Devotions By Jan


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Flea Markets

Scripture for Today: I John 2:7 “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old commandment is the message you have heard.”

I love a good flea market where someone’s castoffs become someone else’s treasure.  The biggest flea market in Europe takes place in Lille, France every September going back to the 12th century!  It is comprised of 10,000 sellers who man 62 miles of roadside stalls.  It runs continuously for thirty six hours and welcomes two and a half million visitors!  Everyone is sure to find something old that pleases!

Our verse for today is a reminder that what is old can very well hold its value.  John is repeating an old commandment that continues to be valid; to love one another.  From the beginning we are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Deut. 6:5).  Jesus tells us that it is this commandment which sums up the whole Law (Luke 10:27).

This is an old commandment but still valid today, not to be thrown out with the Old Testament.  What was impossible to obey is now possible through Christ’s Spirit in us.  This old commandment was fulfilled perfectly in the life of Jesus.  Because He fulfilled the Law and gives me His Spirit, I can obey this long-standing commandment.

My problem is that I do not always choose to obey it.  Loving others has a way of disrupting my day!  I know I am incredibly selfish, and unlike the Lord, prefer to be served rather than serve.  But loving one another is a concrete and measurable way I can love my Lord.  More than anything, this thought spurs me to action!

Lord, make me a loving person today!


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Mind the Gap

Scripture for Today: James 4:8 “Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

I am not often in England, but when I am, two warning signs have proved very important: “Look Right,” and “Mind The Gap.”  When crossing a street it is automatic for me to look left for oncoming traffic.  As the British drive on the other side, I need to remember to check the opposite direction!  The sign, “Mind The Gap” warns the rail passenger to watch their step.  It is too easy to fall into that space between the station platform and the train.

Today’s verse is a wonderful promise that God will draw near to us when we make the effort to draw near to Him.  We often feel there is a “gap” or distance between us.  How often the Lord has felt far away!  Yet, according to His promise, He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5).  Even so, there are times when He does not feel close by and the gap is felt.  The reason is clear.  His love is unconditional for His children, but when we rebel and disobey we are moving away from that love.  When we obey His commandments, we remain in His love (John 15:10).

The truth is, He does not move, I do.  But in His compassion for me, He reassures me with His closeness when I confess and agree with Him about my sin.  Our relationship is renewed each time I humble myself in honest confession.  If I am feeling far away from Him, the solution is clear.  He is waiting for me to come clean.

Thank you Lord, for the intimacy of Your love!  May I feel Your nearness today.

 


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Bread-Loving Cat

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 6:25-26a “Do not lust in your heart for her beauty, and do not let her captivate you with her alluring eyes.  For on account of a prostitute one is brought down to a loaf of bread…”

This is not our cat, Tiger, but it very well could be.  We were always careful to close the kitchen door when any food was left out.  Tiger was not very discriminating in his tastes and would try just about any “people food!”  As long as it was forbidden, it was somehow worth the effort to climb up on the counters or table and brave our displeasure.  Of course our cat, being French, was spoiled with the availability of baguette!

Our verse for today uses the image of a loaf of bread to describe the impoverished state of a man who visits a prostitute.  He not only wastes his money on something that does not really satisfy, but he also cheapens what is meant to be beautiful within the commitment of marriage.  In allowing himself to be captivated by lust, he impoverishes his very soul.  What could be romantic, noble and satisfying is reduced to something as ordinary and common as a piece of bread.

The warning in this verse can also apply to what goes on in my heart and mind.  Jesus puts the standard very high teaching that secret lust is as serious as actual sexual sin (Matt. 5:28).  The standard is put so high in order to safeguard what is meant to be beautiful.  Rather than think of God’s Law as restrictive, I see His way as being what is most satisfying.  Sexual immorality impoverishes whereas following God’s plan enriches and deepens a relationship.

Lord, protect my heart and mind from cheapening what You mean to be rich and satisfying.


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Running Ahead

Scripture for Today: II John 1:9 “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God, whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.”

Falling on an escalator is no fun!  My daughter as a young girl did just that and opened up her knee.  She had run ahead of me and treated the moving steps as a playground.  Blood was everywhere and the paramedics were called amidst many tears and fears from both mother and daughter.  Off to the hospital for traumatic stitches.  They were traumatic without the help of a local anesthetic as the French doctors believe it is not healthy for young children.  If she had just not run ahead of me, the day would have turned out very differently.

Our verse for today was written to help believers discern those who walk according to His commandments (verses 5- 6).  Running ahead of God’s truth is obvious in two areas: denying that Jesus is God’s Son and not loving others.  It is easy to be deceived but these are two valuable tests that indicate who belongs to the Lord and who does not.

Rather than running ahead of what God clearly teaches in His Word, I want to be careful to run along the paths of His commands (Psalm 119:32).  I am firmly convinced of the deity of Christ, but I still need help to consistently love others as God wants.  When I love my neighbor as He commands, I demonstrate to others that I belong to the Lord.  Everyone will know that I am His disciple when I love others as this is the mark of a believer (John 13:35).  It is not natural to love the unlovely.

Lord, keep me faithful and obedient to Your Word.

 


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My Comfort

Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 1:3  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.”

I noticed on Facebook a comment that made me stop and think.  It was a condolence message saying, “May your memories be your comfort.”  It is a beautiful sentiment.  Our memories help us through the intense loss of a loved one.  Keeping those memories alive is a tribute to the one gone and a way to help us cope.

There is another source of comfort that can help lighten the burden of grief.  That source is our Heavenly Father, God of all mercy and comfort.  There is no loss to which He cannot relate as He gave up His own Son.  When one is experiencing the pain of loss, no one else can possibly feel that same pain, regardless of how similar the circumstances may be.  But our God of comfort knows and understands.  Jesus, as our High Priest, is touched by our grief and all we are feeling (Heb. 4:15).

This verse has been put to the test by my own grief having just lost my Dad.  I do know He is faithful and true.  At the very moment of Dad’s passing, it was the middle of the night in France.  The Lord woke me up for almost two hours and during that time, an old hymn ran through my mind over and over again.  “Does Jesus care?  I know He cares.  His heart is touched with my grief.  When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.”  He has been my source of comfort in times of loss, and He will be again.

Thank you Lord, for being my constant comfort.