Devotions By Jan


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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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False Alarm!

Scripture for Today:  II Peter 3:4 “They (the scoffers) will say, ‘Where is this coming He promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.'”

The noise was deafening as I quickly sat bolt upright in bed!  The smoke alarm sounded at 3:30 am.  In principle I am glad to know it works.  However, there was no smoke and it was a false alarm.  My husband quickly unscrewed the thing and took it into the garage to try to stop it.  The neighbors were none too happy as it continued to sound.  As it lay there, finally silent (and destroyed) we learned a valuable lesson.  Never try to figure out the workings of a smoke detector in the middle of the night!

There are no false alarms with God’s warnings.  He keeps all of His promises whether they be positive or negative.  His warnings are clear in Scripture, but as today’s verse shows, there will always be those who scoff.  He gives His warnings of judgement to be heeded.  He is not willing that any should perish! (verse 9)  He waits to mete out His justice out of incredible patience.  There are no false alarms with Him, only a desire that all come to repentance while there is still time to do so.

How gracious the Lord is to give warning!  How loving He is to wait.  As there are loved ones in my family who continue to rebel, I am so so thankful that He waits.  But His Word is sure.  There is coming a day of judgement and reckoning, although it is not a popular topic.  However, because of His grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, I am grateful I do not have to fear that day.

Thank you Lord, for sounding the alarm and I pray more would heed it!

 


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Black Sheep

Scripture for Today: Matthew 18:12 “What do you think? If a man own a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?”

We enjoyed meeting our friend’s small herd of sheep in the German countryside.  I found it odd that most of them were black as normally they are more rare.  Back in the day, the black sheep was less valuable as their fleece could not be dyed.  Being the “black sheep” of the family could have been a phrase originating with this in mind, denoting a member who was worthless, or a non-conformist, wandering away from the group.

Today’s verse describes that individual sheep who unlike the rest of the herd, wanders off and goes his own way.  I love how the shepherd goes after that one who is different and does not conform to the behavior of the group.  To our Good Shepherd, each sheep is valuable and worthwhile.  The following verses describe the joy of the shepherd in finding that non-conformist sheep.  There may be disapproval and disdain from the other sheep, but to the Shepherd, there is unconditional love and acceptance!

How do I see my fleece?  Is it black or white and does it matter?  All are sheep and all have wandered off from the Shepherd (Is. 53:6).  How silly of me to think that I am any better or any worse than the other sheep around me.  I was lost and He cared enough to go after me and find me.  He has brought me into the fold as He has done with each of us who have responded to Him in faith.  We are all the same, in need of being found!

Lord, forgive my critical spirit when looking at other sheep.


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Bent by the Wind

Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:6 “I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go about mourning all day long.”

So many of the trees at this beach on the island of Sardinia were bent over as a result of the strong winds.  It was almost impossible to walk through a grove of them and avoid running into their lowered branches.  Some of them were practically horizontal.  Only a few provided the shade we needed at the right height for our picnic.  Even so, they managed to keep growing, in spite of the buffeting from those strong gusts of wind.

Today’s verse talks about being bent over and bowed down as an image for guilt over sin.  David feels the seriousness of his failures so keenly that he mourns all throughout the day.  He describes the guilt he feels as a burden too heavy to bear (verse 4).  He feels that the guilt is even affecting his health when he says there is no soundness in his bones because of his sin (verse 3).  He calls his sin, “folly” (verse 5).

This is exactly what guilt feels like.  But this description is before David confesses (verse 18).  David ends the psalm with confidence in God’s help and forgiveness.  Those strong winds of guilt have him bowed down but he is still standing.  Perhaps David was a “man after God’s own heart” because he recognized the seriousness of his sin and was willing to completely humble himself.

I do not often have this kind of guilt.  It is not that I do not sin as much or as seriously as David.  But I think I am sometimes desensitized to it.  Or my pride just does not allow me to think that I am quite that bad, or that what I have done is so serious.

Lord, examine my heart today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Handle with Care

dropped86542889-resized-600Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”

I have done enough moves to know that having the label, “Fragile, Handle with Care,” slapped on a box is no guarantee that nothing will break!  Sometimes that box with its fragile contents will be upside down, on the bottom of a stack of boxes, or dropped by well-meaning neighbors.  At least my boxes are taped shut as well as labelled, color-coded and numbered.  Even so, there are always a few items that don’t make the journey in one piece.

Today’s verse reassures the believer that the Lord is willing and able to handle all our cares.  He understands that we are fragile and easily broken.  Our bodies are like clay jars, susceptible to cracking in pieces for a reason; so that the power we live our lives by is seen to be from God and not ourselves (II Cor. 4:7)  There is no shame in admitting that we are fragile and in need of gentle handling.  It is in recognizing our weakness that we avail ourselves of His power (II Cor. 12:9).

It takes some humility to admit my need of His care.  I can only give Him my anxieties and experience that care if I humble myself first (I Peter 5:6-7).  The Lord wants to show favor, lift up and sustain those who turn to Him.  But He waits to be asked.  He waits to be needed.  I am too prone to thinking I am just fine and not needing His power.  My pride keeps me from admitting any weakness or need for care.  Until something breaks.  He picks up the pieces and because He cares, He makes things right.

Thank you Lord, for Your precious care.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Escargot

img_20160819_084054Scripture for Today: Hebrews 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

This stand was a common sight at our French open market.  Eating snails is certainly not new.  Their empty shells have been found in archaeological digs suggesting that they have been eaten since prehistoric times!  They are considered a “super food,” as they contain iron, B12, magnesium, selenium, and omega 3.  Still, the idea of eating that slimy creature fills many people with disgust.  And the many steps to prepare escargots make them anything but a “fast food!”  One of the more important steps is purging the snails from anything unhealthy they have been eating.

Today’s verse speaks of our conscience being purged.  The Old Testament system of animal sacrifice served its purpose of symbolizing Christ’s death.  But how much more perfect was the sacrifice Jesus made, once for all!  His sacrifice not only cleanses us from our sin, but purges our consciences as well.  His forgiveness is complete.

Satan would like me to think otherwise.  He whispers in my ear his accusations.  He reminds me of times when I really blew it and let the Lord down.  Satan would like nothing better than to take me out of the game and put me on the sidelines.  How thankful I am that he is wrong!   My conscience has been purged.  I am a new creation in Him.  No accusation from the enemy can change this truth.  When I lay my head on the pillow at night I can sleep easily knowing that Christ has taken care of every sin and failure.

Thank you Lord, that You purge my conscience, making forgiveness complete.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.