Devotions By Jan

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Ruby Red

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 20:15. “Gold there is and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.”

This is called the “Carmen Lucia ruby” and has been on display at the Smithsonian Museum since 2004.  It was mined in 1930 in Burma, known for the most vibrant rubies in the world.  This 23 carat-faceted stone was in the collection of Carmen Lucia, purchased for her by her loving husband in anticipation of her recovery from cancer.  Sadly, she died and her husband donated it to the museum to honor her memory.  Of course this ruby is valuable but what makes it stand out even more is the story behind it.

As beautiful and rare as some rubies are, there is something that is described in today’s verse as a “rare jewel;” lips that speak knowledge.  We value gold and rubies for their beauty, rarity and worth.  Yet, lips that speak knowledge are even more rare and beautiful.  Knowing what to say and when to say it is invaluable!  It is the Lord that gives wisdom and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding (Prov. 2:6)  He is the source and it is when we fear, respect and show the awe due Him that we can possess this rare jewel. (Prov. 1:7)

I enjoy beautiful gems and jewelry, especially when the light catches them just right.  But there is nothing so off-putting as a woman bedecked in gold and rubies that opens her mouth and spoils the effect!  Knowledge, wisdom and understanding attract others.  More than a recitation of factual information, the knowledge and wisdom He gives allows me to use the right words to build up others (Eph. 4:29) benefitting those who listen.  His knowledge and wisdom coming out of my mouth will point others to Him.

Lord, make my lips a rare jewel today!



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Chinese Stamp

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 3:14-15 “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”

The Chinese characters that make up my name define me as a forest, as successful and intelligent, and as a precious rare gem!  My husband had this Chinese stamp made for me during our tour of China at the start of our marriage.  It seemed appropriate as I was marrying into a family giving me a Chinese mother-in-law.  I am not sure how accurate it is or why a forest has anything to do with me.  But it is fun to think about the meaning of our names.

Today’s verse points out a commonality in all of our names.  Because God is the Father who created each and every family and its members, we all derive our name from Him.  God is “Jehovah-Ab” the Lord our Father (Isaiah 64:8).  We are all the work of His hands.  But to become a child of God, redeemed and inhabited by his Spirit, takes a step of faith and repentance (Eph. 3:16-17).  At that point there is no separation but only unity as His family.  Whether those already in heaven or those on earth, His children are part of one family.  There is no more Jew or Gentile, slave or free, or even male or female (Gal. 3:28).

Only the God of the universe could succeed in making such diverse people one family.  But because He can and does, I have brothers and sisters not only worldwide but across time!  That strong desire to belong is completely satisfied.  Every time I worship with others so different than myself, I get a small inkling of this incredible truth!  And like Paul, I kneel before the Father in gratitude!

Thank you Lord, for making me part of Your family!


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“Minister of Loneliness”

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 10:25 “not giving up meting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

In England, more than nine million people in 2017 admitted to feeling lonely some or all the time.  In response, the British government recently appointed a “Minister of Loneliness.”  Loneliness can put people at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression and anxiety.  Loneliness is said to be worse for health than smoking fifteen cigarettes a day!  One lonely woman  explained that what she lacked in her loneliness was a motivational support network that gives you direction on how to cope with problems.

Todays’s verse is certainly an answer for those who are lonely and lacking motivational support.  Meeting together with other believers spurs us on toward showing love and towards doing good works (verse 24).  Discouragement can so easily overtake us when we give up meeting together.  We need to be stimulated and strengthened in our faith.  We need to lift one another up and give one another support.  The Lord knows we need to be together regularly with other believers.

A quick fix for my loneliness is to surround myself with other people.  But sometimes it is not enough.  What I need is that deeper connection that comes from being with people of like mind.  It is only with other believers that I can have the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind (Phil. 2:2).  By meeting together I am encouraged that I am not alone in my struggles and can draw strength from others.  My faith is strengthened too when I can be the one doing the encouraging!  He knows I do better in community than alone.

Thank you Lord, for Your encouragement through Your people!


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Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

We had the privilege of visiting a silk-making factory in Taiwan and seeing all those larvae in their cocoons.  The process has been around for almost 5 thousand years in China.  The resulting silk is not only beautiful but soft and silky to the touch.  But how strange to think it all starts with worm spit!  The unwrapping of each cocoon supplies one long strand of 1000 feet, three of which are needed for a single thread.  In fact, it takes 2,500 cocoons to make one pound of silk.  No wonder silk is thought to be such a luxury.

Today’s verse points out that believers, though being many, form one body.  Christ is our head and as the Church we are the body (I Cor. 12:12-13).  Just as there are many cocoons and strands of thread to make up silk, so we as Christ-followers form together just one entity.  This does not happen outside of the supernatural peace Christ gives.  When we allow that peace to rule and govern attitudes and actions, we can enjoy not only our unity but the beautiful results!

My little strand I add to the whole may not seem like anything.  On my own I do not amount to much.  But added together with all the other strands I become part of that one beautiful body giving glory to Jesus!  I am called to peace by the very One who provides it.  And that peace is a direct result of loving and forgiving others (verse 13-14).  Loving and forgiving can sometimes seem impossible, but “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” (Ps. 133:1)

Lord, help me live this peace.

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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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Nesting Dolls

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:3 “…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Although the nesting dolls or “matryoska” dolls originated in Russia, the ones pictured here are Alsacian.  We see them all year long in France, but they are especially popular at the Christmas markets.  The number of dolls in a set can vary anywhere from five to several dozen.  A number of different themes are used including fairy tale figures, animals, and religious or political figures.  I am partial to the traditional “little matrons.”  But they all show beautiful artistry in the elaborate and detailed painting.

Today’s verse came to mind in thinking of the different sizes of these dolls.  Each one has its place in the set.  Each one belongs to the other and is needed to be complete.  Paul encourages his readers not to think of themselves more highly than they should.  Whatever size we think we are, we are not to look down on someone else.  Whatever talents we have are a gift from our Creator.  Each capability is a grace from Him.

Each believer has received a special talent or gift to serve Him.  When we think about ourselves with sober judgement we realize that any success in life ultimately comes from Him.  It is all grace.  Like Paul said, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  I do not want to disqualify myself from serving Him by allowing pride to poison my thinking.  But, it is always a sneaky temptation.

Lord, thank you for all your gifts to me!  Keep me from taking any credit.

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

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Scripture for Today: Romans 15:5-6 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Our bougainvillea is climbing all over our back fence and its vibrant red color is a gorgeous!  There are equally vibrant colors of orange, fuchsia, pink and yellow, but my favorite has always been the red.  There are over 300 varieties worldwide and they can grow from 3 to 40 feet tall.  But what is surprising is that the actual flower is a small white blossom one sees in the center.  The bright colors actually come from the surrounding bracts, which are modified or specialized leaves.  Because they are positioned below the flower, I mistake it for the actual flower.

Today’s verse talks about collectively glorifying God.  The point of the believer’s life is not to draw attention to one’s self but to Him.  We are that small insignificant white flower.  But because of pointing people to Him, there is vibrant color in our lives.  He makes us beautiful because He is beautiful.  And together with other believers we can be united with one mind and one voice in this purpose of glorifying and praising Him.

Drawing attention to myself, taking credit for what God has done in my life or wanting to take center stage keeps me like that small insignificant white flower.  It takes a humble heart to be more about His glory and His name.  But I can have that same attitude Christ did (Phil. 2:5).  Along with encouragement and endurance, He gives me the desire to give all praise and glory to Him.  He is worthy!

Lord, may today be all about giving You the glory You deserve.