Devotions By Jan


Below the Surface

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 4:13 “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

I am holding what looks to be a branch. But in fact it is a ficus root from our neighbor’s tree! For years and years the roots have spread, seeking out any cool damp earth. Unfortunately, they found some beneath the foundation of our bathroom! These ficus roots are notorious for breaking up patios, roads and building foundations! With moisture, the roots will expand in girth, creating havoc where no one sees!

Today’s verse tells us that there is nothing hidden from God, not even those nasty ficus roots! What is covered and secret to the human eye is uncovered and open to His scrutiny. He sees what no one else does: the motive, the intent, the circumstances and the rationale behind everything. The Lord is the only One who can see it all and judge with perfect justice.

When I first read this verse it made me squirm. There are regrets in my life that I prefer stay out of sight. Fortunately, when God sees those failures, He also sees the perfect righteousness of Christ. The right standing I have with God is His gift to me through faith in Jesus! (Romans 3:22) On that coming day of reckoning I can be assured that there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1) as His blood has washed away every nasty dirty sin. For the believer, this verse is a comfort and reassurance that His justice will triumph over all wickedness! What is sown will one day be reaped, whether good or evil. What a relief it will be to see the right prevail!

Thank you Lord that You see it all!

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Tree of Life

Scripture for Today: Genesis 2:9 “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

In buying this Tree of Life on turquoise-like stone, I was not aware of all its symbolism! I just liked it because it was pretty. Since then I learned that the tree of life is a mystical symbol linked to religion, philosophy and spirituality. For some, it is a picture of how everything in life is connected. For others it stands for personal growth, beauty, and strength.

Today’s verse reveals the original and best meaning of the tree of life. As with all of creation, its source was the Creator. This tree was a beautiful fruit-bearing tree found in the center of the garden of Eden. Unlike the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam was free to eat from this tree. But after the Fall, the way back to the tree was barred (Gen. 3:22-24) as it would lead to an eternal life in man’s pitiful fallen state.

What happened to this tree? The tree of life is now shaped as a cross! Eternal life is mine when I place my trust in Christ’s sacrifice for my sin! Those who have the Son have eternal life (John 3:36). But the tree of life not only reminds me of the garden and the cross, but it also turns my attention to the future I have in Heaven. The tree of life reappears there and I will one day eat of its fruit and experience an abundant life that will last forever! (Rev. 2:7)

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible gift of life!

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Hummingbird Drama

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

All the windows and doors were opened and this little guy got confused. Poor little thing tried to find his way out but was totally disoriented. In his fright he repeatedly flew into the skylight, knocking himself to the floor. My husband carefully transported what looked to be a dead hummingbird to some shade in the backyard. The story ends well as the bird eventually revived and flew away!

Today’s verse tells us that we are made alive with Christ. And unlike the hummingbird, we were truly dead. Our sin kept us from having a relationship with our Creator. There was not a thing we could do to make ourselves alive. Christ, because of His incredible love and mercy, decided to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. He showed His grace by making us spiritually alive to Him. There is no true life without that spiritual awakening that He gives.

I felt so bad for the confused hummingbird going toward that skylight that could not save. In the same way, man thinks he can find some sort of light, joy, and peace within himself and apart from his Creator. Satan masquerades as an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14) and is thrilled when man misses the true Source. The Light of God’s presence will not deceive or disappoint me. He makes me alive to Himself, to love and enjoy Him. I am forever thankful that in His grace He took the initiative! Because of His great love and His rich mercy, He has made me alive!

Thank you Lord, for Your undeserved favor toward me!


Holocaust Remembrance Day

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 labor.

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 and makes me truly free!

(Look familiar? This is a post from 2018 to honor this day)

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Lamb or Lion?

Scripture for Today: John 1:29 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.'”

The lamb walking up to the cross does not seem threatening at all! He is small, white and vulnerable. The lion, however, gives pause. He is near the cross but has stopped short of it. That ferocious ruling lion is sitting, seemingly to wait. As we commemorate Good Friday or Holy Friday today, we are seeing only the lamb. For some who do not see the lion, today may not mean much. But the lion is one and the same as that weak sacrificial lamb.

Today’s verse was spoken by John the Baptist who recognized the One who was to be the Lamb of God. This Jesus would be led like a lamb to the slaughter for our sins, taking on our punishment (Is. 53:7). But the sacrificial lamb becomes the lion as He rules over and conquers death three days later! Jesus is called the “Lion of Judah” who has triumphed! (Rev. 5:5) Jesus will one day return, not as a humble baby but a triumphant eternal King of Kings.

What looks like defeat on this solemn day is actually the precursor to amazing triumph! Jesus would emerge from that grave a victor over death. He is revealed as a strong, ruling lion who is to be feared. When He returns He will right all wrongs and establish justice. I am so grateful to be forgiven but that does not mean that I will not tremble in His holy presence! Yes, Jesus is approachable as the Lamb, but He is also awe inspiring as the Lion.

Thank you Lord, for being the Lamb of God today, and also a Lion to be feared.