Devotions By Jan


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Waiting Room

p_1_1071_1138Scripture for Today:  Psalm 27:14 “Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring.  Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.”

Who is it that designs waiting rooms?  The colors are subdued, the walls are mostly bare, and often the magazines are out of date.  It does not help that the chairs are sometimes hard and the lighting fluorescent.  Waiting rooms are not easy places to wait.  Why not have color and noise and distractions to keep our minds occupied?  Focusing on what we are awaiting only makes the time drag.

Our verse for today is all about waiting.  David is waiting to see God’s goodness.  He is seeking His face for mercy and help.  David knows that there can be no courage or bravery on his part without that wait.  He waits with expectation that God will come through for him.  His hope is based on God’s character and God’s promises to him.

When I wait to see God’s goodness I want to wait the way David did.  He did not seek color, noise or distractions to get him through the wait.  Nor did he focus on the problem of his enemies.  Instead, he thought about who God is; his Light, his Salvation, his Refuge.  He remembered God’s promises to him (verse 8).  David was able to move through the wait with a strong heart, full of confidence.  That is what I want to do.

Some waits are particularly difficult.  Concentrating on that looming problem with no apparent solution only makes the wait seem longer.  I want my waiting room to be wallpapered with His promises and reassurances of His character.  Keep my heart strong, Lord, while I wait for You.


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Frown LInes

frown_linesScripture for Today:  Psalm 42:11 “Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”

I always thought that frown lines would be those around the mouth.  But apparently, they are all over a face.  I guess wrinkles from surprise or from concentration must qualify too.  As annoying as these lines can feel on a face, it has got to be better than a face so tight with face lifting that there is no expression at all!

It is true that one’s face can be indicative of what kind of life one has led.  There is the hard working laborer exposed to too much sun.  There is the hard drinking man whose face betrays his dependance.  There is the life-long smoker whose skin reveals their habit.  And there are those who have lived through great tragedy and rarely smile.

Our verse for today is a prayer.  David (thought to be the author) addresses his own soul and the despair he feels.  He had plenty of reason to have a soul disturbed within him.  He was under constant attack from his enemies.  Rather than focusing on his circumstances or giving in to despair, the psalmist reminds himself of the hope he has in God.  Because of that hope, he could look forward to a future where praise for God would come again to his lips.

I can almost see David’s face clearing as he reaffirms his hope.  Hope shows on a face.  Eyes widen with anticipation.  Smiles appear when thinking of His goodness and faithfulness.  Hoping in God changes and uplifts one’s countenance.

Lord, my hope is in You alone.  May this hope be visible on my face today!


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Stuck!

7-29-09 002Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 10:13  “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so you can endure it.”

I will never forget this traffic jam.  It seemed to last forever.  Thankfully, we were comfortable with pillows, food and water.  There was nothing to do about it.  The exits were too far apart.  We just had to wait it out.  In French, the word for a traffic jam is the same as for a bottle stopper.  Whatever the image, it is not a fun experience!  There was no point in venting our frustrations as doing so changed nothing!  We were stuck and there was just no way out.

Our verse for today gives a promise regarding temptation.  Of course, God does not tempt us to sin (James 1:13).  The word for “temptation” in the Greek is a neutral word, meaning to prove or to try.  Though God allows our faith to be tested, it is never His intent that we sin.  In His grace, He makes the test bearable without falling into sin.  The tests He allows us to go through have a way out.   If we endure the test with our faith strong and intact, that means we have found the way out!

That “way out” promised is Jesus Himself.  He is the “Way.”  His strength, His riches, His grace, and His love are what make any crushing circumstance bearable.  The only way to move through a trial successfully is to run to Him for the solution.  Thank you, Lord, that You are my way out and with You I can endure!


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Thirsty Deer

Scripture for Today: Psalm 42:1-2  “As the deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When shall I come and behold the face of God?”

There are deer up in the forest on the hill behind our house.  It does not happen often, but I have surprised them on my walks in the vineyards.  I imagine they like to come down and nibble on the vines.  The moist climate of Alsace means that local deer can satisfy much of their thirst in their foraging of wet leaves.  The deer living in a dry sandy country have a greater need for water.

The deer described in our verse today lives in a dry climate and quenches his thirst in a flowing stream. David (thought to be the author) likens his thirst for God to that thirsty deer.  For days and nights David had been crying (verse 3).  The outpouring of his tears has made him thirsty for God’s reassuring presence.  He was crying because his enemies mocked him saying, “where is your God?” (verse 10)  In the face of their taunts and persecution, David thirsts for just a glimpse of the face of God.

David’s relationship to God was so close.  Yet, there were times he was particularly thirsty for His presence.  Those thirsty times were in reaction to the mockery of others.  In the same way, when I am ridiculed for my faith, I need to run to Him.  When my incredulous mocking peers discourage me, there is only one solution; come and be reassured in His satisfying presence.

The sweet water He provides my soul is exactly what is needed in facing an unbelieving world.  Thank you, Lord, that through faith, You satisfy that longing for a glimpse of Your face.


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Abundance

sum11_pumpkin-harvestScripture for Today:  II Corinthians 1:5  “For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”

We are having an abundant harvest here in Alsace.  Squash of all sorts are making their appearance.  Our fertile plain fed by the Rhine River makes for some very rich farmland.  I love how many of the farms and even private residences will put out stands of their fresh produce.  For me, pumpkins represent an abundant harvest.

Our verse for today also talks about abundance; the abundance of suffering and the abundance of comfort.  Because of sin and our fallen world, there will be suffering for the believer.  Whether it is loss of health, income, or loss of loved ones, the Christian is not exempt.  But for the believer there is with the abundant suffering, comfort from Him that is just as abundant.

When I see others go through very difficult suffering, I wonder how they do it.  This verse gives me the answer.  They get through it by drawing on the abundant comfort He promises.  He is the God of all comfort (verse 3).

The future looms ahead of me with all sorts of potential suffering.  There will be age-related sufferings as the body breaks down.  There will be the deaths of older family members and friends.  Whatever suffering is in store, I can trust the Lord to come through for me.  His comfort will make all of it bearable.  I do not have to worry ahead of time or imagine the unimaginable.  When it is needed, His comfort will be there.

The abundant life of John 10:10 is not an easy painless life.  It is abundant because HE is there!  Thank you, Lord, that I can trust You to be the abundant comfort I need.


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Door Knocker

Door-Knockers-Italy-2010Scripture for Today:  Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

I love seeing a beautiful brass or iron door knocker on a massive wooden door.  It just seems classier than an electronic doorbell.  I especially like the ones resembling the head of a lion or an eagle.

Hearing our company arrive is never a problem as our kitchen is close to the front door.  But I sometimes worry that I will miss their knock.  There is nothing worse than standing too long at the door, wondering if you have the right house or the right date!  When we fly to the door to open it, our Tiger runs the other way for dear life.

Our verse for today uses the image of standing at the door and knocking.  These words are said by Jesus to the church at Laodicea.  His message is full of warmth and makes clear His desire for relationship.  What better way to become close than to share a meal around the table!  He awaits our arrival at the door.  He does not come in until we hear His voice and open that door.  We open it to show our same desire for relationship.  I am sure His knock and His voice are loud enough to hear.  But I can see how one might miss it.  The distractions of life can drown out the sound.

I am amazed that He wants to dine with me!  What a warm intimate thought!  I do not want to miss out by being too busy.  He is waiting for me on my doorstep.  Lord, may I listen for your knock and open the door today!


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Gnats

Scripture for Today: Matthew 23:24  “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”

We have had lots of problems with fruit flies lately.  They are annoying as they are so hard to eliminate.  Out of desperation, I sometimes put the whole basket of fruit in the refrigerator.  But somehow those tiny pesky insects reappear just when I think I have seen the last of them!  Recently, I put out a glass of cider vinegar and liquid detergent.  Just like the article said, they were drawn to the mixture and drowned themselves in it!  I am not planning on straining out those fruit flies.  Losing some vinegar and liquid detergent is a small price to pay to be insect-free!

Today’s verse talks about a gnat, not a fruit fly.  Although they have their differences, the image of a tiny pesky insect is the same.  The Pharisees are the blind guides that Jesus addresses.  One would have to be blind not to see the difference between a gnat and a camel!  The Pharisees were all about keeping every detail of the Law, including the tithe on their mint, dill and cumin.  But they were ignoring the more important matters of the law: justice, mercy and faithfulness.

Keeping the details of the Law had become for them a point of pride.  A list of do’s and dont’s are visible to others whereas justice, mercy and faithfulness are much more intangible qualities that come from the heart.  Jesus told them they were too concerned about the appearance of spirituality rather than actually being spiritual.  I can fall into this same trap myself.  Outside conformity to a set of rules can mask the real state of my heart.

Lord, keep me focused on a right relationship with You.