Devotions By Jan


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Bookworm

Scripture for Today: Revelation 20:12 “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”

An avid reader is often called a “bookworm” and the idea is sweet.  But the other meaning of this word is pretty disgusting!  The term refers to any insect that bores or tunnels through a book, leaving behind some pretty serious damage.  They can range from silverfish to termites, although most of these insects are beetles.  Oddly enough, none of the culprits are worms!  Sometimes it is not the paper that they are after but rather the leather or the glue in the binding.

It is odd to think that there will be books in heaven, but according to today’s verse there are.  One book is singled out as incredibly important; the book of life.  It will be used at the Great White Throne Judgement and will determine one’s eternity!  Being judged according to one’s deeds is the future of those who reject salvation through Jesus.  There is nothing worse.  No one will be able to stand on their own merit.  “There is none righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10)  And the deed that condemns is choosing one’s own way of “good deeds” over the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

It is because of God’s promise that my name is written in the book of life.  Praise God there is no condemnation for me because I have accepted His sacrifice! (Romans 8:1).  What amazing love!  I am so thankful that there is no fear of judgement because of His saving grace!

Lord, thank you for writing my name in Your book.

Photo credit: Dominic Mason https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bookworm_Grub_and_the_damage_done.jpg


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Galette des Rois

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 103:4 “Who redeems your life from the  pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”

Just when you thought the  holidays were over….they’re not!  Today is the Epiphany, commemorating the visit of the Magi-Kings to the baby Jesus.  The date of January 6th closes the period of the twelve days since Christmas.  In France it is called Fête des Rois or Festival of the Kings.  It is celebrated by eating a special galette cake made of puff pastry, almond paste, and baked with a hidden fève or figurine inside.  Whoever has this coveted tiny figure in their slice has the right to wear the gold paper crown!

In today’s verse God’s love and compassion are depicted as a crown that gives us value and honor.  The context is forgiveness of sin and healing.  In His love He lifts us up from the pit of guilt and condemnation.  We were unable to crawl out of that pit on our own.  But He had compassion on us and redeemed us at a great price to Himself.  He wore a humiliating and painful crown of thorns in order to crown us with love and compassion!

The fact that He knows every dirty little secret and still loves me is an incredible thought!  He has lifted me up from the depths of my own sin and guilt and made me precious with this crown!  His love and compassion make me valuable.  I had no value of my own to claim in that muddy slimy pit.  He has set me apart with His crowning distinction.  I can have no other response than to praise Him with my whole life and my entire being!

Thank you Lord, for Your love and compassion crowning this undeserving head!

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Gift Exchange

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.”

I love a Christmas party when there are gifts involved!  Whether it be an ornament exchange or even a white elephant exchange, there is the anticipation of bringing home something different or unexpected.  The only problem for me comes when I bring home something a whole lot nicer than what I brought!

Today’s verse teaches that there is nothing we can exchange with God for our salvation.  Very clearly it states that salvation does not come through our work or efforts.  We want to think that somehow, something we did contributed to being saved.  But no matter how hard one works to earn Heaven, man will always fall short of the perfect standard of God’s holiness.  Trying to exchange our righteous deeds for His free gift of salvation does not work.  Those good deeds are just “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).  Salvation is a gift from God.  There is nothing I can offer Him in exchange!  Because this is true, none of us can boast about having anything to do with it!

My gratitude towards God grows by leaps and bounds when I grasp this truth.  It is all grace and it is amazing!  There is tremendous freedom in my spirit to be assured that my salvation depends on Him and not my efforts.  Without this truth, I would always be in a state of fear and worry about my eternal destination.  Putting my faith and trust in what HE did on that cross rather than in what I can do makes my heart light!

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible gift of grace!


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Sticker Shock

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 6:19-20  “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

If the idea of “sticker shock” is to be shocked at a price, then this menu item fits the bill!  What makes the $247.95 price so very shocking is that it is listed with reasonably priced offerings!  When looking closely one can see why the price is so high.  But at the risk of sounding like a food snob, I cannot imagine pairing such a high end drink with the lowly hamburger!

Today’s verse talks about a price that God paid.  The price He paid was enormously high and shocking!  On that cross He shed blood and died.  He paid the debt that we owe for our own sin.  And it cost Him everything.  The only reasonable response is to honor Him with the body He has transformed into a temple for His Spirit.  As a temple, we are to be holy and set apart for Him.

My body rightfully belongs to Him.  I am not my own.  Because of His sacrifice I am His.  So then, I am to honor Him in all I do.  I am to keep this body pure and in good shape.  But frankly, I do not always do a good job of it.  Thankfully, He does not go to “Returns” because I am defective!  He did not purchase me because I was worth it.  He purchased me to give me worth.  It is amazing that He would think I could be worth loving, worth holding.  But He does.  He created me to be His.

Thank you Lord, that I am forever Yours!


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Jerusalem Cricket

Photo by Jeff Turner

Scripture for Today: I John 3:1 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.”

Legend has it that a priest while living among the Navajo misinterpreted their name for this big-headed insect.  They called it “Skull Head” but he heard “Skull Hill.”  This put in mind the name, Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified.  But this cricket is also called Red Skull, Old Bald-Headed Man and Child of the Earth.

Today’s verse speaks of the Father’s great love for His own.  It is a love that He lavished on us to the extent that He even calls us, “children of God.”  No longer do we belong to the world.  Our identity has been changed forever as His children.  We call Him Father and we call other believers in this worldwide family, brothers and sisters.  The world often fails to recognize this family as they do not know the Father.  And it is only through faith in Christ, His Son that we can belong to this family (Gal. 3:26).

I am a child of God.  What an amazing humbling truth!  As His child I no longer belong to the world or conform to it (Romans 12:2).  No longer am I led by the current thinking or fad but instead I am led by His Spirit (Romans 8:14).  Because I have received Him and believed on His name, He has graciously made me His (John 1:12).  I am not always such an obedient child.  There are times each day when I let down my Father.  But unlike any human family relationship, I can always count on His love and forgiveness.

Thanks you Lord, for making me Your child.

 


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Stupid Directions!

Scripture for Today: James 4:6 “But He gives us more grace. That is why the Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'”

The other day while finding our way in the mountains, our GPS got totally confused.  Her voice stayed confident as she told us take the second exit at the round point where there was none!  There were several times that had we obeyed her, we would have turned right into the mountainside!  After listening to her continue to give us outrageous directions, we finally just turned her off!  Thankfully, we had an old fashioned map as a back up.  But not once did she apologize!  She never said, “I was wrong and you were right!”

Today’s verse talks about more grace that is given to the humble.  As undeserving as we are, those who can come clean with the Lord about their failures experience His favor.  But there is something in all of us that bristles at the thought of admitting our errors.  Sometimes, the only way it can happen is if we can point to extenuating circumstances!  Or we can maybe admit we were wrong if someone can share our chagrin.  It is never a comfortable experience.

As uncomfortable as it is to be humbled, His grace makes it worth it!  I would much rather live in His favor than have Him be opposed to me.  But each time I allow pride, stubbornness and determined independence from Him to creep into my day, I am foregoing His desire to bless me.  Half the time I do not even realize it is happening as I am so full of it!  How good of Him to bring me to my knees!

Forgive me my pride, Lord.  Oh how I need your grace today!


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Co-Parenting App

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”

These two sheep seem to be communicating just fine.  But for many divorced parents, the communication between Mom and Dad continues to be as explosive as when married.  In an effort to stay out of court, some judges mandate that the parents try a co-parenting application.  The idea is to reduce conflict and improve communication through custody calendars, records for shared expenses and a private messaging center.  A warning appears when the app senses abusive language or sarcasm.  The application is sometimes called a “robot mediator.”

Today’s verse talks about the only mediator needed between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.  He is the only One who is uniquely qualified as both fully man and fully God to be that mediator.  Jesus as the sinless Great High Priest, ever lives to make intercession for us to the Father.  He is there at the right hand of God for that very purpose (Romans 8:34).  Every time Satan accuses us, Jesus intercedes.  Every time we feel unworthy because of our sin, Jesus intercedes with the reminder that He paid for that sin.

Jesus, being my mediator, assures me that I can enter that heavenly throne room and approach with confidence (Hebrews 4:16).  Because of the blood of Jesus I can receive mercy and find grace for every need (Hebrews 10:19).  No one else can do that for me!  How incredible it is that I can draw near to the God of the universe because of my faithful Mediator!  He is the bridge that spans the chasm of sin that once separated us.  Because of Jesus, I can enjoy a communication and closeness unparalleled.

Thank you Lord, for being my perfect loving Mediator.