Devotions By Jan


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Matching Chocolate Game

Scripture for Today: Matthew 23:3 “So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

Photo credit: Jo Zimny Photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeyz51/38331378485

This is my kind of matching game! And I can assure you that it would not stay in a game cupboard to be played again another day! I would be most motivated to play it if I could immediately eat the pairs I found. Judging from the time recorded for this player, perhaps that is what happened! But taking that short amount of time to actually eat the chocolate pairs seems about right!

Today’s verse talks about the importance of matching something else: our behavior with our words. Jesus acknowledges that the teachers of the Law sometimes got it right. But what they consistently did not was their day-to-day practice of what they knew was true. Those listening were to be discerning. They were not told to dismiss a message that was true to God’s Word. But they were not to follow their example of legalistic and prideful self-righteousness.

The standard of practicing what is preached is a very high one. And I can relate to Paul who shares his struggle in Romans 7:18. “…I have the desire to do what is good but cannot carry it out.” I will never be able to consistently practice what I preach, hard as I may try. How gracious God is to convict and forgive me! But when I pretend that my behavior always matches my words, then I am also guilty of hypocrisy. I need to humbly see the “mismatch” and be honest with God and authentic with others! People will see my failures but hopefully they will see humility and His forgiveness as well!

Thank you Lord, for Your patience with me!


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Sweet Cocoa

Scripture for Today:Psalm 34:8-9 “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.”

A dusting of this cocoa on a tiramisu is wonderful and tasty. But eating spoonfuls of it directly from the box is not so much. I am not proud of it but growing up, a friend and I decided we would play a trick on her two younger sisters. The package looked like it would deliver what they were expecting, especially with the picture. But you can guess their reaction when trying to swallow the stuff!

There is an invitation in today’s verse to taste and see how good the Lord is. Unlike unsweetened cocoa, He does not disappoint! His words are true and sweet, sweeter even than honey (Psalm 19:10). He is so good to His own, providing refuge and meeting every need! Making the Lord our hiding place gives us shelter from whatever storm surrounds us. When His children fear and obey Him, He pours out blessing. Those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing! (Ps. 34:10)

I do not need to “taste test” what the world has to offer. Nothing is as sweet and satisfying as His Words, especially the promises and declarations of His love. The empty philosophies of this world promise to be sweet but leave one with a very bitter aftertaste. His Words are faithful and true, never changing and the source of life! When I make His truth my refuge, I am in a good place. He satisfies so completely that I am never in want of anything that is truly good for me. I have tasted and He is good!

Thank you Lord, for being so good to me!


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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.