Devotions By Jan


1 Comment

Mime

IMG_20130920_172658Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 3:7  “A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; a time to be silent and a time to speak.”

This was perhaps the hardest thing my husband was ever asked to do!  Not talking is a real challenge, but he did a very expressive mime for a French church service twenty-four years ago. There were no worries over a microphone, vocabulary or an American accent.  The message was clear even without words.

Mime has been around since the days of Greek theater in 467BC.  But it was Gerard Deburau who introduced in France the silent Pierrot pantomimes in the nineteenth century.  We call them “pantomime blanche” because of the white face.  Mime or silent theater is a wonderful way of communicating the Gospel without the need for language!

Our verse for today was written by King Solomon who had received from God a special gift of wisdom.  It is part of a poetic text that describes the times for doing or refraining from doing a number of activities.

There are many occasions when it is better to remain silent than to speak.  In the face of overwhelming grief, it is often better to touch and hug rather than to speak.  I will never forget a time when we were in a state of shock, and a good friend said not a word.  He cried with us, and that was all that was needed.  We often hesitate to approach someone suffering because we worry about what to say.  A silent presence sometimes speaks more eloquently than words ever could.

There is a time to speak and I need God’s wisdom in my choice of words.  Whether it is explaining the Gospel or comforting a friend, Lord show me when to speak but also when to be lovingly silent.


Leave a comment

Who Moved?

front-seatScripture for Today:  Hebrews 3:5  “Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.'”

The classic cars are great for one very personal reason; they often have that bench-style seat!  Instead of being separated from my Honey by bucket seats, I can snuggle up close like the couple pictured here.  I have heard it said that one can see how long a couple has been married by the distance the wife puts between herself and the driver.  Of course, the driver has not moved.  The wife would sometimes inch her way a little more each year towards the door!

In our verse Jesus promises never to leave us or abandon us.  He does not move.  His love remains constant.  It is because of the promise of His presence and care that we can be free of money worries.  Rather than loving money we love Him.  Rather than looking for contentment elsewhere, we find it in His love.

There are times I feel very far from the Lord.  I know He is there but I do not sense His presence.  Without even being aware, I find I have inched toward that door.  It has happened through my own neglect of His Word.  Or I have simply let drop prayer conversations with Him.  He has not moved.  I have.

Inching away from Him leads to feeling discontented. I start looking out the car window at all the things I think I should have.  Because He has not moved, the solution is simple.  Through His Word and through our conversations I come back to where He is.  He promises to be there.  Thank you, Lord, that you never move!


Leave a comment

Science Demonstrations

34Scripture for Today:…….I Cor. 4:20  “For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.”

My husband was a chemistry teacher for fifteen years at a public high school in California.  His lab demonstrations added a lot of interest to his course.  So much of learning is visual.  The scientific principles he taught were more likely to be remembered if they could be seen and demonstrated.  Although it took more preparation, the power and impact of a demonstration was always worth it.

Our verse for today is in the context of a reprimand of Paul to the Corinthian church.  In his absence, teachers had swayed the people’s thinking.  Their words were wise according to the world.  By contrast, Paul’s words seemed foolish.  Their words projected an image of strength, whereas Paul’s words looked weak in comparison.  These teachers with their arrogant beautiful words were honored.  Paul’s words caused him to be despised and persecuted in the world.

Thankfully, the kingdom of God does not consist in words.  I know people who can talk me into a corner.  Speaking French can often put me at a disadvantage!  But God’s kingdom is not about the words, regardless what language is used.  His kingdom is about His power to change lives.  There are those who’s words can be very alluring and smooth.  But without God there is no power.

Those unlearned fishermen in Matthew 10:20 were able to speak before kings and governors.  It was not their words but the words of the Spirit within them.  That is the power of God’s Kingdom!  He demonstrates His power through my simple unsophisticated words.  Thank you, Lord, that Your power is working in me to do more than I can imagine!


2 Comments

Law and Grace

Cour d'Appel de ColmarScripture for Today:  John 1:17  “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

This beautiful building in Colmar is the Cour D’Appel or the Court of Appeal.  We pass it often as it is very near the train station.  Thankfully, I have never had occasion to enter it for any official reasons.  It was built in 1906 in a neo-baroque style and has changed hands a number of times with the Germans.  Interestingly, above its massive front door is the figure of the Greek goddess, Nemesis.  She represents the spirit of retribution and vengeance.  The name, “Nemesis” is related to a Greek word meaning, “to give what is due.”

Obviously, we need law to keep order and mete out justice.  The Law given by Moses was in fact written by God’s finger, twice!  Without law, we would not know what sin is.  I do not realize I am speeding if there is no sign posted with the speed limit.  But the Law or ten commandments is a standard with which no one can completely comply.  It is needed to show us our guilt and to lead us to the One who has fulfilled it for us.  Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves.  He kept the Law perfectly.  And through faith in Him, we are justified, or declared righteous.

I am so thankful that justice was satisfied through Jesus.  I shudder to think of getting what is really due me.  He does not deal with me according to my sin (Psalm 103:10).  Instead, He shows me His undeserved favor.  Because of Jesus, I do not fear divine retribution or vengeance.  In its place, He gives me grace that is amazing!  Ten thousand years will not be long enough to thank Him!


Leave a comment

Duvets

Kakinoki_one-person_duvet_cover_1Scripture for Today:  Psalm 32:1  “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

I am no Martha Stewart!  My beds never look like they could be featured in a magazine.  It is enough for me that they are made up in the morning.  I do not worry about the corners or the exact placement of the pillowcase edges.

I learned fairly early to use duvets or comforters when our kids were small.  They were much more forgiving then bedspreads.  All the kids had to do was pull them up.  Smoothing them down was not so important.  More than once toys were misplaced and found to be sitting unseen under the thick covers!

Our verse for today describes a happiness that comes from our sin being covered.  Forgiveness lightens the heart!  When we acknowledge and confess our failings to Him, He is faithful to forgive (I John 1:9).  Christ loving sacrifice on the cross does more than just cover sin, but actually eradicates it!  That is joy, to live without crushing guilt!

It is because of His love for me that Christ forgives me.  He asks us to extend forgiveness to others as well.  When I love someone it is so much easier to do.  I Peter 4:8 says, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”  Loving forgiveness is like that duvet, covering all the imperfections beneath it.  That kind of love between believers is the “fervent” love the verse talks about.  This love comes from Him and when I feel it, I am much more likely to forgive.

Whether love is felt or not, He wants me to forgive others.  His huge forgiveness for me and what it cost Him can motivate me.  I am blessed to be forgiven.  Help me, Lord, to bless others in the same way!


1 Comment

Serpents

IMG_20130916_174109Scripture for Today:  Matthew 10:16  “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  So be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”

I still cannot believe Randy and I allowed this big ole snake to slither all over us!  It makes my skin crawl just to look at the photo!  It was during a village fair not long after our arrival in France.  The magic show was part of the entertainment and they asked for volunteers.  This picture even made it into the local paper!

Our verse for today was spoken to the twelve apostles by Jesus.  He sent them out into a hostile unbelieving world that He likened to wolves.  The apostles were as vulnerable sheep who have no natural defense in the face of attack except to run.  For that reason they were told to be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.

In ancient lore and in Egyptian hieroglyphics, serpents symbolized wisdom.  They were thought to be shrewd, smart and cunning.  The image of a dove is pure and innocent.  The idea in using this image of a dove was one of gentleness.

What Jesus counseled then is just as valid today.  For the believer who dares to speak to others of his relationship with Christ, there is always the potential to encounter hostility.  Dealing with hostile reactions requires shrewdness.  Some opposition and persecution can be lessened by avoiding  words and attitudes that are abrasive.  It is not wise to needlessly incite division and anger.  We are told to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  We are also told to bless others when we are reviled and mocked (I Corinthians 4:12).

His wisdom is pure, peaceable and gentle (James 3:17).  Lord, make me wise and shrewd but at the same time innocent and gentle.


3 Comments

Too Much

Donkey-Pulling-Cart-random-2758106-508-366Scripture for Today: Matthew 11:28  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

This poor donkey has seen better days!  Granted, he is supposed to be a beast of burden.  But enough is enough.  I wonder if for the people in this photo this is a common sight.  No one looks surprised, not even the donkey!  The only solution for him is to lighten his load.  That burden is just too much!

Sometimes life gets to be too much.  We pile on the extra tasks.  We confidently take on people’s expectations and before we know it, we are in over our heads!  The calender is too full.  Then on top of all that there are the unscheduled last-minute “have to’s.”  So much of our heavy burden is of our own making.  Overcommitment makes life a wearisome chore.

I love our verse for today.  Jesus invites us to come to Him for the rest we need.  He knows when we overdo and are stressed.  One of the first indications of being “heavy-laden” is letting drop our personal time with Him.  He invites us back.  He wants to unburden us.

The following verses explain that the burden we are meant to carry is light because He carries it with us.  Rest for our souls is possible when we give Him say over our schedules.  Taking on the work He gives and doing it in His strength makes all the difference!  My part almost sounds too simple; to come to Him.

He is waiting for me to recognize the weight of my burden.  He sees that I am weary.  He waits for me to come.  With shoulders bowed and slowing steps I come to You today.  Lord, You are the One who lifts my head.