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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Crowning This New Year

Scripture for Today: Psalm 65:11 “You crown the year with Your good blessings and You leave abundance in Your wake.”

This crown belongs to Queen Elizabeth and being that it weighs three pounds, the quote from Shakespeare must be especially true for her; “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”  It is so heavy that the Queen will practice wearing it a few days before having to don it for an official ceremony.  But the crown is impressive with its valuable jewels.  More than that, it impresses as a symbol of power and authority.

Today’s verse describes a power and authority much larger than that of an earthly monarch!  We serve the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  It is in His power to crown a year with His blessing and abundance!  He came in order to give His followers a life that is abundant (John 10:10).  He promises His blessings for those who are obedient to Him.  His eyes search over the entire earth to see whose hearts are fully committed to Him, in order to strengthen them (II Chron. 16:9).  He looks to bless His own with good things as a Father does for his son (Matt. 7:11).

How reassuring to be His own and face this new year with trust and confidence in His provision!  I do not know what the new year will hold, but like the saying says, “I know who holds the future.”  He is worth trusting.  He will crown this new year with His goodness toward me.  I know this with every fiber of my being because He has promised, and He has been so faithful in the past.  Whatever this new year may hold, I can look forward to the eventual fulfillment of every hope and every dream.

Happy New Year to all my readers and may you experience blessing this New Year!


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“CAVU”

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:1 “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited, or CAVU, is an aviation term that pilots use to indicate good flying weather.  But it is also used as slang to mean anything sought after or desirable.  For the late President George H.W. Bush, this term described his approach to life.  He had the acronym on a plaque in his office.  And on his 80th birthday he described his life as CAVU, “thanks to my family and friends.”

Today’s verse gives us a look past the ceiling of the sky to something beyond.  It is only visible to our spiritual eyes.  But like the former president, this unobstructed view of Heaven is to describe our approach to life.  We have been raised up with Christ from the old life to the new.  We are to set not only hearts but also our minds (verse 2) on what is there.  Christ is there, seated at the right hand of God.  Our focus is to be on this reality more than on the temporal things of earth.

I can only “see” beyond the things of this earth by being in His Word.  The truths read and studied there lift my sights to what is eternal.  I frankly could not smile without being reassured in His Word of what is to come.  Life can be pretty awful sometimes.  Knowing that God has planned what eye cannot see, ear cannot hear or even what our minds cannot imagine (I Cor. 2:9) is an enormous comfort when things are so sad and so hard.

Thank you Lord, that, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim,” when I see You.

 

 

 

 

 


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Chocolate River!

Scripture for Today:  Romans 5:15 “But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died by the trespass of one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many.”

This looks like a dream come true….a river of chocolate!  About a ton of liquid chocolate recently escaped its storage tank near Werl, Germany, flowing out to the street!  When it hit the chilly sidewalks it solidified, making clean-up difficult.  Even so, 25 firefighters were able to scoop up the mess with their shovels.  I wonder if any of it ended up in mouths as well!

Today’s verse talks about an overflow that is even better than chocolate!  Paul is teaching that even though the consequences of Adam’s sin are far reaching and for all time, God’s grace and salvation overflows to the many.  His grace or unmerited favor is greater than all our sin (Romans 5:20).  There is not a single sin that is not covered by God’s grace when confessed.  The gift of His grace is much greater than the judgement that followed that one sin of Adam’s.  Christ’s gift of grace covers all sin and provides right standing with God (verse 16).

God’s abundant supply of grace is overflowing.  He never stops it up and says, “that’s enough!”  His grace never runs dry.  It continually flows bringing forgiveness and righteousness!  As I continually sin, I need His grace to be overflowing.  Everyday I need to feel His love and forgiveness wash over me, giving me a new start.  Everyday I can count on His grace as it has nothing to do with me earning it and everything to do with His incredible love.

Thank you Lord, for Your overflowing grace to me!

 


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A California Christmas!

Scripture for Today: Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

In Southern California, our “white” Christmas was only white because of the sand!  This manger scene built on the beach is about as “Christmassy” as we can manage close to the waves of the ocean.  Perhaps it will last a bit longer being put together with stones.  However, it is a sure thing that it will disappear.  Perhaps, two days after Christmas, the feelings of peace and joy have already disappeared as well.

Today’s verse says that our hearts can be made of stone.  Hearts made of stone are stubborn, resistant and unresponsive to God’s voice.  This heart may occasionally feel a taste of that peace and joy at Christmas time.  But it is generally hard with self-protection.  Having a heart of flesh can make one vulnerable to hurt.  However, a heart of stone can carry one through life without being broken.  A heart of stone will not feel guilt or conviction either.  A hard heart made of stone can be proudly self-sufficient.

Every time I move away from the Lord by neglecting His Word and prayer, I feel my heart start to harden around the edges.  The longer I allow this to continue, the more difficult it is to get back to that soft heart of flesh that listens and obeys.  It is with a heart of flesh that I can experience the peace and joy He offers.  It is His new spirit within me that makes me open to His love.  Living with a stone heart is not life at all.

Lord, keep my heart soft towards You today.


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The Day After

Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, to seek Him in His temple.”

The Christmas tree stripped of its presents can seem a little forlorn.  The leftovers in foil and plastic wrap don’t look quite as inviting as they did the day before.  The Christmas Carols suddenly sound a bit worn out and “tinny.”  There is definitely something missing.  The anticipation is gone.  And one wonders where that warm fuzzy feeling ran off to.  In its place there seems to be not only exhaustion but a certain let-down.  If we could just hang on to that feeling of beauty and contentment!

Today’s verse speaks of a place where we can constantly dwell.  There is no day after.  One never needs to leave.  There is beauty in this place.    To be in the Lord’s presence and gaze upon His beauty is an experience that never gets old and never has to end.  The warmth and comfort of His love rivals any warm and fuzzy feeling from holidays, music and decorations.

There are many things I could have requested for Christmas.  But I have lived long enough to know that any item will eventually lose its shine and luster.  But the beauty of the Lord is forever and He invites me to continually gaze on Him!  In His presence I can sing and make music to Him (verse 6).  He will always receive me (verse 10) and I never have to worry about Him rejecting or forsaking me (verse 9).  Regardless of what is happening around me, it is there that I want to stay!

Lord, keep me seeking You above all else.


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It’s a Wonderful Life

Scripture for Today: John 10:10 “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

What was originally considered a flop and put on the shelf for years has now become a Christmas classic!  It’s a Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey (James Stewart) whose dreams for himself have never been realized.  It wasn’t until an angel shows him what life would have been like had he never lived, that George sees just how wonderful his life has been!  In the words of one of the cast’s few surviving actors, Karolyn Grimes (little ZuZu) “As long as we have faith, family and friends – you know what – we’re good.”

Today’s verse is a promise from Jesus, our Good Shepherd.  He came to give to His followers a life that is wonderful and full.  That does not mean that it is a life without difficulty.  We have plenty of trouble in this world but we can also experience peace as He has overcome it (John 16:33).  The richness and fulness come from our relationship with Him.  Any other kind of life is missing that spiritual dimension for which we are made.  It is only with the Giver of life that we can experience life as it was meant to be.

I do not want to be distracted by what the world says is a wonderful life.  Of course I enjoy lights and glitter, presents and life’s comfort.  I enjoy friends and family, even and despite the occasional discord.  But Jesus says HE is the Life.  Everything else pales in comparison!  When I experience that intimate daily relationship with my Creator, I experience life as it is meant to be lived.  He makes my life full by His very presence!

Thank you Lord, for the wonderful life You give.