Devotions By Jan


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Jump for Joy

Scripture for Today: John 21:7b “…As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped in the water.”

I used to think that when fish jumped out of the water they were jumping for joy!  I have learned otherwise and yet still prefer to think it could be true.  Fish may jump to feed on flying insects, to propel themselves upstream for spawning, to escape predators or to rid themselves of sea-lice.  We jump at the chance.  We jump down one’s throat or jump ship.  We may jump on the bandwagon or in our family, jump in the shower.  But the best jumping is when we jump for joy!

Today’s verse has someone jumping into the water, and it certainly seems as if there were joy involved!  Not surprisingly, the disciples did not immediately recognize the resurrected Jesus after a fruitless night of fishing.  But when the Lord  miraculously filled their net, they knew who it was.  Peter could not wait to get to Jesus.  Rather than row the boat with the disciples that last one hundred yards to shore, he jumped in!

Would that I would jump at the chance to meet with the Lord with that much enthusiasm!  Can I say with David that He fills me with joy in His presence? (Psalm 16:11)  To be honest, not always.  But when I recognize His miraculous hand in my life, I do jump up and run to Him with a grateful heart.  It may not be a net full of fish, but His miracles are everywhere in my life; the miracle of His love and grace, His forgiveness and protection, and too many more to list!

Lord, may I jump at the chance to meet You today!

 

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Block Chain

Psalm 55:19 “God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change – He will hear them and humble them because they have no fear of God.”

You can try but you cannot change it!  That is the idea behind the “block chain.”  It is a digital ledger that is designed so that transactions made with bit coin and other cryptocurrency are meddle-proof and unable to be deleted.  The block chain is an accounting method that verifies transactions and creates a record that cannot be changed.  Because everything is unique and traceable, it cannot be copied.  Because this system is “immutable”, it generates trust and truth.

Today’s verse tells us that God does not change.  He is “immutable” and this attribute also generates trust and truth!  His character is irrevocable.  Who He was in times long past is who He still is today!  He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb.13:8).  He does not need to change, grow, mature or self-correct because He is perfect.  His Word and promises are binding and permanent!  He hears the cries of the righteous because He has promised and He will humble those who have no fear of God, because He has promised.

I never have to worry that God will change His mind about me.  I never have to doubt His unfailing love that does not change.  He has promised His presence for “always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)  I do not have to question whether He is going to show up or not!  The fact that He does not change strengthens my trust in Him.  How relieved I am that I do not have a God who is capricious and unpredictable!  He is my solid, immoveable and immutable rock and I can trust Him completely.

Lord, strengthen my trust in You today.


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Digging in the Dirt

Scripture for Today:  Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;”

Roots are a good thing normally.  They are what support and sustain the plant.  But then there are those roots that support and sustain what is unwanted; those nasty weeds.  I can be quite proud of myself when I have cleared a large area of weeds in a short time.  But if I have not gone deeper, digging after those roots, then of course it all needs redoing very quickly.  Those roots are tenacious.  A weed can seem deceptively small but the root can go on and on.  There is a such satisfaction in getting to the hidden root and pulling it all up.

Today’s verse speaks of the damage that is done by a root of bitterness.  It can spring up out of nowhere.  It is a surprise when it surfaces as normally it is well hidden.  And of course, the longer it has been hidden below the surface, the longer and more entrenched it becomes!  The problem of an unforgiving spirit can seem like that deceptively small weed.  In pulling it out all seems resolved on the surface.  But the Holy Spirit wants to dig deeper and reveal the problem of bitterness underneath.

Digging hurts.  The conviction of the Spirit can be excruciating.  Oh, but the relief to have that long root pulled up and out!  There is freedom in having that bitterness eradicated.  Often, the offending party is not even aware.  But the whole process is heart wrenching as I give up the hurt and the any thought of revenge.  There is freedom in giving the whole mess over to the Lord.

Thank you Lord, that You can take that bitterness away.


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Lightening Rod

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him and by His wounds we are healed.”

What a spectacular sight when it happens!  But in fact, the Eiffel Tower  is struck by lightening about ten times a year.  It happened again just recently on May 30th at 2:00am.  Around that time, France experienced a few days with record rainfall and lots of storms throughout the country.  (We were affected being stuck 3 days, trying to fly in!) The tower has lightening rods at the top, so it attracts the lightening and protects quite a large space around it.  The Parisians are safer with that large hunk of metal absorbing the electricity.

Today’s verse reminded me of a lightening rod or conductor.  The cross absorbed all of God’s wrath against sin.  Jesus, who was sinless, took the punishment on Himself that was rightfully ours to bear.  He was pierced, crushed and wounded, all in our place.  Because of His sacrifice, He was able to absorb all of God’s righteous anger against sin.  To talk about God’s wrath is not a comfortable topic.  Yet, without realizing God’s hatred against all wrong-doing, we do not understand how deep is His grace in taking our place!

I am guilty of sometimes treating sin lightly.  I have an amazing ability to minimize its seriousness, at least when it comes to me!  My sin is never as serious as someone else’s!  But when I examine my heart in the light of God’s holiness I become overwhelmed.  When I realize the pain and agony He suffered, then I understand how unworthy I am to have His mercy and grace poured out on me!

I am forever grateful to You Lord, for taking my place.

 


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Case Closed

Scripture for Today:  Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

“Case Closed” is the English title given to this ongoing Japanese detective manga series where an amateur detective is transformed into a child and helps solve crime.  But in a larger sense the phrase, “case closed,” is said after any question, debate or mystery has been solved or answered.  It is meant to be final and not able to be amended or varied in any way.  It puts a stop to any more discussion.

Today’s verse could be viewed as a case closed.  It is a wonderful assurance for the one who has placed their faith in Jesus.  There is no fear of this case being reopened.  The believer is justified, or declared righteous, not because of his own deeds but because of being credited with Christ’s righteousness (Romans 4:22-25).  The just punishment that we deserve has been fully met by His death on the cross.  The righteousness Jesus achieved has been laid to our account!

It has been decided.  I do not have to live in fear and doubt.  He declared, “It is finished,” on that cross.  How amazing that I can stand before Him, declared righteous!  Satan tries his best to try and pry open a case that is eternally closed by making accusations.  But it is to no avail.  God’s mighty hand has closed the affair and I have peace with God, now and forever.  My heart is not troubled because of my guilt and sin.  His forgiveness and declaration has established heartfelt peace, relief, and the joy and hope of heaven!  What God has declared is a case closed and His Word is final.

Thank you Lord, for Your precious assurance!

 


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Puppet Strings

Scripture for Today: Joshua 24:15 “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

I was surprised to learn that Punch and Judy have been around since the 1600’s!  These marionettes  as part of British culture were originally intended for adult entertainment.  It was not until the Victorian era that the stories were changed for children.  Each story had common themes including: Punch’s bad behavior, struggles with Judy, his wife and the baby, victory over run-ins with the law, and plenty of songs and jokes mixed in.  Of course, Punch and Judy had no say in the story line!

Today’s verse is part of a charge Joshua gave the Israelites just before his death.  He admonished the people to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully by throwing out the gods of their ancestors.  Joshua challenged them to choose!  Then comes the often-quoted declaration that he and his household choose to serve the Lord.  Our Creator has given us choice.  How it works with His sovereignty is a mystery but true nonetheless.  There are no puppet strings however.  God wants our love and service to be sincere and come from our hearts.

Every day there lies before me a choice in how I will spend those next 24 hours.  I can choose to live them for my own selfish pleasure or I can choose to find my pleasure in service to Him!  When I choose my own interests over His, it is as if I am choosing the same false gods of those Israelites.  But when I choose to serve Him, I feel His pleasure and experience His gracious blessing!

Lord, today I choose You!


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Big Ears

Scripture for Today: Mark 4:23 “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.”

A baby’s little ears are so sweet.  However, they will look completely different at age 80, and perhaps will not look so sweet!  Because ears seem bigger and longer with age, there is a common misconception that they continue to grow.  But in fact, it is just that the elastin fibers in the cartilage begin to breakdown, making them stretch and sag.  In any case, having bigger-looking ears does not translate into better hearing!

Today’s verse is a phrase used only by Jesus and He said it eight times in the Gospels to get His listeners’ attention.  Of course His listeners have ears and can hear.  Yet, He understands how easily we are distracted from really listening and responding.  Jesus goes on to say that we are to consider carefully what we hear.  We are responsible and accountable for what we have heard Him say.  He wants from us a response to what we have heard.

There are a multitude of sounds all clamoring for my attention during the day.  Some of these sounds are inevitable, and many of them I can disregard.  When sleeping, our ears continue to hear sounds.  It is just that the brain disregards most of them so we can continue sleeping.  But there is a still small voice that, like Elijah, I need to discern.  The question I need to ask myself is, “Do I really want to hear what He is saying.?”   I do not want to hear Him ask what is uncomfortable or difficult.  But then I would not hear His whispers of love either.

Lord, I really do want to hear You.  Please speak to me today.