Devotions By Jan


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Keepsake

Scripture for Today: II Timothy 1:12 “…nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”

A “keepsake” is defined as a small item kept in memory of the person who gave it or originally owned it.  This sand footprint was made to be a keepsake.  At first glance it seemed as an odd choice.  How could something made of sand keep for any length of time?  But in scanning the instructions, I saw that plaster of paris was used, so that it was not as fragile as I first thought.

Today’s verse is about committing something to God’s care.  He keeps it.  He keeps it safe and secure.  It is something that will last into eternity; our soul.  Paul is persuaded that God is able to guard what was entrusted to Him.  He was so convinced of his future in Heaven that he was fearless in his defense and spread of the Gospel.  Paul was able to face imprisonment and even death with a calm assurance.  He knew where he was going and could stay loyal to the One who was keeping his soul secure.

I am so grateful that He keeps my soul.  Even now, I have already died and my life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3)  Being persuaded of this makes a difference to how I go through this journey.  With my eternal destiny decided I can lose my life for His sake.  And in doing so, I find life! (Mark 8:35)  Having this assurance helps me hold on a little less tightly to all that is earthly.  He is guarding for me a hope and future beyond anything that I can imagine.

Thank you Lord, for keeping me secure.

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The Amaryllis

Scripture for Today:  Revelation 3:17 “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

I love the burst of vibrant red color in the amaryllis.  The color is especially surprising as it can bloom indoors in the middle of a dark cold winter.  Each bulb produces 2-12 funnel-shaped flowers.  This flower goes by many names; Belladonna Lily, Jersey Lily. March Lily and Easter Lily.  But the Amaryllis is not directly related to the lily even though it is shaped like one.  Because of its long leafless stems, it is commonly called, “Naked Lady.”

Today’s verse talks about a nakedness that is spiritual.  What is so sad is that the person described does not realize his nakedness, nor his poverty or blindness.  Being wealthy has caused this person to feel self-sufficient and not in need of anything.  But Christ proposes a remedy.  Along with salve for the eyes to restore spiritual sight and true eternal riches, Christ gives us white clothes to cover our nakedness (verse 18).  Those white clothes are a symbol of His righteousness obtained for us.

I may stand proud and colorful like the Amaryllis, but in fact, I am poor, blind and naked without the Lord.  My pride keeps me from realizing my need.  As a matter of fact, the word “Amaryllis” means pride!  And instead of answering His knock (verse 20) I mistakenly think I am fine on my own.  I need to let go of of my pride and denial so I can open the door to His knock.  I am so grateful that He waits there, ready to forgive and begin anew an amazing love relationship!

Lord, may I always realize my need and open the door to You.


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Castle Keep

Scripture for Today: Psalm 61:3 “For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”

This castle keep is part of the Arundel Castle in West Sussex, England.  Built in 1067, it is of particular interest to me as my ancestors lived there in the mid 1200’s!  It was bequeathed by the King to Richard Fitzalan, the husband of my 18th Great Grand Aunt!  Our family lived there for 200 years, but not so often in the section pictured here.  This is the castle keep, the fortified tower.  The keep was considered one of the most impenetrable parts of the castle.  It was used as a refuge of last resort should the rest of the castle fall to the enemy.

Today’s verse describes God as a strong tower.  David is crying out to the Lord for help as his heart grows faint.  This is the prayer of one who is battle weary.  He cries out to God as he remembers how He has in the past been a strong tower of defense.  David needs God to be his defense against literal enemies.  He understands that it is only because of God’s love and faithfulness that there is any protection at all (verse 7).

I may not have the same enemies as David.  But I too sometimes feel my heart growing faint.  Standing up to the world’s values can be wearisome.  Fighting off temptation and compromise can wear me down.  My enemy may be called, “discouragement.”  My enemy may be called, “giving up.”  It could be that I am trying to fight on my own rather than in His strength.  He is a strong tower and I can run to Him when my heart feels faint.  He promises me His love and faithfulness just as He did to David.

Thank you Lord, for being my strength today.

 


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“I Want to Thank Me”

Scripture for Today: Psalm 35:18 “I will give You thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise You.”

A new star has just been added to Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame.  The one being honored before the crowd made quite a statement at the end of his tribute to  friends and family.  “Last but not least, I want to thank me for believing in me.”  He then went on to describe all his hard work and sacrifice.  He ended his self-congratulations with an expletive.

Today’s verse declares David’s intent to praise and give thanks to God before the crowd.  David, as king of Israel, had many occasions to speak publicly and honor himself.  But he did not.  He did not thank himself for all his hard work and sacrifice.  David had killed a giant.  As a mighty warrior and powerful king, he had much more reason than a pop star to praise himself before the people.  But instead, he gave all thanks and praise to God.   David understood that his life was fleeting, a mere “handbreadth.”  Every life is but a breath. (Ps. 39:4-5)  David was not perfect but he understood just how big God is in comparison to any man.

How odd to hear this news story during Thanksgiving week!  We just celebrated this day by recognizing all of our blessings.  We thanked our families and our friends.  But for believers, it is most importantly a time to thank God for His love, mercy and grace.  HE deserves all my praise and thanks for everything that is good in my life.  I cannot take credit for anything.  He gives me my intellect and my talents.  He gives me my health and my wealth.  He gives me my next breath and heartbeat!

Lord, I cannot thank me.  I thank You!

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Giving Thanks

Scripture for Today: Revelation 5:12 “In a loud voice they were saying, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.'”

I love that Thanksgiving precedes a time of crazy wanting, shopping and buying!  Instead of focusing on all that we do not have, Thanksgiving is a time of remembering just how blessed we already are.  For the believer, there is a Recipient to our thanks, Jesus Christ.  It is from Him that all blessings flow!  We direct to Him all of our gratitude.  It is to Him that we give thanks, with our lips and with our hearts.

Today’s verse describes the scene in Heaven where Jesus as the Lamb of God is given all the honor, glory and praise that is His due.  There is no one who is more deserving.  The phrase, “I cannot thank you enough,” will for the first time be absolutely true!  We can never thank Him enough for our salvation and what it cost Him.  We will spend all eternity praising Him and even then, it will never be enough.

The Lord does not engage in false humility as we do saying, “Oh, don’t mention it.”  He accepts our continual praise and gratitude because He deserves it.  I can never come to the end of thanking Him because He continually gives.  I can never thank Him too much because I am so undeserving.  I do not merit any of what He so graciously gives me.  Every good and perfect gift in my life is a direct result of His love and grace towards me.  He deserves my thanks for even my next breath and heartbeat.

Lord, may my life be characterized  by gratitude.


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Hawker Centers

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”

This young man looks confused as to which food stand to choose.  He is standing in a “Hawker Center,” in Singapore where he can find many different inexpensive hot foods.  These centers are the government’s solution to the mobile food carts on the streets.  The street hawkers would often attract customers with loud cries, chants or banter.  Of course, this practice is not unique to Singapore.  I have heard “hawkers” even in the Latin Quarter of Paris!

Today’s verse is an invitation to eat and drink but with no monetary gain the one offering.  This is an invitation to come quench one’s thirst and satisfy one’s hunger without any cost!  But somehow, we miss this invitation.  Instead of being satisfied with no cost, we spend money on what does not satisfy (verse 2).  Instead of listening for the invitation, we fill ourselves with what is not good.  Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life.  And to the woman at the well, Jesus offered a water that would end thirst!

The noise of other offers drown out this invitation.  Too often I am distracted by the world’s ideas of what will satisfy.  I am duped into spending money, time and energy on what in the end brings no satisfaction at all.  Even though I know better, I am lured into mainstream thinking and carried away by consumerism.  Instead of meeting the deepest needs of my soul, I content myself with the trappings of success.  Then I wonder why I feel so impoverished.  My God and Creator is the only One who truly satisfies.

Lord, may I respond to Your gracious invitation today.


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Fallen Leaf Art

Scripture for Today: Psalm 1:3 “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”

Have you ever walked by a leaf on the ground that had such vibrant color that you had trouble leaving it behind?  The Japanese use these beautiful leaves in what they call, “ochiba art.”  What would normally be swept up and left to decompose is instead arranged in beautiful designs.   Of course, the beauty is temporary.  But at least they go out in a burst of glory before they wither and die.

Today’s verse describes a seasonal cycle unknown in our world.  There is no Autumn as leaves do not wither, die and fall from the branches.  This unique season enjoys continual growth and greenery.  There is seasonal fruit and a steady supply of water for this tree planted by streams of water.  What a beautiful image of the one who delights in the law of the Lord and does not walk, stand or sit with the wicked. (verses 1- 2)

The wicked are pictured as chaff that dries up and blows away (verse 4).  What a contrast!  Rather than being vibrant and living, it is utterly useless and is carried away with the slightest breeze.  But the Lord will not allow me to be dried up and useless.  There may be differing seasons of fruitfulness, but my leaves will never wither.  I may not always see how He is using me, but He does produce fruit.  His life continues within and He never stops working in me!  Because of being planted in Him, I will stay green and vibrant and beautiful.  Because of Him my shade is inviting and my limbs provide protection.

Thank you Lord, that You can and do use me in spite of myself!