Devotions By Jan

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Echo Chamber

Scripture for Today: Luke 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.”

Meet Echo.  According to Greek folklore, she was a mountain nymph whose speech was cursed.  She could only repeat the last words anyone spoke to her.  Unfortunately, when she fell in love with Narcissus, she was forced to watch him fall in love with himself!  Today, the words, “echo chamber,” refer to being surrounded only with people who agree with you and can parrot back your own ideas.

Today’s verse demonstrates this idea of loving only those who love and perhaps agree with you.  It is easy to love those who have exactly the same ideas and values we have.  It is easy to love those whose political views coincide with our own.  It is easy to love those who will not disagree or challenge anything we think or say.  As this verse points out, one does not need to have Christ’s love to show this kind of self-centered and self-gratifying love.  In contrast, the believer is to show love even to his enemies (verse 35).  This love is shown by doing good to them and lending without thought of return.

I absolutely need Christ’s love in me to love those who are diametrically opposed to my beliefs and my values.  It is not natural for me and it is difficult.  But loving them is not about warm fuzzies.  Loving others so different than myself is demonstrated through the good I show them.  I may be opposed to a whole group of people and what they may stand for.  But I am called to love the individual just as Christ does.  His Spirit’s filling makes possible the impossible!

Lord, make me loving like You.

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Following the Recipe

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:137-138 “You are righteous, Lord, and Your laws are right. The statues You have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.”

I love following a good recipe that is tried and true.  And if I want a German dish to be authentic I would go to the trouble of translating those instructions (as well as converting the measurements).  I would not worry about all the verbs being in the command form.  It is a recipe after all.  I do not expect it to say, “please beat the eggs.”  Or “would you mind chopping the nuts.”  But I am not offended.  The directives are there to obtain a good, tasty result!

Today’s verse describes God’s directives.  Sometimes they can seem very blunt.  There is no softening of what God requires of us.  But His commands are always with a good goal.  They are always for our good and for our protection.  We know that because HE is good.  What He commands is fully trustworthy and an expression of His love and care.  This is why David could say that they are a joy to the heart and light to the eyes, sweeter than honey and more precious than gold! (Psalm 19)

If God’s commandments are really for my good, then why am I always trying to change the recipe?  Because that is in fact what I sometimes try to do.  I think I know better or that somehow I am an exception to the rule.  Maybe I can “sort of” follow the instructions but introduce a variation which makes it easier on me.  The result is never as good.  His way is always the best and I am the one who benefits when I carefully follow what He wants.

Lord, thank you for Your love expressed through your commands.

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No Entry

Scripture for Today: Psalm 10:4 “In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”

The plumage of the peacock is breathtaking!  That gorgeous tail  exhibited for the benefit of the peahen measures over five feet!  Because of the wing size, the peacock cannot stay airborne for long.  Instead he will run, hop and flutter a bit.  But the peacock has every reason to be proud with his magnificent tail on display.  However, it must be a bit awkward to move around when his big tail fans out!  In this image the sign says, “no entry.” Apparently there is no room for him!

Today’s verse is part of a passage describing the wicked.  In the thinking and in the pride of the wicked there is no room for any thought of God.  He does not seek the Lord as he feels he has no need of Him.  His life is easy and prosperous (verse 5).  He lives his life his own way, scorning God’s laws.  He feels he can get away with it believing God never sees (verse 11).  What this man does not realize is that his pride tops the list of sins that are detestable to the Lord (Prov. 6:16-17).

It is only because of the grace and salvation of Christ that I am not counted among the “wicked.”  However, that does not mean that I do not struggle with pride.  Every time I disobey what God has clearly commanded, my pride is showing in thinking I know better!  Pride has crept in when I neglect to seek Him with my whole heart.  When there is room for every thought except thoughts of Him, then pride has kept me from realizing His presence.

Lord, fill my mind and heart today with thoughts of You.

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Scripture for Today: Romans 6:20 “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.”

The old television series, “Get Smart” ran from 1965-1970 and was a favorite of my family growing up!  KAOS (not an acronym) was a international organization of evil.  It was the job  of Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 to thwart their sinister threats to the world.  Their organization was called CONTROL (also not an acronym) and was a secret government counterintelligence agency.  It makes sense to me that the evil ones were KAOS or chaos, while the good guys were CONTROL or under control!

Today’s verse talks about being a slave to sin.  That is the condition of anyone without God’s freeing power.  Sin enslaves and creates all kinds of chaos and complications to a life.  But this same verse alludes to the control we can experience with righteousness.  Because of the grace of God, we can be taught to say “No” to ungodliness and live self-controlled godly lives (Titus 2:12).  Rather than be controlled by sin, we can be controlled by righteousness, leading to holiness and eternal life (Romans 6:22).  And self-control is an evidence of the presence of God’s Spirit in the believer (Gal. 5:22-23).

It is obvious to those around me when I am out of control!  There is chaos in my thoughts, emotions and behavior.  But when I am submitted to the Lord and filled with His Spirit, there is a measure of self-control that was not there previously.  He brings order from disorder.  There is a sense of calm and peace when I allow Christ to have His way.  That illusive self-control is really just allowing Him to have the full control that is His right.

Lord, please be the One in control of my day.


Abbaye de Murbach

Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words and say, ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!'” 

We used to live right down the street from this impressive abby in Alsace, France.  This abby was founded in 727 and has a past of glory, destruction and restoration.  In the Middle Ages it was so rich and influential that it owned the entire city of Lucerne, Switzerland!  As of 1841 the abby has been declared a national monument.  Now, its two sandstone towers and beautiful grounds serve mainly as a draw for tourists.

Today’s verse is part of a warning given by the prophet, Jeremiah.  The temple and all the trappings of ritual religion was for some Israelites their only claim to righteousness.  Rather than obeying God, some were leaning and depending on deceptive words that reassured them that they were just fine.  The temple and its magnificence was thought to be enough.  Saying “the temple” three times did not make of their attendance a changed heart!  They continued to flagrantly disobey with the mistaken notion that with following religious practices they could do as they pleased.

How influenced I can be by the outward show of religion!  Deceptive words are attractive as they tell me I am fine with just the outward trapping of church.  I can and do pat myself on the back for good church attendance, for regular giving and for many kinds of service to others.  But I can miss the point, trusting in these activities rather than in God’s grace to me.  It is only by His grace that my heart can be changed.  In changing my heart, I find I want to obey Him, even when it’s hard.

Thank you Lord, for changing me from the inside out!


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Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:7 “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.”

I can relate to this boy who had some trouble walking in those flippers.  There is nothing so comical as watching someone trying to walk forward in flippers, high stepping in an effort not to trip!  The ends of those flippers curl up or under and make tripping inevitable.  A simple solution would be to put them on at water’s edge.  But if that is not possible than there is another solution that avoids looking like a clown and tripping.  And that is to walk backwards!

Today’s verse talks about our lives being a walk.  Paul is pointing out the difference between our former way of walking and our walk now that we are made new.  The old way of walking was characterized by tripping up on anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language (verse 8).  This way of walking in our earthly nature included sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (verse 5).  No wonder there was tripping and stumbling!  But with being made new, we are walking backwards, sure-footed.  We may be walking differently than everyone else, but we are upright!

It is not always easy to be walking differently through life than everyone around me.  Even though I am not tripping, I am in the minority.  I am walking backwards compared to everyone else and it is an uncomfortable feeling to be mocked or misunderstood.  But this is the walk the Lord has called me to.  Thankfully, I am not alone.  His Spirit keeps me walking in a way that pleases Him.  And there are other believers doing this same walk with me.  Walking His way is so much more pleasant when I can avoid tripping and stumbling!

Lord, keep me walking Your way.


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Polaroid Photos

Scripture for Today: I John 3:2 “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

I am so glad that the polaroid instant photos have made a comeback!  Of course, with digital cameras one sees the picture immediately.  But there is something special about seeing the image slowly develop right before the eyes!  The anticipation is part of the fun and the convenient hard copy makes sharing easy.

Today’s verse tells us that we are slowly changing and developing.  Those who belong to God have Him as our Photographer.  He is slowly developing in us the image of His Son.  It is a long process lasting a lifetime.  But one day, the photograph will be completed and the clear image of Jesus will be seen in us.  We are not sure what that will look like but at the moment we see Jesus, the work will be finished!

I sometimes get impatient with this very slow process.  There are days where His image in me is clearer than in others.  But some days, the photograph is dark and fuzzy.  Those are the days I am not walking with Him.  He does not continue His developing work in me without my cooperation and obedience.  However, regardless of the rate of development, He has promised that one day His work will be complete (Phil. 1:6) and I will be like Him!  A more beautiful image will just not be possible!  What a fantastic hope this is!  When I think on this truth I am more motivated to cooperate with Him in obedience.

Lord, make me more like You today!