Devotions By Jan

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To Do Lists

Scripture 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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Scripture 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!



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!



Scripture 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!

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My Way

Scripture for Today:  Ezekiel 18:29 “But the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’  Are My ways not right, O house of Israel?  Is it not your ways that are not right?”

My Dad will never let me live down the fiasco I created when trying to make popcorn balls.  I was fairly young at the time but figured I could follow a recipe.  I confidently put all the ingredients together in a big bowl in the order listed.  Not having read ahead, I did not realize there were steps to be followed!  I did it my way and with silly sticky results!

The music of the famous song, “My Way,” was based on the French song, “Comme D’Habitude.”   The words describe a man facing his own mortality and reflecting on a life done his own way.  It says, “For what is a man, what has he got?  If not himself, then he has naught.”  How glad I am that this is not true!  I am not on my own.  I have the Lord!  My life has a plan and a purpose, created by the One who created me!

I know what happens when I do things my own way.  I get in trouble and I make a mess.  Proverbs 14:12 (and 16:25) says, “There is a way which seems right to a man….”  I can so easily fool myself into thinking my way is the right way.  This happened to the Israelites as well in our verse for today.  They did not understand what was truly righteous and they reasoned that their way was better.

I know His way is often the harder way.  I sometimes do not understand the logic behind His way either.   But one thing is sure.  His way is better than mine.