Devotions By Jan


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Slow in Coming!

pregnant-woman-with-baby-shoes-on-bellyScripture for Today: II Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Our third grandson is officially late in making his entrance into this world, at least according to the doctor’s best guess.  Everyday we wait with bated breath thinking, “Is this the day?”  We are all on pins and needles.  Everything is in readiness and we have even been able to get some extra projects done.  The time seems to drag by and even slow down as we wait and wait.  Maybe it will be today!

It occurred to me that just as we wait for the coming of a baby with breathless excitement, so we are to wait for Christ’s coming.  Our verse for today refers to His second coming.  The time can seem long as we wait.  It can especially seem long when living in a difficult and arduous time.  There will be sweet relief from all kinds of pain when Christ arrives.  For those who do not belong to Him, the day will bring judgement rather than relief.  But for those who long for His return there is a special recompense (II Tim. 4:8)

There are many people who mock the idea of Christ’s return to earth.  “Where is this coming?” they ask. (II Peter 3:4)  He is slow in arriving, but our verse explains why that is.  He waits, showing love and patience for more men to come to Him in repentance and so be spared His judgement.

The words of this old hymn often come to mind, “Oh Lord Jesus how long, how long, ere we shout the glad song, Christ returneth!”  Maybe it will be today!


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Free Turkey!

thanksgiving-turkey-bourbonblogScripture for Today: Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

I love the promotions I see in America.  My daughter’s grocery store offered a free turkey after a certain sum was spent in their store.  We came home with a beautiful twenty pounder for which we paid nothing!  That night while walking through a deserted parking lot, my daughter bent over to pick up a twenty dollar bill!  Lucky us!  This will certainly pay for all the side dishes, making our Thanksgiving feast absolutely free!

Our verse for today talks about something else far greater that is absolutely free.  We do not pay for our salvation, although it was costly.  Jesus paid that cost and so it is free of charge for us.  Being spared the punishment we deserve for our sin is an enormous gift.  But we had no part in procuring that gift.  It is a true gift of grace, or unmerited favor, and absolutely free.

Thanksgiving Day can mean many different things to different people.  Perhaps, the idea of a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving scene seems ludicrous in some families experiencing difficulty.  Giving thanks can especially be hard after recently losing a loved one.  In times of economic stress or declining health, subjects of thanksgiving are not what come to mind.  But even in the darkest times, there is always reason for the believer to give thanks; salvation – full, rich and free!  Is not that the biggest reason to give thanks?

This Thanksgiving feast, as wonderful as it is, can not even compare to our future wedding supper of the Lamb! (Rev. 19:9)  Praise and thanksgiving in the presence of our Savior will rival any earthly feast!

Lord, I will be forever thankful!

 


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Scout’s Honor

featured_rugerScripture for Today: Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.”

This gesture is a common one in North America among scouts.  Before a girl or boy can become a scout a pledge must be voiced.  “On my honor I promise to do my best….”  Following are three praiseworthy statements regarding duty, helpfulness and obedience.  The principles written in the scout’s honor pledge are lofty and difficult to consistently follow.  It is interesting to have the disclaimer as part of the pledge…”to do my best.”  There is resolve and commitment but a recognition as well that one cannot perfectly fulfill this pledge.

Our verse for today is a wonderful assurance that everything God says is right and true.  He is faithful to His Word and there is no need for any disclaimer!  He never says, “I will try to do my best,” or “I will do the best I can.”  He is powerful enough to make all His words become a reality.  If He says something will happen, then it will.  We never have to wonder whether He will go back on His Word.  We never have to wonder if what He says is right.  His purpose statements are not just good intentions but unshakeable truth.

I can and do build my life on His Word, being that it is rock solid truth.  He will always perfectly fulfill His pledge to me.  His Word is not only faithful and true but powerful beyond comprehension!  After all, it was by His Word that the heavens were made! (verse 6)

In a world where words are cheap and promises are broken, how amazing it is to be able to count on everything He says!  And what He says is so good and loving!


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Garbage Dumps

069_ThreeGoatsInGarbagePile_19_02_10_IRQScripture for Today: Philippians 3:8 “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

Goats are picky eaters.  They are frequently seen in garbage dumps, so one would not think so.  It is a common belief that goats eat tin cans.  But in fact, they are pealing off the label to get to that tasty glue underneath!  Garbage dumps, even for goats, are not such a great dining experience!  No one wants this eye sore around their home, nor the odors.  There is very little that is positive to say about garbage.

This is just the point that Paul is making in our verse for today.  Paul’s background was stellar as a righteous, educated and privileged pharisee.  He was full of religious zeal and entrusted with a mission.  He had the admiration and respect of the world of his day.  At one point, his reputation and the social standing he had gained became for him a garbage dump.  What changed?

The surpassing value of knowing and loving Jesus has given Paul a different perspective.  This beautiful and satisfying relationship with Christ has made all his past accomplishments seem as worthless garbage.  The only redeeming factor remaining may be the tasty glue on can labels!

Paul had the most worthy goal in life; to gain Christ.  But it was something that could not happen as long as he valued his accomplishments, past or present, more than the Lord.  Caring too much about the world’s approbation somehow keeps us from having more of Christ.

He is worth far more than all else.  “You can have all this world.  Just give me Jesus.”  This is my prayer today.


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Bullying

show-me-the-bulliesScripture for Today: Psalm 119:41-42 “May Your unfailing love come to me, Lord, Your salvation, according to Your promise. Then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in Your Word.”

We hear a lot about bullying in the schools today, but in fact it is an age-old problem.  Who has not experienced it sometime in their formative years?  My worst time was transitioning between a small Christian school to a public junior high of two thousand students.  This was done wearing braces with a headgear attached, a real recipe for bullying opportunities!

Our verse for today describes a bullying problem where taunts are made.  So often bullying takes the form of verbal abuse, something that unfortunately continues into adulthood.  Sarcastic and demeaning words can cause real damage.  Spreading rumors can destroy one’s personal and professional life.  The consensus is that little can be done about an adult bully, except to ignore him and document the abuse in case legal action is taken.  But, our verse gives us a sure way to handle verbal abuse.

Being reassured of the Lord’s faithful love is the best way to let verbal abuse roll off one’s back.  Trusting in the promise of His salvation allows us to endure patiently this kind of attack.  We can even answer the bully with confidence because we trust in God’s Word.  We can stand firm, being buckled with the belt of Truth (Eph. 6:14).

I love this image of a pit bull protecting a vulnerable kid!  My God is so powerful!  If God is for me, who can be against me? (Rom. 8:31)  His love will not let me down regardless of what hurtful things others may say!  I am His and He is my Protector.

Lord, keep me trusting in Your love and Your promises today.


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Flea Markets

braderie-de-lille-lille-1346573615Scripture for Today: I John 2:7 “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old commandment is the message you have heard.”

I love a good flea market where someone’s castoffs become someone else’s treasure.  The biggest flea market in Europe takes place in Lille, France every September going back to the 12th century!  It is comprised of 10,000 sellers who man 62 miles of roadside stalls.  It runs continuously for thirty six hours and welcomes two and a half million visitors!  Everyone is sure to find something old that pleases!

Our verse for today is a reminder that what is old can very well hold its value.  John is repeating an old commandment that continues to be valid; to love one another.  From the beginning we are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Deut. 6:5).  Jesus tells us that it is this commandment which sums up the whole Law (Luke 10:27).

This is an old commandment but still valid today, not to be thrown out with the Old Testament.  What was impossible to obey is now possible through Christ’s Spirit in us.  This old commandment was fulfilled perfectly in the life of Jesus.  Because He fulfilled the Law and gives me His Spirit, I can obey this long-standing commandment.

My problem is that I do not always choose to obey it.  Loving others has a way of disrupting my day!  I know I am incredibly selfish, and unlike the Lord, prefer to be served rather than serve.  But loving one another is a concrete and measurable way I can love my Lord.  More than anything, this thought spurs me to action!

Lord, make me a loving person today!


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Mind the Gap

gap6_1687656aScripture for Today: James 4:8 “Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

I am not often in England, but when I am, two warning signs have proved very important: “Look Right,” and “Mind The Gap.”  When crossing a street it is automatic for me to look left for oncoming traffic.  As the British drive on the other side, I need to remember to check the opposite direction!  The sign, “Mind The Gap” warns the rail passenger to watch their step.  It is too easy to fall into that space between the station platform and the train.

Our verse for today is a wonderful promise that God will draw near to us when we make the effort to draw near to Him.  We often feel there is a “gap” or distance between us.  How often the Lord has felt far away!  Yet, according to His promise, He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5).  Even so, there are times when He does not feel close by and the gap is felt.  The reason is clear.  His love is unconditional for His children, but when we rebel and disobey we are moving away from that love.  When we obey His commandments, we remain in His love (John 15:10).

The truth is, He does not move, we do.  But in His compassion for us, He reassures us with His closeness when we confess and agree with Him about our sin.  The relationship is renewed each time we humble ourselves in honest confession.  If I am feeling far away from Him, the solution is clear.  He is waiting for me to come clean.

Thank you Lord, for the intimacy of Your love!  May I feel Your nearness today.