Devotions By Jan


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A Fork

Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:8-9 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. Fear the Lord, you His holy people, for those who fear Him lack nothing.”

I can understand a fork in the road, but a fork in a lake confuses me, especially a literal one!  This  twenty six foot fork stands upright in Lake Geneva, Switzerland.  Sculpted by a Swiss for the tenth anniversary of a food museum in Vevey, it graced the shoreline for two years before coming down amidst controversy.  After ten years, it made its return in 2008 and has now been approved to stay permanently.

I see this fork as an invitation to taste and see how magnificent the water and surrounding Alps are for the soul.  Being around such beauty is refreshing, especially after city noise and congestion.  Perched right on the water and the home of Charlie Chaplin, Vevey is one of my favorite places in Switzerland.  The problem comes when I have to leave and I lose that sense of calm and peace nature gives me.

Today’s verse is also an invitation to “taste and see.”  Unlike the temporary good feeling being in nature brings, taking refuge in God’s strength and beauty is nothing I have to leave behind.  His goodness and blessing keep me satisfied in the deepest part of me.  Not only am I able to enjoy to the fullest His creation, I can at the same time commune with the Creator!  He is so good that I lack nothing.  Every spiritual blessing is already mine (Eph. 1:3) and He satisfies my deepest desires for love, peace, beauty, and significance!  How amazing He is!  Taste and see, but with a spoon, so as to enjoy every drop!

Lord, thank you for the satisfaction You give me!

 

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Unexpected!

cigarette2Scripture for Today: Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Looking closely at this image, one sees discarded cigarettes doing something very unexpected.  They are sprouting!  Something as dirty and off-putting as litter is actually transforming itself into something positive.  These cigarettes were invented by a creative British man, tired of ugly litter.  He decided to make biodegradable filters that contain wild flower seeds and called them, “Cigg Seeds.”  What a clever idea!  Who would have thought that something thrown away and trampled on could turn into something beautiful!

Today’s often quoted verse came to mind.  I have heard it said so many times it tends to lose its impact.  But this is a beautiful truth that gives the believer hope.  We are not spared the ugliness and heartaches in life.  Despite the fact that the wicked seem to prosper (Jer. 12:1) they are not spared either as their final destiny is destruction (Ps. 73:17).  Even so, following the Lord never insures a trouble-free life. However, there is a difference.  God takes those awful negative circumstances and miraculously brings about something worthwhile.

Because of this promise, I have hope.  I may feel cast aside, dirty, and trampled on but God is not done yet.  He can and He does transform me and cause new and beautiful growth in my soul.  He is good and everything He does is right and good.  I can trust that His purpose for me is good as well, even and especially when I cannot see it.  The good He is producing is something that lasts into eternity; becoming like His Son.  There is nothing more beautiful or worthwhile.

Thank you Lord, for the unexpected ways You create the good in my life!


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Neutrality

Scripture for Today: I John 5:12 “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Les Diablerets, Switzerland is one of my favorite places in the world!  This small village in the Alps looks like a scene right out the book, “Heidi.”  The air is clean and pure.  The hiking trails beckon and the surrounding tall peaks invite me to keep looking up!  Life seems simple and unspoilt here in Switzerland and its residents have worked hard to stay out of conflict on the world stage.  I find I am ambivalent about their position, or lack of it.  I see good and bad about staying neutral.

Today’s verse makes it very clear that there is no neutral stand in one’s position on Jesus Christ.  One either has the Son in their life or they do not.  One either has life in Him or one does not.  There is no middle ground.  There is no straddling of a fence.  He does not make it possible to have it both ways.  Without Him there is no true life.  We are dead spiritually without Him.  But thankfully, Christ made us alive even when we were dead in our sins (Eph. 2:5).  His forgiveness quickens our hearts and opens our eyes!

Quite frankly, the whole spiritual dimension to my life is what makes my life worth the living!  I am incredibly blessed with the love of husband, family and friends.  I have good health and am relatively comfortable financially.  But none of that satisfies me completely.  It is the intimate, unseen relationship with the Son that gives my life the meaning I so desire.  Sharing life with the Giver of life is what true life is all about!

Thank you, Lord, for giving me life in Your Son.


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Face Plant

Scripture for Today: I Kings 18:39 “When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord – He is God! The Lord – He is God.'”

I have never understood why cats do this!  Our Tiger would often bury his face into the couch, so much so I worried that he was not getting enough air.  He would face plant on the hard uncomfortable floor as well.  I guess when sleep overwhelms, any position will do.  But he sure did look silly.  However, face planting by his owners is embarrassing, unintentional and takes looking silly to a whole new level!  Who wants to look that undignified?

Today’s verse describes an intentional face plant!  There was no concern about looking undignified.  The Israelites fell prostrate, face down on the ground in response to the awesome power of God.  In answer to Elijah’s simple prayer, the only true God sent fire down from Heaven in a contest between Baal and Himself.  This fire was unique not only because it fell from Heaven, but because it burned up sacrifice, wood, stones, soil and water!  What other response is possible but to fall face down to the ground in fearful humility and worship?  The Lord, He is God.

In our French church, we stand when we take communion.  There is standing and lifting up of hands in many churches as an expression of worship as well.  Paul tells us that one day every knee will bow in humble recognition at the name of Jesus (Phil. 2:10).  But when God reveals Himself completely and I see for the first time all His magnificent power and beauty, I cannot see myself in any other position but prostrate with wonder!

Standing, kneeling or prostrate, Lord, may my heart be completely Yours today.


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The Woodworking Plane

planer-usesScripture for Today: Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.”

Wood shop in high school was for the boys.  Perhaps it was just as well that I stayed away from those power tools and sharp instruments!  How the wood got to be so smooth, flat and level remained a mystery, only because I was too disinterested to find out.  But when my Dad took up woodworking as a hobby, he taught me to appreciate those smooth flawless surfaces and the effort it took to achieve.  The planer shaves off those high places in the wood, making the surface level.

Today’s verse reveals that God is continually working in us.  His goal is to mold our desires and actions to mirror His.  He has a purpose for this work and we can trust that it is a good purpose because He is good.  He is working to make us smooth and level by taking out the high places in us.  He is opposed to the proud (James 4:6) and will work to flatten those thoughts of superiority and self sufficiency.  The result is something beautiful that He can use!

Having my pride worked on hurts!  That blade is shaving off what does not belong.  It is humbling to be brought down to the right size.  He may use the reprimand of others.  He may use a miserable failure and allow me to fall flat on my face!  He often uses His Word to convict and point out areas that need flattening.  Whatever the case, it is not a comfortable experience.  But when it is all over, He gives favor to the one He has humbled.

Oh how I need Your favor today!  Lord, keep me smooth and humble.

 


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My Hero

heroScripture for Today: Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Having married a “Kent,” I have had my share of Superman jokes.  When naming our children, there was no question that we would avoid the name Clark or Lois!  But in fact, my husband is my hero if one counts admiration and respect!  He does not fly through the air and right all wrongs, but he is certainly a hero for putting up with me!

Today’s verse comes from a chapter referred to as a list of “heroes of the faith.”  These verses describe ordinary men and women who demonstrated tremendous faith in persevering, even when a promise was not fulfilled in their lifetime.  The criteria was not the recognition or accolades of men.  In fact, the world was not even worthy of them (verse 38).  But they are heroes because they never gave up their faith even while facing death.  Because of their faith, “God was not ashamed to be called their God” (verse 16).

There are many religious systems that require some kind of faith.  The idea of faith and spirituality is normally well received.  It is not until I refer to the object of my faith that I face opposition.  My faith is in a Person.  Not in my religion.  Not in my church.  And certainly not in my own efforts.  My faith in God and His Son, Jesus, exhibits itself in coming to Him repeatedly and earnestly seeking Him.  He rewards me by revealing Himself to me more and more.  And when I take Him at His Word, believe His promises and obey Him, I feel His pleasure.

“My faith has found a resting place,” and He is worthy.


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Curious Cat

Top-10-Curious-Cats-Covered-in-Packing-Peanuts-4Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:11-12 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.”

“Curiosity killed the cat,” although not so much in this case!  But his curiosity is obvious, as there is no hiding what the cat has been up to.  The lure of the box is a temptation too strong for most felines, our Tiger included.  Their little cat brains must curiously ask themselves what that box might hide.  Satisfying his curiosity did not work out so well.   How very undignified having all these styrofoam pellets stuck on fur!

Today’s verse is surprising.  Not only are believers to have nothing to do with evil deeds of darkness, but we are to expose them to the light of His goodness, righteousness, and truth (verse 9).  We expose them by living a contrasting life, as “children of light,” seeking to please the Lord.  What is surprising is that we are not to even mention what the wicked do in secret!  As part of holy living we are to rid ourselves of “filthy language” (Col. 3:8).

It seems extreme.  We easily talk about how wicked the wicked are!  But there is a subtle danger in speaking of what goes on in secret.  Doing so can desensitize me to the seriousness of sin.  I eventually lose any sense of shock.  I can slowly move towards acceptance of what is evil or immoral.  And discussing the details of any sin can pique my interest and stimulate curiosity.

My mouth reveals what I am thinking about.  When I am thinking about what is true, honest, just, pure and lovely, than I will not be interested in discussing the evil surrounding me (Phil. 4:8).

Lord, keep my thoughts and my mouth pure and full of light!