Devotions By Jan


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Running Water

weirdest_sculptures_and_statues_around_the_world_1Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

What an amazing sculpture this is!  There are fountains everywhere in Europe and I love the sound of the splashing water.  Some are very impressive and have a long history.  But when I saw the image of this modern one, I could not resist it.  The illusion of that faucet hanging in the air is uncanny.  It seems as if the water is coming out of thin air, running continually.  But in fact, the water is from the pool and is somehow being recycled over and over again.

Our verse for today is very short and easily memorized.  However, following what it says is not so easy.  In fact, it seems nearly impossible.  When one thinks of prayer as bowing the head and closing the eyes, than every day living would have to come to a complete halt in order to obey!  But if prayer is considered quiet mental conversation with Him, than there is hope.  Prayer can be a daily running conversation.

Like that running water that seems non-stop, my communion with the Lord can be running non-stop throughout the day.  I am talking to Him with my eyes wide open.  I am talking to Him while deep in conversation with others.  I am talking to Him about what is going on around me.  He loves me so much He does not get tired of hearing me rattle on about everything!  His Word tells me that He inclines His ear towards me.  He wants to hear from me.  I find that incredible!

My running conversation with the Lord is to include thanking Him without ceasing (I Thes. 2:13).  It is also to be about interceding for others without ceasing (Romans 1:9).  There is lots to talk about!  Thank you, Lord, for listening!


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Sifting

sifteril_340x270.397896464_icqzScripture for Today:  Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

I do not own one of these.  I do plenty of baking, but I always skip the step of sifting the flour.  For most of my recipes it does not seem to make much difference.  Living in France, I am even less motivated to sift as the flour is already of a finer consistency than the flour in America.

Our verse for today mentions the sifting of wheat.  In this process the goal is to separate the good wheat from the bad parts of the grain.  There is crushing involved.  In biblical times that crushing was either done manually with a tool on a stone floor, or using the feet of oxen.  The winnowing fork was then used to throw the mixture of chaff and grain up into the wind to separate it.  The result was wheat that was useable.

Jesus allowed Satan to do this to Peter.  Satan’s goal was to destroy Peter’s faith while the goal of Jesus was to strengthen it.  The result of this trial could go either way.  Peter turned away from Jesus and denied Him three times.  Satan probably thought he had won.  But Jesus knew Peter would turn back to Him again with an unfailing faith that still strengthens believers today.

It is amazing that Jesus prayed for Peter.  But in fact, Jesus continues His prayers for us.  Romans 8:34 says that Jesus is even now at the right hand of the Father, interceding for me!  To think of Jesus praying for me is such a humbling thought!  Lord, pray that my faith never fails!


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Blushing

overcome_blushingScripture 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!


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Under Guarantee?

West-Bend-86628-Automatic-300x300Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:2  “I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You have established Your faithfulness in Heaven itself.”

Our egg cooker finally died.  It had a good run.  Because we do not use it all that much, it lasted a good seven years.  Of course, it was no longer under guarantee.

I have yet to meet an appliance that is guaranteed forever.  In fact, in production, there is usually a planned year when the appliance is expected to breakdown.  It is in the interest of the manufacturer that the consumer spend money to replace it!  And of course, most often it will happen after the guarantee has expired.  We shrug our shoulders and say that nothing lasts forever!

Our verse for today contains a truth I want to declare today and every day of my life.  The love of God lasts forever!  Regardless of our limited perception, His love is faithful.  His love is firmly established and nothing can shake it!  How could the psalmist, David, declare such a thing?  His life was not easy.  Circumstances must have tempted him to doubt this truth.  He lost his baby son.  Yet he continued to believe in the love of God.

Over and over in Scripture God proclaims His love for me.  His Word often reads like a love letter.  There is nothing that can separate me from His constant and unconditional love.  Unlike any human relationship, it is under guarantee!  He has committed Himself to me and He is faithful.  He created me for this relationship.  All other loves in this life pale in comparison.

In our fallen world filled with broken relationships, sin and sickness, it is easy to lose sight of His love.  But today, regardless of the hard times, I declare His love for me!


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Chestnuts

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 45:3  “I will give you hidden treasure, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”

These chestnuts are all over the ground of the forest up above our house.  They are brown and furry by the time they drop and look like something out of a Star Trek TV episode (the mythical “tribble”).  When they are still green and fresh, the chestnut is difficult to handle with its spiny bur.  But getting at that delicious treasure is worth all the effort!  There can be up to seven chestnuts in one bur.

The chestnut here in France is most often roasted but is also candied, boiled, steamed and grilled.   For Christmas and New Year’s the “marron glacé” is traditional fare, a chestnut that has been glazed in sugar syrup.  For some, the chestnut is an acquired taste, but I enjoy them!

Our verse for today talks about treasures that are hidden.  The riches that the Lord reveals are not so obvious.  Like the chestnut, they are sometimes stored in places difficult to see.  The outside of that hidden treasure makes it easy to miss.  Getting at that treasure may involved going through some tough prickly times.

It is through the hard times that I see God’s love and gentleness with me.  It is when life is difficult that He reveals the treasure of who He is.  His comfort and His grace are the unexpected surprise behind that negative experience.  Through a trial He becomes MY Lord, calling me by My name.  Faith becomes very personal as He reveals to me the treasure of His power and presence.

Help me, Lord, to discover that treasure.  Reveal to me the secret places of Your love!


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Walking Carefully!

berner.oberland.hiking.ryderwalkerScripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:15  “Look carefully then how you walk!  Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people).”

We have had some wonderful hikes in the Alps.  The air is crisp and clean and the views are magnificent!  We especially like to hike above the tree line and near a lake.  It is wonderful to look down and see birds flying below us.  But sometimes the paths are perilously close to the edge of the mountain.  Thankfully, I do not get dizzy looking down.  To watch my step I need to look down!

Our verse for today tells us to be wise by walking carefully.  We walk through life with a purpose.  We walk in a manner that is worthy of our calling, pleasing the Lord (Col. 1:10).  We do not walk close to the edge, courting disaster as the unwise would do.  Rather than wondering just how far one can go in a particular behavior before it becomes sin, we need to walk with a healthy fear of falling.  We need to stay away from that tempting edge.  Walking on a dangerous edge gives no room for error.  One moment of inattention or one small misstep can mean disaster.

Walking carefully is walking within His will, making the most every day (verses 16-17).  The paths He gives us to walk will always have those tricky places.  The potential to fall is always there.  But thankfully He makes my steps firm and sure.  He has promised that when I acknowledge Him, He will make that path straight and manageable (Prov. 3:6).

Wherever He leads me today, I know He will keep me from falling off the path.  Help me Lord, to carefully follow You through the difficult dizzy parts.


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Presentation is Everything!

plating-presentationScripture for Today:  Colossians 1:22  “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”

Living in France has given me a special appreciation for the finer points of dining.  The French believe that appetite starts with the presentation of a dish.  And they are right!  Looking for just the right picture of a well-presented meal has made me hungry!

When a platter is served with those small touches of creativity, the mouth waters in anticipation.  Even the addition of a little parsley can add so much.  At the open market this morning, the lady threw some parsley in with my vegetables, just because!  I have seen some beautiful presentations both in restaurants and in private homes that have added so much to the meal.

Our verse for today also talks of a presentation.  At one point we were estranged from God, hostile in our attitude as well wicked in our actions.  There was nothing beautiful or appealing in us.  Our sin made us ugly and unappealing.  But while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).  There was nothing in us to attract His love.  It was all grace.

Because of what He did for me on that cross, I am now presentable!  Christ will one day present me faultless and irreproachable to the Father!  He has paid the ultimate sacrifice so that I can share in His righteousness.  When I am presented to the God of the universe, it will be without shame!  I will be beautiful and spotless!

Christ’s presentation of me to the Father is my solid hope; “dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne!”  Presentation is everything!