Devotions By Jan

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Rocky Ground

rocky ground.jpg_thumbScripture for Today:  Matthew 13:20-21 “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arise because of the Word, immediately he falls away.”

I love having lots of land around our rented French house.  However, there is no lawn and there is no patio or asphalt.  To keep the dust down, our landlord puts in tons of small gravel.  Driving over it, we have picked up some of those rocks in the carriage of the car.  From time to time our landlord delivers more as they eventually disappear, to where I do not know!  The rocks discourage the weeds from growing so I am always glad to have a new batch.

In today’s passage Jesus describes several kinds of soil, representing men’s hearts.  The rocky soil represents the person who seems to accept and understand the Gospel.  He is even enthusiastic in the beginning.  But when (not if) troubles arrive this person renounces his faith.

When the Gospel is shared with promises of a smooth easy life, we are sowing the seed of God’s Word on rocky soil.  If healing or financial ease is expected with acceptance of Christ then we are mixing rocks in with that seed; rocks that will take one down!  That kind of thin soil keeps one from putting down permanent roots that will withstand life’s trials.

Hard times are part of every life.  It is a rocky road for every Christian.  But I can stay faithful and not fall away when my roots are deep in His love and the truth of His Word.  Lord, keep me rooted and grounded in You!


Flying Together

Scripture for Today:  Philippians 2:1-2  “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and consolation, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”

This image of perfect synchronized flying is amazing!  These geese must have the same destination in their little bird brains!  But more than that, they are flying at the same height and speed to get there!  No one is jostling for position or lagging behind in fatigue.  Their united purpose brings them together and keeps them together.

In the verse for today, Paul seems to think that Christians can be united in spirit.  Not only that but he seems to be saying that believers can be in agreement, loving one another and intent on going in the same direction!  How does that happen?  When there is encouragement.  When there is consolation.  When there is fellowship and affection for one another.

I am going in the same direction as so many other believers.  Like them, my desire is to grow in faith and be more like Jesus.  It is a long life-time purpose.  But going it alone is not what the Lord wants.  Just as I take notice of these three geese flying in perfect harmony, so the world sits up and takes notice of believers that are showing love and unity.

Being united and showing love to one another is something supernatural.  It is what signals to the world that we are disciples of Jesus (John 13:35).  I not only need the love and encouragement of other believers to keep going, but “flying together” brings honor to Christ!  Through our unity we can keep on keeping on, together!



Scripture for Today:  Isaiah 45:22-23 “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth.  For I am God, and there is no other.  I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow and every tongue will swear allegiance.”

I tweaked my knee the other day going up a long flight of outdoor stairs.  The depth of the steps changed mid-way up and I was not paying attention.  All day long my knee protested every time I tried to bend it. Now I have a new understanding for those with knee problems!

I do hope my knees stay in good shape!  I love kneeling down on the floor to play with my grandson.  But  my knees play a more important role, that of kneeling in awe and worship before my King.

Our verse for today tells us that every knee will bow in reverence to God.  Every tongue will one day acknowledge His rule.  Kneeling is a position of helplessness and humility.  When one bows the knee it  shows respect and honor.  It is an acknowledgement of God’s absolute right to  judge.  He is both righteous Judge and Savior.  He offers His salvation to all who turn to Him in faith.

I bend my knee to Jesus here on this earth as He is my Savior and Lord.  On that future day, every knee will bow to Him as Judge.  God will not be mocked and His righteousness will prevail.  It is a sobering thought that all knees will eventually bow, but for many it will be too late and out of obligation.

“Come, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker,” with grateful hearts for His love and salvation!

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A Little Leaven

Scripture for Today:  Luke 12:1b-2 “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.”

Working with yeast is not my strong point.  Waiting for dough to rise and punching it down is just too much of a hassle.  It is especially difficult to be motivated to bake my own bread when there is so much fresh wonderful bread available here in France.

The chemistry behind the leavening process is interesting being that yeast is a fungi.  This living organism as it reproduces creates two by-products; alcohol (evaporating during baking) and carbon dioxide.  It is this gas which filters through the dough creating loft.  It seems so mysterious as one does not actually see it happening.

Leaven is a symbol in the Bible often representing sin or false teaching.  In our verse for today Jesus was very specific about naming the leaven of the Pharisees; hypocrisy.  They had a public image that did not correspond with their private behavior.  They had a very high standard for everyone but themselves.  They could seem very spiritual but be leading a double life.

Christ warns that nothing remains secret.  One day, everything formerly hidden will be revealed.  Like leaven, my behavior or thoughts can be covered up for a time.  But eventually, the evidence of that leaven is seen.  I may be able to fool others around me but the Lord knows my heart!

When I read warnings like this I am reassured that God will not be mocked.  At the same time I need to examine myself.  Am I faking it?  Do I fall into this same trap of projecting a false image of “super saint?”  Lord, punch down this dough and keep me humble!

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Scripture for Today: Ephesians 3:16 “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, “

My weights are red, not black.  I have the possibility of adding more discs to make them heavier, but I don’t.  I suppose I get some sort of workout when I move them out of the way of the vacuum cleaner.

I know I should be using them to strengthen my arms.  Age is working against me and with sleeveless weather upon us, I should be more motivated.  I feel guilty when I read in Proverbs 31:17 that the virtuous woman strengthens her arms!  Couldn’t I just be content with hauling around heavy grocery bags and overstuffed suitcases?

Our verse for today describes another kind of strengthening; that of the inner person.  It is a strength unseen and given by the Spirit of God.  It is His strength that He shares out of His limitless supply.  I have always wondered why “strength” or “power” is not listed among the fruit of His Spirit in Gal. 5:22-23.  The fruit is the evidence His presence.  In contrast, perhaps the strength of His Spirit is “granted” to us when we pray for it.  The context of this verse is a prayer of Paul’s for the Ephesians.

When I pray for His strength to be developed in me, He is gracious.  He grants it because He is merciful, not because I deserve it.  He gives me strength to stand firm in my faith when circumstances want to weaken it.  He gives me strength to say “no” to temptation.  I know it comes from Him as I am very aware of my weaknesses.  But He does wait for me to realize my need and ask Him.  Lord, how I need Your strength today!