Devotions By Jan

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reeds220px-Kew.gardens.papyrus.plant.arpScripture for Today:  Job 8:11-13 “Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh?  Can reeds thrive where there is no water?  While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass.  Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless.”

The papyrus reed had an important place in ancient cultures.  It was used to make a primitive form of paper.  Papyrus was used as early as 4000BC for writing.  Wherever the soil was damp, this reed could grow.  However, when the rains did not come, the soil would dry up and the reed would quickly die.  Without that water-soaked soil, the papyrus reed could not continue to thrive.

Our verse for today is spoken to Job by his friend, Bildad.  Job is experiencing acute suffering and he and his three friends are trying to understand the reason for it.  Bildad suggests that Job’s pain is the result of sin in his life.  That conclusion was incorrect, but Bildad’s description of the destiny of the godless is repeated throughout Scripture.  Those without the Lord have a hope that perishes.  It will not last as it is a flimsy hope without the Source of life-giving water.  The wicked thrive for a time, but forgetting God means their hope will perish with them.

Those who place their faith in Christ have a living hope that does not perish!  Unlike the wicked who forget God, believers do not rely on themselves, their riches or their own devises.  It is on Him and on Him only that we have set our hope! (II Cor. 1:9-10)

My hope will never perish because He has given me a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! (I Peter 1:3)  I could not live without hope, and praise God, I do not have to!


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IMG_20140413_123137Scripture for Today: Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Our neighbor’s wisteria below our Alsacian home is at its peak.  I can hardly tear my eyes away from it as it is so full.  It practically bends the fence with the weight of its blooms.  I do not remember it being quite this spectacular other years.  But I do remember seeing our neighbor pruning it, and this is the beautiful result.

Not all wisteria vines flower well.  There is the story of a lady who after twenty years of fertilizing and pruning finally gave up on her wisteria.  She cut off the branches, poured gasoline on the trunk and burned it.  The plant started blooming the next spring and every year since!

I could not read that story without thinking of our verse for today.  The Lord does discipline and train His children.  Our Heavenly Father is perfect and so is His correction.  For the believer, judgement and punishment have been taken care of on the cross.  But we do need His discipline and it is always done in love.  Although it is painful, it is always done for the goal of producing in us the beautiful blossoms of righteousness and peace.

Discipline can last a long time when we do not respond to His correction.  Thankfully, He never gives up on us, as did the woman in our story.  Of course, not all suffering is discipline.  But when repentance is called for, how much better to quickly fall to our knees in humble confession!  What hope to know that what follows may be the most productive time of our lives!

Thank you Lord, for producing in me Your peace and righteousness.


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Tenacious Ivy

IMG_20140414_150502Scripture for Today: Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

I have lots and lots of ivy in my yard.  When we first moved here I thought it was so pretty.  When I saw my landlord ripping out big chunks of it I was horrified!  Years later I understood.  Give ivy an inch it will take a mile.  If I do not hack it back, it takes over these retaining walls.  With enough neglect it would eventually take over our sitting area.

No matter how thorough I am in ripping it out, it always comes back.  It is tenacious and determined.  After working on it my hands are sore as I type.  It clings so tightly.  In fact, the word, “tenacious” means “to cling tightly.”

Our verse for today tells us we are to hate what is evil and cling to what is good.  The context is sincere love for other believers.  We are to be tenacious and cling tightly to doing what is good towards God’s family.  A sincere love for other believers will not tolerate any evil or compromise.  This is a love that does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (I Cor. 13:6).  It is a love that forgives.  It is good and entirely pure, never false or hypocritical.

The world’s idea of love is polluted with evil.  We are tempted to show that kind of love as it is easier.  But instead of letting go of God’s standard, we are to be tenacious and cling to what is good and pure.  Oh how I need His help.  It is too easy to compromise and let go of the good.

Make me tenacious, Lord.  May I cling to You and to what is  truly good.


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Precious Cargo

sling shelterScripture for Today: Isaiah 46:4 “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you.  I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

My sweet grandson sleeps best when carried by his mother!  My daughter has several styles of carriers and they all seem different from what I used.  I still remember the hike to Nevada Falls when my husband carried both of our daughters at once.  He had our eldest in a back carrier and our youngest in a carrier on his chest.  They were happy to be close and cuddled by their daddy and we were all able to enjoy the hike together.  Of course, eventually they both outgrew their carriers.

Our verse for today is about being carried and sustained by the One who has created us.  Unlike the gods of Babylon who were utterly helpless, our God has upheld us from the moment we were conceived! (verse 3)  His care continues throughout life, even and especially when we are older and feeble.  He is the One who sustains.  We never outgrow this carrier!  It is on His chest that we are calm and can rest.  We are safe and secure when He holds us close.  His sustaining power rescues us from any potential danger.

My rebellious spirit makes me squirm.  To be carried means relinquishing any control I think I have.  My little grandson cannot decide where he is going.  We however, try to climb down from His arms.  We think we know where we are going and what we are doing.  But in fact, His way is always better.

Stress and fatigue cause me to climb back up where I belong.  Thank you Lord, for carrying me.


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manhole-cover-scalleja-630x472Scripture for Today:  Zechariah 8:4-5  “….Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with a cane in hand because of their age.  The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.”

Probably if my Mother ever knew she would be horrified!  When I was very little, I used to play marbles in the middle of the street.  There was a manhole with grooves perfect for all kinds of creative play with marbles.  My friend and I lost a few, but it seemed a fun past time for two bored kids.  We did lots of looking over our shoulders for on-coming cars, but managed to survive the experience.  Thankfully, ours was the last street of a neighborhood so there was not much traffic.  Even so, the issue of safety did not concern us much.

Our verse for today is one of ten promises of blessing for the Jerusalem of the Messianic Age.  The description of peace and safety is beautiful and even idyllic.  There will be no more threats from invading enemies.  No longer will lives be cut short.  Children can once again play safely in the streets.  I love that the Lord concerns Himself with children and their quality of life.  Isaiah 11:6-9 also describes our future peace and safety with the image of children playing.  A little child will lead a lion, children will play near cobras and even a hand stuck in a viper’s nest will not come to any harm.  What a beautiful future belongs to children in a world without attack or disaster!

Imagine sending the children or grandchildren out to play without any worries!  I am so thankful for our loving Lord who does more than we can ever ask or imagine.

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IMG_20140408_174226Scripture for Today:  Gen.28:16 “When Jacob awoke from his sleep he thought, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.'”

In every European home we have lived in, there have been stairs.  In our current home there are three sets and climbing them continually throughout the day gives a great unintentional workout!  I try not to go up or down these stairs without something in my hand that needs moving.  Inevitably, something needed is forgotten upstairs or down that means another trip.

Our verse for today comes after Jacob’s vision of stairs ascending into Heaven.  Jacob was on the run from his brother’s murderous rage.  He was far from home and in need of reassurance.  God was gracious to Jacob in sending this vision of stairs.  It symbolized the direct communication possible between God and humanity.  God repeated His promise of blessing to Jacob.  He promised Jacob that He would be with him and watch over him.  Jacob awoke from this vision with a new certainty of the Lord’s presence!

We do not normally have visions of stairs but we do have these same promises from God’s Word.  He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5) and will be with us even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20).  The Lord is surely in the place where I am as He is omnipresent.  I would not want to flee His presence even if it were possible! (Psalm 139)

Jesus is like that stairway as He bridges the gap between man and God.  Because of His great love for me, He descended from Heaven in search of a relationship with me!  What an amazing and humbling thought!  Each time I climb those stairs, remind me Lord, of your reassuring presence in this place!



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Half and Half

creamer1Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:113  “I hate double-minded people, but I love Your law.”

The myriad of choices having to do with coffee preferences can completely confuse me.  In a specialty coffee shop, no one would want to be behind me, waiting for me to make up my mind.  Just when I think I have it figured out, I am directed toward the cream counter.  There again I am faced with choices.  There are often three different possibilities; whole milk, non-fat milk or half and half.  I do not want my coffee too rich or too watery, so I usually end up with the half and half.  My thinking is that it has to be a good compromise.

Compromise can be a good thing in many areas of life, but certainly not in our obedience to the Lord.  Our verse for today contrasts loving God’s law with a double-minded approach.  The double-minded individual will sometimes obey God’s law, but not always.  There is a lack of true commitment.  If obedience costs something or is inconvenient, then the double-minded person will do what is easy and convenient.  James 1:17 describes this person as unstable in all his ways.  There is no constancy.  Their commitment to God is as variable as the ocean waves.

I do not want to be that person.  Loving God’s law does not mean I will always keep it.  David failed and so do I.  Thankfully, I am under grace and not law because of Jesus.  But it is always my desire to follow what God wants, even when it is difficult.  There is blessing in my life as a result of obedience.  There is nothing but pain and heartache when I do not obey.

Lord, keep me from being half and half in my obedience to You!