Devotions By Jan


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Washing Lego Pieces

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:9 ” But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”

Here’s an inventive use for a colander!  Washing small Lego pieces would otherwise be a chore with some invariably escaping down the garbage disposal.  But whether one uses a strainer or a colander, those holes are useful for rinsing without losing the contents down the drain.  In French there is a saying using the word, colander.  This kitchen tool is likened to our memories, which can be full of holes.  They will also call a memory lapse a “trou” or hole.

Today’s verse addresses the problem of forgetting.  When we forget that our past sins have been forgiven, we miss out on all that God has given us for life and godliness (verse 3).  He has given us goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love (verse 5-7).  These qualities, which are part of His divine nature, are to be increasingly evident in the life of a believer (verse 8) and they keep us from being ineffective and unproductive for Him.  The problem comes when we are strangled with guilt over what God has already forgiven.

I am so encouraged to see God use imperfect people.  Paul was responsible for the death of many Christians and yet, he grasped the truth of God’s forgiveness.  Peter, after his famous denials of Christ, took hold of God’s grace and went on to accomplish great things for God.  I want to remind myself daily of His full and complete cleansing.  He has removed my sin as far as the east is from the west! (Psalm 103:12).  I do not want to focus on what is no longer an issue for Him.

Thank you Lord, for Your full and complete forgiveness!

 

 

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Lifetime Achievement Award

Scripture for Today: Genesis 15:1 “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision; ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.'”

George Clooney has just been announced as this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute.  He is being honored for his achievements as an actor, writer, producer and director.  He has won two Oscars as well as other honors.  And it cannot hurt that he remains so good looking, although that may not have influenced those bestowing this award!  In any case, this award represents approval from people for noteworthy achievements.

Today we bury my 95 year old Mother.  Her lifetime achievements are not so well-known or noteworthy.  But right now she is enjoying her reward.  This reward lasts for eternity and it does not depend on the approval of men..  Today’s verse explains that Abraham’s reward is God Himself.  Abraham enjoyed an intimate relationship with his Creator.  He was even called, “God’s friend.” (James 2:23).  He, like my Mother, was able to enjoy his reward while here on earth.  But to literally be in His presence is a reward that surpasses any other!

I think the world of my Mother but of course, she was not perfect.  However, I know she is enjoying her “Reward” because of God’s grace and forgiveness.  Although she spent her life following and obeying Him, she did not earn her place in His presence.  She is there because of God’s grace.  And I know, because I have accepted His grace as well, I will one day be able to hug her again.  I know she is hearing God’s approval as He says, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

Thank you Lord, for being our very great reward!

 

 


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Counting Jelly Beans

Scripture for Today: Matthew 18: 21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”

It was pure guess work.  I tried being methodical as a prize would be awarded for this baby shower-party-game.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have bothered trying to count the jelly beans in this jar.  But in fact, my counting left something to be desired as my total was way off.  Someone else walked away with the coveted prize.  I would have been happy to walk away with the jelly beans!

Today’s verse is about something we are not to count; how many times to forgive someone.  Peter perhaps felt he was being generous to suggest forgiving seven times as the current thinking among the Pharisees was three times.  That makes Jesus’ answer all the more surprising.  The idea was not to forgive seventy-seven times or even seventy times seven.  The idea is that forgiveness is not to be counted at all.  Forgiveness is to be immeasurable.

My memory is so faulty on some subjects but somehow, the memories of when and how I have been wronged are very clear.  Forgiving someone more than once for the same offense is also too easy to remember.  I have had to say to my husband, “I am sorry, forgive me,” countless times over almost 40 years of marriage.  And I have had to forgive him too, many times without number.  It is so difficult to “forgive from the heart” (verse 35) over and over again.  And yet, I cannot think of a better way to show true love.  This is exactly what the Lord has done in forgiving me countless times.

Thank you Lord, that You do not count.


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Sheepish

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

What was that racket?  My husband was in the middle of his shower when he heard some bizarre noises!  It sounded as if someone was rearranging the furniture, but there was also loud bleating, shouting and running footsteps.  How bizarre to see this sheep in the living room knocking into things with a crazed look in his eyes!  He had run in from our rural French street into the open doors, with his handlers in hot pursuit!  It took three of them to hold him down and get him under control!

What a perfect way to illustrate the truth of today’s verse!  This sheep was not where he was supposed to be.  He had certainly gone his own way, ignoring his keepers and the other sheep.  His headlong movements could have hurt him and it took some pretty drastic measures to correct him.  I am sure he was none too happy to be bound with that rope.  And we are just like that sheep.  We turn our back on the Shepherd thinking we know better.

How loving and gracious God is to take on Himself the punishment of my silly rebellion.  Jesus paid the ultimate price of my sin, giving me peace with God (verse 5).  And as a forgiven “sheep” I have the enormous privilege of following my Shepherd.  His way is so much better than my own.  He does not lead by prodding me from behind and I don’t just see His back ahead of me.  No, He walks beside me.

Thank you Lord, for turning me back to You and Your way.


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Cherry Picking

Scripture for Today: Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely through His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Two cherry laden trees sat untouched half way through my vineyard walk.  Every day I would check on their progress.  Today the cherries were not only at their peak but some were even rotting on the branches.  It seemed the most natural thing to do to help myself to a few hand fulls.  The sweet juice dripped all over my fingers, staining them red and purple.  Although I was sure the owner would not mind, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I could be caught “red-handed” as technically I had taken something not belonging to me!

Today’s verse explains that we are all red-handed.  “Sin had left a crimson stain” on all of our hands as we are all guilty of breaking God’s perfect law.  There is no way to remove that stain on our own.  But thankfully, one pair of hands are not red but nail-scarred.  Because of His amazing grace we are justified or declared righteous through what Christ did on that cross.  He sacrificed Himself freely out of love for us and not because we deserved it.

I want clean hands and a pure heart.  It is only then that I can enjoy Him, receive blessing and vindication from Him (Ps. 24;3-5).  But there is no cleansing without the humility to admit guilt and come clean with the Lord.  Rather than hiding my hands behind my back, He invites me to discover grace and forgiveness.  He is faithful and just to always forgive and give me a clean start. (I John 1:9)

Thank you Lord, that I can always come clean with You.


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Toward the Light

Scripture for Today: Psalm 97:11 “Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.”

How often I have read novels or seen movies where at the end of  life, one moves toward a light!  In these stories the light represents eternity and the presence of God.  The light is bright and welcoming.  We associate light with warmth and goodness, whereas darkness can represent something cold and evil.  Even just a small pinpoint of light is powerful, dispelling darkness and chasing away shadows.  The light has a direct affect on our sense of well-being.  Without enough light, we can easily become depressed and negative.  Light has a way of lifting our spirits and giving us hope.

Today’s verse describes another blessing for the believer.  Light and joy shine on those whose heart is in right standing with God.  There may be darkness all around but “even in darkness, light dawns for the upright.” (Psalm 112:4)  When our hearts are right with the Source of light and joy, then it stands to reason that we can experience that light and joy ourselves, regardless of our circumstances.

I cannot drum up light and joy on my own for any length of time.  It is too easy to allow negative guilty thoughts darken my mind, robbing me of joy.  Light and joy are directly linked to my relationship to Him.  They are a natural outgrowth of a close relationship with my Creator.  He has made His righteousness mine through His Son, and with that clean heart comes the light and joy I so need!  How wonderful the benefits of forgiveness and grace!  In a world of pessimism and darkness, I can share that light and joy with others!

Thank you Lord, for being my light and my joy today!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Vintage Scale

Scripture for Today: I John 1:10 “If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word is not in us.”

This scale reminds me of the one from my youth.  One can now buy them with the label, “Vintage” or “Retro!”  Today, ours is not so ancient as it is digital.  It is probably accurate enough, but I do not like what it says!  No matter what I do with my eating habits it always says exactly the same thing.  Perhaps it is stuck.  Perhaps I am stuck.  In any case, I would rather think that it is incorrect.  Ideally, there should exist a scale that says exactly what I want it to say!

Today’s verse is about someone who is in denial about their sin.  The one who claims that there is no problem with sin is not dealing with reality.  Rather than continue to feel the discomfort of conviction, this individual would close their eyes to truth.  But in doing so, God is made out to be a liar.  His Word and truth do not reside in those who claim to be just fine.

The first step in dealing with my sin is to recognize its ugly existence.  There is no sugar-coating it.  And trying to make it small and of no consequence. just does not work.  Like the scale that tells the truth, so is God’s Word that can make me uncomfortable.  And just as I do not throw away the scale because of what it says, so I do not exchange His truth for something I like better.  He promises and is faithful to forgive and cleanse me from every sin (verse 9).  I just need to find the courage to admit to it!

Lord, help me to be honest with myself and admit when I am wrong.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)