Devotions By Jan


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Calling All Cows

Scripture for Today: John 10:4-5 “When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; in fact they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

Seeing these cows on my walk reminded me of 30 black and white dairy cows in Normandy.  In 1943 their owner left them in a field as the Germans were advancing.  He was able to return for them but some French opportunists had taken them for their own.  They challenged my friend’s grandfather to prove the cows were his.  So he told them to call the cows over.  Of course, the cows just looked at those interlopers and did not budge.  But when the true owner called them, they all immediately got up and approached!

Today’s verse describes the same phenomenon but with sheep.  Jesus was addressing the Pharisees but they were not understanding His meaning.  Jesus then identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep (verse 11 & 14).  Those that are His sheep know and recognize His voice and follow Him.

Not only is the Lord’s voice recognizable but He calls each sheep by name! (verse 3)  And when He speaks to me, I will know it is Him.  He will never say anything in opposition to what He has already said in His Word, the Bible.  His voice does not condemn as he has already laid down His life as payment for every sin.  His voice will never accuse or tear down.  His words are full of love, even when He says something difficult to hear.  His voice is soft and tender as He draws me closer to Himself.

Lord, let me hear Your voice today.

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That Pothole

Pothole_1911993bScripture for Today: Isaiah 26:7 “The path of the righteous is level; You, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.”

There is nothing worse than seeing that pothole too late!  The resulting thud and bounce matches what my heart does!  Unfortunately, this scenario is quite common in California.  One would not think so as California does not deal with lots of snow as do other states.  But even so it is a problem and one that can result in some expensive repairs.  Insurance companies often have claims involving pothole damage to the tires and suspension.

Today’s verse describes a path that is level and smooth.  It is not that way as a result of our own efforts.  It is level and smooth because of what the Lord does for the righteous.  Without His intervention, life is full of ups and downs and unwelcome jolts to our progress.  On our own, the path we take not only becomes rough and uncomfortable but also takes us in the wrong direction! (Isaiah 53:6).  But in living out the righteousness that He gives us through Jesus Christ, we can have a totally different ride!

I wish this verse meant that there would never be any problems for the believer.  However, we are told we will have troubles in this world (John 16:33).  But in choosing to follow His Word, we at least avoid additional and unnecessary problems of our own making.  Sin just hurts and complicates life, whether our sin or that of someone else.  But in His grace the Lord will sometimes smooth over even those rough patches.  When He allows the jolts, He brings us through with new dependence on Him.

Lord, I need You to smooth out what looks like rough road ahead.  Thank you that I can trust You.

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


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Checkmate

IMG_20151204_152757Scripture for Today:  James 4:15 “Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

My grandsons had no idea where each chess piece should be placed to begin or even continue a game!  Their Nana sure could not help, but they had fun anyway, confidently moving the pieces around according to some unseen vision in their little heads!  The strategy escapes me but I do know enough to recognize that “check” is not what one wants to hear, and “checkmate” even less, signaling that the game is over.

Today’s verse talks about making plans for the future.  Of course it is important in reaching any goal to carefully plan a strategy.  A building is not begun without considering the estimated cost (Luke 14:28).  But this passage is speaking to the arrogance of making plans without thought to the plans the Lord may have.  We do not know what tomorrow will hold or whether we will have life and breath to carry out our future plans (verse 14).  The unexpected can always “check” or “checkmate” our progress.

When I make plans I want to always recognize that the Lord may have something different in mind.  Recognizing this keeps me humble and it keeps me in an attitude of submission.  Recognizing His control also keeps me asking and listening to Him.  As wonderful as I think my plan is, I do not want to miss out on something better!  He knows what tomorrow holds.  He knows what health issues I may be facing later.  Being overconfident about my plans is seen as “boasting” in the Lord’s eyes (verse 16).  There may be a change of plan but through it I can trust Him.

Lord, keep me following Your plan.

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


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Improvise!

improvise2962204559_1_3_IZa3X68UScripture for Today: Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

In our small studio in France, we are learning to live without what we normally take for granted.  We dry our clothes outside, fold up the two chairs to allow for more space when not in use, and close all the shutters to keep cool.  We have no freezer, no oven and no stove top.  Thankfully, we have a microwave!  We are learning to improvise, but perhaps not to the point of grilling meat on an iron!

Today’s verse is a comfort.  The Lord is personally involved in the direction our lives take.  He watches for what is needed.  When asked He gives His counsel in making decisions, and He teaches us which direction to take.  However, He also allows us freedom to choose.  When His direction is clear, we can decide to follow it, or not.  And He also allows freedom and choices when several options are just fine with Him.

If I thought that every choice made in a day was directed by Him, I think I would live in fear of missing it.  But He has given me my mind, my intellect, and my preferences to follow.  When I am in an attitude of submission to Him, I can trust that He will intervene if I am making an incorrect choice.  His goal for me is to become more and more like His Son and He can make that happen in a variety of circumstances.  So if my next step is not so clear, I improvise!  I do not have the script but that OK.

Thank you Lord that I know You, the Author, and how the story will end!

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


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Director’s Chair

directorchair03Scripture for Today: Luke 10:40 “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me.”

I like the idea of the Director having his own personal chair.  It is elevated to be above the others and the role is clear.  The director directs.  He tells everyone else what to do.  The first known use of the word “director’s chair” was in 1953 on a movie set.  But the design of the chair can be traced to the fifteenth century.

In today’s verse, it would seem that Martha would be the most likely to have a chair like this.  She is overworked and overwhelmed with preparing the meal for a houseful of guests, including the Lord Jesus.  She is not sitting like her sister, Mary, enjoying her most important guest.  Instead, Martha is standing and distracted by all the work.  Even so, she does not hesitate to direct Jesus.  Martha tells Jesus what He should do to show His care for her.

It seems a bit audacious of Martha to direct Jesus.  But I find that sometimes in my prayers I do the same thing.  In approaching the Lord with my request, I will direct Him on the best way to answer me.  When He does not do it my way, I can doubt His care.  If I really want to understand just how much He cares for me, I need to drop what I think is so important and sit at His feet.  When I do, I am less likely to try to direct Him.

Lord, help me to get down from that chair and allow You to direct me today!

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


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Turbulent Water

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 23:2-3a “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul.”

This water was fairly quiet and placid just moments before the submarine descended into its depths.  It left behind churning whitewater in its wake.  What makes this water turbulent are the water molecules moving in all different directions and at different speeds.  And that happens when there is heat or pressure.  The opposite is also true that the water remains calm and quiet without the heat or pressure.  Moving churning water is beautiful and exciting.  But there is something about still and quiet water that makes me calm down and grow reflective.

Today’s verse is from the well-known psalm describing the Lord as our Shepherd.  He knows His sheep intimately, understanding when we need excitement and activity and when we need to settle down and be still.  He knows exactly when we need to slow down and stop our frenzied activity.  He leads us when we listen and follow.  And where He takes us is to a place of quiet stillness where our souls can be refreshed and rejuvenated.  There we can take time to reflect, meditate on His goodness and find rest for our weary souls.

Somehow, I equate activity with spirituality.  The more I do for the Lord, the better Christian I am.  I am not so sure where that can be found in God’s Word!  The time I take by those still waters may be the true measure of my spiritual walk.  I can only take so much of the pressure and heat of activity before I just lose it!  How much better to listen and follow His lead.  He loves me and takes me to the quiet waters I need.

Refresh me today, Lord!

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.