Devotions By Jan


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Busted!

Scripture for Today: Numbers 32:23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”

Poor thing.  No one wants to see a dog in this kind of distress.  At least in his predicament he is not thirsty as I imagine he was going for the water in the bottom of the jar.  Probably he stuck his head in there on the sly.  Surely, his owners would have loudly discouraged his behavior had they seen it.  But there was no hiding what he had done after the fact!

Today’s verse concerned the Israelites who had made promises to God and were thinking about putting their own interests first before fulfilling them.  Moses reminded them of their obligations and the Lord’s specific commands.  They did the right thing and were rewarded with possession of the land.  Probably, the warning Moses gave the people was added motivation!

I would like to think that I am always motivated to obey the Lord out of my love and gratitude to Him for all He has done for me.  But to be brutally honest with myself, sometimes it is the idea of this accountability to the Lord that motivates me.  He is my Father and I am His child.  He is not going to allow me to continually and blatantly disobey Him.  The Lord will lovingly but surely discipline those He loves (Heb. 12:6).  My sin will find me out and be obvious to myself and others if I ignore all His attempts at correction and conviction.  He will allow the consequences of my wrongdoing to humble me to my knees.  But what love and restoration I find there!

Thank you Lord, for loving me and forgiving me in spite of myself!

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

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Handle with Care

dropped86542889-resized-600Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”

I have done enough moves to know that having the label, “Fragile, Handle with Care,” slapped on a box is no guarantee that nothing will break!  Sometimes that box with its fragile contents will be upside down, on the bottom of a stack of boxes, or dropped by well-meaning neighbors.  At least my boxes are taped shut as well as labelled, color-coded and numbered.  Even so, there are always a few items that don’t make the journey in one piece.

Today’s verse reassures the believer that the Lord is willing and able to handle all our cares.  He understands that we are fragile and easily broken.  Our bodies are like clay jars, susceptible to cracking in pieces for a reason; so that the power we live our lives by is seen to be from God and not ourselves (II Cor. 4:7)  There is no shame in admitting that we are fragile and in need of gentle handling.  It is in recognizing our weakness that we avail ourselves of His power (II Cor. 12:9).

It takes some humility to admit my need of His care.  I can only give Him my anxieties and experience that care if I humble myself first (I Peter 5:6-7).  The Lord wants to show favor, lift up and sustain those who turn to Him.  But He waits to be asked.  He waits to be needed.  I am too prone to thinking I am just fine and not needing His power.  My pride keeps me from admitting any weakness or need for care.  Until something breaks.  He picks up the pieces and because He cares, He makes things right.

Thank you Lord, for Your precious care.

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


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Improvise!

improvise2962204559_1_3_IZa3X68UScripture for Today: Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

In our small studio in France, we are learning to live without what we normally take for granted.  We dry our clothes outside, fold up the two chairs to allow for more space when not in use, and close all the shutters to keep cool.  We have no freezer, no oven and no stove top.  Thankfully, we have a microwave!  We are learning to improvise, but perhaps not to the point of grilling meat on an iron!

Today’s verse is a comfort.  The Lord is personally involved in the direction our lives take.  He watches for what is needed.  When asked He gives His counsel in making decisions, and He teaches us which direction to take.  However, He also allows us freedom to choose.  When His direction is clear, we can decide to follow it, or not.  And He also allows freedom and choices when several options are just fine with Him.

If I thought that every choice made in a day was directed by Him, I think I would live in fear of missing it.  But He has given me my mind, my intellect, and my preferences to follow.  When I am in an attitude of submission to Him, I can trust that He will intervene if I am making an incorrect choice.  His goal for me is to become more and more like His Son and He can make that happen in a variety of circumstances.  So if my next step is not so clear, I improvise!  I do not have the script but that OK.

Thank you Lord that I know You, the Author, and how the story will end!

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


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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!

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


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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.

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


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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.

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


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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.

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