Devotions By Jan

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Hurry Up!

78ac90d66badc9ca67b7b31a5a13257d93b37157Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 4:1-2  “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.”

France is home to the TGV, the “Train Grande Vitesse.”  This high speed train has an average speed of 173.6 miles per hour!  It costs more to travel this way but easily cuts travel time in half.

The need for speed is something many cultures share.  Regardless of what country, there will always be drivers on the road who are in a huge hurry.  The left lane on major roads in France is not to be used except for passing.  When one violates this rule of the road, there are immediate consequences.  Someone is sure to be on your bumper breathing down your neck!

Our verse for today speaks of showing patience with others.  When I think about applying this to my attitude on the road, I see how far I have to go!  Impatience can show itself in so many ways: tailgating, cutting someone off, leaning on the horn or swearing.  My body can feel impatient with higher blood pressure, tensed muscles, or my personal favorite, biting the lip!

All of my impatient behavior, on the road or elsewhere, is not worthy behavior for the one who belongs to Him.  It does not show humility or gentleness, tolerance or love.  Somehow, in a church setting, I can hold it together for an hour.  But behind that wheel is my true test!

Showing patience for others is always a challenge on my own.  Thankfully, patience is a part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22.  The Holy Spirit has plenty to spare, even after showing ME patience!

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A Sure Foundation

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 3:10b-11  “But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

How one builds can differ from country to country.  When hosting a French friend stateside, I was surprised to see him take a picture of a building site.  He was impressed by the fact that they were building with wood framing.  Of course, in California it is important that a building can withstand the movement of earthquakes.  Unlike France, stone walls would not work there.

How one builds one’s life also differs.  There is a foundation to life already laid.  Jesus Christ is that foundation.  Those who build on any other foundation have a house/life that will fall apart.  All other foundations are pictured as sand in Matthew 7:24-29.

Even with the foundation being Jesus Christ one can build with different materials.  If one builds with stone (as well as gold and silver) his work will endure the test of fire.  The Lord will reward this work.  If one chooses to build with wood (as well as hay and stubble) although saved, there is no reward.

I am thankful to be building on the only true foundation, Jesus Christ.  But with what am I building?  I can be lulled into thinking that lots of activity means I am building well.  But only what is done for Christ will last.  I want my life to be built not only of durable stone, but precious stone.  Together with gold and silver, my life will be beautiful IF it gives glory to my Lord and is lived for Him

Living for my own selfish desires will only produce wood, hay and stubble.  Lord, I think there is some remodeling to be done today!

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949996_iciclesScripture for Today:  Hebrews 3:13  “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

We are having a terrible time with ice in our area.  It is making driving hazardous up the incline to our house.  The other day we got stuck, spinning our wheels in it.  Our neighbor very kindly helped us push the car.  Even walking is difficult.  We feel like we are ice skating!  Walking under the icicles can be lethal!

The snow is beautiful but the ice can be a killer.  The temperatures start to warm up and the surface begins to melt.  Then the temperatures drop and everything becomes hard and slippery.  Many meetings and events have been cancelled because of it.

Our verse for today is a warning.  The deceitfulness of sin can harden a heart.  The longer one denies wrong doing, the more difficult it is to hear His still small voice of conviction.  The more one indulges in a sinful behavior, the more likely it is that the heart becomes hardened and deceived.

When I listen to Him my heart is soft and open, like fresh powdery snow.  When I ignore His conviction, what was soft and melted becomes hard and defensive.  When I rationalize what I am doing, I deceive myself.  Sometimes I am not even aware of what I am doing, until the hardness of my heart makes me slip and fall!

There is an urgency in this verse.  Hardened hearts do not improve with time.  They only become harder.  Today is the day I need encouragement to obey.  Today is the day I need to encourage others to obey.  Lord, do not let me ever be hardened towards You.

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Price Tag

IMG_20130124_111941Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 6:20  “For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Shopping in France is very different than shopping in the States.  In France, there are only two times in the year when a retailer can put on a store-wide sale; January and July.  Those stores who choose another time of year will have to pay a fine to the government.  So sales here are a long-anticipated event.

Retailers will announce the words, “Prix Choc!” which translates, “Price Cut.”  But my mind always goes to the other meaning of “choc” and I am shocked at the price still being so high!    One good thing about shopping here is that the tax is always included in the price listed.  Even so, I always need to translate the euros into dollars to know what I am paying.

Our verse for today talks about a price that God paid for me.  The price He paid for me was enormously high and shocking!  On that cross He shed blood and died for me.  He paid for me the debt that I owed for my own sin.  It cost Him everything.

My body and spirit rightfully belong to Him.  I am not my own.  Because of His sacrifice I am His.  So then, I am to honor Him in all I do.  I do not always do a good job of it.  Thankfully, He does not go to “Returns” because I am defective!  He did not purchase me because I was worth it.  He purchased me to give me worth.  It is amazing that He would think I could be worth loving, worth holding.  But He does.  He created me to be His.

I am forever His and He is forever mine!

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IMG_20121209_084146IMG_20130123_114751Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 5:7  “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”

The fog was so dense today.  The normal view from my window was completely obscured by it.  The tower of our beautiful cathedral was no longer visible.  It was an eerie feeling to know something was there but not to be able to see it.

Even though the fog lingered for most of the day, it never occurred to me to doubt whether the cathedral was still there.  I did not see it but I had no problem believing it was still there.

In the spiritual realm nothing can be seen with our physical eyes.  But there are things that are very much spiritually seen.  We see with eyes of faith.  We walk by faith which according to Hebrews 11:1 is the “substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”

I cannot literally see the Lord.  But I do see Him with eyes of faith.  There is sometimes the fog of doubt or discouragement, but I know He is there.  Nothing has changed except my perception.   His Word remains true and His promises continue to be valid, regardless of how I may be feeling today.

Everyone has faith in something.  But faith in and of itself is worthless without the object of our faith being true and worthy.  And He is.  I am thankful that the fog lifts and He reassures me of His presence and care.

As I write this, it is dark.  The fog has completely lifted and the cathedral is bathed in spotlights.  One day, there will be no more need for faith as I will be walking by His side.  My prayer echos these lyrics; “And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight.”

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Acting Like a Kid

IMG_20130122_170840-1Scripture for Today:  Malachi 4:2  “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings, and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stalls.”

I am not often around farm animals, but when I read this verse I remembered my sister’s baby goat, Sunshine.  My sister and brother-in-law had built a home in rural Arkansas in the early seventies.  Part of my graduation gift was a visit with them.  Sunshine was a sweet thing who loved being fed from his bottle and enjoyed galloping around the place.  She would kick up her heels when especially happy.  I finally understood where our expression came from; “acting like a kid.”

Today’s verse describes calves rather than goats skipping about.  The image is of sweet release from their confinement.  When the Lord comes back it will be a sobering day of judgement.  But for those who fear His name, there will be healing and release.  Sin will be judged by Jesus, the Son of Righteousness, and He will make everything right.  No evil will go unpunished and all will be brought to light.

There are times I watch a silly movie where the bad guys look like they are going to get away with everything.  Then, at the last minute, after lots of nail-biting tension, the good guys win!  At that moment, it is not uncommon for me to get up and cheer!  That joy at seeing right prevail is what is ahead for believers.  The joy will be so intense, we will want to kick up our heels and act like a kid!  I can get discouraged watching sin seemingly triumph.  Or I can live life skipping with joy knowing that one day right will prevail!

Lord, thank you that You will make everything right.


Holding a Grudge

La Dent de CrollesScripture for Today:  Proverbs 19:11  “Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense.”

When living near Grenoble we were at the base of the French Alps.  In fact we were surrounded by several different mountain chains.  Pictured here is La Dent de Crolles.  One can see why they named it a tooth.  It looks just like a molar.

There is a saying in French that makes me smile.  The idea of holding a grudge is expressed as “avoir une dent” or  “to have a tooth” against someone.  It is a very old expression but still currently in use.  The teeth are thought to be a symbol of aggression and biting.  We have the same idea in English when we “fight tooth and nail” or an animal “bares his teeth.”

Our verse for today teaches that it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.  Doing so is the exact opposite of holding a grudge.  It is not a natural behavior for me though.  More often, I remember an offense, even those that have happened years ago.  I am not proud of that fact.  If I continue to remember an offense, I am surely not overlooking it.  And if I am remembering it, then I am likely to hold a grudge.  There is certainly no glory in that.

Overlooking an offense is a very gracious behavior.  There are times I offend others and I am grateful when that person lets it go.  When I understand that grace has been extended to me, then I can more easily extend grace to others.  Even so, I need the power of the Spirit to overlook and forgive.

I am forever grateful that Jesus does not hold a grudge, or where would I be?