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, May 12, 2014


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.


“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


“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


Silence…with “The Look.”

[Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness…

I Corinthians 13:6


Long, hard, hugs.

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

I Peter 4:8


“Sit up straight!”

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

Psalm 11:7


“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.


 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.


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.


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.


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.

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…


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