Devotions By Jan


Lifetime Achievement Award

Scripture for Today: Genesis 15:1 “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision; ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.'”

George Clooney has just been announced as this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute.  He is being honored for his achievements as an actor, writer, producer and director.  He has won two Oscars as well as other honors.  And it cannot hurt that he remains so good looking, although that may not have influenced those bestowing this award!  In any case, this award represents approval from people for noteworthy achievements.

Today we bury my 95 year old Mother.  Her lifetime achievements are not so well-known or noteworthy.  But right now she is enjoying her reward.  This reward lasts for eternity and it does not depend on the approval of men..  Today’s verse explains that Abraham’s reward is God Himself.  Abraham enjoyed an intimate relationship with his Creator.  He was even called, “God’s friend.” (James 2:23).  He, like my Mother, was able to enjoy his reward while here on earth.  But to literally be in His presence is a reward that surpasses any other!

I think the world of my Mother but of course, she was not perfect.  However, I know she is enjoying her “Reward” because of God’s grace and forgiveness.  Although she spent her life following and obeying Him, she did not earn her place in His presence.  She is there because of God’s grace.  And I know, because I have accepted His grace as well, I will one day be able to hug her again.  I know she is hearing God’s approval as He says, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

Thank you Lord, for being our very great reward!




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He is My Fortress

Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:2  “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.”

Touring the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado fired our imagination with scenes of a very different kind of life!  The overhanging cliffs afforded the Ancestral Pueblo people some protection from enemies.  But they also built fortress-style buildings as look-outs and for added protection.  These structures were built in the late 1190’s and served their purpose.  But in the end, it is thought that the enemy of drought drove them from their homes.

Today’s verse talks about God being our fortress and a place of refuge and security.  Because of His strength and power I can be safe.  I can trust in Him.  We do have enemies, perhaps not the same kind that David had to face.  But there are many times when I am attacked.  It can come from several different quarters.  I could be attacked by a temptation.  But God promises me a way of escape (I Cor.10:13).  I may be attacked by the Satan himself, but I have God’s armor so I can stand and fight (Eph.6:11).  When do I run to a fortress?

I run to God, my Fortress, when I am being attacked by depression, anxiety, and despair.  I run to His presence when I am being attacked by worry , doubt, or fear.  In His arms I am reassured when assailed by  feelings of hurt or betrayal.  In Him I find the courage to face the world again.  In my quiet time with Him I am strengthened against all these attacks.  The verse says, “I will say of the Lord…”  And I am saying it here.  I want to testify to what God as my Fortress does for me.


Counting Stars

Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:14-15 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”

It seems an impossible task, to count the stars.  But who among us has not at least tried as a child?  I was surprised to learn that there is an answer!  9,096 stars are visible to the naked eye if one could see both hemispheres at once!  So of course, we have to divide that number in half.  Maybe the number 4,548 seems underwhelming but in fact that number becomes even less impressive with poor visibility or in lighter skies over cities.  However, with only a three-inch telescope that number jumps to about 5 million!

Today’s verse describes those who do not grumble or argue as shining stars in the sky.  Perhaps it would not be so difficult to count these stars!  Someone who does not grumble and argue stands in stark contrast to everyone else.  And the light from even just one of these stars pierces the spiritual darkness around it.  People notice when there is a sweet uncomplaining spirit in the face of adversity.  I know because my Mother is one of these stars.  Even though at 95 she has to depend on others, lose her mobility, and suffer all kinds of indignities, she does not grumble or complain.

I often wonder how best to “let the light shine” (Matt  5:16) so that people see and God is glorified.  This answer seems too simple.  But I find it is one of the hardest to live out.  Thankfully, it is God who works in me to bring about what is not natural! (verse 13)

Lord, make me a star!  Keep me sweet and uncomplaining today.

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Toward the Light

Scripture for Today: Psalm 97:11 “Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.”

How often I have read novels or seen movies where at the end of  life, one moves toward a light!  In these stories the light represents eternity and the presence of God.  The light is bright and welcoming.  We associate light with warmth and goodness, whereas darkness can represent something cold and evil.  Even just a small pinpoint of light is powerful, dispelling darkness and chasing away shadows.  The light has a direct affect on our sense of well-being.  Without enough light, we can easily become depressed and negative.  Light has a way of lifting our spirits and giving us hope.

Today’s verse describes another blessing for the believer.  Light and joy shine on those whose heart is in right standing with God.  There may be darkness all around but “even in darkness, light dawns for the upright.” (Psalm 112:4)  When our hearts are right with the Source of light and joy, then it stands to reason that we can experience that light and joy ourselves, regardless of our circumstances.

I cannot drum up light and joy on my own for any length of time.  It is too easy to allow negative guilty thoughts darken my mind, robbing me of joy.  Light and joy are directly linked to my relationship to Him.  They are a natural outgrowth of a close relationship with my Creator.  He has made His righteousness mine through His Son, and with that clean heart comes the light and joy I so need!  How wonderful the benefits of forgiveness and grace!  In a world of pessimism and darkness, I can share that light and joy with others!

Thank you Lord, for being my light and my joy today!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Follow Me!

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 1:12 “….One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.'”

It was easy following Paul.  He was driving a comfortable pace in the commuter lane.  We kept right up with him regardless of the boisterous noise of six French teens seated behind us.  It took the stress out of driving to have someone in the lead.  But when it looked as if Paul missed our exit, I was not too worried.  I just figured he knew a different way to our destination.  But when another exit flew by, I was worried enough to call him on my cell.  He had already arrived!  We were following the wrong car!

Today’s verse was written by the apostle Paul to the church at Corinth.  The believers there were dividing themselves into factions.  Each group followed a different church leader.  Paul turns their thoughts and loyalties to the One who could bring them together in unity.  After all, it was not Paul crucified.  They were not baptized in his name but in the name of Jesus (verse 13).  When we all have our eyes fixed on Jesus, following Him, we will remain united.

It seems to be part of human nature to split up into separate groups.  Somehow, pride gets in the way of fostering unity.  I often major on our differences rather than celebrating our common ground.  And there is danger in placing the group or the leader above Christ, making my allegiance to that leader the most important one.  But in following Jesus Christ above all else, I find I can bond with others who do the same, regardless of church affiliation, regardless of race, age or locale.

Thank you Lord, that following You above anyone else brings sweet unity with others!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Brand Names

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:16 “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

I am not sure that Nike is so thrilled that this older lady proudly wears their famous “swoosh.”  Their image is one of athletic excellence, which does not quite fit my reality!  Like many recognizable name brands, there is a certain message to be conveyed by wearing their product.  The message may have to do with chic style, youth, sports or music.  We identify with that message when we proudly display the brand name.  However, I cannot help but feel that they profit from our free advertising!

Our verse for today talks about proudly displaying a name.  It is a name that is above all other names.  But it is also a name that could provoke hostility from others.  The word, “Christian,” was first used in Antioch and was a pejorative term (Acts 11:26).  Being a Christ follower carries the risk of being scorned, mocked and even persecuted.  How polarizing the name of Jesus is!  The names of other religious leaders do not get the same reaction.

We wear the name of Jesus when we live like He did.  We wear the name of Jesus when we speak of Him to others.  And we wear His name when we exemplify His character through His Spirit.  Wearing His name identifies us as belonging to Him.  Even if it draws negative attention, we are not to be ashamed.  Suffering for His name is a privilege.  I wonder if my label is showing?  I wonder if I am identified so closely with Christ that people see a difference in me.  I hope so.  I pray so.

Thank you Lord, for the privilege of bearing Your name!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)

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Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

I tried growing Impatiens in our long narrow yard while living in Grenoble, France.  They seemed to really thrive in the climate and soil.  But I eventually gave up as our rabbit kept thinking they were his lunch!  This flower is said to be a symbol of motherly love as they easily release and scatter their seed at the slightest touch.  It certainly is not indicative of motherly love with its other names; “touch-me-not” and “snapweed.”

Today’s verse would be great on the wall of every family room!  Somehow, the standards in this verse are especially difficult to live out with those closest to us.  Within those four walls we feel free to speak our mind without any filters.  We allow ourselves to snap at others or use our words to distance ourselves from those around us.  However, the standard for our words is that they be helpful and beneficial to those listening.  And we are to build up and encourage others in a way that speaks to their needs.

More often than not, my words are expressed according to my need to say them.  I often am unaware or uncaring as to the needs of the listener.  But with that attitude the conversation is usually cut short.  If my words are not building up they are perhaps subtly tearing down.  How much does it really cost me to compliment or encourage?  I want my words to be gracious,  sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Prov. 16:24).  I want my words to be like His; kind, compassionate and forgiving (verse 32).

Lord, make my words as gracious as Yours.