Devotions By Jan


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Another World

img_20161001_112154Scripture for Today: John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I wish this man would turn around so I could see the shock on his face when he realizes that not all is as it appears!  This image reminds me of the movie, “The Truman Show” with Jim Carey where he unknowingly lives in an artificial domed world.  The man in this image would never have known there was another world had he not been curious and courageous enough to lift that curtain!

Today’s verse is spoken by the Lord, our Good Shepherd.  Those who belong to Him are pictured as sheep who enter only through Jesus, the Gate.  They have freedom to go in and out and find green pasture.  But there is another group who do not belong to Him and are fooled by the “thief,” or Satan.  They are fooled into thinking that this life and what we see is the only reality, when in fact there is another whole world.

Satan does not want anyone lifting that curtain and seeing the spiritual realm.  By hiding the reality of the abundant life Jesus offers, he steals from men their capacity to enjoy their days to the fullest!  With eyes blinded we miss out on what is real and eternal, until the Lord opens our eyes (Acts 26:18).  Without realizing it, so many are content to live with the pigs and eat their scraps rather than feasting and partying at the Father’s table! (Luke 15:11-25)

I am so grateful for Jesus giving me a life that includes that other unseen world.  This world is just not enough.  But He is!

Thank you Lord, for the full abundant life You give me!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.

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The Sparrow

female-sparrows-fight-over-the-nest-build-by-a-male-sparrowScripture for Today: Matthew 10:29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”

These sparrows look as if they are about to fall!  The two females are fighting over the nest that the male has just built.  The male with the yellow markings is vainly trying to break up the fight.  It does not look as if he is succeeding!  These small gregarious birds are especially aggressive when protecting their nests from other birds and even from other sparrows.  The sparrow is one of the more familiar birds as they prefer nesting close to humans. They are a common sight as they are partial to man-made structures for their nest-building.

Today’s verse uses the example of a sparrow to illustrate just how minute and detailed is God’s knowledge and care of His creation.  Jesus uses something common and inconsequential to explain that nothing escapes His notice.  At fifty cents each, two sparrows are not worth much in the grand scheme of things.  And yet, the Lord is aware of the movements, needs, birth and death of each one.  If He cares that much about something so small and insignificant, we can be assured that He sees and cares so much more for His own children.  We are worth more than these two little birds (verse 31).

I know that I have value to the Lord because He died for me.  Because this is true, there is no reason to fear (verse 31).  I will not fear what man can do to me (verse 28).  I will not fear bad news (Psalm 112:7).  I will not fear any evil (Ps. 23;4) nor will I fear sudden disaster (Prov. 3:25).

Thank you Lord, that I can stand firm, steadfast, and confident in You!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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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 the 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 and presence which inspire and give courage!

Thank you Lord, for Your reassurance today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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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 it is to be uncomfortable and on the right path.

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

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Tattoos

broken-heart-tattoos-ideas-470x300Scripture for Today: Psalm 13:5 “But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.”

There seems to be more and more tattoos used as a fashion statement, whether a small butterfly on a pretty ankle, or a skull and crossbones on a beefy arm.  I do not always understand what the message to be conveyed is.  But this one is clear.  In ancient times tattoos were used as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love or signs of religious belief.  They were used in ancient Egypt and have been found on female mummies dating back to 2000 BC.  The tattoo pictured I am guessing is on a female arm and it screams to the world, “I have been hurt,” or “Never again!”

Today’s verse is about trusting a love that will never fail.  The heart does not crack into pieces when held together by the Lord’s love.  His love never disappoints.  The Lord’s unfailing love is described as a breastplate, guarding our heart (I Thes. 5:8).   But like any piece of armor, we pick it up and put it on each day.  When we trust in that love, it keeps our hearts open and soft, instead of hardened and unreachable.  And if we are hurt by others, His love is there to bind up the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3).

My heart can rejoice in that love, regardless of what is happening in relationships around me.  He is constant.  His love for me is my sure foundation, making it possible for me to love again.  We love because He first loved us (I John 4:19).  Trusting in His love helps me to forgive and move on.  Trusting in His love heals the hurts and makes me whole again.

Lord, how amazing it is that You love me!  Help me believe it today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Director’s Chair

directorchair03Scripture for Today: Luke 10:40 “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me.”

I like the idea of the Director having his own personal chair.  It is elevated to be above the others and the role is clear.  The director directs.  He tells everyone else what to do.  The first known use of the word “director’s chair” was in 1953 on a movie set.  But the design of the chair can be traced to the fifteenth century.

In today’s verse, it would seem that Martha would be the most likely to have a chair like this.  She is overworked and overwhelmed with preparing the meal for a houseful of guests, including the Lord Jesus.  She is not sitting like her sister, Mary, enjoying her most important guest.  Instead, Martha is standing and distracted by all the work.  Even so, she does not hesitate to direct Jesus.  Martha tells Jesus what He should do to show His care for her.

It seems a bit audacious of Martha to direct Jesus.  But I find that sometimes in my prayers I do the same thing.  In approaching the Lord with my request, I will direct Him on the best way to answer me.  When He does not do it my way, I can doubt His care.  If I really want to understand just how much He cares for me, I need to drop what I think is so important and sit at His feet.  When I do, I am less likely to try to direct Him.

Lord, help me to get down from that chair and allow You to direct me today!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Dump Truck

article-0-1ab54a7a00000578-797_634x406Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:8 “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips.”

This happened in front of the French Parliament building in Paris!  It was no accident but a statement of rage and frustration.  I am sure the dumping of manure was effective in drawing attention to the outrage over a recent tax hike.  Although this was dramatic, I do support the citizen’s right to peaceful protest.  However, this protestor was arrested and the clean up was a major ordeal, stinky and blocking traffic for hours.

Today’s verse lists some characteristics that could well be described as a “poop attack.!”  When we dump on each other it usually includes anger and rage.  And it often includes filthy language as well.  Perhaps we think that dumping on someone will relieve our own stress.  Maybe, we feel that we make our point better with the shock factor of a vulgar word.  Or perhaps dumping on others has just become a habit.  As God’s children we are told to take off the old self with all these negatives and put on the new self.

What a difference to be characterized by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love! (verses 12-14)  It is as if that dump truck were filled with beautiful fragrant flowers.  I am not sure that someone would describe me in those terms.  Too often, those who are closest to me are the very ones on the receiving end of unkind and ugly words.  It is only with His power and presence in me that I can keep from dumping on people.

My prayer today echos the words of this old hymn; “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me!”

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.