Devotions By Jan


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Most Sinful Cities?

Scripture for Today: Romans 3:23-24 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Do you live in a sinful city?  A study was done recently by WalletHub ranking American cities by their level of sin.  The areas judged were Anger and Hatred, Jealousy, Excesses and Vices, Greed, Lust, Vanity and Laziness.  It was interesting to see how each of these categories led to overt crimes or social ills.  Here is their list of the top ten: (number one being most sinful) 1. Las Vegas 2. Los Angeles 3. New York 4. Houston 5. St Louis 6. Atlanta 7. Miami 8. Philadelphia 9. Chicago 10. Orlando.

Today’s verse helps to level the playing field.  All is a pretty inclusive word!  There is not a city, village or hamlet on this earth that is not affected by sin.  And the reason these cities are sinful has very little to do with what city ordinances allow or do not allow.  The reason cities are sinful is because they are full of sinful people.  The hard truth taught in Scripture is that all of mankind stands guilty of sin before the Lord.  We all fall short of the glory of His perfection.

I am so thankful that this hard truth does not stop there!  Just as all have broken God’s laws, so all have the opportunity to be freely forgiven and declared righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice!  I have been bought back from sin’s ownership because of His love and grace!  I am a sinner but I am a sinner that is saved by His grace.  I do not deserve it.  But because of His unmerited favor, I am “in Christ” (Rom. 8:1) and my sin no longer condemns me!

Thank you Lord, for forgiving me.

 

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911 Call from Space

Scripture for Today: Psalm 138:3 “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.”

It was an honest mistake.  But answering a 911 from space is maybe just a bit too much for this emergency service to handle!  Andre Kuipers, a Dutch astronaut,  admitted to this dialing mistake while on the International Space Station.  From space, a call via Houston would begin with a 9 for an outside line, then 011 for an international line.  Understandable.  But the security alert set off at the Houston Center had everyone confused!

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance of the access we have with the Creator of the universe.  Calling on Him is never a mistake.  A call is never dropped and His answers are timely.  In fact, He answers on the very day we call!  Whatever His specific answer is (yes, no or wait) He infuses the soul with His strength, just as a result of calling on Him.  And His strength gives us a boldness to live for Him, to love Him and to obey Him.

There are times I forget to call on Him.  It is not until I am feeling weak or in need that I remember to call.  It is easy to think that I can live life just fine in my own strength.  But the Lord knows better.  He is aware of each and every weakness.  He sees me running out of energy and resources.  The Lord is waiting for me to call.  He sees me coming and He is gracious to answer with exactly what I need.  Because of His unfailing love and faithfulness He will always answer when I call.  How good He is!

Thank you Lord, for answering with love and grace every time I call.


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Bird Box Challenge

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:17 “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

Netflix, Canada has just issued a warning begging people not to do the Bird Box Challenge.  People are endangering themselves and others by reenacting the the movie, Bird Box, in real life.  They are going through their day blindfolded as the movie characters did.  However, in real life there are no dangerous monsters trying to capture people through one’s eyesight!  The only danger comes from being blindfolded!

Today’s verse talks about a blindness that is spiritual.  What is so sad is that the person described does not realize his blindness, nor his poverty and nakedness.  Being wealthy has caused this person to feel self-sufficient and not in need of anything.  What is so beautiful in this passage is that Christ proposes a remedy for this blindness.  He offers salve for the eyes to restore spiritual sight (verse 18).

There is a strong tendency for me to be blind to my need of the Lord when all is well and finances are looking good.  When life is comfortable, I start to feel self-sufficient.  Before long, I take credit and think it is all of my own doing.  Pride seeps in and I become poor, blind and naked in my soul.  There is no reason for me to continue this way.  Christ has taken the initiative to change my pitiful state when I realize my need and turn to Him.  When I let go of of my pride and denial, I can open the door of my heart in answer to His knock (verse 20).

Lord, may I always realize my need and open the door to You.


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FastPass to Santa

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

There is nothing worse for a mom of young children than standing in a long line to see Santa!  What starts out with happy anticipation quickly turns into whining and complaining.  Feet hurt, tummies rumble and the need for a  bathroom trip is desperately trying to be ignored!  Thankfully with the FastPass, made with a simple on-line appointment, one can sail past all those waiting to the head of the line!

There is a throne that we can approach any time.  Today’s verse describes our access to the throne of Heaven.  It can be approached with confidence for those that belong to Him.  There is never any waiting as He is always available.  His ears are attentive to our cries (Ps. 34:15).  His throne is a throne of grace, ready to give us what we do not deserve.  And His mercy and grace are given at exactly the right time when we most need it!  He will never turn us away or redirect us to the end of the line!

How amazing that He is the God of the universe and yet so approachable!  I am so glad He does not wait until I am worthy before I approach, or I could never be near Him.  He responds my cries for help.  He understands when I feel like giving up.  When all I want to do is cry in His presence, He understands that too.  He empathizes with everything I feel because He experienced weakness as well (verse 15).  And He responds with amazing grace and mercy!  What a wonderful God we serve!

Thank you Lord, for allowing me in Your presence anytime, anywhere!

 


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Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Scripture for Today: Psalm 127:2 “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for He grants sleep to those He loves.”

I never thought of a dog as being a sleep aid!  But in fact, a recent study by researchers at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York found that women sleep better with a dog in their bed!  Apparently, both cats and humans are equally disruptive to a woman’s sleep.  I can think of some other disruptions too!  But dogs are less likely to wake their owners.  Dogs provide a feeling of comfort and security.

Today’s verse comes from a psalm written by Solomon who has lots to say about vanity.  It is vain to make life all about acquisition.  He should know as he did not deny himself any possession or pleasure (Eccl. 2:10-11).  Yet when he surveyed all that he had toiled to achieve, it was meaningless.  God chooses to bless His loved ones and does so apart from our own toil, even in sleep.  The Bible is full of verses on being a good conscientious worker and not a sluggard.  But toiling incessantly is not the goal of life.

Living with a constant stress that interferes with sleep is not God’s plan.  This world is so fast-paced seeming never to stop.  One is always in a hurry to do more, be more and produce more.  But when I put God’s Kingdom above everything else, God blesses me with everything needed (Matt. 6:33).  I belong to Him and I trust His care and provision.  I can rest easy knowing He is faithful to provide.  He is the One who provides even those feelings of comfort and security.

Thank you Lord, that there will be sweet sleep tonight, knowing You love me.


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The Sea Otter

Scripture for Today:Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

The little furry face of the sea otter looks too cute to be related to the weasel.  The otter is made for the water and spends most of his time there.  His feet are webbed, his fur is water repellent and his nostrils and ears close up in the water.  Despite their fur being the thickest of any animal, they often float on the surface, even falling asleep in this position.  They look so calm and peaceful, without a care in the world.

Today’s verse is a wonderful promise of support for God’s chosen ones.  Those He has redeemed for all eternity need have no fear of sinking in the water of this world’s troubles.  He gives strength and help.  He upholds us with His powerful and righteous hand.  Regardless of how deep that water is, we have no cause for fear.  His steady love and power will hold us up and keep our head above water.

Moving through hard times, I need to hear this.  There are times I feel as if I am sinking but I am not.  He has never let me down.  And I know He has a plan and purpose for those difficulties.  But I feel dismay and fear even so.  I paddle as if my life depended on it.  I panic and swallow water when I could be trusting Him and floating on the surface.  He is holding me up from underneath where I cannot see.  His powerful right hand is there and I can relax in His control.

Thank you Lord, for Your strength and support!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Keepsake

Scripture for Today: II Timothy 1:12 “…nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”

A “keepsake” is defined as a small item kept in memory of the person who gave it or originally owned it.  This sand footprint was made to be a keepsake.  At first glance it seemed as an odd choice.  How could something made of sand keep for any length of time?  But in scanning the instructions, I saw that plaster of paris was used, so that it was not as fragile as I first thought.

Today’s verse is about committing something to God’s care.  He keeps it.  He keeps it safe and secure.  It is something that will last into eternity; our soul.  Paul is persuaded that God is able to guard what was entrusted to Him.  He was so convinced of his future in Heaven that he was fearless in his defense and spread of the Gospel.  Paul was able to face imprisonment and even death with a calm assurance.  He knew where he was going and could stay loyal to the One who was keeping his soul secure.

I am so grateful that He keeps my soul.  Even now, I have already died and my life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3)  Being persuaded of this makes a difference to how I go through this journey.  With my eternal destiny decided I can lose my life for His sake.  And in doing so, I find life! (Mark 8:35)  Having this assurance helps me hold on a little less tightly to all that is earthly.  He is guarding for me a hope and future beyond anything that I can imagine.

Thank you Lord, for keeping me secure.