Devotions By Jan


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Lighthouse

lScripture for Today: Psalm 43:3 “O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling places.”

My husband and I recently visited Cape Cod for the first time.  Chatham, at the Cod’s “elbow,” is home to this lighthouse built in 1808.  At that time the maritime traffic was heavy.  The waters were a menace and there were dangerous shoals to avoid.  There is something stately and romantic about lighthouses.  This one has a long and colorful history but today it is an active Coast Guard station.  It is one of the few lights that being automated shines non-stop.

In our French church we sing a song about God’s light being like a lighthouse that guides us towards the port of His love.  It is not new to me to think of His light as a lighthouse.  But what is reassuring is to think about where He wants to lead us!

This same lighthouse has an old legend about an evil “ghost rider” who waves a lantern from his galloping horse to lure sailors to their deaths.  There are plenty of lights one can decide to follow in our world.  But the light of God is truth.  He is leading us into His loving presence.  He is leading us to Himself, the very port of His love!

There are dangerous waters to navigate.  I need His light.  The truth found in His Word helps me make the right decisions.  Trying to navigate without His light puts me at risk.  He shows me where the hidden rocks lie.  Obeying Him keeps me off the rocks.

Thank you, Lord, that Your light brings me safely to You!


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Lost!

langres_portehoteldevilleScripture for Today: Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Randy and I got ourselves hopelessly lost last week. We were in Langres, a medieval village in Haute Marne with my French chorale.  The ramparts surrounding it are 3.5 kilometers long with twelve towers and nine gates.  On entering one gate we were told where to meet the bus, 500 meters to the right.  The problem was, all the gates looked so similar with the same arch.  We were panicked trying to meet up with that bus!   How could we possibly know where we were going if we had no idea where we were?  We were afraid we would have to go to each of the nine gates and check for a parking lot to the right of it!  Our bus driver very kindly circled a bit to find us!

Our verse for today is all about being lost.  It comes after three parables describing a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son.  Jesus came to this earth to seek out the lost ones.  Those lost do not understand where they are nor where they are going.  What is worse is not realizing one is lost!

Being lost in Luke’s three parables meant separation from one’s owner or one’s Father.  It is the same for us.  When we live a life separate from our Creator, we lose the sense of who we are, where we are and where we are going!  He made us to enjoy a relationship with Him.  Being found is what answers all those age-old philosophical questions.

It is amazing that Jesus loved me enough to search for me and find me!  I am no longer lost.  I am found in Him.  In His arms I am home.


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The Garden Hose

feb school home 316Scripture for Today: Isaiah 44:3 “For I will pour out water upon him who is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.  I will pour out My Spirit upon your offspring, and My blessing upon your descendants;”

We have been having a heat wave recently here in France.  In French it is called “canicule” for anything over 90 degrees.  There are warnings on the television news and on public service announcements to drink plenty of water.

My plants are thirsty too.  It does not take much for them to look pathetic in this heat.  I have a nice long hose that reaches most of our side yard.  But so often, the hose gets a kink in it.  In fact, the further I get from the source of the water, the more likely it is that the water stops.  It is annoying to have to run back and see where the problem is!

So often in Scripture water represents God’s Spirit.  His presence gives life and health.  With Him we flourish and grow.  Without Him, we wilt and bear no fruit.  But like a kink in a hose, I can sometimes cut myself off from that source of water; His Spirit.

The flow of water is interrupted through no problem on His part!  The water blockage comes from my own pride.  I see the good things in my life and very quickly take credit for them.  I pat myself on the back for all the good decisions I have made.  Rather than recognize the Source of everything good in my life, I somehow feel I had something to do with it!  My family genes, my financial acumen, or my level of education take center stage rather than His goodness!

May I today, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!”


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Ease

hammock_sleepingScripture for Today:  Psalm 25:12-13a  “What man is he that fears the Lord?  Him shall He teach in the way that he shall choose.  His soul shall dwell at ease…”

This guy has the right idea!  What a perfect vacation, taking one’s ease in a hammock at the water’s edge!  He is the picture of relaxation and well being.  He does not seem to have a care in the world.  There is no watch or clock in sight, not even a cell phone!

I have thought about buying a hammock for my husband to relax in the yard.  But it would be too close to the clocks and the phones.  We do not have water or palm trees, so I am not sure he would reach this level of ease!

Our verse for today talks about the ease of the soul.  Some translations use the word, “prosperity,” but looking up the Hebrew I found not only the idea of “at ease” but also the words beautiful, cheerful, pleasant, pleasure and favor.  The one who fears the Lord and follows His leading is the one who enjoys this kind of ease of the soul.

Allowing the Lord to teach me His ways makes for good choices.  The unease in a soul can be avoided when I do things His way.  Obeying is not easy, but the benefit of a soul at ease is certainly worth the effort.  When I follow Him I enjoy His love and favor.  His love remains constant but I am not in a place to enjoy it when I am not following Him.  But my soul is at ease because He is leading me and He can be trusted.

A never-ending vacation is not possible but my soul can be at ease every day!  Thank you, Lord.


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Pyramid

paris21_spanScripture for Today:  Genesis 2:24  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Paris can be so romantic!  This couple enjoying the view of the pyramid at the Louvre makes a pretty picture.  But when I see a pyramid or any triangle, my mind goes back to the counsel we received as young newlyweds.  It is counsel that we have passed on to many other couples just starting out.

Our verse for today talks about becoming one.  Marriage can achieve that on so many levels.  For a believer who marries another believer, there is the potential to be united at a deeper level than non-believers can realize.  When we can share our relationship with Christ, a different kind of closeness is possible.

The triangle’s three sides represent the husband, the wife, and at the apex, the Lord.  There is the line at the base that connects man and wife.  Sharing life together, learning each other’s likes and dislikes, enjoying intimacy, these all make up that connecting line.

Both the husband and wife have their individual relationships with the Lord.  We each have our own struggles with obedience and growing faith.  But as we move along that line towards the Lord, the apex of the triangle, we also are actually moving towards each other!

I never feel closer to my husband than when I hear him pouring out his heart to the Lord when we pray together.  I feel our oneness when we together serve Him in some way.  When we share our struggles with trusting Him, I feel this oneness.  When we admit our failures and together ask Him for forgiveness, I feel this oneness.  Thank you, Lord, for making us one!


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Stains

stain-removalScripture for Today: Jeremiah 2:22  “Although you wash yourself with soap and use an abundance of cleansing powder, the stain of your guilt is still before Me, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

I can identify with this man.  Probably the shirt was new, and of course, it had to be white!  There is a member of our extended family (not to worry, he will remain unnamed) who is an expert at staining his clothes.  The food literally jumps off his fork and on to his shirt!  Really!

In my house, the husband does the laundry as so much of it is basketball related!  He does a good job and even keeps a bottle of spray stain remover next to each laundry basket.  The idea is to treat the stains quickly, but the wife often forgets.

Our verse for today talks about a very difficult stain to remove; the stain of guilt.  This guilt came from the sin of worshiping other gods.  Rather than admit their sin in confession, the Israelites tried to clean themselves up and continue worshiping God as usual.  But there is only one way to remove guilt and that is through admitting wrongdoing and asking forgiveness.

The godly sorrow spoken of in II Cor. 7:10 is a guilt that brings repentance and leads to salvation and leaves no regret!  That is the stain remover the Lord uses!  But the worldly sorrow only brings death, as repentance is not involved and the guilty stain is not removed.

I am so often amazed that the Lord takes away the sin AND the guilt.  Our Enemy does his best to accuse me and remind me of my past.  But I know that God does not hold against me what has been forgiven!  How gracious He is to remove all my guilty stains!


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Camels

IMG_20130718_151044Scripture for Today:  Mark 10:24b-25 “Children, how hard it is for them that trust riches to enter into the kingdom of God.  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Back in December, 1999 our family visited Cairo, Egypt.  What an experience it was to bring in the new millennium there!  Our whole family enjoyed a camel ride at the base of the pyramids.  Thankfully, none of the camels dumped us over or spit on us!

Camels are amazing in that they can carry 200 extra pounds and travel 20 miles a day.  They can drink 40 gallons of water at a time and can eat anything without injuring their mouths.  Camels can close their nostrils against wind and sand, and they store energy in their humps in the form of fat.  But one thing they are unable to do is go through the eye of a needle.

I love how God’s Word teaches through images!  In our verse for today, I can picture the shock of the disciples at this one!  He had just challenged the rich young ruler to sell all he had to follow Him.  The man felt unable to do it.  Jesus explained that those who trust in their riches were at a huge disadvantage.  They would not feel their need for a Savior.

Riches are often a blessing coming directly from God’s hand.  The problem comes when I place my confidence in my own resources rather than in Him.  Riches are uncertain (I Timothy 6:17) but the Lord is worthy of my trust.  He wants me in a place of dependance on Him.  As it turns out, knowing and loving Him is the best kind of riches!