Devotions By Jan


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All Directions

Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law My servant Moses gave you.; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”

These signs are common in France.  Apparently, everywhere I want to go is to the left!  “All Directions” is actually a helpful indication when trying to change course.  It helps to know how to change direction when confused.  Details come later.  This sign at least points toward major streets from which one can exit the area.  By following it, one can avoid going around in circles and getting tied up with one-way streets.

Today’s verse calls for strength and courage.  This is the charge the Lord gave directly to Joshua as he took over as leader of the Israelites.  The law came through Moses but was not to be considered invalid at his death.  Obedience to the law was to continue.  And following it would bring blessing and success.  But there was plenty of temptation to turn away from it.  A few steps to the left or to the right would be detrimental.  The verse warns us to be careful not to turn away from what God had said.

There are signs everywhere encouraging me to turn off with promises of an easier route.  The sign, “All Directions” is everywhere.  Surely, there is more than one way.  Try this route, or maybe that one is just as valid with less trouble.  There are roads that are narrow that lead to life or there are roads that are wide that lead to destruction (Matt 7:13-14).  How important it is for me to choose well!

Give me strength and courage Lord, to carefully follow Your way!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Fashion Glasses

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 21:2 “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.”

I am trying to like these fashion glasses, but they just make me smile.  I am sure that is not the desired reaction.  Wearing something so big and bold on the face takes lots of confidence.  The style must be considered right and accepted as fashionable or one could not pull it off.  But like beauty, good style is in the eye of the beholder!

Today’s verse points out how subjective each of us are in evaluating our own behavior.  We are masters at rationalizing it to sound good.  It is right in our own eyes or we could not sleep at night.  It is right because it feels good.  It is right because there is a good result.  Perhaps it is right because it is convenient.  Usually, we feel that something is right because everyone else seems to think so.

How does one really evaluate what is right?  The real reasons for our behavior are not found in logical thinking.  We can know that something is not right or good for us and still stubbornly do it.  When trying to correct a social ill, the accepted method is to educate.  Surely, if people understand the health risks, or see the negative consequences possible, the behavior will stop.

Knowing what is right and doing it are heart issues.  The Lord sees my heart and I am very thankful no one else does.  He weighs it and sees the rebellion and stubbornness.  It is only His power that can clean it up and keep it clean.  He convicts and convinces through His Word to show me what is true and right.

Change my heart Lord, to know and do what is right today!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Good Taste

Scripture for Today: Job 34:3-4 “For the ear tests words as the tongue tests food. Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.”

This cat is enjoying ice cream almost as much as I do!  Our Tiger never tasted the stuff because I was always unwilling to share.  However, I have given him as taste of yogurt and he was thrilled.  I imagine many cats enjoy foods that involve milk or cream.  But I still remember the veterinarian warning us that the digestive system of an adult cat does not take too well to drinking milk.  Although the taste is delicious, it is not so good for him.

Today’s verse records the advice of one of Job’s three friends.  Elihu was eager to help Job discover the reason for his troubles.  He had a lot to say but it was off the mark.  Certainly, we are to test what we hear and listen with discernment.  Just as we taste food to see if it has a pleasing flavor, so we “taste” what we hear to decide if it rings true.  The problem is that we all have differing taste buds.  What seems right and good to one can seem wrong and sour to another.  Our subjectivity gets in the way of finding absolute truth.

Thankfully, we do not have to discern for ourselves what is right.  It is not up to us to come to some sort of consensus.  God’s Law goes beyond individual opinion or cultural norms.  God’s Law does not change with the times.  Surveys and votes do not change what God has put in place.  And not only does it taste good, but it is good for us!

Help me Lord, to discern what You call good and right.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Updated

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 13:8-9a “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.”

My phone and computer both love to suggest updates in the middle of my busiest times!  I never like being interrupted as it takes time to prepare and complete the update.  But I do understand the importance of adding new features and protecting against viruses and spam.  Some of the updates alter a site so much that I need to re-learn how to navigate it.  However, the extra effort is usually worth it.

In a world where technology is in a constant state of change, it is comforting to know that my Savior does not need an “update.”  Our verse for today teaches that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He is perfect and needs no alterations!  He is always up to date with what is happening.  There is never a need for a new and improved version.  There is never a connection issue or a lack of response.

Everything that we need to know about the Lord is revealed in His Word.  He does not change nor does His revelation.  His message transcends time and is always current.  The God of the Old testament is the same God as of the New.  His faithfulness and power shown then is the same faithfulness and power He shows today.

I need Him to be constant and not capricious.  I need Him to be faithful to His Word and unchangeable.  What was proven true in times past continues to be true today.  He is perfect and perfection has no need of change.

Thank you Lord, that You do not change and I can always count on You.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Chocolate Joy!

Scripture for Today: Nehemiah 8:10 “Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'”

Growing up in France, it was always a big deal for our children to buy and enjoy the Kinder Eggs.  This simple chocolate treat had a toy inside within a plastic shell.  The “surprise” was always very simple and quickly forgotten, but it was always good for a few brief moments of joy.  I am more familiar with the Kinder egg being labelled “Kinder Surprise” rather than “Joy.”

Today’s verse encourages the Israelites to enjoy food and drink and to celebrate the reading of the Book of the Law of Moses.  After years of exile, they had come back to their homeland.  And after years of exile, they were hearing the word of the Lord, some of them for the first time ever.  They were overcome with grief and were weeping as they listened.  But the joy of the Lord was the order of the day!  Continuing their mourning would only sap their strength.  Instead of grieving they were to celebrate God’s love and instruction.

There is a time to mourn and weep when facing God’s convicting word.  He is close to those who are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit for their sin. (Psalm 34:18)  But there is joy when I feel His forgiveness wash over me!  The realization of his unconditional love and grace wipes those tears and gives me new resolve.  I am energized and strengthened when His joy lifts me off my knees.

Thank you Lord, that you turn mourning into gladness (Jer. 31:13) and exchange my sorrow for Your comfort and joy!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Water Lily

Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:8 “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”

Water lilies fascinate me!  Their beautiful white and pink flowers look as if they bloom effortlessly as they serenely  float on the surface of the water.  They can be seen on lakes or ponds whose waters are still, and they can root up to seven feet deep.  If left undisturbed they can cover hundreds of acres of water.  Because they float, they access the sunlight unhindered by taller plant species.  Their leaves lie flat on the water soaking up all that light.  The result is beautiful!

Today’s verse tells us that the commands of the Lord are radiant.  They give all the light needed to grow and thrive in life.  His commands refresh the soul and make simple people wise (verse 7).  They give joy to the heart.  Each and every direction God gives is right and completely trustworthy.  Obeying His laws makes our lives beautiful.

I do not normally think of rules and regulations as a source of joy.  But just as a child can feel unloved and neglected without parental boundaries, so we too can feel as if God does not care if He had not given us His commands.  They are a sign of His love.  He cares that I succeed in life and He has shown me how.  His commands and precepts are designed with my welfare in mind, not to limit me or restrict my freedom.  They can give joy to my heart when I see them as proof of His tenderness and care.

Lord, keep me in the still water, soaking up the light of Your presence today!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Under Armour Brand

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

The Under Armour brand name was more a result of trial and error in the search for trademark approval than anything else.  The founder of the company stumbled on the name through an off-hand comment from his brother.  But the name makes sense as the first products making this business successful were the undershirts made of material that wicked away moisture from the skin.

Today’s verse describes an armor that protects us from something much more important than a little sweat.  This armor cannot possibly be hidden under our clothes as we are told to stand firm and ready for attack.  Not only is it to be visible to others but easily accessible when needed.  This is spiritual armor for our struggle against what we cannot see (vs. 12).  It helps us to stand against the devil’s schemes (vs.11).  With it in place we are strong, not in ourselves but in His mighty power (vs 10).  We as believers never need to fear any evil day as He has given us the ultimate victory in Christ Jesus (I Cor. 15:57).

What an encouragement to know that I am not without defense!  Against the Father of lies I am on the side of Truth.  I can stand firm in His righteousness against the accusations of the enemy.  My faith protects my heart from wavering and doubt.  My salvation is secure because of Him.  God’s Word will defeat the enemy every time.  And He has even given me the privilege of brokering peace through the Gospel!

Thank you Lord, that sin will not win and evil will not prevail!!