Devotions By Jan

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Stuff Manager

Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:20-21  “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Are you a “Stuff Manager” like me? At least I am more organized with my “stuff” than this homeowner! Even so I resent the time and trouble possessions require. There is shelving it, boxing it, or relegating it to either the garage or storage unit. There is bagging it for the thrift store and carting it off. Or I end up throwing out what was once a treasure with the trash. But as hard as I try, the stuff invariably piles up again!

Today’s verse talks about storing treasure without actually defining it. It is treasure found in Heaven and cannot be destroyed. Here on earth everything is temporal. And one day everything will pass away to make way for the new earth (Matt. 24:35). Yet, we all have the tendency to store up things even when we realize that, “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15b”). There is something about the tangible that reassures us, provides a sense of security and even adds to our feelings of self-worth.

It is a sobering thought to realize that the objects I treasure are not going to last. The lasting treasures are found in Heaven where my heart and focus need to be. That treasure is not gold as the streets are paved with it. It is not precious stones as those are just building materials for the gates. Crowns will be readily given up and placed at the feet of Jesus. The true lasting treasure is the loving presence of Jesus. And that is a treasure I can enjoy today!

Lord, I want to treasure You.

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Blind Trust?

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.”

These tiny newborn birds have their mouths open wide in anticipation of the next morsel of food from their mother.  These little birds are so new that their eyes have not yet opened.  They cannot see their mother but they sense she is there.  They have no choice in the menu but seem confident enough to eat and swallow without question what the mother provides.  Theirs is a blind trust.

Today’s verse describes the joy and peace that is ours when we trust the One who is totally trustworthy! When we trust His provision we overflow with hope. This hope comes through the power of His Holy Spirit. It may sometimes seem like a “blind trust” as we cannot understand the work of God completely (Eccl. 11:5). We do not see the path of the wind or how the bones are formed in the mother’s womb. There is so much we do not understand. Like these newborn fledglings, we trust our Heavenly Father without knowing all the details.

What is reassuring about my trust is that it is not really blind. I know the One in whom I place my trust and that makes all the difference! When I cannot understand what He is doing, I can still trust that He will be true to His character: loving, good, faithful and true. I can trust that He will be true to His Word.  He is never random or capricious. I can open my mouth wide to receive whatever it is He has in store for me.

Thank you Lord, for the joy and peace that comes from trusting You.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2014.)

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A Snow-Capped Palm!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:12 “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree. He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”

Compo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This is not normally how I think of a palm tree! Palm trees are usually associated with warm balmy climates. And mild weather is usually the norm for Marseilles, France where this picture was taken. But a cold snap surprised this palm and it sags under the weight of the snow. Soon I will be traveling and speaking on the East Coast where I will feel like this palm. The cold weather and snow will be a shock to this pampered “palm” from Southern California!

Today’s verse describes the righteous as flourishing like a palm tree, regardless of the weather. The righteous one when planted in the house of the Lord, can expect healthy growth, flourishing in the courts of our God (verse 13). But we do not grow like the hardy palm tree when we are planted in the world. There the soil is toxic. And there the weather of changing morals is variable. We need to be rooted and grounded in the constants of His love and grace. When we are, we can enjoy His righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. (Rom.3:22)

That crisis in my life can feel just like a cold shock. My body stiffens and my eyes grow wide with it. But even when that unexpected cold front dumps snow on me I can still flourish because of Him. He keeps me strong and rooted. Because of His love and promises I can not only survive but thrive! I am in His courts and there is no better place to be! Better is one day there than a thousand elsewhere! (Psalm 84:10)

Keep me flourishing, Lord.  Keep me near You.

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A Heart of Gold

Scripture for Today: Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What a find! This beautiful golden heart was discovered in Pembrokeshire, England and now sits in a museum. This heart is thought to date back to the late 14th century. It was at that time that the pear shaped heart, representing love, changed position. Before that time the heart was portrayed upside down! Today no one would mistake the heart as a symbol of love regardless of its position or even its composition. Of course, one made of gold has a longer shelf life than one made of chocolate!

Today’s verse puts a heart made of stone in a very negative light. The stone represents an unwillingness to submit to God. This is a heart that is stubborn and hardened against God and His commandments. The Sovereign Lord wanted to bless Israel for obedience and through them to make His name known to all the nations. But the people resisted God’s plan and their hardened hearts caused them to forgo His blessing, that is just until they repented.

I can almost feel my heart hardening when I ignore what He says in His Word. But when I am submissive and agree with Him that His way is better, I can feel my heart becoming soft and pliable again. This new spirit He gives is one of obedience. And His Spirit moves me to follow and obey Him (verse 27). I do not want a heart of gold that is hard and stubborn. I want my heart made of flesh, so that it is soft and malleable, one that He can use.

Lord, keep my heart soft towards You.


Buyer’s Remorse

Scripture for Today: Matthew 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

It’s not that I hate buying online. The convenience of it is wonderful when everything goes right. But when there is a problem, the back and forth with the company, the mailing back of the item or delays in being reimbursed can be very frustrating. Then there’s the decision as to whether it is worth it or not to buy again online. Sometimes it seems easier to just get in the car and shop the old fashioned way!

The purchase in today’s verse will have no buyer’s remorse! This parable told by Jesus points out the incredible value inherent in the kingdom of heaven. It is a treasure that is worth far more than everything a man can exchange for it. It is a treasure that is worth the effort of finding as it is eternal. It is ready and waiting in heaven where it is protected. (Matt. 6:20) But this treasure is also enjoyed now with knowing the King of this kingdom!

I sometimes forget that my little pile of baubles has no value at all compared to the treasure of knowing Him! Paul considered everything in his life a pile of garbage when measured against the surpassing worth of knowing Christ! (Phil. 3:8) What an incredible exchange God offers: light for darkness, forgiveness for guilt, rest for weariness, hope for despair, and peace for chaos. He asks of me all my heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30) And HE is a worth giving my all!

Thank you Lord, for being my treasure.