Devotions By Jan


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Keepsake

Scripture for Today: II Timothy 1:12 “…nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”

A “keepsake” is defined as a small item kept in memory of the person who gave it or originally owned it.  This sand footprint was made to be a keepsake.  At first glance it seemed as an odd choice.  How could something made of sand keep for any length of time?  But in scanning the instructions, I saw that plaster of paris was used, so that it was not as fragile as I first thought.

Today’s verse is about committing something to God’s care.  He keeps it.  He keeps it safe and secure.  It is something that will last into eternity; our soul.  Paul is persuaded that God is able to guard what was entrusted to Him.  He was so convinced of his future in Heaven that he was fearless in his defense and spread of the Gospel.  Paul was able to face imprisonment and even death with a calm assurance.  He knew where he was going and could stay loyal to the One who was keeping his soul secure.

I am so grateful that He keeps my soul.  Even now, I have already died and my life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3)  Being persuaded of this makes a difference to how I go through this journey.  With my eternal destiny decided I can lose my life for His sake.  And in doing so, I find life! (Mark 8:35)  Having this assurance helps me hold on a little less tightly to all that is earthly.  He is guarding for me a hope and future beyond anything that I can imagine.

Thank you Lord, for keeping me secure.

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Giving Thanks

Scripture for Today: Revelation 5:12 “In a loud voice they were saying, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.'”

I love that Thanksgiving precedes a time of crazy wanting, shopping and buying!  Instead of focusing on all that we do not have, Thanksgiving is a time of remembering just how blessed we already are.  For the believer, there is a Recipient to our thanks, Jesus Christ.  It is from Him that all blessings flow!  We direct to Him all of our gratitude.  It is to Him that we give thanks, with our lips and with our hearts.

Today’s verse describes the scene in Heaven where Jesus as the Lamb of God is given all the honor, glory and praise that is His due.  There is no one who is more deserving.  The phrase, “I cannot thank you enough,” will for the first time be absolutely true!  We can never thank Him enough for our salvation and what it cost Him.  We will spend all eternity praising Him and even then, it will never be enough.

The Lord does not engage in false humility as we do saying, “Oh, don’t mention it.”  He accepts our continual praise and gratitude because He deserves it.  I can never come to the end of thanking Him because He continually gives.  I can never thank Him too much because I am so undeserving.  I do not merit any of what He so graciously gives me.  Every good and perfect gift in my life is a direct result of His love and grace towards me.  He deserves my thanks for even my next breath and heartbeat.

Lord, may my life be characterized  by gratitude.


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Paradise Lost

Scripture for Today: Luke 23:42-43 “….’Jesus, remember me when You come in Your Kingdom.’  And He said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.'”

I am heartbroken when seeing images of the ongoing fire in Paradise, California.  To date, 146 thousand acres are burned and the town itself devastated.  So many structures were destroyed, over 11 thousand.  But most importantly, 71 souls have been lost.  And with over 1,000 unaccounted for, that number is sure to rise.  The survivors run the spectrum of emotions, from thankful to bitter.  I cannot imagine this pain of loss but I was saddened to hear one survivor blame God and ask how He could allow a town with the name, “Paradise” to burn.

Today’s verse is a promise of Paradise for a thief.  He hung on the cross next to Jesus because he deserved to be there.  He did not deserve Paradise.  But Jesus made a way.  He offers Paradise anew as mankind has lost it.  With the sin and banishment of Adam and Eve from the garden, Paradise can no longer exist on this earth.  There will always be fire, natural disasters, evil, sickness and death.  God did not intend life to be like this.  We brought it on ourselves.  But He did give us a solution in the sacrifice of His Son.

There, in Paradise, I will live life as it was meant to be.  There will be no pain, no sin, no guilt nor ugliness.  There will be no regrets or dashed expectations!  There will only be unending joy in His presence!  It is so hard to imagine.  But one thing is sure.  It will be so much better than my imagination!

Thank you Lord, that because of You, Paradise can be found again!


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Coffin Homes

Scripture for Today: John 14:2 “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”

I cannot imagine living in such cramped conditions!  The housing crisis in Hong Kong is so dire that it has been ranked the least affordable housing market in the world for seven years.  More than 200,000 residents live in subdivided units.  And some of them are so small that they are called, “coffin homes.”  In some shoebox spaces there is no place to step and one cannot stretch out legs for sleep.

Today’s verse speaks of rooms that are being readied for the arrival of God’s children.  Each is being especially prepared by our loving Father.  The number of rooms in His house are too numerous to even be counted!  Yet, I imagine that each one is stamped with the personality of the one who is to live there.  The space will be all we would ever want.  The rooms will be perfect.  The style will suit us.  The comforts will be exactly right.  But the best part is that there will be uninterrupted time with the Owner of the house!

I love that the Lord uses this image of a house.  It will feel more like home than anything we have ever experienced on earth.  The idea of a perfect home is not the size or the number of rooms but the love and warmth that this place can encompass.  Just because it is perfect does not mean that it is cold or impersonal.  It will be filled with love and laughter and eternal joy in His presence!  There will be music and running and skipping on those golden sidewalks!

Thank you Lord, for the room You are preparing for me!

 


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Pet Adoption

Scripture for Today: John 14:2 “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”

I could never visit an animal shelter.  I would want to bring at least half of the animals home with me!  I have the same problem when visiting a pet store.  As tempting as it is, one thing that keeps me grounded is knowing that I have not prepared for one.  There are so many considerations including: whether the pet will fit with my lifestyle and whether my living arrangements will be suitable.

Today’s verse talks about a place that is being prepared for the eventual arrival of the believer to his eternal home.  Every consideration has been taken.  The One preparing this place knows about every desire, preference and need.  That is because He is the Creator and knows us better than we know ourselves.  This place will be exactly what we did not know we wanted!  And when we finally arrive, this prepared place will immediately be “home” more than any other place we have ever lived.

The particulars are not so important to me.  The details will be fabulous but what will make this place He has prepared so special is the fact that it is in His house!  He will be residing there as well.  His continual and uninterrupted presence will make this place “home.”  It will be my forever home and that illusive contentment I have been chasing all my life will be mine!  What other home could be decorated with perfect love, peace, joy and satisfaction?  It is there waiting for me to move in, and when I do, I will feel settled for the very first time.

Thank you Lord, that You love me enough to prepare a place for me!


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Forced Perspective

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

The Leaning Tower of Piza is not the only place in Europe where tourists practice their “forced perspective” photography!  This booted giant woman looks as if she is crushing the Louvre Pyramid.  This technique manipulates our human visual perception with the use of optical illusion.  The result is often surprising, making an object appear larger, smaller, closer or farther away than it really is.

Today’s verse is all about perspective.  Paul tells believers to set their minds on things above.  Our minds and our hearts 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 affects how we see our problems.  What can loom so large in our perspective is only “light and momentary trouble.” (II Cor. 4:17)  All the hard things in this life are, “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

This perspective is not forced but it sure makes Heaven seem a little bit closer.  The things of this earth can seem much smaller with a heart set on what is above.  And sometimes, I need to see the hard things as smaller than they appear.  I need to change my perspective to what is eternal and lasting to see past the problems I face today.

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


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Pack Rat

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.”

This garage is definitely the work of a pack rat.  In fact, it looks like it could possibly have rats!  No, this is not our garage, fortunately.  We try very hard to clear out and sort on a regular basis.  It is never easy to let things go, but I have a horror of ending up like this picture!  As it is, I think we are the only ones in our cul-de-sac able to fit two cars in our garage!

Today’s verse talks about 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, 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.