Karen's Devotions

This is a selected collection of my devotions e-published on Daily Devotions, Journey Christian Church, Irvine, California; George Bragg, Editor. To join the mailing list, email George, gbragg@cox.net.

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As a 25+ year homeschooling vet, post-cancer, math prof, mother of five, master's track and field athlete, and certificated private pilot, I have a lot to share about what God has done in my life. In 2000 I began writing devotions as something to try when it seemed like accoustic pianists were becoming an endangered species at church. I have since found great blessings from writing and sharing. God is good.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thankful-List

First Published 11/23/15
 

                                          

Proverb 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

***

As I get older, the longer my Thankful-List becomes.  More and more people and circumstances are integral in encouraging me, comforting me, helping me, teaching me, and blessing me. God has done amazing things and I am grateful to the Almighty Creator.

 

There are, though, some important elements of this process leading to thankfulness…trust and faith based on that trust.  Really, this is a big issue.

 

If we are having a tough time being thankful, back up.  Let’s look at trust.  Trusting something is based on evidence.  Ok, you might be thinking this is a cyclic pattern of trust based on thankfulness based on trust, and so forth.  You can observe or read about the trust others have in God. All you have to do is look for it.

 

In the category of hymn writers, there are hundreds of stories of faith. Fanny Crosby,  …just to name a few.  These stories are powerful.  But if you need evidence from the Here and Now, ask your pastor, Sunday school teacher, or Senior Saint to point out a Sister or Brother in Christ who has a story of faith. Listen and be empowered.

 

Now, we need to look deeply into our own lives.  Recognize that we do have our own stories of faith.  Yes, little ol’ us. We can be assured (trust) that God is working in our lives.  We can be thankful. We can create our Thankful-List.

 

Colossian 2:6-8

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught,

abounding in it with thanksgiving.

 

***

Dear God on High, When I think my thankful-list is short, help me to listen to the testimony of others, help me to look at my life and increase my trust in You, help me solidify my faith that You will allow people, as instruments of your truth, to do amazing things.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
 
Copyright 2015 by Karen Vaughn

Friday, October 09, 2015

Do-Overs


First Published September 3, 2014


Psalm 51:10
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

My flight lesson was cancelled due to weather (Southern Californian June-Gloom). So, I did some errands, had lunch with my hubby, crocheted some, did some Sudoku puzzles, did some yard work, watched some reruns with my daughter, did a load of laundry, fixed dinner, caught up (almost) with my Bible reading, and yakked on the phone. Ready to sleep and almost in Dreamland, I faintly heard my hubby Jeff ask if I paid a bill that day as I had promised. What? Oh NOOOOOO!

It was too late. There would be a penalty for a late payment. What was done (or not done) was done.
***
The wonderful thing about Jehovah God is that through his son Jesus, we are forgiven for our sins. Still, here on earth, we are expected to pay retribution for errors. I think the wrong approach is to expect to be forgiven from earthly victims of our mistakes. Instead, accept the consequences and ask the Lord to help you get through your punishment. That’s were God’s work is most evident in our lives.

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Lord, I’m so sorry that I forgot about the bill. I am nervous about the consequences of my error. Please engulf me with your Spirit to erase my fears, yet also give me strength to face to penalty. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

Jeff called the billing company. As it turned out, this bill was due during the weekend, and they had a grace period that allowed me to get the bill paid for without penalty on Monday.
***
Today’s verse is one of my favorites. Through God’s plan, I am renewed. I can have a spiritual do-over in my relationship with the Father. “And” He gives me strength to get through the earthly consequences of my actions. If you know the familiar tune paired with this scripture, I encourage you to sing it to someone today. Let them know what it means daily to have Jesus as your Savior.

Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn

Lost: The Five C's

First Published August 15, 2014


With the incredible amount of technology available today, pilots can still get lost. Equipment failure, unfamiliar terrain, disorientation, clouds and mist, and human error are all ways that can contribute to a pilot getting lost. The acronym to help remember a wise procedure for getting found is called the “Five C’s.”

Psalms 46:10
Cease striving and know that I am God.

CALM – Realize that you are not going in the correct direction. Be Still. You are lost, but you know what to do…
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Proverbs 3:7
Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

CLIMB – Get to a better vantage point so you can see the situation.
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Matthew 6:9
“Pray, then, in this way: “Our Father who is in heaven, Hollowed be Your name.”


COMMUNICATE – Transmit who you are (plane identifier) and last known position to ATC (Air Traffic Control).
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1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

CONFESS – Admit your predicament.
***
Mark 8:34
…And (He) said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

COMPLY – Follow the instructions from the air traffic authority.
***
Thank you Lord, acronyms and mnemonic devices help me to remember your wisdom. I pray they are much more than just cute little sayings; that when I become lost, they will help me physically and spiritually to become found again.

Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn

In(side-Out)struction

                                                      First Published June 16, 2014 
                                                              
  
Proverbs 4:2 
For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction. 

I was up early to get ready for work and took a peek into the back yard.  Oh no, the water was left on all night. I gasped and ran downstairs and out the back door.  The faucet was stuck full on, so I deduced that my son Reuben thought he had turned the water off. Being in a rush to help with future situations, I scribbled a note and tacked it on his bedroom door: 

“FYI: Lefty Loosey; Righty Tighty 

Late that night when Reuben got home, I asked if he got my message.  “Sure.  I didn’t understand what it meant!” 

Ever since I started to read my first Bible given to me as a little girl by my mother, I have encountered verses that confound me.  It seemed like the more I studied the Scriptures, the more confused I became.  It took time, God’s time, for me to understand some (and I emphasize SOME) of the Scriptures.  But still, it would be nice to have a user’s manual for the Bible! 

*** 
“Well, it means that to loosen or turn on a faucet, go left. To tighten or turn it off, go right.”  “Okay, whatever.” 

You’d think that being in the education business I’d know what it takes to understand the written word. But when it comes to the Bible, God has his own ideas.  So sometimes I have to have the scripture thrown directly at me in the form of a life lesson to understand it. Or maybe I’ll never understand it. 
*** 
“I was giving you a mnemonic device to help you remember how to turn off the water. You left it on last night and the patio got flooded.”  “Ohhh. Why didn’t you just say so?” 

Lord, I know your ways are not my ways.  But your teaching is good and just.  Your Bible is what I can trust to live by.  I try to listen, study, pray, and learn.  But, it’s tough sometimes to understand you.  Please help me be patient and to open my eyes wide when the time is right.   
*** 
Why didn’t I just say so?  Because MY lesson hadn’t yet been learned. The next night I left the water running and flooded the pool! 

Let us continue to seek answers; continue to pray; continue to live God’s wisdom; and continue to learn.
Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn


Thursday, September 17, 2015

I'm a Private Pilot!

Thank you family and friends for your prayers. I shall get back to posting devotions soon.

 
Here's a pic of me holding the temporary certificate.

9/16/15 @ KRAL

Monday, May 12, 2014

Momma-tudes


First Published May 9, 2014


Mother’s Day brings back to mind some of the “momma-tude” gems of wisdom that my mother, Christine taught me.

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“Homework is given for a reason.”

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:5-7

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“Eat your peas.”

 “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.”

Isaiah 55:2

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Silence…with “The Look.”
 

[Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness…

I Corinthians 13:6

 
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Long, hard, hugs.
 

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:8

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“Sit up straight!”
 

For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.

Psalm 11:7

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“Wash behind your ears.”
 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10
 
Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn

The Anatomy of a Cheerful Giver

First Published April 14, 2014


2 Corinthians 9:7


 
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.

A giver is the opposite of a taker, bestowing outwardly rather snatching up for oneself. Today’s verse diagrams the anatomy of a cheerful giver.  This short verse explains the elements a giver.

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 Giving begins with a clear purpose and focus.  It must be such a determination that the path to giving is the most direct, hence the most effective.  But, for some of us that desire is not strong.  This is where prayer comes in.  Ask the Lord to remind you of the people who gave, so that your life was enriched.  Maybe someone gave you money when funds were short.  Maybe someone helped you when you didn’t know help was needed.  Your faith as a giver will grow because you remembered someone else who gave to you.

 Tax-time is around the corner and I truly don’t know anyone who likes paying taxes. We grumble about it not being fair (grudgingly) and that we have to do it (under compulsion).  The willingness to give of our time, money, and talents is not contingent on only these two attitudes, however.  If we give solely out of duty or expected return, we are also grumbling or feeling forced into it. Again, we can get a better perspective by thinking back on how someone else gave to you.  They were compassionate and anxious to give freely and willingly.  And again, if that burning desire to give is missing, plead with the Lord to remove those feelings of compulsion, duty, and expected return.  Ask him to remove your grumbling and fill you with a pure sense of desire to give.

Being cheerful has two components. One part is happiness, the state of being satisfied.  When your physical hunger has been met with delicious and filling food, you are happy. Ahhh. Another component of cheerfulness is the high energy level.  This might seem a bit extreme, until you consider how God gave.  The angels sang at the birth of Jesus.  The ground shook upon the death of Jesus.  The heavens opened upon the ascension of Jesus.  I call that high energy.
 

 Now, you might have noticed that as we’ve been discussing today’s passage, we keep returning to the receiver’s perspective.  Yup, we can understand giving by understanding the receiving end. Wow!  Today let’s study this verse in depth and seriously.  Let’s strive to become God’s givers.

 
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Dear Lord,  There are so many who gave to me just as Paul’s letter to the Corinthians described.  I want to be a determined giver.  I want to be a compassionate giver.  I want to be an energetically satisfied giver.  Please help me see how to be a cheerful giver, so that others may see you.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
 
Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn

Quality Versus Quantity


First Published March 31, 2014
 
A few years ago, I ran into a family from my old church.  I asked the Mom how her family was doing and found out that they no longer worshiped at the old church.  I suggested they visit my present church, inviting them to the Easter Service.  The Mom asked cautiously how big my church was.  Well, of course that was a relative question, and begged to be answered with another question.  “How big is “big?”  She didn’t like any bigger than our old church.  Hm, I think the average attendance was about 100 people.  So, I guessed that my church of 200 people was too big. 


She explained the benefits of a small church: A preacher that knew your name, personalized Bible classes for the children, manageable expenses, a neighborhood minded focus of evangelizing people.  Big churches, she claimed, only cared about big splashy projects and big money. I agreed that was a serious temptation, but that churches with larger budgets are able to support entire missionary families, sponsor scholarships for college, and be a visible presence in the community. 


We ended up agreeing that the issue was quality versus quantity.  Any sized church lacking wisdom would not find favor with God.

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Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

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When reading today’s verse, one cannot help but think of exuberance and excellence.  Paul wrote this last portion of his letter to the Christians of Philippi as part of a final sendoff of encouragement. What he described was Christ’s life.  We are to seek and live a life that is good and rich; one of excellence; no matter the size of our church.

 
Father, I exhort you! Thank you for the words of your servant Paul.  Help us to strive for excellence as he described to the Philippians.  Let your church of any size be worthy of praise! Amen.
 
Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn

In the Presence of Royalty

First Published March 17, 2014


John 14:6

I am the way, and the truth, and the light; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

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I seldom have been in the presence of a great person, but one such instance I can remember vividly.  When I was a teen, I was part of an education tour through Europe.  The students and counselors, all from the same school district, totaled about 20.  While touring Copenhagen, Denmark, we were granted a brief audience with one of the princesses of the king. We had to stand at a great distance in a courtyard while the docent/guide spoke to the princess’ aide.  In turn, the aide spoke to the princess and she nodded.  The guide returned to where we standing and told us to wave at the princess.  She acknowledged by again nodding.  Wow, a real live princess took notice of us. It was a goose-bump moment.


Jesus, the Christ, is our intermediary to God, creator of the universe.  Authority has been given to him not only to represent God to us, but to speak to him on our behalf. Our sinful life prevents us from being in God’s presence, but Christ’s shed blood on the cross allows for him to intervene.  Christ can testify for us that we have put our faith in the Plan of Salvation so that God’s judgment of eternal separation vanishes.

 
This is for us as individuals, and as a body of believers…


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Ephesians 5:25b-27

Just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

****

Though my “moment with royalty” was ever so slight, I better understand Jesus’ purpose in my life and as part of his church. Today, let’s pray using John 14:6 that we never forget that Jesus is the only way through which we can stand before God.


Dear Lord God, I approach you with Your Son Jesus as my intermediary. Help me always to lean on your promises.  In Christ’s name, amen

Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn

I Was A-Scared

First Published January 29, 2014


When I was young, I was afraid of the dark. I wondered what monsters dwelt under the bed and in the closet.  On the other hand, I was fearful that if the light was turned on, it would reveal the real monsters that lurked.


When I was older and read about light in the Bible, I was happy and relieved that light is a well-used, strong metaphor.  God is the source of light.


It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;

He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. Daniel 2:22


***
 

When I allow God to lead me, his light shines and reveals what is in front of me, helping me make wise choices.
 

For You light my lamp; The Lord my God illumines my darkness. 

Psalms 18:28
 

***

I also learned that the Light of the Lord would reveal the sin in my life.

 

He reveals mysteries from the darkness and brings the deep darkness into light.

Job 12:22
 

***
 

And if I trusted His Son, Jesus, I too could walk in the light of eternal life.

 

 “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness,

but will have the Light of life.” John 3:19


***

Thank you Lord.  I am no longer afraid of the dark, for I know that you will reveal what is hidden in the darkness, and will light the path of wisdom.  I am empowered to walk in righteousness and handle the dark places in my life. Amen.


Light arises in the darkness for the upright;

He is gracious and compassionate and righteous. Psalms 112:4
 
Copyright 2014 by Karen Vaughn

Friday, January 03, 2014

Happy New Year!

Our kids got Jeff and I grandstand seats to the 125th Tournament of Roses Parade.  We held up signs to show support for the WASP float which was very well received!

This is not my photo.  Jeff was busy helping me hold up signs, so we don't have one to share.


Cal Poly's float won the Crown City Innovation Award for Best Use of Imagination & Innovation To Advance The Art Of Float Design.




Monday, December 09, 2013

Trumpet Fanfare

First published December 9, 2013
Luke 2:10-12

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a savior, who is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign for you; you will find baby in cloths and lying in a manger.”

***
 

The Sunday after Thanksgiving I heard a sermon given by one of my church elders, Steve.  He brought up a perspective about Jesus’ physical birth and death that I had not considered.  Most adults are aware of the extreme pain involved in giving birth.  And I personally can attest to sweating buckets and being totally drained of energy after the labor process. 


Steve also tied this pain with Jesus’ long suffering crucifixion.  This agonizing process of death is torture at its worst.  Then Steve joined the two events with the prospective outcomes.  After laboring to give birth, the result was a wonderful new life, Jesus.  And, after laboring to die, the result was Jesus rising to bring us new life.  Now if that wasn’t enough to give you goose bumps, Steve wrapped the entire concept together with the idea that in each case, pain was endured because the joyous result was anticipated. Wow! Wow!
 

I basked in the multiple lessons I’d learned.  Then on Tuesday my kids surprised me by decorating the house for the Christmas season.  I walked in from work to find the house transformed. The lights! The Nativities! The angels! The Star! It was like a trumpet fanfare!  Dum-da-da Da!


I suspect we love this season so much because we can give it so much fanfare.  Straight from the right hand of the Holy Father, please welcome our Savior, Jesus, the Christ!  I’m serious.  We are excited with anticipation today as if Jesus were to really be born on December 25th, 2013.  And we ought to be excited.  You say, “wait?”  There’s all the pain of His birth.  There’s all the pain of rejection from Man.  There’s all the pain of His death.  Well, having eternal life with God trumps all that!  I know that because Christ rose from death to give us that hope!


Let’s show the world that the commemoration of Jesus’ birth deserves great fanfare! Hallelujah!

 
***

Luke 2:13-14

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
 
Copyright 2013, Karen Vaughn

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

I Testify

First Published October 9, 2013
Acts 4:33

And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.

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One day when I was about 15, I was working in my parents’ neighborhood grocery store.  Not much was happening.  I stocked shelves, waited on customers, and the like.  It was in the early afternoon that my mother answered the telephone. The only thing I really heard from her end of the conversation was, “That’s fine.” Mom told me that she needed me to delay my break for a few minutes and stay up front.

 

Not long afterward a police officer came into the store.  My mother explained that a local man, “John Doe”, had escaped from the county jail and the police wanted to know if I saw him come in the store.  The officer had me look at a mug book, and after what seemed like a long time, I found the photo of the man who had entered the store earlier.  I was questioned about what he did and whom he was with.  I was then told that my testimony was helpful in looking for the fugitive. 

 

Later my mom said that “John Doe” had been caught, but that I didn’t need to submit a written statement.  Wow that was a heavy responsibility for a teenage kid to handle.

 

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Testimony and testify are strong words that appear in the Bible.  As early as Deuteronomy 17:6 the modern principle of “two or more witnesses” is found.  And today, direct testimony corroborated by other direct testimony is the standard of admissible evidence in court.

 

Jesus’ apostles were eyewitnesses of Christ’s presence and work here on earth.  In your Bible, you will notice that each Gospel writer gives a different prospective of the same events, but support each other’s claims.

 

Your personal testimony of your conversion and the life changing experiences that you have is an important part of witnessing and evangelism.  Writing down details will help you recall things accurately and actually strengthen your own faith.

 

Today is a good day to begin writing your personal testimony.  Prayerfully ask for opportunities to share it so that others may know God’s love to mankind through His Son, Jesus.  Your testimony just may help a lost soul find eternal life.
 
Copyright 2013, Karen Vaughn