I realize how good I had it.  Having that contrast with the darkness makes me more appreciative.

Today’s verse is written by Solomon in a book filled with references to the sun.  The phrase, “under the sun” is often used when speaking of the futility of life.  All of life is said to be meaningless and vain if not lived in right relationship to God.  Even sweet light and the pleasure of seeing the sun has no real meaning without knowing its Creator.  But one thing that enhances our enjoyment of the sun is remembering the darkness (verse 8).

Today is a dark day.  Who knows but that tomorrow could be another dark day.  But I have hope that the sunlight of His presence will get me through whatever hard times I face.  And even when I am in a season of sunlight, remembering those darks days helps me appreciate every ray of sunshine He gives me.  I am so thankful that He is a loving personal God who gives me just the right amount of darkness and sunlight.  I can trust Him as He gives to each day what He knows is best.  He allows pain and pleasure, and “mingles toil with peace and rest.” (Day By Day)

Thank you Lord, for the sweet light of Your presence.

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Meghan Markle’s Purse

Scripture for Today: Luke 12:33 “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in Heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”

Being the fiancée of Prince Harry, there is a lot of interest in anything Meghan Markle wears or carries.  The purse Meghan carried at their first official royal event following their engagement sold for 675$.  People were so taken with her look that this same purse sold out on the company’s web site in eleven minutes!  But as with any purse, it will eventually show wear and tear or fall out of fashion.  Before long, it will be passed down to someone else or find its way to a thrift shop.

Today’s verse makes reference to a purse that will never wear out.  Jesus uses this image to illustrate our treasure in Heaven.  This treasure is eternal and will never fail or disappoint.  There is no chance of it being stolen or eaten by moths.  Because this is true, we can freely give to the poor from our earthly treasures.  Jesus reminds His disciples that they have already been given the Kingdom of God.  Because He has taken care of our every need, we are not fearful and can be generous in our giving (verse 32).

How I spend my money is a true litmus test of where my heart is and what I value.  I do not want my purse stuffed with what is inconsequential or with what the world says is important.  I want to use my money and influence to grow His Kingdom and please Him.  I already know that I cannot “out-give” the Lord as He provides everything I need.

Lord, may You be the true Treasure of my heart.

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Playing Checkers

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

The game of Checkers has been around a lot longer than this 1937 scene pictured here.  Checkers is thought to be the oldest game in the world dating back over 4,000 years!  According to inscriptions found in the temple of Thebes, Egyptian kings took time out from overseeing the construction of the pyramids to play checkers!  Lots of famous people have since had a fondness for the game including past presidents, noted scientists and popular sport heroes.  Whoever the player may be however, it is certain that they have a “checkered past.”

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance for all of us who regret those black squares that mark our past.   No one is immune from having that checkered past as all have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23).  But the Lord has promised a forgiveness and pardon that is complete.  He blots out every sin and chooses to not remember them.  He no longer holds against us all of our failures and disobedience.  Jesus took on Himself the punishment for each of those sins.

I would love to be able to “remember my sins no longer.”  But the memories remain.  And Satan loves to whisper in my ears his accusations.  Thankfully, God’s Word is full of reassurances of unconditional love and complete pardon.  The Lord graciously softens and blurs memories of past failures.  If guilty memories occasionally do reappear, He is there to build me back up.  If nothing else, those memories remind me that I am not perfect, but His forgiveness is!  When I remember a checkered past I can also remember that His grace is greater than all my sin!

Thank you Lord, for wiping out and forgetting my sin forever!