Devotions By Jan


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Pumpkin Waste

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 1:5  “For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”

After today, there will be the problem of what to do with that carved pumpkin.  Breaking it up and adding it to a compost pile can enrich the soil.  The insides can be turned into wonderful smoothies, butter, bread, soup, and of course, pie!  The shell can be turned into potpourri, and the pumpkin puree is supposed to be  good for the skin!  Pumpkins are even deemed safe for feeding birds and animals!  In any case, disposing of pumpkins is only a problem for a country with an abundance.

Today’s verse also talks about abundance; the abundance of suffering and the abundance of comfort.  Because of sin and our fallen world, there will be suffering for the believer.  Whether it is loss of health, income, or loss of loved ones, the Christian is not exempt.  But where there is abundant suffering,  God promises a comfort from Him that is just as abundant.  The abundant life of John 10:10 is not an easy painless life.  But it is an abundant one because He is there; the God of all comfort (verse 3).

The future looms ahead of me with all sorts of potential suffering.  There will be age-related sufferings as the body breaks down.  There will be the deaths of older family members and friends.  Whatever suffering is in store, I can trust the Lord to come through for me.  His comfort will make all of it bearable.  I do not have to worry ahead of time or imagine the unimaginable.  When it is needed, His comfort will be there.

Thank you, Lord, that I can trust You to be the abundant comfort I need exactly when I need it!

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Garlic

Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Both fresh garlic and onion were a part of our local open market in France.  But it was especially the garlic that gave so much flavor to a dish, as well as staying on one’s breath the next morning!  Over the centuries it has been touted to ward off plague, whooping cough, and of course, vampires!  But what caught my attention was the claim that garlic can inspire and give courage!  It was given to Roman soldiers for just that purpose.

Today’s verse is a charge for Joshua from the Lord Himself.  Moses had just died and Joshua was taking his position to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.  Joshua is reassured that the Lord will never leave him or forsake him (verse 5).  The Lord reminds him that wherever he goes, he can be strong and courageous because of His presence.

This is not a promise that things will be easy or even go smoothly for Joshua.  The Lord sees ahead the times of discouragement Joshua will face.  Moses encountered plenty of discouragement leading a complaining doubting people and so will Joshua.  But just as the Lord was there for Moses, so He would be for Joshua (verse 5).

I have a charge from the Lord as well to do what He tells me to.  I have these same promises that He will strengthen me with His power (Col. 1:11) so that I can endure with patience whatever is scary or discouraging.  He promises to never leave me or forsake me (Heb. 13:5).  It is His Word and presence which inspire and give courage!

Thank you Lord, for Your reassurance today.

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


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Escargot

img_20160819_084054Scripture for Today: Hebrews 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

This stand was a common sight at our French open market.  Eating snails is certainly not new.  Their empty shells have been found in archaeological digs suggesting that they have been eaten since prehistoric times!  They are considered a “super food,” as they contain iron, B12, magnesium, selenium, and omega 3.  Still, the idea of eating that slimy creature fills many people with disgust.  And the many steps to prepare escargots make them anything but a “fast food!”  One of the more important steps is purging the snails from anything unhealthy they have been eating.

Today’s verse speaks of our conscience being purged.  The Old Testament system of animal sacrifice served its purpose of symbolizing Christ’s death.  But how much more perfect was the sacrifice Jesus made, once for all!  His sacrifice not only cleanses us from our sin, but purges our consciences as well.  His forgiveness is complete.

Satan would like me to think otherwise.  He whispers in my ear his accusations.  He reminds me of times when I really blew it and let the Lord down.  Satan would like nothing better than to take me out of the game and put me on the sidelines.  How thankful I am that he is wrong!   My conscience has been purged.  I am a new creation in Him.  No accusation from the enemy can change this truth.  When I lay my head on the pillow at night I can sleep easily knowing that Christ has taken care of every sin and failure.

Thank you Lord, that You purge my conscience, making forgiveness complete.

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


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Skinning a Watermelon

watermelon-600x450Scripture for Today: James 3:14 “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”

I have never tried this.  It looks complicated and time consuming.  I suspect it requires some handling skills I sure do not have!  But I can see the benefits of skinning a watermelon.  There is nothing so annoying as scooping out the flesh too deeply and ruining that sweet mouthful with a taste of the bitter rind.  I usually end up throwing out some of the fruit in order to avoid that bit of bitterness.

Today’s verse comes in the middle of defining two kinds of wisdom; earthly and heavenly.  The earthly wisdom is full of envy and selfish ambition, leading to all kinds of chaos and evil.  Heavenly wisdom exhibits itself in a life of good works done in humility (verse 13).  Harboring bitter envy in one’s heart signals the presence of pride.  That selfish thought that one deserves better is a sure way to become embittered.

I would be less than honest if I did not admit to thoughts of envy.  I am constantly surrounded by those who enjoy the world’s “goodies” that I do not have.  But what makes envy “bitter?”  I cannot enjoy that sweet bite of watermelon with the bitter rind included.  In the same way, I cannot completely enjoy all of God’s wonderful blessings while entertaining envious thoughts.  It turns even the good things I enjoy into something sour.  Wanting what others have even has an adverse effect on health, “rotting the bones” (Proverbs 14:30)  But a “heart of peace” gives life to the body.  I do not want anything this life has to offer as much as I want contentment!

Lord, help me to be thankful and contented with everything You have given me.

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


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The Persimmon

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 24:14 “Know also that wisdom is like honey for you; If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”

I recently rediscovered persimmons.  Remembering their strange bitter aftertaste, I thought I did not like them.  What I had not realized is that there are several varieties.  The one I disliked so much was the Hachiya  pictured here.  They have a pointed bottom and are mushy inside.  But the Fuyu variety with the flat bottom is wonderfully sweet and can be eaten like an apple.  However. even the Hachiya can be tasty when baked in pudding, cookies and breads.

Today’s verse likens wisdom to the taste of sweetness in honey.  Finding wisdom is worth the effort as it will mean a future hope.  There is not much hope of a positive future for the fool who discounts God’s words.  But the one who is wise is the one who treasures His words, finding them “sweeter than honey” (Psalm 119:103)  God’s Word is what makes wise the simple (Psalm 19:7).  And with wisdom one makes the best decisions, starting with obeying His Law.

Gaining wisdom is a lifelong process involving not only reading and knowing His word, but intentionally putting it into practice.  His Word does not read like an advice column that one can take or leave.  God’s Word is not just full of  suggestions on how to live.  It is authoritative.  God’s precepts give me not only a good course of action but the very best one!  I have no wisdom of my own but I can walk in His wisdom when I submit to His way!  Living wisely means there is hope for my future!

Lord, make this a sweet day by helping me be wise.

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


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The Chuck Wagon

Scripture for Today:  Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.”

The “chuck wagon” was essential to the life of a cowboy driving cattle overland out of Texas.  These hardy men would be out in the open for months and the entire crew needed to be fed daily.  The chuck wagon was invented by a Texas rancher named Charles Goodnight in 1866 to meet this need.  The wagon carried a dutch oven to bake the sourdough biscuits that were served with beans.  The menu may not have varied much but it kept body and soul together.

In today’s verse, Job values God’s Word more than he does his daily bread.  Job was an upright man who carefully obeyed and feared God.  But even more than that Job hung on God’s every word.  To Job, the words of God’s mouth were not only a daily necessity like bread, but a treasure!  Job had the same regard for God’s decrees as David had years later when he said they were more precious than gold (Psalm 19:10).

I want to esteem God’s Word as just this precious and valuable!  I want His Word to be just as essential to me as the food I eat.  His Word is a treasure because in keeping it, “there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:11)  And It feeds my soul and nourishes my relationship with Him.  No other book on earth can do that!  And His Word will never pass away as it is eternal (Matt. 24:35).  What other book could ever make that claim?  I can skip a meal and feel hunger, but do I feel just as much of a lack when I neglect reading God’s Word?

Lord, keep me hungry for every word that comes from You.


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Coconut Worm Larvae

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” 

Perhaps they taste like chicken.  But is it really necessary to eat them alive?  The coconut worm larvae has a sweet coconut taste and are especially creamy when eaten raw!  This dish is considered a delicacy as street food for the Vietnamese.  I do not feel sorry for these small creatures as they easily bring down a mighty palm tree with their voracious appetite.  With their powerful jaws, they burrow holes up to a meter long in the trunk of a palm, eventually killing their host.

Today’s verse describes sin as “deceitful.”  It can slowly excavate holes in our faith and if left unchecked, can bring down the believer, leading him to a place of unbelief.  The sneaky nature of sin does its work inside where no one sees.  It can eventually hardened a heart.  That is why believers need one another to daily encourage each other to right living.  To delay even a day can put our hearts at risk.

Sometimes my sin can seem so puny and harmless.  There may even be some temporary sweetness that comes from it.  And that’s the deceitful part.  But I know how weak I am and that I am not above participating in any sin, especially in my thought life.  It does help me to be around other believers who can encourage me to stay the course.  And having the opportunity to build up someone else’s resolve serves to bolster my own faith as well.  More than anything, I want my heart to stay soft towards His Spirit.  And I want to stand firm to the very end!

Lord, I need to be encouraged today!