Devotions By Jan


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Harvest Time

img_0675Scripture for Today:  Philippians 1:11  “May you abound in and be filled with the fruits of righteousness (right standing with God and right doing) which come through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One), to the honor and praise of God….”

It’s harvest time!  The vineyards above our house are filled with workers, tractors and even horses and carts for the steep places.  The “vendange” or grape harvest is a happy exciting time around here.  After months of hard work tending the vines, the fruit of all that labor appears.  Not only are there migrant workers picking the grapes but students earning extra cash, retired folk, and even whole families enjoying the experience together!  Many of the small villages in Alsace have festivals to celebrate the harvest.

Fruit that is harvested legitimately is fruit enjoyed for more than just one season.  The grapes are not only enjoyed fresh but also transformed into juice, wine, jams and raisins.  When I think about “forbidden fruit” or sin, it is pleasurable only for a season (Heb.11:25).  Our verse for today talks about another kind of fruit; the fruit of righteousness.  It is described as behavior that honors God.  Paul’s prayer is that we are filled with this kind of fruit which comes directly from our relationship to Jesus, the Vine (John 15:1).  The fruit of righteousness will be fruit that is lasting (verse 16).

When I consider what I can pass on to my children and grandchildren, there does not seem to be much that can last.  There is not much that can stand the test of time.  But a life marked by doing the right thing is a life that can touch others for eternity.  It is fruit that will remain.

Thank you, Lord, that Your fruit remains so that my life can make a difference!

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News

newspaper-and-the-internetScripture for Today:  Psalms 112:7  “He will not fear evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

Almost the first thing I do upon waking is check for news on the computer, personal and otherwise.  Being nine hours ahead of the States, I sometimes feel that I am the last to know about whatever happened the day before.  (Of course, I am among the first to know what is happening on my side of the ocean.)  I am quick to check my phone too, in case any news came during the night.

It is not that I am expecting bad news.  But there is a small sigh of relief to know that nothing catastrophic happened while I was sleeping!  However, there is always the potential of hearing bad news concerning family members or friends.

Our verse for today describes the heart of the righteous.  It is a trusting heart that remains steadfast, regardless of the news.  There is no fear of evil tidings.  Worry and fear of what the news might bring has no place for the one who is confident in the Lord.

There will be times when the news is bad.  But it can have no power to shake my trust in Him.  Why?  Because He is the source of Good News.  The Gospel of salvation gives me hope.  Regardless of what I may be asked to endure, it is called a “light momentary affliction when compared to the eternal weight of glory to come” (II Corinthians 4:17).

Like David, my heart can be firmly fixed and established in the assurance of His love and care.  I will not be moved, regardless of tidings good or evil.  I am so grateful that my life is in His gracious and capable hands.  Thank you, Lord, for a life without fear.


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Magnifying Glass

magnifying-glassScripture for Today:  Psalms 69:30  “I will praise the name of God with song, And magnify Him with thanksgiving.”

My eyes do not see so well.  I wear glasses and contacts but I sometimes need a magnifying glass.  From time to time I come across stubborn tiny print that frustrates me.  Out comes the magnifying glass from the drawer.  I am careful to keep it there when not in use.  The sun pours in the window and I have a secret fear that the glass could start a fire!  I am always happy to see the symbol of the magnifying glass on my computer.  I can make print bigger and can even control how much something is magnified.

Our verse for today talks about magnifying the Lord.  He is magnified and more clearly seen by others when I am thankful.  Attributing every success to Him is what magnifies Him.  Recognizing that every thing positive in life is due to Him is what magnifies Him.  To magnify the Lord is to verbally give Him the credit He rightfully deserves.

I cannot help but think of John the Baptist’s statement in John 3:30; “He must increase but I must decrease.”  For Him to increase, I need to stop taking the credit for my blessings!  For Him to increase, I need to get myself out of the way.  Drawing attention to myself gets in the way of the Lord being magnified!  And being silent about His goodness also keeps Him from being magnified.

I want His goodness and grace to be clearly seen in my life!  He is worthy to be magnified!  After all He has done for me, it is the least I can do!  “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!”


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The 5 Senses

yvoire-garden-5-sensesScripture for Today:  John 20:29  “Jesus said to him (Thomas), ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed?  Blessed are they who did not see and yet believed.'”

We had the privilege of visiting this remarkable garden in Yvoire, France, in the Rhone Alps region.  It is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) and was originally the garden of a 14th century château.  It is called the Labyrinth, Garden of Five Senses.  There are more than one thousand types of vegetation.  Everything in this garden has the potential to awaken the five senses: the flowers (sight and touch), the aromatic plants (smell), the fruit trees (taste), and the song of the turtledoves in the aviary (hearing).

Our verse for today mentions one of the senses; SIGHT.  Jesus is encouraging Thomas to see and touch His nail scarred hands in order to believe.  But in fact, all five of our senses are employed in knowing Him.  Psalms 119:103 says that His words are sweeter than honey (TASTE).  Psalms 85:8 talks about hearing what the Lord has to say (HEARING).  II Corinthians 2:14 speaks of the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him (SMELL).  And in Luke 6:19 the crowds try to touch Jesus to experience His healing power (TOUCH).

The Lord created us to use and even depend on our five senses.  But in fact, there is special blessing promised for those who believe without the help of our physical senses.  His blessing for me is a heightening of my spiritual senses.  I cannot touch Him but His arms touch and hold me.  Many times while reading His Word, my spirit hears Him speaking directly to me.  I do not see Him but He causes me to feel His presence.

For some, “seeing is believing.”  Thank you, Lord, that believing is seeing!


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God is Not a Genie!

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Scripture for Today:  Psalm 27:4  “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, to seek Him in His temple.”

As a child I was always drawn to stories of fairies or genies who could grant wishes.  Disney stories and television actress Barbara Eden fired the imagination of what I would ask for given that opportunity.  I knew that in addition to untold riches there would somehow be chocolate involved!  But it would annoy me no end if I had to limit myself to just three requests!

In no way is the God of the Bible a genie who grants wishes.  Unfortunately, there are those who have that erroneous idea and are quickly disappointed.  In His grace, God does give good gifts to His children through which He can be glorified.  In fact, for the believer, everything good in one’s life comes from Him (James 1:17).  But His gifts are unmerited and beyond any attempt to manipulate.

If I could ask only one thing of the Lord, what would it be?  In our verse for today, David (thought to be the author) asks for just one thing.  Most important to him was to stay in God’s presence.  It was his one burning desire to gaze on the beauty of the Lord each day of his life.

I cannot help but think that God was pleased with David’s request.   David asked something that God wanted too; close personal relationship.  Seeking His presence above all else puts all my other needs and wants in perspective.  This is a prayer I want to echo and I know He will answer, “Yes.”

( a re-post from October 18, 2013)


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Rubies

imagesScripture for Today:  Job 28:18 “Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention; the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.”

The ruby is my birth stone and I have always been drawn to it.  Pictured here are rubies from Burma, which for centuries have been its main source.  Rubies have been especially valued in Asian countries.  They have decorated armor, scabbards and the harnesses belonging to noblemen.

This precious stone can be anywhere from pink to blood red.  Their color is the most important factor in determining their value.  But just as with diamonds, clarity is important too.   The cut and weight is also a factor in its worth.  Elizabeth Taylor’s ruby ring and necklace auctioned for more than seven million dollars!  And to think that the ruby will be part of the foundation of the walls of the New Jerusalem! (Rev. 21:20)

Our verse for today teaches that wisdom is more valuable than rubies.  Wisdom can be described as skillful living.  It is knowing what to do and then doing it.  Wisdom cannot be bought or auctioned.  It is not acquired through reading or study.  It cannot be taught.  There is only one source; God.  He gives wisdom to those who ask it of Him (James 1:5).

There are major decisions looming in our future.  We do not know ahead of time what to do.  There are too many unknowns and too many variables.  But we are not expected to have it all figured out in advance.  We walk by faith and not by sight.  That faith is exercised when we ask Him for wisdom.  He responds to that faith by giving wisdom liberally and without reproach.

Thank you, Lord, that when it is time for a decision, Your wisdom will show us what to do and You will give the ability to do it.


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Controls

1380208_10202008316000313_79717570_nScripture for Today:  Psalm 37:5  “Commit your way to the Lord.  Trust also in Him, and He will do it.”

This array of remote controls is impressive!  I cannot imagine trying to keep them all straight.  Seriously, I would probably mix them up to the point of inadvertently turning on or off the wrong thing.  As it is,  I pointed our phone at the television the other day and wondered why nothing happened!  Maybe that is better than trying to make a phone call from the television remote!

All these controls must give one a sense of command.  I imagine that homes in the future may become more and more automated.  With voice recognition we can tell lights to come on or heating to turn off.  It must be a powerful feeling to have one’s environment obey one’s every command!

Our verse for today teaches believers to give up control of our lives to the Lord.  There are plenty of things over which we have no control.  But for those things we do, we are to entrust even those to Him.  This is not a natural reaction to a problem.  In fact, in facing a difficulty beyond one’s control, the first inclination is to somehow find a sense of control.  But committing one’s way to the Lord is yielding it all to Him.  It is an intentional decision to allow the Lord His perfect way and to relinquish control.

My basic problem in relinquishing those controls is a lack of trust.  Why ever do I think I can do a better job of it than He can?  Trusting in myself and my own limited understanding may keep control in my feeble hands but His way is always better.  Thank you, Lord, that You are trustworthy and Your control is always loving.