Devotions By Jan

1 Comment


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


Scripture 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 or other surprises were 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


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.

1 Comment


IMG_20130724_112152Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 3:18a  “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory….”

We recently toured the famous printing factory called the “Imagerie d’Epinal.”  It has been there since the early 1880’s and is still using today some of the old fashioned hand-operated presses.  We saw several different methods of imprinting images including wooden engravings, moulding and lithographs, like the one pictured here.

These images were used to make cards, posters and literature.  They featured religious or military subjects, Napoleonic history, storybook characters and folk tales.  Of course, the image produced was only as remarkable as the original art.

We are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  Unlike animals we have will, intellect, creativity, and the ability to worship God.  Our verse for today talks about another image; the image of the Lord Jesus.  This image is being stamped on all who are believers and belong to Him.  It is a slow, life-long transformation.  One day, when I see Him face to face, His image in me will be complete (I John 3:2).

The more I am like Christ, the more beautiful I am!  That is because He is beautiful.  The original image is like a breathtaking work of art.  His goodness and kindness, His patience and love are slowly making their appearance.

Those presses use a tremendous amount of pressure to produce a beautiful image.  In the same way, the Lord often uses difficulty in my life to produce His image.  He is using every negative in my day to press His beautiful character into me.  I am thankful that the hard times are not wasted.  Lord today, “let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.”

Leave a comment

Plumb Line

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 26:7  “The way of the righteous is smooth.  O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level.”

My husband and I have only tried wallpapering together one time.  It was just before the birth of our first daughter and we confidently tackled the nursery with a bold geometric print.  But no matter how meticulously we lined up the print, nothing came out right.  Unfortunately, we had skipped a step.  We had not used a plumb line for that all-important vertical reference.  When we finally did use it, we found that the wall itself was not constructed correctly.  It was not straight!  No wonder we could not match up the print.  Our point of reference was crooked.

We never would have known that wall was crooked had it not been for that plumb line.  The error was so slight that it was not noticeable.  But to this day, I wonder what happened with those construction workers.  I am sure it seemed right to them at the time.

Our verse for today assures the believer of a smooth way and a level path.  The one who puts their confidence in the Upright One will have paths that are straight (Prov. 3:6).  This image is in stark contrast to the guilty man whose way is crooked (Prov. 21:8).  His way is strewn with pitfalls of his own making.  Unconfessed sin erodes the path and makes the going arduous.

That wall seemed right in our eyes.  In the same way, there is a way that seems right to man (Prov. 14:12).  But our thinking is crooked.  We need a plumb line.  We need the absolute uncompromising Truth of Christ and His Word.

Without You, Lord, my life would be a crooked wandering path.  Thank you for straightening me out!