Devotions By Jan

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Artisan Soap

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 5:25-26  “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the Word,”

I love going to our open market in Guebwiller, France and smelling the homemade soaps for sale! There is such variety it is difficult to choose. My favorite is lavender because I like to think its fragrance is soothing. But there are all kinds available, including lemon verbena, almond, honey and so many more. Some are made with olive oil, others with shea butter. There are soaps that have crushed flowers or herbs in them. But one thing they all have in common is that they make one clean, even the black soap!

Today’s verse describes how Christ sets apart and cleanses those who are part of His church, also called His Bride. His goal is to create in us glorious splendor! One day we will be holy and faultless, without spot or wrinkle. This soapy cleaning process starts with His sacrifice on the cross. The believer is washed in His blood and his sins are forgiven forever. Those who come to Christ in faith are washed whiter than snow and it is all His doing. 

I have had my bath but my feet still get dirty (John 13:1-10). That is when I need “spiritual soap.” And that cleansing comes from God’s Word. The Lord uses His Word to signal to me what needs to be put right in my life. It does not happen every time, but very often. When I am in His Word I am motivated to to obey Him. He uses the written Word to speak to me and our relationship becomes closer. I come away from these encounters squeaky clean and smelling good!

Thank you Lord, that one day, soap will no longer be needed!

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“We Came in Peace”

Scripture for Today: Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

It was this day in 1969 that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the lunar module, Eagle, on the surface of the moon. They set it down in the “Sea of Tranquility” although I doubt that either of the men were tranquil as the Eagle’s overactive computers sounded alarms! They left behind a plaque reading, “Here men from planet earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

Today’s verse is also a message of peace offered to all mankind. This was the message of the angels to the shepherds in the fields at the occasion of Christ’s birth. This peace is nothing like what the world can produce. It is a peace between estranged mankind and their Creator. In our rebellion we were enemies against the God of the universe (Romans 5:10). But God initiated a reconciliation through the substitutionary death of His Son. Jesus Himself is our peace. For those who accept His forgiveness through the cross, there is now a relationship possible with Him where before there was none.

The huge obstacle to having peace with God was my sin. But because He has paid the punishment I so richly deserved, there is now a closeness and communion. I can enjoy His presence in my life as I am no longer under any condemnation (Romans 8:1). Not only is there peace with Him but He enables me to live in peace with others! And what is really amazing is that sense of peace and well-being He puts in my heart. What an incredible gift to live with this inner peace in a world that is so troubled!

Thank you Lord, for Your gift of peace.


Below the Surface

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 4:13 “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

I am holding what looks to be a branch. But in fact it is a ficus root from our neighbor’s tree! For years and years the roots have spread, seeking out any cool damp earth. Unfortunately, they found some beneath the foundation of our bathroom! These ficus roots are notorious for breaking up patios, roads and building foundations! With moisture, the roots will expand in girth, creating havoc where no one sees!

Today’s verse tells us that there is nothing hidden from God, not even those nasty ficus roots! What is covered and secret to the human eye is uncovered and open to His scrutiny. He sees what no one else does: the motive, the intent, the circumstances and the rationale behind everything. The Lord is the only One who can see it all and judge with perfect justice.

When I first read this verse it made me squirm. There are regrets in my life that I prefer stay out of sight. Fortunately, when God sees those failures, He also sees the perfect righteousness of Christ. The right standing I have with God is His gift to me through faith in Jesus! (Romans 3:22) On that coming day of reckoning I can be assured that there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1) as His blood has washed away every nasty dirty sin. For the believer, this verse is a comfort and reassurance that His justice will triumph over all wickedness! What is sown will one day be reaped, whether good or evil. What a relief it will be to see the right prevail!

Thank you Lord that You see it all!

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Independence Day

Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:17-18 “Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sin.”

How wonderful to put aside differences and nationally celebrate our independence as a country! Parades, picnics and fireworks mark this special day. Flags make their appearance on lawns and often neighborhoods will celebrate collectively. It looks as if this little girl is celebrating her independence from parental control! Those toddler years are full of struggle for independence, as any parent in the trenches knows.

Today’s verse shows us the results of independence from our Creator. This is man’s natural inclination, to be autonomous and govern his own life his own way. The problem comes from the anguish, affliction and distress that sinful choices can produce. David so acutely feels the troubles of his heart that he pleads with the Lord to free him. When in our independence we choose our own way rather than His, we risk following a path of destruction, even when it looks oh so right (Prov. 14:12). The Lord never intended man to be independent from Him.

My desire to live without any constraints is normal. No one likes anyone telling them what to do or what behaviors to avoid. But every one of His commandments are meant to give me freedom! (Psalm 119:45) They free me from the heart trouble and the anguish of being separated from the Lover of my soul! Being dependent on Him gives me true freedom to live in the light of His love and favor! But like the stubborn toddler who thinks they know better than the parent, I pull away. How good He is to bring me back to Himself with powerful loving arms!

Thank you Lord, for the freedom that comes with dependence on You!

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Humble Pie

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

This pie actually looks good! But the word “humble” in the expression “humble pie” actually came from a different word. In the early 1400’s “numble” was the word for chopped organ meat from venison, often baked in a pastry. The “n” was eventually dropped and the “h” added. Numbles were for the huntsmen, his family and his companions whereas the choice deer meat was sold to the upper class. Today, eating “humble pie” means to act apologetically and admit one’s error.

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. Eating humble pie is never a very comfortable experience.

As difficult as it is to humble myself, His grace makes it worth it! I would much rather live in His undeserved 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 myself! How good of Him to bring me to my knees in humility!

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