Devotions By Jan


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Giant Sequoia

Scripture for Today:Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you 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.”

The “General Sherman” sequoia is by volume the largest known living single-stem tree on earth.  It stands proudly at 275 feet tall and is 36 feet in diameter.  Those standing at its base must feel completely awed by its grandeur.  One would think this giant of a tree impervious to the footsteps of us mere mortals.  But in fact, a fence is built around the base.  It is there to protect its shallow roots from being stepped on and trampled!  Damage to its roots could have serious consequences!

Today’s verse talks about where we place our roots.  We have a choice.  We can put down roots in the nourishing soil of Christ’s love and be built up and strengthened (Eph. 3:17).  Or we can plant ourselves in the toxic soil of hollow and deceptive philosophies, based on human tradition (verse 8).  Strong deep roots in Him will take no account of human foot traffic!  Faith remains strong and vibrant when Christ is the object of that faith.

I will not grow strong and firmly planted when I read, see or listen to prevailing thought that discounts God and His Word.  I am surrounded by godless philosophy and it is a struggle to be intentional about what I allow to influence me.  The more I compromise, the more shallow and vulnerable my convictions become.  Shallow roots mean I am swaying with the next wind storm of trial.  I want to stay strong and continue growing deep roots in Him.

Lord, keep me in You and in Your Word.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Cherry Picking

Scripture for Today: Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely through His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Two cherry laden trees sat untouched half way through my vineyard walk.  Every day I would check on their progress.  Today the cherries were not only at their peak but some were even rotting on the branches.  It seemed the most natural thing to do to help myself to a few hand fulls.  The sweet juice dripped all over my fingers, staining them red and purple.  Although I was sure the owner would not mind, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I could be caught “red-handed” as technically I had taken something not belonging to me!

Today’s verse explains that we are all red-handed.  “Sin had left a crimson stain” on all of our hands as we are all guilty of breaking God’s perfect law.  There is no way to remove that stain on our own.  But thankfully, one pair of hands are not red but nail-scarred.  Because of His amazing grace we are justified or declared righteous through what Christ did on that cross.  He sacrificed Himself freely out of love for us and not because we deserved it.

I want clean hands and a pure heart.  It is only then that I can enjoy Him, receive blessing and vindication from Him (Ps. 24;3-5).  But there is no cleansing without the humility to admit guilt and come clean with the Lord.  Rather than hiding my hands behind my back, He invites me to discover grace and forgiveness.  He is faithful and just to always forgive and give me a clean start. (I John 1:9)

Thank you Lord, that I can always come clean with You.

(Look familiar? Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Eucalyptus Tree

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.”

It seems that with every report of strong winds in our area, we hear of eucalyptus trees falling and causing damage.  These beautiful trees can grow as much as ten feet in a year and can even reach the height of a six story building!  Their root system is strong to support all that growth, if they have enough soil.  Their taproots need to have at least six feet of soil to be well anchored.  Without that depth they are vulnerable to wind damage.

Today’s verse talks about being rooted and built up in Christ, strengthened by our faith and characterized by thankfulness.  Extending our roots into the deep soil of His strength makes us able to stand firm in any wind storm.  Standing tall in the world’s eyes can be deceptive if roots are shallow.  The philosophies of this world and human tradition (verse 8) make up that shallow soil.  Roots have no opportunity to grow there and a strong gust of wind reveals that weakness.  In contrast, the one who is strengthened by His power is rooted and established in His love (Eph. 3:17).

My root health is something no one sees but Him.  I can seem strong, pray beautiful prayers and say all the right things.  But when that huge gust of wind comes, I can so easily topple over.  I need to be nourished by His Word and strengthened by His promises before the winds arrive.  He will help me withstand them.

Lord, strengthen my roots by the power of Your Word.

(Look familiar? Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Scribbly Gum Tree

Scripture for Today: Acts 4:13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

This Scribbly Gum tree gets its name from the unusual markings all over its bark.  Each tree will have its own unique pattern of scribbles and they are put there by a small moth larvae.  Living in the bark throughout the winter, the moth will move around just under the surface, feeding on the tree’s tissue and leaving its distinctive marks.

Today’s verse describes two unschooled and ordinary men; Peter and John.  These men were ordered to give an account of themselves before the rulers and elders.   With boldness and clarity they declared the name of Jesus as being the only Source of their power and of salvation (verse 12).  They lived their lives in such a way as to leave a definite trace.  The time they had spent with Jesus showed in their lives.  There was not much to recommend them in the eyes of the world.  They were just ordinary men without even a higher education.  Yet, their time with Jesus had marked them.

I wonder how much my time with Jesus marks me.  Do people see traces of the Divine in me?  It cannot happen through my own efforts.  I know my heart and that there is nothing to recommend me.  But I have His Spirit living inside and with His movements to shape and mold me like Christ, He is slowly making changes.  They may just seem like little scribbles, but He sees the big picture of what He is producing in me!

Lord, may my time spent with You be evident in my life!

Photo credit: Ian Sutter https://www.flickr.com/photos/22616984@N07/3274188822/


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Monkey Puzzle Tree

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 20:24 “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?”

“It would puzzle a monkey to climb that!”  This is the quote that led to the popular name of this tree which happens to be the National Tree of Chili.  Its leaves are very thick and tough with an average lifespan of twenty four years!  But that is nothing compared to the longevity of this tree, living as long as one thousand years!  Its reptilian branches and its symmetrical appearance make it easily recognizable.  But that does not help the poor monkey trying to navigate it!

Today’s verse acknowledges that the Lord directs the steps of those who belong to Him.  But often, the one directed has no idea of His direction!  The question expresses what is often felt:  How can anyone understand their own way?  It often is puzzling.  We do not have the same vantage point and we can never understand it all.  We are told in any case not to lean on our own understanding but to acknowledge Him so that He can direct us (Prov. 3:5-6).

Because I cannot see what lies ahead, I need to trust the One who is already there and knows the way.  If I were to wait until I understood the reasons behind every directive, I would be at a standstill and make no progress!  But I can be confident of my direction even without full understanding.  That is because I trust Him.  His eyes are always on me and the twists and turns are not random.  He has a loving purpose in every change of course.  His direction is always towards a more loving relationship with Himself!

Lord, help me to trust You completely!