Devotions By Jan


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Choose!

Scripture for Today  Deuteronomy 30:19  “I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses;  therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.”

This sign is not so clear, is it?  It looks as if either direction may work.  The signs in France can be almost as confusing to an American.  They seem to indicate a turn to the left when in fact they are pointing ahead, but at a slight angle.

This sign reminds me of the person who believes they can go two directions at once, even opposing ones, and do fine.  The verse today talks about making a choice.  These words were spoken by Moses to God’s chosen people.  In fact it was his farewell address.  Moses knew that the people would be tempted to follow after other gods while at the same time worshiping the Lord.  It doesn’t work.

There are times when we are tempted as well to have one foot in the world and one foot in the church.  Like the sign, that is going in two opposing directions.  There is a choice to be made.

It sure seems obvious which is the correct choice!  Wouldn’t one want life over death and blessing over curse?  The choice is just that clear.  When we follow the world’s values we are setting ourselves up for a life complicated by sin.  We miss out on God’s blessing.  Jesus said in John 14:6 that HE is the life!  Outside of Him there is death and curse.

I need to remind myself that even when the choice is difficult and I am tempted to go another way, choosing Him is worth it!  He rewards my obedience with blessing and life!

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Old Clothes

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 4:22  “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.”

From time to time we all need to go through our closets and throw out what no longer works for us.  In France, one is more likely to go through the armoire, as built-in closets are not the norm.  Sorting means making some hard decisions, especially getting rid of that item we still like but is now too small!  We look to see what piece of clothing is outdated, needing repair or is a multiple.  Sometimes we are attached to an item only because of the memories it invokes or because of the person who gave it to us.

Our verse today is about putting off our old self.  Like a piece of clothing we are to take it off.  The old self or old nature is who we were before Christ changed us and gave us a new nature, resembling Him.  The old self is characterized in Eph. 4 by lies, sinful anger, stealing, unwholesome talk, bitterness, rage, brawling, slander and all malice.

If you are like me, some of these items are still hanging out in your closet!  Like a ratty comfortable robe, I slip back into habits that should not be a part of my wardrobe any longer.  I am often unaware of what I am wearing.  But those old clothes are NOT pretty.

I do have a choice.  Nothing obligates me to put my hand on that old worn out sin and wear it again today.  Because of Christ, I can be new.  I can have a whole new look, a look that resembles Him.  Help me Lord, to recognize the old and throw it out!


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Water of Life

Scripture for Today:  John 4:13  Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

I love the image of water that Jesus uses.  Jesus is called the Living Water.  In French this is a bit of a problem to translate literally.  Many Americans translate this as “l’eau de vie” or “water of life.”   It should work, except this is the name of a common liquor in France.  Ooops.

Water is essential to life and so is Jesus!  He offers water completely different than what is found in the wells of this world.  The Samaritan woman to whom Jesus was speaking was looking to satisfy her thirst in various relationships with men.   But it wasn’t working.

The water that the world offers must contain a trace of salt as it just makes one want more.  Whether it be personal relationships, possessions, power or prestige, we are left wanting more.  It does not satisfy the thirst.  But Jesus can.  That is because He has made us and He knows better than we do how to satisfy our deepest desires.

My thirst for significance, for meaningful relationship, and for contentment are all found in the water of His indwelling Spirit!  It is a source that never dries up and will continue throughout eternity.  Isaiah 55:1 is the great invitation, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…”  He is so good to be all that is needed, not only for existence, but for life that is abundant.  I love this old hymn that says,  “Fill my cup, Lord.  I lift it up, Lord.  Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.”  And He does!


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Building on the Rock

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 7:24  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

This house in Three Arch Bay is impressive.  It not only looks over the private beach of that community, but has an incredible unobstructed view!  It looks like it may just last forever, being that it is built on rock.

The verse for today describes the wise man as one who puts the words of Jesus into practice.  He is likened to a man who builds his house on rock.  When I think of rock I think of something strong, solid and durable.  The house will withstand storms because of the foundation.  Isaiah 28:16 says the stone is tested and is a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation.  So, not only do His words serve as the rock on which we build our lives, but Jesus Himself is that Rock!

Some people build their lives on whatever the current thinking is.  And there is so much pressure to follow suit.  But when storms come, their houses fall and their lives are in shambles.  They have based their lives on sinking sand.  Being on the rock means I cannot be swayed.  The rock is not going to slip and slide.  Being on the rock means that my life can be an example to my children and my grandchildren.  At the end of a life built on the rock, there will be something there to pass on to one’s descendants.  I want to pass on a legacy of obedience to Christ that glorifies Him.  I want my family to see in my life that all the blessings I enjoyed were a direct result of my obedience to His words.  Because of Him I will not be moved!


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Building on the Sand

Scripture for Today:  Matt. 7:26  “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them in practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.”

What a heartbreak this landslide was in June of 2005 for the residents of Bluebird Canyon in Laguna Beach.  Twenty homes were lost but thankfully no one was killed or even injured.  These homes were built on sand , silt, and clay.  The heavy rains that year saturated the earth and created this disaster.

Jesus uses this image to describe what happens when we know what God says but refuse to obey.  Ignoring His words is being foolish.  We end up with a life built on sand, ill-prepared for the coming storms of life.  Building on sand is living with false hope, hoping that somehow we will be spared the storms.  But they will come.  For these home owners, the conditions leading to the landslide were invisible.  They were caught unaware.  The landslide happened on a clear rainless day.

A foolish man who does not put into practice the words of Jesus is also unaware.  He may feel that everything is fine and his house is solid.  He continues to build his life oblivious to his danger.  Whether his ruin is slow and quiet underground, or sudden and obvious with a storm, the end is the same.

My Creator God has given me His words to build my life on.  The Bible is my blueprint and He knows better than I do how to make my life work.  I do not know what tomorrow will bring.  There have been storms and there will certainly be more.  But I do know that there is safety and blessing in obeying Him.  And that is a comfort.


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HGTV

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 2:9  “…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

I have had lots of fun watching the Home and Garden TV network in the States this past year.  I love to satisfy my curiosity and see inside the homes of other people.  As a result of watching this channel I now know I need hardwood floors and granite kitchen counters!

Living temporarily in an affluent beach community has given me lots of ideas of what the perfect  house might look like.  It is fun to imagine what my “must haves” would be.  Surely a jacuzzi bathtub is on the list!

Jesus tells us in John 14:2 that He is preparing a place for us.  With Him there would be no budget and nothing would ever wear out.  There would be no need for repairs or renovations.  His floor plan and blueprint will be perfect.  It will be exactly suited to the life He has planned for me to live with Him.  I cannot even imagine it!

The verse today talks about the preparations God has made for those who love Him.  It is normal that I cannot imagine it.  Our finite minds are not able to conceive what is awaiting us!  When I pine for a bigger or better house I need only to look to the future.  What is being prepared for me far outshines the most beautiful mansion on this earth!  And there will be no house payment!

My heavenly residence will be more than just a house.  It will be a “home” with all the love and comfort that word implies.  There will be no sin to spoil it.  No guard gates needed.  There will be uninterrupted peace and harmony because of the One who prepared it!


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Powerful Arms

Scripture for Today:  Jeremiah 32:17  “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for You.”

This statue in Colmar, France was sculpted by Bartholdi, the same artist who created our Statue of Liberty.  It is called, “Les Grands Soutiens du Monde” or “The Great Supports of the World.”  There are three figures representing three lofty ideas: 2 arms of justice, one arm of work and one arm of patriotism.  They are depicted walking and supporting the world with their powerful arms.

If I really thought that the world’s brand of justice was holding everything up, I think I would look into moving to another planet!  I appreciate the artistic sentiment behind this sculpture.  But how much more reassuring it is to know that planet earth has much stronger arms holding it up!  The powerful arm of the Sovereign Lord brought about the creation of the heavens and the earth.  What is more, His arm is outstretched still!

He has demonstrated His power over and over.  Creation around me attests to His amazing power.  The night skies above overwhelm me with His majesty.  Nothing is too hard for Him.  All He needs to do is to stretch out His arm.

I forget that.  I get tunnel vision and get overwhelmed with my little world.  Yet, He is able and willing to again stretch out His arm in my life.  Ralph Carmichael in his song, “My Little World” expresses this thought.  “The uncharted craters of planets beyond, You know like the palm of Your hand.  And yet You’re concerned with my little world.  Oh, help me to understand.”  So Lord, remind me of your powerful outstretched arm, holding up not only this earth, but my little world.