Devotions By Jan


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Cow Escape!

Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

This is the only kind of cow I would want to see on the street! But recently, the residents of Pico Rivera, California were surprised to see 41 escaped cows running wild in their neighborhoods! A gate at the local slaughterhouse was left open and the cows made a run for it! There was understandably some property damage and injuries in the chaos, but eventually most were corralled and returned to captivity and their unhappy fate.

Today’s verse talks about a different kind of captivity. It is one that captivates our thinking. Paul warns that we can be deceived by fine-sounding arguments (verse 4). As believers, we have freedom in Christ. His cross has disarmed every legalistic power and authority coming from human rules (verse 15). Because we no longer belong to the world we are no longer captive to rules such as, “Do not handle. Do not touch. Do not taste” (verse 21). The god of this world uses the pride in following such rules to keep us from true holiness.

How thankful I am not to be captive to a set of rules or a list of do’s and dont’s! Because of the cross, Christ has broken the power of sin in my life! Following His way is not a matter of rules, but of a changed heart that seeks to please Him. He is not impressed with my outward superficial show of religiosity. Instead, He wants all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I am free to follow Him and experience a fulness to my life, found only in Christ (verse 10)!

Thank you Lord, for freedom in You!


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“We Came in Peace”

Scripture for Today: Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

It was this day in 1969 that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the lunar module, Eagle, on the surface of the moon. They set it down in the “Sea of Tranquility” although I doubt that either of the men were tranquil as the Eagle’s overactive computers sounded alarms! They left behind a plaque reading, “Here men from planet earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

Today’s verse is also a message of peace offered to all mankind. This was the message of the angels to the shepherds in the fields at the occasion of Christ’s birth. This peace is nothing like what the world can produce. It is a peace between estranged mankind and their Creator. In our rebellion we were enemies against the God of the universe (Romans 5:10). But God initiated a reconciliation through the substitutionary death of His Son. Jesus Himself is our peace. For those who accept His forgiveness through the cross, there is now a relationship possible with Him where before there was none.

The huge obstacle to having peace with God was my sin. But because He has paid the punishment I so richly deserved, there is now a closeness and communion. I can enjoy His presence in my life as I am no longer under any condemnation (Romans 8:1). Not only is there peace with Him but He enables me to live in peace with others! And what is really amazing is that sense of peace and well-being He puts in my heart. What an incredible gift to live with this inner peace in a world that is so troubled!

Thank you Lord, for Your gift of peace.


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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!