Devotions By Jan


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To Do Lists

imagesScripture for Today: Colossians 3:17  “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

When I married my husband thirty five years ago I was impressed to see him making daily “to do” lists.  The lists would be on 3×5 cards and he would carry them around in his shirt pocket.  I admired his organization but it was not my style.  He found that out when he tried making lists for me!!

There is a certain sense of satisfaction that comes from completing everything on our list.  It is a way of quantifying the day.  Something is either done or left undone.  A day is either productive or it is not.  There it is in black and white.  Of course, what is written on that list can be frivolous or unimportant, but at least it is a way of evaluating one’s time.

As a believer, my day belongs to the Lord.  Growing up I was challenged every Sunday at church with a banner that read, “Lord, what will You have me to do?”  Hopefully, my to do list is written with that question in mind.  Even so, some things cannot be quantified.  How can one note the deepening of friendships?  How does one evaluate the encouragement given to a struggling friend?

Our verse for today covers every word and every deed.  Whatever is noted on a list (and even those things that are not) are all to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Can I dedicate everything said and done in a day to Him?  Can I move through my day with a grateful heart?  More than a completed to do list, this makes a day worthwhile!

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Tossed

P1010127Scripture for Today: James 1:5-6  “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given him.  But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”

My husband and I had the privilege of touring the Holy Land  with a group of French pastors in the mid nineties.  Part of that tour involved crossing the Sea of Galilee by boat.  We thought it strange to experience a sudden squall much like the disciples and Jesus did in Matthiew 8:23-27.  Thankfully, our storm was small, although it did toss us about a bit.  The wind was so strong and seemed to come up out of nowhere.

Our verse for today is a promise.  God promises wisdom to those who ask Him in faith.  He never reproaches.  He is generous and gives to everyone liberally.  The condition is that one asks in faith without any doubting.

The one who doubts is described as surf or waves tossed by the wind.  There is hesitation, uncertainty, and wavering.  The one doubting is unstable, first going in one direction and then another.  Those who doubt are at the mercy of the wind.

Asking anything of Him without faith makes no sense.  Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us that to approach Him at all one must believe that He is there and that He will reward those who diligently seek Him.

His wisdom makes me stable and resolute.  His wisdom makes me single-minded and focused.  How much better it is to ask for His wisdom than be tossed by doubts!  Thank you, Lord, that with You there is no wavering!


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Maps

World-Map-15Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:8-9  “Let all the earth fear the Lord.  Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.  For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.”

Finding a Christmas gift for my son-in-law was easy this year.  He only wanted a wall-sized world map.  It is hung on one bedroom wall and I imagine that looking at it fires the imagination of places yet to visit!

Every time I am up in an airplane, I am amazed at the vastness of our earth!  Perspective is enlarged as I contemplate its size from above.  It is mind boggling to think that its Creator is personally involved in each and every corner of it!  I serve a big and mighty God.

Our verse for today is a call to fear and stand in awe of the Lord.  Standing up is a natural reaction to jaw-dropping wonder!  When I look on His creation I am moved to that kind of wonder.  But there are other reasons to fear Him as well.  All He has to do is speak, and it is done.  What He commands is always a sure thing.

Not all the inhabitants of the earth fear the Lord.  John 1 :10 says that though the world was made by Him, it did not know or receive Him.  But one day, every inhabitant of the earth will fear Him on bended knee and He will receive the glory due Him (Phil.2:10).

Why should I fear Him with awe and respect?  Because His Word is sure.  He is all powerful and His control extends to the ends of the earth.  I can trust His control because it is a good control.  May I live this day standing in awe of His greatness!


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Green Stems

2-Alsatian-glassesScripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:18-20  “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Our area of Alsace is known worldwide for its white wine.  We live in the middle of extensive vineyards and our landlords have their own winery.  Not only are the white wines renown but they have their own special wine glasses.  Because the whites are so light in color, the wine glasses have green stems to add reflected color.  Without the green color of those stems, the glass looks as if it contains only water.

Our verse for today speaks of the danger of drunkenness.  Being inebriated means loss of control.  Rather than being filled with wine, we are to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit.  Rather than losing control with wine, we are controlled by His Spirit.

The remainder of our verse is the “green stem,” or the color that gives evidence of our being filled.  There is joy.  There is singing.  Praise for God’s blessings are shared with others and expressed to the Lord with a heart overflowing with thankfulness.  Gratitude is the attitude of the one who is filled.

Sometimes, I am colorless.  There are days when I am discontented.  It is easy to compare my lot with others and focus on what I do not have.  Those days there is no joy.  I certainly do not feel like singing or praising Him.

It all changes the minute I confess my ungrateful heart.  Thank you, Lord, for filling me with Yourself!  May Your praise be continually in my mouth!


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Boxes of Books

books-in-boxesScripture for Today: Revelation 20:12 “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”

It was an incredible task to box up the hundreds of books my parents had collected over a lifetime!  They are avid readers and those sixty six boxes of books were testimony to that fact.  We ourselves have quite a library in our home.  Every move I try to sort them.  But it is so difficult to throw away a book.  Somehow, it seems like a betrayal of an old friend.  One would think that with the advent of electronic books there would be fewer to box.  It has not worked out that way.  Their physical presence seems to make a house feel like a home.

It is odd to think that there will be books in heaven, but according to our verse there are.  One book is singled out as incredibly important; the book of life.  It will be used at the Great White Throne Judgement and will determine one’s eternity!  Being judged according one’s deeds is the future of those who reject salvation through Jesus.  There is nothing worse.  No one will be able to stand on their own merit.  “There is none righteous, not even one.”  Romans 3:10  And the deed that condemns is preferring one’s own way of “good deeds” to the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Praise God there is no condemnation for me because I have accepted His sacrifice! (Romans 8:1).  What amazing love!  I am so thankful, Lord, that there is no fear of judgement because of Your saving grace!


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Gaby

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 1:7-7a  “You also became imitators of us and the Lord, having received the Word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers…”

For twenty years we enjoyed our African Grey, Gaby.  She filled our home with whistling and chatter both in English and in French!  We were so sorry to lose her early as their average life span is forty years or more!

We would have to be so very careful of what was said in her presence as she imitated everything!  It was sweet when she would say, “bravo!” as I played piano or answer the phone before we did!  She would often declare her love or say she was sorry.  That was the good imitating.  Bad imitating was the impolite bodily noises or the expressions of frustration!!

Our verse for today encourages us to be imitators.  Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, as well as Christ Himself are to be our examples.  Those addressed were living through hard times as a result of their faith.  Not only were they staying the course, they were experiencing joy in their suffering.  They in turn became examples to other believers.

Today, I not only have the example of Christ and early believers, but I have modern-day examples.  I will never forget the courage of a friend going through cancer treatments.  Her concern was always for the others in the room and their pain.  She faced hers with a supernatural joy from God’s Spirit.  Visitors would be encouraged in their own faith when intending to bolster hers!

How amazing that joy in suffering is even possible!  The example of others shows me that faith is real.  Whatever comes in my life, may I be an example as well!


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Tests

1PassinsaneLHR_3Scripture for Today:  James 1:2-3  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

I know I am in good company when complaining about airport mishaps.  Whether it is a cancelled flight, a humiliating security story, or delay after delay, there is ample occasion to practice our verse for today!

No one likes to wait or have plans completely destroyed.  No one appreciates short tempers or rude passengers.  On my latest flight (which I am still living as I write this in an airport) I really feel like I was being tested.  I ask the Lord to smooth the way.  I ask for the least amount of hassle.  I approach that agent with prayers in my heart that all will go my way.  The Lord answers with a “no.”  I am to live through long annoying frustrations.  And I am to do it with an attitude that will not dishonor Christ.  My Lord wants me to smile, be pleasant and not wish horrible catastrophe on airport employees!

Some of my problem comes from a sense of entitlement.  I figure that as a follower of Christ I should somehow get special treatment or consideration!  But the fact is, He is arranging things for my good!  The testing of my faith IS that good.  He is developing in me patience and endurance.  He is slowly molding me into the beautiful image of His Son.  It is a slow and sometimes painful process.  I wish patience could be developed some other way!

I am not jumping for joy at these travel nightmares.  But I do have confidence that God is in charge and He knows what He is about.  I can experience quiet unruffled calm.  Thank you, Lord, for the smile as I write!