Devotions By Jan


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.

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God Is With Us

Scripture for Today: Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).”

This image came from a site that provides greetings to friends and families, personalizing them with a name. Immanuel or Emmanuel is not a name I hear too much except in France. There, it is used for boys or for girls but with a different spelling. But in both cases it is often shortened to “Manu.” I cannot hear the name Immanuel without thinking of this verse and its meaning; God with us.

Today’s verse is part of the angel’s message to Joseph. Not only does it reassure Joseph, but the name Immanuel also ties in to a prophecy in Isaiah 7. The wicked King Ahaz was in a tight spot, his reign threatened by two kings. God sent Isaiah with God’s promise to deliver Israel both then and in the future. Despite Ahaz, Judah and David’s line would be preserved through the coming of the Messiah! Because “God is with us” Isaiah says to be careful, keep calm, do not be afraid and do not lose heart (verse 4).

What an amazing message is wrapped up in the name, Immanuel! Because God is with me, I can stay calm, despite what is happening around me or even to me! There is no reason to be fearful because God keeps His Word. He will never leave me or forsake me (Deut. 31:6) even when surrounded by enemies! He will never leave or forsake me when facing financial challenges (Heb. 13:5). His presence is constant so I do not lose heart. I may not understand what is happening but I understand that He is there and He loves me!

I love You, Immanuel.

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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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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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Scripture for Today: Psalm 39:6 “Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be.”

It has got to be one of the easiest costumes to put together! And that old white sheet hanging out in the cupboard is finally being put to good use! The ghost costume allows for a coat to be worn underneath in a cold climate with none being the wiser! However, all that material slipping around can trip up its wearer. But it does the job. And in rushing from house to house candies are happily heaped up!

Today’s verse describes another kind of phantom. He doesn’t appear just once a year but spends a lifetime accumulating wealth. It is a vain goal as he does not even know what will become of it after he leaves this earth. To place our hope and confidence in what we own is foolish as our wealth can quickly sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle (Prov. 23:5). What a contrast to the one whose hope is in the Lord (verse 7). The riches of His love, care and faithfulness are eternal.

I am a mere phantom with no real substance when my focus is on what will not last. I want my life to be lived on a different plane with a deeper meaning. I want to live with eternity in view but I get so distracted by what I can see and touch. Spending all my energies on the temporal keeps me from that true life. My heart needs to be with the treasure and reward that last, that which is stored up in Heaven (Matthew 6:21-22). As C.T. Studd wrote, “Only one life ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Lord, keep me from being “ghostly!”