Devotions By Jan


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Our Fig Tree

Scripture for Today: James 3:12 “My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

Growing up, the fig tree in our back year was my Dad’s pride and joy! The whole family enjoyed those green figs and the abundant shade the large leaves provided. In fact, my Dad built a round bench encircling the large trunk.  Every year, he would lay out those figs for drying and we could enjoy the dried fruit all year long. In all those years, that tree faithfully bore its figs. Never once did it surprise us with olives!

Today’s verse describes a ludicrous scenario. How ever could a fig tree produce olives, a grapevine produce figs or a salt spring produce fresh water? It is impossible, of course. These images teach us that what comes out of the mouth reveals what is in the heart. What comes out of the mouth is consistent with what is thought and felt inside.  Eventually, our hidden nature is revealed by the words we speak.

No one can tame the tongue nor can anyone make themselves new inside. It is only by the work of the Holy Spirit that we can hope to change. When cursing and praise both come out of my mouth, it is a clear signal that I need to do business with the Lord. “…This should not be.” (verse 10) but unfortunately, it is. I can blame my words on stress or fatigue but what I really need to do is just confess it. I do not want to disappoint or grieve the Holy Spirit. And He graciously offers His self-control so that my life consistently bears fruit that honors Him.

Lord, control my tongue today to consistently honor You.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)


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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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Orangutan Nests

Scripture for Today: Psalm 36:9 “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

Joeavison1, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Almost daily the orangutan ape builds a new nest high in the treetops. His engineering skills are surprising as he tears off larger branches for his base and smaller leafier branches for the middle and can even build a sort of pillow and blanket high up in the trees. He breaks off some branches to size, bends some and intertwines others for a stable bed. A benefit from his nightly nest building is larger openings in the tree canopy, letting in more light.

Today’s verse speaks of another source of light. This light not only enables us to see but gives life! Jesus identifies Himself as the light of the world. Following this light means we no longer walk in darkness. (John 8:12) He does not only illuminate a tree canopy but a lifetime with the Light of His presence.  God has made His light to shine in our hearts, to give us the knowledge of Him (II Cor. 4:6).  His light not only shows us who He is but it is also an expression of His priceless and unfailing love (Psalm 36:7).

Being in His Word intensifies that light He gives. His light is warm and loving, giving me closeness to Him and direction for my day. Without it, I can easily stumble around and lose my purpose. I can even get quite accustomed to the dimness and shadows. But the further I wander from His light, the more negative and discouraged I become.  But oh what a difference when I return to the source of Light! Not only does His light dispels darkness in my heart and mind but it also draws others to Himself!

Lord, keep me in Your light today.


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Out of Power

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 8:17-18a “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…”

Photo by Bryan Alexander at https://www.flickr.com/photos/bryanalexander/15981387716

The recent winter storms in so many of our States have produced incredible winter wonderlands. Bare, unremarkable branches suddenly become ethereal when robed in snow and ice. The dazzling white changes the landscape from boring to beautiful! But as stunning as it is, there is a price to be paid for all that beauty when power lines go down. For those who are equipped, out come the home generators and life goes on. But for others, they limp along without power until crews come out for repairs.

Today’s verse is a reminder about the Source of power and of strength. When a winter storms disrupts life, we realize how little power we really wield. But when everything is going well and all our creature comforts are in place, we begin to believe that we can take credit for any wealth we have. This whole chapter warns us of the danger of forgetting the Lord and becoming proud. (verse 14) This happens when there is plenty to eat (verse 12) and bank accounts are solid. (verse 13)

Whatever wealth I enjoy is a direct result of Him and His gifts. He even gives the ability to produce that wealth. I have no power on my own. I have no strength on my own. And it is often a realization I come to only when faced with difficulty. That storm, whatever form it takes, drives me to my knees in humility. He responds to my cries for help with His incredible strength and power.

Thank you Lord, that with You I am never out of power!


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Money Grows on Trees?

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 3:17b-18 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

My parents always told me that money does not grow on trees!  Imagine my surprise to learn that there have been found particles of gold on the leaves of some eucalyptus trees!  The incredibly long roots of this tree, up to 8.2 feet, delve up to 130 feet.  In Australia, some of these eucalyptus trees have pilfered gold from ore deposits underground and have transported them to their leaves!  The concentration of gold is only 46 parts per billion.  Still, it is amazing that some trees have rooted themselves in something so precious!

Today’s verse encourages the believer to be rooted and established in something even more precious; the love of Christ.  Just as the leaves of the eucalyptus tree reveal secrets hidden underground, so the “leaves” of the life of a believer reveal where he is planted.  The love of Christ is so vast and nourishing that our lives reflect Him as He develops His fruit in us.

Being rooted and established in His love is essential to my well-being.  His love is what allows me to grow and thrive.  Without it, I would shrivel up.  Being grounded in His love makes loving others possible.  This immeasurable love is my reason to be.  But if I am honest with myself, there are times I am not feeling it.  In those moments I need to delve deeper into His Word.  I take more time to listen to Him.  I watch for those sweet affirmations through prayer in my spirit.  I so often need those reassurances and He never disappoints!

Lord, keep me rooted in Your love today!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)