Devotions By Jan


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Chocolate River!

Scripture for Today:  Romans 5:15 “But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died by the trespass of one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many.”

This looks like a dream come true….a river of chocolate!  About a ton of liquid chocolate recently escaped its storage tank near Werl, Germany, flowing out to the street!  When it hit the chilly sidewalks it solidified, making clean-up difficult.  Even so, 25 firefighters were able to scoop up the mess with their shovels.  I wonder if any of it ended up in mouths as well!

Today’s verse talks about an overflow that is even better than chocolate!  Paul is teaching that even though the consequences of Adam’s sin are far reaching and for all time, God’s grace and salvation overflows to the many.  His grace or unmerited favor is greater than all our sin (Romans 5:20).  There is not a single sin that is not covered by God’s grace when confessed.  The gift of His grace is much greater than the judgement that followed that one sin of Adam’s.  Christ’s gift of grace covers all sin and provides right standing with God (verse 16).

God’s abundant supply of grace is overflowing.  He never stops it up and says, “that’s enough!”  His grace never runs dry.  It continually flows bringing forgiveness and righteousness!  As I continually sin, I need His grace to be overflowing.  Everyday I need to feel His love and forgiveness wash over me, giving me a new start.  Everyday I can count on His grace as it has nothing to do with me earning it and everything to do with His incredible love.

Thank you Lord, for Your overflowing grace to me!

 


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Hawker Centers

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”

This young man looks confused as to which food stand to choose.  He is standing in a “Hawker Center,” in Singapore where he can find many different inexpensive hot foods.  These centers are the government’s solution to the mobile food carts on the streets.  The street hawkers would often attract customers with loud cries, chants or banter.  Of course, this practice is not unique to Singapore.  I have heard “hawkers” even in the Latin Quarter of Paris!

Today’s verse is an invitation to eat and drink but with no monetary gain the one offering.  This is an invitation to come quench one’s thirst and satisfy one’s hunger without any cost!  But somehow, we miss this invitation.  Instead of being satisfied with no cost, we spend money on what does not satisfy (verse 2).  Instead of listening for the invitation, we fill ourselves with what is not good.  Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life.  And to the woman at the well, Jesus offered a water that would end thirst!

The noise of other offers drown out this invitation.  Too often I am distracted by the world’s ideas of what will satisfy.  I am duped into spending money, time and energy on what in the end brings no satisfaction at all.  Even though I know better, I am lured into mainstream thinking and carried away by consumerism.  Instead of meeting the deepest needs of my soul, I content myself with the trappings of success.  Then I wonder why I feel so impoverished.  My God and Creator is the only One who truly satisfies.

Lord, may I respond to Your gracious invitation today.


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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.