Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 30:18  “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.  So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants. “

I never get tired of gazing at the Swiss Alps!  Their towering peaks and gorgeous glaciers are impressive.  The Swiss Alps directly or indirectly feed Europe’s four largest rivers; the Danube, draining into the Black Sea, the Po into the Adriatic Sea, the Rhone into the Mediterranean Sea, and the Rhine near us, draining into the North Sea.  One could say that these glaciers are the “watershed” of Europe.

A watershed is an area that separates waters flowing to different river basins or seas.  We often use this word to describe a turning point in life that decides the future.  Our verse today is some of Moses’ last words to the Israelites.  This is a watershed moment for them as they choose.  The choice is expressed so clearly; life or death? blessing or curse?  The passage goes on to say that loving and obeying the Lord is life and length of days.

The Lord gives us watershed moments as well.  He gives opportunities to make a clear decision that will affect the rest of one’s life.  It happened to me and I chose Him.  In doing so I chose life!  Since making that decision for Him I have been incredibly blessed.  I shudder to think how my life would have “flowed” had I not chosen Him.  My life is no bed of roses or “vie en rose” but it is blessed by His presence, His care and His love.  I have never regretted my choice, not once, not ever.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me such a clear choice!

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rehearsalunnamedScripture for Today:  Revelation 5:13  “And every created thing which is in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’

I just finished a series of concerts with my French Gospel Chorale.  The program was called, “Total Praise” and I was sorry to see it end.  These concerts were the result of hours and hours of rehearsal throughout the year.  As the majestic music rose to the cathedral ceilings, I could not help but think what praise would be like in Heaven.  Our hearts will soar with our voices to the honor of the One who sits on the throne!

All those rehearsals are so important.  It is a time of learning and memorizing the words, the notes and the timing.  Our verse for today describes an unbelievable concert of praise given to the King of Heaven and the Lamb of God.  It will be a perfect concert.  There will be no false notes, no forgotten words and no missed entrances.  It will be the most perfect sublime music ever heard!  And it will be to His glory.

Here on earth, it is a time of rehearsal.  We praise Him but it is not yet perfect.  Sin can make us sharp or flat.  We live with that old nature.  We can come close to perfect music, but we will always be a little “off.”  The Lord is gracious to accept our imperfect praise as here on earth, this is just the rehearsal.

One day we will be part of that innumerable throng singing perfect praise!  Worthy is the Lamb of total praise!  Happy rehearsing!

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Giving Up

Never_Give_upScripture for Today:  Galatians 6:9  “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”

This quote of Winston Churchill’s is on a magnet in our study.  It was given to my husband by a student in his biology class years ago.  My husband used this quote when giving the commencement speech at our second daughter’s high school graduation.

This quote was from a speech Churchill gave to the boys of his former school, Harrow School, in 1941.  It was just after the Blitz and the English were feeling encouraged.  The actual quote is a bit different with the words, “never give in” but the idea of perseverance is the same.

As inspiring as these kinds of quotes can be, God’s Word gives a special kind of motivation.  In our verse for today, Paul exhorts the believers in Galatia to continue in their good works, especially to other believers.  He understands the temptation to give in to weariness.  One grows especially weary when one does not see results.

Reaping what is sown is a repeated theme in Scripture.  Farming the soil meant prepping it, sowing the seed, and careful tending.  Waiting for the results was normal.  And so it is with believers.  We are told that one day there will be joyful reaping of all those good works sown.  But just because we do not see immediate results does not mean that we give up.

There is plenty of temptation to give up.  Living a life of service to others is not an easy life.  It goes against my selfish nature.  If seeing immediate results is my only motivation than giving up looks pretty good.  But “in due time” there will be results and there will be reward.  God has promised.


Measuring Growth

oversized ruler growth chartScripture for Today: II Peter 3:18  “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen.”

When our kids were small, measuring their growth was just a matter of a straight edge and a pencil marking on the wall.  Of course, at some point the wall would need cleaning!  On the market today are all kinds of whimsical growth charts to keep a fun record.

Our verse for today describes a very different kind of growth; growing in grace and in knowledge of our Lord.  They are Peter’s  last words in his second epistle.  Growing in our knowledge of Him continues forever.  We can never come to the end of knowing God as He is eternal.

Grace, being God’s unmerited favor, is unfathomable.  We are called, saved and justified by His grace.  Our Christian walk is also a matter of grace.  We stand in grace, establish our hearts and are strong in grace.  Certainly, His grace is sufficient to meet a particular need (II Cor. 12:9)  But how does one grow in grace?

At least three times in Scripture, God tells us to whom He gives more grace; the humble.  (Prov. 3:34, James 4:6 and I Peter 5:5)  The humble realize their need and more often approach the throne of grace.  The humble are aware of their sin and guilt are more likely to recognize His grace!  The humble are conscious of their weakness are in a place to receive His grace.  Growing in grace is to see the need and look to Him to fill it.

Everything good in my life is a grace from Him.  Oh, how I need to grow in His grace.  Lord, humble me so that I can experience more and more grace!

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Scripture for Today:  Psalm 34:5 “They looked to Him and were radiant; their faces shall never blush for shame or be confused.”

Blushing is thought to be sweet and endearing.  But for the one experiencing it, the blushing just makes an embarrassing situation more difficult!  This involuntary reaction seems to be more prevalent when young.  That is understandable when the blushing is due to feeling awkward in a new social setting.  Most people tend to outgrow the problem.

There are articles written on how to avoid blushing in ten easy steps.  There are good tips available, but when blushing is due to shame, the world’s answers fall apart.  One suggestion advises to condition your body to believe there is no reason to blush.  Since it is involuntary, you are not to blame as you are not guilty of anything.  But the feeling of shame is legitimate when we are guilty.

Our verse for today refers to blushing that is caused by a sense of shame.  When looking to a righteous, perfect God, it would be natural to feel shame for our sin.  One’s first reaction would be to cover one’s face in the blinding light of His holiness!  But for those who fear the Lord and belong to Him, there is no more shame.  In His grace, He has paid for all our sin and shame with the sacrifice of His Son.  No one who trusts in Him will be condemned or held guilty (verse 22).

Because He has erased my sin and shame, I can look to Him and be radiant!  No longer will I blush for my past sins.  He has removed my sin and guilt as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12)!  Thank you, Lord, that my face can be radiant with Your forgiveness!