Devotions By Jan


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Cow Escape!

Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

This is the only kind of cow I would want to see on the street! But recently, the residents of Pico Rivera, California were surprised to see 41 escaped cows running wild in their neighborhoods! A gate at the local slaughterhouse was left open and the cows made a run for it! There was understandably some property damage and injuries in the chaos, but eventually most were corralled and returned to captivity and their unhappy fate.

Today’s verse talks about a different kind of captivity. It is one that captivates our thinking. Paul warns that we can be deceived by fine-sounding arguments (verse 4). As believers, we have freedom in Christ. His cross has disarmed every legalistic power and authority coming from human rules (verse 15). Because we no longer belong to the world we are no longer captive to rules such as, “Do not handle. Do not touch. Do not taste” (verse 21). The god of this world uses the pride in following such rules to keep us from true holiness.

How thankful I am not to be captive to a set of rules or a list of do’s and dont’s! Because of the cross, Christ has broken the power of sin in my life! Following His way is not a matter of rules, but of a changed heart that seeks to please Him. He is not impressed with my outward superficial show of religiosity. Instead, He wants all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I am free to follow Him and experience a fulness to my life, found only in Christ (verse 10)!

Thank you Lord, for freedom in You!


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Vanilla? Really??

Scripture for Today: Job 34:3-4 “For the ear tests words as the tongue tests food. Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.”

Today is National Vanilla Ice Cream day! No one knows the creator and origin for this day but it appears every July which is National Ice Cream month. I am in the camp of those who prefer chocolate, part of the 17% of Americans (according to a poll from YouGov.). Those preferring vanilla number 15%. So maybe the majority is right this time! I will not even touch vanilla unless there is chocolate somehow mixed in. For me, chocolate is easily what is right and good!

Today’s verse records the advice of one of Job’s three friends about what is right and good. Elihu was eager to help Job discover the reason for his troubles. He had a lot to say but it was off the mark. Certainly, we are to test what we hear and listen with discernment. Just as we taste food to see if it has a pleasing flavor, so we “taste” what we hear to decide if it rings true. The problem is that we all have differing taste buds. What seems right and good to one can seem wrong and sour to another. Our subjectivity gets in the way of finding absolute truth.

Thankfully, we do not have to discern for ourselves what is right and good. It is not up to us to come to some sort of consensus. God’s Law goes beyond individual opinion or cultural norms. God’s Law does not change with the times. Surveys and votes do not change what God has put in place. And not only do God’s words taste good, but they are good for me!

Help me Lord, to discern what is truly right and good.


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Artisan Soap

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:25-26  “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the Word,”

I love going to our open market in Guebwiller, France and smelling the homemade soaps for sale! There is such variety it is difficult to choose. My favorite is lavender because I like to think its fragrance is soothing. But there are all kinds available, including lemon verbena, almond, honey and so many more. Some are made with olive oil, others with shea butter. There are soaps that have crushed flowers or herbs in them. But one thing they all have in common is that they make one clean, even the black soap!

Today’s verse describes how Christ sets apart and cleanses those who are part of His church, also called His Bride. His goal is to create in us glorious splendor! One day we will be holy and faultless, without spot or wrinkle. This soapy cleaning process starts with His sacrifice on the cross. The believer is washed in His blood and his sins are forgiven forever. Those who come to Christ in faith are washed whiter than snow and it is all His doing. 

I have had my bath but my feet still get dirty (John 13:1-10). That is when I need “spiritual soap.” And that cleansing comes from God’s Word. The Lord uses His Word to signal to me what needs to be put right in my life. It does not happen every time, but very often. When I am in His Word I am motivated to to obey Him. He uses the written Word to speak to me and our relationship becomes closer. I come away from these encounters squeaky clean and smelling good!

Thank you Lord, that one day, soap will no longer be needed!


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Edible Gold

Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:10 “They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.”

What would make a plate of french fries cost 200$? A New York restaurant recently made the Guinness Book of World Records with their concoction. They first blanched the potatoes in expensive champagne, cooked them in pure goose fat, tossed them in truffle oil with truffle salt and topped them with shaved black truffles. But the most surprising ingredient was the dusting of 23K edible gold at 150$ a gram!

Today’s verse describes the incredible worth of God’s precepts for living. They are more precious than pure gold. Not only that, these words of God are sweeter than honey from the honeycomb. The prophet, Ezekiel, was commanded to eat God’s word and he found it sweet as honey in his mouth (Ezekiel 3:3). This image of God’s word being edible helps us relate what is spiritual to the physical world. His word is sweet for so many reasons but for Ezekiel it was because of the warnings that save lives! When He warns us about the consequences of going our own way, it is done with love.

How do I view the Bible? Do I see His commandments as negative and restrictive, or do I recognize the love behind the warnings? The sweetness of His love for me is there in its pages. The assurance of His care and control is pure gold and a reminder that is sweet to taste. Psalms 34:8 says to taste and see that the Lord, He is good! I sometimes complain that I have too much of a “sweet tooth” but when it comes to reading God’s Word, that’s a good thing!

Thank you Lord, for the incredible worth of Your Word!


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“We Came in Peace”

Scripture for Today: Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

It was this day in 1969 that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the lunar module, Eagle, on the surface of the moon. They set it down in the “Sea of Tranquility” although I doubt that either of the men were tranquil as the Eagle’s overactive computers sounded alarms! They left behind a plaque reading, “Here men from planet earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

Today’s verse is also a message of peace offered to all mankind. This was the message of the angels to the shepherds in the fields at the occasion of Christ’s birth. This peace is nothing like what the world can produce. It is a peace between estranged mankind and their Creator. In our rebellion we were enemies against the God of the universe (Romans 5:10). But God initiated a reconciliation through the substitutionary death of His Son. Jesus Himself is our peace. For those who accept His forgiveness through the cross, there is now a relationship possible with Him where before there was none.

The huge obstacle to having peace with God was my sin. But because He has paid the punishment I so richly deserved, there is now a closeness and communion. I can enjoy His presence in my life as I am no longer under any condemnation (Romans 8:1). Not only is there peace with Him but He enables me to live in peace with others! And what is really amazing is that sense of peace and well-being He puts in my heart. What an incredible gift to live with this inner peace in a world that is so troubled!

Thank you Lord, for Your gift of peace.