Devotions By Jan


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Escargot

img_20160819_084054Scripture for Today: Hebrews 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

This stand was a common sight at our French open market.  Eating snails is certainly not new.  Their empty shells have been found in archaeological digs suggesting that they have been eaten since prehistoric times!  They are considered a “super food,” as they contain iron, B12, magnesium, selenium, and omega 3.  Still, the idea of eating that slimy creature fills many people with disgust.  And the many steps to prepare escargots make them anything but a “fast food!”  One of the more important steps is purging the snails from anything unhealthy they have been eating.

Today’s verse speaks of our conscience being purged.  The Old Testament system of animal sacrifice served its purpose of symbolizing Christ’s death.  But how much more perfect was the sacrifice Jesus made, once for all!  His sacrifice not only cleanses us from our sin, but purges our consciences as well.  His forgiveness is complete.

Satan would like me to think otherwise.  He whispers in my ear his accusations.  He reminds me of times when I really blew it and let the Lord down.  Satan would like nothing better than to take me out of the game and put me on the sidelines.  How thankful I am that he is wrong!   My conscience has been purged.  I am a new creation in Him.  No accusation from the enemy can change this truth.  When I lay my head on the pillow at night I can sleep easily knowing that Christ has taken care of every sin and failure.

Thank you Lord, that You purge my conscience, making forgiveness complete.

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


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Mixed Up!

img_20161016_171121Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

While taking a power walk at the harbor I came across this car looking totally mixed up!  From one angle it looks white but from another perspective it looks black.  I am not sure what the point of painting it like this was but it did make me pause and think.  Maybe the wife wanted it white and the husband preferred black.  Perhaps the only way to keep the peace was to compromise and have it both ways!

Today’s verse says what we all realize.  Keeping any group of two or more unified takes effort.  What I like about this car image is that unity is preserved without being uniform.  Diversity does not negate unity.  And the unity through the Spirit of God encompasses all kinds of differences in color, custom, gender, social status, and education.  It is God’s peace through His Spirit that creates a supernatural bond that holds us together.

Maintaining this unity is sure not easy.  How easy it is to think that my way of living and doing things is the best way!  I cannot possibly keep any sort of unity unless I can “bear with one another in love.” (verse 2)  I know I am loving in the way that preserves unity when I am humble, gentle and patient towards the one who is different (verse 2).  So what if one side is white and one side is black?  It is still one car.  How boring it would be if we were all the same!  And what other group on this earth can be so diverse and at the same time be one?

Lord, keep me loving, patient, gentle and humble to preserve this precious unity in You.

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


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The Praying Mantis

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

This mantis looks to have been interrupted in his prayers!  These alien-looking insects got their name from their prayer-like stance.  These strange creatures are the only insects that can turn their heads 180 degrees!  They may look like they are praying but in fact they are very alert and highly visual, noticing any disturbance in their environment.  Even when flying at night some are able to avoid bats, detecting their echolocation sounds.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to pray on any and every occasion.  This verse closes out the passage talking about how to fight the spiritual war.  The battle we wage is not fought individually but in concert with others.  Of course we pray for ourselves.  We want strength, protection, and greater faith.  But we are also to be praying for all of the Lord’s people facing the same challenges we do.

We are told to be alert.  We need to have our “antennae” up and sensitive to needs around us.  All it takes is to turn our head in a half circle to see someone who needs prayer.  Our prayers lift up and encourage a fallen soldier.  Praying for another encourages them to get back in the battle and to persevere.

I sometimes feel that praying for others is not as important as some of the other ways we serve Him.  How often I have heard, (or said) “Well, I guess all I can really do is pray for her.”  Are not our prayers the most important thing we can do?

Lord, make me a faithful prayer warrior today!

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


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Black Out Curtains

Scripture for Today: John 1:4-5 “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The black out curtains in my bedroom do a pretty good job of blocking out the morning light.  After living in France for so many years, I have been accustomed to shutters that keep the room entirely dark.  Now, I am much too sensitive to the morning light.  Even with black out curtains, there is always that chink of light that manages to get through and wake me.

Today’s verse describes Jesus as life.  And the life in Him is as a beacon of light illuminating this very dark world.  But no matter how dark and sinful the world is, that darkness will never overcome the light.  Even a tiny pinprick will dispel darkness.  Despite man’s best efforts to block it out, there will always be a chink of light shining through.  In that darkness we remain asleep until that moment Christ shines on us (Eph. 5:14).  And from that time on we are called “children of light” (verse 8).  That is because Christ made His light shine in our hearts, giving us the light of knowing Him! (II Cor. 4:6).

Every time I turn on the news I am reminded that I live in a dark world.  I can get quite depressed thinking about all the evil and injustice.  But these verses give me hope.  It will never be completely black around me.  He illumines my world with the light of His presence and love.  It is said that it is always the darkest before the dawn.  I am so thankful that He has overcome the world and the future is bright with Light!

Lord, I need You to shine on me today!

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


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Mondays

8-mondays-beatles-funny-parodyScripture for Today: I Thes. 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as human word, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.”

I wonder if even the Beatles hated Mondays.  The parody of this iconic picture sums up the attitude of most people.  Somehow, when that alarm jars you awake after a full weekend, the temptation to stay under those covers is oh so strong!  No wonder we hate Mondays.  Like the Mamas and the Papas’ 1966 song, “Every other day of the week is fine.”  But, “Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day!”

Today’s verse is about a work that is continual, regardless of the day of the week.  The Word of God is at work in those who believe.  When God sends out His Word, it will accomplish what He desires (Isaiah 55:11).  His Word is unlike any other book, being that it is alive and active, judging our thoughts and attitudes (Hebrews 4:12).  His Word reveals who God is and who I am.  Reading His Word brings comfort and encouragement.  It is absolute truth that changes how I see my world.  His Word guides my steps and keeps me on the best path.

Of course, His Word cannot be at work in me every day of the week if I am not reading it, listening to it or singing it!  I need to hide it in my heart like the Psalmist tells me.  It is then that His Word can do its work, slowly transforming me by renewing my mind (Rom. 12:2).

Lord, keep me motivated to read and love Your Word, even on Mondays!

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


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Breaking Free

freedomb04c55f51dc9b7be98221b54113ab02fScripture for Today: Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This Freedom Sculpture was created by Zenos Frudakis and can be seen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  It depicts several people in different stages of breaking free of their molds.  The artist felt that everyone could relate to this image as the struggle to be free is a universal one, common to all mankind.

Today’s verse is put differently in another version; “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold.” Without a transformation of our minds, we stay firmly ensconced in the world’s way of thinking.  Like the last figure in this sculpture, we can so completely conform to the values and thinking of this world that we lose the freedom to follow what is best.  What the Lord wants for us is good and pleasing and perfect.  And so often, it is in direct opposiiton to the prevalent thinking around us.

I do not want to look, think and act like everyone around me and call that freedom.  But I can walk about in freedom when I intentionally seek out what God wants (Psalm 119:45).  His plan for me is not just good but perfect.  When He changes my heart and mind with His Word, pleasing Him becomes a pleasure.  Blending in by following another standard may sometimes be easier.  In fact it is usually easier to just go with the flow, but not as fulfilling.  His transformation is freeing me to become who He meant me to be, rather than a carbon copy of everyone else.

Thank you Lord, for the freedom Your transformation brings!

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


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Inside Out

clothingd7587cae-9b39-49de-a72f-6043d7620bf6-620x620Scripture for Today: Romans 5:5 “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

I have done this often enough when dressing in a hurry.  Wearing something inside out is even considered good luck by some.  But for your day to be lucky, it has to be done unintentionally and not corrected if pointed out by someone.  The same is said for wearing one’s socks inside out.  But rather than thinking of clothing mistakes, I like thinking of the song by Bryan Adams called, “Inside Out.”  The lyrics say, “I wanna know you like I know myself…..I wanna know you inside out.”

Today’s verse describes God’s love as being poured into our hearts.  Any other love on this earth comes from the outside.  But God’s love is unique as it reaches to the inside and fills our hearts.  His love actually resides on the interior.  There is nothing hidden from His love.  He knows our deepest thoughts and desires.  He understands all of our motivation and fear.  Because He lives and loves from our hearts, He knows what makes us mad or makes us cry.  There is no other love as intimate or knowledgeable.  He loves me from the inside out.

How amazing that He could love me knowing all the junk in there!  I can be completely honest and open with Him as He knows it all anyway.  And yet, He still loves me!  He does not love me because, but in spite of myself!  There is only one best response to this kind of unconditional love: “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all.”

Thank you Lord, for reminding me of Your overwhelming love.

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