Devotions By Jan


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Measuring

Power-Tape-Measure_92887-480x360Scripture for Today:  I John 2:21  “I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth.”

We have several measuring tapes around the house.  They never seem to be at hand when needed.  Instead they are hiding out in the most inconvenient place in the house.  They must change places behind my back.

In my Sunday School class I handed out home-made rulers.  One was correct, but the others were off in some small way.  When I asked them to measure the same object, they of course each came up with different results.  The arguments that followed were lively and comical.  Before they came to blows I stepped in to explain how the measures they used were different from each other.

The point of the object lesson was that there was a correct standard to follow.  There was one objective truth and not several.  Because there was only one true ruler, there was only one child who had the correct answer.

There are those who believe that there can be no objective truth in the spiritual realm.  However, our verse for today speaks of knowing and discerning what is true and what is not true.  The famous question of Pilate to Jesus, “What is truth?” was in response to what Jesus had just said.  “Everyone who is of the Truth hears My voice.”  (John 18:38)

There is only ONE measure of truth.  There is only ONE standard of truth.  HE is Truth.  Those in the world around me are using all kinds of different rulers, but there is only one right standard of truth.  It is Jesus.


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The Best Gift of All

00-gift-wrapScripture for Today:  Romans 6:23  “For the wages of sins is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The day after Christmas can be a real letdown.  The floor is littered with small pieces of wrapping paper that somehow did not make it into the trash.  The tree looks bare without the presents underneath.  All the buildup, all the anticipation and now it is done.

So much of Christmas is about the gifts and gift giving can be tricky.  I remember my folks carefully counting out the gifts to make sure that everything was done evenly among their children.  I find myself doing the same for my family.

Every family seems to have their own way of giving gifts.  But I can imagine one tradition of gift-giving that would be absolutely ludicrous.  And that would be to take out the calculator, add up what a family member spent on you, and then hand them the cash to reimburse them.  Such a gesture would be so shocking and hurtful.

Our verse for today reminds us that the gift of eternal life that Jesus made possible is entirely free.  And yet, how often do we try to pay Him back.  It is just as ludicrous a thought.  A gift by its very nature is free and without obligation.  And so it is with our salvation.  There is no way to earn it.  We are saved by grace, His unmerited favor.  And there certainly is no way to actually pay Him back for such an indescribable gift as Himself.

The birth of Jesus made possible a gift that is eternal.  His gift of eternal life is a gift that never stops giving.  No after-Christmas letdown here!

(a re-post from Christmas 2012)


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Star of Bethlehem

StarsintheskyScripture for Today:  Daniel 12:3  “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

The starry sky can be so beautiful and awe inspiring.  I can just imagine the night sky near the time of Christ’s birth.  The star of Bethlehem, faithfully followed over miles and miles, led the wise men to exactly where Jesus was living as a young child.  There are those who want to explain away this miracle by pointing out some astronomical phenomenon.  However one may want to explain it, it remains unexplainable!  This star actually went before them and positioned itself over the exact location where they could find Jesus.

Our verse today teaches that those who are wise shine like the night sky.  Those who lead others to righteousness are likened to stars.  Of course, I have no wisdom or righteousness of my own.  I Corinthians 1:30 says that Christ became for me wisdom from God and righteousness.  He is my source.

The star of Bethlehem led those wise men to Wisdom and Righteousness in the person of Jesus.  Those who lead others to Christ today are doing the same.  In a sense, I can also be a star with the light of my life pointing others to Him.  If I shine at all, it is for Him.  My desire is that my light, like that star, lead others to the Source of wisdom and righteousness.

Today, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Light of the world.  What a privilege to be a part of His light and to guide others to Him!  Have a blessed light-filled Christmas!

(a re-post from Christmas 2012)


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Home for the Holidays

556929_10151297836363254_1670811825_nScripture for Today:  II Corinthians 5:8  “We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

I love the sappy Christmas carol with the words, “Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays.”  I am blessed to have my whole family here in France with me this year; my son, my two daughters, and their husbands, AND my baby grandson!  It is a rare event.  Somehow, as the kids grow into adults, coming together gets more and more complicated.  Oh, and then there is the ocean between us.

I asked my 90 year-old mother on the phone if she thought Christmas is celebrated every year in heaven.  She laughed at the idea and then said that they probably are celebrating every day up there!  But I do wonder if those that have gone before us mark the day in some way.

Our verse for today expresses Paul’s preference to be “home with the Lord” rather than at home in his body.  I love the idea of HOME.  It brings to mind love, warmth, and shelter.  This holiday season I am working hard to make our home warm and welcoming for the family’s arrival.  But Paul believes that being home with the Lord is far better than living here on earth.

There are friends and relatives of mine already with the Lord.  I miss them.  But they are home.  What is more, they are home for the holidays, in their true home.  The holidays they are enjoying far outshine what we can do to celebrate here on earth.  No budget, no tiredness, no dashed expectations, no overindulgence!

It is true, there is no place like home for the holidays.  How much more this is true for our eternal home!


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Pondering

http://badplayer.free.fr/zoom.php?img=1743&deb=0Scripture for Today:  Luke 2:18-19  “And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

The manger scene or crèche is a common sight during Christmas time as France is a traditionally Catholic country.  Many of them include figurines called, “santons.”  They are beautifully crafted from a clay found in the region of Provence.

Santons (little saints) were first made in the late 1700’s during the French revolution.  At that time churches were forced to close and the large nativity scenes were forbidden.  So these small clay figures were used instead.

I especially like this santon of Mary as she looks so pensive.  Our verse today speaks of Mary pondering.  She pondered and reflected over all that the shepherds had said.  Pondering means to recall to mind or simply to remember.  I am sure that throughout the life of her Son, she re-visted in her mind the miracles surrounding His birth.  Remembering those miracles helped Mary to face all kinds of difficulties in her life.

Just before opening our gifts on Christmas morning, our family reads aloud the Christmas story from the second chapter of Luke.  It is a tradition I enjoy as it helps me to ponder and remember.  But there are opportunities to ponder in my heart every day.

I have not personally experienced the miraculous the way Mary did.  No angels or signs in the sky to ponder.  But He has done a miracle in my life that is spectacular.  He has called me to Himself.  He has forgiven me and made me pure.  That is a miracle!

May I keep remembering and pondering the miracle of His salvation for me!

 


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Holiday Stress

Empty-Cup-of-Coffee-in-the-Sunrise_Hand-Held__IMG_6608-320x480Scripture for Today:  Psalm 23:2  “He makes me lie down in fresh tender green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.”

There is a pad of paper and pen by my bed.  It is there because I wake up in the night thinking about what I need to add to my list of things to do.  I love the holidays but I am not too crazy about the stress of doing everything perfectly.

Facebook pictures do not help my stress levels.  I understand wanting to share decorating or cooking accomplishments.  But sometimes I have the same feeling about them as I do a magazine spread or a elaborate store window display.  I feel frustrated at not having the time and energy to do everything I would like to do to celebrate the holidays.

Our verse today speaks of rest.  The Lord as my Shepherd understands when I am feeling stressed.  I am a silly sheep who looks up at a mountain and thinks I have to climb it.  He gently leads me away from my own ideas of what I think I should be doing.

My compassionate and wise Shepherd leads me to green pastures and still waters.  He sees when I am making myself crazy and leads me away from that mountain.  He shows me that I need to stay balanced and see what is important.  I need to be rested.  I need to eat right.  I need to have quiet and reflective times with my Shepherd.  More than any item on my list, I want to enjoy the company of my Shepherd.

Thank you Lord, for being my wise Shepherd.  Thank you for leading this silly sheep to rest in you.  Thank you for calming my stress.


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Out of Power

electric-power-lines-with-blue-sky-and-daytime-moonScripture for Today:  I Chronicles 29:12  “Wealth and honor come from You.  You are the ruler of all things.  In Your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.”

We had a power outage this morning.  I forget how dependent I am on electricity, especially for my morning routine.  I automatically go to the coffee maker expecting coffee.  I try to turn on the lights to put on my make-up.  I have to stop myself from sitting down to the computer.  It is annoying to have my routine interrupted.  The upside is that we walked into town for our coffee (and a pastry)!

We have these outages fairly frequently and some of them have put us in a panic!  One time we and a team of young people were scheduled to leave for the airport at 3:00 am.  The electric gate would not open to allow us to leave!

In our verse today I am reminded that it is the Lord who grants us strength and power for life.  I do not often recognize this fact.  It is easy to think that I am the one who makes things happen.  But in fact, strength and power are in His hands.

I need His strength.  When working without His power, things do not turn out quite the same.  It is like trying to live without electricity.  But when I plug in to the strength that He offers, I am energized to do what He asks of me in a day.  His power gives me a desire to do His will.  Philippians 2:13 says that He is at work in me to create the power and desire to do what pleases Him.

Thank you Lord, that in the spiritual realm there is no power outage with You!