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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Please Pray

Please pray for those who have lost loved ones and property in the fires of Southern California.


Published October 29, 2007

"Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.”

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First I was a little shocked. I hadn’t seen the email like the other friends in this particular circle. I was also a little embarrassed that I didn’t get the message. There seemed to be a sense of urgency for us all to get together for dinner. Then, I was saddened at the meaning of the email message. You see, Marianne, my professor friend of several years, was moving far away to Pennsylvania.

Today’s verse is found in a chapter where Jesus sums up what the disciples were going to experience. They were going to go through some tough times (verses 1-3), but they needed to remember the things Jesus had taught them (verse 4). To help them the Holy Spirit, their comforter, would arrive to ease their sorrow and guide them (verses 7 and 13). But, the disciples would see Jesus again, resurrected (verses 16 and 22). In addition, their sadness would turn to joy; the type that no one could take away from them.

While we as individuals, families, and nations go through very hard times, it’s tough sometimes to see ahead to an outcome of good. We get used to (or in my case complain) about our pain and suffering without looking ahead to the joy of our labors. I have been describing the room extension of my house as being pregnant 13 months! Instead I should be excited at the prospect of a beautiful new living room that will grace my pianos and the voices of my children.

Yes, I should learn from this chapter of John and realize that the absence of Marianne close by will be hard. I should lean on her sage advice (“laugh first, cry second or just laugh ‘til you cry!”, “prayer works”), Humorous memories of shared classroom adventures will ease my sadness (Student: “Why is this answer wrong? I got it straight from the solutions manual!”). Most importantly, I may see her again when she returns to California for family visits, at conventions, or even if I travel all the way to Pennsylvania. That’s a great promise!

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Dear Lord, thank you for the lessons of John 16 and the way they apply to my life. While I may not avoid many trials and circumstances that make me sad, I have the assurance that the outcome will be joyous. Help me to look ahead with anticipation to this joy and to emulate it with zeal. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Published October 17, 2007
John 15:2
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, That it many bear more fruit.

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This year’s crop of blackberries was spectacular! In January and February huge white blossoms began to appear; foretelling the fruit that was to come. For minutes at a time I would watch the contributing work of the bees, pollinating and buzzing among the flowers. I took note when fallen petals revealed young berries; the hope of better things to come. The weather warmed more and the sunshine brought forth plump, dark berries. For several months, beginning in April, my family enjoyed fresh blackberries. Yum!

The intense heat of the summer months was harsh on the bushes. A few blossoms turned into berries, but the main crop was now over. I had to begin planning for the fall and pruning. I talked to my friend Diane Riessmueller who has the ultimate functioning garden. She told me that I needed to look closely at the branches and prune those that bore fruit, all the way back to its off shoot. The branches that didn’t bear fruit need to be cut off back to the cane at the soil line. Those very young branches that didn’t bear fruit can get plenty of nutrients to mature and eventually blossom. The pruned branches will grow new shoots which also will eventually bear more fruit.

Today’s verse is from a beautiful passage in the Book of John (13:1-11). Jesus is speaking to his disciples about his relationship to them and to God, the Father. The metaphor of the Vine, branches, fruit, and vinedresser was (and still is) very understandable. Verse 1 establishes Christ’s divine authority. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” Verse 2 speaks directly about productive and unproductive followers.

Our focus today is on pruning. This can come in all sorts of forms. Hardships, trials, sudden challenges, and health issues are examples that we can relate to. Yes, pruning is painful. Sometimes it seems as if we can’t recover from severe and harsh things in our life. But, if you are abiding in Christ (verse 4), then you will bear more fruit after being pruned. These verses offer hope and promises, through the love that the Father has for us.

Let’s read John 13:1-11 and meditate on the wonderful plan God has for each of us through our relationship with Jesus Christ.
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How magnificent you are oh Heavenly Father! Your word reveals how you help us grow and mature and bear more fruit. Though this involves painful pruning, we have the assurance that we will bear more fruit to your glory. Give us strength to endure the pruning process and to let others see that as I abide in you, you are glorified. In Jesus’ name, amen.