Devotions By Jan


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Shadowlands

Scripture for Today:  Colossians 2:17  “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality however is found in Christ.”

When I was very little I won a poetry contest reciting Robert Louis Stevenson’s “My Shadow.”  The first few lines actually tie into our verse for today:

“I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me.  And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.”

The shadows spoken of in Colossians are all the Old Testament ordinances that foreshadowed Christ’s coming.  They did serve their purpose, announcing the eventual coming of the reality of Christ.  As a shadow approaches, the reality is not far behind.

How sad to know there are those who embrace shadows today.  Rather than recognizing the reality of salvation in Christ, some would rather live with religious regulations and traditions.  And like shadows, there is only empty coldness.  One cannot love and serve a shadow.

So many try the shadows not realizing they have missed the Essence.  This is especially true for those who have grown up in the Church and think they have tried Christianity.  The fact is that religious do’s and dont’s are not the same as a personal relationship with Christ!  One can confuse shadow with reality.

Rather than chasing after shadows, I want the reality of Christ in me.  I do not want to confuse the two.  I do not want to be content with just the customs and traditions of religion.  I want relationship.  I want the reality of things unseen.  As II Cor. 4:18 tells me, the things unseen are eternal.

It amazes me that Christ wants a relationship with me as well!  The shadows have had their day.  Today, my relationship with Him is the reality!

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Standing

Leaning_Tower_of_PisaScripture for Today:  Psalms 33:8  “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.”

It was awhile ago that we visited the Leaning Tower of Piza.  Someone sure messed up in building this!  Standing up straight is important on all kinds of levels, certainly in architecture!  As a young girl, I was encouraged by my Mother to always stand up straight.  As my own children were growing up, I found myself repeating this advice.

There is a song sung in church that always bothered me.  The lyrics are, “I stand, I stand in awe of You.”  I could not imagine standing in the presence of the Lord of the universe.  Wouldn’t I be more likely to bow, kneel or be prostrate with my face in the dust?  Wouldn’t it be presumptuous to stand in His presence?

The verse for today speaks of standing in awe of Him.  With respect and reverence one can stand before Him as an expression of awe.  Because of His grace and pardon, I will be able to stand before Him.  On my own merit I cannot.

When my French chorale, Joie et Vie, performs, there is often a standing ovation as we finish the concert.  The clapping becomes rhythmic and the audience stands in appreciation and as a sign for an encore.  When I read today’s verse and think of this example, I can imagine myself leaping to my feet in awe.  What I will be feeling will be much stronger than just appreciation.  My mouth will be open in awe!  This feeling of awe will be so strong that I will not be able to stay seated!

How amazing is His grace that allows me to stand in His presence!  How awe inspiring He is!


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Supplies

IMG_20130221_115830Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”

Coming to the end of a  toilet paper roll always presents a dilemma.  Should the new one be put in rolling out from the top or the bottom?  An important question for every newly married couple!

The French have a saying about having no more money, “au bout du rouleau” or “at the end of the roll.”  Who has not experienced panic at the end of that toilet paper roll, thinking it may be the last one!

For the believer, we need not ever panic when it comes to finances.  Our verse for today gives us a promise.  He will supply all our needs.  His store of supplies will never run out.  One can never come to the end of the riches of His glory.

Paul wrote this verse when he was in prison.  He experienced all kinds of hardship and yet he was able to affirm this truth.  God took care of all his needs.  I am sure that while traveling on his mission trips, he saw God supply all his needs.

I can also affirm the truth of this promise.  For the last 24 years my husband and I have seen God provide for all of our needs through individuals and churches.  There were times that were leaner than others.  But the Lord has always come through for us.  We have seen the truth of this promise on a monthly basis over and over.

My problem arises from the difficulty distinguishing between what is “need” and what is “want.”  God’s Word does not promise to supply all I want.  (I know, I’ve looked!)  He knows the difference.  But He loves to give good gifts.  His generosity is amazing!


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Dust to Dust

monsoon-lebeau74Scripture for Today:  Isaiah 40:15  “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.”

Last year my husband and I had the opportunity to speak at a church near Cave Creek, Arizona.  We enjoyed the warm dry temperatures and the different terrain.  And there is something about being around cactus that makes me want to wear boots and a hat!

While driving in the area we found ourselves moving through a dust storm, much like the one pictured here.  It was impressive to see the wall of dust move toward us and then be enveloped by it.  The air was thick with that very fine dust.  We were happy to be protected by the car and even happier to see it quickly move away.

Our verse for today likens the nations to a very fine dust.  In God’s eyes, the power of any nation is negligible when compared to the Lord of the universe.  Like dust in the wind, nations rise and fall.  His power trumps any government, any empire, any army.  In His sovereignty, He is working out a plan.  Powerful men in government may think they are movers and shakers, but in fact, they are not the ones in control.  It is the Lord who allows nations their power.  He raises up and He tears down, all for His divine purpose.

Personally, I need to be reminded of the obvious.  God would not be God if He did not have complete control.  Events in my life are not random.  Nothing is a result of good or bad luck.  My Savior is loving and gracious.  Thank you Lord, that I can trust Your control.


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Cheerleaders

IMG_20130219_095627Scripture for Today:  Romans 15:4  “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

When our daughters were young they were thrilled to wear these cheerleading outfits.  At that time my husband taught at a public high school.  He had these outfits professionally made so the girls could cheer along with the “real” cheerleaders at sporting events.  They were quite the hit!

Anytime spirit lagged among the spectators, all the girls had to do was look cute and shake their pom-poms and the crowd would find their voice again!  With just a little encouragement from the girls, the crowd would cheer.

Our verse for today gives us another source of encouragement; Scripture.  We need its encouragement to hold on to our hope.  We need the encouragement of Scripture to endure.  Our spirits sometimes lag.  We get discouraged waiting for that answer to prayer or His promise to be fulfilled.

God’s Word is so much more than a pep talk though.  His Word is a love letter where the Lord reveals His heart as well as His plan for me.  He so often points me to just the right passage to encourage me when I am down.  He speaks to me through His Word when I am tired and feel like giving up.  He knows just what I am feeling.

Nothing in this world can give me the same kind of encouragement to hope that God’s Word does.  Hope in what is certain, true and unchangeable is a sure hope and not some flimsy wishful thinking.

God’s Word cheers me on.  He is on my side and He wants me to succeed.  He gives me daily encouragement to keep on keeping on!  Thank you, Lord!


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Black and White

Scripture for Today:  Isaiah 5:20  “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

I love the contrast of this picture between the black dog and the white dog.  When I saw it, I could not help but think as well of the contrast there is between good and evil.  So often, these colors represent the two concepts.  In many of the old western movies, the good guy wears the white hat and the bad guy wears the black hat!

The line between good and evil seems to be blurred in our day.  But this certainly is not a new problem.  Our verse was written thousands of years ago and the problem existed then too.  There will always be people who call good evil and evil good.  Dark is seen as light and bitter is experienced as sweet.  Everything gets turned around and the result is disaster.

The current thinking is that everything is relative and there are no absolutes when it comes to what is good and what is evil.  (Of course, that statement is in itself an absolute!)  But God’s Word tells us otherwise.  There are times I get indignant with those who deny and scorn God’s absolutes.  But I know that God’s justice will always prevail.  There will be a judgement and a reckoning, as unpopular as that sounds.  God will not be mocked.

I want to be careful that my own thinking does not get muddled.  I want to be careful to choose what is truly good, light and sweet.  It is easy to allow this false thinking to influence decision-making.  It is far too tempting to rationalize.

Thank you Lord, that Your truth is absolute and never changes!


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Citizenship

IMG_20130217_170519Scripture for Today:  Philippians 3:20  “But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

We love living in France but we do not love doing the paperwork to keep up our legal status.  (I am not showing our actual visas or “green cards” for security reasons)  It is nice that my French driver’s license has no renewal date, but all my other papers do.  From time to time we go through the entire process of filling out papers, paying the fee and making the appointments, all for the privilege of living here.  If we were to apply for citizenship we could avoid this process but we have chosen to keep our American citizenship.

Our verse for today teaches that the believer has yet another citizenship; a citizenship in Heaven.  This image reminds me that this world is not really my home.  My stay here is only temporary.  All my loyalties belong elsewhere.  Earthly things should not have the same influence on me as for the nonbeliever.  Being a citizen of Heaven means that sensual appetites are not my focus.

What then should be my focus?   I need to be looking in anticipation for the coming of my Savior.  When He comes, He will transform my body to be like His!  I will no longer do battle with fleshly appetites.  My new body will be glorious, freed from all kinds of earthly restrictions.

There are times when I am so steeped in this world and its values that I forget who I am; a citizen of Heaven.  As much as I want to live comfortably here, I can become too complacent and forget to look up.

Lord, help me to live like who I am, a citizen of Heaven eagerly awaiting Your coming!