Devotions By Jan


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Chocolate Only Please

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:21-22  “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”

My husband and I were having lunch with my French chorale group after a concert.  At that round table,  everyone was ordering the ice cream dessert, vanilla with chocolate sauce.  My husband, concerned about cost, told me we could get a cone later that night.  I was not happy as chocolate ice cream is my weakness.  As my husband left for the bathroom, others encouraged me to go ahead and order!  Thankfully, I resisted as they were out of the chocolate sauce and gave everyone strawberry instead.  Later that night I doubly enjoyed my chocolate ice cream cone!

Today’s verse tells us that we are to submit to others as a sign of reverence for Christ.  This submission is done reciprocally in a marriage but then wives are specifically addressed.  When a wife submits to her husband she is showing her love by respecting him (verse 33).  This submission is not unlike our submission to the Lord, also to show love and respect.  And just as the submission of Christ to the Father is a strength, so our submission is a show of strength and commitment to God’s plan.

The hardest part of submitting to my husband’s wishes that day was the public nature of it.  I was concerned that I would look like a weak push-over in front of the others.  But respecting my husband was more important than their opinion.  The Lord was so good to sweeten the experience that evening with what I really wanted.  And the added benefit was the sweetness in our relationship!

Lord, give me the strength to submit, showing my love for my husband and for You.

 


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Wine Casks

Scripture for Today: James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

Having lived so long in the wine culture of France, I have come to appreciate some of the details of its production.  We would often see these enormous oak barrels storing the wine.  I am told that the time spent in those casks had a direct bearing on the taste.  Oak will add flavor, slow the exposure to oxygen making it smooth and provide a suitable environment for the fermentation, making it creamier.  It will take time to produce the desired taste.

Today’s verse talks about how important time is to appreciate the compassion and mercy of the Lord.  The one who perseveres is blessed or happy.  Certainly Job did not feel especially blessed when going through all the heartache of loss and calamity.  In fact, he argued with his well-meaning friends and questioned God about what was happening.  But Job did persevere in staying true to his Lord.  Even though he was ignorant of the reasons for his trials, he did not give in to the pressure from his wife to curse God and die.  And in the end Job was blessed!

God finally brought about a positive outcome though it took years and years.  I may also be asked to wait for that “finally” or that positive outcome that the Lord in His mercy and compassion brings about.  Just as the wine takes time to acquire its taste, so God’s plan for me can take a lifetime to accomplish.  I may never understand it all but I can persevere and be true to Him because He is loving and faithful.

Lord, keep me faithful to You.


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Heart Messages

Scripture for Today: Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Growing up, I loved these conversation hearts, giving away to that “special someone” what I could not bring myself to actually say!  And receiving these from others would communicate to me something the giver may not have intended!  Today, one can special order these candies with your own personalized message.  That way you can say exactly what you want the other to hear.  Communicating what is in the heart is not always easy.

Today’s verse gives us a reliable way to know what is in the heart of another.  What is there is evident by that person’s behavior.  Expressing emotions can be lovely but the real indicator of feelings and the state of the heart is evident in our actions.  And one action is especially telling.  What comes out of our mouths demonstrates the good or the evil found in the heart.  That sincere compliment or word of encouragement shows love.  The snide remark or the profanity that escapes our lips signals that all is not well.

What slips out of my mouth can be shameful.  I am so glad that some of it happens when there is no one to hear.  However, there is always Someone who hears.  And whether others are around or not, those nasty words signal a need for some serious heart cleaning!  Thankfully, He is full of grace and forgiveness, ready to make me clean again and give me a new start!

Lord, clean my heart and fill it with good things to say!

Look familiar? This is a repost from 2018.


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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!