Devotions By Jan


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Slip Cover

Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And You forgave the guilt of my sin.”

My couch was only three years old and from a reputable company.  And yet, being made of bonded leather, it slowly “unbonded” with cracking and chipping.  Being that it was structurally sound I decided to invest in a good slip cover.  The difference was immediate!  I sit on it and it does not move.  And best of all, those obvious flaws are covered and it looks brand new!

Today’s verse tells us that we can very successfully cover up our flaws.  By not acknowledging our disobedience and rebellion against the Lord, we do our best to hide our imperfections.  And it can even seem successful.  Like Adam and Eve who immediately covered themselves with fig leaves after their disobedience, we too have that have the tendency to hide the problem.  As long as we do so, forgiveness is unavailable.  The Lord waits for us to come clean with Him and admit our sin.  And when we do, He is gracious to forgive not only the sin but even the guilt it produces!

Eventually, the cover starts to slip when I try to hide my disobedience.  Sure, I can look good on the outside, but He is not fooled.  He sees all the problems underneath.  My cover up leaves me struggling with feelings of guilt and shame.  He knows and I know what I am hiding.  But with sincere confession, He forgives the sin and the guilt.  There is no longer the need for covering up as He makes me absolutely new! (II Cor. 5:17)

Thank you Lord,  that You know what is underneath and You love and forgive me anyway.

 

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Rainbow Cake

Scripture for Today: Romans 16:19 “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil.”

There is a twist in the new season of the television show, The Bachelor.  Everyone is talking about his complete inexperience.  Some think it wonderful.  Others are scratching their heads.  The young woman interviewed before meeting him had her doubts.  She felt that no one could know if a person was the right one without a trial run.  She described her life as a “rainbow cake,” having tried many colors and flavors!

Today’s verse flies in the face of that kind of thinking.  Wisdom comes from knowing and practicing what is good according to God’s standards.  Believers are to be totally innocent and even naive when it comes to evil.  Unlike Eve, we do not have to touch or eat evil to recognize it (Genesis 3).  God has made His laws clear and they are established, not to ruin our fun but to protect our vulnerable hearts and give us the best life possible.  There is even delight in the path of His commands (Ps. 119:35)

The only thing I miss out on when saying, “no,” to temptation is the heartache that can come with it.  The prevailing thought changes with the times but His standards are eternal.  What the world says is wise is absolute foolishness in God’s eyes when it deviates from His law (I Cor. 1:20)  How is it that the creature thinks he knows better than the Creator?  I do not want my life to be a rainbow cupcake.  I want it to be the pure unsullied white of His righteousness.  I want to be sweet, naive and innocent.

Thank you Lord, that Your forgiveness makes that possible!

 

 


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Most Sinful Cities?

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.”

Do you live in a sinful city?  A study was done recently by WalletHub ranking American cities by their level of sin.  The areas judged were Anger and Hatred, Jealousy, Excesses and Vices, Greed, Lust, Vanity and Laziness.  It was interesting to see how each of these categories led to overt crimes or social ills.  Here is their list of the top ten: (number one being most sinful) 1. Las Vegas 2. Los Angeles 3. New York 4. Houston 5. St Louis 6. Atlanta 7. Miami 8. Philadelphia 9. Chicago 10. Orlando.

Today’s verse helps to level the playing field.  All is a pretty inclusive word!  There is not a city, village or hamlet on this earth that is not affected by sin.  And the reason these cities are sinful has very little to do with what city ordinances allow or do not allow.  The reason cities are sinful is because they are full of sinful people.  The hard truth taught in Scripture is that all of mankind stands guilty of sin before the Lord.  We all fall short of the glory of His perfection.

I am so thankful that this hard truth does not stop there!  Just as all have broken God’s laws, so all have the opportunity to be freely forgiven and declared righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice!  I have been bought back from sin’s ownership because of His love and grace!  I am a sinner but I am a sinner that is saved by His grace.  I do not deserve it.  But because of His unmerited favor, I am “in Christ” (Rom. 8:1) and my sin no longer condemns me!

Thank you Lord, for forgiving me.

 


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911 Call from Space

Scripture for Today: Psalm 138:3 “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.”

It was an honest mistake.  But answering a 911 from space is maybe just a bit too much for this emergency service to handle!  Andre Kuipers, a Dutch astronaut,  admitted to this dialing mistake while on the International Space Station.  From space, a call via Houston would begin with a 9 for an outside line, then 011 for an international line.  Understandable.  But the security alert set off at the Houston Center had everyone confused!

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance of the access we have with the Creator of the universe.  Calling on Him is never a mistake.  A call is never dropped and His answers are timely.  In fact, He answers on the very day we call!  Whatever His specific answer is (yes, no or wait) He infuses the soul with His strength, just as a result of calling on Him.  And His strength gives us a boldness to live for Him, to love Him and to obey Him.

There are times I forget to call on Him.  It is not until I am feeling weak or in need that I remember to call.  It is easy to think that I can live life just fine in my own strength.  But the Lord knows better.  He is aware of each and every weakness.  He sees me running out of energy and resources.  The Lord is waiting for me to call.  He sees me coming and He is gracious to answer with exactly what I need.  Because of His unfailing love and faithfulness He will always answer when I call.  How good He is!

Thank you Lord, for answering with love and grace every time I call.


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Bird Box Challenge

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:17 “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

Netflix, Canada has just issued a warning begging people not to do the Bird Box Challenge.  People are endangering themselves and others by reenacting the the movie, Bird Box, in real life.  They are going through their day blindfolded as the movie characters did.  However, in real life there are no dangerous monsters trying to capture people through one’s eyesight!  The only danger comes from being blindfolded!

Today’s verse talks about a blindness that is spiritual.  What is so sad is that the person described does not realize his blindness, nor his poverty and nakedness.  Being wealthy has caused this person to feel self-sufficient and not in need of anything.  What is so beautiful in this passage is that Christ proposes a remedy for this blindness.  He offers salve for the eyes to restore spiritual sight (verse 18).

There is a strong tendency for me to be blind to my need of the Lord when all is well and finances are looking good.  When life is comfortable, I start to feel self-sufficient.  Before long, I take credit and think it is all of my own doing.  Pride seeps in and I become poor, blind and naked in my soul.  There is no reason for me to continue this way.  Christ has taken the initiative to change my pitiful state when I realize my need and turn to Him.  When I let go of of my pride and denial, I can open the door of my heart in answer to His knock (verse 20).

Lord, may I always realize my need and open the door to You.


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Adulting Classes

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 5:14 “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

Adult classes are being offered to millennials who somehow missed learning some of life’s basic skills.  Folding a fitted sheet is perhaps one of the less important ones.  At least I would like to think so as I am not so good at it!  These classes include sewing, cooking, check writing, laundry and cleaning, writing resumes, and managing relationships.  What used to be taught through high school classes or passed on by family members is now often taught through seminars and conferences.

Today’s verse tells us there are levels of spiritual maturity as well.  Those believers who have finished with “milk” and have progressed to solid food are those who are experienced and skilled in living righteously.  Those who still need milk are those believers who are “not acquainted” with righteousness (vs 13).  Spiritual maturity then has little to do with church attendance or even how many years one has been a believer.  Spiritual maturity has to do with distinguishing between good and evil.  This discernment comes through training by constant use of God’s Word.

Isn’t it clear what is good and what is evil?  Don’t I recognize the difference?  When I am relying on my own reason and logic I can be deceived.  Between changing norms and everyone doing what is right in their own eyes (Proverbs 21:2) the lines can be blurred.  Somehow, good does not seem so good or evil so very evil (Isaiah 5:20).  Satan is a master of deception and I am pretty good at rationalizing my behavior.  How thankful I am that He is holy and His standards unchanging….and that He forgives me!

Lord, grow me up today.  Help me recognize even the smallest nuance of evil.


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Chocolate River!

Scripture for Today:  Romans 5:15 “But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died by the trespass of one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many.”

This looks like a dream come true….a river of chocolate!  About a ton of liquid chocolate recently escaped its storage tank near Werl, Germany, flowing out to the street!  When it hit the chilly sidewalks it solidified, making clean-up difficult.  Even so, 25 firefighters were able to scoop up the mess with their shovels.  I wonder if any of it ended up in mouths as well!

Today’s verse talks about an overflow that is even better than chocolate!  Paul is teaching that even though the consequences of Adam’s sin are far reaching and for all time, God’s grace and salvation overflows to the many.  His grace or unmerited favor is greater than all our sin (Romans 5:20).  There is not a single sin that is not covered by God’s grace when confessed.  The gift of His grace is much greater than the judgement that followed that one sin of Adam’s.  Christ’s gift of grace covers all sin and provides right standing with God (verse 16).

God’s abundant supply of grace is overflowing.  He never stops it up and says, “that’s enough!”  His grace never runs dry.  It continually flows bringing forgiveness and righteousness!  As I continually sin, I need His grace to be overflowing.  Everyday I need to feel His love and forgiveness wash over me, giving me a new start.  Everyday I can count on His grace as it has nothing to do with me earning it and everything to do with His incredible love.

Thank you Lord, for Your overflowing grace to me!