Devotions By Jan


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Counting

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 90:12  “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”

It has been a tradition in our home over the years to count down to Christmas.  I did not realize until I moved to France 23 years ago that one could count down with chocolate!  The Lindt chocolate calender pictured here is for my grown son, but I am having trouble keeping my hands off it!

Years ago I sent one of my children (who will remain nameless) a  chocolate advent calender the first year at university.  It was only much later that this offspring of mine admitted to eating ALL the chocolates the day it arrived!

Of course, the age-old tradition of the Advent wreath and all its symbolism is a much more significant way to mark the days until the birth of our Savior.  With each lit candle and Scripture reading we celebrate His first arrival and anticipate His second.

The verse for today talks about numbering our days.  Knowing that our days have an end is not a new concept.  But for all of us, we need to be reminded to live with the end in sight.  Numbering our days makes us wise.  Looking toward the end helps us decide what is important today.

Regardless of the number of days the Lord decides to allow me, I am to be counting down.  The last little window of the Advent calender waits to be opened.  It usually has the biggest and best chocolate.  I look forward to opening it, even though I know I will then be finished with it.  In life, as I count down toward the very end, I have a last window that waits to be opened, the window of heaven!


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Love and Light

Scripture for Today:  I John 2:10

“The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”

It can seem very dark here in Alsace.  It is not that we live in the country.  But we are in a much less populated area than southern California.  Things are spread out and there just is not as much artificial light.  Sometimes between villages, my husband will turn off the headlights to impress our visitors with how dark it can get.  When walking at night, I always use my small key chain flashlight to avoid tripping.

Our verse today talks about staying in the light.  Jesus is our light.  He illuminates the path of obedience we are to walk.  Obeying Him allows us to remain within the beam of that light.  It is easier to talk about obedience in general terms, but here the verse is very specific about one particular commandment; loving our brother.

I am at risk of falling when I do not love my brother.  It is like turning off the headlights or forgetting my flashlight.  Loving my brother as God commands keeps me in His light and on the right path.

I never realized before how closely linked are LOVE and LIGHT.  The amount of light I live with is dependent on how much I love my brother.  Quite frankly, I get used to my way being dimly lit.  My eyes adjust to the lack of light due to my lack of love.  I do not think to do anything about it…….until I stumble.  I trip on my lack of love.

How much better it is to make the effort to love.  My walk is so much more pleasant in the light!


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The Veil

                                                                      

                                                                                                            

Scripture for today:  II Corinthians 3:15-16  “Yes, down to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their minds and hearts.  But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is stripped off and taken away.”

Wedding veils are so pretty and they give an aura of mystery to the bride.  During the Elizabethan era there were plenty of arranged marriages among the nobility.  It was not unheard of for the groom to see his bride for the first time when he lifted that veil during the ceremony!

Our verse today talks about a veil that blinds people spiritually.  It was there even though these people were listening to the Word of God.  The veil was keeping them from understanding.  It was obstructing their view of the Truth.  The veil remained there until they turned to the Lord in repentance.  Once that happened, the veil was no longer an issue.  It was then stripped off and taken away.

I sometimes hear people complain that they can not understand the Bible.  This is not surprising as the natural man can not accept or understand the things of the Spirit.  They are spiritually discerned.   (ICor.2:14)  There is a veil in place over the mind and the heart of those who do not yet belong to Him.

The good news is that this veil can be removed.  We do not tear it off.  We do not have that ability.  It is done for us by the Lord when we turn to Him.  He is willing and waiting to welcome us.  He wants to reveal Himself to us through His Word.

What a wonderful moment it is when He lifts that veil and we see Him face to face, our loving Groom.


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Carrying Burdens

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

I love this photo of the dog helping out the cat with her kitten!  I grew up in a cat-loving family and it was a common sight to see Chin-Chin carry her babies in her mouth by the scruff of their necks.  I would worry about the kittens as it looked like it hurt them.  I never thought about the possibility of the Mother cat getting tired of hauling them around in her mouth.  But those kittens did need to be carried around for a time.  Whether in her cat brain she considered it a burden, I will never know!

Our verse today talks about helping one another carry our burdens.  Doing so fulfills the law of Christ which is to love one another.   We all have burdens we haul around.  I think they are our own though and not the burden Christ gives us to bear.  His burden is light (Matt. 11:30)  His burdens are bearable.  This is a different burden that we help lighten.  We help bear the burden of one who has fallen.

In the process of restoring him, I am to help him stand up again and lighten his load.  His burden may be the burden of guilt.  His burden may be the natural consequences of his sin.  His burden may be a continued temptation toward that same sin.  I help him bear that burden with prayers and words of encouragement.  I help him with loving counsel and even practical help.  I help him bear his burden by extending the same forgiveness that Christ did for me.  Yes, “love bears all things,” even the burdens of others!

Lord, help me care enough to help shoulder another’s burden.


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This Means War!

Scripture for Today:

Ephesians 6: 12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

I thought it strange to see this menacing figure staring at me as I waited for my sushi take-out.  I am not sure why he was there or what the restaurant owners were thinking in their choice of decor!   He was quite large!  I would think they would want their establishment to be a welcoming place!

I snapped his picture because he made me think about the fact that I am a warrior too.  I do not think I look quite so threatening, but then it is not about looks.  In fact, the verse for today talks about our war not having anything to do with flesh and blood.  Our war takes place in the unseen spiritual realm.

God’s choice of me as one of His warriors is ludicrous!  My courage is so nonexistent that I need to enlist my husband in combat with a spider!  There is nothing in me to inspire fear.  However, the devil will flee from me according to James 4:7.  When I am subject to my Commander-in-Chief, He gives me the ability to resist the temptations of the enemy.

I am well-equipped in this battle so I have no reason to fear!  God has outfitted me with all the armor I need.  I can be strong in Him and the power of His might.  Not only that, I already know the outcome of this war.  I am on the winning side!  “If God be for us who can be against us?”  Romans 8:31  The answer is, no one.

Unlikely warrior that I am, I can be confident because of the One who goes before me.  Victory is mine!


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The Gift of Thankfulness

Scripture for Today:

Romans 14:6  “He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God: and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.”

Today is a special day of giving thanks.  I love this Norman Rockwell image of an old-fashioned Thanksgiving with family smiling around the table.  The French do not have this same celebration in November so it is not always easy to buy a large turkey.  They have plenty of turkeys available for Christmas, but to buy one this early means a special order.

Thanksgiving feasts are best when every guest participates with their own contribution.  When one does not come with a prepared dish, one wants to at least bring flowers or chocolate as a “thank you.”  The idea of a hostess gift as a thank you is a very large part of the French social graces.

When I think of the Lord as my Host and sit down to all the blessings He has provided for me, what on earth can I give Him as a “hostess gift” or to express my appreciation?  There is a gift talked about in our verse today.  It is the gift of thanks.

The context of our verse concerns the controversy of eating meat offered to idols.  Our controversies are different today.  As far as I know, my turkey has not been any where near an idol!  But the principle here is timeless: whatever we choose to do, we do it with an attitude of thankfulness, honoring Him.

How can I ever repay Him for all He has done for me?  I cannot.  But I can thank Him.  It is the gift He wants from me.


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Recipes

Scripture for Today :                  

Deuteronomy 10: 12-13  “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, To keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”

It felt really good to be asked for a recipe the other day.  It is more often the case that I am asking my French friends for their recipes!  It is not easy to convert all my American measures into the metric system, however.  And of course, the cooking vocabulary is very precise.  But I felt flattered enough to stick with the translation.

I did not worry about all the verbs being in the command form.  It is a recipe after all.  I did not bother writing, “please beat the eggs.”  Or “would you mind chopping the nuts.”  But no one is offended.  We are directive because we know that it is for a good result.  We follow the commands to obtain that positive result.

Our verse today is full of commands.  There is no softening of what God requires of us.  But His commands are always with a good goal.  They are always for our good and for our protection.  We know that because HE is good.  It follows that His commandments are too.

The attitude that King David had towards God’s commandments was one of delight in keeping them!  He understood that His directives were an expression of His love and care.  If God’s commandments are really for my good, then why am I always trying to change the recipe?

(Thanks to Catherine Koning for this recipe idea!)