Devotions By Jan


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Pinterest Fail

Scripture for Today: Psalm 51:1 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”

Pinterest has raised the bar for all of us.  The creativity and seeming perfection of these projects can motivate and inspire.  But , expectations can fall far short of reality!  There are many hilarious examples of Pinterest fails in the areas of cooking, pet or baby photo shoots or crafts.  Self image can take a serious hit  when our versions cannot compare!  What starts out with hopeful anticipation can sometimes end in abject failure.

Today’s verse is a cry for mercy on the part of King David.  He feels very keenly his failure to live up to God’s standards of righteousness.  This entire psalm is a prayer of confession following his adultery with Bathsheba.  His bones feel crushed with the weight of his sin (verse 8) and his spirit is broken(verse 17).  David declares that God is right to judge him (verse 4) so he throws himself on God’s mercy and unfailing love.  And because of God’s love being constant and unfailing, He answers David’s plea with a new clean heart, restoring his joy.

He will never fail me, nor will His love.  There is nothing I can say or do that will change His love for me (Rom. 8:38).  He knows I am weak and made from the dust.  There is nothing in me that merits His love.  I know I will continually fail Him, but He will never fail me (II Timothy 2:13).  During my times of abject failure and guilt, He extends to me His mercy and His grace.  And with my confession comes His reassurance of unfailing love.  He is the God of second chances and can transform what is dirty into what is clean, white and new!

Thank you Lord, for Your unfailing love.

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Gift Horse

Scripture for Today: Galatians 2:21 “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.”

I know one is,”Never to look a gift horse in the mouth” but the temptation is too strong with this smile!!  This old expression was first a Latin proverb attributed to St. Jerome in the early 5th century.  It referred to the practice of looking into the horse’s mouth to determine its age.  Nothing seems so wrong about that except that to do so in front of the giver of the horse is not well viewed!  It has come to mean being suspicious or critical of something received at no cost.

In today’s verse, Paul does not set aside or diminish the importance of God’s grace.  It is by God’s unmerited favor that we are made righteous.  We cannot be justified by the works of the law but only by faith in His sacrifice for sin (verse 16).  But there is something innate in our humanness that disdains what is freely given.  We want to feel that we had a part in meriting salvation.  We feel we need to work, sacrifice, or do something.  But as Paul says. if that were so than there was no reason for Christ to sacrifice Himself.

The offer of His salvation came at no cost to me but the cost to Himself was enormous!  There is nothing left to do but respond in joyful surrender.  What heartache He must feel when I set aside His grace and start to think that I am really something and deserve anything!  But when I understand how far-reaching His grace is to have taken hold of me, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Thank you Lord, for Your sweet amazing grace.

 


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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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S & H Green Stamps

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

Collecting these green stamps was part of my everyday life growing up.  The disagreeable part was licking the back of them to put in the collector’s book!  These stamps were one of the first loyalty programs.  From 1930 to the late 80’s, Sperry and Hutchinson rewarded customers with stamps at grocery stores, department stores and gas stations.  They could be redeemed for a variety of products from their catalog.  I remember dreaming over certain products but my Mother redeemed them for more practical choices.

Today’s verse redeems something infinitely more important than stamps!  God redeems our lives.  He brings us up from the pit and restores dignity with the gift of His unconditional love and compassion.  He redeems us from the “realm of the dead” and takes us to Himself (Ps.49:15).  And He didi it at an enormous cost to Himself!  Not with gold or silver but with the precious blood of Christ (I Peter 1:18-19).  He gave Himself to redeem us (Titus 2:14).  No one can redeem the life of another (Ps. 49:7-9)  He did for us what none of us could do for ourselves!

The only reasonable response to being redeemed is praise!  And part of expressing that praise is for the redeemed to say so!! (Psalm 107:2)  He is my personal Redeemer!  Nothing obligated Him to pull me up from that pit.  His love and compassion for me are completely unearned!  Not only does He give me what I do not deserve but He does not treat me as my sins do deserve (Psalm 103:10).  What amazing love, what incredible compassion that He would give His life in exchange for mine!

I am redeemed and how I do love to proclaim it!


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Plane Trees

Scripture for today: John 13:10 “Jesus answered, ‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.'”

I love seeing these ornamental plane trees lining the roads in France.  They grow quite tall and quickly, providing welcomed shade.  They are especially used in urban areas as they do so well in the dirty air.  The plane tree is impervious to the smog as their bark routinely peels off.  The dirty bark is exfoliated and in its place, the inner shades of white, grey, green and yellow show through.

Today’s verse talks about ridding ourselves of dirt.  Jesus is washing the disciples’ feet, a custom normally relegated to the servants.  He uses this image to teach, not only about the humility He expects of believers, but also about keeping our hearts cleansed of sin.  With the exception of Judas, the disciples had already bathed in His complete forgiveness.  But journeying through daily life, feet pick up the dirt of wrong choices, bad habits and failures to withstand temptation.  It is a daily exercise to agree with Him in confession and allow Him to wash our feet.

Agreeing with the Lord about my wrong thoughts or behavior is not always easy or comfortable.  But there is a wonderful sense of renewal when I can stop being defensive and own up to it.  Yes, He has already bathed me in complete forgiveness.  Every sin I have done, past, present and future has been paid for on that cross.  I am under no condemnation for my sin (Romans 8:1).  But when I allow my feet to remain dirty, I am the one who misses out on blessing and closeness with my Lord.

Lord, keep me clean and close to You today.