Devotions By Jan


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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.


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The Emerald

Scripture for Today: Revelation 4:3 “And the One who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.”

The color and brilliance of this emerald take my breath away!  This gemstone is a variety of the mineral beryl.  But what classifies it as an emerald is its deep bluish to pure green color saturation.  And the more it is transparent the more it is valuable with its shine.  The small fissures in the stone are called the stone’s “jardin” (garden).  Some are treated with oil to fill in these natural fissures.  Although the emerald has been mined for centuries, today one can buy synthetic emeralds.  But somehow it is not the same.

The shine of an emerald is the image John uses in today’s verse to describe a rainbow that encircles God’s throne.  Its brilliance will be awe-inspiring and fitting for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  But He Himself will have an appearance just as brilliant as the stunning ruby and the crystal-like jasper.  These precious stones, as beautiful as they are, do not come close to describing God’s magnificence.  His glory would be blinding if not for our new bodies with its new eyes.  We will be filled with the wonder of His beauty as we fall to our knees in worship and praise.

I need to be reminded of God’s incredible beauty and glory.  Too often I over-simplify God in an attempt to understand Him.  I can only know His reflection for now, but one day we will be face to face (I Cor. 13:12).  Then I will know Him fully, as fully as He knows me!  What a day that will be!  No more flawed impressions, wrong ideas, or ambiguity.

Lord, give me another glimpse of Your glory today.

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


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Speed Dating

dating600_451637660Scripture for Today: John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life; that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”

More and more of these speed dating events are taking place around the globe.  This image is taken in Dublin.  The idea is intriguing, but when I asked my husband if I could attend one for “research” he was not too enthusiastic!  The premise is that one can know quite quickly if there is any kind of spark between two people.  Most participants make their choice within the first three seconds, so that first impression is paramount.

Today’s verse is from a conversation Jesus had with His Father.  Jesus prayed that the Father would be glorified through Him.  He acknowledges that the power to give eternal life has been granted Him from God the Father.  Then comes this surprising description of what eternal life is; it is to know Him.

Knowing God intimately will be an unending endeavor.  There will be no time limit to this relationship.  And knowing God will take forever.  There is no coming to the end of Him as He is infinite!  There will always be new and exciting facets to knowing Him.  Each day there will be breathtaking discoveries about who He is!  Knowing Him more and more each day will be fascinating and thrilling.  He will never become boring or predictable.

Eternal life is not just in the future.  Eternal life begins now and just never ends.  Knowing Him begins now although my progress is continually interrupted by my limits, distractions, and my own sinful nature.  But one day I will be face to face, no longer knowing Him just in part, but wholly, just as He knows me! (I Cor. 13:12)

Lord, may I see You and know You more today than yesterday!

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


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Salmon Run

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:8-9 “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”

It is an incredibly strong instinct that drives the salmon to swim upstream to spawn.  After a few years in the ocean, the urge to lay its eggs in the exact fresh water stream where they were born drives them to make the long and arduous journey.  The salmon are so intent on their goal, they do not even stop to eat on the way.  They are so exhausted when arriving “home” that after laying their eggs, most do not survive.

Today’s verse refers to an eternal home with the Lord.  As long as we are in these earthly bodies we are not completely “at home.”  How surprising that Paul would rather be away from his body in order to be completely at home with his Lord! He not only says this but he says it with confidence.  In these bodies we groan and are burdened.  But when we are finally home, we will be clothed with a new body.  In the meantime we swim upstream.  As believers, we swim against the current as our life’s goal is to please Him.

I am often distracted from my heart’s desire to please Him.  But if to please Him is the all-consuming goal of my life, then I can persevere when life gets difficult.  Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6) but I can feel His pleasure when I turn to Him in absolute trust and confidence.  Pleasing Him gives purpose to my day, even a mundane one.

Lord, keep me focused on pleasing You today.

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


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Jacaranda Tree

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 15:52 “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed.”

I love this time of year when the Jacaranda tree is in bloom.  Their purple color is so vibrant it almost looks unreal, like something out of Dr. Seuss!  When several of these trees line a street, their blooms resemble a sea of lavender.  And when their blossoms drop to the ground, their beauty continues as a lilac carpet.  It seems appropriate that their flowers are in the shape of a trumpet, as they herald the coming of summer!

The trumpet in our verse today has a very special meaning.  Sounding it will signal the resurrection.  It does not say who will blow this trumpet, perhaps an angel, but it will be heard all over the world.  When it is blown, those believers who have died will receive their new incorruptible bodies.  Those believers still living at the time will also be changed.  Death will forever be swallowed up in victory! (verse 54)  What a day that will be!

One future day I will hear a trumpet sound that will announce the end of time.  Death will no longer sting and sin will be powerless.  My body will be changed to be imperishable.  Knowing this helps me to stay steadfast, immoveable and involved in what He wants me to do.  He has promised that my work for Him will never be futile or in vain (verse 58).  Thinking about what is to come keeps me motivated and encouraged!

Lord, keep me listening for that trumpet!

 

 


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“Work Sets You Free”

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.”

What a sobering experience it was to tour the Dachau concentration camp.  This gate. like the one at Auschwitz, screams the absurdity that “Work Sets You Free.”  The horrifying truth was that the only freedom for those prisoners was found in death.  The saying comes from the title of a novel by a German author.  In that story, thieves and gamblers discovered their redemption through labour.

Today’s verse teaches a truth that for some is counter-intuitive.  Very clearly it states that salvation does not come through our work or efforts.  We want to think that somehow, something we did contributed to being saved.  But no matter how hard one works to earn Heaven, man will always fall short of the perfect standard of God’s holiness.  We cannot free ourselves from the damning chains of sin without God taking the initiative.  His grace or unmerited favor, is what frees us.  Salvation itself is free and a gift from God.  Because this is true, none of us can boast about having anything to do with it!

My gratitude towards God grows by leaps and bounds when I grasp this truth.  It is all grace and it is amazing!  There is tremendous freedom in my spirit to be assured that my salvation depends on Him and not my efforts.  Without this truth, I would always be in a state of fear and worry about my eternal destination.  Putting my faith and trust in what HE did on that cross rather than in what I can do makes me free indeed!

Thank you Lord, that Your gift of grace saves me.