Devotions By Jan


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Laughter

IMG_20121025_135857Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 17:22  “A joyful heart is good medicine but a broken spirit dries the bones.”

I remember the old TV commercial with the phrase, “I wanna be like Mike.”  Well, I wanna be like these two ladies.  They are pushing ninety and can still be silly and fun!  Oh, they have their problems, many of which are physical.  But they have kept their sense of humor intact.  They have both walked with the Lord for a long time.  Because of years of Bible study with them I have had a front row seat to their faith.  They are a joy to be around because they do not complain.  Instead they choose the medicine of a joyful heart.

The phrase, “laughter is the best medicine,” has been around a long time.  Research has shown there are many health benefits to laughter, including increased blood flow, better immune response, lowered blood sugar, and relaxation.   Isn’t it nice to see science catch up with Scripture written centuries ago!

For a believer, joy is the natural result of a close relationship with the Lord.  Psalm 16:11 tells us that in His presence is fullness of joy!  Being in His presence is a choice.  That means joy is a choice too.

Habakkuk understood that joy is a choice.  When everything was going wrong with crops and livestock, he said in 3:18 “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.  I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

When everything is going wrong with my circumstances I can still find joy when I choose His presence.  There is joy in the realization of His love.  There is joy in the thought of His salvation and the future that awaits!

No broken spirit or dry bones for me!  I choose joy!


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Good Oil

olive oilScripture for Today:  Hebrews 1:9  “You have loved righteousness and You have hated lawlessness.  Therefore God, even Your God has anointed You with the oil of exultant joy and gladness above and beyond Your companions.”

There can be lots of confusion about oils; which ones are beneficial and which ones to avoid.  Saturated or unsaturated, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated.  Olive oil is especially lauded for its health benefits.  I only recently learned I should not keep my olive oil near a heat source, and all this time it has been next to the stove top!

Groves of olive trees are a common sight in Israel as they grow so well in a warm arid climate.  In biblical times the olive oil was used for lighting, cooking, personal grooming, sacred offerings, and for medical use.  But what really interests me is its use for anointing prophets and kings.  Oil was poured on the head to set one apart.

Our verse for today refers to Jesus Christ.  In fact, the name, “Christ” in Greek means, “anointed.”  God set apart Jesus and gave Him a position that is above any other.  He not only is worthy of this distinction, but this anointing oil comes with joy and gladness.

I, too, am anointed with oil!  Psalm 23:5 says that the Lord does this for His own.  I am set apart for Him.  The oil also represents His Holy Spirit, who testifies with my spirit that I belong to Him (Romans 8:16)  What a cause for rejoicing!  This oil is surely the “good oil!”

Rather than think about elevated cholesterol levels the next time I pick up that bottle of olive oil, I want to instead remember this image.  I am one of His anointed ones, set apart for Him.  What joy and gladness to belong to Him!


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Purging

IMG_20130308_094720Scripture for Today:  Hebrews 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

I always know when our radiators in our old house need purging.  I do not notice the noise during the day, but as soon as I lay my head on my pillow, I hear the drip, drip, drip.  The air inside is blocking the circulation of that hot water.  Not only is the sound annoying, but there is less heat as well.

My husband, Randy, periodically uses the special turn key to open the valve and evacuate the air.  The purged radiator no longer drips and we enjoy better heat.

Our verse for today speaks of our conscience being purged.  The Old Testament system of animal sacrifice served its purpose of symbolizing Christ’s death.  But how much more perfect was the sacrifice Jesus made, once for all!  His sacrifice not only cleanses us from our sin, but purges our consciences as well.  His forgiveness is complete.

Satan would like me to think otherwise.  He whispers in my ear his accusations.  He reminds me of times when I really blew it and let the Lord down.  Satan would like nothing better than to take me out of the game and put me on the sidelines.  How thankful I am that he is wrong!

I do not need to live with that constant annoying dripping sound.  My conscience has been purged.  I am a new creation in Him.  No accusation from the enemy can change this truth.  When I lay my head on the pillow at night I can sleep easy knowing that Christ has taken care of every sin and failure.  Thank you, Lord.


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The End

27159en_USI_the-end1Scripture for Today:  I Peter 4:7 “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore of sound mind and be sober unto prayer.”

Films in France have the same last image but saying, “La Fin.”  The music swells, the lights come up and everyone moves toward the exit.  There is no confusion.  We all recognize the visual prompt on the screen.  It is over.  Some are glad it is over and can not wait to leave.  Others wish the story would go on and on as they enjoyed it so much.

Our verse for today talks about the end of all things.  We are told it will be soon.  And because it will be soon, we are to be clear thinking, self restrained and alert for the purpose of prayer.

It is much easier to live like there is no ending.  I can be lulled into thinking that everything will continue as it always has done.  II Peter 3:4 predicts that there will be scoffers in the last days with exactly this attitude.  I do not scoff at God’s Word saying there will be an end.  But sometimes it is more comfortable not to think about it.

Knowing there is an end to all things should motivate me to consider what is really important.  I love to have fun and distractions in my life.  But there is a time for being serious and reflective.  I do not want to miss the signs that the end is approaching.  Just like the theater has visual cues that the film is over, so Scripture is full of prophetic signs that herald the end of time.

I want to be ready for that ending.  It will usher in a new beginning with my Savior!  And that will have no end!


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New Growth

IMG_20130220_161841Scripture for Today:  John 15:2  “Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit He cuts away: and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.”

Our hydrangea flower bush is beautiful in the spring.  The flowers are big and full; some pink some blue on the same bush.  Of course, in this winter season it looks all brown and dead.  But in fact, it is just dormant and it will come back as it does every spring.

These flowers will grow back much better if I get out there and prune away the dead growth.  The fall was too busy and now the temperatures are too freezing to work outside.  But soon, if I want good growth, I need to get out the pruning shears and cut it back before spring arrives.

Our verse today refers to the pruning of vines to produce more and better grapes.  But the idea is the same; that old growth needs to be removed before new growth can happen.  The one who does the pruning in my life is the Lord.  He does not want me to be content with the fruit He has already produced.  He wants me to cooperate with His pruning shears in order to produce more fruit that is richer and more excellent.

Pruning does not feel so good.  It is a painful process.  Just after pruning the plant does not look so good either.  When the Lord allows the hard times to come, He has in mind to produce new growth in me.  He has the end result in view, a beautiful and fruitful life.

Help me, Lord, not to question your pruning shears.  Help me to trust what You are doing in my life.


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On the Throne

View of Peacock ThroneScripture for Today:  Revelation 5:13  “…Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him that sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”

As an American I am not so familiar with royalty and throne rooms.  But living in Europe I have had opportunities to see a few palaces of former kings.  But I don’t think I have ever seen a throne as opulent as the one pictured here!

The throne for me is an image of absolute authority.  It is from the throne that edicts and commands are issued.  The throne is the seat of control, benevolent or not.  The one seated there commands respect and obedience.

As a teenager I was taught that there is a throne in my heart, the seat of control.  I was challenged to look at that throne and determine who or what was seated there.  If one is a non-christian there is no question but that on the throne is seated one’s self.  But as a Christian, Someone else is to occupy that throne.

As a believer and Christ follower, the One seated on the throne of my heart is Jesus.  Rather than following my own will, I strive to follow His.  He has redeemed my life and He has every right in the world to be on my throne.  He is my Savior and my King.

It is a daily choice to allow Him to reign in me.  The French say, “Je suis Dieu” meaning “I am God.”  But the verb “suivre” means “follow” looking identical conjugated in the first person.  So the same phrase, “Je suis Dieu,” can also mean, “I follow God.”

I pray there will be no confusion about who is God in my life!  He deserves all honor glory and power from my obedience!


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Thirsty

IMG_20130227_110838Scripture for Today:  Nehemiah 9:20  “You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, And You gave them water for their thirst.”

My poor poor tulips!  They died an early death.  From just one day to the next they gave it up.  When I threw them out, I saw that the vase was bone dry, not that there was any doubt as to cause of death.

It is true that I do not have a green thumb for potted plants.  But what possible excuse do I have here?  All I had to do was check the water level and add some when needed.  If I let this happen too often, my husband will not be so motivated to bring me flowers!

From our verse for today we see that our God is a God who provides for us both spiritually and physically.  This passage speaks of His compassion for the Israelites.  In the wilderness there was no bread and there was no water.  Yet He supernaturally provided both.  He took care of both their hunger and their thirst.

I am very aware when I am hungry or when I am thirsty.  He is so good to meet those needs daily.  But there is another provision in this verse, that of the instruction of His Spirit.  I am not always aware of this need.

His Spirit teaches me and His instruction is just as needed as my daily provisions.  I often do not see it that way.  Either I am too distracted by my physical needs, or I feel I am doing fine without His Spirit.  But without His instruction and guidance I find myself resembling those tulips!

Lord, keep me aware today of my need for You.