Devotions By Jan

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The Court Jester

Scripture for Today: Psalm 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”

This week some will celebrate April Fool’s Day by tricking friends and making them laugh. In medieval times, the royals had the luxury of having a court jester always available to make one laugh. He was also called a “fool” and would wear brightly colored clothes and bizarre hats in a motley pattern. His job was simply to entertain. His was a privileged position in the court as he could mock and revile without penalty.

Today’s verse describes a different sort of fool; the one that in his heart says that there is no God, mocking the very idea of God. But his Creator says He will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7). This fool may not be easily recognized as his foolishness is hidden in his heart. He may be revered for his doctorates or admired for his sophistication. But God sees them as a fool and even laughs at the wicked! (Ps. 37:13) And the fool is eventually revealed to others by his behavior.

It is never my place to call anyone a “fool” as in a curse (Matt. 5:22) as I cannot see what is in the heart. That is better left to the One who can. However, my own behavior can be very revealing and I know when I am being foolish with my decisions. When I choose to do things my own way instead of the Lord’s, I am being foolish. When I decide I know better I feel chagrin at the mess I make of things. Better to obey His Word even if I look the fool to the world!

Lord, keep me from being foolish today.

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New Season, New Life!

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

It is a stunning sight to see these Monarch Butterflies cluster together at their sanctuary in Pacific Grove, California! I remember visiting there with my family as a young girl and being wowed by their sheer numbers! Their annual 3,000 mile migration begins in Southern Canada and ends in Mexico, with this springtime stopover. This is the longest migration of any insect. Imagine a caterpillar trying to cover that distance!

Today’s verse is a promise for those who are “in Christ.” Discarding the old, that person has become an entirely new creation. No longer do old habits and ways of thinking limit progress. With sleek bodies and strong wings, long distances can be covered with each new day showing us new vistas. Placing our faith in the saving work of Christ changes us. And this transformation is completely from God Himself (verse 18) who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.

So many refuse this offer of new life. They cannot see beyond their caterpillar stage and seem content to crawl along the ground rather than fly! But every Spring I am reminded of the new life He has given me. My old life is dead and buried. I have been changed forever! I am not at all tempted to return to the form of that caterpillar. He has given me wings, color, sweet nectar and new life! And it was all accomplished by His Spirit and not at all by my own efforts.

Thank you Lord, for Spring and new life in You!

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Precious Jewels

Scripture for Today: Zechariah 9:16 “The Lord their God will save his people on that day, as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown.”

In a long-ago Sunday School class, I learned that I was a precious jewel. The children’s hymn, “When He Cometh” told me so. “When He cometh, when He cometh, to make up His jewels, All His jewels, precious jewels, His loved and His own.” This is one of 300 hymns written by William Cushing in 1856. There are only four gems in the world that are categorized as “precious:” diamond, sapphire, ruby and emerald. As a child I remember feeling confused that I could sparkle and be precious to the Lord!

Today’s verse was surely the origin of this long-ago hymn. Although the context is specific to the people of Judah, we know that believers today in His Church are precious in His sight, seen as His beautiful bride (Eph. 5:25-27), and His treasure (Matt. 13:44) and even His inheritance! (Ps. 33:12) God values us so much that He bought us as His own at a huge cost to Himself, the sacrifice of His Son! It is His love and grace that makes us so precious in His eyes.

These beautiful precious gems become this way after some pretty intense cutting and polishing. It is over a long course of troubles and difficulties that God is refining me to sparkle and shine like He intends. It helps to know that He thinks I am worth the trouble. I don’t always see progress in His work on me. But I do know that one day, His work on me will be finished. The Lord sees the final product and it will be worth it all!

How amazing it is to know that I am PRECIOUS in Your sight!

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Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.”

I thought it odd to see this huge palm tree being trucked to a different home. The new owners must have gone to quite a bit of trouble and cost to transplant such a huge tree. The driver told us that the price tag to move and transplant it was $10,000! How awful if this majestic tree were to fail to take root in its new home!

Today’s verse describes how as believers we are rooted in a different soil. No longer are we in the soil of the world, but we have been transplanted. Those who place their faith in Christ as Lord and Master live their lives for Him. Being rooted and built up in Him means that faith is continually strengthened as we learn and grow. Being transplanted from the world into Him is made evident by our thankful spirit.

The Lord has gone to enormous lengths to transplant me. He has sacrificed Himself and bought me at a great price (I Cor. 6:20).  He has taken me out of the darkness and transplanted me in the light (Eph. 5:8). He has given me everything needed to live a godly life in Him (II Peter 1:3). I want my roots to go deeper and avoid the deceptive toxic soil of the world. In Him I am built up and my faith grows stronger, especially as I overflow with gratitude for all He has done for me!

Thank you Lord, for transplanting me in You! 

(Look familiar? This post is based on one from 2017)


Repairs and Renovations

Scripture for Today: Psalm 122:1 “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

I have heard some real horror stories about the repair and renovation process! Thankfully, so far we do not have one of our own. However, two observations on the process ring true for me; the work always takes longer than expected and the cost is higher than anticipated! In watching the progress, I have had to readjust my expectations. Patience is not my strong point and what I really want is for the work to be finished yesterday!

Today’s verse speaks about being glad to enter the house of the Lord. To be with other believers and worship our Lord together is a glad event. However, we ourselves are in the process of some serious renovation in that house. There may be some rough edges on people that need sanding down to make smooth. There may be a hanging hinge on a door which makes opening up difficult to do. Perhaps, there are “damaged” people in that house that need repair. Can I really be glad to enter a house like that?  Wouldn’t it be better to come in after all the renovations were complete?

I can be glad to enter the Lord’s house knowing that God is working in others just as He is working in me.  He promises to continue working right up to the day of His return (Phil. 1:6). The on-going changes He is producing in others are the same kinds of renovations He is doing in me. As believers, we are all in the process of change and growth into the very image of His Son. It is a renovation that we live with, knowing that the outcome is worth it!

Lord, help me to be patient with Your work in me, and in others!