Devotions By Jan


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The Zebra

Scripture for Today: I Peter 2:24 “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.”

Is the zebra an animal wearing a white coat with black stripes?  Or is he an animal with a black coat striped white?  Scientists argue for the first description as the stripes end on their belly and the inside of the legs, the remainder being all white.  Regardless, all I can see are their remarkable stripes!  They are wonderful protection as it can be difficult for a predator to single out just one zebra to chase.

Today’s verse talks about stripes that offer healing.  These stripes are much more remarkable but are anything but beautiful (Isaiah 53:2).  The stripes are the wounds Jesus suffered for our sake.  Before being put on that tree or cross,  He was beaten.  Those stripes made it possible for us to die to sin and live for righteousness.  Before Jesus took our punishment, we were soul-sick from our sin and in dire need of healing.  He accomplish by His sacrifice a healing that gives us a hope and a future!

His healing of my soul means that I am no longer powerless against sin.  Not only am I spared the righteous judgement my sin deserves, but I am also released from sin’s hold on me!  Because of His healing stripes, I can live a life that is righteous and pleasing to Him.  I wish I could say that I always make the right and moral choice. But at least with His healing I have the opportunity to consistently do what is right.  Regardless of what my body may do, my soul is forever healed of sin!

Thank you Lord, for healing my soul.

 


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Walk Ins Welcome

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:19 “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.”

This store name may give some potential clients pause!  Considering the reaction of one’s mother to a tattoo may just dissuade some customers.  But the billboard is very welcoming with the words, “Walk Ins Welcome.”  Normally this means no appointment needed.  Maybe no mental preparation either!  Those three little words appeal to impulse buying and probably account for much of their sales.  One is always welcomed to spend money!

Today’s verse is a psalm of praise for salvation.  The gates of righteousness stand wide open for those who have cried out to God for His salvation (verse 21).  Only those who have accepted Christ’s righteousness can enter these gates.  On our own merits, no one can enter.  We have no righteousness of our own (Eccl. 7:20).  But our faith in the Righteous One and His sacrifice for sin is credited as righteousness (Rom. 4:5).  We cannot just walk in.  It is because of His righteousness those gates are opened.  And for believers, a rich welcome awaits us into the eternal kingdom (II Peter 1:11).

The Lord is, “my one defense, my righteousness.”  I can stand before those imposing gates of righteousness with full assurance.  Not because of my efforts but because of His incredible grace to me!  A rich welcome must mean that no one enters quietly or unnoticed.  When I enter those gates it will be a warm home-coming marked with a rich welcome.  It is rich because I will be greeted by friends and family who will have gone before me.  But it will be especially rich when I am greeted and held in the warm embrace of the Savior!

Thank you Lord, that by Your righteousness I am welcomed!

 


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New Blood

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:17  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”

There is a warning from the FDA about, “Young Blood Therapies.”  The erroneous thought is that injecting young blood into an older person will help with signs of aging and help with serious age-related conditions.  It is quite an expensive treatment that has no basis in fact.  This bizarre idea came from wrong conclusions about a study of mice by Stanford University in 2014 where an older mouse shared the blood of a younger one along with sharing his organs.  Would that new young blood could change the course of nature!

Today’s verse teaches that the old can be changed into the new.  Such a profound and lasting change can only happen through the blood of Christ’s sacrifice for sin.  The old way of thinking and behaving changes when one is “in Christ.”  A new desire to live for Him changes priorities and one’s direction.  In Christ there is power to change through His Spirit.  No longer is one stuck in a pattern of thinking and feeling.  Where once there was a resistant heart of stone, with forgiveness there is now a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

I do not want a younger me as much as I want a brand new me!  And only Christ’s blood can make that change on the inside.  This is a change from spiritual death to life!  Sure I would like to minimize the effects of aging, but far more important is the constant renewing God is doing on the inside (II Cor. 4:16).  His lifelong renewal means there is always hope for change.  Those changes on the inside are eternal ones.  He is making me new!

Thank you Lord, for the change You bring.

 

 


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Bedazzled!

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 61:10 “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Each year at the Oscars, the red carpet showcases women decked out in their finery and in their dazzling jewelry.  This particular necklace, worn by Nicole Kidman at the 2008 Oscars, is made up of 1,399 carats of rough diamonds!  The jewels worn this year have been valued at as much as 20 million dollars a person!  For the most part, these pieces are only borrowed luxury from their jewelers.

Today’s verse brings all kinds of images to mind.  As believers we are clothed in the Lord’s righteousness.  The material is pure dazzling white because of the forgiveness we receive by faith.  As the Church, we are the Bride of Christ.  We are purified and presented to Him without spot or wrinkle.  We are glorious, set apart in a love relationship with Him (Eph. 5:27).  As if that were not enough, it will be as if we are adorned with jewelry on that beautiful day that begins our eternity with Him!

I would love to wear dazzling show-stopping jewelry.  But the adornment I have to look forward to makes the finery on this earth look like cheap plastic imitations.  His righteousness makes me beautiful.  And the gentle and quiet spirit He makes possible is worth so much more in His sight (I Peter 3:4).  His garments of salvation are in such contrast to the “filthy rags” of my own efforts (Isaiah 64:6).  There is delight and joy at the thought of being adorned with His beauty!

Lord, may Your beauty be seen in me today!

 

 


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Clear Air Turbulence

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:12-13a “Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist….”

Recently, the wisdom of keeping one’s seat buckle clasped was uncomfortably illustrated for passengers!  A drink cart literally hit the ceiling along with the heads of many who were not buckled in.  Clear-air turbulence was the cause which differs from regular turbulence in that it is more difficult to detect without the presence of clouds.  Better to be firmly belted in than tossed around the cabin!

Today’s verse talks about remaining firm in a spiritual battle with the belt of truth buckled.  And like clear air turbulence, the day of evil can come when one least expects it!  The believer lives in a world where the evil one tries to destabilize and knock us down with his lies (John 8:44).  He does this by planting doubts in our minds just as he did with Eve, asking if God really did say what He did.  The only way to combat his lies is to know, love and trust the truth of God’s Word.

Being convinced of the truth allows me to stand my ground and not be moved, no matter how violent the turbulence.  Not only that but there is less chance of being deceived when I am daily in His Word.  Those lies can look very convincing and are often made to look more attractive than the truth.  I dare not trust in my own reasoning or wisdom which so often is flawed.

Will this be a day of evil turbulence?  Lord, keep me firmly buckled in with the truth of Your Word.

 


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Sour Grapes

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Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 31:29 “In those days people will no longer say, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are on edge.'”

Eating sour grapes would not be something I would do on purpose.  And I would hope that people would not characterize my attitude as “sour grapes.”  This expression is thought to come from a fable of Aesop about a fox.  He could not reach some grapes high above him so he declared them sour.  Sour grapes has come to describe someone who disdains something just because they cannot have it.

Today’s verse comes from a proverb also using this expression.  The Israelites were using the term differently to acquit themselves of any wrong doing.  The exiles’ children born in captivity in Babylon felt they were unjustly suffering consequences of their fathers’ sin. This was just another version of the “blame game.”  They were excusing their own sin as if they had no choice for their behavior.  The Lord explains in Ezekiel 18 why they should no longer quote this proverb as each person is responsible for themselves.

Things have not changed much as it is so easy to blame others!  Of course, there are hereditary influences that can put me at risk for some behaviors.  No family is perfect.  But I am responsible for my own choices and I am not obligated to continue what was modeled.  Because of God’s power and grace there is hope that cycles can be broken.  No family influence is stronger than the power God gives me to live differently.  There ought not to be sour grapes with me as the Lord has given me every spiritual blessing and all that I need to live a godly life (II Peter 1:3).

Thank you Lord, for Your power and grace!

 


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Roasting Coffee

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

That small coffee bean goes through quite a long involved process before it finally makes it into my cup!  But towards the end, just before the grinding and the brewing, there is that all-important step of roasting.  The green bean is kept moving to avoid burning and turns brown at 400 degrees.  At that point a fragrant oil is released producing that wonderful aroma and flavor.

Today’s verse is an encouragement to believers who are suffering for the name of Christ.   Rather than be surprised by the intensity of the heat, we are to see it as normal.  Suffering abuse and rejection for Him makes us participants in the suffering He endured for us! (verse 13)  The Lord promises special blessing and an evidence of His presence (verse 14).  The heat of the trial tests our faith and produces in us a stronger flavor and aroma of testimony.  There is no shame in being insulted, rejected or marginalized.  Instead, there can be praise and joy at this privilege!

The hostility I encounter at the name of Jesus Christ is surprising.  The reaction seems so unwarranted and sometimes out of character from the person I thought I knew.  The name of Jesus is a polarizing one.  There may be additional difficulties in my life for proclaiming His name, but there is also additional blessing!  The heat of the testing can make my faith stronger.  Rather than discourage me, it can make firm my resolve to live for Him.  My piddly little problems of being misunderstood do not even compare to what Jesus went through for me!

Thank you Lord, that You know and You understand.