Devotions By Jan


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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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Breaking Free

freedomb04c55f51dc9b7be98221b54113ab02fScripture for Today: Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This Freedom Sculpture was created by Zenos Frudakis and can be seen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  It depicts several people in different stages of breaking free of their molds.  The artist felt that everyone could relate to this image as the struggle to be free is a universal one, common to all mankind.

Today’s verse is put differently in another version; “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold.” Without a transformation of our minds, we stay firmly ensconced in the world’s way of thinking.  Like the last figure in this sculpture, we can so completely conform to the values and thinking of this world that we lose the freedom to follow what is best.  What the Lord wants for us is good and pleasing and perfect.  And so often, it is in direct opposiiton to the prevalent thinking around us.

I do not want to look, think and act like everyone around me and call that freedom.  But I can walk about in freedom when I intentionally seek out what God wants (Psalm 119:45).  His plan for me is not just good but perfect.  When He changes my heart and mind with His Word, pleasing Him becomes a pleasure.  Blending in by following another standard may sometimes be easier.  In fact it is usually easier to just go with the flow, but not as fulfilling.  His transformation is freeing me to become who He meant me to be, rather than a carbon copy of everyone else.

Thank you Lord, for the freedom Your transformation brings!

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


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Blowing a Fuse

blown-fuseScripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”

There is never a good time to blow a fuse.  But of course it happened while in the kitchen making a meal for company.  Our wiring is a bit quirky and I had forgotten that I could not plug in the water heater with the microwave on.  I am sure I looked just as lost as this woman pictured as my husband was gone. Finding the right switch was not a problem.  However, it did not flip over completely as intended, and I continued to be without power.  I felt myself growing frustrated and angry.

Today’s verse cautions us not to be quickly provoked.  Whatever the provocation, we are to be slow in becoming angry (James 1:19).  When we are characterized as an angry person, we look the fool.  Blowing a fuse and exploding in anger misrepresents the Lord to others as He is “slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15)  Whether justified or not, human anger is not something that produces the righteousness God wants from us (James 1:20).  Our anger is rarely a neutral thing and most often hurts others and in the end ourselves as well.

My anger can build to mega proportions when left unresolved.  My jaw clenches and sleep alludes me.  Diffusing that anger is not something I can do quickly on my own.  The sooner I can give it to the Lord, the more easily I can get rid of it.  When I realize the wrath my sins deserve and the enormity of God’s forgiveness for me, than I can replace that anger with kindness, compassion and forgiveness (Eph. 4:32).

Lord, I need Your help today to slow down my anger.

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


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Gaining Weight

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 6:6-7 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”

Weight gain is usually a negative thought except when it concerns a new baby.  The baby’s check-ups nearly always includes a weighing in, often on cold hard metal, without a diaper and amid much protest.  How much and how quickly a newborn gains weight is carefully monitored.  The growth charts are regularly checked to verify that the gains are within the norm.  Often, being in the ninetieth percentile for weight is a point of understandable pride for the mother.

Today’s verse talks about “great gain.”  In our world, a great gain would be a reference either to financial gain or perhaps a gain of physical strength.  But this great gain is described as godliness with contentment.  Any other kind of gain is left behind.  We can bring nothing into this world nor can we take anything out of it.  Godliness with contentment is a gain that changes how we live and lasts into eternity!

Contentment is learned (Phil. 4:11-12).  Godliness too is something for which we train ourselves (I Timothy 4:7-8).  It is a process and I have a long way to go.  But the effort is worth it as “godliness has value for all things” (verse 8).  To be both content and godly at the same time is of tremendous worth, adding a whole other dimension to my life. Unfortunately, my envy and discontent distract me.  My tendency to compromise or rationalize a less-than-godly activity keeps me from progressing.  I often feel it is “one step forward, two steps back.”  The rare times when both contentment and godliness are present in my day make it a very good one!

Lord, make this day a day of great gain!

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


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Oh Rats!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

The ship was crossing the channel, taking all of our family to England from France for a house exchange.  We were thankful that no one suffered any sea sickness, there were no sudden squalls and we did not see rats making for the exits!  Of course, if we had, we would have been plenty worried.  It is a common belief that rats know when to flee a sinking ship.  Some research seems to indicate that animals can pick up “infrasonic” sound pulses created by storms and earthquakes, giving them a head start toward safety.  If I saw rats running for their lives, I would consider that a warning and follow!

Today’s verse promises reward for keeping God’s laws and decrees.  That is the positive side.  The negative side in this verse is that they also serve as a warning.  Like the rats headed for the exit, God’s commandments give us warning.  They let us know when we are headed toward trouble.  God, in His grace, alerts us through His Word so that we can avoid needless heartbreak.  Following His way rather than our own keeps us out of harm’s way.

Our sin hurts.  It complicates a life and results in brokenness.  But it does not have to be if we heed His warning signs.  It is unpopular to speak of absolutes but they are not my words.  God delineates quite clearly in His Word between what is good and evil, black and white, dark and light.  He makes it clear so I do not add senseless pain and guilt to my life.

Help me Lord, to see Your commandments as a positive loving gesture from You.

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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Musical Instrument

kent-piano15136013_10100441682641394_3392491044137909679_nScripture for Today: Romans 6:13 “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourself to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness.”

Fascination with musical instruments can start awfully young as proven by our grandson.  Even before the age of two, this little guy is drawn to all kinds.  He will spend inordinate amounts of time on the piano.  He strums his Dad’s guitar, his ukulele, or his “air guitar” if nothing else is available!  And being separated from his toy saxophone is a painful experience! When hearing music played by an orchestra he calls out the violin, the flute, the trumpet and the drums!

Today’s verse talks about the different parts of our body as being instruments, either used for righteousness or wickedness.  Being a disciple of Jesus means offering one’s whole body to Him in complete surrender (Romans 12:1-2).  To do this is a reasonable response to the gift of being brought “from death to life.”  Because our bodies are the temple of His indwelling Spirit (I Cor. 6:19) they are meant for the Lord and the Lord for our bodies (verse 13).

I love that my body can be used as an instrument of righteousness.  I can be His hands when I share with others in need.  I can be His feet when I approach those who are hurting and offer His comfort.  I can use my energy to do what will glorify Him.  Sometimes I get discouraged with the unending temptations that seem to come with this body.  But through Him and His strength, this body can be an instrument He can use.

Lord, today make my body an instrument You can use.

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