Devotions By Jan


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Ask Directions

Scripture for Today:  Psalms 25:5  “Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.”

What is it with men and directions?  Normally, my husband does not have a problem stopping the car and asking for some guidance.  But he recently had a meeting to attend in Paris.  He spent some time beforehand studying this metro map at the house.  He confided that he did not want to look like an ignorant tourist and have to ask others for help.  I understand it can be stressful trying to figure out the system while being jostled by impatient commuters.

When it comes to decision making for the believer, there are times when we do not want to admit we need guidance.  To ask counsel somehow denotes weakness and ineptitude.  We want to always appear competent and in control.

Our verse today talks about the need for guidance when it comes to His truth.  We are not going to find it on our own.  We need to be guided by Him.  What’s more, we need to ASK Him for that guidance.  There’s the challenge: to remember to ask!   I would like to think I already have it figured out.  I have been a believer for many years.  I can delude myself into thinking I have a handle on His truth.  That is like failing to consult the map and deciding to just “wing it.”  Before I know it, I am going the wrong way on a one- way street!

It takes humility to ask for directions, but when it comes to God’s truth it is the only way to get there!  God’s Word and His Spirit give us that direction.  Guide me today, Lord.  My hope is in You.

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Fruit

Scripture for Today:  John 15:5  “I am the Vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”

In the vineyards behind our house some varieties of grapes have already been harvested.  But there are others still there even while the leaves are turning golden.  These varieties produce a “vendage tardive” and are much sweeter for having been on the vine longer.  Our landlords share them with us and they are so juicy and sweet.

Of course, these grapes would not be at the point of maturity if they had somehow been separated from the vine.  But imagine one variety of grape looking at another that is harvested first and wondering when their day will come!  These grapes have to wait a bit longer for their fruit to be sweeter.  In the meantime they have to REMAIN connected to the vine.

There are times in the life of every believer when one wonders when fruit will come.  It is easy to look at other Christians and their fruit.  But theirs is a different variety.  Their spiritual gifting is different.  Maybe the number of years they have been connected to the Vine is longer.  In any case, we are to STAY connected and await God’s timing for the harvesting of His fruit.

The Father is the Vinedresser.  He is the One responsible for fruit production, whatever variety, whatever  the timing of the harvest.  My responsibility is to stay connected to Jesus, my Vine.  Without Him there is no fruit of any kind.  I need to resist the temptation of looking around at the other branches and wondering about why their fruit is bigger or sweeter.  Lord, please produce fruit in me in Your way and in Your time.


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Merry-Go-Round

Scripture for Today:  Ecclesiastes 1:9  “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

I am not sure why but I seem to see more carousels in Europe than I do in the States.  The more ornate and old fashioned they are the more I appreciate them.  I cannot even remember the last time I actually rode one though.  Somehow going around in circles does not appeal to me anymore.

The English Oxford dictionary gives the word, “roundabout” as a synonym for the carousel.  These roundabouts are common on French roads and help me figure out where I am going.  But who wants to stay on one and go in circles all day?

There is a French expression to describe the idea of sameness and routine: “métro, boulot, dodo.”  It signifies the daily grind of traffic, work and sleep.  Life can feel like it is going around in circles because of the routine of it all.  There is a certain sameness in our daily existence.  But unlike Solomon we can view life differently when we include the Lord.  He gives purpose to our lives.

I do not always understand His purpose but it is a comfort to know that there is one!  I can take pleasure in the thought that He had plans for me even before I was born.  I can face the routine and sameness of each day because there just may arise a new opportunity to serve Him, if I am looking for it!

Whatever routine this day brings it does not have to be the same as yesterday.  My relationship with Christ can make each day different.  My communion and conversation with Him can be fresh and new each day.  I am climbing off that merry-go-round.


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Standing on the Heights


Scripture for Today:  Psalm 18:32-33  “It is God who girds me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and sets me upon high places.”

My husband and I ran across these two while hiking in the Swiss Alps.  I think they were as surprised to see us as we were to see them!  We cheated.  We had taken the funicular up the mountainside.  We were not out of breath and our shoes were not even dirty.  These beautiful mountain goats did not need to cheat.  Their feet were created for the rough terrain and slippery slopes.  When they ran from us it was beautiful to see how sure-footed they were.  They were never in danger of falling down from these great heights.

The verse for today uses this image to describe what God does for us.  His strength makes us sure footed, just like these two.  We are not ever in danger of falling because His way is perfect.  He sets us on high places.  For me these high places are all the exploits and adventures  with which He wants to spoil us.  When God is leading and we are careful to follow, than life is never boring!  He did not just give us life, but life that is abundant!  That does not mean that the path is easy and rock-free.  There are some places where the path is narrow and dizzying.

The Lord has my back.  He is not going to let me fall.  He has made me to climb those heights of trust and obedience.  The views enjoyed on these heights are views of His faithfulness over the years.  My prayer today echos that of an old hymn, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground!”


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Under the Sea

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 107:23-24  “Some go down to the sea and travel over it in ships to do business in great waters;  These see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep.”

I am glad I do not have to travel in ships on business in order to see the beautiful underwater sea life.  This picture was taken at an aquarium and it is full of colorful fish and coral.

I did have the opportunity with my family to enjoy snorkeling in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt back in 1999.  It was an experience I will never forget!  The water was so clear and the colors of the fish so vibrant that it took my breath away!  I never wanted to get out of that water, cold as it was!

The Lord’s creation is a wonder, just as our verse says.  What is equally wonderful is that God creates beauty for our enjoyment.  He is pleased to see our wonder and pleasure over His creation.  All of what He has made points to His power and creativity.  (Romans 1:20)  He has poured His creative energies into an earth that will one day pass away.  I can hardly imagine the creativity that He will manifest in the creation of that new earth to come!  It will be so spectacular that this earth will seem like a poor shadow in comparison.

How can anyone look at the marvels of His creation and deny His existence?   What a privilege to know Him, even a little.  And He continues to create.  He is creating in us the image of His Son.   Thank you, Lord, for your creation.  And please, Oh God, create in me a clean heart today.


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Agenda

Scripture for Today:  James 4:13-14a  “Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and carry on our business and make money.  Yet you do not know the least thing about what may happen tomorrow…”

I use this daily planner everyday and coordinate it with that of my husband.  Life can become so busy that if something does not get noted here in my agenda, chances are it will be forgotten!  But no matter how organized I try to be, there are times when the eraser has to comes out.  Dates, times and places are changed.  Things get moved around to make way for that last minute addition.  If I did not use the pencil, these pages would be a mess of scribbles.

The verse for today talks about planning our days.  It is important to have the day mapped out ahead of time.  It is only good stewardship to make the most of our days.  But there is a warning here that the future is uncertain.  There will always be those unforeseen events and even emergencies where the day’s planning goes out the window!

There is Someone who oversees my agenda and has the last word.  He does not use a pencil.  He uses a pen.  He does not even need an eraser as He knows the end from the beginning.  The pages are not scribbled.  There is a master plan that makes sense to Him.

I do not know what tomorrow will bring.  I think that I do.  But as His child, I have given the Lord the use of that pen.  His plans are never frustrated.  He is the Author of my day’s agenda.


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Worship

Scripture for Today:  John 4:23  “A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers.”

I love to worship with fellow believers, whether in France, America or Taiwan.  The American church pictured here was quite creative in getting their people to find their seats in a timely manner.  But as I was settled in early I had time to stare at that screen and think about that message.  When does worship start for me?  Of course, worship with other believers is a scheduled affair.  I look forward to this worship and we are exhorted to never abandon assembling together.  But there is another kind of worship that is larger than just the music and is intensely personal between my Lord and me.

This personal worship ideally does not have a start nor an end.  This worship is done not only with my mouth, but with my thoughts and with my daily actions.  Our verse today talks about worshiping Him in spirit.  This was said to the woman at the well, as she was making an issue of where worship takes place.  Jesus taught that the physical place was not the issue.  True worship takes place in our spirit wherever we are.  And our worship is to be in truth, using God’s Word, as His Word is truth, (John 17:17).

When I am reading God’s Word I am worshiping Him.  When I am remembering a verse or sharing one with someone else, it is an act of worship!  When I am talking to Him it is worship.  When I am living for Him, seeking to obey His voice, that is worship.  May my worship be daily and life-long!  He is worthy!