Devotions By Jan


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Garlic

Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Both fresh garlic and onion were a part of our local open market in France.  But it was especially the garlic that gave so much flavor to a dish, as well as staying on one’s breath next morning!  Over the centuries it has been touted to ward off plague, whooping cough, and of course, vampires!  But what caught my attention was the claim that garlic can inspire and give courage!  It was given to Roman soldiers for just that purpose.

Today’s verse is a charge for Joshua from the Lord Himself.  Moses had just died and Joshua was taking his position to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.  Joshua is reassured that the Lord will never leave him or forsake him (verse 5).  The Lord reminds him that wherever he goes, he can be strong and courageous because of His presence.

This is not a promise that things will be easy or even go smoothly for Joshua.  The Lord sees ahead the times of discouragement Joshua will face.  Moses encountered plenty of discouragement leading a complaining doubting people and so will Joshua.  But just as the Lord was there for Moses, so He would be for Joshua (verse 5).

I have a charge from the Lord as well to do what He tells me to.  I have these same promises that He will strengthen me with His power (Col. 1:11) so that I can endure with patience whatever is scary or discouraging.  He promises to never leave me or forsake me (Heb. 13:5).  It is His Word which inspires and gives courage!

Thank you Lord, for Your reassurance today.

 

 


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Majority Rules!

majorityrulesScripture for Today: Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”

This looks like an interesting game.  The winner is the one with the most points, earned by voting in the same way as the majority does on various questions.  There is ample opportunity for lots of debate and laughter, especially when it is obvious that the one losing vote is clearly correct but the majority carry the day!  The reasoning behind one’s vote does not change the outcome.  The important thing is to be part of the ruling majority!

Today’s verse describes a majority of people who enter through a wide gate and follow a broad path.  It is perhaps an easier choice and one is certainly in good company with so may others making this same choice.  It is easy in life to be lulled into a false sense of security when surrounded by so many others of the same opinion.  What is so sad is that the majority does not rule in this case and is not right in their choice.  The consequences of following the majority could not be more serious as this path leads to destruction.

The good news is that there is a small gate and a narrow road that leads to life (verse 14).  Jesus has said clearly that He is the gate by which we enter (John 10:7).  He is also the one and only way (John 14:6).  But the ones who follow this way will always be in the minority.  It is not a comfortable position to be different than the majority around us.  But how much better to be uncomfortable and on the right path.

Lord, thank you for showing me the way to life through You.


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Champagne Fountain

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 3:12 “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”

I am always impressed seeing a champagne fountain at French wedding receptions.  To catch the cascading champagne it takes such precision in placing the glasses just so!  Each tier of glasses fills to the point of overflowing to the next level.  The waiters have it down to a science.  Their timing has to be perfect.  The result is almost too pretty to disturb.  And who gets the honor of drinking from that single top glass?  The bride or the groom?

Today’s verse is a prayer of Paul’s for new believers he had to leave behind.  His co-worker, Timothy, brought back good news about their faith and love.  Paul had been worried that they may be discouraged about the persecutions he was facing.  Instead, his heart was warmed to hear how they were standing firm.

One of the marks of a believer is the love we have one for the other (John 13:35).  But it is nothing we manufacture on our own!  The Lord is the one who makes our love increase and overflow.  He is love and the source of it.  The fruit or evidence of His Spirit’s work in us is love, right at the top of the list (Gal.5:22).  When I do not have it in me to love someone difficult, the only solution is to ask Him to increase that capacity to love.  By my own efforts it just does not happen.  I am too self-centered.  When He is producing that love in me, it overflows naturally.  His love spills over to others and no one cares who has that top glass.

Lord, fill me to overflowing with Your love today.

 


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The Swiss Alps

img_20160928_165357Scripture for Today: Isaiah 49:13 “Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones.”

Our recent week of conference in the Swiss Alps already seems like a lifetime ago.  I never tire of gazing on those majestic mountains, seen here from the gondola window.  Their height, their stability and their looming presence over the village is a constant reminder of just how small I am!  Their timeless watch over the inhabitants below bring to mind the awesome power in the hand of their Creator.

There is reason for the heavens to shout, for the earth to rejoice and for the mountains to burst into song.  Today’s verse gives the reason; the comfort and the compassion the Lord gives to His hurting people.  He is not unmoved by our pain.  He does not ignore our cries.  He hears us in the night when we smother our tears.  He sees when the heart is hurting and we want to give up.  He offers His comfort and compassion which is unlike any other.

He is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (II Cor. 1:3).  He uses His Word to reassure my heart.  He uses the care and concern of friends and family.  He uses the lyrics of a long-forgotten song in the most unlikely moment to bring me a measure of peace.  His compassion never fails me.  His comfort and compassion are renewed every morning when I wake up to a new day (Lamentations 3:22-23).

What a wonderful reason for those mountains to burst into song!  May today be a day when I can shout, rejoice and sing because He cares for me!


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The Hope Chest

Scripture for Today:Romans 5:5 “And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

I never owned a hope chest, although I hoped!  It was a tradition that was already obsolete by the 1950’s.  The practice of filling a hope chest with items useful in setting up house came from Europe around the 18th century.  A young girl’s “trousseau” consisted of handmade bed linens, table linens and embroidered items.  I often wondered what happened to that hope chest and its contents when it was clear that marriage had passed one by.  Perhaps giving it away signaled the end of hope.

Today speaks of a hope that never puts us to shame.  Unlike unfulfilled hope in a human love, our hope is placed in a love that has already been poured into the heart of a believer.  The Holy Spirit is our seal of ownership, guaranteeing what is to come! (II Cor. 1:22).  Hope in this sense is a sure thing with no possibility of disappointment or shame.  This hope grows stronger and stronger as we see the Lord come through for us when experiencing suffering (verse 3).  Hope grows by persevering through that impossible situation.  Our hope is obvious to everyone through the strength of character that comes from hanging in there (verse 4).

Hope that is ill-placed is wishful thinking that makes the heart sick when unfulfilled (Prov. 13:12).  My hope is sure being based on God’s faithful promises.  My longing for love is absolutely fulfilled in my relationship with my Creator.  He never disappoints and I am never put to shame.  He always comes through and someday I will see the glory of God up close and personal!

My hope will forever be in You, Lord.