Devotions By Jan

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Plane Trees

Scripture for today: John 13:10 “Jesus answered, ‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.'”

I love seeing these ornamental plane trees lining the roads in France.  They grow quite tall and quickly, providing welcomed shade.  They are especially used in urban areas as they do so well in the dirty air.  The plane tree is impervious to the smog as their bark routinely peels off.  The dirty bark is exfoliated and in its place, the inner shades of white, grey, green and yellow show through.

Today’s verse talks about ridding ourselves of dirt.  Jesus is washing the disciples’ feet, a custom normally relegated to the servants.  He uses this image to teach, not only about the humility He expects of believers, but also about keeping our hearts cleansed of sin.  With the exception of Judas, the disciples had already bathed in His complete forgiveness.  But journeying through daily life, feet pick up the dirt of wrong choices, bad habits and failures to withstand temptation.  It is a daily exercise to agree with Him in confession and allow Him to wash our feet.

Agreeing with the Lord about my wrong thoughts or behavior is not always easy or comfortable.  But there is a wonderful sense of renewal when I can stop being defensive and own up to it.  Yes, He has already bathed me in complete forgiveness.  Every sin I have done, past, present and future has been paid for on that cross.  I am under no condemnation for my sin (Romans 8:1).  But when I allow my feet to remain dirty, I am the one who misses out on blessing and closeness with my Lord.

Lord, keep me clean and close to You today.



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Naming Cockroaches

Scripture for Today:Leviticus 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

These cockroaches have a name; the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.  But for those that keep them as pets, they probably have an additional name such as Bob or Linda.  However, for just two dollars you can name a cockroach at the Hemsley Conservation Centre near London for Valentine’s Day.  No, the cockroach is not the love of your life but the EX love of your life!  The first names will appear on a roach board next to the cockroach enclosure.  Participants who exact this revenge will receive a certificate and a half-price entry!

Today’s verse can be convicting.  It is repeated throughout Scripture that we are not to take revenge (Romans 12:19).  That job is done much better by the Lord who sees hearts and is righteous.  However, holding a grudge is something that we feel entitled to do, reminding ourselves that it is not OK what was done to us.  Unfortunately, holding a grudge just keeps the memory alive and keeps the offender at arm’s length.

So often, the guilty one is unaware of that unforgiving spirit I harbor.  It certainly does nothing to him.  The pain I continue to feel becomes self-inflicted and can become more important than the original offense.  But to forgive and forget seems as if I am letting that person get away with something.  The closer the offender is to me the deeper the wound.  It is impossible to forgive and let go without the Lord.  Because He forgives me and does not hold a grudge, He empowers me to do the same.  It can only happen as I continually give it to Him.

Lord, help me to relinquish my hurt to You.



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The Super Bowl of Food!

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Did you know that the biggest diet day for men is the day after the Super Bowl?  That makes sense as Super Bowl Sunday is the second most eating day behind Thanksgiving!  In fact, the average football fan gains ten pounds during the entire season!  There is something about couch time that encourages snacking.  And the more crunch there is, the more the chewing can release pent up tension as that player tries for the field goal!  And of course there are extra bites to celebrate…or to commiserate!

There is hunger and thirst in today’s verse for something much more satisfying than football snacks.  Those that hunger and thirst for righteousness will be full and satisfied.  With His righteousness we do not pine for something more.  There is no feeling of missing out on something better.  A righteous life is the best kind of life.  Doing the right thing, following His way, and experiencing right standing with our Creator gives a sense of well-being that is complete.  No other kind of life can be quite as full or satisfying!

My problem is that I hunger and thirst for other things, good things, that give only temporary satisfaction.  And of course, I hunger and thirst again.  But I do not want my life to be characterized by always wanting.  I desperately want to experience that contentment and satisfaction He offers.  If I make the Lord the object of my longing, He will satisfy me.  He has promised life to the full (John 10:10).  This “blessedness” means that I can overflow with hope (Rom. 15:13) and with joy (II Cor. 8:2).  I want to be able to say with the Psalmist, “my cup overflows!” (Psalm 23:5)

Fill me up with You, Lord.

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Super Bowl Counterfeits

Scripture for Today: I John 5:20 “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true. And we are in Him who is true by being in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”

One of these coveted super bowl tickets is not like the others.  The only one that is authentic is the one on the far right.  All the others are counterfeits and whoever buys them will be sorely disappointed when attempting to enter this much anticipated event.  I can just imagine the keen disappointment when turned away at the gate!

Today’s verse shows us where our defense against counterfeits is found.  Knowing Jesus is knowing truth.  He calls Himself truth and life (John 14:6).  What’s more, He is eternal life.  Those who understand this truth are not duped by counterfeits.  Satan tries to sell his version of true life by offering freedom from restraints.  Or he lulls people into thinking that a few good works is all that is needed to enter those gates.  Counterfeit life can feel like true life but it ends in death rather than life (Prov. 14:12).

Jesus says He is the Life.  He has come to give real and abundant life, found in relationship to Him.  Anything else is counterfeit.  When I find that intimate daily relationship with my Creator, I experience life as it is meant to be lived.  I do not want counterfeit life.  I want the real thing.  Regardless of what kind of day I am having, I want it to be genuine.  For even a day in His courts is better than a thousand outside (Psalm 84:10).  He makes my life abundant by His very presence!

Thank you, Lord, for true life!









Following Suit

Scripture for Today: Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise.” 

The card game, Uno, is full of surprises.  Normally, being able to “follow suit” quickly wins the game.  It is almost a mindless exercise to just follow the color played ahead of you.  But the smart player will look for other options if he is holding those special cards.  Instead of just following suit, those cards allow for some strategy.  The game suddenly becomes more interesting, and NOT following suit can pay off!

Following suit in life is a mindless exercise as well.  Today’s verse tells us that there is another option; following God’s precepts.  Rather than follow what everyone around us is doing, the believer has some special cards in his hand.  They are God’s ways and precepts.  When one follows His Word, He develops wisdom and good understanding of life and how it should be played.  Fear, awe, respect and obedience to God are those special cards.  The believer is under no obligation to follow what is played around him.

My problem is that following suit is just so much easier to do.  I am holding those special cards but opt not to use them.  The desire to fit in with the prevailing fad or thought is very strong.  To follow what everyone else is doing requires no thought, less risk and certainly no censure from others.  But conforming to the world’s system of thinking can be resisted when my thoughts are transformed through God’s Word (Rom. 12:1-2).  I do not want to live mindlessly but with purpose, screening out the bad and holding on to the good (Rom. 12: 9).  His Word and following His way makes me wise.

Lord, keep me from following suit today.

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The Accordion

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

The music of an accordion is such a happy one, reminding me of street performers, dances, and festivals in France.  The buttonboard cannot be seen by the player so some buttons have a small depression so the player can navigate by feel.  The base-note buttons sound one or more notes in differing octaves.  The chord buttons emit a three-note chord when pressed.  This 120 button layout can seem confusing.  But the one thing each button has in common is that it needs to be pushed to be sounded.

Today’s verse is a warning about anger.  When someone “pushes our buttons,” it can have a predictable result.  We can be quickly provoked to anger with the right trigger, especially when there is a history with the one goading us.  Certain words, situations or reminders can rouse us to anger in an instant.  Unfortunately, it more often happens with those who are the closest to us.  But when we allow anger to settle down and take up residence, we risk becoming a fool.

Anger can sometimes be completely justified  But anger can also turn me into a fool if I let it linger (Eph. 4:26).  And I am to be slow to get to that point of anger if I want to be like Him (Ps. 103:8).  If I always react with anger at the mention of someone’s name, than anger is residing in my lap!  I need God’s Spirit to cultivate the same kind of love, compassion and forgiveness in my heart that the Lord has shown me.  That way, pushing my buttons will only produce something melodious!

Lord, make me slow to anger and quick to forgive.

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Doomsday Clock

Scripture for Today: Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

The time left on the “doomsday clock” is not very encouraging.  This symbolic clock reads 2 minutes to midnight, or 2 minutes to a global man-made catastrophe!  The members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists started the doomsday clock in 1947.  Since then, it has read as much as 17 minutes to midnight (1991).  This year marks the third time it has shown 2 minutes remaining.  Nuclear risk and climate change are the factors that influence the clock.

Today’s verse talks about an hour that has already come; the hour to wake up from spiritual slumber.  The night is almost over and the day is about to arrive.  This is not a doomsday clock for the believer, but it is something for which we need to be prepared.  We are to understand our times, the present time and the time that is to come.  God’s Word gives us signs for what is coming.  Although there are lots of different ideas about how to interpret them, one thing is sure; our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed!

It is easy for me to be sleepy and to believe that things will always continue as they are.  I need to “wake up” and realize that my time is limited.  Knowing that Christ’s return could happen at any moment changes my priorities and how I live.  When I live with this certainty, it makes me want to live a pure life that pleases Him (I John 3:2-3).  I want to live wisely, making the most of every opportunity the Lord offers me (Eph. 5:15-16).

Lord, wake me up today!