Devotions By Jan


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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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DIY Fail!

Scripture for Today:  Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” 

What happened here?!  This do-it-yourself tile job has a serious flaw.  Someone was not paying attention!  There is no question that there is a clear pattern to follow.  Perhaps the worker laying the tile was not paid and this was the way he sought revenge.  Or perhaps there was drinking on the job and vision was impaired.  Or maybe it was just a style choice, although I find that last explanation hard to believe!  All that is needed to fix this is for that one tile to be turned.

Today’s verse was part of a sermon given by Peter to the Israelites.  They had been living a pattern of behavior shared by their ancestors.  After enjoying a time of blessing, they would rebel and ignore the prophets.  When punishment followed, they would cry to God in repentance.  He would forgive and restore them and renew His blessings.  Then, before too long the pattern would be repeated.  Peter pointed out how God fulfilled everything foretold through the prophets when He sent His Son, Jesus. (verse 18)

I am so grateful for Christ’s incredible patience with me!  I find myself following this same pattern of turning away from Him.  In my pride and self-sufficiency, I think I know better how to live my own life.  When things start following apart, and they do, I finally turn back to Him in humility and cry for help.  He is always there.  He is always ready to forgive and restore.  His love is unconditional and unchanging and He waits for me to turn to Him.  Then I can enjoy once again that “time of refreshing.”

Refresh me today, Lord.


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“Smart” Home

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 24:3-4  “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

I am afraid my home is not too smart according to the accepted definition.  A “smart home” is a residence that is equipped with network-connected products.  The lighting, temperature, appliances, security and entertainment can all be monitored and managed through internet connected devices.  Having a smart home may make it safer, more energy efficient or just make for a more entertaining  environment.

Today’s verse talks about a home that is not only smart but built by wisdom and established by understanding. The rooms of this home are filled with precious and pleasant riches because the residents are living according to the knowledge of who He is and how He wants us to live.  Wisdom and understanding are not found at the local Home Depot.  There is only one true source.  Psalm 111:10 says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and those who do His commandments have understanding.  A house built on these principles is a home where peace can endure.

I do not know of a single Christian home without conflict.  Put two family members in the same room and there will be two very divergent points of view.  Keeping the peace and reacting with wisdom and understanding is an impossible challenge without the Lord’s help.  I would rather my home be a pleasant peaceful place than have the latest technology.  I want my home to be a safe place where one can express oneself without fear of rejection.  His love is unconditional and my desire is to show that same quality of love.  It is never easy, but it is wise.

Lord, may my home be built with Your wisdom and understanding.


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Swallows Day Parade

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 84:3 “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, My King and My God.”

The 60th annual Swallows Day parade takes place in San Juan Capistrano this weekend.  It is the largest non-motorized parade in the United States.  This event celebrates the return of the swallows from Argentina where they winter each year.  Parade spectators enjoy the festive ambience and a sense of community as local clubs, schools and associations participate.  There are dogs, wagons, horses, bands, dancers, and of course the pooper-scoopers at the end!  The only thing missing are the swallows, most of whom have unfortunately migrated further north to Chino Hills.

Today’s verse talks about the ideal place where the swallow builds her nest for herself and her family.  The swallow builds her nest near God’s altar.  When one thinks of a nest, there is the thought of comfort, care and protection.  A nest represents home and hearth.  The altar of God represents His presence and His dwelling is described as “lovely” (verse 1).  His altar is a place of adoration and worship and the one who dwells there is said to be blessed or happy.

My nest could be feathered very comfortably with all kinds of creature comforts.  But like the swallow in today’s verse, the most important component is God’s presence.  Far more important than open concept, decor or the latest appliances is enjoying the presence of my Lord God and King every day.  He has knocked on my door (Rev.3:20) and I want to make sure that my door remains open to Him!

Lord, may my home be marked by the happiness and peace I have in You!


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Gingerbread House

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14:1 “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

I have seen lots of gingerbread house creations over the years, including those of my grandsons.  But I have never seen such attention to detail as these houses on display at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, Napa Valley.  It took lots of self control on the part of my husband to not indulge in just one roof tile.  That is because not only are they elaborately constructed, but they were done by budding chefs, making them delicious too!

Today’s verse describes the wise woman as someone who knows how to build her own house.  By contrast, the foolish woman will tear hers down.  It is in the power of the woman to do either.  So much of a family’s emotional health and well-being are dependent on the wife and mother.  She has the potential to build up the members of her household with words of love, acceptance and encouragement.  What comes out of her mouth is to build others up according to their needs (Eph. 4:22).  The home where this is true is a safe and peaceful place.

It is a sobering thought to realize the potential of my words.  I do not always see the damage I am doing to the walls and floors with my complaints and negativity.  There may be tiles missing from my roof as a result of my criticism and nagging.  It is a daily challenge to bite my tongue.  But I have seen too the benefits when the Lord answers my prayers to “set a guard over my mouth.” (Psalm 141:3).  It is only with His help that I can be that wise woman with a house still standing!

Lord, help me control my mouth today.