Devotions By Jan

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Car Wash

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:25-26 “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word.” 

It was eerie going through the car wash and having that huge spinning material slap at the car!  We were in a place where a red fine dust had covered the car and my meticulous husband would have none of it!  Normally, he does all the washing by hand, making sure to clean all the hard-to-reach places.  How nice to just sit there and have the machines do the work automatically for you!

Today’s verse uses the image of washing with water to describe what God’s Word does for a believer.  Out of love, Christ sacrificed His life for the Church.  He makes it possible for the believer to be holy, set apart for Himself and cleansed.  One day we will be presented as radiant, having no stain, wrinkle or blemish!  And it is all grace, a wonderful gift received through faith (Eph.2:8-9).  But in the meantime, there is work to do!  God uses His Word to teach, rebuke, correct and train us to be righteous (II Tim. 3:16).

I find that when my only time in the Word is during a sermon, that washing of the Word may miss a few spots!  It is the daily wash that I need.  He knows just the areas where more water is needed.  There may even be times where a power wash is called for!  It is through His Word that I even see the dirt and feel His conviction.  How faithful He is to cleanse me completely when I humble myself and ask! (I John 1:9)  How refreshing that daily wash can be!

Lord, thank you for the loving cleansing power of your Word!


Fishing Lures

Scripture for Today: James 1:14 “But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.”

Learning about fishing lures requires learning a whole new vocabulary!  There are spoons, jigs, crankbait, spinning lures and plugs.  The variety of lures is impressive with so many different materials, shapes and colors.  The whole idea is to imitate as closely as possible the movements of a fish’s natural prey.  The fish is attracted to what he believes is a tasty snack and instead is nabbed by that hidden attached hook!

Today’s verse describes someone who gives in to temptation.  God is never the author of enticing someone to evil (verse 13).  And in fact, Satan is not necessarily involved.  This verse is addressed to believers and we are dragged away and enticed by our own evil desires.  The word, “entice” is also translated as “lure.”  Beguiled by that attractive promise of something better, we deceive ourselves.  The lure is strong but the Lord is gracious and is able to help, having experienced temptation Himself (Heb. 2:18).  He will always provide a way out (I Cor. 10:13).  We do not have to bite down on something that later hurts us.

Sin can be so attractive to me, especially through media.  But not always.  Sometimes it is just easier to indulge, to compromise, or to take shortcuts that I know in my heart are not right.  But what promises to fulfill never does.  What starts out as pleasurable brings consequences I never anticipated.  My heart and its desires can be so deceitful!  But doing things God’s way and just saying ,”NO,” to that lure keeps my life less complicated and brings His blessing!  I am not missing out on anything except pain.

Lord, keep me close to You and far away from those tempting lures.

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The Toadfish

Scripture for Today: I Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things that man looks at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”

We saw some interesting fish at the Wood Hole Aquarium in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, this Oyster Toadfish among them.  He was so ugly that he fascinated me!  He had a face only a mother could love!  But these fish have proven quite useful.  Biologists have sent the oyster toadfish into space to study the effects of gravity on our balance system!  These experiments were part of an effort to understand motion sickness, important for the astronaut.  And one benefit of their grotesque appearance is the fact that humans do not readily eat them, although they taste good!

Today’s verse reminds us that outward appearance is not the most important value.  Samuel was to choose the first king for the Israelites under God’s direction.  Samuel was naturally drawn to the tallest most handsome son of Jesse.  But the Lord reminds Samuel that appearance is not everything but the heart is.  As with many of the Lord’s principles, we get this one totally backwards.  The appearance and image is everything whereas the hidden unseen heart takes second place.

I am so influenced by what is on the outside.  If someone has their hair, make-up and clothes together, I automatically think that everything is in order on the inside.  I can easily adopt this attitude towards myself as well.  Then comes the surprise of conviction when the Lord taps me on the shoulder and tells me that my heart is ugly with sin.

Lord, make me beautiful on the inside where You are looking.

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


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Penguin Cries

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:7-8a  “So, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.'”

The courtship rituals of the Emperor penguin are fascinating!  I find it sweet that they bow to one another before mating.  But what is really interesting are their cries.  In large nesting colonies, the male will call out to his female partner from the previous year.  If she is there at the same time they will find each other in this huge sea of black and white.  They are able to reunite as each cry is distinctive and recognizable.

Today’s verse speaks of a voice that is also distinctive and recognizable.  It was a voice heard and ignored by the Israelites in the wilderness, wandering for forty years.  They rebelled against that voice and their hearts became hardened with sin (verse 13).  It is not that they could not hear His voice or recognize it.  It was that they did not want to obey it.  Hearing His voice is not always a comfortable experience.  His voice sometimes nudges believers when we are disobedient.  His voice calls for deeper commitment and faith.  But His voice also speaks words of love and encouragement, hope and reassurance of His control.

I want my heart to stay soft and responsive towards Him.  And I want to be able to recognize which voice is His.  There are so many conflicting voices vying for my attention.  But I know it is His voice when He speaks to me through prayer and the reading of His Word.  His voice spurs me on to greater trust and obedience.  Condemnation is not heard but rather forgiveness and love.  That is a voice I want to hear.  That is a voice I need to hear!

Please Lord, let me hear Your voice today.

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

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Widow’s Walk

Scripture for Today: Mark 13:35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.”

While visiting our daughter in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts, I have seen a number of these widow’s walks perched on the top of older homes, facing the water.  These structures are also called widow’s watch, roofwalk, or Captain’s walk.  In former times the men would leave for years at a time working aboard ships at sea.  The wives would use this viewing platform to scan the horizon, waiting for their mens’ return.  Unfortunately, some men lost their lives at sea and never came home.

Today’s verse comes from a parable recounted by Jesus.  We are like the servants of a house, not knowing when the owner will return.  But there is no question that he will return.  We are told to be alert and to be watching (verse 33) and not to fall asleep (verse 37).  The Lord Jesus will one day return and those who belong to Him are to be expecting Him.  No one knows the hour except the Father, not even His angels (verse 32).

To be honest, I do not often think about Jesus returning.  But when I do, it makes a difference to how I live.  I shudder to think of Him returning at a moment of disobedience on my  part.  When He returns I want to be ready.  That readiness is not found in trying to figure out the timing or in being the first to spot Him.  Being ready is a daily decision to please Him in all I do.

Lord, help me be that good and faithful servant, looking for Your return.

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

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Building Muscle

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 4:8  “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

I will never have to worry about this happening!  Taking on too much is not the problem but rather taking on too little.  For me, exercise is a dirty word.  Although I enjoy staying active, I am no gym rat.  If I become winded and sweaty I am not too happy about it.  How different I am from my husband!  The more he sweats the more he feels alive!

Today’s verse talks about the value of physical training.  Yes, it has value.  But unfortunately the results from exercise do not last forever.  The benefits, as important as they are, are temporal.   In contrast, the value of godliness touches every part of our lives here and it is rewarded in the life to come!  Its benefits are of a much greater importance.  But just as there is uncomfortable effort with exercise, so there is with leading a godly life.  There may not be sweat or labored breathing, but there is certainly work involved.  Godliness takes resolve and concentrated effort.

It is so much easier to do things my own way rather than to obey God’s Word.  But then getting “spiritually flabby” takes its own toll.  When I make a habit of doing things God’s way, I can feel myself growing stronger and stronger when facing that next temptation.  The results of physical exercise are seen on the outside but godliness is developed on the inside.  So regardless of what may be breaking down physically, I can be renewed and strengthened on the inside! (II Cor. 4:16)

Lord, train me to be godly today.

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


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Cloudy Days

Scripture for Today: Matthew 26:64  “You have said so, Jesus replied.  But I say to all of you: from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Being from southern California, I am not such a fan of clouds.  Little puffy white ones can be pretty if they do not block the sun.  But when they grow grey and menacing and the sun is hidden, my mood is usually affected.  I remember when we lived in Grenoble at the base of the Alps.  We would drive up the mountains on a cloudy grey day and be thrilled to find ourselves above the clouds and in the brilliant sunshine!

Today’s verse tells us that Jesus will one day come with the clouds, so I am starting to change my mind about them! When Jesus ascended into heaven, a cloud received Him and took Him away.  Two angels explained that Christ would return in the same way (Acts 1:9-11).  And one day believers will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (I Thes. 4:17).  One day every eye will see Him coming with the clouds (Rev. 1:7).

So clouds are a good thing as they could possibly be the signal that today is the day of His return!  What a great reminder that He is coming soon!  But regardless of the weather, I want to be ready for His return.  Frankly, I am not always thinking about it.  But expecting His return sure makes a difference to how I live.  I want my life to please Him.  When I see those clouds overhead, I want to say with firm conviction, “Maranatha, the Lord is coming!

Come, Lord Jesus!  Come quickly!

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