Devotions By Jan


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“Tree of 40 Fruit”

Scripture for Today: Romans 11:18 “Do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: you do not support the root – but the root supports you.”

This tree looks completely mixed up!  Several different colors are blooming and in the summer it will bear several different kinds of fruit in sequence!  It is called the “Tree of 40 Fruit.”  Aken, an artist and professor at Syracuse University, put this strange tree together using a process called, “chip grafting.”  By doing this he has created a tree that bears forty different varieties of fruit with pits!

Today’s verse uses the imagery of grafting branches into an olive tree to describe how salvation was offered to the Gentile, or non-Jewish world.  Salvation was brought first to the Jewish race (Rom.1:16).  It was not until they rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah that the Gentiles as a group were included in God’s plan of salvation.  This is illustrated by some branches being cut off and others being grafted in.  In either case, all the branches are on the same footing as all of us are connected to the same Root.  Salvation does not depend on ourselves, our works, or our ethnicity.  It all depends on faith in Christ and His saving work on the cross.

Feeling superior to other races is a deplorable thing and yet, I will admit that I have had thoughts that are not too God-honoring.  Even though God’s love is constant and unconditional, I know that my pride saddens and disappoints Him.  How human it is to believe that one group is better and more deserving of God’s grace than another!  But grace is never deserved.  To be grafted in to the Source of life is an immense privilege and I am so grateful.

Thank you Lord, for including me!

 

 

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Recliners

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.”

When I think of a recliner, this is the image that usually comes to my mind!  Clearly, this particular one is well past its prime!  I realize that there are sleek modern versions now.  One of the selling points is often that it doesn’t look like a recliner, as if the look is somehow less than appealing!

Today’s verses were illustrated using a recliner in one of  Billy Graham’s sermons.  He recounted the story of a Bible translator who had trouble finding an equivalent for the word, “faith” in a tribal language.  For months he struggled until he saw a tribesman relaxing in a hammock.  He asked him what he was doing and the man answered that he was reclining.  The man was resting his whole weight on the hammock, trusting that it would hold him up.  In the same way, faith means putting all your trust and confidence in something (or Someone) outside of one’s self.

There is nothing I can do to save myself.  No amount of good works can qualify me to enter Heaven.  It is only because of His free gift of grace that I am saved.  Placing my faith in Him and His grace means that I no longer feel the burden of being “good enough.”  Reclining on His grace erases doubt forever as salvation does not depend on me.  Reclining on His grace gives me the soul rest I so desperately need.  He wants me to recline or rest on His finished work on the cross.  What a gift!  What grace!

Lord, “keep me ever trusting, resting.”


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Safety Gloves

Scripture for Today: Revelation 21:27  Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

These disposable safety gloves are so important in keeping our health professionals free of contamination.  But there is another pair of gloves on display at the Ghetto Fighters’ House museum in Israel.  They are the gloves worn by an Israel Security Service Agent when grabbing Adolf Eichmann off the streets of Argentina in 1960.  This Nazi criminal was brought back to Jerusalem to stand trial for his barbaric role in the massacre of Jews and was hung for his crimes.  Although Eichmann looked so unassuming and ordinary, the agent used gloves rather than touch pure evil.

Today’s verse declares that nothing evil will ever enter Heaven.  No one who has ever done anything impure, shameful or deceitful will be able to gain access to God’s presence.  The Almighty One is so holy that His eyes are too pure to even look on evil (Hab. 1:13).  The perverse person is an abomination to the Lord, not only by his actions but also by his thoughts (Prov. 15:26).  But being that there is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10) how can anyone enter?  The Lamb’s Book of Life contains the names of those who have placed their faith in Christ’s righteousness and His sacrifice for their sin.

Nothing I could ever do would qualify me to enter Heaven apart from trusting Him.  The ground in front of the cross is level and I stand just as guilty as the most deplorable Nazi.  But thankfully because of Jesus, the Lamb of God, I can boldly approach His throne and find mercy and grace (Heb. 4:16).

Thank you Lord, that Your mercy and grace made a way for me!


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Muddy

Scripture for Today: Psalm 101:3 “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.”

This dog looks absolutely thrilled to be covered in mud!  Dog owners say there are three seasons for a dog; grass, snow, and mud!  There is something about that gooey slimy mud that can feel so good to a dog.  Some dogs cannot wait to roll around in it and then blithely track it all through the house!  There are all kinds of articles that deal with mud removal for dogs and training dogs to stand still for that all-important towel off.

In today’s verse David is resolved to separate himself from anything that is vile.  He avows that he will have nothing to do with faithless people.  In his house, which in his case is a palace, he is determined to conduct the affairs of his household with a blameless heart (verse 2).  David wants nothing to do with evil (verse 4).

I have the same desire to make my house an evil-free zone!  The dirty slime of sin daily enters my home by my own dirty feet but thankfully, just as for the disciples, Jesus washes them with His forgiveness (John 13).  However, additional dirt seems to make its way in the door by what  I allow my eyes to look upon with approval, ie the media.

For me, what used to be shocking no longer rattles me.  What was formerly disturbing now passes by unnoticed.  It is not that I am looking on images and story lines with approval, but I do let them take up residence without comment or resistance.  How much better to fill my mind with what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable! (Phil. 4:8)

Lord, keep me out of the mud.

 


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Walled City

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 18:19 “A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city; disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.”

We see many of these walled villages in Alsace, France.  Pictured here is Eguisheim, one of our favorites.  Its cobblestone streets and beautiful flowers make for a pleasant walk.  The town is laid out in concentric circles, the outer most circle of homes forming a wall.  Charm oozes from these quaint 16th century homes as they not only house families but provide a line of defense from attack.  It would be difficult to scale the wall without attracting the attention of the home owners or their neighbors.

Today’s verse describes how difficult it is to win back someone who has been wronged.  He has put up an impenetrable wall around his heart.  His resolve not to be further wronged is like being barricaded behind the gates of a fortress.  Because of hurt and a deep sense of betrayal, he is as unyielding as stone and metal.  This proverb does not say it is impossible to win him back, but that getting past that natural self-protection will be very difficult.

It took nearly eighteen years to get back in the good graces of a brother who felt we had wronged him.  There have been countless attempts to scale that wall with numerous apologies and expressions of regret.  We would not have continued our efforts had we not cared for him so much.  Eventually, he felt that love and our sincerity.  Small cracks in the wall began to grow and now, our friendship is back on good footing and we are thankful!  Being forgiven was one thing.  Becoming close again was quite another and well worth the effort.

Thank you Lord, that because of You, healed relationships are possible!


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Speed Limit

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.”

This has got to be the best kind of speed limit sign….open to interpretation!  Like many others, we tend to think that there is wiggle room with most freeway speed limits.  Popular belief says that going just five miles over the speed limit does not really count.  So imagine our surprise when we were pulled over for just that on our cross country trek!  No matter that road conditions were ideal or that we were keeping up with the flow of traffic.  The law is the law.  And whether going over the limit by one mile or ten, we were still breaking the law.

Today’s verse has bad news and good news. The bad news is that all are guilty of breaking God’s Law.  None of us can match up to the holiness and glory of a just and perfect God.  Some fall just a little short.  Others fall short by quite a bit.  No matter.  No one can stand before a holy and righteous God on one’s own merits.  But the good news is that Christ has redeemed us through His sacrifice on the cross and through His grace we have right standing with Him.

It does not matter how good I may look to others.  I am just as in need of God’s grace as the most hardened criminal.  There can be no spiritual pride when I understand that small word, “all.”  And I am so thankful for a grace that is also for “all.”  There is no difference between Jew or Gentile (verse 22) or any other distinction I could make.

Thank you Lord, that Your grace includes me.

 

 

 


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Québec License Plate

Scripture for Today: Lamentations 3:21-23  “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

This license plate says, “I remember.”  But what is it that we are not supposed to forget?  This saying was coined by Eugène-Etienne Taché having carved it on to the stone entrance to the parliament building in 1883.  Some believe he wanted to keep alive the memory of the heroes in Québec’s history.  Others prefer to think of it as a jab at the British.

Today’s verse tells us to remember.  We are told to call to mind God’s GREAT love, His compassions and His faithfulness.  In doing so we can live with hope.  Although our sins condemn us, we are not consumed in righteous anger.  He has compassion on us and has provided a solution in the sacrifice of His Son.  He continues to show a compassion that never fails and is renewed every morning.  His faithfulness is as big as His love.  This is what we need to remember, especially in the dark times.  And with remembrance comes hope!

It is because of the hard times that I can say with confidence that God is loving, compassionate and faithful.  Somehow, the pressure of hard times improves my memory.  I wish it did not take trials to remember, but it does.  When I look back on the difficulties He has brought me through, I am always reminded of His love and faithfulness to me.  Today I want to call these truths to mind without the stimulus of a trial.

Lord, help me to focus on Your great love, Your compassions and Your faithfulness!