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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A New Season

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

The vineyards of Alsace, France are breathtaking in the autumn! Rich golden color covers the hillsides and when the sun shines just right, the leaves look to be on fire! But before long these leaves turn brown, shrivel and fall to the ground, exposing gnarled bare branches. I miss being surrounded by these vineyards as they mark the passing of time. There was a sense of order and comfort knowing that each season will make its appearance in due time.

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)

In the blink of an eye, a new season has arrived in my life. I did not ask for the change. I was happy with the old season. But it is my Heavenly Father who ushers in a different life without a loved one. And because He has been faithful in the past, I know I can trust Jesus for this unfamiliar territory. I am confident that He will move me through this season of sadness and loss in His way and in His time. How thankful I am that there is coming a “season” that will be eternal and unchanging in Heaven! What an incredible time of reunion it will be!

Lord, keep me focused on that time without end!


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How Do You Say Goodbye?

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 4:13 “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

I love the way the French express their goodbyes. “Au revoir” has the idea of seeing one again right there in the word. It was a long goodbye for my Mother-in-law as she left us for Heaven. But how wonderful it was for her to have the chance to say her goodbyes to so many of her family and friends. There were tears, hand-holding and hugs. There was even a live violin concert right there in her bedroom!

Today’s verse tells us that for the believer in Christ there is a different way to grieve. We grieve with hope. The separation is painful and hard but it is temporary. Death has been swallowed up in victory! It is a passage where the perishable is clothed with imperishable and the mortal with immortality! (I Cor. 15:53-54) One day there will be an incredible reunion of laughing and singing and dancing! The sting of death will be forever removed. This sure hope makes a temporary separation bearable.

“When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain; but we shall still be joined in heart and hope to meet again.” And my hope is not just wishful thinking but a certainty!  My hope is built on Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for me. It is on that cross that He triumphed over death, insuring eternal life for those who place their trust in Him. It is this hope that changes my grief. It is this hope that helps me say goodbye.

Thank you Lord, that grief does not crush me.  Thank you Lord, that Your hope is my comfort.


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Bridge of Sighs

Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:9 “All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.”

Beautiful Venice charms the visitor with its lovely canals and baroque-style buildings. However, there is a back story to the covered bridge above. This is the Bridge of Sighs, built in 1602 to link the Doge Palace to the prison across the canal. Through its narrow windows, prisoners can get a last glimpse of the outside world. It is entirely possible that this sight elicits from the prisoner a deep sigh of remorse and regret.

Today’s verse describes the longing and sighing of David. He is overwhelmed by his sin and guilt (verse 3-4). He describes in detail his anguish both emotional and physical. He knows that God sees his longings and hears his sighs. David prays his emotions, his bridge of sighs taking him directly to his Lord. Even in the middle of his suffering, there is a glimmer of confidence that God will answer him (verse 15). And David ends this psalm with a cry that God come quickly to help him (verse 21).

My sighing comes from fatigue, dashed expectations, and often from frustration at what life is throwing at me. Unlike David, my sighing is not usually over my own sin and guilt, although perhaps it should be!! What a tender heart he had! And perhaps this is why God called David, “a man after his own heart.” (I Sam. 13:14) But despite the reason for my sighs, I can be confident that He hears. He knows and cares. And one day there is promise that sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 51:11). Nothing will remain to sigh about and all that breath will be transformed to unending praise!

Thank you Lord for a future without sighs.


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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.