Devotions By Jan


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Anticipation

ketchupbottoms-poundScripture for Today: Romans 8:24-25 “For in this hope we are saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Is there anything more annoying than waiting for that ketchup to make its appearance?  The technique pictured here usually works but sometimes too well as a bigger glob than needed drenches everything!  I can still remember the commercial playing the song, “Anticipation” by Carly Simon while waiting for the ketchup to come out of the bottle.  “Anticipation, making me late, keeping me waiting.”

Our verse for today talks about waiting patiently for something a lot more important than ketchup!  In our hope we are saved, as our confidence is placed in the One whose promises are sure.  We continue our hope until it is fully realized in the coming of Christ.  We look forward to all the blessings that are to come with hope and anticipation.  When hope is realized, there will no longer be a need for it!

There are two ways to hope and wait for what is yet unseen: patiently or impatiently.  To wait patiently is to wait with unwavering faith.  Patient waiting makes one calm and unflappable.  There is no fretting or doubting.  Impatient hope is always questioning, doubting and fidgeting.  Impatient hope can complicate life with plans and schemes to “help” God fulfill His promises as Sarah did in Genesis 16:3.  Hope lived in patient waiting is certainly preferable!

We cannot see what is promised with our physical eyes and so we hope.  But we are helped by seeing with the “eyes of our hearts.”  Anticipation is sweet knowing with full confidence that the best is yet to come!

Thank you Lord, for being my hope!


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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

escalator1Scripture 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.

 


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The Colors of Hope

autumn-leaves-13016839608beScripture for Today:  Colossians 3:3-4  “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”

I love the seasonal changes in Alsace.  The colors of fall are remarkable, especially in the sunlight.  The hillsides can look like they are on fire with the reds.  I wants to imprint these colors on my memory as winter is just around the corner.  The trees will be barren and everything will seem drab and grey.  These leaves face their demise with a burst of color, as if trying to make the most of the little time left to them.

I have the privilege of teaching the Bible to a group of women in their 80’s.  They are each at a point of their lives where they are knocking on the door of Eternity.  They have fought the good fight.  They have run the race.  The fact that these women stand firm in their faith, if not on their legs, is a vibrant color to me!  Their courage is a beautiful sight to see.  Their bust of color is their testimony to others before leaving this earth.

Our real lives are not here.  We have already died and our real lives are hidden with Christ.  One day when Christ is revealed, our real redeemed selves will be revealed as well.  The color of our lives will then be permanent.   No more waiting and hoping.  No more suffering or death.  Hope will be realized in Him.  A  color-filled season awaits us and it is an eternal one.  What a season that will be!

Thank you Lord, for the vibrant color of Your future glory in me!  You are my hope.


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What’s New?

Scripture for Today:  Lamentations 3:22-23  “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are NEW every morning: great is Your faithfulness.”

One spring evening at a Bible study in France, our hostess allowed us to cuddle their new baby geese! (goslings)  There is something special about what is brand new.  Aren’t we all naturally drawn to what is new, whether it be new tastes, new clothes, new sights or new experiences?

The problem is that newness can quickly wear off and become mundane, leaving us dissatisfied and bored.  Old news, old hat, been there, done that.  We feel compelled to search again for the next new thing!

Our Creator God understands our need for the new!  His promises of new are not found “under the sun” where King Solomon searched.  Rather they are found in the spiritual realm.  Our verse tells us that His compassions are new every morning.  He continually reveals something new about Himself.  His compassion today is not leftovers from yesterday.  His relationship with me is new and fresh and timely every morning.  In fact, His renewed compassion for me is the reason I get up in the morning!

Perhaps you are like me.  Even as a child of God I can sometimes be bored.  Desiring something new in my day is fine.  But when I look for satisfaction in the new, I find it a quick but temporary fix as the new eventually becomes old.  But experiencing His compassions never gets old!   Discovering something new in His nature is a discovery that begins now and lasts for all eternity!  Every morning I can look forward to something NEW!

Thank you Lord, for renewing Your love for me this morning.


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A Child of the King

Scripture for today:  Romans 8:17  “Now if we are God’s children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”

I’ve always been drawn to the fleur de lys, symbol of French royalty!  I wear it as jewelry and enjoy seeing it in the architecture and decoration of the French châteaux.  It means lots of different things to different people.  I like the symbolism of life, love and perfection!  In any case, I do not intend to show allegiance when wearing this symbol.  I have a higher allegiance as a child of God.

Our verse reminds me of my identity in Christ.  I am not only a subject of the King,  I am a child of the King.   What an amazing thought!  As His child I have access to the throne room of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! (Heb.4:16)  I belong there!  Because of the grace shown by Christ’s sacrifice, God extends to me His scepter, just as King Xerxes did for Queen Esther so long ago.  His throne is called a “throne of grace” because there He dispenses His mercy and help in time of need.  Isn’t that all the time?

I am not so sure I like the part about suffering.  But in our fallen world suffering is inevitable, especially for doing the right thing.  Thankfully, the verse ends on a positive note!  I have hope and can look forward to sharing in His glory!  Would that I remember that my allegiance belongs to the King and not to the world.  He is a King full of love and grace, welcoming me to His throne room.

Remind me today Lord, that I am Your child and heir.