Devotions By Jan


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Reflected Light

moon-at-night-1Scripture for Today:  Isaiah 42:8  “I am the Lord: that is My name; and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images.”

Often when my children were young we would see a big bright moon in the sky and chant the little ditty, “I see the moon and the moon sees me.  God bless the moon and God bless me!”

The moon can be so beautiful and it inspires so many romantic scenarios!  But what is interesting about the moon is that it has no light of its own.  The light that it shines is the reflected light from the sun.  In fact, the side of the moon that is not facing the sun is always cold and dark.

In our verse today, there is only one Source of light or glory and that is the Lord.  We can not claim any glory as originating in ourselves.   The Lord does not share His glory.  But He does want us to reflect it.  It is our purpose here on earth to shine in this darkness and point others to Him.  But it is HIS glory and light that we are reflecting.

To take this illustration further, we all have a dark side!  Just like the moon, whatever is not facing the light can not reflect it.  I can not reflect His glory when I claim that glory for myself.  The dark side is the part of me that takes credit when it rightfully belongs to His work in me.

I do not want any cold or dark sides to me.  I want all of me to shine!  I want to give Him the glory for any and all accomplishments.  I want Him to have the credit for anything that is good in my life.  May I reflect His glory today!


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Sibling Rivalry

image010Scripture for Today:  Psalm 133:1  “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.”

I do not know if these two bear cubs are brothers but they sure are not unified in this picture!  A quarrel is about to erupt between these two!

I have been fortunate to have had a family background without much sibling rivalry between my sister, two brothers and myself.  It is not as if we did not have our moments.  I am sure as the baby of the family, I was a bit insistent about my “rights.”  But over all, we got along and still do to this day.

Our verse speaks of the benefits of unity between brothers.  It is good and it is pleasant.  In other words, it is worth pursuing.  Dwelling in unity is not our natural tendency.  It seems more natural to argue, insist on being right, and separate.  In doing so, we destroy not only our unity but our testimony to those who do not know Christ.

Thankfully, dwelling together in unity with brothers and sisters in Christ is possible.  It is a result of the work of the Holy Spirit within us.  There will always be disagreements, but when we are cooperating with Him, we can find common ground.  We can respect each other’s viewpoint and we can agree to disagree without tearing each other apart.  We can appreciate the heart of our brother when we hear him pray.  Even though our differences are huge, we can always share the same love for the Lord.  We have the same Father, after all.

How good and pleasant life is without those family squabbles!  Thank you, Lord, for the unity that is possible in You.  Help me Lord, to always pursue it!


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Eating Light?

IMG_20121117_190433Scripture for Today:  Hebrews 5:13-14  “For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”

The other day we went out to dinner with another couple.  Ignoring the inviting aromas of pizza and pasta, I decided I would eat “light.”  The holidays are coming and there will be too many occasions to overindulge.  I honestly thought I was being “good” to order a salad.  My mistake was to not have asked more questions of our waitress!  Between the toasts, the cheese and the lardons fumés, there was nothing light about my salad.  And yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway!

There are times in approaching God’s Word that I just want something “light.”  Maybe I feel rushed.  Or maybe I am feeling pretty good about myself.  No conviction today, please.  Perhaps I just want a message for someone else but not for myself.  A promise would make me feel good.  I am sometimes not sure I want to look up any cross references or dig at all.  A little light reading of something I am already familiar with would be just the thing.

Our verse today is in no way discounting “milk.”  It is necessary and foundational for the new christian.  There are times when even a mature believer will go “light” and only have what is basic or a reminder in Scripture reading.  The problem comes when one has ONLY milk and does not progress to “solid food.”  Always eating “light” does not allow for good spiritual growth.  Too much light eating will result in a failure to distinguish between good and evil.

Lord, help me not to go “light” on Your Word today.


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Liberty

NY1007025Scripture for Today:   Psalm 119:45  “And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.”

The Statue of Liberty is not only well known in America but also in our region of France.  Frédéric Auguste Bartholi, its creator, was born just up the road from us in Colmar.  There is a museum dedicated to this and all of his works.  There is even a traffic circle where a smaller replica of the Statue of Liberty stands proudly in the middle.

When I think of liberty, I do not normally think of something or someone telling me what to do and what not to do.  But here in our verse, David equates walking in liberty with following God’s laws.  It seems a paradox.  How can I walk at liberty and be seeking His Law at the same time?

Our liberty allows us to follow His precepts.  This liberty is not a liberty to do whatever we please.  It is a liberty from the sin that enslaves and entangles us.  Sin can have the power to keep us in chains, obligating us to do evil.  But because of what Christ did on the cross, I have a choice to follow His Law or to not follow it.

To be honest I do not always use my liberty like He intends.  The pull of the world, my old habits and just my ugly sin nature  all conspire to convince me that I have no choice!  There use to be a car commercial on French television that in referring to temptation said, ‘It is too strong for me!”  But as a believer, I have the Holy Spirit living within me.

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”  (II Cor. 3:17)  He gives me the power to choose what is right.  Thank you, Lord, for liberty!


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What’s on the Other side?

IMG-20120208-00098Scripture for Today:   I Corinthians 2:9  “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.”

I found this rock wall formation mysterious looking.  It marks the boundary on one side of a private community beach called Three Arch Bay in Laguna Beach, CA.  Through these openings one can see what is on the other side.  Of course, how much of what one sees depends on where one is standing.

The other side looks very much the same as the Three Arch Bay beach.  I can imagine that in the distant past there was no view of the neighboring beach.  But after centuries of the elements wearing away at the rock wall, we have a limited view of the other side.

In our verse today, no one has seen the “other side.”  No eye has seen, no ear has heard.  In fact, man has yet to imagine everything that the Lord is preparing for those who love Him.  Our imagination just can not grasp how wonderful heaven will be!  Our experiences and minds are just too limited to understand all that is ahead!

However, in Scripture, He does give us a little idea, a little glimpse.  The last chapters of Revelation give us a few descriptions of the other side.  When I read them I am left with more questions than answers.  But one thing is sure….it is all good!

I love the fact that the Lord is actually preparing  for my arrival!  (see also John 14:3)  Maybe He does not give me the details because He wants me to be surprised!  So for now, I trust in His love and preparations for “the other side.”


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Rewards

IMG_20121210_105052Scripture for Today:  Colossians 3:23-24  “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

We all love to be rewarded and recognized for what we do!  My husband has collected a number of trophies over the years for winning basketball tournaments.  They sit proudly on the top shelf of a bookcase in our study.  On the rare occasions when I dust them, I think about those happy proud moments when he was honored along with his team.

The Lord understands our need for recognition and reward and how they help to motivate us.  But there is a reluctance to talk about rewards.  It is like we are embarrassed that we need them.  There is the idea that somehow working for reward is a motive that is suspect.  And yet, the teaching of rewards is found throughout Scripture.

Our verse for today is quite clear about linking reward to our motivation to work hard.  It is for Him that we  work and not for the approval and recognition of men.  It is always nice, of course, to have that pat on the back from men too.  But it does not always come.

There are many times that others do not see what we do, or in seeing, say nothing in the way of thanks or appreciation.  Those words of approval are important to keep us going.  We are just made that way. That is why we need to be reminded of God’s rewards.  He sees.  He knows.  He is pleased with our service to Him.

His approval, His approbation, His reward keep me going.  Please Lord, may I one day hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”


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Whiter than Snow

IMG_8034Scripture for Today:  Psalm 51:7  “Purify me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”

We had a beautiful snowfall this morning.  There is something special about waking up to a whitewashed landscape.  All the sad bare trees suddenly look festive.  Add hot chocolate and all is right with the world!

Our landlord, Mr. Hell, is a big help (yes, that is his name!  See “What’s in a Name” Aug.27, 2012).  He clears the long alley way out to the street with his tractor.  Before long, the snow no longer looks so clean and white.  There are foot prints, tire tracks and Tiger’s paw prints all sullying its brightness.  As the snow melts and mixes with the mud beneath, the white gets lost in grey.

Our verse today says that I can be whiter than snow.  The Lord’s forgiveness makes me that way.  My sin makes my heart dirty.  My guilt makes it dark.  But the Lord promises full cleansing when I confront and confess my sin.  His forgiveness makes everything white and bright again.

Like the snow outside, the whiteness of my heart does not seem to last very long!  Sin creeps back in little by little, dimming the white and changing it to grey.  Before long it is too noticeable to ignore.  The washing of my heart needs to be a daily routine.  Just as the washing of the disciples’ feet in John 13 is a daily necessity, so is my daily confession.

How wonderful to experience the new freshness of bright white snow!  How amazing that God’s forgiveness does the same for me!  His patient and consistent pardon means that each day can have a new white beginning.  One day, that whiteness will last forever.