Category: <span>thoughts by Caran Jantzen</span>

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Who may worship in Your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter Your presence on Your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts. Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.” Psalm 15:1-5 (NLT)

There is a dear lady at the Bible study I attend. Her clothes look old, and they often don’t match. She doesn’t wear make-up, and she keeps her hair plain.

As I have gotten to know her, I have seen her deep desire to grow in her knowledge of God, and to serve Him whole-heartedly. She comes early to help set up, and she stays late to help put things away. She never seeks attention for herself, and always gives glory to God.

In the secular world, she would be considered a nobody. But to God, she is beautiful, valuable, treasured. She is one of the faithful Christ followers we are called to honor.

The Bible gives us many lists of attributes that describe genuine Christ followers. Those in our culture, and even Christians who are distracted by the world around them, see these lists as nothing but a bunch of rules; they might describe them as backwards, old-fashioned, or only for legalists.

However, Scripture describes the life of a believer in this way because living this way brings glory to God, and joy to those who serve Him.

The Apostle Paul reminds us

the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:25a).

What doesn’t make sense to the world around us makes perfect sense to God; and what strikes the world as incredibly wise doesn’t even compare to the foolishness of God.

Lord God, You are infinitely wise. Help me to trust Your Word, even when it is difficult and makes no sense to me. I believe that it makes sense to You, and You are trustworthy. Amen.

Thought: Read the list of attributes in Psalm 15 again. Is there something from this list that you are struggling to accept? Pray that the Lord would convict you of your sin and change your heart so that you would desire His wisdom and not the wisdom of the world.

By Caran Jantzen

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Thoughts by All thoughts by Caran Jantzen Thoughts by Women

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I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

How do you define spiritual success? Feeding the poor? Defending the weak? Sacrificing your own needs for others?

Earlier in my Christian walk I struggled to feel spiritually successful. I had sponsored children overseas, filled shoe boxes for kids at Christmas, and set aside time to spend with my ailing grandparents. Yet it appeared that believers and unbelievers alike were serving, helping, and sacrificing more than I was. I felt discouraged.

Then one day, a wise friend helped me understand this verse more fully by saying, “Apart from me you can do nothing of spiritual significance, nothing of eternal value.

At that moment, it was as if God yanked the rug out from under my feet. All of the spiritual accomplishments I had been stacking up around me crashed to the ground. I hadn’t been as concerned with the spiritual significance of the work I was doing as I was with the tangible work I could see.

I knew my focus needed to shift from doing the work to remaining in Him.

Jesus set the example of remaining in His Father through prayer in order to accomplish the work the Father had sent Him to do. As one of the Sisters who worked alongside Mother Teresa in Calcutta simply stated, “prayer is our first work.”

Lord, help me to desire to commune with You. Teach me to pray unceasingly as I work through Your strength, and remind me to place value in the eternal significance of the work You have called me to do. Amen.

Thought:  Read Philippians 3:1-14. The apostle Paul, who had many reasons to boast in the flesh — that is, his spiritual accomplishments — considered them nothing compared to knowing Christ. Consider the ways you are serving. Ask God to help you remain in Him to accomplish what He has called you to. Ask Him to search your heart and reveal to you if you need to confess the sin of wrong motives for your service.

By Caran Jantzen

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Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? … No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:7,11

You’re so mean!I yelled this at my dad many times as a young person. Often, I had no interest in why I was being punished. At that time in my life, I wasn’t interested in learning from my consequences. I only knew that I did not like them.

I felt this way toward God for many years, too. Even after I surrendered my heart to Him in my late teens, it took me years before I understood that God disciplines me as my heavenly Father.

Although I had stopped throwing physical tantrums, I had tantrums of the heart. I got mad at God, and blamed others and my circumstances for the troubles I faced. I certainly didn’t want to believe God was allowing these things in my life for a reason. Nor did I think to ask Him to teach me through these hard times.

Until about two years ago. My husband was diagnosed with an extreme health condition, and instead of getting mad at God, I asked Him for help. Rather than asking God why He didn’t protect my husband from developing this condition, I started to ask Him how to trust Him, and what He wanted to teach me through these trials.

Not long after my husband’s diagnosis, a friend said something that still resonates with me. She said, “Don’t waste the opportunity to learn what God wants to teach you.” Often God uses trials in our life to train us to be more humble, more patient, more loving… more Christ-like.

Heavenly Father, thank You that I am Your child. Help me to trust You through all the difficulties I face. Please use the circumstances in my life to train me to live in Christ’s righteousness and peace. Amen.

TAKE ACTION: Choose to praise and thank God throughout the day today, regardless of your circumstances. He is your heavenly Father, and He loves you — you can trust Him!

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By Caran Jantzen

Photo credit: Andrew Moss Hill

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daily devotional onlineYour love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” Psalm 36:5

One thing that I love about winter in southern Canada is that I am awake before the sun rises. I love watching the eastern sky become illuminated by the sun’s rays; I never tire of the vibrant pinks and oranges reflecting off of the cloud formations and snow capped mountains.

God’s creation is truly amazing. It points us to our Creator, and brings a song of praise to our lips. What is even more amazing is God’s love for us. Psalm 36 tells of God’s unconditional love being so vast that it unfolds into the heavens; His unwavering devotion so unparalleled that it stretches to the skies.

It is not always easy to see the love God has for us. We get caught up in our own problems and fail to look to Him. We often hide ourselves from His love behind a cloud of guilt or in a fog of doubt. We miss seeing the love he pours down on us every day.

God demonstrated the depth of His love for us when He gave up a part of Himself, His perfect Son, to become a sacrifice on our behalf. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection we can once and for all be cleansed of our sin, forgiven and made new. In love, God sacrificed His own son so that we can become a part of His family.

Dear God, you are faithful and loving. Help me today to grasp how wide and long and high and deep your love is for me. Please help me to believe and embrace the love you have for me; and give me courage to love my family, friends, and even strangers with the kind of love you have shown to me. Amen.

Thought:  Whenever you catch a glimpse of the sky outside today, let it serve as a reminder to thank the Lord for His immeasurable love for you. If you are struggling to believe how much God loves you, read a part of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Church (Ephesians 3:14-19). Insert your own name, and lift this prayer up to the Lord.

By Caran Jantzen

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featureAfter he said this, [Jesus] was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, ”why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11 (NIV)

As we remember Christ’s coming to earth this Christmas season, we also look ahead to Christ’s return. How should we, who love and trust in Jesus, live our lives to reflect our anticipation of his second coming?

Look forward to how God will answer your prayers. (Matthew 7:7-11)

Trust that God will speak to you as you open his Word. (Isaiah 55:10-11; Hebrews 4:12)

Watch for those in need of love so that you can serve them and bless them. (Galatians 6:9-10; 1 Peter 4:10)

Anticipate the good gifts God has for you. (James 1:17)

Believe that God will use your struggles for your spiritual good and his glory. (Romans 8:28; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11)

Wait and see how God will use you when you step out in faith to follow his leading. (Psalm 1:1-3; Ephesians 3:20-21)

Expect your life to be transformed by Christ’s Spirit living in you. (Galatians 5:22-26; Philippians 2:14-15)

Be prepared for trials because you are a follower of Christ. (2 Timothy 3:12; James 1:2-4)

Long for Christ’s second coming – and for Christ to receive you as his bride! (Matthew 25:1-13; Revelation 19:7-8)

Anxiously await eternal life – deep, satisfying, communing – with the One who created you! (Revelation 21:3-4)

Holy God, you are trustworthy, and your Word is true. Help us to anticipate the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ. Strengthen us by your Word, your Spirit, and other believers, to do the work you have called us to while we await Christ’s return. Amen.

Thought: Choose one or two of the ways to anticipate Christ’s return (listed above) that you are struggling with. Meditate on the scripture verses. Believe that God will show you how you can trust him, or serve him more fully in this way.

By Caran Jantzen

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