Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

It is amazing how the eye can be fooled.  This desert mirage looks as if there is water in the distance reflecting the trees.  I can imagine the weary traveler hurrying his steps in thirsty anticipation.  What a disappointment to finally arrive and find nothing!  One finds these mirages on hot days on city streets as well.  The light passes from colder to warmer air, bending the rays and mirroring the sky above.  The result is what looks to be a pool of water on the pavement.

The word, “mirage,” comes from the French but is originally Latin.  It means “to look at” or “to wonder at.”  We get our word,”mirror,” from this same root.  This makes sense as the reflected image is not real.

Our verse for today reminded me of a mirage when I read the words, “empty deception.”  Like a shimmering pool of water in the distance, the world’s philosophies promise much but deliver nothing.  When we base our thinking on what the world says is truth, we are deceived.  This verse even says we can be bound and be captive to a system of thinking.  We are to be careful and see to it that we are not fooled.

However can one make sense of life without its Author and Source?  He calls Himself “Light.”  This Light is not distorted rays that fool the eye.  He calls Himself, “Living Water,” and He does not disappoint.  He quenches our thirst.  He calls Himself, “Truth,” and His truth is absolute and never-changing!  Thank you, Lord, that You are no mirage of wishful thinking!

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My Way

How-to-Make-Homemade-Popcorn_91521-480x360Scripture 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.

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replyall_0Scripture for Today:  Psalm 143:1 “Hear my prayer, O Lord.  Give ear to my supplications!  Answer in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness.”

I am never sure about computer manners.  When a matter is settled after several e-mails, I do not feel compelled to continue the conversation.  But my husband is adamant that I at least acknowledge every response.  So at least in this area I have the last word!

I have made the mistake of hitting that “reply all” button.  Usually it is not a problem when people see my private response.  But I am embarrassed by it nonetheless.  There are times I am frustrated with waiting for someone to reply.  With important matters I seem to be checking my inbox repeatedly for that response.  I do better listening for the “beep” from my phone, signaling a new e-mail.

Our verse for today gives one assurance that the Lord hears our prayers. This verse is a cry from David when surrounded by his enemies.  He does not yet see God’s deliverance but he is confident of the Lord’s faithfulness and righteousness.  David believes God hears Him and will answer him.

Waiting a very long time for His reply tempts me to think that God did not hear, or that God does not care.  The two words that reassure me that He does are the words, “faithful” and “righteous.”  He is faithful to accomplish what He promises as He cannot deny who He is (II Timothy 2:13).  Because He is righteous His answer will not be capricious.  It will be the right thing, even if I do not understand.

I may have to wait for it, but He will always reply.  Because He is God, He will always have the last word.  Thank you, Lord, that your faithful response is always the right one.

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Overcoming Fear

Paragliding_start1Scripture for Today:  Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

It may seem crazy but paragliding is something I have always wanted to do!  When living at the base of the Alps we would often see float by these colorful sails.  Now, living at the base of the Vosges mountains we see them regularly.  It looks so amazing to be up there with quiet amazing views.

I am too fearful and inexperienced to try it on my own.  My plan is to strap myself to the instructor and have him jump, steer and land for me.  Hopefully, I will finish in one piece.  The plan is to do this for my sixtieth birthday in July.

Our verse for today is an encouragement to not fear.  I am to put my trust in God.  His presence keeps me from being dismayed at dizzying heights.  He strengthens.  He helps.  And most importantly for this adventure, He upholds me with His righteous right hand!

Today’s verse is really a call to faith.  The more I put my faith in Him, the less problem I will have with fear.  In Matthew 8:26 Jesus challenges His disciples with the question, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  Their boat being pummeled by a storm seemed reason enough.  Jesus was there so why be fearful?  But He was asleep and the disciples questioned whether He really cared.

I do the same thing when faced with scary circumstances.  I know He is there.  But is He paying attention?  Does He really care about what I am going through?  Praise God the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAScripture for Today:  Proverbs 27:16  “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.”

Have you ever notice how many infomercials there are to sell knives and knife sharpeners?  One would think that life cannot be lived without them.  I am afraid the knives in my kitchen are quite dull.  I realize this can be a hazard.  One Christmas I received some steak knives.  My daughter was so accustomed to my knives being dull that she pressed too hard and we ended up in the emergency room on New Year’s Day.

Pictured here is the “steeling” method where the edge is realigned and sharpened.  There are in fact many different methods in sharpening metal, some for rough sharpening and some for fine sharpening.  Regardless of the material or method used, there is pressure, friction and grinding involved.  The  goal is always to remove unwanted metal to form a new more effective edge.

Our verse for today likens this process of sharpening to relationships.  We do grate on each other!  Where there are people there are challenging conflicts.  It is inevitable.  Even a relationship filled with love and mutual respect will have those sharpening moments.

It is in the context of relationship that we face our faults.  They surface and resurface as we interact with people.  I never realized how selfish I was until I got married and became a mother.  I do not realize that I have a problem with anger until someone else provokes it.  If I were never in a group of women I may not recognize a tendency to gossip.  The answer is not to isolate myself.  If I did that my edge would become dull.  The answer is the Lord’s help and forgiveness.

Thank you, Lord, for the sharpening quality of relationships to remove in me what does not belong!

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A River

JimJimRiverKakaduAustralia_052410-690x517Scripture for Today:  Psalm 46:4 “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.”

A river usually conjures up beautiful peaceful images.  But recently, with the flooding in Kandern, Germany, the river running through the village has been a source of worry.  The river swelled so much with the recent rains that it almost overflowed its banks!

We have enjoyed living near a river in every town we have lived during our twenty four years in Europe.  In Albertville it was the Arly.  We enjoyed the Loire in the Orleans area.  In the Grenoble area the Drac and the Isère river join.  We walked along the picturesque Kander river in Kandern.  Today in Guebwiller we are just  two hundred meters from the Lauch River.  I love living near rivers, crossing the quaint bridges hanging with flower planters and hearing the sounds of lapping water.

Our verse for today describes a river that makes a whole city glad!  It is found in the city of God where the Most High will make His abode!  This river will be clear, pristine and never in danger of flooding. The river is described in Rev. 22:1-2 as having the water of life!  It will be clear as crystal and flow from the throne of God right down the middle of the main street of the city!  It will be a river that leads to His very presence!

Water of life filling a river and leading to the Source of life!  No wonder it makes the city and all its inhabitants glad!   Near the very end of the Bible is an invitation to this water.  I am so thankful to be invited, as are you, to take of this free gift of the water of life!

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Scripture for Today:  Matthew 5:16  “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.”

Fireflies are so intriguing!  When they light up a tree it is magical and looks like a fairyland.  Up close they are not so pretty, being a winged beetle.  I have only seen them twice: once in Kentucky as a child and more recently in Michigan on a Fourth of July.  I was more interested in the firefly show than the fireworks!

What is so interesting about their light is that the chemical reaction that produces it does not produce heat.  They glow without wasting any energy.  All one hundred percent of their energy goes into making their light.  The purpose of their glow is to attract, either a mate or their prey.  Their light attracts me too although I do not fit either category!

Our verse for today talks about the light of our good deeds.  When our kindness to others is done to give honor to the Heavenly Father, we shine as lights.  In a dark and selfish world our lives stand out and shine. The purpose of our light is not to attract people to ourselves, but to our Lord.  We are to be open about the reasons behind our giving to others.  It is not about me.  It is about Him.

People see a difference when we do not look to be thanked or recompensed for what we do for others.  There is no personal agenda behind our actions.  Public accolades are nice to receive but are never the goal.  Our light is to pierce the darkness and point others to Christ.

Lord, show me how to shine for You today!