Devotions By Jan


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Green Gold

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

No wonder the pistachio is referred to by the name, “green gold.”  This nut is prized not only for its taste but appreciated for all the intensive labor needed to harvest it!  It is true that the partially-opened shells are hard and sometimes uncooperative, but at harvest time there is also a hull that needs to be removed from the seed.  Some small growers put the pistachios in a sack and roll it around with their feet to loosen that hull!

Today’s verse speaks of the fruit of righteousness and peace.  It comes as a result of painful discipline.  Every believer goes through it from time to time.  The Lord disciplines those He loves.  And He does it for our good so that we can share in His holiness (Heb. 12:6 &10).  We can be sure that He is not exacting punishment as He took that on Himself at the cross.  But discipline is proof that He loves us and that we belong to Him (Heb. 12:8).  Out of love He uses it to correct and teach.  Nevertheless, it hurts.

Tumbling around in that sack, I can trust Him that He knows what it will take for me to have this fruit.  It is such a long process of removing that “hull” of sin.   And I do not want to prolong it further by not responding the way He intends.  I want to be “trained by it” and see the good result.  When He uses the hard times to mature me and produce fruit, He also graciously reassures me of His love.

Thank you Lord, that You love me enough to discipline me.

 


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Reflected Color

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:18-20  “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Our area of Alsace, France is known worldwide for its white wine.  We lived in the middle of extensive vineyards and our landlords had their own winery.  Not only are the white wines renown but they have their own special wine glasses.  Because the whites are so light in color, the wine glasses have green stems to add reflected color.  Without the green color of those stems, the glass looks as if it contains only water.

Today’s verse speaks of the danger of drunkenness and of the loss of control.  Rather than being filled with wine, we are to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit.  Rather than losing control with wine, we are to be controlled by His Spirit.  The evidence of being filled is the “green stem.”  That reflected color of being filled is the joy, the singing and the praise to God.  Praise for God’s blessings are shared with others and expressed to the Lord with a heart overflowing with thankfulness.  Gratitude is the attitude of the one who is filled.

Sometimes, I am colorless.  He is there but I am not filled with Him as my discontent is taking up so much space.  It is easy to compare my situation with others and focus on what I do not have.  On those days there is no joyful color.  I certainly do not feel like singing or praising Him.  But it all can change the minute I confess my ungrateful heart.

Lord, fill me with Yourself and make my heart sing!

 


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Galette des Rois

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 103:4 “Who redeems your life from the  pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”

Just when you thought the  holidays were over….they’re not!  Today is the Epiphany, commemorating the visit of the Magi-Kings to the baby Jesus.  The date of January 6th closes the period of the twelve days since Christmas.  In France it is called Fête des Rois or Festival of the Kings.  It is celebrated by eating a special galette cake made of puff pastry, almond paste, and baked with a hidden fève or figurine inside.  Whoever has this coveted tiny figure in their slice has the right to wear the gold paper crown!

In today’s verse God’s love and compassion are depicted as a crown that gives us value and honor.  The context is forgiveness of sin and healing.  In His love He lifts us up from the pit of guilt and condemnation.  We were unable to crawl out of that pit on our own.  But He had compassion on us and redeemed us at a great price to Himself.  He wore a humiliating and painful crown of thorns in order to crown us with love and compassion!

The fact that He knows every dirty little secret and still loves me is an incredible thought!  He has lifted me up from the depths of my own sin and guilt and made me precious with this crown!  His love and compassion make me valuable.  I had no value of my own to claim in that muddy slimy pit.  He has set me apart with His crowning distinction.  I can have no other response than to praise Him with my whole life and my entire being!

Thank you Lord, for Your love and compassion crowning this undeserving head!

.

 

 


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Chestnuts Roasting

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 45:3  “I will give you hidden treasure, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”

The carol, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” was originally titled, “The Christmas Song.” It was written by Bob Wells and Mel Tormé on a hot summer day in 1945.  Wells drew from his childhood memory of vendors on the streets of Boston selling roasted chestnuts and serving them in paper cones.

In France we also enjoyed roasted chestnuts on the street, their warmth feeling so good on cold hands!  But the chestnut is also candied, boiled, steamed and grilled.  For Christmas and New Year’s the “marron glacé” is traditional fare, a chestnut that has been glazed in sugar syrup.  When they are still green and fresh, the chestnut is difficult to handle with its spiny bur.  But getting at that delicious treasure is worth all the effort!  There can be up to seven chestnuts in one bur.

Today’s verse talks about treasures that are hidden.  The riches that the Lord reveals are not so obvious.  Like the chestnut, they are sometimes stored in places difficult to see.  The outside of that hidden treasure makes it easy to miss.  Getting at that treasure inside may involved going through some tough prickly times.

It is through the hard times that I see God’s love and gentleness with me.  It is when life is difficult that He reveals the treasure of who He is.  His comfort and His grace are the unexpected surprise behind that negative experience.  Through a trial He becomes MY Lord, calling me by name.  Faith becomes very personal as He reveals to me the treasure of His power and presence.

Help me, Lord, to discover true riches and treasure this Christmas!

(Look familiar?  This is a repost from 2016!)


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Bone Marrow Dish

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

My meal choice at a restaurant in France was so unusual that I felt compelled to take a photo of it!  I understood the description but had never seen anyone eat it before.  In Europe, bone marrow is normally served on toasted bread and sprinkled with sea salt.  Here the presentation does not let one forget its source!  In older American recipes it was often used for making broth.  This spongy tissue is slightly sweet and its texture is smooth.  Although it is full of nutrients, I was a bit put off by the taste of its obviously high fat content!

Today’s verse uses the imagery of dried up bones to picture a crushed spirit.  Bones that are dried up and feeling empty are a perfect description for depression.  In contrast, a heart that is cheerful and joyful is a great medicine for whatever ails us.  The phrase, “laughter is the best medicine,” has been around a long time.  Research has shown there are many health benefits to laughter, including increased blood flow, better immune response, lowered blood sugar, and relaxation.

My cheerful heart is often in spite of and not because of my circumstances.  Joy is many times a choice.  Like Habakkuk, when everything is going wrong, I can “joy in the God of my salvation.” (Hab. 3:18)  I can still choose a joyful heart even when there is no evident reason for it.  That is because there is joy in the thought of His salvation and the future that awaits!  And joy is sure to return when I think about His unexplainable love for me!

Thank you Lord, for giving me a cheerful heart.

 

 

 

 


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Lactose Intolerant

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 5:13-14 “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

 

Arne Hendriks

Can anyone be truly happy without dairy?  According to these sign-toting young people in Beijing the answer is Yes!  My half Chinese husband has this problem and is much more pleasant to be around when he uses the lactose free milk and sticks to sorbet.  Like many Asians (up to 90%) he lacks that all important enzyme, lactase, which is needed to break down and absorb the lactose, which is a sugar found in milk.  All I know is that I am very thankful not to have this problem as I enjoy my ice cream!

Today’s verse in no way discounts “milk.”  It is necessary and foundational for the new christian.  There are times for the mature christian as well to review the basics.  The problem comes when one has only milk and does not progress to “solid food.”  Being satisfied with just milk will result in a failure to distinguish good from evil.  Scripture is to be actually used in making decisions.  The more we rely on its wisdom and principles, the more we can recognize evil, hate it and cling to the good! (Romans 12:9)

There are times in approaching God’s Word that I just want something basic or familiar.   Maybe I feel rushed.  Or maybe I am feeling pretty good about myself.  No conviction today, please.  A promise would make me feel good.  Nothing wrong with that.  But to really distinguish between what masquerades as good and what truly is good, I need to spend more than a little time in His Word.

Lord, make me hungry for solid food!

 


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The Horn of Plenty

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 4:15 “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”

The cornucopia or horn of plenty has long been a symbol of overflowing harvest especially on Thanksgiving.  The original idea was to have an abundance of flowers, fruit and corn overflowing from a goat’s horn.  Today, we are happy with just a basket in the shape of a horn!  But the symbolism is lost if the contents are not spilling out beyond the confines of the horn.  When it overflows we know we are blessed!

Today’s verse speaks of a thanksgiving that overflows!  The circumstances Paul was facing would normally not call for thanksgiving as he was repeatedly imprisoned and persecuted.  Yet, he understood that through his faithfulness, the grace of Christ was reaching more and more people.  It was that grace which was producing an overflow of thanksgiving.  Paul could see the undeserved favor and blessing that is grace, even in the middle of hard times.  Realizing God’s grace created in him a thankfulness that overflowed and gave glory to God.

It is easy to give thanks to God when everything is going smoothly and life is good.  It is quite another thing to be overflowing with thanksgiving when life is tough and there is hurt and disappointment.  And yet, when I look to the unseen (verse 17) I can overflow with thanksgiving!  I do not deserve even one tiny blessing from Him.  How amazing He is to have given me new birth, a living hope and an eternal inheritance! (I Peter 1:3-6)  Regardless of life’s ups and downs, I can always overflow with thanksgiving for His incredible grace to me!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!