Devotions By Jan


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He Promised!

rainbow02Scripture for Today: Romans 4:20-21 “Yet he (Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He promised.”

Alsace has lots of rain, but how can I complain when I see beautiful rainbows like this one!  It is especially breathtaking when two are formed.  If there were a rainbow for every promise God has made to us, the sky would be ablaze with color!  The rainbow brings to mind the promise God gave Noah after the flood; that He would never again send a world-wide flood.  I imagine that when the first rains came after that flood, Noah and his family must have looked up at the sky with anxious eyes.  But God always keeps His Word, and the rainbow serves as a reminder of this beautiful truth.

If the rainbow reminds us of God’s faithfulness to His promises, what would a second rainbow represent?  It could stand for any one of the many promises in Scripture.  Perhaps the most important one is the promise of eternal life (I John 2:25).  But the second rainbow represents for me the power God has to fulfill all of His promises!

Our verse for today explains why Abraham could stand so firm in his faith.  God gave him the promise of a son; something that was physically impossible.  Abraham believed God without wavering because he was fully persuaded that God was powerful enough to do the impossible.  God has the power to keep all of His promises.  “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen.18:14)  The answer is an obvious “No!”

I want to be just as fully persuaded as Abraham!  Thank you Lord, for Your amazing power to do the impossible!

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Out Loud

MicrophoneScripture for Today: Romans 10:9 “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

We have been planning big changes in our lives.  For a time we did not talk about it with others as we prayed and waited to hear back from the Lord.  Now, we are at the point of sharing our news with others.  It is amazing what talking on the subject has done for me!  As long as our plans stayed private, they seemed to remain abstract.  But the minute I spoke them aloud, it all became very real!

In our verse for today, declaring out loud our faith in Jesus as Lord authenticates our salvation.  True belief in our hearts will find its way to our mouths.  The mouth reveals what is in the heart, good or bad (Luke 6:45).  With each declaration of our faith, our belief grows stronger.  We reaffirm to ourselves what is truly in our hearts.  Our faith becomes more real and vibrant as a result of speaking it out loud.  Faith no longer is something undefined and abstract.  With words we take a stand and commit ourselves to the Truth.

I know it pleases my Lord when I speak out loud my faith in Him (Matt. 10:32).  He is honored and glorified.  Verbally declaring my faith not only challenges others to consider the Truth, it also helps me to stand firm and it glorifies the Lord.  It is all good.  Then why do I sometimes ignore the opportunity to do so?  It could be that I am not seeing the opportunity, being too self-absorbed.  Maybe I stay silent to avoid possible confrontation.

Make me bold Lord, to declare out loud the very best thing that has ever happened to me….You.


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Downsizing!

empty-nestersScripture for Today: Philippians 3:8  “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

We are getting ready for a big transatlantic move.  Because we will be downsizing, there is quite a lot to sort through.  After twenty five years in France, items have piled up in cupboards, drawers, armoires, and the attic.  It is an emotional roller coaster to decide what is worth keeping and what I must let go.  There are so many precious memories attached to so many things.   The questions are endless.  Will this fit in the smaller place?  Will I someday regret throwing this?  A particular object may not be my style, but I hang on to it because it was a gift from my kids.  There are boxes and boxes of photos from pre-digital times.

Sifting through all the accumulated stuff has made me think of what Paul said in our verse for today.  He counts everything as “rubbish” when compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.  The context is in reference to all his accomplishments in being a good Pharisee.  His own efforts in earning salvation are only rubbish.

I do not feel guilty to have some attachment to my “things.”  It is normal.  But when I compare them to the treasure of knowing and loving Jesus Christ, then indeed, it is all rubbish.  When I place that item in the box for the thrift store, I know that it makes no difference whatsoever when looking at eternity.  Whatever it is, it will not last.  Only two “things” will last forever; our souls and His Word.

Keep me focused, Lord, on what is really important!


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Blind Trust

Scripture for Today: Romans 15:13  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

These tiny newborn birds have their mouths open wide in anticipation of the next morsel of food from their mother.  These little birds are so new that their eyes have not yet opened.  They cannot see their mother but they sense she is there.  They have no choice in the menu but seem confident enough to eat and swallow without question what the mother provides.  Theirs is a blind trust.

Our verse for today describes the joy and peace that is ours when we trust the One who is totally trustworthy!  When we trust His provision we overflow with hope.  This hope comes through the power of His Holy Spirit.  It may sometimes seem like a “blind trust” as we cannot understand the work of God completely (Eccl. 11:5).  We do not see the path of the wind or how the bones are formed in the mother’s womb.  There is so much we do not understand.  Like these newborn fledglings, we trust our Heavenly Father without knowing all the details.

What is reassuring about our trust is that it is not really blind.  We know the One in whom we place our trust and that makes all the difference!  When I cannot understand what He is doing, I can still trust that He will be true to His character; loving, good, faithful and true.  I can trust that He will be true to His Word.  He is never random or capricious.  I can open my mouth wide to receive whatever it is He has in store for me.

Thank you Lord, for the joy and peace that comes from trusting You.


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Sweet Sunlight

sun2Scripture for Today:  Ecclesiastes 11:7  “Light is sweet and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.”

I love the contrast in this photo of light and dark. The clouds heavy with rain move just enough to reveal the sweet light behind them.  I love to be in the sunlight and I seem to appreciate it even more after the darkness of the clouds.  Soon, I will be moving to the land of almost continual sunshine in California.  But I know from experience that after a few months of that sunshine being uninterrupted, I tend to take it for granted.  Of course, it will still be a pleasure to my eyes, but the contrast that makes me appreciate it may more often be missing.

Our verse for today is written by Solomon in a book filled with references to the sun.  The phrase, “under the sun” is often used when speaking of the futility of life.  All of life is said to be meaningless and vain if not lived in right relationship to God.  Even sweet light and the pleasure of seeing the sun has no real meaning without knowing its Creator.

The context of our verse also speaks of remembering the darkness.  There will always be in every life those days of darkness.  Remembering those hard times helps us appreciate the sweet light so much more when it arrives!  Recognizing the contrast makes me grateful for every ray of sunlight!

I am so thankful for a loving personal God who gives me just the right amount of darkness and sunlight.  I can trust Him as He gives to each day what He knows is best.  He allows pain and pleasure, and “mingles toil with peace and rest.” (Day By Day)

Thank you Lord, for the sweet light of Your presence.


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Hope

hope8050517_origScripture for Today: Lamentations 3:25-26 “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him.  It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

How does one picture “hope?”  The image of this barren ground calls to mind the idea of grief and despair.  It is dry, cracked and hard.  There is no expectation of growth or new life.  But somehow, hope springs up in the form of this tiny green plant.  There is a tomorrow after all.  What looks completely dead comes to life!

Today’s verse made me think of the sadness and confusion of the disciples.  They huddled together in fear and despair for three long days following Christ’s crucifixion.  They must have felt lost and abandoned.  Their hearts and spirits must have felt as dry as the ground pictured here.  Perhaps they felt their hope in Jesus as the Messiah was ill placed.  But it was not.  The Lord was good to those men crushed with grief.  However, they had to wait three days to see His salvation.

The whole concept of hope involves waiting for a promise to be fulfilled.  The word, “hope,” in Scripture denotes confident expectation of what is sure to come.  There are many promises in my life that are yet to come.  The Lord wants to shower His goodness on me when I wait quietly and with confidence.  The Lord is especially good to me as I earnestly seek His face in those hard times of waiting.  I am not sure if the disciples waited quietly and confidently during those three days.  But then again, I have trouble with waiting as well.

Lord, thank you for the sure hope I have in You!  Help me to wait patiently for Your help and salvation!


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The Huguenot Cross

cross6303232138_4d88cae527_zScripture for Today: Revelation 17:14 “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because He is Lord of lords, and King of kings, and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.”

The Huguenot cross is a symbol of the French Protestant Christians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  I was intrigued to see it as a part of this gate.  This cross is full of symbolism.  The Maltese cross in its center is a symbol of the Crusaders.  The four petals of the fleur-de-lis represent the four Gospels.  The twelve apostles are symbolized by the twelve smaller petals joining the larger petals.  The eight rounded points represent the Beatitudes and hearts are formed in the open spaces between the large petals.  I love that the hearts symbolize loyalty.  So many of the Huguenots were martyred for their faith, staying faithful and true to the end.

Our verse for today is in the context of the end times.  Those loyal to the beast will dare to fight against Christ Himself.  Their end is sure as the Lamb of God has all power and authority.  There will be decisive victory, and we as faithful followers will share in His triumph!

Today we focus on the cross of Christ.  It is to the unbelieving  foolishness and a stumbling block.  But to believers it is a sign of victory!  When I see the cross, I see triumph over death.  I see Christ as Conqueror over the enemy.  What looked like shame and defeat was transformed three days later to the most defining moment of human history!  And like those Huguenots, I see the cross as a call to faithfulness and loyalty.

Christ’s death on that cross made eternity with Him possible and I am forever grateful.