Devotions By Jan


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The Oyster

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

It was during our visit to our son’s “Classe de Mer” in France that we and all the students were served freshly caught oysters as part of their dinner. My husband was thrilled but I and most of the children were not! To me it tasted pretty much like ocean water. The oyster is called a “filter feeder” and will filter up to twenty gallons of water a day in the wild. By filtering that water of algae, dirt and nitrogen pollution, they transform its clarity and quality.

In today’s verse we are to filter out what is evil and only allow in what is good. In that way our love for others is sincere. Calling something “love” that is tainted with self-interest is an insincere love, allowing evil to cloud it.  Recognizing sincere love can only happen when I filter out what the world defines as love. The love portrayed in novels and films can parade as real but when evil and disobedience to God’s standard are mixed in, it falls short and often leads to hurt and disappointment.

My love for someone is sincere only when it filters out what is evil and impure. This picture of sincere love has little resemblance to what is around me. I need to filter out impatience, selfishness, pride, envy and an unforgiving spirit.  For my love to be sincere, I need to cling to faithfulness, speaking truth and showing honor. God’s Word tells me how to view love. God’s Word tells me when love is sincere. Without His Word, I would not be able to discern what is truly good and what sincere love looks like!

Lord, make my love sincere and good today.


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Sun Ripened Tomatoes

Scripture for Today: James 1:4 “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

There is nothing worse than biting into that beautiful red tomato and tasting nothing! A tomato picked too soon will eventually please the eye but not the taste buds. I understand why a tomato is picked too soon. When green they are hardier for transport. But picked prematurely changes their taste to be less than flavorful. A sun ripened tomato picked at just the right moment is so sweet and juicy I can understand how it is categorized as a fruit!

Today’s verse tells us what it takes to be mature in our faith. It is the tests and trials that grow our faith, producing that staying power so important to our maturity. It is often a long process that cannot be rushed. Trying to avoid trouble would only keep us green and hard longer. It is through the hard times that we learn new dependance on the Lord. It is because of responding in faith to those tests that we burst with flavor. The times of crisis work in the believer a maturity and completeness not gained any other way.

I want to be mature. I want to be complete, lacking nothing in my faith. But I sure do not like the method of getting there. Yet I know by experience that it is in the hard times, when I come to the end of my own resources and ingenuity, that I learn trust. I see God come through in the most unexpected ways and my faith is strengthened. That dependance on Him comes from staying put, connected to the vine that is Him. That finished work in me makes me “Son-ripened!

Thank you Lord, for strengthening my faith.


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Sweet Kisses

Scripture for Today: Psalm 85:10 “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”

Something like the chocolate kiss was first produced by Henry Oscar Wilbur in 1894 and called the “Wilbur Bud.” But it was Milton Hershey who made this chocolate drop into a sweet kiss thirteen years later. Hershey was a master at marketing and packaging the kiss. But perhaps its amazing success and longevity is due in part to its name, trademarked in 2000. There is debate on how it became known as a “kiss.” Perhaps it came from the kissing sound made from the nozzle dispensing the chocolate on to the conveyor belt.

Today’s verse brings righteousness and peace together in a kiss. Righteousness and peace are often mentioned together in Scripture. Peace is in fact the result or fruit of righteousness (Isaiah 32:17). The Kingdom of God is characterized by righteousness and peace (Romans 14:17). And peace, as well as faith and love, belong to those who pursue righteousness (II Tim. 2:22). Righteousness or right standing with God is essential to having peace with God and in turn with others. He is the Source and our only hope of true lasting peace.

There is no peace in my heart when I am ignoring the Source or actively rebelling against what He wants. But when I do pay attention to His commands, I feel His peace flood my heart like a river (Isaiah 48:18). Yes, righteousness and peace are not only kissing but locked together in a firm embrace. I cannot have one without the other, try as I might. But His peace is worth pursuing by staying in right relationship with Him. And one day, sin and ugliness will no longer interrupt this peace!

Lord, may I feel Your peace today.


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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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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!