Devotions By Jan

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Home for the Holidays?

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:8 “We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

I love the carol, “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays.” Much of my decorating for Christmas is done in the hopes of making my house seem more “homey.” The right ambiance and the painstaking emphasis on feeling tones are all done with the hopes of creating a sense of HOME. But of course, the important element is the people there to enjoy it! Everything can be in its place. The decorations can be perfect. The right carols can be playing and the air filled with wonderful scents of cinnamon. But without loved ones there, it all falls flat.

Today’s verse expresses Paul’s preference to be “home with the Lord” rather than at home in his body. Even if conditions on this earth were perfect, there would always be a sense that we are not home yet. Paul believed that being home with the Lord is far better than living here on earth. That’s because to be home is to be with Him. HE Himself is our “home.”

There are family and friends of mine already with the Lord. I miss them. But they are home. What is more, they are home for the holidays, in their true home. The holidays they are enjoying far outshine what we can do to celebrate here on earth.  No budget, no tiredness, no dashed expectations, no overindulgence! Those in Heaven have no trouble keeping Jesus front and center! It is true, there is no place like home for the holidays. How much more this is true for our eternal home!

May Christ be my “home” during this holiday and every day!


Worn Out Welcome

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:11 “…and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

My welcome mat is looking a bit sad. The welcome seems worn out with time although it is not that old. There is an old truism written by Benjamin Franklin and found in his Poor Richard’s Almanack. It says that fish and visitors stink after three days! If that is true I have stunk plenty of times. The idea is that after three days, a fish left out will smell and the welcome of a visitor may wear out.

Today’s verse is about crossing over the threshold from an earthly life into the eternal kingdom of God. I am not so sure there is a mat needed to mark that entrance! However, there will be a “rich welcome” for those who have placed their faith in the saving work of Jesus. And there is no other entrance except through Him (John 14:6). A rich welcome must mean that no one enters quietly or unnoticed. Each arrival will be a celebrated home-coming and marked with a warm welcome. Perhaps the believer will experience the same kind of welcome as the Prodigal Son. When he returned to his Father’s house, his Father ran out to greet him.  He welcomes him with the best robe, a ring and sandals. And there is a feast and celebration all done to welcome him!

I wonder what is done to welcome believers into that eternal kingdom. No way do we slip in unnoticed. I imagine one’s “rich welcome” means being greeted by family and friends who arrived before us. But the richest welcome of all would be to be greeted and held in the warm embrace of the Savior! And this welcome will never wear out!

Thank you Lord, for the rich welcome in my future!


Poking Holes

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 11:10 “He (Abraham) was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

There was a problem. We had been living with it for awhile and finally decided to do something about it. The “something” meant poking a hole in the foundation. It was the only way to fix the shortcuts that were taken in the building of our house 46 years ago. After repairs below, there was no question but that we had to go that extra step. The foundation needed work to be stable once again. It would be unthinkable to live with a gaping hole in a foundation.

Today’s verse describes the faith of Abraham, looking forward to the Celestial City with sure foundations. He does not have to worry about how those foundations were built as the Builder and Architect is God Himself. Abraham lived as a nomad, in tents and on the move. (verse 9) He lived like a stranger in a foreign country. The idea of building his life on an unmovable foundation must have been especially attractive.

The foundation this world offers is never a sure one. Its changing “truths” make it full of holes and unstable. Trying to build my life on it is like trying to nail jello to a wall! If there are no absolute truths there can be nothing sure and certain on which to build my life. But my foundation is God’s unchanging and life-giving Word. Nothing and no one can poke holes in His Word, His character and His plans. Despite the uncertainties of this life, I can look forward with certainty to the fulfillment of every promise. My Builder and Architect is even now preparing a place for me (John 14:2).

Lord, keep me looking forward to what You have prepared for me!

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The Grace Building

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 3:10 “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should build with care”

Built by the Grace brothers in the 1920’s as their premiere retail store, this building in Sydney, Australia epitomized the optimism of that period.  But with the Great Depression of 1930, it did not live up to expectations.  In 1943 it was used as a headquarters by General MacArthur.  It remained in the possession of the government until purchased and transformed into a hotel.  There is grace in this building’s past in it being repurposed over and over again!

Today’s verse likens a believer’s life to a building.  This is also a “grace building” as the foundation is Christ Jesus Himself. (verse 11)  Each believer builds his life with care, making sure that one has the sure and strong foundation of the grace and forgiveness of the Lord.  Any other foundation will cause a building to topple.  This building can withstand any damaging storm.  A life built on Christ can experience all kinds of setbacks but there is always His grace with which He rebuilds and repurposes!

My foundation is not always visible to others.  But when the storms hit, (and they seem to be sweeping through quite often) I know I will not be shaken.  Christ keeps my life stable.  Even if mountains are shaken and hills removed, His unfailing love is my foundation and I will not be shaken! (Isaiah 54:10)  Building my life on Christ and His incredible grace means I can face tomorrow and the next day with confidence!  No other foundation can compare and He has proved faithful over and over!

Thank you Lord, that because of You and Your grace, I can stay standing.

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Stork Sightings

Scripture for Today:Psalm 84:2 “My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

How fun to be back in the land of the storks!  Here on the French/German border I see them daily on my walks and they always take my breath away, soaring above my head or foraging in the fields.  There are lots of beliefs and legends surrounding this magnificent bird.  In ancient Egypt a stork was used as a hieroglyph for the “Ba”or “soul.”  And in Germany storks have long been protected because of the belief that their souls were human!

Today’s verse describes a soul that yearns and even faints for the presence of the Lord.  The soul of man is created to have intimate relationship with his Creator.  The courts of the Lord are a lovely place (verse 1).  Being in His courts for even just one day is better than a thousand days anywhere else! (verse 10)  We are told to “dwell” in His house as a sparrow and swallow would nest in her home (verse 3).  This is not just a Sunday church experience but a daily closeness with Him.  Those that dwell in His house are happy and blessed, praising Him for His goodness (verse 4).

I know I am far from His house or presence when I am dissatisfied and negative.  When I am feeling far away from my Creator, there is a lack of joy and praising Him is not a natural impulse.  When I have had enough of my own company I feel my soul being drawn again to His wonderful and lovely presence.  I yearn for those soft sweet whispers of love and reassurance.

Thank you Lord, that You always welcome me back to Your presence!

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)